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“God bless you, Susannah.”
“ May the blessing of the Lord be on you always, Japhet,” replied she.
I put my arm round her waist, and slightly pressed her to my bosom. She gently disengaged herself, and her large eyes glistened with tears as she left the room. In a quarter of an hour I was with Mr. Masterton on the road to London.
“ Japhet,” said the old gentleman, “ I will say that you have been very wise in your choice, and that your little Quaker is a most lovely creature: I am in love with her niyself, and I think that she is far superior in personal attractions to Cecilia de Clare."
“ Indeed, sir !"
“ Yes, indeed : her face is more classical, and her complexion is unrivalled ; as far as my present knowledge and experience go, she is an emblem of purity.”
“ Her mind, sir, is as pure as her person.” “ I believe it; she has a strong mind, and will think for herself.”
“ There, sir, is, I am afraid, the difficulty ; she will not yield a point in which she thinks she is right, not even for her love for me.”
"I agree with you that she will not, and I admire her for it ; but, Japhet, she will yield to conviction, and, depend upon it, she will abandon the outward observances of her persuasion. Did you observe what a spoke I put in your wheel last night, when I stated that outward forms were pride ? Leave that to work, and I'll answer for the consequences: she will not long wear that Quaker's dress. How beautiful she would be if she dressed like other people! I think I see her now entering a ball-room.”
“ But what occasions you to think that she will abandon her persuasion ?"
“ I do not say that she will abandon it, nor do I wish her to do it, nor do I wish you to do it, Japhet. There is much beauty and much perfection in the Quaker's creed. All that requires to be abandoned are the dress and the ceremonies of the meetings, which are both absurdities. Recollect, that Miss Temple has been brought up as a Quaker ; she has, from the exclusiveness of the sect, known no other form of worship, and never heard any opposition to that which has been inculcated; but let her once or twice enter the Established Church, hear the beautiful ritual, and listen to a sound preacher. Let her be persuaded to do that, which cannot be asking her to do wrong, and then let her think and act for herself, and my word for it, when she draws the comparison between what she has then heard and the nonsense occasionally uttered in the Quaker's conventicle, by those who fancy themselves inspired, she will herself feel that, although the tenets of her persuasion may be more in accordance with true christianity than those of other sects, the outward forms and observances are imperfect. I trust to her own good sense."
“ You make me very happy by saying so."
“ Well, that is my opinion of her, and if she proves me to be correct, hang me if I don't think I shall adopt her."
“ What do you think of Mrs. Cophagus, sir ? ” “ I think she is no more a Quaker in her heart than I am. She is
a lively, merry, kind-hearted creature, and would have no objection to appear in feathers and diamonds to-morrow.”
« Well, sir, I can tell you that Mr. Cophagus still sighs after his blue cotton-net pantaloons and Hessian boots."
“More fool he! but, however, I am glad of it, for it gives me an idea which I shall work upon by-and-bye ; at present we have this eventful meeting between you and your father to occupy us."
We arrived in town in time for dinner, which Mr. Masterton had ordered at his chambers. As the old gentleman was rather tired with his two days' travelling, I wished him good night at an early hour.
“ Recollect, Japhet, we are to be at the Adelphi hotel to-morrow at one o'clock-come in time.”
I called upon Mr. Masterton at the time appointed on the ensuing day, and we drove to the hotel in which my father had located himself. On our arrival, we were ushered into a room on the ground floor, where we found Mr. Cophagus and two of the governors of the Foundling Hospital.
“Really, Mr. Masterton,” said one of the latter gentlemen, “ one would really think that we were about to have an audience with a sovereign prince, and instead of conferring favours, were about to receive them. My time is precious; I ought to have been in the city this half hour, and here is this old nabob keeping us waiting as if we were petitioners."
Mr. Masterton laughed and said, “ Let us all go up stairs, and not wait to be sent for."
He called one of the waiters, and desired him to announce them to General De Benyon. They then followed the waiter, leaving me alone. I must say, that I was a little agitated : I heard the door open above, and then an angry growl like that of a wild beast; the door closed again, and all was quiet. “And this,” thought I, “is the result of all my fond anticipations, of my ardent wishes, of my enthusiastic search. Instead of expressing anxiety to receive his son, he litigiously requires proofs and more proofs, when he has received every satisfactory proof already. They say his temper is violent beyond control, and that submission irritates instead of appeasing him : what then if I resent? I have heard it said that people of that description are to be better met with their own weapons :-suppose I try it:—but no, I have no right :- I will however be firm and keep my temper under every circumstance: I will show him, at least, that his son has the spirit and the feelings of a gentleman.”
As these thoughts passed in my mind the door opened, and Mr. Masterton requested me to follow him. I obeyed with a palpitating heart, and when I gained the landing-place up stairs, Mr. Masterton took my hand and led me into the presence of my long-sought-for and now much-dreaded parent. I may as well describe him and the whole tableau. The room was long and narrow, and at the farther end was a large sofa, on which was seated my father with his injured leg reposing on it, his crutches propped against the wall. On each side of him were two large poles and stands with a magnificent macaw. Next to the macaws were two native servants, arrayed
Nov. 1835.-VOL. XIV.NO. LV.
in their muslin dresses, with their arms folded. A hooka was in advance of the table before the sofa ; it was magnificently wrought in silver, and the snake passed under the table, so that the tube was within my honoured father's reach. On one side of the room sat the two governors of the Foundling Hospital, on the other was seated Mr. Cophagus in his Quaker's dress; the empty chair next to him had been occupied by Mr. Masterton. I looked at my father: he was a man of great size, apparently six feet three or four inches, and stout in proportion without being burthened with fat: he was gaunt, broadshouldered, and muscular, and I think must have weighed seventeen or eighteen stone. His head was in proportion to his body and very large; so were all his features upon the same grand scale. His complexion was of a brownish-yellow, and his hair of a snowy white. He wore his whiskers very large and joined together under the throat, and these, which were also white, from the circle which they formed round his face, and contrasting with the colour of his skin, gave his tout ensemble much more the appearance of a royal Bengal tiger than a gentleman. General De Benyon saw Mr. Masterton leading me forward to within a pace or two of the table before the general. -"Allow me the pleasure of introducing your son, Japhet."
There was no hand extended to welcome me. My father fixed his proud grey eyes upon me for a moment, and then turned to the governors of the hospital.
“ Is this the person, gentlemen, whom you received as an infant and brought up as Japhet Newland ?”.
The governors declared I was the same person; that they had bound me to Mr. Cophagus, and had seen me more than once since I had quitted the Asylum.
“ Is this the Japhet Newland whom you received from these gentlemen and brought up to your business ?”
“ Yea, and verily—I do affirm the same-smart lad-good boy, and so on."
“ I will not take a Quaker's affirmation—will you take your oath, “ Yes," replied Cophagus, forgetting his Quakership, “ Take oath -bring Bible_kiss book, and so on.”
“ You then, as a Quaker, have no objection to swear to the identity of this person.”
“ Swear,” cried Cophagus, “ yes, swear—swear now—not Japhet ! -I'm damned-go to hell, and so on.”
The other parties present could not help laughing at this explosion from Cophagus, neither could I. Mr. Masterton then asked the general if he required any more proofs.
“ No," replied the general discourteously; and speaking in Hindostanee to his attendants, they walked to the door and opened it. The hint was taken, Mr. Masterton saying to the others in an ironical tone, “ After so long a separation, gentlemen, it must be natural that the general should wish to be left alone, that he may give vent to his paternal feelings.” In the mean time, I was left standing in the middle of the room; the gentlemen departed, and the two native servants resumed their stations on each side of the sofa. I felt humi
liated and indignant, but waited in silence; at last my honoured parent, who had eyed me for some time, commenced.
“ If you think, young man, to win my favour by your good looks, you are very much mistaken : you are too like your mother, whose memory is any thing but agreeable."
The blood mounted to my forehead at this cruel observation ; I folded my arms and looked my father steadfastly in the face, but made no reply. The choler of the gentleman was raised.
“ It appears that I have found a most dutiful son."
I was about to make an angry answer, when I recollected myself, and I courteously replied, “My dear general, depend upon it that your son will always be ready to pay duty to whom duty is due; but excuse me, in the agitation of this meeting you have forgotten those little attentions which courtesy demands; with your permission I will take a chair, and then we may converse more at our ease. I hope your leg is better."
I said this with the blandest voice and the most studied politeness, and drawing a chair towards the table, I took my seat; as I expected, it put my honoured father in a tremendous rage.
“ If this is a specimen, sir, of your duty and respect, sir, I hope to see no more of them. To whom your duty is due, sir !-and pray to whom is it not due, sir, if not to the author of your existence ?" cried the general, striking the table before him with his enormous fist, so as to make the ink fly out of the stand some inches high and bespatter the papers near it.
"My dear father, you are perfectly correct: duty, as you say, is due to the author of our existence. If I recollect right, the commandment says, "Honour your father and your mother;' but at the same time, if I may venture to offer an observation, are there not such things as reciprocal duties—some which are even more paramount in a father than the mere begetting of a son?”
“ What do you mean, sir, by these insolent remarks ?” interrupted my father.
* Excuse me, my dear father, I may be wrong, but if so, I will bow to your superior judgment; but it does appear to me, that the mere hanging me in a basket at the gate of the Foundling Hospital, and leaving me a bank-note of fifty pounds to educate and maintain me until the age of twenty-four, is not exactly all the duties incumbent upon a parent. If you think that they are, I am afraid that the world, as well as myself, will be of a different opinion. Not that I intend to make any complaint, as I feel assured that now circumstances have put it in your power, it is your intention to make me amends for leaving me so long in a state of destitution and wholly dependent upon my own resources.”
5. You do, do you, sir ? well, now, I'll tell you my resolution, which is there is the door-go out, and never let me see your face again.”
“My dear father, as I am convinced that this is only a little pleasantry on your part, or perhaps a mere trial whether I am possessed of the spirit and determination of a De Benyon, I shall, of course, please you by not complying with your humorous request.”
“ Won't you, by G-d!” roared my father ; then turning to his two native servants, he spoke to them in Hindostanee. They immediately walked to the door, threw it wide open, and then coming back to me, were about to take me by the arms. I certainly felt my blood boil, but I recollected how necessary it was to keep my temper. I rose from my chair, and advancing to the side of the sofa, I said,
“ My dear father, as I perceive that you do not require your crutches at this moment, you will not perhaps object to my taking one. These foreign scoundrels must not be permitted to insult you through the person of your only son.”
“ Turn him out,” roared my father.
The natives advanced, but I whirled the crutch round my head, and in a moment they were both prostrate. As soon as they gained their feet, I attacked them again, until they made their escape out of the room ; I then shut the door and turned the key.
“ Thank you, my dear sir,” said I, returning the crutch to where it was before. “Many thanks for thus permitting me to chastise the insolence of those black scoundrels, whom I take it for granted, you will immediately discharge;" and I again took my seat in the chair, bringing it closer to him.
The rage of the general was now beyond all bounds; the white foam was spluttered out of his mouth, as he in vain endeavoured to find words. Once he actually rose from the sofa, to take the law in his own hands, but the effort seriously injured his leg, and he threw himself down in pain and disappointment.
“ My dear father, I am afraid that, in your anxiety to help me, you have hurt your leg again,” said I, in a soothing voice.
“ Sirrah, sirrah,” exclaimed he at last; “ if you think that this will do, you are very much mistaken. You don't know me. You may turn out a couple of cowardly blacks, but now I'll show you that I am not to be played with. I discard you for ever-I disinherit-I disacknowledge you. You may take your choice, either to quit this room, or be put into the hands of the police."
“ The police, my dear sir! What can the police do? I may call in the police for the assault just committed by your servants, and have them up to Bow Street, but you cannot charge me with an assault."
“ But I will, by G-d, sir, true or not true.”
“ Indeed you would not, my dear father. A De Benyon would never be guilty of a lie. Besides, if you were to call in the police ? I wish to argue this matter coolly, because I ascribe your present little burst of ill humour to your sufferings from your unfortunate accident. Allowing then, my dear father, that you were to charge me with an assault, I should immediately be under the necessity of charging you also, and then we must both go to Bow Street together. Were you ever at Bow Street, general ?” The general made no reply, and I proceeded. “Besides, my dear sir, only imagine how very awkward it would be when the magistrate put you on your oath, and asked you to make your charge. What would you be obliged to declare? That you had married when young, and finding that your wife had no fortune, had deserted her the second day after your marriage. That you, an officer in the army, and the Honourable Captain