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ItMFT Constantia somewhat abruptly in my last paper ; and, to say the truth, father in* an awkward predicament; but as I do not like to interrupt young ladies in their blushes, I took occasion to call offthe reader's attention from her, and bestowed it upon other ladies, who are ■ot subject to the same embarrassments.
Our party soon broke up after this event: Ned and I repaired to our apartments in the Poultry, Constantia to those stumbersj which purity inspires, temperance endears, and devotion blesses.
The next morning brought Ned to my levee; he had lain awake all night, but no noises were complained of; they were not in the fault of having deprived him of his repose.
He took up the Morning Paper, and the play-house advertisements caught his eye. He began to question me about The Clandestine Marriage, which was up for the night at Drury Lane: Was it a comedy? I told him, Yes, and an admirable one. Then it ended happily, he presumed: Certainly it did: a very amiable young woman was clandestinely married to a deserving young man, and both parties at the close of the fable were reconciled to their friends and made happy in each other. And is all this represented on the stage? cried Ned :—All this with many more incidents is acted 6n the stage, and so acted, let me assure you, as leaves the merit of the perforrners only to be exceeded by that of the Jioet ;■—This is fine indeed! replied he; (hen as sure at can be I will be there this very night, if you think they will adiriit a country clown like me.—There was no fear of that.—Very well then; is not fids the plav of all plays for Constantia? Oh .' that t had old '8urly there too; what would I give, to hare her granJ
father at her elbow • He was so possessed with the idea, and built his castles in the air so nimbly, that I could not find in my heart to dash the vifion by throwing any bar in it's way, though enough occurred to me, had I been disposed to employ them.
Away posted Ned—(quantum tnutatus ab i/10.') on the wings of love to) Saint Mary Axe; what rhetoric he there made use of I cannot pretend to fay, but certainly he came back with a decree in his favour for Mrs Abrahams and Con-r stantia to accompany him to the comedy, if I would undertake to convoy the party; for honest Abrahams, (though a dear lover of the muse, and as much attached to stage-plays as his countryman Shvlock was a-verse from them) had an unlucky engagement elsewhere; and u for Mrs Goodrson, Ned had sagaciously discovered that Ihe had some objection to the title of the comedy in her own particular, though (he stated none against her daughter's being there.
After an early dinner with Abrahams,we repaired to the theatre, four in number, and whilst the second music was> playing, posted Ourselves with all due precaution on the third row of one of the front boxes, where places had beers kept for us; Mrs Abrahams on my left hind against the partition of tlie box, and Constantia on the other hand between her admirer and me.
There is something captivating in that buist of splendor, Teener)-, hum«i beauty and festivity, which a royal theatre displays to every spectator on his entrance} what then must have been the stroke on his optics who never entered one before? Ned looked about him with furprise, and had there not been a centraT point -of artiactiony to -which* his -eyes
were necessarily impelled by laws not lose irresistible than those of gravitation, there might have been no speedy stop to the eccentricity of their motions. It was not indeed one of thole delightfullycrowded houses, which theatrical advertisers announce so rapturously to draw succeeding audiences to the comforts of succeeding crowds, there to enjoy the peals of the loudest plaudits and most roaring bursts of laughter, bestowed upon the tricks of a harlequin or the gibberish of a buffoon; but it was a full assembly of rational beings, convened for the enjoyment of a rational entertainment, where the ears were not in danger of being insulted by_ribaldry, nor the underllandmglirK-llcdbythelspectacleoffolly. • Ned was charmed with the^comedy, and soon became deeply interested for Loveweil and Fanny, on whose distressful situation be made many natural remarks to his fair neighbour, and she on her part bellowed more attention on.the scene than was strictly reconcileable to modern high-breeding. The representative of Lord Ogleby put him into some alarm at first, and he whispered in my «ar, that he Hoped the merry old gentleman was not really so ill as lie seemed to be ;—for I am sure, adds he, he would be the best actor in the world, was he lo recover his health, since lie can make lo good a stand even at death's door. I put his heart to rest by assuring him that his sickness was all a fiction, and that the fame olddecrepid invalid, when he had washed the wrinkles put of his face, was as gay and sprightly as the best, aye, added I, and in his real character one of the bell into the bargain. I am glad of it, I am glad of it to my heart, arifwered Ned, I hope he will never have one half of the complaints which he counterfeits; but 'tis surprising what some men can do.
In the interval of the second act, an aged gentleman of a grave and senatorial appearance, in a full-dressed suit of purple rateen aud a flowing white Wig, entered the box alone, and as he was looking out for a feat, it was with pleasure I observed the young idlers at the back pay respect to his age and person by making way for him, and pointing to a spare place on our bench, to Which he advanced, and after some apologies natural to a well-bred man took his feat on tur range.
His eyes immediately paid the tribute, which even age could not withhold from tiic beauty ot CoaiUatia; he regarded
her with more than a cofttmon degree of sensibility and attention; he watched for opportunities of speaking to her every now and then, at the shifting of a ll-cue or the exit of a performer; he asked hef* opinion of the actors of the comedy; and at the conclusion of the act said to her, I dare believe, young lady, you are no siiend to the title oithis comedy. I shoald be no friend- to it, replied Constantil, if the author had drawd so unnatural a character at an unreleo4 ing father. One such monster in au age, cried Ned, taking up the discourse, Is erne too many. When I overheard these words, and noticed the effect which they had upon him, combining it also with his emotions at certain times, when he examined the features of Constant!*, with a fixed attention, a thought arose in my mind of a romantic uatuve, which I kept to myself, that we might possibly" be in company with the father of Mrs, Goodison, and that Ned's prophetic wishes were actually veiifiecf When Fanny is discovered to be a married woman at the close of the comedy, and the' father in his fury cries out to her husband—' Loveweil, you shall leave my 'house directly; and you shall follow • him, Madam—Ned could not refrain himself from exclaiming, Q, the hardened monster !—but whilst the words were on his lips, Lord Ogleby immediately replied to the father in the very words which benevolence would have dictated—4 And if they do, I will receive 'them into mine,' whereupon the whols theatre gave a loud applause, and Constantia, whilst the tear of sensibility and gratitude started in her eye, taking advantage of the general noise to address herself to Ned without being overheard* remarked to him—That this was an effusion of generosity she could not scruple to applaud, since she had an example in her eye which convinced her it was in nature. Pardon me, replied Ned, 1 find nothing in the sentiment to call for my applause, every man would act as Lord Ogleby does; but there is only one saw ther living who would play the part of that brute Sterling, and I wish old Goodison was here it my elbow to fe* the copy of his own hateful features. It was evident that the stranger who sot next to Ned overheard this reply, foe he gave a sudden start, which shook hie frame, and darting an angry glance, suddenly exclaimed—Sir!—and then ai suddenly recollecting himself, checked hit) speech and bit his lips In sudden silence
This W passed Mrithout being observed by N. (!, who turning round at the word, Vhi.ii he conceived was addressed to him, kid in a mild tone—Did you speak to me, Sir? to which the old gentleman snaking no answer, the matter passed unnoticed, except by me.
Ai soon as the comedy was over, our box iteran to empty1 itself into the Iti'oby, when the stranger seeing the bench unoccupied behind me, left hi» place and planted himself at mv back. I was now more than ever possessed with the idea of his heing old Goodison, and wistied lo ascertain if possible the certainty of my gutfi; I therefc-; made a pretence to the ladies of giving them more room, ar.d stept back to the bench on which fce was sitting. After a tew words in the way of apology, he aikrri roe, if he might without offence request the name of the young lady he had just quitted; with this I readily complied, and when 1 gave her name, methought he seemed prepared to accept it i He asked me if nor morher was a widow f 1 told (he was—Where was she at present, and in what con iition? She was at present in the house of a most benevolent creature, who had k-escued her from the deepest distress—Might he alk the name of the person who had done that good action? I told him both his name and place of abode; described in as few words as I :<nild the situation he had found her and 2onUantia in; spoke briefly, but warmly, of his character, and omitted not to five him as many particulars of my riend Ned as I thought necessary: In inclusion, T made myself also known to lim, and explained what my small part izd been in the transaction. He made i* acknowledgments for these commuicatioiis in very handsome terms, and ben, after a short pause, in which he rmtxl under difficulty how to proceed, c spoke to this effect: "lam aware that I shall introduce mylf to you under some disadvantages, ♦en I tell you I am the father of that 3ung woman's mother: but if you are ■t a parent yourself, you cannot judge a parent's feelings towards an unduti/ child; and if you are one, I hopein have not had, nor will have, the perience of what I hive felt: Let that fs therefore without further-comment! lave now determined to seeriy daugh-, and I hope I may avail myself of ur good offices in preparing her for the erview ; I wisti it to take place to-morw, and if you foresee BO objection, VOL. VII. No4ir ^
let our meeting be at the' house of he? benefactor Mr Abrahams; for to that worthy person, as you describe him tU be, I have many necessary apologies to make, and more thanks than I know how to repay1; for the present, I must beg you will say nothing about me in this place.
To all these points I gave him satis* factory assurances, and iettled the hour of twelve next day for the meeting t he then drew a shagreen cafe out of his Pocket, which he put into my hand* faying, that if I would compare that face with Constantia'a I could not won* der at the agitation which so strong a family-resemblance had given him; it was a portrait of his deceased wife at Constantia's age; the first glance he had of her features had struck him to the heart; he could not keep his eyes front her j (he was indeed a perfect beauty g he had never beheld any thing to compare with her, but that counterpart of her image then in my hand \ he begged to have it in my care till our meeting next morning; perhaps, added he, the sight of it will give a pang of sensibility to my poor discarded child, but I think it will give her joy also, if you tender it as a pledge of my reconciliation and returning love.
Here his voice shook, his eyes sward in tears, and clasping my hand eagerly between his, he conjured.me to rrmem* ber what I had promised, and hastened out of the house.
When I had parted from the old gentleman, I sound Mrs Abrahams desirous to r.-turn home, being somewhat indisposed by ihe heat of the theatre, fo that I lost no time in getting her and Constantia into the conch,: In our way homeward?, ) repoTted the conversation 1 had held with Mr Goodison: the different effects it had upon my hearer* were such as mighf be expected from their several characters; the gentle spirit of Constantia found relief in tears; her grateful heart discharged itself in praises and thanksgivings to Providence s Mrs Abrahams forgot her head-ach, fell* citated herself in having prevailed upon Mrs Goodison to consent to her daughter's going to the play, declared she had a presentiment that something fortunate1 would come to pass, thought the title of frit comedy was a lucky omen, congratulated Constantia over and over, and begged to be indulged in the pleasure of telling these most joyful tidings to her* ftoodfflin at home: J«d put in hi* claim
•for a share of the prophecy no less than Mr? Abrahams; he had a kind of a something in his thoughts, when Goodison Cat at hii elbow, that did not quite aroount to a discovery, and yet it wit very like it s he had a fort of an impulse to give.him a gird or two upon the character of Sterling, aud he was very sure that what he threw out upon tho occasion made him squeak, and that the discovery would never have come about, if it had not been for him; he even advanced some learned remarks upon the good effect of stage-plays in giving touches to the conscience, though I do pretend to fay he had Jeremy Collier in his thoughts at the time; in short, what between the Hebrew and the Christian there was little or nothing left for my (hare in the work, so that I contented myself with cautioning Constantia how stie broke it to her mother, and recommended to Mrs Aliraliams to confine her discourse to her husband, and leave Constantia to undertake for Mrs Goodison.
When we arrived st our journey's end, we found the honest Jew alone, and surprised him before ht expected us i Mrs Goodison was gone to bed a little indisposed, Constantia hastened up to her without entering the parlour; Mr Abrahams let loose the clapper os joy, and rang in the good news with so full a peal, and so many changes, that there was too more to be. done on my part but to Correct a few trips in the performance of the nature of pleonasms, which were calculated to improve the tale in every particular but the truth of it. When she had fairly acquitted herself of the history, she began to recollect her head ach, and then left us very thoroughly disposed to have a fellow-feeling in the same complaint.
After a few natural reflections upon the event, soberly debated *nd patiently delivered, I believe we were all of one mind in wishing for a new sub* ject, and a silence took place safficiently preparatory for its introduction; when Abraham?,putting on a grave and serious look, in a more solemn tone of voice than I had ever heard him assume, delivered* himself ai follows:
• There is something, Gentlemen, presles on my mind, which seems a duty on my conscience to impart to you r I canHot reconcile myself to play the counterfeit in your eDiripany, and therefore if ■you will have patience to listen to a few particulars of a life, so uuimyartint as
mine, I will not infrud* long up.in your attention, and at worst it may serve to fill up a few spare minutes befere we are called to our meal.
I need not repeat what was said on our parts; we drew our chairs rcirr 1 the fire: Abrahams gave a sigh, hemmed twice or thrice, as if the words in riling to his throat had choaked l.irr, and thus began :—
I was born in Spiin, the only son of i younger brother of an ancient and noble house, which, like many others of-the fimc origin and persuasion, had Ion; been in the indispensable practice of conforming to the- established religion, whilst secretly, and under the most guarded concealment, every member of it without exception hath adhered to those opinions which have Iwen the faith of our tribe from the earliest ages.
This I trust will account to you farms declining to expose my real name, aui justify the discretion of my afllimini the fictitious one, by which I am no* known to you.
Till I had reached mv twentieth wear, I knew myself for nothing but a C"hristian, if that may be called Christianity which monkish superstition and idolatry have so adulterated and distorted from moral purity of its scriptural guides, as to keep no traces even of rationality in its form and practice.
This period of life is the usual season for the parents of an aduh to reveal to him the awful secret of their concealed religion: The circumstances,under which this tremendous discovery is confided to the youth, are so contrived as to iniprnt upon his heart the strongest seal of secrecy, and at the same time present to his choice the alternative of parricide or conformity r With me there was no hesitation; none could be j for the yoke of UoVie had galled my conscience till a festered, and I seized emancipation with the avidity of a ransomed slave, whe escapes out of the hands of infidels.
Upon our great and solemn day of the Passover, I was initiated into Judaism; my father conducted me to the interior chamber of a suite of apartments, forked1 even' door, through which we pafievf, with great precaution, and not uttering a syllable by the way; in this secure retreat he proposed to celebrate that amirs I rite, whi. h our nation holds Co sacrw ■ He was at that time in an alarming decline; the agitating talk he had been engaged in overpowarred his spirits; whilh he was yet speaking to me, and say eyes
were fixed upon his face, the hind of death smote him; I saw his eye-lids quiver; I heard him draw his last expiring Ugh, and falling dead upon my neck as I was kneeling at his feet, he brought me backwards to the floor, where I lay panting under his lifeless cor 1, , scarce more alivr than he was.
The noise of his fall, and the horrid flu-irks I !>egan to utter, for I had no prtsi-nce of mind in that fatal moment, were unfortunately overheard, far as we were removed from the family : The loom we were in had a communication ■with our private chauel; the monk, who was our family-confeffor, had a masterkey, which commanded avenues to that place; he was then before the altar, when my fries reached his ears; he ascended hastily- by the private stair-rase, and finding the door locked, his terror at my yells adding strength to a colossal form, with one vehement kick he burst open the door, and, besides the tragic spectacle on the ground, too plainly discovered the dainniug proofs of our apostaev.
Vile wretch, cried he, as he seized hold of my father's body, unholy villain, circumcised infidel! I thank my God for having smote thee with a sudden judgment: Lie there like a dog as thou art, and expect the burial of a dog. This laid, with one furious jerk of his arm, he hurled the venerable corpse of the most benevolent of God's creatures with the utmost violence to the corner of the room : Whilst I tell it my blood curdles; 1 heard his head dash against the marble floor: I did not dare to turn my eyes to the spot; the sword, which my father bad presented to my hand, and pointed at his own breast, when he imparted to me his faith, lay naked on the floor; I grasped it in my hand; nature tugged at my heart; I felt an impulse irresistible; I buried it in the bowels of the monk: I thrust it home with so good a will, that the guard entangled in the cord that was tied about his carcase; I left my weapon in the body, and the ponderous bigot fell thundering on the pavement.
A ready thought, which seemed like inspiration, seized me; I disposed my father's corpse m decent order; drew the ring from his finger, on which the symbol of our tribe was engraved in Hebrew characters; I took away those fatal tokens which had betrayed us: there were implements, for writing on a table; I wrote the folWine words on
a scroll of paper—" This monk fell by "my hand; he merited the death I "gave him: Let not my father's me« "mory be attainted! He is innocent, "and died suddenly by the will of Hea"ven, and not by the hand of man."— This 1 signed with my name, and affixed to the breast of the monk; then imprinting a last kiss upon the hand of my dead father, 1 went foft'y down the secret stairs, and passing thro' the chapel, escaped out of the house unnoticed by any of the family.
Our house stood at one extremity of the antient city of Segovia; I made my way as fast as my feet would transport me to the forests of San Ildephonso, and there sheltered myself till night came on: by fliort and stealthy journeys, through various perils and almost incredible hardships* I arrived at Barcelona; I made mylelf known to an English) merchant, fettled there, who had long been a correspondent of my father's, and was employed by our family in the exportation of their wool, which is the chief produce of estates in the great plain of Segovia, so famous for it's sheep: By this gentleman I was supplied with money and necessaries; he also gave me letters of credit upon his correspondent in London, and took a passage for me in a very commodious and capital ship bound to that port, but intermediately to Smyrna, whither she was chartered with a valuable cargo; Ever since the unhappy event in Segovia, it had been my first and constant wish to take refuge in England; nothing therefore could be more acceptable than these letters of credit and introduction, and being eager to place myself under the protection of a nation, whose generosity all Europe bears testimony to, 1 lost not a moment in embarking on board the British Lion, (for so the ship was named) and in this asylum I for the first time found that repose of mind and body, which for more than two months I had been a stranger to.
Here I fortunately made acquaintance with a very worthy and ingenious gentleman, who was going to settle at Smyrna as physician to the factory, and to the care and humanity of this excellent person, under Providence, I am indebted for my recovery from a very dangerous) fever, which seized me on the third day after my coming an board; This gentleman resided many years at Smyrna, and practised there with great success .