Ira and Isabella, or, The Natural Children
by William Hill Brown
IRA AND ISABELLA:
FOUNDED IN FICTION.
A POSTHUMOUS WORK.
BY THE LATE
WILLIAM H. BROWN,
"Fictitious histories might be employed for very useful purposes:
They furnish one of the best channels for conveying instruction; for
painting human life and manners; for shewing the errors into which we
are betrayed by our passions; for rendering virtue amiable, and vice
I would freely give any sophist the best of my two hats to
satisfy my mind in one thing. I am mightily troubled about a literary
alternative. The question is this. Shall I lament the perverse taste of
the times, or candidly confess my own barrenness of invention?
A sprightly moral-mending Frenchman deplores the loss of
fairyism. It was to lively imaginations a source of innocent pleasure,
and the handsomest way in the world of forming agreeable dreams. The
fairy which protected Alcidonis, and the familiar demon of Socrates,
might furnish hints of harmless narration to a fertile fancy.
Marmontel made this observation in all the festivity of French
vivacity... But I, who am not French, either in versatility or by
nation, feel myself possessed of abundance of excellent morals, but
consolidated gravity. So it would seem that I am more capable of
exhibiting my talent by dealing out saturnine opinions, than pleasing a
novel reader by a sublime anticlimax of ingenious description. Yet, may
be, like certain political, poetical, mercantile and amorous geniuses,
I am a little mistaken in my own character.
I lament the want of machinery
in modern novels. But most
of all I grieve for the extinction of the eastern manner: There
could I have shown myself in all my glory; there could I have fired
away in periods sonorous, lofty, musical and unmeaning, and proved
myself a Confucius or Xixzoffou by the orientality of
sentiments, grand, obscure, magnificent and incomprehensible. Genii and
giants, magii and magicians, invincible castles and palaces of
enchantment, should have spontaneously arisen from one stroke of my
immortal wand. Groves of coral should have been visible in the
transparent stream of my descriptions, and rocks of diamond should have
blazed in every page.
Alas! that the perverse fashion of the present day should stretch
forth the hand of interdiction to bar my passage to glory, honour and
to a long list of convenient et-cæteras.
I am loth to find fault with the world, because I am persuaded
the world must and will maintain me. To despise myself for lack of
faculty, is mending the matter very little. Would it disconcert the
economy of a critical countenane, to say, I have taken for my own
use and behoof, a style peculiar to myself? It may be denominated the
COMPOSITE style, as it partakes of the English relation, and
the French dialogue. To bring about this end requires a novelty:
That the character be so strongly designated that the reader may know
who is the speaker, not only by the insertion of said he and
said she, but, in some small degree, by the uniformity of
the speaker's sentiments. But alas! here is another mortifying
requisition. To effect this thing demands genius. Some of the sagacious
and indefatigable commentators on the divine Shakespeare, have, to
their eternal honour, discovered, that if the names of his dramas were
omitted, a reader of common capacity might discern for whom any speech
was designed; and for this plain reason, because the characters and sentiments
walk on through five acts, and strut their
hour upon the stage in the most amicable sympathy.
Modern novelists, indeed, have not been so happy as to outrun Mr.
Shakespeare in this literary race. But, leaving both sentiment and
person as above or beneath their comprehension, have endeavoured with
bold attempt to make a verbal distinction of character.... which
is a difference known only by provincial accent; false English;
favourite words; idiomatical barbarity; vernacular vulgarity; insipid
tautaulogy; discordant technicals; disgusting prophanity; domestic
prejudices, or foreign unintelligibility.
I have not the least suspicion that any part of the following
tale will be ranked with Shakespeare's art of designating characters;
(except a few lucky hits here and there!) notwithstanding which I have
very often left out, as supernumerary, the said he and
replied she, common to most retailers of dialogue!
Thus it comes to pass, that because I am only an untutored,
though selfsufficient historian of fiction, I am unwarrantably
forbidden by the corrupt minds of idle readers, to introduce sufficient
historian of fiction, I am unwarrantably forbidden, by the corrupt
minds of idle readers, to introduce fairies and enchanters as a help to
enable me—to make a book. I might also complain that I am
denied the assistance of the heathen mythology or the Rosicrusian
system. How handy would these have been to have extricated a hero or
heroine from the snares of embarrassment and incertitude! And how
often, for want of a god, goddess, sylphid or gnome, do our modern
writers of elaborate adventures make the most wretched, deplorable,
blundering, eclaircissements, catastrophes and denouements, because
we are denied these happy means to produce conclusions. I have in
the words of some authors been witness to a surprise, which was
not surprising, and have seen discoveries which were known for a
hundred pages before they were made.
It would have been a violent presumption in me,
who am yet
without celebrity, to have designed a new creation of
supernatural agents; a novel machinery. 'Tis a task for a Homer, the
framer of the Rosy Cross, and for the maker of Caliban. Wherefore,
finding it inexpedient to soar on the pinions of invention, I
will, as I have done, content myself by a moderate excursion into the
region of style.
What is a novel without novelty? Is it not what is every day
presented from the polite bookseller to the hands of the
fancy-loving fair? Is it not a second edition of scenes and
conversations to be viewed and perused by those EYES, which are
worthy to inspire enthusiasm in the bosom of the poet, and to exile
gravity from the heart of the Philosopher?....Eyes more happily
employed in darting the smiles of encouragement to obsequious merit,
and in beaming complacency to the love-excited passion of honest virtue
. Eyes which had better guide the fingers of industry through the
mazes of tapestry, and teach the stitches of embroidery to rival the
tints of the painter.
There is one truth concerning novels, which is in our time pretty
well estabblished; none I presume will controvert the authenticity of
my remark, that the foundation of these elegant fabricks is laid on
the passion of love. I except the wonderful history of Robinson
Whatever precepts or examples are given for the government of the
young inclinations, the tender affections, the infantine offspring of
the heart, are highly important, and merit a scrutinizing inspection.
The passions `grow with our growth, and strengthen with our strength;'
it is a duty therefore to discourage the unruly, and curb the
headstrong. It is incumbent upon the other hand, and which stands
beyond the reach of argument, that to allure the untutored mind to the
practice of virtue by an example which is rewarded, and to deter it
from vice by the representation of its misery, are means often found
adequate to win vivacity to the side of prudence, and fix sensibility
in the cause of discretion. Thus far I am the friend of novels, and
thus far I am a novelist. The field of this species of writing is
extensive, and it would be worth while to see how the different romance
and novel writers in Europe have excelled in their different branches,
and by a comparison of their various merits determine who are the
strongest in genius, satire, knowledge, taste, style and pathos.
But I have already written a desultory preface three times longer
than I intended. I will therefore for the sake of brevity condense my
thoughts upon this important point in the following
SCALE OF NOVELISTS.
IRA AND ISABELLA.
The web of human life, says the prince of dramatick poets, is a
mingled yarn. A metaphor is not necessary to convince men that the
empire of life is divided by good and ill. How easily are we persuaded
of this truth! How comprehensible to the meanest capacity are the
metaphysicks of misfortune! We feel. We judge.
Some calamities are inevitable. Fortitude is the recipe for these. A
determination to acquiesce in the mandate of necessity extracts the
sting of repining, smooths the forehead of discontent, and dissipates
the clouds of anxiety from the prospect of mental vision.
Of all the children of this world, be they introduced to their
existence in what manner they may, the least enviable is he, who, by
the illicit commerce of the sexes, is smuggled into life; who passes
through the world with a borrowed name, and is entered on the books of
custom, not as a son, but a bastard.
With a spirit superiour to undeserved contempt, the poet Savage
presumed to ensumerate the imaginary blessings to which he was heir,
and in the warmth of poetical enthusiasm to exclaim: "Blest be the
The exultation was short: Visionary frenzy died away, and he
remained enveloped in the reality of mortifying reflection.
What has a man in possession which endears him to himself, and
reconciles him to a quarrelsome life? The tender charities of father,
son and brother. These were ties unknown to Ira and Isabella. Without
these, existence was to them a burthen. There was not a person whom
they could address by the endearing appellation of parent. They were
happy in their friendships, but not independent, and though guarded
from penury by the hand of patronage, their origin was circumscribed
by the curtain of obscurity.
An elderly matron, who had been the nurse of Isabella's infancy, and
the directress of her childhood, still continued to bestow attention on
her quondam ward, and confer counsel upon the conduct of the woman.
Isabella had been removed from the management of this lady to the
superintendance of the domestick concerns of Mrs. Savage, a lady whose
intrinsick merit rendered her worthy of the elevated and important
sphere in which she moved. Here Isabella had frequent opportunities of
improving her mind, which was susceptible of cultivation; and of
ameliorating her heart, which was feeling by nature.
To these attractions, invisible as they are to the vulgar eye, she
superinduced those which are less abstract. Her stature was of the
middle size; her person agreeable, easy with dignity, and graceful
without affectation. Criticks in beauty, though they might not discover
that regularity of feature and delicacy of complexion which are
supposed to be the constituents of a handsome face, might immediately
observe a soul, which broke out at the eyes and illuminated her whole
countenance. She was remarkable for a frankness of disposition, for a
capability of pleasing and being pleased, which were particularly
admired by Ira, because it met in him a congenial sincerity, and a
mutual talent for the disinterested politeness of nature.
Ira was a youth, who, though of amiable deportment, had much
meekness, but no humility. Steady, tractable, ambitious of honesty, and
despising dissimulation, he had more morals than manners. Had he been a
politician, he would have formed himself upon the model of Sidney or
Andrew Marvell, rather than upon the example of Machiavel or Lord
Chesterfield. In early youth, his ruling passion had been friendship.
Open, liberal, candid, and communicative, he had placed his delight in
that passion which is only characterized by a reciprocal exchange of
good offices. Unknowing or unseeking the more earthly pleasures
of sense, it was for the soul of Isabella he acknowledged a
My dear madam, said he with a more earnest tone of voice than usual,
to Mrs. Savage, you cannot conceive how truly I am delighted with every
motion and act of the graceful Isabella. No longer I feel in my heart
an unmeaning, and uninteresting vacancy. I behold her, and the void is
filled up. She is the friend, whom I have, in time passed,
entertained a presentiment that I should find, and to whom I am firmly
persuaded I should ever remain indissolubly tied by every sentiment
of esteem. How happy should I think myself, were I allowed the
privilege of calling in daily, and being blest with her conversation!
He was indulged with several of these conversations. He was
entranced in her presence; he was charmed by the meaning so clearly
expressed, in words, the very sound of which sunk into his unresisting
heart. When he departed he found himself enveloped in melancholy. This
was something inexplicable to the deluded youth. He had never
experienced sensations so anxious and perturbed in the absence of his
friends. Interview had succeeded to interview, and every interregnum
was supplied by her ideal presence.
"What ails me?" said Ira to his friend Lorenzo. "The devil must be
in you," answered he; "the god of sleep disdains to visit your eyelids,
and you give no exercise to your masticators; are you—in love?" "I
really believe I am," replied the youth, "and I must cure myself with
all possible haste." So he went off, to pass the evening with Isabella.
Too late for the security of his heart, he now discovered the source
of his uneasiness: That he had drank from the eyes of Isabella, those
draughts of love which intoxicated his senses.
"How is your health?" said Lorenzo with much solicitude, early the
next morning. "You know me better than I am acquainted with myself; it
must be as you insinuate, and I am irremediably in love." "Poor
fellow!" "I beg you would not pity me, Sir." "Why so formal and proud,
Ira? I know very well the situation of your mind; you are
sick."—"Heart sick." "You have unfortunately looked upon Isabella
with too amorous an eye—and indeed I am really of opinion she is a
woman capable of inspiring a real passion. You have heard with rapture
her words, you have seen with desire"—"Desire!" "Yes, desire; you
sigh to possess"—"Possess! Lorenzo why do you reiterate the same idea?
desire, possess! you shock my delicacy!"—"Ha, ha, is it come to
this, my dear Platonick? Do you think you have been conversing with an
angel? No, my friend, a mere mortal, depend upon it. Why will you tie
yourself to a foolish old system, unphilosophical, unnatural? To
repeat to me your stupid notions of false delicacy, or rather untutored
virtue, is ridiculous in the extreme; absolutely fighting against
Nature herself, the informer of our hearts, the directress of our
passions. Learn, my friend, a little self-knowledge a little knowledge
of the world, and to unlearn a great deal of your book-knowledge. For
books only instruct us in the interests of human nature, the duties of
philanthropy, or, in other words, to regard others, and forget
ourselves. When a young man has taught himself to credit all those
disinterested doctrines, and launches upon the ocean of life, how
miserably disappointed will he be in his enthusiastic expectations. He
enters upon the stage a philanthropist, he makes his exit a
misanthrope. How painful is this change of character! Regulate your
conduct early; make up your opinions with judgment and observation, and
adopt a system which will be fixed, firm, unalterable. To effect this
happy character, strike a blow at the root. Begin this minute.
Remember, in your dealings with men, that all love is self-love, and
you will never repent of being deceived; you will never complain of
those sons of craft and collusion, who tender the hand of friendship,
but leave their prey the dupe of credulity. Be not deceived by apparent
excellencies. The world has infinitely more show and sound, than real
sense and stability. Merit is the last thing regarded; goodness has
assigned her a very obscure nook for her habitation. What is a head
good for, now-a-days, unless it be powdered? And what is a heart worth,
except it be covered with a silk waistcoat, and a ruffled-bosomed
shirt? Not one woman in ten thousand would deem it worth the conquest!"
Ira was thunderstruck at this harangue of Lorenzo. "Alas! I stand a
very indifferent chance to fall into the good graces of Isabella. I am
not so happy as you, my friend, either in the necessary knowledge of
the human character, or in the gay, futile, insignificant, but
sometimes needful acquirements of dress, address, and the graces. I am
not a gallant." "I am extremely concerned to hear it, interrupted
Lorenzo, for without gallantry and address, I despair of your success
in any amour." "But, continued Ira, I know my duty as a citizen, a
friend, and a christian." And surely one would imagine that such an one
would not be reduced to the grave of despair in matters of love,
because he would more readily understand the important duties of a
husband and father." "Alas! Ira, my misguided companion, how have you
deceived yourself! I perceive in you, notwithstanding, a good heart and
a good head; but I deplore your misfortune, in not boasting the
advantage of a fashionable education. I now, more than ever, lament
that your youth was unprotected by parental care; that darkness
overshadowed your birth, and that, of consequence, your youth and
manhood are without light. I see in you a good soil, but uncultivated.
I look upon you as a diamond at the bottom of the ocean. Good morning,
my friend, I wish you well with all my soul." Lorenzo concluded his
address with a look and accent of infinite compassion; and left the
amazed lover standing in the street without motion, thinking himself
into a statue.
The next time Ira visited Isabella, he was more thoughtful than
common. "What disconcerts your gaiety?" said she, in a cadence the
sweetest in the world. "I have had a conversation with Lorenzo, and he
has persuaded me of a truth, of which I have been hitherto ignorant. I
love, I adore you, Isabella."—"Have you just discovered this truth,"
said she smiling. "I am full of uneasiness, anxiety and solicitude. I
think of you, and am seized with a tremor. My eyes meet yours and my
sensations are undescribable." "You have told me the same thing by
words and actions for more than three weeks." "Is it possible? I
have?"—Isabella was a little confused, but seeing Ira more so, very
generously satisfied his scruples, and quieted his apprehensions. Women
are more expert in love affairs than men, and were all the sex as frank
in their dispositions as Isabella, ten times more men would fall into
the inextricable snares of enticing love, than are now entagled by its
delusive influence. Coquetry is a savage that kills more than it
conquers. It delights to glut the eye of cruelty with mountains of the
dead, while it neglects the true interest of society and the sex, which
is only effected by naturalizing the captive, and giving him the
manners of the victor. Isabella, whose only wish was to secure the
heart of her lover, made no secret of her tenderness for a man of worth.
"I see your emotions, I perceive your sensibility. These things
cannot be done and acknowledged without reciprocal feeling. Do you not
draw favourable inferences when my hand trembles in yours? When our
eyes meet, do you not read something in mine, tender and sorrowful? My
good friend, is it any harm to love? If so, are we not equally guilty?"
Best of women! you overpower my senses, when I would express my
gratitude, my voice denies its assistance. Yet are you not deceived in
my passion, I have been led insensibly into the snares of love, and
have attached myself to you without volition. Friendship between our
hearts was an illusive barrier. Prompted to visit you by the
irresistible force of Nature, I have imperceptibly engaged my heart,
and nothing shall wrest it from you. I have been called a platonick,
but your eyes have disconcerted the purity of celestial conversation
and friendship is adsorbed in love. My REASON demonstrates that in you
I admire the friend: my PASSION persuades me, that, with
infinitely greater ardour, I love the—woman.
Isabella blushed; but it was not the blush of confusion, for
she was not embarrassed; neither was it the blush of resentment, for
she was not angry; neither was it the blush of shame, for she loved to
hear truth. Was it the blush of wantonness? I am loth to think it, and
yet why should Isabella be more unnatural in my hands than
Juliet in those of Shakespeare. When the ghostly father has proposed a
scheme for her union with Romeo, "Then hies the wanton blood up
in her cheek."
Who without the imputation of dulness, ignorance, or insensibility
shall undertake to delineate Nature, and deviate into errour, by
concealing the consequences of the passions?
It was now manifest to Ira, that Isabella was possest of a feeling
heart, and was in fact a woman, and not, as Lorenzo had said, a pure
intelligent spirit. And when he comprehended the true state of his own
heart, and was convinced of the faith and confidence of the only woman
he loved, to the perturbations he once felt succeeded the happiest
moments of his life. Without a rival, he was without jealousy; without
discord, he was without apprehension.
A mutual inclination characterized the progress of this amour. Their
propensities were uniform, their manners similar; some persons imagined
that they looked alike, and others that they were inspired with one
This intimate connexion was observed by the nurse, who, in
consequence of her observation, held a particular interview with
Isabella. "Beware of young men;" said the matron, "they have always at
hand a fund of fine sayings, of illusive lies, and unmeaning
compliments, which are, upon every occasion, poured forth without
reserve. They flatter where praise is not due, and the trade fitted to
their talents, is deception. Hope built upon the basis of promise is an
unstable fabrick. Let it not fall upon your head. Take counsel betimes,
and avoid the conversation of young men."
Isabella's judgment did not coalesce with that of the nurse. Frank
and undisguised herself, she was induced to believe in the sincerity
and honour of Ira. Love inspires eloquence and extends liberality: the
young lady found her heart willing to prompt, and her tongue to plead,
the cause of youth on a general principle.
"I confess my astonishment, said she to the nurse, to find you
possessed of such little knowledge of mankind. Rigid, prejudiced
and credulous, your maxims are the opinions of a cloister. By sending
into the world bad characters of men, we prepare them a model for bad
behaviour. Evil example is not more dangerous than improper and
undeserved contempt. If a man finds his exertions to acquire confidence
ineffectual, even by the practice of virtue, he will change his
character, and revenge himself on the world, by practising the vices
charged to his account. What good, then, can possibly accrue to society
by the publication of your sentiments, and by making the sexes mutual
enemies? Are they formed for the destruction of each other? As though
perdition, or annihilation beamed from the eye of either party, must
they fly all intercourse? Certainly not. Why then abandon our
inclinations prompted by reason and nature, to follow the footsteps of
what caprice and ignorance may call duty?"
The nurse kept up the conversation, but not the argument. She
presumed not to give reasons, her talents lay in giving advice. "Have a
guard upon your conduct in the company of those sons of dissembling,
who are framed for our destruction. Be deaf to their discourse; be
reserved to their advances; indifferent to their insinuations; blind to
their seeming excellences; cold to their importunities; unmoved at
their flatteries; undisturbed at their oaths; calm to their raging. If
they presume to speak of matrimony, give the reins to your indignation,
and repay their presumption with the full force of your merited
"O unreasonable hetrodox!" cried Isabella, stifling the laugh which
was just breaking out. "How various are our ideas concerning
matrimonial offers. Such protestations have I heard, but never with
anger. I have attended a discourse on marriage, the most tender in the
world, and I listened to it with the greatest satisfaction
imaginable!"— "Perhaps you love the preacher!" said the nurse. "There
may be truth in that; for what can procure attention like a
prepossession in favour of the orator?"
The matron paused at this instance of Isabella's unguarded
sincerity; but collecting all her might, made another essay upon her
young friend's arguments. "The connexion for life is important. It
should never be finally adjusted without the result of mature
consideration, the advice of age, and the consent of friends."
"I am not altogether convinced of this. A mutual passion, a
similarity of situation, a congeniality of taste, and a reciprocation
of temper are undoubtedly requisite, and stand a fairer chance of
success, than the things you mention. Can friends advise us to be
happy? Or can the heart obey the command? Happiness is within
ourselves, not in the opinions of others."
Policy should ever govern the management of concerns which interest
the peace and tranquillity of life. The matron evidently possest a fund
of this necessary collusion. In the present conversation, it may be
seen that the advances of this policy had been interrupted by the
honest simplicity of Isabella. The nurse was about communicating a
piece of intelligence highly consequential, as she thought to the
welfare and safety of her foster-child. She had introduced the subject
by an observation, which Isabella had endeavoured to combat. To
suppress the intention of her visit any longer she now thought an
"Ira is not the young man for your husband. It is in vain, to ask
advice of my age or experience. Even I, though the only mother whom you
know, am not altogether capable of granting a sanction to such a
preposterous union." "Preposterous! you understand not the meaning of
words." "There is a gentleman whose advice and consent must be first
forthcoming. Doctor Joseph is to you a guardian angel; he guides your
steps, remaining invisible."
No person breathing, of either sex, was ever blest with a more
independent spirit than Isabella. "Why should I trouble my head
concerning Doctor Joseph? With him I have never had the honour of a
personal interview. If he was appointed my guardian, why does he not
condescend to tell me so? Haughty in his carriage, distant in his
manner, he has the reputation of pride. Am I too contemptible for the
sublime honour, of receiving the dignified advice of this wonderful
personification of loftiness? Who feels more the necessity of a friend
than an orphan? And am not I one of this hapless description? This is
the tale you tell me. Left in infancy, without a parent to protect
from the assaults of danger, or a house to defend from the beating of
the tempest, you received me to the bosom of safety, and nourished my
tender years with the milk of benevolence. Are obligations due from me
to any one, they are unquestionably owing to you; to you, who reared
the suckling, and INSTILLED THE ELEMENTARY IDEAS OF USEFUL AND POLITE
KNOWLEDGE INTO THE HEAD AND HEART OF THE FROLICKSOME GIRL; RESTRAINING
LEVITY WITHOUT BREAKING THE SPIRIT, AND WATERING THE PLANT OF GENIUS
WITH WELL-TIMED APPLAUSE, WITHOUT DROWNING IT WITH FLATTERY. When I was
able to work, you fixed my situation in this house; where, amidst the
smiles of an amiable family, I am removed from the apprehensions of
penury, and indulged with privileges above my expectation."
"Alas!" sighed the nurse, "I grant the truth of all you have said.
But it is now time you should be informed, that I was but the organ of
the Doctor, and, being the subject of his will, have directed your
steps agreeable to his desire. He knows you better than you know him."
Isabella remained petrified with astonishment. A wretched,
distressing alternative presented itself to her imagination. "Shall I
abandon Ira, whom I love, to follow and obey Doctor Joseph, whom I know
"Why sing of Ira in this uncommon strain? Is he not as well known to
me as to any human being? Was I not the nurse of his infancy, as well
as that of thine? His history will be very interesting to you, and
hereafter you shall hear it." "It will please me mightily; for whatever
relates to him, very intimately concerns me."
The matron took her leave, and left the young lady in that gloomy,
perplexed situation, which is the invariable attendant of uncertainty.
In the evening this melancholy was dissipated by the presence of Ira.
To him she communicated every circumstance of her conversation with the
The lover, awakened by the alarm, and influenced by a passion which
contemned difficulty, the proceeding day waited upon Doctor Joseph to
obtain permission to marry his charge. He was heard with civility
without cordiality, and an attention which promised little success. The
Doctor proposed to hold a conference with Isabella himself, and
dismissed Ira with a complaisance which conveyed no idea, and a bow of
formality as far removed from indignity as from sincerity.
The promised interview took place. The Doctor appeared, his gait
stately, circumspect, and majestick from long habit; his eye was that
of tenderness, his voice condescension; and his hand was extended to
the trembling Isabella, with an exact imitation of the dignified
beneficence of an Ahasuerus, holding forth the life-giving sceptre to
the prostrate and beautiful Esther.
"I have the satisfaction, my child, of hearing you spoken of in the
language of panegyrick. The world, though not always partial to merit,
and sometimes malicious to beauty, is unanimous in your praise. Highly
participating in whatever is, or may in any manner be,
relative to you, I acknowledge myself flattered by its approbation of
your conduct." "It is my wish to deserve that applause, and it shall be
my aim to render your participation of what the world may say of me
always agreeable." "That manner in which you receive my exordium
imperceptibly steals upon my affection, and I exceedingly regret that,
busied as I have been in the avocations of active and literary life, I
have hitherto been without personal attestation of such modesty and
These compliments were tedious to Isabella; not that she disdained
flattery, for she was a woman; but that her patience was exhausted in
waiting to hear the name of Ira pronounced; a name, far sweeter to her
ears and her heart than the complimentary effusions of Doctor Joseph.
An opportunity presented itself, and she dilated upon the subject with
an enthusiasm that aroused the attention of the guardian. He
endeavoured to check the ardour of her manner. "My child, I am struck
with wonder at your style and expression. Modest and discreet as you
are, you launch into the praises of a young man, of whom your character
appears rather too fine-spun. I acknowledge my alarm at your want of grave speech on this topick—a topick every way disagreeable to
me. For without multiplying words for nought, let me seriously caution
you against harbouring tender thoughts of Ira, and to think not of him
Isabella's sensibility was disconcerted. She was abashed; but
recovering herself after a short pause, she continued the conversation
and the praises of her lover. "Is not virtue amiable? In Ira is
visible her fostering tuition. He follows her cheerfully, because she
is the object of his choice. Her fruit ripens with his age. The traits
of his character are of her finishing. To vice unforgiving; to folly
sarcastick; of good men emulous, and by evil example incorruptible, he
may enjoy a conscious satisfaction in his own rectitude, and live in
the applause, the esteem, the love, and respect of the world."
The Doctor felt his surprise at the talents of Isabella increase
every moment. He reprobated his indolence, inattention, and pride,
which had heretofore held him a stranger to her, for whom he now
conceived an affectionate, a paternal regard. "I cannot too much
admire your fluency and ease; I wish the subject of your harmonious
discourse was, in my mind, equal to the elegance of your rhetorick. I
perceive you have perused books, but are not so well versed in the
volume of the world. To this world, so necessary, so important that a
young woman of your understanding should know, you are now, my child,
speedily to be introduced; and in a character, too, much more elevated
and respectable than that, which you have hitherto unfortunately
Isabella was at a loss to comprehend, how she could possibly have
been unfortunate, and not know it. The Doctor was full of pity for the
errours of simplicity. Pride always regrets the omission of pleasures
it might have enjoyed; laments the imperfection of its species, in not
possessing fore-knowledge; wishes, in reviewing past actions, that it
could have known how things would have turned out; and continually
subverts its present enjoyments by an infamous retinue of ex post
Isabella felt a struggle between delicacy and sensibility; respect
for the gravity of her supposed guardian, and obedience to the purity
of her own passion. This circumstance did not escape the penetration of
Joseph, but actually hastened him to the communication of a secret, the
developement of which was the sole purport of this interview.
Earnest, solicitous, artless, and innocent, she requested to be made
acquainted with the reasons which forbade her desired union with Ira.
"His situation—" "Futile. The inquiry ought never to be, Is a
young man rich? for without industry to augment, and economy to
preserve, the most wealthy may, after a youth of dissipation, wear out
the winter of life in the cave of poverty. But let the question be, Is a youth prudent and frugal? From small beginnings, these virtues
will raise their possessor to honour and independence. There is a
boldness which sees only advantages, and a prudence which perceives
only difficulties: let a young man avoid both, by early observing them.
Let him be persuaded of this maxim, that economy and industry are the
hinges upon which turn the door to the temple of Fortune."
"Extremely well conquered," said Joseph, "but the other objections
are invincible. His family—"
Isabella sighed, and said nothing. She attempted to speak, but the
happy fluency for which she was remarkable was now withheld. "His
family— what of it! Is it not equal to mine? Who is he? Who am I?"
These short but comprehensive questions, flowing from the springs of
natural and spontaneous eloquence, darted, with the rapid force of
lightning, to the conscious soul of Joseph. He ran eagerly towards
her, and embraced her with infinite tenderness: "Queen of pathos! throw
away your puerile, low-born ideas, I intreat, I conjure you, and look
on me as a guardian, a protector, a friend and a father." "A father!"
apostrophised the astonished Isabella, with eyes streaming in tears.
"Acknowledging you for my child, and expecting from you the duty of
a daughter, indulge me with the freedom of withholding my compliance.
For you, my self-educated, accomplished, nature-prompted Isabel, I have
more enlarged, more extensive, more liberal views. Your happiness is
mine. Depend, therefore, upon my paternal love, and, at present, make
no further inquiries." She was solicitous to ask several questions;
but Joseph superseded the whole, by seriously acquainting her that a
perfect satisfaction could only be obtained hereafter.
He kissed his newly acquired daughter, and took his leave, bidding
her, with a dignified air, order her matters to appear shortly in a
style of magnificence, worthy her intrinsick merit. But these prospects
of greatness, contemptible to the eyes of love, could not be
contemplated by the distressed, the sorrowing Isabella; the image of
Ira rushed between, and eclipsed every object of grandeur.
Several days passed, in which the young lady could hear nothing from
her new discovered parent. "Procrastination is the thief of time."
Doctor Joseph was prevented from accomplishing his benevolent designs,
by a sudden death, and no posthumous notices remained, by which
Isabella could trace or vindicate her connexion with him.
The lovers were reduced to the most painful suspense. They
endeavoured to discover the cause of the Doctor's prohibition, but were
lost and bewildered in the search. Slight circumstances leave little
effect where passion is predominant. Love is bold, and perceives only
advantages; it sees only self. Isabella, though alive to the emotions
of nature, had no sooner found, but she had lost a father. During his
life she had experienced no token of paternal regard from him, and was,
though perhaps without design, forgotton by him in his death. Her lover
was a friend, to whose tenderness she felt her heart under obligations,
and to whose love she had rendered the tribute of gratitude and
passion. At the idea of a parent, new hopes and affections had arisen
in her bosom; but they now added strength to the dependence and esteem,
placed by her partiality upon Ira.
The youth's heaven of happiness had been overcast by a cloud of
difficulty: the shade disappeared, and the sun of hope shone out with
brighter lustre and greater strength. He wished to combine all the
affections and charities of life in one. The death of Joseph removed
the obstruction to his calling himself the husband of Isabella. Without
the control of haughty superiority, the lovers imagined themselves at
liberty to pursue their inclinations. Isabella consulted Mrs. Savage,
who behaved in a strain of accustomed tenderness. The nuptial day was
appointed. Mr. Savage, also, was pleased with the proposed connexion,
and promised to remember her in a liberal manner at her entrance on the
stage of life. This gentleman had been the particular inmate of Doctor
Joseph, and freely owned himself at a loss to comprehend the reason why
his friend had objected to their union. "But," continued he, "this
eccentrick physician had a proud spirit, which was aspiring without
bounds, and wore those supercilious airs, and imperious carriage which
conscious dignity never fails to assume. Perhaps, Isabel, he designed
for you a match more agreeable to his high ideas. But the virtues of
Ira, which I have long observed with the most satisfactory eye, will
render you happy, though in a less elevated sphere of life. Greatness,
birth, wealth will not pluck one thorn from the pillow of discontent.
The bed of innocence is not smoothed by the hand of luxury. Blest
therefore with the object of choice, joy will smile in your eye, health
riot in your veins, and virtue dignify your life."
Such were the sentiments of the man, whose house was the sanctuary
of Isabella; the regularity of whose age atoned for the levities of
youth: a compensation which the world readily allows, because rarely
demanded. Mr. Savage wished pleasure might preside at their wedding and
the next morning commenced a journey which he supposed would take
several weeks to accomplish.
The wedding day arrives. The friends of the young couple behold with
raptures the little paraphernalia, and the heart of honest Ira dances
in the bosom of expectation. The simple Isabella anticipates the blush
of the bride. Happy in themselves, in their prospects, and in their
friends, they are married.
With little ceremony in her manner, and much business in her
countenance, suddenly enters the Nurse. "Good news fslies fast," said
Ira; "you heard we were married, and have come to visit us on our
wedding day." My dear children, cried the grave Matron, what is this I
hear? In contradiction to the Doctor's will, are you thus
suddenly—"What of him?" interrupted Ira with a combination of
indignation and impatience; "unwarped by his haughtiness, unconvinced
by his reasoning, unawed by his authority, shall we bow to his
interdiction? If we regulate our lives by the will of the world, we
shall be governed by the caprice of one, the false delicacy of another,
and the injustice of a third. But we are more independent. We think
with our own minds, infer with our own judgments, and determine
according to our own ideas of happiness. Behold then the happiest union
in the world."
"Heaven forbid the union," exclaimed the matron with more zeal than
prudence. "The Doctor forbade it, and he had weightier reasons for his
conduct than those he condescended to give you. Hear me, my children,
for so I call, so I think you: did not these arms support your infancy?
did not my breast supply your helpless state with life-sustaining food?
Interest does not prompt my solicitude; ambition does not cause any
anxiety at this time. Why then will you not believe me sincere? Your
welfare is my object, your happiness my concern.
All took fire at this alarm, and were thrown into silent attention.
The trembling bride, mute and pale, was tortured with doubt and fear.
"Heaven forbid the union!" reiterated Ira, with astonishment and
The nurse prepared herself to discover the secret. "Are you not
already connected by the tie of Nature? Is not the cause of Doctor
Joseph's aversion to your marriage easy to be understood? Convinced you
were both his own children, he withheld his consent to a junction at
which Nature herself is offended. From him I received you both in your
infancy; at his desire nourished you, and brought you up. How could the
Doctor grant his leave to such a marriage?
A pathetick scene followed this declaration. Lorenzo, with all the
art and assiduity of friendship, consoled the frantick Ira. The powers
of consolation were exerted by the benevolent Mrs. Savage in behalf of
the distrest bride; whose soul, was in truth capable of receiving the
balm of compassion; whose soul, like a rock which resists the
impetuosity of a torrent, might indeed be overwhelmed but not rent
Three days intervened, and the lovers had no interview. In the hour
of misfortune, when oppressed with a multiplicity of thoughts to
disburthen the mind either by writing or conversation, gives relief to
pain, and transquillity to the unquiet. Borne down with sorrowing
reflections, Ira took the determination of communicating his thoughts
The unfortunate bride was sitting heavy, melancholy, musing. 'Twas
at the decline of day. The parting sun shot a horizontal beam through
the crimson curtains. Ira entered and beheld in the person of his
beloved the figure of "Patience on a monument," as described by
Shakespeare, "smiling at Grief." He took her hand. She looked up;
arose, "My husband, my brother." The young man, agitated by a thousand
sensations, grew gradually composed. "Isabella, I must see you no more.
How are my senses bewildered in this meeting. I find, even now, that to
meet your eye is at once my pleasure and my perdition. Why do I
suppress my feelings; why check the tears which involuntarily, burst
from my eyes." "Peace, Ira, peace. Give liberty to your sensations to
act themselves. Why dam up the streams of thy tears? Are they not the
characteristicks of Nature to designate an honest heart?" "To remain in
your presence, my sister, my wife, is willingly to swim into the vortex
of destruction. I have imposed upon myself a resolve, therefore, to see
you no more, convinced that absence from you will conduce to my
Isabella manifested evident symptoms of dislike at this resolution.
"Will you fly, and suffer me to sink into the gulf of despair? For
never more shall I appear in the world if uncomforted, uncountenanced,
unsupported by you. No matter by what title I call you, still are you
my stay and my staff.
The young husband imagined he proceeded systematically. "Let us be
ruled by reason. In all distress mankind imbibe consolation from two
sources: In dissipation is sought a temporary forgetfulness, but
experience evinces there is no Lethe for love. In time or absence
we trust for relief, but how vain the hope of future repose. I will
strike a blow at the root. I will depart with all imaginable
expedition. I will seek redress in the bosom of the mercantile world.
Busied with novelty and engaged in regular pursuits, I will teach my
mind to contemplate other objects, and to forget the image of Isabella,
which has so long possest my heart, and obtruded itself into every
action of my life. Perhaps my future conduct may be tinged with the
melancholy of this adventure. I will yet remember you with respect,
what is more with tenderness. A new era is commenced in the history of
my life. I am no more what I was. Hitherto I have conceived of human
nature a character which it is a duty to wear, now I read them as they
are, and feel myself a better man, a better citizen, though less
philanthropick. Regarding myself, I shall be rich, and be capacitated
to fulfil those offices of tenderness and charity which I have
heretofore only known in theory. For one favourable circumstance, I pay
my gratitude to the bounty of heaven. The discovery and termination of
an unfortunate passion has not sunk me to that stupid apathy which
absorbs the senses, but has inspired me with that resolution which is
the soul of action. Doomed to look on you only in the light, and to
call you only by the appellation of sister; reminded by every object of
the calamitous event of our loves—I go. Lorenzo, in the ardour of
friendship, provides my passage, and I am forthwith to embark."
Isabella viewed the project of her friend with pity, and a smile
which indicated her contempt of its practicability. "Your forced,
pretended resolution, my dear Ira, is of little consequence. I know
your character, Ira, better than you know it yourself. Honest, sincere,
impetuous, yet meek and candid, I can conceive how far you may be
driven by the strength of passion, how far deluded by the
well-intended, but wrong-headed advice of friendship. Do you love, and
yet think to forget one by mixing with the world of business?
Impossible. Personal presence is not necessary to inspire or continue
love. We love those whom we have never seen, or from whom we are
removed by absence. The characters of the great and the good picture to
us ideas of beauty, and beauty is the cause of love. How are we struck
with the awful virtue of a Brutus or a Cato; how delighted with the
more gentle, more amiable graces of a Scipio; how do we exult in the
honest heart and unambitious mind of a Cincinnatus, a La Fayette, and a
Washington. To come up to our times still nearer, how are our breasts
warmed with sympathetick benevolence at the name of Howard: Do we not
figure to ourselves, in the solemnity of sacred anticipation, the Son
of Heaven seated at the right of the throne of Grace, extending the
hand of welcome to the disciple of charity, and pronouncing with the
voice of applause, "I was in prison and you came unto me." We love
those whom we have not seen, because we entertain in our hearts an idea of beauty caused by their virtues. Surely, therefore, if you
are possessed of such an idea, it will follow you to the uttermost
parts of the earth. Haunted continually with the ideal presence of the
beloved object, you will change your climate, but not your mind.
Remembering me, is the retrospect painful, matters it in what place you
take this retrospect? Better be here, though surrounded with
disappointment and solemn thought, than among strangers. Let the mind
be employed, but do not go."
Ira perceived in the argument of Isabella that sublime which not
only persuades, but transports. He owned himself convinced of
the folly of absence, where there is a real passion, and suffered the
ship to depart on her voyage without him.
Ira was always attracted by
the busy hum of men.
† He had now the most forcible incitements to visit the haunts of
social intercourse. To mingle in the herd of the undiscerning, the
foppish, the vain, and the coxcombical, may deceive the pangs of
repining. Always vacant, trifling, empty, but ceremonious, the manners
of Ira had a fairer opportunity of being polished than his morals of
being perfected. How can a young man perform all the rites of fashion,
and the duties of etiquette, and remember his virtue and himself? 'Tis
absolutely serving two masters, and it often happens that we neglect
ourselves to flatter the world, and sacrifice our conveniences and our
wishes to the caprice of folly, and the delusions of vice. The snares
of wantonness were spread for the virtuous brother of Isabella. Let us
see how he behaved in temptation.
No one exhibited more attention and politeness to Ira than the
volatile Florio. "My friend! I am told you had like to have been
married—what a lucky escape." "Ah! my friend, you deceive yourself
— a cruel —" "That is the general cant of stupid lovers. They sigh
and whine for the promised land of matrimony, a country of which
strangers wish to be inhabitants, and where the natives long to be
exiled. Thank your beneficent stars for this deliverance. Reckon it as
the greatest happiness that chance could have brought about for you.
But I see plainly you have not the art of concealing your
mortifications. I will bet ten to one, and make them hundreds, that you
deem this lucky adventure, a reverse of fortune. For I can read
physiognomies, but that is a Chesterfieldian mystery. Yes! down,
Ira thought, very justly, that this harangue was the most insipid of
any thing he had ever heard. "Great penetration is not necessary to
find out when a man is gay and when serious." "Is it possible for love
to make one serious? To me it is the funniest thing in nature, and in
all my negotiations I am the happiest fellow in the world. I defy any
one to boast of being so well with ladies of all descriptions as I am.
Would you know the secret? Flattery. Is the first dose disagreeable,
depend upon it 'tis not strong enough. Redouble the potion. Impudence
and perseverance conquer difficulty. Throw yourself upon the bended
knee of encomiastick rapture, and pour out the incense of adulation
without reserve. Never mind the truth, for hang it, Ira, when one is
really in love, what signifies a few agreeable, wonder-working lies."
"How do you make up accounts with your conscience?"—"I never read any
thing of conscience in Stanhope. Ninon says not a syllable of
conscience. I never heard the name of conscience prophaned in the
polite world, consequently I know nothing of it. I believe conscience
is discarded from the train of love. But for aught I know, it may be
one of the ex-ministers of the Cytherean court." "Honour"—"Why as to
honour it is the soul of a gallant man. It is honourable to win an
elegant woman, consequently all the means employed in the operation
must be so too. To pay gambling debts on demand, and bid Honesty call
again is a sign of a man of honour." " Suppose any one should dispute
all this?" "Do you assert and let him prove to the contrary." "That
done, what next?" "Challenge him for his insolence in pretending to
dispute with a gentleman." "Where have I been all my life that I am
unacquainted with the tenets of honourable politeness? Believe me,
Florio, I have all my days been adoring truth, sincerity, and honesty,
and thought if these were planted in the juvenile mind, happiness would
be the fruit. But now when I look upon the world, and find my
adversities more and heavier than those of men less true, less sincere,
and less honest, I am tempted to cry out, as Brutus exclaimed on the
bed of death, O Virtue, I have worshipped thee as a real good, and I
find thee an empty shade."
Florio knew not how to reply: he had turned over more pages of
novels than of Roman history—"Devil take Brutus, nobody cares what he
says. Talk about death and you give me the vapours. Let us live, my
dear boy, all the days of our lives. I see now you are far gone
yourself; I will prescribe you a cure. Hang it, what signifies being a
miser in pleasure. I am high in favour with several sweet Thaïses, and
I will do myself the honour to announce you to a dear little
enchantress who shall console you for your loss in the wife that was to
be. Let us seek in love the cordial of all care; and lose in the soft
intoxication the remembrance of former severity."
Ira felt an emotion of tenderness at the last words of Florio.
"Severity! indeed — but what is the proposed remedy? Is it not truly
contemptible? What is love without sentiment?" "I see you are afflicted
with the sentimentals, which are absolutely as prejudicial to life as
the vapours. Discard these idle notions, for what is human being
but a game of crib? Mind what I say then: discard thought; for
thinking is the most tedious thing to me in the world. Let pleasure be
your trump card, and let your hand boast a flush
of dissipation. This is the way I spend my time. Now I will tell you
the divine company I keep, and demonstrate to you that I live,
while you, with your morals and such trash only vegetate. In the
first place there is Rosella, a perfect divinity, with the most
beautiful complexion in the whole female world. 'Tis true she has
rather injured it of late by the application of too much paint.
Flirtilla, a pretty, vivacious thing that you may love with
convenience. Cynthia, very handsome, but fickle and pettish, very apt
to change her mind and her lover; a true coquette, and to fall in love
with her may be dangerous; for women are such creatures, that if they
see you au despori they are like speculators in the stocks, they
never sell out without a high advance. Diana is a capital figure, not
so handsome as some; more majestick than beautiful. However, not of
quite so good a character, being turned out of the house of a kind of
old batchelor, her friend; because my gentleman had missed half a
dozen guineas. Now Diana had never suspected that the old fool had
counted them. Besides these there are Fidelia Froth, Prudence
Slammerkin, Desire Goodale, Love Midnight, Patience Couzens, Tabitha
Sly, Silence Tickle—" "Enough, enough, my dear Florio. What mean you
by giving this long catalogue of respectable ladies?" "To these I
expect the pleasure shortly to present you. In this gay and vivacious
society, you shall lose your melancholy. Time shall never trouble you.
Your soul shall be so fixed to the delusive enchantment, that the
white-winged hours shall fly on unperceived.
† Your sentimentals, so dull, so sorrowful, so sickening, shall
vanish like a disagreeable dream. You have been sleeping on the bed of
care, but you are now to be gently waked by the voice of enchanting
Ira had heard more than he really comprehended. "My dear Florio, I
perceive you draw the most flattering pictures. You have indeed an
exquisite imagination, but your postulata follow one another in
such rapid succession, that I am at a loss to draw a classical inference."
Florio had in him nothing of the scholar: but he thought it a
greater absurdity to hold his tongue, than to answer nonsensically. "At
it again, Ira? Your apostles and your classicks will
ruin you for this world. What a happiness to be delivered from the
sentimentals! Had this been my misfortune, I should possibly have been
as weak and ignorant as you are. Excuse me, Sir, but I speak my mind. I
might then have lived by anticipation as you do, and neglected to catch
the pleasures as they pass. My notion of existence is this: Let us live
all the days of our life."—Ira heard this self-sufficiency of his new
acquaintance with some contempt and conscious superiority; and if he
had any resentment, it was smothered by the novelty of the sentiments
and fascinating prospects held up to view by the fanciful manner of
Florio. Though his friend began to grow tautologous, he scorned to
interrupt him. The gentleman of modern manners thus proceeded, giving
mischievous utterance to his immoral imaginations. "How I hate your
dull sons of stupidity and hypocrisy, who, by dissembling their
intentions by crafty gravity, think to deceive us and pass for good
men. I never conceal my designs be they what they may. I hide not my
meaning in hypocritical dissimulation, and love to behold men mix in
their amusements without disguise. My cheeks are never coloured by the
blush of shame. To throw off ridiculous constraint, the manners of a
clown, the absurd mauvaise honte should be the first
consideration of a gentleman. Who shall fear the sarcasm of ill-bred
censure; who apprehend disagreeable consequences from the infamous
tongue of sanctified slander? Surely these presentiments can never
pervade the heart of a man of honour, who is just upon the point of
engaging in the cause of gallantry, and acquiring a competent knowledge of the world.
"Why then, my dear Ira, do you hesitate to be introduced to those
real pleasures, which shall hush every sigh in the bosom of regret;
which shall supplant those tender, those delicate and sorrowful ideas
which prey upon your vitals; which shall fill up the vacuum of
unfortunate love; which shall drive from the reflective mind all
remembrance of past expectation; which shall render you a balance of
ease and rest, to compensate the distresses of blasted hopes, and
which shall give you, in the undisturbed possession of unresisting
beauty, a factitious substitute, for the beloved
The virtuous Ira stood congealed with amazement, confusion and
horror. "According to your system, (if vice can be systematical) I may
visit the temple of obscenity, and associate myself with a daughter of
prostitution, a child of infamy, the contempt and disgrace of her
species. Is there no virtue extant?"—Florio stood abashed and
confounded. The solemnity, the enthusiasm of Ira's manner of speaking
disconcerted the native impudence of this disciple of Fashion. The
honest sentimentalist continued without interruption.
"Can I look upon a woman without virtue, and see in her, or persuade
myself by deceptious and fallacious reasoning that I see, the copy of
my lost Isabella? What a description of vile characters have you given
me, and with what tame, unmanly patience have I borne it! Believe me,
Sir, whenever I am informed of a woman, who, possessed of uncommon
graces and exteriour attractions, exposes herself for sale, the victim
of avarice, or the martyr of voluptuousness, my soul sinks within me,
oppressed with a combination of compassion and terrour, of disgust and
pity, of indignation and contempt.
"The virtues of a beautiful woman are an ornament and an honour to
her sex; but her indiscretion is the shame and the degradation
of human nature. We may follow up the streams of dishonour to this
fountain of vice. Shameless, profane, unprincipled, and disobedient
children: Penurious, faithless, obscene, and dishonest husbands:
Unprofitable, idle, disaffected, and seditious subjects. The bane of
domestick happiness, the pest of society, a woman of bad morals is the
destruction of the credulous and the simple; the terror of the man and
the politician. Tell me therefore, my friend, shall the duty I owe to
my virtue, and to the social compact, be oblivioned by delusive
temptation; and by a fancy wavering, incautious, and, when indulged,
dangerous and ungovernable?"
Florio hung down his head, and did not answer. Vice is always
ashamed when opposed with vigour. Ira felt the triumph of virtue: the
glow of satisfaction suffused his face, and a dignified resentment
lightened in his eye. With an assiduity productive of the happiest
consequences, he determined to preserve and keep alive that sacred
flame of virtue, which, if unextinguished by despair, and unquenched by
temptation, will illuminate the path of frailty, and light the way to
victory and happiness.
Ira soliloquised as he walked away: "Let me learn resolution and
stability of character. To acquire these, to strengthen myself in these
habits, so necessary in my present perturbed situation, I must cease to
associate with the dissipated. I will visit the friends of decency, of
truth, and of sobriety. These alone can open the sluices of
tranquillity. These alone are virtuous. These alone are happy. To whom
shall I apply but to her? I will go to Isabella."
He immediately went, and communicated, without reserve, his battle
with Florio, and his conquest. "Tell me," continued he, agitated with
his own narrative, "whether stability be not the only method of my
redemption. It is you alone who can recommend, enforce, and describe
Isabella was affected at the wildness of his manner, and the
strength of his passionate exclamation. "It is an acquirement of the
first magnitude. Stability of character, for its importance, may be
ranked among the virtues. A firm, determined, unconquerable mind is a
friend which will not abandon us in distress, but is ever ready to shut
the door against horror and despair." "I will be stable," said Ira,
with firmness. "But be not a cynick. Avoid the danger of being over
tenacious in your opinions. Obstinacy is never amiable; if linked with
errour, ridiculous. Do not imagine, that, to sustain the character of
dignified stability, pride is necessary." "I beg your pardon, but I
must interrupt you.—I will defend pride, for I myself am proud. Reverence thyself is a maxim said to be descended from heaven. I am
happy to see it universally flourish; for where is it not visible? It
unfurls the banners of commerce; tempts the dangers of the ocean, and
the sands of the desert; it sustains society, and peoples the world; it
pervades the bosom of innocence, and the closet of the recluse; it
ascends the pulpit with the teacher of divinity, and the
main-top-gallant mast with the ship-boy."—"I grant you," said
Isabella smiling, "there is an honest pride, which exults in a
conciousness of its own dignity and worth, and which can be
extinguished only by the extinction of life." "It is this which can
despise calamity, and is therefore necessary for us." "But I meant to
caution you against that obstinate pride which refused consolation, and
a false delicacy which sinks the soul to apathy.
"This is the character of an irresolute man. Undetermined and
wavering, he no sooner commences the work of his own happiness, than he
drops it unfinished. He contemplates the difficulties, and seldom the
advantages of exertion. Fatigued in idea, frightened by the imaginary
toil of honest stability, he looks on labour with loathing, and leaves
it with disgust. Averse to industry, his finances decrease, his credit
sinks. Scorning to help himself, he finds no assistance from others.
The hand of friendship is never extended to the son of indigence; and
however we may lament this parsimony of benevolence, he who is
blind to his own interest calls unregarded on his neighbour. Despised
by those whom he once contemned, the pity and the abhorrence of the
world, he is reduced to penury, rags, and wretchedness.
"His misery terminates not here. Hitherto, he has been only the
enemy of himself; now, neglected and insulted by the whole human race,
he turns the foe of mankind. Poverty is the mother of vice. Well has a
wise man made it his prayer to be removed from poverty, and peritent
and pathetick are his reasons: Lest I be poor and steal, and take
the name of my God in vain. Thus then the indolent, wavering,
insolute man, reduced by his profligacy and inert disposition to
ignominy and contempt, raises his sacrilegious hand against the
property of his neighbour, and his more profane tongue against the
sovereignty of Heaven."
Every word of this descriptive character penetrated the heart of
Ira. "Shall I suffer myself to be borne down by misfortune, and shall
your picture, Isabel, be the prophecy of my life? No, I will be
stable." "And happy," added she. "But can this be accomplished, my
fair teacher, merely by the exercise of those morals which resist
temptation? Is there not something greater necessary to render
the work complete? Isabella smiled, "you mean religion?" "I do."
"Religion is an ornament and a bulwark. Is it not the soul of
stability? take it then, and find in your own mind the firm, unshaken
character you wish to assume.
"Be a man of stability. Be not brow-beaten by difficulty, nor
intimidated by danger. Be not the dupe of passion, nor the bubble of
temptation. Add cheerfulness to labour; vigour to industry, tenderness
to charity, and dignity to benevolence. In your commerce with the world
be prudent without meanness, and bold without temerity. To yourself
be severe without indiginity, and correcting without irreverence. To mankind, be candid without weakness, and resolute without
insolence. To your God be pious without hypocrisy, and faithful
The unfortunate youth, gazed upon his beautiful monitor with eyes
swimming in tears, and with a soul, lost in wonder and ecstacy. She
continued her address with a steady voice, for Ira was beyond the power
"What a miserable contrast is here exhibited: The
misfortune, like a wave, without rest; the sport of winds; driven
by every blast, and giving way to opposition. The resolute
permanent as a rock, unawed at the howling of the tempest, and unmoved
at the dashing of mighty waters.
"Ira, my friend! my brother! be stable, be religious. By attention,
be cautious; by habit, vigilant; by principle, honest. Then will your
eye pervade those recesses, where the indolent perceive
clouds and darkness. You will see with satisfaction the prosperous
work of your hands and rejoice in the greatness of your strength. Be
encouraged to persevere. Be persuaded that stability is the offspring
of a serious mind, and borrow illumination from the Father of Lights
, with whom is no variableness neither shadow of turning."
As Isabella pronounced these words, her posture was firm, and her
eye fixed upon her brother; her right hand placed upon her breast, and
her left pointing towards heaven.
At this moment the nurse, who had been regulated in all her conduct
by the most honest intentions, entered the apartment. She saw the
distress of the parties, condoled with them on their present condition,
and recommended with infinite sincerity patience in affliction, and
resignation to necessity.
The company was further enlarged by the appearance of Mrs. Savage,
whose ideas of the unfortunate adventure ran in a train similar to
those of the matron. She acquainted them of the return of her husband,
and of his extraordinary emotion at the history she had given him.
In the midst of her speech, Mr. Savage himself entered. A cadaverous
hue overspread his countenance, grief beamed from his eye, and on his
lip quivered the accents of anguish. "At my departure I wished pleasure
might preside at your nuptials. I regret exceedingly the journey I have
taken, because it has occasioned such infinite disappointment to a
pair of feeling hearts, and because in the developing of this plot and
reconciling your junction, I myself shall not sustain the most amiable
character. Be quiet, my children; rest satisfied that you are connected
at this moment by no other bond than that which the parson has tied.
Your foster-mother, notwithstanding the uneasiness effected by her
obtrusion on your wedding day, is right and honest in her
representation. Other men would make a circumlocution in declaring this
matter, and in stating the particulars so as to convince all present
and the world of the real circumstances of this unfortunate affair; the
obscurity of which has caused such an egregious error in the nurse and
given unspeakable paim on his newly-married couple.
"Suffer me, Mrs. Savage, to come to the matter at once; to open the
day upon the darkness which clouds the happiness of all here, by giving
you the paternity of Ira. It is the discovery of this alone
which can be of ease to my mind, clear the character of the nurse,
bring contentment to the bosom of this young man, joy and health to the
soul of his bride, and satisfaction to yourself.
"If, in declaring the catastrophe of this story, I should describe
myself in a situation in which I may have forgotten my respect and
honour to the best of wives, you, madam, will grant me forgiveness.
Assure me of this before I proceed, and I promise not to hesitate in
telling you who is the real father of this amiable young man."
Mrs. Savage blushed at the compliment, and perceiving the
consternation of all was raised, and their hopes eager to be satisfied,
consented with dignity, observing she should be tempted never to
upbraid him with a violation of the most sacred obligation, if, in the
estrangement of juvenile passion, his illicit amour had been unwarrantably blest in a son like Ira.
"Which," said Mr. Savage, advancing to the young man, "is really
the case. Your are my son; I claim from you the duties, the
acknowledgments of your new relationship."
Joy and surprise illumined the countenance of Ira. The hands of the
father and son were imperceptibly locked in each other. The youth,
snatched from despair, and overcome with sentiments of gratitude,
prayed that no misconduct on his part might ever dishonour the title
with which Mr. Savage had been pleased to grace him.
"I see," said the father, "you are all solicitous to be acquainted
with the secret history of Ira. Let us first congratulate one another
on the happy issue which this gloomy incident has taken, and your
curiosity shall afterwards be fully gratified."
Mr. Savage began:
"There was a
fete champetre at the seat of Torrismond, at
which all the villagers of both sexes were invited. The city poured
forth the friends of this liberal gentleman to behold or participate in
the rustick festival.
"Among the village girls who danced on the green, Lucinda was
distinguished for beauty of person and grace of motion. Her stature was
not remarkable for height. There was natural ease, and rural neatness
was its ornament. Her face, though it had regular features, was a
little freckled and sun-burnt. With a happy confidence, occasioned by
a conscious harmlessness, she was not awkwardly shy. Nothing presuming,
nothing bashful, she hit as happy a medium of agreeable carriage, as
nature could teach, or education encourage and sanction. When
familiarity had worn off the constraint which innocence feels at the
approach of superiority, she was frank without presumption, and
communicative without impertinence.— Spirit and animation beamed from
her eye. The cadence of love fell from her tongue.
"Those, whom luxury nurses in the effeminacy of refinement, find
relaxation in the charms of nature. We are indeed intoxicated by the
deleterious cup of luxury, and gradually become estranged from
simplicity. Philosophy rectifies the errour, and recalls the wandering
mind to nature's unadorned beauty. It was thus I imagined myself a
philosophical admirer of Lucinda. But Lucinda had eyes more deleterious
than luxury, and which disconcerted the gravity of philosophy.
"The dance ended. Lucinda took her seat, and I placed myself by her
side. "You dance so genteelly, my dear, that if your agreeable manner
were to wake up the jealousy of the whole of this female circle it
would be no matter of astonishment to me." "People in this part of the
country are very apt to be jealous"—"But if you, Lucinda, lived in
town you would be the general object of admiration instead of that of
a malignant passion. Every thing you could desire would be laid at your
feet. How happy should I be, if I had the good fortune to conduct you
there."—"I there— what for?" "To please all eyes, and enchant all
hearts. To receive the homage due to your charms, to be adorned in the
ornaments of elegant dress, and command my heart which now bows a slave
"Lucinda thought all this very fine, but did not acquiesce with much
readiness to the scheme of taking the journey. I continued the
conversation: "You have doubtless a father who delights in your opening
beauty." "No, he died in the wars!" "Indeed! How happy are the lost in
battle! They fall the honour of their country and the regret of their
"Patriotism, and the love of our country's benefactors, are
excellent virtues; the most often praised, and the most seldom
practised. I made an eloge on the dead father of Lucinda, but ceased
not to feed the daughter with the poison of flattery. "If you have no
near friend to behold with pleasure your accomplishments, you will,
beyond dispute, grow up in your own estimation—" "While I continue
discreet." This was an answer which checked, but did not confuse me. I
took it for the language of simplicity. But remember, Ira, it is not
yet time to blush for my villany, or your mother's weakness; keep your
feelings to yourself till you are satisfied of the whole truth, which I
will give in a very concise manner.
"For why should I repeat to you the solicitations on my part, or the
objections on hers: it is sufficient to remark that the former were
successful and the latter surmounted.
"Great cities are always liberally furnished with those officious
minions of vice, who for pecuniary compensation, sacrifice that which
the world calls an honest character to the convenience of
licentiousness. Nobody hears conscience, when the sound of money is
made, and these wretches answer the inquiry of scrutiny, when their
conduct is examined, by repeating the words of Falstaff, "Tis my
vocation: tis no sin for a man to labour in his vocation." The traps of
craft are secretly laid by these hellborn contrivers, for the artless
feet of those in whom meet beauty and poverty.
After we had flown from the seat of Torrismond, we were received in
town to the apartments of elegance.
I wonder at those curious novels where artless simplicity is
represented the dupe of libertinism. The seduction of innocence is the
vilest subject in the world. None but a dull, melancholy, saternine
temper would presume to take up the dismal narration. Lucinda, lively,
affable and simple as she was, had successfully laid a snare for me.
She was not won from the way of prudence by my means, but had had the
fortune to have been apparently beguiled three or four times. Our union
was however blest with the presence of the Loves and Graces. Till at
length this evanescent retinue was augmented by the company of Lucinda.
My rural disciple, with the greatest pleasantry imaginable, told me it
was her intention to make me the father of a child. It was in vain to
remonstrate, for I, like all gentlemen in my honourable situation, had
accustomed myself to comply with all the whims of my mistress.
From an apprehension, notwithstanding, that this circumstance might
awaken the jealousy of those, whom it was for my peace and interest to
flatter, I applied to my friend and confederate Doctor Joseph. He was
seldom at a loss in matters of gallantry, physick, and gravity. He
undertook to ease my complaint, and stand father to the little
destitute stranger himself. "This measure," said the friendly
physician, "will necessarily exclude suspicion from the bosom of Mrs.
Savage, by damming up every avenue of communication through which the
affair must pass. When we are ashamed of the consequences of any folly
or misconduct the best way is to conceal them. I will therefore case
your shoulders of a burden which you deem a disgrace to carry.
The prolifick Lucinda was easily persuaded to accede to the project.
As soon as the infant was born she gave him the name of Ira, which he
has borne ever since. This nurse, who now stands before me, as she may
very well recollect, had previously performed a peculiar service for
the Doctor in the care of a daughter named Isabella. This nurse took
Ira, and by the fiction which I have related was her credulity imposed
One observation more I am compelled to make on gentlemen who edify
the world by writing novels. They presume it for the interest of
morality to represent misfortune and death as the consequences of
indiscretion. The vivacity of Lucinda could by no means coalesce in
the moral opinions of those novelists. She did not find it in her heart
to die out of complaisance to these rulers of nature. But
notwithstanding her slip found means to secure an honest, industrious
husband. I would not willingly make one remark inimical to good morals,
but as I am not a professed dealer in literature, I may be allowed to
speak the truth.
I suppose now, you must be all satisfied of the real situation of
this intricate adventure. Let mirth and good nature kiss each other,
and peace spread her wings over this house.
Mr. Savage concluded his narrative, and sincerity and joy were
predominant. For in scenes where passion and sensibility are
interested, how weak are the efforts of dissimulation! An interchange
of embraces testified the transports of all the parties, but the manner
in which Isabella received the cordiality of her husband was the most
striking, being mingled with tenderness, feeling, sentiment and love.
It was tempered with that passion yet modesty, as to remind Mr. Savage
of the description of a Roman poet, where a lady meets the embraces of
her husband in a state between that of a maid and a wife;
but in which the blush of the virgin disappears and becomes
lost in the chaste desires of the tender spouse.