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- Amelia (Complete) - 70/114 -


this temper, who doth not much value danger, will fight for the person he calls his friend, and the man that hath but little value for his money will give it him; but such friendship is never to be absolutely depended on; for, whenever the favourite passion interposes with it, it is sure to subside and vanish into air. Whereas the man whose tender disposition really feels the miseries of another will endeavour to relieve them for his own sake; and, in such a mind, friendship will often get the superiority over every other passion.

But, from whatever motive it sprung, the colonel's behaviour to Booth seemed truly amiable; and so it appeared to the author, who took the first occasion to applaud it in a very florid oration; which the reader, when he recollects that he was a speech-maker by profession, will not be surprized at; nor, perhaps, will be much more surprized that he soon after took an occasion of clapping a proposal into the colonel's hands, holding at the same time a receipt very visible in his own.

The colonel received both, and gave the author a guinea in exchange, which was double the sum mentioned in the receipt; for which the author made a low bow, and very politely took his leave, saying, "I suppose, gentlemen, you may have some private business together; I heartily wish a speedy end to your confinement, and I congratulate you on the possessing so great, so noble, and so generous a friend."

Chapter vi.

_Which inclines rather to satire than panegyric._

The colonel had the curiosity to ask Booth the name of the gentleman who, in the vulgar language, had struck, or taken him in for a guinea with so much ease and dexterity. Booth answered, he did not know his name; all that he knew of him was, that he was the most impudent and illiterate fellow he had ever seen, and that, by his own account, he was the author of most of the wonderful productions of the age. "Perhaps," said he, "it may look uncharitable in me to blame you for your generosity; but I am convinced the fellow hath not the least merit or capacity, and you have subscribed to the most horrid trash that ever was published."

"I care not a farthing what he publishes," cries the colonel. "Heaven forbid I should be obliged to read half the nonsense I have subscribed to."

"But don't you think," said Booth, "that by such indiscriminate encouragement of authors you do a real mischief to the society? By propagating the subscriptions of such fellows, people are tired out and withhold their contributions to men of real merit; and, at the same time, you are contributing to fill the world, not only with nonsense, but with all the scurrility, indecency, and profaneness with which the age abounds, and with which all bad writers supply the defect of genius."

"Pugh!" cries the colonel, "I never consider these matters. Good or bad, it is all one to me; but there's an acquaintance of mine, and a man of great wit too, that thinks the worst the best, as they are the surest to make him laugh."

"I ask pardon, sir," says the serjeant; "but I wish your honour would consider your own affairs a little, for it grows late in the evening."

"The serjeant says true," answered the colonel. "What is it you intend to do?"

"Faith, colonel, I know not what I shall do. My affairs seem so irreparable, that I have been driving them as much as possibly I could from my mind. If I was to suffer alone, I think I could bear them with some philosophy; but when I consider who are to be the sharers in my fortune--the dearest of children, and the best, the worthiest, and the noblest of women---Pardon me, my dear friend, these sensations are above me; they convert me into a woman; they drive me to despair, to madness."

The colonel advised him to command himself, and told him this was not the way to retrieve his fortune. "As to me, my dear Booth," said he, "you know you may command me as far as is really within my power."

Booth answered eagerly, that he was so far from expecting any more favours from the colonel, that he had resolved not to let him know anything of his misfortune. "No, my dear friend," cries he, "I am too much obliged to you already;" and then burst into many fervent expressions of gratitude, till the colonel himself stopt him, and begged him to give an account of the debt or debts for which he was detained in that horrid place.

Booth answered, he could not be very exact, but he feared it was upwards of four hundred pounds.

"It is but three hundred pounds, indeed, sir," cries the serjeant; "if you can raise three hundred pounds, you are a free man this moment."

Booth, who did not apprehend the generous meaning of the serjeant as well as, I believe, the reader will, answered he was mistaken; that he had computed his debts, and they amounted to upwards of four hundred pounds; nay, that the bailiff had shewn him writs for above that sum.

"Whether your debts are three or four hundred," cries the colonel, "the present business is to give bail only, and then you will have some time to try your friends: I think you might get a company abroad, and then I would advance the money on the security of half your pay; and, in the mean time, I will be one of your bail with all my heart."

Whilst Booth poured forth his gratitude for all this kindness, the serjeant ran down-stairs for the bailiff, and shortly after returned with him into the room.

The bailiff, being informed that the colonel offered to be bail for his prisoner, answered a little surlily, "Well, sir, and who will be the other? you know, I suppose, there must be two; and I must have time to enquire after them."

The colonel replied, "I believe, sir, I am well known to be responsible for a much larger sum than your demand on this gentleman; but, if your forms require two, I suppose the serjeant here will do for the other."

"I don't know the serjeant nor you either, sir," cries Bondum; "and, if you propose yourselves bail for the gentleman, I must have time to enquire after you."

"You need very little time to enquire after me," says the colonel, "for I can send for several of the law, whom I suppose you know, to satisfy you; but consider, it is very late."

"Yes, sir," answered Bondum, "I do consider it is too late for the captain to be bailed to-night."

"What do you mean by too late?" cries the colonel.

"I mean, sir, that I must search the office, and that is now shut up; for, if my lord mayor and the court of aldermen would be bound for him, I would not discharge him till I had searched the office."

"How, sir!" cries the colonel, "hath the law of England no more regard for the liberty of the subject than to suffer such fellows as you to detain a man in custody for debt, when he can give undeniable security?"

"Don't fellow me," said the bailiff; "I am as good a fellow as yourself, I believe, though you have that riband in your hat there."

"Do you know whom you are speaking to?" said the serjeant. "Do you know you are talking to a colonel of the army?"

"What's a colonel of the army to me?" cries the bailiff. "I have had as good as he in my custody before now."

"And a member of parliament?" cries the serjeant.

"Is the gentleman a member of parliament?--Well, and what harm have I said? I am sure I meant no harm; and, if his honour is offended, I ask his pardon; to be sure his honour must know that the sheriff is answerable for all the writs in the office, though they were never so many, and I am answerable to the sheriff. I am sure the captain can't say that I have shewn him any manner of incivility since he hath been here.--And I hope, honourable sir," cries he, turning to the colonel, "you don't take anything amiss that I said, or meant by way of disrespect, or any such matter. I did not, indeed, as the gentleman here says, know who I was speaking to; but I did not say anything uncivil as I know of, and I hope no offence."

The colonel was more easily pacified than might have been expected, and told the bailiff that, if it was against the rules of law to discharge Mr. Booth that evening, he must be contented. He then addressed himself to his friend, and began to prescribe comfort and patience to him; saying, he must rest satisfied with his confinement that night; and the next morning he promised to visit him again.

Booth answered, that as for himself, the lying one night in any place was very little worth his regard. "You and I, my dear friend, have both spent our evening in a worse situation than I shall in this house. All my concern is for my poor Amelia, whose sufferings on account of my absence I know, and I feel with unspeakable tenderness. Could I be assured she was tolerably easy, I could be contented in chains or in a dungeon."

"Give yourself no concern on her account," said the colonel; "I will wait on her myself, though I break an engagement for that purpose, and will give her such assurances as I am convinced will make her perfectly easy."

Booth embraced his friend, and, weeping over him, paid his acknowledgment with tears for all his goodness. In words, indeed, he was not able to thank him; for gratitude, joining with his other passions, almost choaked him, and stopt his utterance.

After a short scene in which nothing past worth recounting, the colonel bid his friend good night, and leaving the serjeant with him, made the best of his way back to Amelia.

Chapter vii.

_Worthy a very serious perusal._


Amelia (Complete) - 70/114

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