John_Pilkington - CHAPTER VI.

CHAPTER VI.

With Mr. O'Neill at Ballyannan

Our continuation in Cork, which was but a few days, afforded nothing but repeated marks of Mr. O'Neill's friendship and regard to me, in equipping me with all the absolute necessaries for our intended journey; such as boots, whip, hunting cap, and riding coat; together with some very fine linen. He paid my lodging for the whole time I had been in it; and the next morning, about eight o'clock, we set out in a Phaeton chaise, drawn by six dun horses, and a numerous retinue of servants in silver laced liveries, for Ballyannan, near Middleton, the seat of Mrs. Broderick, mother-in-law to Mr. O'Neill.

As we passed through the town I espied my old cobbler, formerly mentioned, in the spot, and about the same employment, I had first discovered him: this brought a long train of reflections to my mind, and made me for some time grave and silent. When we got into the clear air, upon a fine turnpike road, Mr. O'Neill requested to know the subject of my contemplations. I related to him the narration of my journey from Dublin, my adventure with the cobbler, my reception with my uncle, and everything I thought would entertain him, at which he expressed much satisfaction. You must know, said he, the moment you came upon the stage, I discovered something of je ne sais quoi about you, that convinced me you were above your appearance. I enquired of the gentleman whom I sent to you, who you were: he told me your story in a few words; upon which I turned to Lady Freke, and offered to hold a wager I would bring you to Shane's Castle; having conceived pity for your distresses, and regard for your accomplishments. I have; said he, three children of my own, but they are as yet too young to make company of; the eldest being only six years old. The insincerity of the world makes me avoid intimate connections with any, since I was deprived, by death, of a faithful, most endearing, and sensible wife; who had variety of charms in her person, conversation, and skill in music; being superior in that respect to any I have ever heard. You will find that Lady Freke and Miss Broderick play exquisitely well on the harpsichord, but they were by no means equal to her. When we arrive at Shane's Castle, continued he, I have a library of books, the best calculated to improve the understanding of a young student. I should think myself rather an enemy than a friend, if I retained you merely for any gratification of myself, or my acquaintances. I know it is now the time for you to enrich your mind with those qualities, that will render you fit for any employment, your friends or your talents may procure you. It is only with this view I have received you, and be assured, that while you persevere in virtue, humility, and obligingness, I will make it a principal point of my study to promote your present content and future enjoyment.

By the time he had made an end of this discourse, which manifestly spoke the excellence of his disposition, and awakened in my soul the most inexpressible veneration and transport, we arrived, just before dinner, at Ballyannan; a place where everything seemed to conspire to make solitude truly delightful. It is situated on an arm of the sea, which waters its verdant bank, shaded with lofty limes, elms, and oak; whose shrubs are everywhere intermingled with honeysuckle and other odoriferous flowers, extensive pleasure and fruit gardens, fine summer houses, turrets crowned with ivy, and all the irregular beauties that charm the fancy and delight the sense. It was about the end of July we came to this terrestrial paradise, when the blooming season added all her sweets to render it worthy of that name and the inhabitants were so richly endowed with ease, elegance, hospitality, learning, wisdom, and skill in the polished arts which soften life, that I could scarce believe this terrene spot had been productive of such homefelt bliss, as was here enjoyed from rosy morn to dewy eve, without the least interruption: I might truly have said with poor Othello.

 

If I were now to die, 'twere now to be most happy,
For here my soul hath her content so absolute,
That not another pleasure like to this
Remains in unknown Fate.
SHAKESPEARE.

As soon as we entered the gate, we were received by the gentlewoman of the house; Lady Freke and Miss Broderick, her two amiable daughters, who obligingly introduced me to Mrs. Broderick; a lady in whose countenance appeared the tender mother, and sensible friend. There were no ceremonies made use of in our reception, but those cordial embraces and unfeigned expressions that eloquently speak a kind welcome. The moment we got into the house, Lady Freke and Miss brought me to a drawing room, where there were a fine chamber organ, a harpsichord, and several musical instruments. You know, said my lady, I promised to play for Master Pilkington, which she accordingly did in the most masterly manner; while her fingers flew like lightning over the chords, displaying all the ecstatic sweets of divine harmony, with the peculiar embellishments of an admirable taste, and a fine ear.

When her Ladyship resigned the chair, Miss assumed it, bringing from the aweful organ most angelic sounds, fit to enwrap the soul in heavenly contemplation: in short, I had here an epicurean feast of music, that might elevate the heart of a monarch. [Note: Lest the lovely lady of my esteemed friend, Colonel Newburgh, should be jealous of these just commendations of the two ladies' skill on the harpsichord, I acknowledge, that next to Lady Freke, she is the best female performer I ever had the happiness to hear.

Mr. O'Neill, in the meantime, went to take care that justice was done to his cattle, an office which he never neglected, or would entrust to the most careful servants he had, without being himself a witness that his orders were duly executed.

When he returned to us, Miss Broderick accompanied me in the organ with two or three songs, and an anthem, at which also Mrs. Broderick was present; who being unaffectedly religious, was particularly pleased with this part of our entertainment, which she said she should frequently trouble me for, during our stay at Ballyannan.

From this delicate repast of the mind we were called to the necessary one of the body, to dine: 'tis needless to recount the number of dishes, or economy of the table; all who had the happiness to know Mrs. Broderick, will judge there was genteel plenty, without ridiculous superfluity and ostentation; which, in the opinion of the judicious, serves rather to disgust the appetite; and emaciate the constitution, than anything else.

When dinner was over, Mr. O'Neill entreated I would entertain the ladies with the account of my adventures I had favoured him with on the road. Happy in any occasion of showing a willingness to do all I could to please. him, I began it, and though a twice told tale is seldom pleasing, I observed he particularly attended to every occurrence, as if he had never heard it; and whether it was owing to the unstudied manner of my rehearsing it, or the infinite good manners of the company, I had as much audience as if Caesar had been relating some famous passage of his history, or Cicero haranguing the Roman senate.

When I had made an end, Mr. O'Neill complimented me on the simplicity of my style, and the veracity to which I so minutely adhered: for, said he, you have not differed in a single point from what you told me in the morning; which evidences the truth of your relation to me, more sufficient than if a train of witnesses had attested every fact.

Mrs. Broderick, who made no comment at any pause, but seemed desirous I should proceed till she had learned the whole of my life, even as I have heretofore written it, desired I would take a walk with her in the garden in the afternoon. As soon as we were there alone, she addressed me in this manner:

You see, my poor child, how infinitely good the Almighty has been to you; permitting his providence to guard you in the midst of dangers and distresses; rescuing you out of the hands of an obdurate father; giving you an opportunity of cultivating your natural understanding, by an education he would never have bestowed on you, of recompensing your want of real fortune by endowments that, properly applied, will, probably, procure you one. These are miraculous proofs, that the father of all things has interested himself in your behalf, and inspired Mr. O'Neill with that pity and esteem which I hope your conduct will merit; I don't say I hope it from any doubts I entertain of your upright inclinations, but from a knowledge I have of the perversity of human nature, and the long train of snares and allurements found in a bad world to destroy the soul and body. I would, therefore, my dear child, recommend it to you with a mother's ardour, first to seek the kingdom of God, and all things will be added to it. Let no prosperity that may hereafter attend you, make you forget the hour of adversity, in which the Almighty stretched forth his arm to save you. When you behold the poor and wretched, consider with yourself, that their case might now be yours; but for the peculiar blessings conferred upon you, treat your superiors with respect, your equals with civility, and your inferiors with mildness and humanity. I thought it my duty, continued she, to make these remonstrances to you, and to ask you a few material questions, which the course of your story gave me no insight into, and those are relating to your conception of the deity, and whether your father has taken any pains to make you a good Christian; these I expect you will answer me with the utmost truth and sincerity.

Such precepts, delivered with a meekness, affability and candour, entirely suited to the purpose, and becoming the person by whom they were dictated, could not but affect me in the deepest manner. I told the lady, that though my ideas of the deity were but imperfect, being such as I retained from the instruction of my mother, who was too early separated from me to have left these strong impressions that might otherwise have been made, I was yet persuaded, that every comfort I enjoyed here, or might hope hereafter, must proceed from the same hand who created me; that I religiously adhered to the doctrines of Christianity, as taught by the established church, of which I gave as full an account as I was capable of doing, and endeavoured to apologize for my father's neglecting me in this point.

Though my discourse on this sublime topic was far from being what I could have wished it, yet I could perceive a seraphic smile of Christian benevolence diffuse itself over her countenance, expressive of her satisfaction to find I was not altogether a Pagan; and the little I did advance, I believe, gave her a general good opinion of my morals.

When we returned into the house, we found Mr. O'Neill and the ladies, in company with his three lovely children, and Mademoiselle, the French governante. I could not help admiring the exact proportion and symmetry of these emblems of their father; the manly gracefulness of the two boys, and the feminine sweetness of the little girl. They too had lost a mother, but they had a father, whose tenderness was dealt in a double portion to them; alas! I had both, and yet neither; being miles and seas divided from the one; and assured the account of my departure from life, would be most acceptable news to the other. Filled with this thought, together with the discourse I had just been attending to, a silent tear irresistibly fell from my eyes, which Mr. O'Neill taking notice of, earnestly pressed me to explain the causes of it to him: as it would be ungrateful to conceal the recesses of my soul from such a benefactor, I confessed I was thinking of my poor mother, the memory of whose tenderness and affection to me, this scene presented to my imagination in full view; and that I was lamenting the uncertainty I was under about her fate, whether she still existed, or was now no more. Mr. O'Neill comforted me with a promise, that as soon as we arrived in Dublin he would himself make the strictest enquiry into that matter; and that if he discovered my mother was in being, he would put it in my power to show the duty and regard I had for her. This was too delicate a point to dwell long upon, and the conversation was waived, by Mrs. Broderick's calling Mr. O'Neill into another apartment till supper time. The mean while I employed in amusing the children with little stories, which so much endeared me to them, that they reluctantly permitted my departure from amongst them on any terms.

I was now about fourteen; and though that is a time of life when lads are most disagreeable to the society of men, and grave persons in general, yet I had nothing of the school-boy in my behaviour, I affected the man as much as possible in every serious respect, particularly attending to the conversation of such as might improve my own, and always preserving silence where I was not equal to the subject: by this means I considerably refined my intellects, and became sufferable in the community. Though I was infinitely delighted with the address and delivery of every person about me, yet I found a peculiar charm in the conversation of Miss Broderick; a young lady whose age might have been twenty, and whose extreme good sense was unequalled by her every other accomplishment, except her good-nature and politeness. She was not what the world calls a beauty, the smallpox having enviously stolen from her face some charms which might allure the eye; but not in such a manner that there did not still remain an ineffable sweetness and grandeur of look blended with condescension, modesty and penetration.

The frequent opportunities I had of being alone with this young lady, from our mutual kindness music and poetry, gave me more and more occasions to admire her. The companionate regard with which she attended to the many affecting passages of my former life, that oft-times made a part of our discourse; and the ardent desire she seemed to have for my future welfare, together with her still outstripping my wishes in anything she imagined might oblige me, created that kind of esteem, which time or absence can never remove; and surely, at this distance of years, the world and she will forgive me, if I confess, that love, most sincere love, was the consequence of so much kindness on my part. How it was on the lady's, she only knows, nor dare I presume to flatter myself she entertained a thought of that kind.

A day or two after we were settled here, another daughter of Mrs. Broderick's paid her a visit. This lady was the widow of Colonel Jeffreys, of Blarney Castle, in this county; who had two sons with her, the eldest of whom was about twelve years old, and had a great share of knowledge for his years. With this young gentleman I contracted a strict friendship, and run into all the boyish frolics that could be thought of. The children in general were so fond of my company, that it frequently debarred me of conversation much more desirable; however, there was no getting rid of them without offence, when Miss Broderick made one of our party, which frequently happened; in plundering the cherry orchard, gathering wood- strawberries, or collecting beautiful shells on the strand; in awakening the silent echo with a song, or beguiling the tedious hours with a fairy or Peruvian tale (at which she was truly eminent) I knew not how the smiling moments wasted; all was joy, transport and unspeakable delight.

In order to give my readers an idea of this family, and the harmony that universally reigned in it, I will, as well as I can recollect, tell them the manner in which every day was passed, that we were not visiting abroad. At nine o'clock in the morning there was a table spread, in a large room that commanded a delightful prospect of the sea, with tea, coffee and chocolate. Mr. O'Neill drank balm tea always, which I first, through good manners, brought myself to, and afterwards really preferred to any other, from its high balsamic flavour, and medicinal qualities. It raises the spirits to the greatest pitch, sweetens the blood, and invigorates the nerves; in short, if it came from Canton, and was twenty shillings a pound, I am persuaded it would be universally in vogue.

Any of the family, who did not choose to be at this general breakfast, might have whatever best pleased them in their own apartment; but as they were no invalids amongst us, it rarely happened we were not all present. From this till twelve we dispersed in parties, to walk, to read, sing, play or dress, without the least formality or restraint; at that hour the bell tolled for prayers, which were read by Mrs. Broderick's chaplain, and at which the whole family, servants and all, commonly appeared.

At three dinner was on the table, to which we were summoned by a bell for half an hour; where the relation of our different amusements, the planning of succeeding ones, wit and repartee, blended with strict politeness and good manners, commonly formed the table conversation.

The first party of pleasure we embarked in, was an expedition to Ballycotton, an exploit that was near costing me my life. This place is a fine harbour for shipping, and a large extensive bay, covered by excessive mountains on every side; but it is so little used, that I could perceive no town or village near it; nor had a numerous company of us any place to be entertained, but in a cottage thatched with straw. However, we brought all kinds of provision, wine and conveniences with us, and likewise Mrs. Broderick's cook to dress some fish, which was here in its highest purity.

While the company and servants were employed in breaking down fences, to make a road for carriages to this identical cabin, myself, who was mounted on a very sorry palfrey, endeavoured to find a shorter way; and having observed a path down a monstrous promontory, whose side was covered with sharp, craggy and dangerous rocks, just wide enough for one person to go down on foot to the strand, I, with my usual discretion, let my Rosinante saunter along this dreadful passage, which I believe the immortal Don Quixote himself would have endeavoured to shun, except he was certain to find Dulcinea at the bottom. Mr. O'Neill, when he had completed the road, at which he himself worked, turned round to look for me, but I was nowhere above ground to be seen: at length he cast his eye down the mountain, and behold I appeared to him like one on horseback, surveyed from some lofty steeple, as they after told me, scarce discernible. Mr. O'Neill, who never indeed thought to hear me speak again, threw himself on his breast upon the earth, saying, Lord have mercy on him, I can behold no more. By this time I saw myself suspended between earth and air, heard the wide billows bursting on the rocks, and saw nothing but the over-whelming ocean before me. I began to be frightened, and with a presence of mind unaccountable indeed, got first on the horse's neck, and then got over his head; which was no sooner done, and my hand happily disengaged from the bridle, than the horse made a faux pas, and fell precipitately down a thousand and a thousand fathoms, by which he was instantly dashed to pieces, small enough for the ravens and gulls that screeched the omens of his downfall.幽earkye critics, if this style displeases you, or is inconsistent with your pragmatical rules, know, ragamuffins, that I will write as I think proper; 'tis the sensible and elegant I address myself to; nor do I regard the formal pedantic maxims you lay down, to confine everyone in the same circle of dullness you move yourselves: incorrigible men!

Contrary to the expectation of everyone who beheld me, I came safe and sound to the bottom; to the agreeable surprise of my friends, who all came to wish me joy, and join with me in thanks to the Almighty for so miraculous a deliverance.

It may be asked, why Mr. O'Neill, who is known to possess some of the finest cattle in Europe, should mount me on so sorry a nag? The truth is, I am the worst rider, perhaps, who ever crossed a horse, and consequently would not venture myself on the back of one, whose value exceeded forty shillings.

Give me leave, indulgent reader, to digress one moment from the past to the present time, lest I should forget a circumstance that certainly will produce admiration. There are in this opulent city a set of men, who hang out the sign of the three blue balls at their door, and who are the readiest persons in the world at an emergency. They indeed take a little gratuity for their trouble, but that is so inconsiderable, that few persons of spirit would not more willingly pay it, than be indebted to their acquaintances; at least I would, and I candidly own I have frequently had recourse to them, when I have been most at a loss which way to turn: one of them in particular, my servant frequently told me, was certainly a gentleman by his behaviour; nay, the other day she peremptorily insisted, that the was sure he would subscribe to my book, if I was to ask him: I laughed heartily at the absurdity of the proposition, and gave it as my opinion, that a pawn-broker would as soon give me ten of his teeth, as ten and sixpence for a subscription. The girl did not discontinue her importunities to get rid of them, and, for once, to make an extraordinary experiment, I wrote the following lines:

To Mr. G覧

 

TO the highest and best, in each different station,
For subscription, we scribblers address application
By the dull, or the envious, it can't be denied,
That you at the head of your science preside;
Besides, 'tis from frequent experience confessed,
That of all the fraternity, G覧's the best.
To write is my trade, to take movables thine,
As I help you in yours, give assistance in mine;
Then to ages remote, I'll the wonder transmit,
That a pawn-broker lent ten and sixpence on wit.

 

P. S. The bearer, my maid, persuades me, that you will subscribe to the enclosed proposal; for my own part, I confess, want faith to believe it: your answer is to determine, which of us has the most sagacity.
J. C. P.

The manner of the above will show, how little I expected a compliance with my request, though I absolutely never stood more in need of half a guinea. My maid told me, that the instant Mr. G覧 read it, he put his hand in his pocket, and paid her that sum; saying, he was pleased in an opportunity to serve the son of the great Mrs. Pilkington, and many other civil things, too much in praise of myself to be properly repeated here.

I'll leave my readers to comment on so marvellous a passage in my history, and return to Ballycotton; from whence I have rambled all the way to London, in less than half an hour, because I would make a kind of analogy between one miracle and another.

After having recovered from my surprise, we came along a beautiful level strand, to the house of entertainment before mentioned, where we had indeed a most splendid repast. After which the conversation turning on. accidents, resulting from pleasure and gaiety, Miss Broderick entertained us with the following story, which she assured us was a fact, and which I have since heard confirmed by several persons of equal veracity.

Mr. and Mrs. Coddington, of Oldbridge town, near Drogheda, who had a liberal fortune and beautiful estate, situated on the Boyne water, just at the place where King William's army crossed it, were patterns of hospitality, virtue, and conjugal affection. Their house was the continual resort of both the indigent and the gay; the first found relief, and the latter pleasure and entertainment, they were therefore venerated by all beneath them, and beloved as well by their equals as their superiors.

Heaven blessed them with one son who seemed from his infancy born to inherit their mutual good qualities, as well as their fortune: as this young gentleman advanced towards manhood, he advanced in all the politer arts that finish that character; but as this cannot be completely done by mere precept or speculation, it was necessary he should take the tour of Europe, in order to know men as well as books.

So excessively fond were this happy couple of this their beloved and only offspring, that they imagined it not safe for him to go abroad without their accompanying him; so that if any accident happened at sea, as their whole comfort was centred in his life, they might all perish together.

After having made all the preparations requisite for such an undertaking, the whole family set out for Paris, at which place they arrived safe and in full health and spirits. After they had been there some time, they had an invitation to a splendid ball; upon which occasion the young gentleman, very lovely in .his person, was so elegantly dressed, that he attracted the eyes of the whole company. A young lady, whom he approved more than any other present, he selected out to dance with him; but she at first modestly declined it, and upon his further entreaties; absolutely refused him. While young. Mr. Coddington walked to the other end of the room, his mother, whom the young lady did not know, and a gentlewoman whom she was acquainted with, came to her, and asked, why she, being the brightest female in the place, could refuse her hand to so handsome a young gentleman? She answered, that she had her own reasons, gave a deep sigh, and endeavoured to avoid more conversation. This awakened all the curiosity of an affectionate mother, who concluded, that the young lady was in love with her son; she therefore eagerly pressed her to explain that sigh, and likewise her previous behaviour.

Madam, replied the lady, I think, in my life, I never beheld so many unstudied charms, as appear in that amiable foreigner; nor did I ever behold a youth my heart would sooner incline me to give my hand to, if it were consistent with the will of our parents. After telling you this so candidly, you will judge my refusing to dance with him proceeded from no dislike, either to his country, person or breeding; but, alas! Madam, I see with grief and horror, that, before this day twelve months, that amiable blossom of youth and comeliness will die an untimely death.

Judge what an alarm this prognostication was to the attentive parent who, though she had a great share of good sense, could not be unalarmed at the dreadful presage. However, she passed it off with a becoming decency, and did not interrupt the pleasures of the company or the night, which ended in great harmony.

When the old gentleman and lady retired to their apartment, she acquainted him with what had passed, in a very serious and pathetic manner. After having gravely attended to her, he burst out a-laughing, and told her he minded no such fancies, and entreated she would think no more of it: she told him, he knew her too well to suppose her superstitious, but at the same time they could not be too careful in watching against accidents, where they had such a warning given them; therefore, my dear, said she, as you never refused any favour requested by me, I hope you will now oblige me, by returning with our son to Ireland, where there is scarce a danger but we may be guarded against. The good man, already weary of travelling, was pleased with the motion, gave his consent, and without letting the young gentleman know their motive, embarked in a few weeks for Ireland; where after a short passage, they landed safe, and again took possession of their own fireside.

They continued in their usual tranquillity eleven months, at which time Mr. Coddington began to banter his wife in private, about her Joan de Pucelles prophecy, as he termed it; nay, the young man was well and safe, till the night before the predicted time was to expire; which night, she ordered the servants to lock every door in the house, and bring her the keys: she then went and saw every bit of fire and candle in the house extinguished; after doing this she retired to repose, and fastened her bedchamber door. Young Mr. Coddington was a keen sportsman, and had made an appointment to go a hunting the succeeding morning, of which his mother had no knowledge: when he arose and found all doors fast, he demanded of the servant the meaning of it? They informed him it was done by his mother's command: oh! very well, said he, then I'll get out at the window, which he accordingly did. As soon as he came to the water side, he found the dogs and horses were gone across the river, therefore determining not to lose game for a little obstacle, he put himself from the shore in a small cot or canoe. This was carried down by the strong current for half a mile, when it overset, and the youth was unfortunately drowned, in presence of his friends and servants, who, for want of a boat, could afford him no assistance: so that the first object which struck the afflicted mother's eye, when she arose in the morning to look out of the window, and thought her fears were over, was the corpse of her son carried on a board by some of the servants. The lamenting father, on hearing the news, instantly became a lunatic, and died raving mad in a few weeks after. The poor mother, unable to survive the loss of all that was dear to her, broke her heart with grief; so that a whole family, who might have promised themselves years of comfort, were extinguished by one fatal event in less than three months.

When the lady had finished this tragic narration, with infinitely greater perspicuity than I have repeated it, we returned home. Some days after we went to the races of Carrigtwohill, accompanied by Lady Freke, Miss Broderick, Lord Buttevant, and some others: as I sat in a high phaeton with Mr. O'Neill, I commanded a fine prospect of the ground, and had another advantage I did not then think of, of being seen per tout le monde. Before the races began we went into a tent, where, as the ladies were the majority of the company, they insisted on treating us with the best entertainment the place afforded. Mr. O'Neill, who is a known lover of horse-racing, was not content to continue in one spot, but having fixed Miss Broderick and myself in the most advantageous situation, he mounted his horse and rode up and down the field. During his absence a gentleman on horse-back came up, and saluted me by name, assuring me, that he was extremely glad to see me well; that he and his two sisters were come to see the races, and he entreated the favour of my company to the little island, where his house was. I could not but be amazed at this flow of compliments, from one of those lukewarm friends, who had lately looked so coolly on my adversity. This gentleman's name was H覧y; he was one of those, who, whilst I continued with my uncle, was ready to devour me with caresses and protestations; and who, upon my reverse of fortune, was as careful to avoid me as a pestilence. Though he was a man of some fortune, and a student in the temple, yet I knew he was not equal to the company I then was in, or the acquaintances I had now made; therefore I looked as indifferently on him and his invitation at this time, as I should in my distresses have been proud to accept it: but yet my vanity and resentment were equally gratified, by his seeing me so happily circumstanced, and the more so, as Mr. O'Neill, Lord Buttevant; and several of the first rank in that part of the world, soon after came up and joined us. I told Mr. O'Neill of the invitation I had from Mr. H覧y and, as he was still present, asked if Mr. O'Neill would permit me to go. This Mr. H覧y backed, by desiring the favour of Mr. O'Neill to let me go for that night with him and his sisters, and he would himself see me safe to Ballyannan the next day. Mr. O'Neill, who did not know how much I was averse to accept this offered civility, told Mr. H覧y, that though he deprived himself and his friends of much pleasure by it, he could not refuse to acquiesce with any desire of mine. Mr. H覧y returned him many thanks, and took me off quite enraptured to his sisters, who were in a coach waiting for us, and who expressed as much satisfaction at my presence as possible.

In the afternoon we arrived at the little island, which is very pleasant and romantically situated, being surrounded by the river, except in one passage wide enough for a coach. Though Mr. H覧y's sisters were tolerably handsome, and played very well on the harpsichord; and though they exerted all their skill to please and entertain me, yet when I reflected on Mr. H覧y's former behaviour, I could not bring my spirits into a right flow. The image of the lady I had parted from was dearer to me, even in idea, than beholding in reality all the finished beauties of Christendom: all my conversation was praises of her sense, beauty and merit, particularly in music, which could not be very pleasing to ladies who were emulous to excel in those points themselves; but one of them, in order at once to put me in temper, and to secure my good opinion, pulled a handsome diamond ring from her finger and placed it on mine, asking me at the same time, if Miss Broderick had ever done so much for me? Her brother and sister were present, and as I observed they looked gravely at her, I was for returning it, but she absolutely insisted on my keeping it, and wearing it for her sake. I confess it had an instantaneous effect on my spirits; I then began to sing, dance, and enjoy the company, giving myself entirely to them. When all our pastimes were over, and I retired to bed, I could not rest for the thoughts of my ring. I knew it was valuable and ornamental, and imagined it would do me great honour at my return; but still I was perplexed, lest the lady should repent of her liberality, and take it from me in the morning. No miser, who suspected anyone had watched him to his hidden treasure, ever spent a night with greater anxiety or less repose. Though I had taken care to lock myself into my bed-chamber, yet, whenever I dozed, I imagined the lady came to demand the ring: in short, finding all my efforts to sleep ineffectual, I arose by daybreak, and wandered about the island till the family were up. They were much surprised when I acquainted them I had no rest, and more so to find I looked quite stupid. I was glad to take the hint of feigning myself unwell, to depart as soon as possible with my prize, for this reason: no persuasions, though many were made use of, could prevail with me to stay any longer; therefore, to get rid of my importunities, they found it necessary to let me obey the impulse of my mind, and they accordingly ordered a one-horse chaise and footman to conduct me: Mr. H覧y making many excuses for his not waiting on me himself, and I as readily accepting them, as I did not covet his company. After I had saluted all the family, and was just going into the carriage, the Lady besought me to return the ring, as it was a family trinket, and could be of no use to a young gentleman. I complied with her request, but so covered with shame, disappointment and resentment, as must have been perceived by my countenance. I had some miles to travel, and amused myself with the gloom of my own thoughts; one time blaming myself for being so great a fool to imagine the lady intended me such a favour; another; cursing my stars for not leaving the house when I first awoke; that again appeared too mercenary: upon the whole, I never met anyone circumstance that made me so completely miserable for two or three days. When I returned to my friends, they perceived a visible alteration in my countenance, (which they humorously attributed to my being in love with Miss H覧y; whereas I might justly have said with Mr. Bays, I was the farthest from it of any man in the world; and all that. I did not, however, subject myself to a severer ridicule, by telling the occasion of my dejection; but I tell it to my readers as an instance of my credulous folly, at which they will frequently find occasion to laugh.

 

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