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even that experiment would disappoint him; upon which he eagerly rejoined, then I have a resource against the worst that can befal us: there is a comfortable little mansion stands without-side of my park; it is furnished and in complete repair; there is a pleasant garden to it; Mr. Abrahams has seen it, and if you will be my tenant, you shall not find me so hard a landlord as some you have had to deal with.' As Ned spoke these words, Mrs. Goodison turned her eyes full upon him with so intelligent and scrutinizing an expression, as to cause a short stop in his speech, after which he continued—Ah, Madam, how happy you might make me! the last inhabitant of this beloved little place was my excellent mother; she passed two years of widowhood in it with no companion but myself; I wish I had been more worthy of such society and more capable of improving by it; but I was sadly cramped in my education, being kept at home by my father, who meant all for the best, (God forbid I should reproach him!) and put me under the care of Parson Beetle, the curate of our parish, an honest well-meaning man; but alas ! I was a dull lazy blockhead, and he did not keep me to my
book. However, such as I am. I know my own deficiencies, and I hope want of honesty and sincerity is not amongst the number.'— • Nobody can suspect it,' cried Abrahams. "Pardon me,' replied Ned, I am afraid Mrs. Goodison is not thoroughly convinced of it; surely, Madam, you will not suppose I could look you in the face and utter an untruth. Nobody can look in yours, Sir, answered she, and expect to hear one ; it is your unmerited generosity that stops my tongue.'—* After all,' resumed Abrahams, “I am as much indebted to your generosity as any body present; for as you have never once mentioned the name of my Constantia in this proposal, I perceive yếu do not intend to rob
me of both my comforts at the same time.'-—'Tis because I have not the presumption to hope,' answered Ned, that I have any thing to offer which such excellence would condescend to take; I could wish to tender her the best mansion I there is an encumbrance goes with it which I despair of reconciling to so elegant a taste as hers. O love, said I within myself, thou art a notable teacher of rhetoric! I glanced my eye round the
Ned did the very reverse of what a modern fine gentleman would have done at the close of such a speech, he never once ventured to lift
eyes, or direct a look towards the object he had addressed; the fine countenance of Constantia assumed a hue, which I suspect our dealers in Circassian bloom have not yet been able to imitate, nor, if they could, to shift so suddenly; for whilst my eye was passing over it, her cheek underwent à change, which courtly cheeks, who purchase blushes, are not subject to; the whole was conducted by those most genuine masters and best colourists of the human countenance, modesty and sensibility, under the direction of nature; and though I am told the ingenious President of our Royal Academy has attempted something in art which resembles it, yet I am hard to believe, that his carnations, however volatile, can quite keep pace with the changes of Constantia's cheek. Wise and discreet young ladies, who are taught to know the world by education and experience, have a better method of concealing their thoughts, and a better reason for concealing them; in short they manage this matter with more address, and do not, like poor Constantia,
-Wear their hearts upon their sleeve For daws to peck at. When a fashionable lover assails his mistress with
all that energy of action as well as utterance, which accompanies polite declarations of passion, it would be highly indiscreet in her to shew him how supremely pleased and flattered she is by his impudence; no, she puts a proper portion of scorn into her features, and with a stern countenance tells him, she cannot stand his impertinence; if he will not take this fair warning and desist, she may indeed be overpowered through the weakness of her sex, but nobody can say it was her bashfulness that betrayed her, or that there was any prudent hypocrisy spared in her defence.
Again, when a fashionable lady throws her fine arms round her husband's neck, and in the mournful tone of conjugal complaint sighs out—and will my dearest leave his fond unhappy wife to bewail þis absence, whilst he is following a vile filthy fox over hedge and ditch at the peril of his neck ? would it not be a most unbred piece of sincerity were she to express in her face what she feels in her heart -a cordial wish that he may really break his neck, and that she is very much beholden to those odious hounds, as she calls them, for taking him out of her sight?' Certainly such an act of folly could not be put up with in an age and country so enlightened as the present; and surely, when so many ladies of distinction are turning actresses in public to amuse their friends, it would be hard if they did not set apart some rehearsals in private to accommodate themselves.
I LEFT Constantia somewhat abruptly in my last paper; and to say the truth rather in an awkward predicament; but as I do not like to interrupt young ladies in their blushes, I took occasion to call off the reader's attention from her, and bestow it upon other ladies, who are not subject to the same em. barrassments.
Our party soon broke up after this event; Ned and I repaired to our apartments in the Poultry, Constantia to those slumbers 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 com. plained of; they were not in the fault of having deprived him of his repose.
He took up the morning paper, and the playhouse 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 on the stage, and so acted, let me assure you, as leaves the merit of the performers only to be exceeded by that of the poet.? —“This is fine indeed! replied he; "then as sure as can be I will be there this
think they will admit a country clown like me.'- There
was no fear of that.”
Very well then; is not this the play of all plays for Constantia? Oh that I had old Surly there too; what would I give to have her grandfather 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 vision by throwing any bars in its way, though enough occurred to me, had I been disposed to employ them.
Away posted Ned—(quantùm mutatus ab illo !) on the wings of love to Saint Mary Axe; what rhe. toric he there made use of I cannot pretend to say, but certainly he came back with a decree in his favour for Mrs. Abrahams and Constantia 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 Shylock was averse from them) had an unlucky engagement elsewhere, and as for Mrs. Goodison, Ned had sagaciously discovered that she had some objection to the title of the comedy in her own particular, though she 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 been kept for us; Mrs. Abrahams on my left hand against the partition of the box, and Constantia on the other hand between her admirer and me.
There is something captivating in that burst of splendour, scenery, human 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 surprise, and had there not been a central point of attraction, to which his eyes