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England ; and although I dare not hope to merit that appellation, yet I will make it my constant duty to promote her happiness.
I have often told you that my parents died whilst I was young, and left me to the care of an uncle lately returned from the East Indies, where he had acquired a considerable fortune. My inclination led me to the army, and my uncle procured me a commission. Ever since he has treated me as his own son, and being a bachelor, has made a will in my favour. He is now a member of parliament for T-, and has given me leave to choose a wife for myself, without any other qualification besides virtue. I have written to him concerning your daughter, and his answer is, that he shall consider me as extremely happy in being connected with so worthy a family as yours. I hope you will have no objection against my being in the army. It was originally my only choice, and I doubt not of rising in time to the command of a regiment. There is a sort of reverential fear upon the mind, whilst I am writing to so worthy a person as the father of my beloved Sophia. Dear Sir, excuse my youth, and the violence of my passion. Let me beg your answer, and 0, let it contain your approbation.
I am, honoured Sir,
Yours with the greatest respect.
LETTER LXXXV. The young Lady's Answer to her Lorer. Dear Billy,—Not more welcome is the appearnce of an inn to a weary traveller, than your kind letter was to me. But how is it possible that you should harbour the least suspicion of my infidelity ? does my Billy imagine that I would suffer the addresses of any fop or coxcomb after I was bound in the most solemn manner, I mean by promise ; and be assured, I pay the same regard to my word as my oath. If there is ever an obstruction to our love, it must arise from yourself. My affections are too permanently fixed ever to be removed from the beloved object ; and my happiness or misery will be in proportion to your conduct. The enclosed from my father will I hope be agreeable ; I have not seen it, and therefore can only judge of its contents by the conversation last night at supper. When your letter was delivered, my honoured father was extremely ill of a cold, so that I did not deliver it to him till the next morning at breakfast; he retired to his closet to read it, and at dinner told me he would deliver me an answer in the evening. Accordingly, after supper, and the servant being retired, the best of parents, spoke as follows : “ My dear child, from the principle of that education which you have received, I doubt not but you must be convinced that it is my duty to promote your interest as far as I am able; and how far my conduct as a father has been consistent with that rule, I appeal to yourself; yourown conscience will witness, whether I have not at all times studied to promote your interest, and it is with pleasure that I now say that your filial duty was equal to my highest wishes. With respect to the subject of the letter you gave me this morning, I can only say that I have no objection to your complying with the young gentleman's request, as I think it may be for your mutual happiness. Indeed, I had some suspicion of it before he left this place : but being well convinced of his merit, I was almost assured no step of that nature would be taken without my consent. That consent you now have, and even my approbation. May you both be as happy as I wish ; I desire no
more." Here the good man stopped, tears hindered him from proceeding, and me from making a reply. A scene of tenderness ensued, which you may feel, although I cannot describe it. His own letter will convince you, and you may make what use of it you please.
I cannot conclude without mentioning your conduct at the Manchester ball. Was there none among so many beauties able to attract my Billy's notice ? and will he at all times prefer my company to that of the gay and beautiful ? I will hope so, and happy shall I be if not disappointed. In hopes of hearing from you soon, I shall subscribe myself,
Yours for ever.
My dear young friend,-Ever since I first had the pieasure of your conversation, I considered you as a young gentleman of real merit, who would not be guilty of an ungenerous action, and to that was owing not only the respect I always treated you with, but also the uncommon indulgence to converse freely with my daughter. I can freely excuse your not communicating your sentiments to me before you left this place. Your ardour was somewhat precipitate, and as you well observe, I know what it is to be in love. The account of your uncle and family I know to be true, for I met with that worthy person who is your benefactor a few days ago at the Red Lion in this city, and he confirms the truth of all you have written. My dear sir, if ever you live to be a father, you will know what I feel on the present occasion : a willingness to give her to you, from a firm persuasion of your merit ; and anxiety for her preservation, from a conviction in
my own mind that there is nothing permanent in this world. However, sir, you have my free consent to marry my child, and may the Divine Providence be your guide in the whole of your progress through this life! My ill state of health serves as a monitor to inform me, that my time in this world will be but short; and there is nothing would give me greater pleasure than to see my dear Sophia happily settled before I retire to the land of forgetfulness, where the wicked cease from troubling, and where the weary are at rest. How great, Sir, is the charge which I commit to your care ; the image of a beloved wife long since dead, and the hope of my declining years ! Her education has been consistent with her rank in life, and her conduct truly virtuous. I have not the least doubt of her conjugal duty, and your felicity, in acting conformable to the character of a husband. Upon that supposition, I leave her entirely to you, and as soon as you can obtain leave from the colonel, I shall expect to see you at this place, to receive from my hands all that is dear to me in the world. Your uncle has likewise promised to be here, so that all things are according to your professed wishes.
I am, sir, yours sincerely.
LETTER LXXXVII. From a young Man just out of his Apprenticeship,
to his Sweetheart, á Servant in the neighbourhood.
Dear Sally,—I have been long in love with you, but was afraid to tell you. When I go with you to Bagnigge, or Sadler's wells, I am almost like a fool, and altogether unfit for company. I think of you all day, and at night I dream of my dear Sally. I am well settled in work, and my wages are eighteen shillings every week. You and I can live on that,
and I shall bring it home untouched on Saturday evening. And I will not go to any ale-house, but, as soon as my work is done, return home to my dearly beloved Sally. I hope, my dear, you will not be angry, for I am really in love. I cannot be happy unless you are mine. I was afraid to mention this to you, but if you will leave an answer at my lodgings, I will meet you next Sunday, after dinner, at the Shepherd and Shepherdess, when we will take a walk to Hornsey-house and drink tea. How happy shall I be to hear from my charmer ! but a thousand times more to think she will be mine.--I am, my dear, your real lover.
The Answer. Dear Jack, I received your very kind letter, but I don't know what to say in answer. Although I would be glad to marry, yet you men are so deceiving, that there is no such thing as trusting you. There is Tom Timber the carpenter, and Jack Hammer the smith, who have been married about six months, and every night come home drunk, and beat their wives. What a miserable life is that, Jack, and how do I know but you may be as bad to me? how do I know but you, like them, may get drunk every night, and beat me black and blue before morning! I do assure you Jack, if I thought that would be the case, I would scrub floors, and scour sauce-pans, as long as I live. But possibly you may not be so bad, for there is Will Copper the brazier, and Jack Trotter the assman, who are both very happy with their wives ; they are both home-bringing husbands, and have every day a hot joint of meat, and a pot of beer. I know not yet what I should do ; but as I like a walk to Horn