Eliza Fowler Haywood.

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

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make, and for that purpose advocates were allowed to come to him, but
no other person whatever, not even his own servant, and he received
attendance from those belonging to the exempt, who also fetched from
his lodgings change of apparel, and all such necessaries as he had
occasion for; care being taken to search every thing before it came to
his hands, in order to prevent any letters being conveyed to him that
way.

In this melancholly situation did he pass his time; but that was
little in regard to his apprehensions of the future: - as his case
stood there was little expectation of any thing less than a shameful
death, perhaps ushered in by tortures worse than even that: - his
advocates, however, and it is likely his accusers too, were of opinion
that he had been in reality no more than an agent in this business,
and therefore gave him to understand, that if he laid open the whole
truth, and declared the name of the person chiefly concerned, it would
greatly mitigate the severity of the laws in such cases; but this he
would by no means be prevailed upon to do, resolving rather to suffer
every thing they could inflict upon him, than be guilty of so mean and
dishonourable an action as breach of trust, even to a person
indifferent, but to a friend villainous in the most superlative
degree: alike unmoved by arguments, as inflexible to menaces or
perswasions, he persisted in answering, that he was ignorant of what
they aimed at: - that he knew nothing of madame d' Ermand himself, was
an intire stranger to her, and equally so to the ill designs on her
they mentioned, either on his own account, of that of any other
person.

He was neither so weak nor vain as to flatter himself his positiveness
in denying what could be proved by so many witnesses, would be of any
service at his trial; but as it was expected he should say something
in his defence, and could say nothing else, without giving up his
friend, he was determined not to depart from what he had alledged at
first.

The count d' Ermand, who possibly had a suspicion of the truth, as it
seems he long had entertained some jealous thoughts of the baron d'
Eyrac, who had taken all opportunities of testifying an uncommon
gallantry to his wife, would have given almost a limb to satiate his
revenge against that gentleman: - the soldiers had been re-examined
several times concerning that other person who was with them at the
monastery, and had made his escape; but as they had neither seen his
face, nor heard his name, it was impossible for them to make any
discoveries: - these poor wretches were afterwards put to the torture,
but that had, nor indeed could have, any other effect, than to make
them curse their officer, who had been the cause of their sufferings.

In fine, monsieur d' Ermand, and the kindred of his wife, joined with
the instigations of the clergy, who thought they had an equal right
for revenge in this point, prevailed so far upon the civil
magistrates, as to procure an order, that Natura should himself
undergo the same tortures his soldiers had done, thereby to extort
that confession from him they could no otherwise procure: - this,
notwithstanding, they had the lenity to inform him of, the day before
that which was prefixed for the execution, thinking perhaps, that the
menace of what he was condemned to endure, would be sufficient: but
tho' human nature could not but shrink under such apprehensions, yet
did his fortitude remain unshaken, and he thought of nothing but how
to arm himself, so as to bear all should be inflicted on him with
courage.

But there were no more than a few hours in which he had to meditate on
what he had to do, when his affairs took a very different turn, and by
the most unthought-of means imaginable: It was towards the close of
day, when the wife of the exempt came into his chamber, and having
locked the door, 'I am come, captain,' said she, 'to offer you life,
liberty, and what is yet more, to put it in your power to avoid those
dreadful tortures, which are preparing for you! - what would you do to
gratify your preserver?' - The surprize Natura was in, did not hinder
him from replying, that there was nothing with which he would not
purchase such a deliverance, provided the terms were not inconsistent
with his honour: - 'No,' resumed she, 'I know by your behaviour since
in custody, and the resolution with which you have withstood all the
temptations laid before you, for the unravelling an affair, you have,
it is the opinion of every one, been led into only by your friendship
to some person, that you regard nothing so much as honour; what I have
to propose will be no breach of it'; - 'but,' continued she, 'time is
precious, and opportunities of speaking to you are scarce; therefore
know, in a few words, that I am weary of my husband's ill usage,
desire nothing so much as to go where I may never see him more; and if
you will make me the companion of your flight, and swear to take care
of me till I shall otherwise dispose of myself; I have disguises for
both of us prepared, and this night you shall be free.'

Natura had little need to hesitate if he should accept this
proposal: - he saw there was at least a chance for escaping the dangers
to which he was exposed; and should the woman's plot miscarry, and he
detected of being an accomplice in it, his condition could not, even
then, be worse than it was at present; he therefore embraced her with
a fervor which she seemed very well pleased with, and assured her in
the most solemn manner he would return all the obligations she
conferred on him, by such ways as should be most agreeable to her. She
then told him she had not slept for some time in the same bed with her
husband, and therefore might easily come to him again as soon as the
family were gone to their respective apartments; and having said this,
went out of the room hastily, tho' not without returning his salute,
and telling him he was worthy of greater risques than those she was
about to run.

He was no sooner left alone, than he began to reflect: on the
capriciousness of his destiny, which to preserve him from suffering
for a crime he was innocent of, was about to make him in reality
guilty of one of the very same nature: it is likely, however, he was
not troubled with many scruples on this head; or if any arose in his
mind, they were soon dissipated in the consideration of what he owed
to his own safety, which he yet could not greatly flatter himself with
the hope of, as he was not ignorant how difficult it was for a
delinquent to elude the diligence of those sent in search of him. The
chance of such a thing notwithstanding was not to be neglected; and he
waited with an impatience adequate to the occasion, for the hour in
which he expected his deliverance.

It was little more than eleven o'clock, when she came into the chamber
in the habit of a country fellow, which so intirely disguised her,
that till she spoke, he took her for one of those who attend the
prisoners in the circumstances he then was, and imagined some accident
had prevented the execution of her plot; but he was soon convinced of
his error, by her speaking, and at the same time presenting him with a
coat, wig, and every thing proper to make him pass for such as she
appeared herself: - the reader may suppose he wasted not much time in
equipping himself, or in making any idle compliments; it was scarce
midnight, when they both got safely out of the house, the door of
which she shut softly after her.

She then proposed to him to go to the Fauxbourg, whence they might,
without any suspicion, as passing for poor countrymen, get into the
open road before day-break; but he would needs stop at the baron d'
Eyrac's, judging with good reason that they might be more securely
concealed in his house, till the search should be over, than to
pretend to travel in any shape whatever. She, who knew not what
obligations the baron had to be faithful to him in this point, at
first opposed it; but he at length prevailed, and they went boldly to
the door; the family not being all in bed, it was immediately opened,
but in the dress they were, found some difficulty to be admitted to
the baron, who, the servant told them, was asleep; but Natura, with an
admirable presence of mind, replied, that he had brought a letter from
a friend in the country of the utmost importance, and must be
delivered into the baron's own hands directly; on which he was at last
won to let them come into the hall, while he sent to let his lord
know.

Whether the baron had any suspicion of the truth, or not, is
uncertain, but he ordered the men should be brought up; Natura,
however, thought it most proper to speak to him alone, therefore left
his companion below: - never was surprize greater than that of this
nobleman, when the other discovered himself to him, and the means by
which he had been set free. After the first demonstrations of joy and
gratitude for the integrity he had shewn in resolving to endure every
thing, rather than betray the trust reposed in him, it was judged
necessary to send for his deliverer, to whom on her coming up, the
baron made many compliments.

On discoursing on what method was best for them to take, in order to
prevent discovery, the baron would by no means suffer them to pursue
that of endeavouring to quit France till the search would be made
should be entirely over; he told them, he had a place where he could
answer with his life for their concealment, which indeed was that he
had provided for the countess d' Ermand, in case they had not been
disappointed in their designs. - 'There,' said he, 'you may remain, and
be furnished with all things necessary; - I can come frequently to you,
and inform you what passes, and when you may depart with safety, after
we have contrived the means.'

The exempt's wife, as well as Natura, highly approved of this offer;
and the baron knowing any stay in his house might be dangerous both to
himself and them, presently dressed himself, and went with them to the
house he mentioned, where having seen them safe lodged, took his leave
for that night, but seldom let a day pass without seeing them.

This was doubtless the only asylum which could have protected them
from the strict search was made the next day, the house of every
person, with whom either Natura or the woman had the least
acquaintance, was carefully examined; but this scrutiny was soon over
in that part, they supposed them to have left the city, and officers
were sent in pursuit of them every road they could be imagined to
take; so that had they fled, they must unavoidably have been taken.
But not to be too tedious, it was five weeks before the baron could
think it safe for them to leave Paris; and then hearing their enemies
had lost all hope of finding them, and that the general opinion was,
that they were quite got off, he told Natura that he believed they now
might venture to go, taking proper precautions. On taking leave, he
compelled Natura to accept of bills to the value of his commission,
which, as he said, being lost meerly on his account, it was his duty
to re-imburse: - nothing could be more tender than the parting of these
two faithful friends; - necessity, however, must be obeyed; - they
separated, after having settled every thing between them, and mutually
promised to keep a correspondence by letters.

It was judged best, and safest for them, to keep still in the same
disguise till they should be entirely out of the French dominions,
which happily at length they were, without the least ill accident
befalling them, none suspecting them for other than they appeared,
though the search after them was very strict, and a great reward
offered for apprehending them. - As soon as they arrived at Dover, both
threw off their borrowed shapes; Natura was again the fine gentleman,
and his companion a very agreeable woman, who was so well satisfied
with what she had done, and the behaviour of Natura towards her, that
she had lost nothing of her good looks by the fatigue of her journey.

Here they waited some time for the arrival of his servant, who knew
nothing what was become of his master, since he had made his escape
from the exempt, till he was entirely out of the kingdom, but had, all
this while, been kept in good heart by the baron, who still had told
him he was safe and well, and that he should soon hear news of him to
his satisfaction; this faithful domestic, whom they had no pretensions
to detain, now came with all his baggage, and Natura returned to
London, in an equipage, not at all inferior to that in which he had
left it.

The first thing he did was to place the exempt's wife in a handsome
lodging, and then went to wait upon his father, who had been much
alarmed at not having received any letter from him for a much longer
time than he had been accustomed to be silent. The old gentleman was
rejoiced to see him, after an absence of near six years, but sorry for
the occasion, as his affairs were greatly perplexed, on account of the
law-suits before mentioned, which being most of them in chancery, were
like to be spun out to a tedious length; but Natura soon informed him
that he was in a condition, which at present did not stand in need of
any assistance from him, and that he was determined to enter into some
business for his future support.

But in the midst of these determinations, the remembrance of his
unhappy contract with Harriot came into his mind; he thought he had
reason to fear some interruption in his designs from the malice and
wickedness of that woman: but being loth to renew the memory of his
former follies, he forbore making any mention of it to his father,
till that tender parent, not doubting but it would be a great
satisfaction to him, to know himself entirely freed from all claims of
the nature she had pretended to have on him, acquainted him, that
after he was sent away, the first step he had taken, was to get the
contract out of her hands.

The transported Natura no sooner heard he had done so, than he cried
out, 'By what means, dear sir, was she prevailed upon to relinquish a
title, by which she certainly hoped to make one day a very great
advantage?'

'Indeed,' said the father, 'I know not whether all the efforts I made
for that purpose, would have been effectual, if fortune had not
seconded my design: - she withstood all the temptations I laid in her
way, rejected the sum I offered, and only laughed at the menaces I
made, when I found she was not to be won by gentle means; and I began
to despair of success, so much as to give over all attempts that way,
when I was told she was in custody of an officer of the _compter_, on
account of some debts she had contracted: - on this your uncle put it
into my head to charge her with several actions in fictitious names;
so that being incapable of procuring bail, and going to be carried to
prison, when I sent a person to her with an offer to discharge her
from all her present incumbrances, on condition she gave up the
contract, which I assured her, at the same time, she would not be the
better for, it being my intention you should settle abroad for life.'

'This,' continued he, 'in the exigence she then was, she thought it
best to accept of, and I got clear of the matter, with much less
expence than I had expected; her real debts not amounting to above
half what I had once proposed to give her.'

Natura was charmed to find himself delivered from all the scandal, and
other vexations, with which he might otherwise have been persecuted
his whole life long, both by herself and the emissaries she had always
at hand, might have employed against him: nor was he much less
delighted to hear that she had also received some part of the
punishment her crimes deserved, in the disappointment of all her
impudent and high-raised expectations.

Having nothing now to disturb him in the prosecution of his purpose,
he set about it with the utmost diligence; and as he had a
considerable quantity of ready money by him to offer either by way of
præmium, or purchase, there was not, indeed, any great danger of his
continuing long without employment, nor that, so qualified, he might
not also be able to chuse out of many, one which should be most
agreeable to his inclinations.

Accordingly he in a little time hearing of a genteel post under the
government that was to be disposed on, he laid out part of his money
in the purchase of it, and with the remainder set up the exempt's wife
in a milliner's shop, in which, being a woman of a gay polite
behaviour, she soon acquired great business, especially as she
pretended to have left France on the score of religion, and went
constantly every day to prayers, after having formally renounced the
errors of the church of Rome: Natura visited her very often out of
gratitude, and perhaps some sparks of a more warm passion; and they
had many happy hours together, which the talk of their past adventures
contributed to heighten, as afflictions once overcome, serve to
enhance present happiness.

Several matches were now proposed to Natura, but he rejected them all;
whether it were that he had not seen the face capable of fixing his
heart, or whether he was willing to wait the determination of his
father's affairs, in order to marry to greater advantage, it is hard
to say; tho' probably the latter was the true reason; for ambition now
began to display itself in his bosom, and by much got the better of
those fond emotions which a few years past had engrossed him: he now
began to think that grandeur had charms beyond beauty, though far from
being insensible of that too, he was not without other amours than
that he still continued with the French woman: the raising his fortune
was, however, his principal view, and for that purpose he neglected
nothing tending to promote it; he made his court to those of the great
men, who he knew could be serviceable to him with so much success,
that he had many promises of their interest for a better post, as soon
as opportunity presented.

Fortune for a while seemed inclined to favour him in a lavish manner;
his mother-in-law died, and with her many of the vexatious suits
dropped, and others were compromised at an easy rate, so that his
father was soon in a condition to make a settlement upon him
sufficient to qualify him for a seat in parliament, which, on the
first vacancy, thro' favour, he got into, though at that time the
house was not crowded with placemen, as it since has been: in fine, he
was beloved and caressed by persons of the highest rank, and every one
looked upon him as a man who, in time, would make a very considerable
figure in the world.

His friends remonstrating that as he was twenty-nine, it was time for
him to think of marriage, and a proposal being made on that account
with a young lady, of an ancient and honourable family, who, besides a
large fortune in her own hands, had the reputation of every other
requisite to render that state agreeable, he hesitated not to embrace
it: - he made his addresses to her, she accepted of them, and in as
short a time as could be expected, consented to give him her
hand; - the kindred on both sides were very well pleased, and tho' her
family had some advantages in point of birth over his, yet as he
seemed in a fair way of doing honour to it, there was not the least
objection made; but articles were drawn, and a day appointed for the
wedding.

But how little dependance is to be placed on fortune! how precarious
are the smiles of that uncertain goddess, when most secure of her
promised favours, and just upon the point, as we imagine, of receiving
all we have to wish from her, she often snatches away the expected
good, and showers upon us the worst of mischiefs treasured in her
store-house! - Some few days before that which was to crown his hopes,
he happened in company to be discoursing of his travels, and
mentioning some things he had seen in France, a gentleman who imagined
he spoke too favourably of the chevalier St. George, and pretended he
had also been there, took upon him to contradict almost all he said
concerning that place and person: Natura knowing himself in the right,
and being a little heated with wine, maintained the truth of what he
alledged, with more impetuosity than policy perhaps would have
suffered him to have done at another time; and the other no less
warmly opposing, passion grew high on both sides; - the lie was given
and returned; - each was no less quick with his sword than his
repartee, several passes were made, but the company parted them: and
though they stayed together, neither of them was reconciled, nor in
good humour for what was past.

In going home Natura and one gentleman kept together, as their way
happened to be the same, when, see the wild effects of party-rage! all
on a sudden, the person who had been his antagonist, and, it seems,
had followed, came up to them, with his sword drawn, and told Natura
he was a scoundrel, and a fool, for what he had said; his words, and
the sight of his weapon, made him put himself immediately in a posture
of defence, which indeed he had need of; for had he been less nimble,
he had received the sword of the other in his body, before the
gentleman who was with him could do any thing to separate them; nor
were his efforts for that purpose sufficient to prevent them from
engaging with a vehemence, which permitted neither of making use of
much skill: it was however the chance of Natura to give his adversary
a wound, which made him fall, as he imagined, dead; on which the
disinterested person made the best of his way, as being afraid of
being taken up by the watch, who were then just coming by: - Natura did
the same, and thinking it improper to go home, went to the house of a
friend, in whom he could confide, and who, on enquiry the next day,
brought him an account, that the person with whom he had fought was
dead, but had lived long enough to acquaint those who took him up, by
whom he had received his hurt; and that warrants were already out for
apprehending the murderer, as he was now called.

What now was to be done! Natura found himself under the necessity of
going directly out of the way, and by that means endanger the loss of
his employment, and also of his intended bride; or by staying expose
himself to a shameful trial at the Old Bailey, which, he had reason to
fear, would not end in his favour, the deceased having many friends
and relations at the bar; and the very person who had been witness of
their combat, somewhat a-kin to him: - it was therefore his own
inclination, as well as the advice of his friends, that prevailed on
him to make his escape into some foreign part, while they were looking
for him at home; which he accordingly did that same hour, taking post
for Harwich, where, through the goodness of his horse, he arrived that
night, and immediately embarked in a fishing-smack, which carried him
into Holland.

He had leisure now to reflect on his late adventure, which afforded
the most melancholly retrospect; the happy situation he had been in,
and the almost assured hopes of being continued in for life, made his
present one appear yet worse, than in reality it was: he now looked on
himself as doomed to be a vagrant all his days, driven from his native
country for ever, and the society of all his friends, and torn beyond
even a possibility of recovering, from a lady, to whom he was so near
being united for ever, whom he loved, and whose fortune and kindred
had given him just expectation of advancement in the world.

These gloomy thoughts took him wholly up for some days, but he was not
yet arrived at those years, in which misfortunes sink too deeply on
the soul; these vexatious accidents by degrees lost much of their
ferocity, and he began to consider how much beneath a man of courage
it was to give way to despair at any event whatever, and that he ought
to look forward, and endeavour to _retrieve_, not _lament_, the
mischief that was past. He wrote to his father an exact account of
every thing, and intreated his advice: he sent also a letter to the
young lady, full of the most tender expressions, and pressures for the
continuance of her affection; though this latter was more for the sake
of form than any hope he had of being granted what he asked, or as he
was circumstanced, any benefit he could have received from it, if
obtained.

The answer his father sent, gave him both pain and pleasure; it
informed him, that the wounds he had given the person with whom he
fought, were not mortal; that it was only the vast effusion of blood
which had thrown him into a fainting, which occasioned the report of


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Online LibraryEliza Fowler HaywoodLife's Progress Through The Passions Or, The Adventures of Natura → online text (page 9 of 16)