Elizabeth Hamilton.

Memoirs of modern philosophers (Volume 3) online

. (page 1 of 14)
Online LibraryElizabeth HamiltonMemoirs of modern philosophers (Volume 3) → online text (page 1 of 14)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook



^^^> ^^




or ILLI N015


Digitized by the Internet Archive

in 2010 with funding from

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign





VOL. Ill,

" Ridiculum acri
'• Fortius et melius magnas plerunique fccat res."

*' Ridicule O-.all frequently prevail,
Aixi cut thekno:, when graver reafors f^iil."






His fpecch was an excellent piece

" Of patch-work, with (hreds brought from Rome and from

" But {hould poets and orators try him for theft,
" Like the jackdaw of old — would a feather be left?"

Simkin's Letters.

THE admirable epiftle of our thrice-
admirable heroine, with which wc
thought it proper to conclude the lafl:
chapter, was left by her at Henry's lodg-
ings, on her way to Mrs. Fielding's. On
her return from Hanover-fquare, fhe, in
purfuance of her adopted plan, went to
look for lodgings in the fame ftreet in
which Henry had taken up his abode.
Her attempt was unfuccefsful.

VOL. 111. B Not

C 2 1

Not a houfe in George's-ftreet would
receive her.

Her attack upon the heart of Henry
was from this unfavourable circumflance
prevented from being turned into a block-
ade; but ftill ftie refolved to carry on the
fiege ; and happily for her purpofes, on
turning by chance into Conduit-flreet, flie
found a lodging exaflly fuited to her
wiflies. iShe fixed upon the firfl-floor,
and afked the price."

" Two guineas a week, Ma'am, is the
very lowed at which thefe lodgings were
ever let."

' Two guineas a week!' cried Bridge-
tina, in adonifhment. * What! a hundred
and four guineas a-year for two palti7
rooms. You mufl be miflaken, good wo-
man ; I fliall convince you that you are.

In my mother's houfe at W , for which

file pays no more than twenty pounds a-
year, there are feven better rooms than
thefe! Do not think I am to be fo eafily
impofed upon.' c^ rr

[ 3 ]

*^ If you can fuit yourfelf cheaper elfe-
where, I have no objeclion. Ma'am," re-
turned the miilrefs of the houfe, drily ;
" but I believe/' added Tne, " you will
find few fuch lodgings at the price (confi-
dering the fituation) in London/'

The fituation was indeed defirable ; not
that Bridgetina would in itfclf have confi-
dered it as preferable to Hound's-ditch,
or even to any of the noble avenues of
Wapping; but its being in the vicinity of
Henry gave it a value beyond all price.
Finding it in vain to argue the good woman
out of any part of her demand, fhe clofed
with her terms, and told her ilie fhould
take immediate poffeilion of the apartments.
Mrs. Benton curtfeyed, and after a little
modeft hefitation, informed Mifs Bothe-
rim, that Ihe made it a rule never to take
any lodger without a reference for their
character to fome perfon of refpe<^ability.

" Mrs. Benton, for that I think is your

name, I perceive you are a very unen-

B 2 lightened

C 4 ]

lightened perfon," (aid Brldgetina. " A
regard to the character of any individual
is one of the immoral prejudices of a dif-
tcmpered ilate of civilization. I (hall foon
in{lru£l you better; and out of the choice
writings of the mod illufbious modern phi-
lofophers, convince you that there is no
notion more erroneous than the falfe pre-
judice entertained againft certain perfons
of great powers ^ Vvho have happened to
energize in a direflion vulgarly called vi-
cious. I, for my part, think it one of the
peculiar advantages of this great metropo-
lis, that it happily affords to the philofo-
pher an opportunity of cultivating an in-
timacy with liberal-minded perfons of this
defcription ; and fliall be much obliged to
you for an introduction to any heroine
who has nobly facrificed the bauble — repu-
tation. Pray have you any acquaintance
in this line?"

Mrs. Benton flared — ' I really do not
landerfland you, Ma'am. My acquaint-

[ i 1

ances are all people of ucfpotted reputation.
Nor, though my lodgings fhould fland
empty throughout the year, would I ad-
mit any perfon of fafpeeled chara£ler into
my houfe. I do not mean to infmuate any
reflexion upon you, Ma'am ; but you are
a flranger to m.e, and therefore I mud
again requefl a reference/

*' You are really flrangely invulnerable
to argument; bur I hope I fliall in time
convince you of your miftake. Mean-
while you may apply to Mrs. Fielding, in
Hanover-fquare, the only perfon I have
yet vifited m London; and as (he is as
much the flave of prejudice as yourfelf,
her teflimony will, I dare fay, pleafe you."
* Oh, Ma'am, if you vifit Mrs. Fielding,
I am more than fatisfied. To be honoured
with her acquaintance is a fufficient recom-
mendation to me. She is the bed, the
moft generdus of women! To her good-
nefs I am indebted for every comfort that
I now enjoy. I fhould be bafe, indeed, if

I did

[ 6 ]

I did not with gratitude acknowledge that
fhe has been the faviour of me and mine.*

" Gratitude is a miftaken notion, Mrs.
Benton ; and if you feel any extraordinary
regard towards Mrs. Fielding, on account
of her being your benefac^refs, you a6t
in direct oppofition to the principles of
juftice and virtue."

' What! Not feel gratitude to my be-
nefaftrefs ! Not feel a regard for her who
refcued my hufband from a prifon! Who,
like a miniftering angel, brought relief to
our extreme necelTity! Who faved my
babes from perifhing, and has put us in a
fituation to earn our bread with comfort
and with credit ! O, if ever I ceafe to blefs
her, may tenfold mifery be my portion !'

" I perceive you have imbibed all the
pernicious prejudices of fuperflition ; but
notwithftanding your midaken notions, I
dare fay you are a good fort of woman at
bottom; and fo I fball tell Mrs. Fielding,
when I go to brcakfafl v/ith her to-morrow
morning." ^^^^

[ 7 ]

Mrs. Benton curtfeyed ; and Bridgetina,
defiring a coach to be called, ftepped into
it, and drove to the Golden-Crofs for her
things. Having paid her bill, and counted
her remaining flock of cafli, (lie found there
was only one guinea and a half left ; which
having reflored to her purfe, flie returned
to Conduit-ftreet, where (he found her
apartment diligently prepared by Mrs.
Benton for her reception.

As {lie had not given any orders about
dinner, Mrs. Benton naturally concluded
it was her intention to dine abroad ; while
Bridgetina, never accuftomed to pay any
attention to the affairs of life, and igno-
rant of all the manners and habits of fo-
ciety, had taken it for granted that food
was to be included with her lodging. At
five o'clock, finding fiie could energize no
longer, flie pulled the bell, to enquire
whether dinner was ready.

' Dinner 1 Ma'am?' fitid the maid-fer-
vant who attended her-, ' I did not know


C s ]

that you were to have any. I received no
dirc£i:ions to make market for you.'

"No!" returned Bridgetina; "I per-
ceive, then, that your miftrefs has conceived
too exalted an idea o^ my powers. In the
prefent (late of fociety, no one's ener-
gies can be fo effectually exerted as to
elude the phyfical necefTity of eating. I
therefore defire to have my dinner imme-

The demand which followed for money
CO go to market, brought on an explana-
lion by no means agreeable to Bridgetina,
and which very little fuited the ftate of
h^r finances. After a learned expoftula-
lion onthepart of our heroine, and a plain
ilatement on that of Mrs. Benton, it was
finally fettled, that the maid fhould here-
after make provifion for Bridgetina's
meals; which were to be fixed to no re-
gular hour, but taken pbilosopbically* at

* See PoJ. Juf. yol. ii. p. 492.


[ 9 ]

what time the energies of her ilomach re<
quired it.

" You will fay it is more convenient for
you, that I fhould dine at your table,"
faid Mifs Botherim; " and probably quote
the example of the Spartans, who, by a
law of the immortal Lycurgus, were obli-
ged to common meals. But when the
progrefs of mind fhall have carried us fur-
ther on the road to perfe«5lion, all co-
operation in butchery, in cookery, or in
eating, fhall be at an end. If, at that happy
period, the animal oeconomy fhould ftill
continue (notwithftanding the advanced
{late of fociety) to demand afupply of food,
every man will then, when he is hungry,
knock down an ox for himfelf, and cutting
out his own (teak, will drefs and devour
it at the time and place bed fuited to his
avocation and circumftances. Do you
think the Gonoquais fit down to table, as
we do? No, no; focial meals (as they
are vulgarly called) are an interruption to


C 10 ]

the fublime flights of genius, and ought
to be difcountenanced by every true phi-

In this manner did Bridgetina endeavour
to enlighten her humble and modeft au-
ditor ; whofe filence flie interpreted into
profound admiration of her extraordinary
powers of eloquence, and on whofe mind
fhe firmly believed every word flie fpoke
made a deep and lafting imprefhon.

On the following morning, according
to appointment, (lie attended Mrs. Fielding
at breakfaft; when, to her great mortifica-
tion, inflead of meeting with Henry, as ihc
had fully expected, (lie received from his
refpectable friend a very warm expoflula-
lion on the impropriety of her condu^;
which, though delivered with all poflible
gentlenefs of voice and manner, kindled in
her mind the flame of deep refentment.

In vain did Mrs. Fielding endeavour to

perfuade her to return to W '. In vain

did ihe urge the duty flie owed her aged

mother ;

[ 11 3

mother ; the rifque (he ran of expofing her
character to reproach, and her name to
ridicule, by perfifling in a condu6l fo ut-
terly inconfiftent with the laws of delicacy
and decorum. Bridgetina was like the
deaf adder, ' which refufeth to hear the
voice of the charmer, charm he never fo
wifely.' Mrs. Fielding was the Have cf
prejudice; her mind was fettered by fuper-
ftition; her morals were built upon the
falfe ftrufture of religious principle. She
looked to a future world for that flate of
compleat order, happinefs, and perfection,
which flie weakly believed would never be
found in this. She was not enlightened
enough to conceive how the progrefs of
mind could be accellerated by cafting off
all dependance on a Supreme Being, by
contemning his power, or denying his ex-
iftence; but on the contrary, adored his
goodnefs, revered his wifdom, and firmly
believed in his revelation. How, then,
couid fhe fail to be the fcorn of onr deep


[ 12 ]

and enlightened philofopher! In truth,
Bridgetina felt for her underftanding the
moil fovereign contempt; and after an
harangue, which had too little of novelty
in it to afford the reader any amufement,
fhe took her leave of the weak and preju-
diced Mrs. Fielding, fully refolved never
more to honour a perfon fo full of preju-
dices with her confidence.

Her next attempt was to obtain a con-
ference with Henry. She was informed
by his fervant that he was not at home.
Leaving her addrefs, and defiring the man
to tell his mafler that (lie ihould be at home
all the evening, flie ftepped into a hackney-
coach, and drove to the houfe of Sir
Anthony Aldgate, in Mincing-lane.

Here, alfo, her evil ftars feemed to pre-
ponderate. The knight, his lady, and
daughter, were on a vifit to Mr. Deputy
Grilkin, at his villa at Bow-Bridge, and
were not expefled home till the latter end
of the week. This was very unwelcome


L 13 ]

intelligence to Bridgetina. Sir Anthony
had been by her father's will appointed
truitee for her fortune, which confided of
four thoufand pounds flock in the four per
cents, the whole of which was to conti-
nue under his management till the day of
Bridgetina's marriage ; with power, how-
ever, to fell, or change the fecurity, (with
her confent) as might appear mod eligible.

It was her intention to raife an immedi-
ate fupply of five hundred pounds for her
own expences.; and to put five hundred more
into the hands of Mr. Vallaton, as trea-
furer for the Gonoquais emigrants, with
a promife of doubling the fum, fhould the
fubfcription of the philofophers appear ina-
dequate to the expences of the expedition.

Great was her vexation at the delay oc-
calioned by Sir Anthony's abfence, which
not only protradled the glory flie expe<fled
to reap from the applaufes of the enlight-
cned, but reduced her to the mortification
of remaining for feveral days with an empty


[ H ]

purfe. O cheerlefs companion of philo-
fophy ! too well do we know the torpedo
cftefts oF thy chilling afpe^l: too often
have we experienced the fickening languor
which the contemplation of thy long, lank
iides occafions, to refufe our fympathy to
the lucklefs wight who has thee for a
gueft ! Thy cafual appearance is a trifling
evil, but where thy form is permanent,
thou art

** Abominable, unutterable, and worfe

" Than fables yet have feign'd, or fear conceiv'd,

*' G organs, zTidHydraSi and Chhneras dire.''

In all the calamities to which life is liable,
there is no comfort equal to that which
arifes from being able to fix the blame
upon that which has occafioned, or is fup-
pofed to have occafioned it. In the opi-
nion of many wife men, it is one of the*
chief advantages of matrimony, that in
every crofs accident, a conflant refource
of this nature is provided for in the help-
mate of the party aggrieved. Even the


C u ]

Tcxatlon arifmg from the lofs of a game
at cards is confiderably alleviated by the
privilege of finding fault with the play of
a partner ; fo to Bridgetina was it no fmall
confolation, that in her prefent perplexity
flie could relieve her mind by bitter in-
ve£lives againfl the distempered state of ci-
vilization. Had it not been for the pre-
fent depraved inflitutions of fociety, her
father would not have had it in his power
to make a will. She would not then have
been fettered by the impertinent interfe-
rence of this truftee; who had, indeed, by
his management during her minority, con-
fiderably increafed the capital of her little
fortune, and thus, by adding to the wealth
of an individual, had fmned againil the glo-
rious fyflem of equality.

Her foliloquies upon this fubjecl were
not interrupted by any vifitor. Henry did
not appear ; neither did he fend any an-
fwer to her letter. She again \^Tote, but
to no purpofe. She repeatedly called at


• [ 16 ]

his lodgings, but flill he was not at home.
Another letter, conjuring him to enter into
her arguments, and either reply to them on
paper, or come to reafon the fubje6l with
her in a perfonal interview, met with no
better fuccefs than the former. Henry
remained inexorable.

Mrs. Fielding had, at his requeft, in-
formed Bridgetina, that as it was impolTible
for him to anfwer her but in a way that
mud appear harfli and difagreeable, he
begged leave to decline waiting. In mufmg
on this fubjecl, and inveftigating in her
ufual method the motives of Henry, and
the condu£i: of his patronefs, it all at once
occurred to her that Mrs. Fielding herfelf
was the objeft of Henry's purfuit; and
that it was in order to get rid of a rival,
that that lady had fo ftrongly prelTed her
return to the country. The longef her
imagination dwelt upon all the circumftan-
ces which had occurred, the more llrongly
was flie imprefled wich the truth of her


[ 17 J

fufpicions. The glaring difparity In point
of age was in her mind no obflacle, nei-
ther did fhe make any account of that nice
propriety of fentiment and of conduct
which marked the character of Mrs. Field-
ing, and rendered her eminently fuperior
to the fufpicion of weaknefs or abfurdity.
That fhe was attached to Henry, fhe
thought was evident; and that fhe fhould
wifli to marry him was not (in her opinion)
at all extraordinary. She therefore deter-
mined to change her plan, and to exert all
her energies to perfuade Mrs. Fielding
that fhe ought in juflice to rcfign her pre-
tenfions to one, who, by her fuperior
powers, was more eminently qualified to
promote the happinefs of a deferving in-
dividual. She would immediately have
written, but apprehenfive that Mrs. Field-
ing, following the example of Henry,
would leave the letter unanfwered, fhe
thought it better to difcufs the fubjeft in
a perfonal interview j and fet out for
VOL. III. c Hanover-

[ 13 ]

Hanover-fquare with all poffible expe-

As fhe entered the fquare, Mrs. Field-
ing's carriage drove from her door; fhe
however proceeded to knock, and had the
door opened to her by a maid-fervant,
from whom (he learned, that Mrs. Fielding
was not expected home till near dinner-

" Would flie be at home In the evening?'*

* Yes y but in the evening fhe was to
have a party.*

This intelligence was extremely agree-
able to Bridgetina, as flie doubted not that
Henry would be of the number of Mrs.
Fielding's guefts, of whom (he alfo deter-
mined to make one ; nor did the w^nt of
an invitation appear to her any obflacle, as
that was a mere matter of form, which (lie
thought might very eafilybedifpenfed with.

It was now that Bridgetina for the firft
time felt the abfence of her mother, who
had from her cradle fupplied the place to


C 19 ]

her of maid, milliner, and mantua-raaker;
and though the good woman's fond wifhes
of fetting off the perfon of her daughter
to the bed advantage were but ill feconded
by her tafle, her officious zeal had reni
dered the objecft of her affections fo un-
accuflomed to do any thing for herfelf,
that (he was helplefs as a baby. Her only
refource was to confult Mrs. Benton,
whom flie accordingly fent for; and after
telling her (he was to go that evening to a
party at Mrs. Fielding's, intreated her affift-
ance in the neceffary preparations. Mrs.
Benton very good-naturedly offered to do
every thing in her power; and propofed
fending immediately for a hair-dreffer, as
really fhe could not help obferving that
Mifs Botherim's hair flood very much in
need of cutting.

Bridgetina replied, that " all unnecef-

fary co-operaiion was vicious, and that as

Mrs. Benton and her maid had both offered

their voluntary affiflancc, fhe would by no

c 2 means

[ 20 ]

means purchafe the fervice of a mercenary,
Befides," added flie, putting her hand to
licr forehead, and gently introducing her
fino^ers betwixt her fkull and the hii;h friz-
zled locks that towered above, " my hair
is much more eafily dreffed than you iraa^
gine. See, (cried flie, taking off the wig)
thefe curls want only a little combing, and
then, as they are fomewhat ftiff, they mull
be well fmoothed down with hard poma-
tum, and covered over with a little powder,
and they will do very well.*'

Mrs. Benton fhook her head, but de-
firing Jenny to take the comb, and proceed
by Mifs Botherim's dire<5i:ions, Ihe went ou
to the examination of the wardrobe, w^hich
Bridgetina difplayed for her infpeftionc
Having laid afide two or three printed cal-
licoes, and as many ordinary moflins, fhe at
length arrived at a drefs carefully pinned
up in a large table-cloth. '' How very
fortunate," faid fhe, " that my mother
flaould by miftake have fent me this fa-

C 2.1 ]

vourlte drefs, in which flie always fays I
look fo well. It is made up after her own'
fancy, and admirably fuited to my com-
plexion. Do you not admire it?"

' Indeed, Ma'am, the filk is very pretty,
to be fure, but only — now that filks are
fo little worn, I fear it will look a little
particular. The colour, too, fo deep a
rofe is rather glaring, and I fear it will be
thought unfalhionable.*

** Oh, as to the fear of being particu-
lar, I defpife it. The gown has been very

much admired at W , and the fancy

of trimming it with thefe knots of deep
blue ribbons has been greatly praifed.**

* I do not doubt it; but you know.
Ma'am, that in London — indeed, believe
me that you had better go to Mrs. Field-
ing's in a plain muflin. I beg pardon for
the liberty I take, but indeed I cannot
help wifliingyou to confider, how odd fuch
a drefs as this will appear in a room full of


[ 22 ]

The predile^ion of Bridgetina for her
favourite gown was not to be moved by
the remonflrances of Mrs. Benton, though
they continued to be urged with increafing
vehemence till interrupted by Jenny, who
declared the curls of the wig to be fo in-
tra£lable as to bid defiance to her utmoft
PtdW. Again Mrs. Benton hinted thene-
celilty of procuring a hair-drefler ; but as
Bridgetina was obftinate in oppofmg it,
fhe herfelf undertook to fettle the inflexi-
ble treffes on one fide of the wig, while
Jenny tugged at the other. At length
the labours of the toilette were concluded,
and our heroine, having refufed to permit
Jenny to call a coach, tripped it on foot
through George's-ftreet, and reached Mrs.
Fielding's door at the moment fome la-
dies, wTio had jufl ftepped from a coroneted
carriage, were entering, it. She followed
them without hefitation up (lairs. The
names of Lady Carblihe and Lady Juliet
Manners were announced aloud; and im-

[ 23 ]

tnediately after, that of Mifs Botherim was
pronounced by the fame fonorous voice.
Mrs. Fielding darted at the found ; (he was
ftill fpeaking to Lady Juliet at no great
diflance from the door, when it reached
her ears. She inftantly turned round, and
in fpite of her vexation, could fcarcely for-
bear fmiling at the ftrange appearance of
the little outre figure that approached her.

" Blefs me," cried a young lady who
flood up to fpeak to Lady Caroline Man-
ners, " What mafquerade figure has your
iadyfhip brought in with you? I did not
hear of any fancy ball this evening?"

' She did not come with us,' faid Lady
Caroline, ' nor can I imagine who fhe is ;
but fhe is dreffed in character fure enough,
though I am pofitive there is no mafque-
rade. I dare fay {he is fome oddity, for
you know Mrs. Fielding does fometimcs
pick up queer people.'

Who is fhe? what can flie be? where
does ftic comefrom? reverberated twenty


C 24 ]

wrhifperlng voices at once. Some ima-
gined her to be a foreigner, but of what
nation no one could determine. Others
fagacioufly difcovered it to be fome one
of their common acquaintance dreffed up
in difguife, and introduced by Mrs. Field-
ing for the amufement of the company ;
but the conclufion made by thofe befl: ac-
quainted with Mrs. Fielding, and which
in a fhort time became general, was
Jiighly in Bridgetina's favour, as it fup-
pofed her fome perfon of extraordinary
talents, whofe foaring genius was above
conformity to the common fafliions of the

Time does not permit us at prefent to
controvert the falfe notion upon which
this opinion is founded, otherwife we
ihould not defpair of being able fatisfac-
torily to prove, that the afFe£i:ation of fm-
gularity, fo far from being a concomitant
of real genius, is a certain proof of a con-
fined and little mind. But without wait-

[ 25 ]

ing to difcufs this fubje(n: any farther, wc
return to Bridgetina, who, quite uncon-
fcious of the wonder her appearance ex-
cited, dreffed her countenance in a gracious
fmile as fhe waddled up to Mrs. Fielding,
who waited to be addreffed by her with-
out fpeaking.

*' It was extremely fortunate that I heard
you were to be at home this evening,'*
faid Bridgetina, after making her curtfey.

* I fhould have been extremely happy to

have heard the fame of you from W ,'

replied Mrs. Fielding, attempting to look

" I do not doubt that," returned Brid-
getina; '* but I know your motives, and
have come with a view to convince you
that they are erroneous. I wifh to have
an opportunity of communing with you for
half an hour or fo in private, and lliall
wait your time.'*

* It cannot poifibly be this evening,'
returned Mrs. Fielding, who hoped, by an


t 26 3

abfolute rcfufal, to prevail on her to depart ;
' yoii fee how I am engaged: 1 cannot
have ir in my power to fpeak to you for
five minutes on any account whatever.'

" Ah!" faid Mr. Sardon, who at that
moment entered the room, " fee how the
pcwer of sympathy attra£is me to the fpot
that contains Mifs Botherim. You can-
not think. Ma'am,*' continued he, addrefs-
iDg himfelf to Bridgetina, from whom
Mrs. Fielding had turned to receive fome
other company, " You cannot think

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Online LibraryElizabeth HamiltonMemoirs of modern philosophers (Volume 3) → online text (page 1 of 14)