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- Amelia Volume III - 10/41 -
would the vain man find an honour, or where would the love of pleasure propose so adequate an object as divine worship? with what ecstasy must the contemplation of being admitted to such a presence fill the mind! The pitiful courts of princes are open to few, and to those only at particular seasons; but from this glorious and gracious presence we are none of us, and at no time excluded."
The doctor was proceeding thus when the servant returned, saying the coaches were ready; and the whole company with the greatest alacrity attended the doctor to St James's church.
When the service was ended, and they were again got into their coaches, Amelia returned the doctor many thanks for the light in which he had placed divine worship, assuring him that she had never before had so much transport in her devotion as at this time, and saying she believed she should be the better for this notion he had given her as long as she lived.
The coaches being come to the water-side, they all alighted, and, getting into one boat, proceeded to Vauxhall.
The extreme beauty and elegance of this place is well known to almost every one of my readers; and happy is it for me that it is so, since to give an adequate idea of it would exceed my power of description. To delineate the particular beauties of these gardens would, indeed, require as much pains, and as much paper too, as to rehearse all the good actions of their master, whose life proves the truth of an observation which I have read in some ethic writer, that a truly elegant taste is generally accompanied with an excellency of heart; or, in other words, that true virtue is, indeed, nothing else but true taste.
Here our company diverted themselves with walking an hour or two before the music began. Of all the seven, Booth alone had ever been here before; so that, to all the rest, the place, with its other charms, had that of novelty. When the music played, Amelia, who stood next to the doctor, said to him in a whisper, "I hope I am not guilty of profaneness; but, in pursuance of that chearful chain of thoughts with which you have inspired me this afternoon, I was just now lost in a reverie, and fancied myself in those blissful mansions which we hope to enjoy hereafter. The delicious sweetness of the place, the enchanting charms of the music, and the satisfaction which appears in every one's countenance, carried my soul almost to heaven in its ideas. I could not have, indeed, imagined there had been anything like this in this world."
The doctor smiled, and said, "You see, dear madam, there may be pleasures of which you could conceive no idea till you actually enjoyed them."
And now the little boy, who had long withstood the attractions of several cheesecakes that passed to and fro, could contain no longer, but asked his mother to give him one, saying, "I am sure my sister would be glad of another, though she is ashamed to ask." The doctor, overhearing the child, proposed that they should all retire to some place where they might sit down and refresh themselves; which they accordingly did. Amelia now missed her husband; but, as she had three men in her company, and one of them was the doctor, she concluded herself and her children to be safe, and doubted not but that Booth would soon find her out.
They now sat down, and the doctor very gallantly desired Amelia to call for what she liked. Upon which the children were supplied with cakes, and some ham and chicken were provided for the rest of the company; with which while they were regaling themselves with the highest satisfaction, two young fellows walking arm-in-arm, came up, and when they came opposite to Amelia they stood still, staring Amelia full in the face, and one of them cried aloud to the other, "D--n me, my lord, if she is not an angel!"--My lord stood still, staring likewise at her, without speaking a word; when two others of the same gang came up, and one of them cried, "Come along, Jack, I have seen her before; but she is too well manned already. Three----are enough for one woman, or the devil is in it!"
"D--n me," says he that spoke first, and whom they called Jack, "I will have a brush at her if she belonged to the whole convocation." And so saying, he went up to the young clergyman, and cried, "Doctor, sit up a little, if you please, and don't take up more room in a bed than belongs to you." At which words he gave the young man a push, and seated himself down directly over against Amelia, and, leaning both his elbows on the table, he fixed his eyes on her in a manner with which modesty can neither look nor bear to be looked at.
Amelia seemed greatly shocked at this treatment; upon which the doctor removed her within him, and then, facing the gentleman, asked him what he meant by this rude behaviour?--Upon which my lord stept up and said, "Don't be impertinent, old gentleman. Do you think such fellows as you are to keep, d--n me, such fine wenches, d--n me, to yourselves, d--n me?"
"No, no," cries Jack, "the old gentleman is more reasonable. Here's the fellow that eats up the tithe-pig. Don't you see how his mouth waters at her? Where's your slabbering bib?" For, though the gentleman had rightly guessed he was a clergyman, yet he had not any of those insignia on with which it would have been improper to have appeared there.
"Such boys as you," cries the young clergyman, "ought to be well whipped at school, instead of being suffered to become nuisances in society."
"Boys, sir!" says Jack; "I believe I am as good a man as yourself, Mr. ----, and as good a scholar too. _Bos fur sus quotque sacerdos_. Tell me what's next. D--n me, I'll hold you fifty pounds you don't tell me what's next."
"You have him, Jack," cries my lord. "It is over with him, d--n me! he can't strike another blow."
"If I had you in a proper place," cries the clergyman, "you should find I would strike a blow, and a pretty hard one too."
"There," cries my lord, "there is the meekness of the clergyman--there spoke the wolf in sheep's clothing. D--n me, how big he looks! You must be civil to him, faith! or else he will burst with pride."
"Ay, ay," cries Jack," let the clergy alone for pride; there's not a lord in the kingdom now hath half the pride of that fellow."
"Pray, sir," cries the doctor, turning to the other, "are you a lord?"
"Yes, Mr. ----," cries he, "I have that honour, indeed."
"And I suppose you have pride too," said the doctor.
"I hope I have, sir," answered he, "at your service."
"If such a one as you, sir," cries the doctor, "who are not only a scandal to the title you bear as a lord, but even as a man, can pretend to pride, why will you not allow it to a clergyman? I suppose, sir, by your dress, you are in the army? and, by the ribbon in your hat, you seem to be proud of that too. How much greater and more honourable is the service in which that gentleman is enlisted than yours! Why then should you object to the pride of the clergy, since the lowest of the function is in reality every way so much your superior?"
"Tida Tidu Tidum," cries my lord.
"However, gentlemen," cries the doctor, "if you have the least pretension to that name, I beg you will put an end to your frolic; since you see it gives so much uneasiness to the lady. Nay, I entreat you for your own sakes, for here is one coming who will talk to you in a very different stile from ours."
"One coming!" cries my lord; "what care I who is coming?"
"I suppose it is the devil," cries Jack; "for here are two of his livery servants already."
"Let the devil come as soon as he will," cries my lord; "d--n me if I have not a kiss!"
Amelia now fell a trembling; and her children, perceiving her fright, both hung on her, and began to cry; when Booth and Captain Trent both came up.
Booth, seeing his wife disordered, asked eagerly what was the matter? At the same time the lord and his companion, seeing Captain Trent, whom they well knew, said both together, "What, doth this company belong to you?" When the doctor, with great presence of mind, as he was apprehensive of some fatal consequence if Booth should know what had past, said, "So, Mr. Booth, I am glad you are returned; your poor lady here began to be frighted out of her wits. But now you have him again," said he to Amelia, "I hope you will be easy."
Amelia, frighted as she was, presently took the hint, and greatly chid her husband for leaving her. But the little boy was not so quick- sighted, and cried, "Indeed, papa, those naughty men there have frighted my mamma out of her wits."
"How!" cries Booth, a little moved; "frightened! Hath any one frightened you, my dear?"
"No, my love," answered she, "nothing. I know not what the child means. Everything is well now I see you safe."
Trent had been all the while talking aside with the young sparks; and now, addressing himself to Booth, said, "Here hath been some little mistake; I believe my lord mistook Mrs. Booth for some other lady."
"It is impossible," cries my lord, "to know every one. I am sure, if I had known the lady to be a woman of fashion, and an acquaintance of Captain Trent, I should have said nothing disagreeable to her; but, if I have, I ask her pardon, and the company's."
"I am in the dark," cries Booth. "Pray what is all this matter?"
"Nothing of any consequence," cries the doctor, "nor worth your enquiring into. You hear it was a mistake of the person, and I really believe his lordship that all proceeded from his not knowing to whom the lady belonged."
"Come, come," says Trent, "there is nothing in the matter, I assure you. I will tell you the whole another time."
"Very well; since you say so," cries Booth, "I am contented." So ended the affair, and the two sparks made their congee, and sneaked off.
"Now they are gone," said the young gentleman, "I must say I never saw
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