Sir Launcelot, having vindicated the liberty, confirmed the safety, and secured the heart of his charming Aurelia, now found leisure to unravel the conspiracy which had been executed against his person; and with that view commenced a lawsuit against the owner of the house where he and his mistress had been separately confined. Mr. Shackle was, notwithstanding all the submissions and atonement which he offered to make, either in private or in public, indicted on the statute of kidnapping, tried, convicted, punished by a severe fine and standing in the pillory. A judicial writ ad inquirendum being executed, the prisons of his inquisition were laid open, and several innocent captives enlarged.

In the course of Shackle’s trial, it appeared that the knight’s confinement was a scheme executed by his rival Mr. Sycamore, according to the device of his counsellor, Dawdle, who, by this contrivance, had reconciled himself to his patron, after having deserted him in the day of battle. Our hero was so incensed at this discovery of Sycamore’s treachery and ingratitude, that he went in quest of him immediately, to take vengeance on his person, accompanied by Captain Crowe, who wanted to balance accounts with Mr. Dawdle. But those gentlemen had wisely avoided the impending storm, by retiring to the continent, on pretence of travelling for improvement.

Sir Launcelot was not now so much of a knight-errant as to leave Aurelia to the care of Providence, and pursue the traitors to the farthest extremities of the earth. He practised a much more easy, certain, and effectual method of revenge, by instituting a process against them, which, after writs of capias, alias et pluries, had been repeated, subjected them both to outlawry. Mr. Sycamore, and his friend, being thus deprived of the benefit of the law by their own neglect, would likewise have forfeited their goods and chattels to the King, had not they made such submissions as appeased the wrath of Sir Launcelot and Captain Crowe; then they ventured to return, and, by dint of interest, obtained a reversal of the outlawry. But this grace they did not enjoy till long after our adventurer was happily established in life.

While the knight waited impatiently for the expiration of Aurelia’s minority, and in the meantime consoled himself with the imperfect happiness arising from her conversation, and those indulgences which the most unblemished virtue could bestow, Captain Crowe projected another plan of vengeance against the conjurer, whose lying oracles had cost him such a world of vexation. The truth is, the captain began to be tired of idleness, and undertook this adventure to keep his hand in use. He imparted his design to Crabshaw, who had likewise suffered in spirit from the predictions of the said offender, and was extremely well disposed to assist in punishing the false prophet. He now took it for granted that he should not be hanged for stealing a horse; and thought it very hard to pay so much money for a deceitful prophecy, which, in all likelihood, would never be fulfilled.

Actuated by these motives, they set out together for the house of consultation, but they found it shut up and abandoned; and, upon inquiry in the neighbourhood, learned that the conjurer had moved his quarters that very day on which the captain had recourse to his art. This was actually the case. He knew the fate of Sir Launcelot would soon come to light, and he did not choose to wait the consequence. He had other motives for decamping. He had run a score at the public-house, which he had no mind to discharge, and wanted to disengage himself from his female associate, who knew too much of his affairs to be kept at a proper distance. All these purposes he had answered by retreating softly, without beat of drum, while his sibyl was abroad running down prey for his devouring. He had not, however, taken his measures so cunningly, but that this old hag discovered his new lodgings, and, in revenge, gave information to the publican. This creditor took out a writ accordingly, and the bailiff had just secured his person, as Captain Crowe and Timothy Crabshaw chanced to pass by the door in their way homewards, through an obscure street, near the Seven Dials.

The conjurer having no subterfuge left, but a great many particular reasons for avoiding an explanation with the justice, like the man between the devil and the deep sea, of two evils chose the least; and beckoning to the captain, called him by his name. Crowe, thus addressed, replied with a “Hilloah!” and looking towards the place from whence he was hailed, at once recognised the necromancer. Without farther hesitation, he sprang across the street, and, collaring Albumazar, exclaimed, “Aha! old boy, is the wind in that corner? I thought we should grapple one day—now will I bring you up by the head, though all the devils in hell were blowing abaft the beam.”

The bailiff seeing his prisoner so roughly handled before, and at the same time assaulted behind by Crabshaw, who cried, “Show me a liar, and I’ll show you a thief—who is to be hanged now?” I say, the bailiff, fearing he should lose the benefit of his job, began to put on his contentious face, and, declaring the doctor was his prisoner, swore he could not surrender him without a warrant from the Lord Chief Justice. The whole group adjourning into the parlour, the conjurer desired to know of Crowe whether Sir Launcelot was found. Being answered, “Ey, ey, safe enough to see you made fast in the bilboes, brother”; he told the captain he had something of consequence to communicate for his advantage; and proposed that Crowe and Crabshaw should bail the action, which lay only for a debt of three pounds.

Crowe stormed, and Crabshaw grinned at this modest proposal; but when they understood that they could only be bound for his appearance, and reflected that they need not part with him until his body should be surrendered unto justice, they consented to give bail; and the bond being executed, conveyed him directly to the house of our adventurer.

The boisterous Crowe introduced him to Sir Launcelot with such an abrupt unconnected detail of his offence, as the knight could not understand without Timothy’s annotations. These were followed by some questions put to the conjurer, who, laying aside his black gown, and plucking off his white beard, exhibited to the astonished spectators the very individual countenance of the empirical politician Ferret, who had played our hero such a slippery trick after the electioneering adventure.

“I perceive,” said he, “you are preparing to expostulate, and upbraid me for having given a false information against you to the country justice. I look upon mankind to be in a state of nature; a truth, which Hobbes has stumbled upon by accident. I think every man has a right to avail himself of his talents, even at the expense of his fellow-creatures; just as we see the fish, and other animals of the creation, devouring one another. I found the justice but one degree removed from idiotism, and knowing that he would commit some blunder in the execution of his office, which would lay him at your mercy, I contrived to make his folly the instrument of my escape—I was dismissed without being obliged to sign the information I had given; and you took ample vengeance for his tyranny and impertinence. I came to London, where my circumstances obliged me to live in disguise. In the character of a conjurer, I was consulted by your follower, Crowe, and your squire, Crabshaw. I did little or nothing but echo back the intelligence they brought me, except prognosticating that Crabshaw would be hanged; a prediction to which I found myself so irresistibly impelled, that I am persuaded it was the real effect of inspiration. I am now arrested for a paltry sum of money, and, moreover, liable to be sent to Bridewell as an impostor; let those answer for my conduct whose cruelty and insolence have driven me to the necessity of using such subterfuges. I have been oppressed and persecuted by the government for speaking truth; your omnipotent laws have reconciled contradictions. That which is acknowledged to be truth in fact, is construed falsehood in law; and great reason we have to boast of a constitution founded on the basis of absurdity. But, waiving these remarks, I own I am unwilling to be either imprisoned for debt, or punished for imposture. I know how far to depend upon generosity, and what is called benevolence—words to amuse the weak-minded; I build upon a surer bottom. I will bargain for your assistance. It is in my power to put twelve thousand pounds in the pocket of Samuel Crowe, that there sea-ruffian, who, by his goodwill, would hang me to the yard’s arm”——

There he was interrupted by the seaman. “D—n your rat’s eyes! none of your—hang thee! fish my top-masts! if the rope was fairly reeved, and the tackle sound, d’ye see”—Mr. Clarke, who was present, began to stare, while the knight assured Ferret, that if he was really able and willing to serve Captain Crowe in anything essential, he should be amply rewarded. In the meantime he discharged the debt, and assigned him an apartment in his own house. That same day Crowe, by the advice of Sir Launcelot and his nephew, entered into conditional articles with the cynic, to allow him the interest of fifteen hundred pounds for life, provided by this means the captain should obtain possession of the estate of Hobby Hole in Yorkshire, which had belonged to his grandfather, and of which he was heir of blood.

This bond being executed, Mr. Ferret discovered that he himself was the lawful husband of Bridget Maple, aunt to Samuel Crowe, by a clandestine marriage; which, however, he convinced them he could prove by undeniable evidence. This being the case, she, the said Bridget Maple, alias Ferret, was a covert femme, consequently could not transact any deed of alienation without his concurrence; ergo, the docking of the entail of the estate of Hobby Hole was illegal and of none effect. This was a very agreeable declaration to the whole company, who did not fail to congratulate Captain Crowe on the prospect of his being restored to his inheritance. Tom Clarke, in particular, protested, with tears in his eyes, that it gave him unspeakable joy; and his tears trickled the faster, when Crowe, with an arch look, signified, that now he was pretty well victualled for life, he had some thoughts of embarking on the voyage of matrimony.

But that point of happiness to which, as the north pole, the course of these adventures hath been invariably directed, was still unattained; we mean, the indissoluble union of the accomplished Sir Launcelot Greaves and the enchanting Miss Darnel. Our hero now discovered in his mistress a thousand charms, which hitherto he had no opportunity to contemplate. He found her beauty excelled by her good sense, and her virtue superior to both. He found her untainted by that giddiness, vanity, and affectation, which distinguish the fashionable females of the present age. He found her uninfected by the rage for diversion and dissipation; for noise, tumult, gewgaws, glitter, and extravagance. He found her not only raised by understanding and taste far above the amusement of little vulgar minds; but even exalted by uncommon genius and refined reflection, so as to relish the more sublime enjoyments of rational pleasure. He found her possessed of that vigour of mind which constitutes true fortitude, and vindicates the empire of reason. He found her heart incapable of disguise or dissimulation; frank, generous, and open; susceptible of the most tender impressions; glowing with a keen sense of honour, and melting with humanity. A youth of his sensibility could not fail of being deeply affected by such attractions. The nearer he approached the centre of happiness, the more did the velocity of his passion increase. Her uncle still remained insensible as it were in the arms of death. Time seemed to linger in its lapse, till the knight was inflamed to the most eager degree of impatience. He communicated his distress to Aurelia; he pressed her with the most pathetic remonstrances to abridge the torture of his suspense. He interested Mrs. Kawdle in his behalf; and, at length, his importunities succeeded. The banns of marriage were regularly published, and the ceremony was performed in the parish church, in the presence of Dr. Kawdle and his lady, Captain Crowe, Lawyer Clarke, and Mrs. Dolly Cowslip.

The bride, instead of being disguised in tawdry stuffs of gold and silver, and sweating under a harness of diamonds, according to the elegant taste of the times, appeared in a negligee of plain blue satin, without any other jewels than her eyes, which far outshone all that ever was produced by the mines of Golconda. Her hair had no other extraneous ornament than a small sprig of artificial roses; but the dignity of her air, the elegance of her shape, the sweetness and sensibility of her countenance, added to such warmth of colouring, and such exquisite symmetry of features, as could not be excelled by human nature, attracted the eyes and excited the admiration of all the beholders. The effect they produced in the heart of Sir Launcelot was such a rapture as we cannot pretend to describe. He made his appearance on this occasion in a white coat and blue satin vest, both embroidered with silver; and all who saw him could not but own that he alone seemed worthy to possess the lady whom Heaven had destined for his consort. Captain Crowe had taken off a blue suit of clothes strongly guarded with bars of broad gold-lace, in order to honour the nuptials of his friend. He wore upon his head a bag-wig, a la pigeon, made by an old acquaintance in Wapping; and to his side he had girded a huge plate-hilted sword, which he had bought of a recruiting serjeant. Mr. Clarke was dressed in pompadour, with gold buttons; and his lovely Dolly in a smart checked lutestring, a present from her mistress.

The whole company dined, by invitation, at the house of Dr. Kawdle; and here it was that the most deserving lovers on the face of the earth attained to the consummation of all earthly felicity. The captain and his nephew had a hint to retire in due time. Mrs. Kawdle conducted the amiable Aurelia, trembling, to the marriage-bed; our hero, glowing with a bridegroom’s ardour, claimed the husband’s privilege. Hymen lighted up his brightest torch at Virtue’s lamp, and every star shed its happiest influence on their Heaven-directed union.

Instructions had been already despatched to prepare Greavesbury Hall for the reception of its new mistress; and for that place the new-married couple set out next morning, according to the plan which had been previously concerted. Sir Launcelot and Lady Greaves, accompanied by Mrs. Kawdle and attended by Dolly, travelled in their own coach, drawn by six dappled horses. Dr. Kawdle, with Captain Crowe, occupied the doctor’s post-chariot, provided with four bays. Mr. Clarke had the honour to bestride the loins of Bronzomarte. Mr. Ferret was mounted upon an old hunter; Crabshaw stuck close to his friend Gilbert; and two other horsemen completed the retinue. There was not an aching heart in the whole cavalcade, except that of the young lawyer, which was by turns invaded with hot desires and chilling scruples. Though he was fond of Dolly to distraction, his regard to worldly reputation, and his attention to worldly interest, were continually raising up bars to a legal gratification of his love. His pride was startled at the thought of marrying the daughter of a poor country publican; and he moreover dreaded the resentment of his uncle Crowe, should he take any step of this nature without his concurrence. Many a wishful look did he cast at Dolly, the tears standing in his eyes, and many a woful sigh did he utter.

Lady Greaves immediately perceived the situation of his heart, and, by questioning Mrs. Cowslip, discovered a mutual passion between these lovers. She consulted her dear knight on the subject, and he catechised the lawyer, who pleaded guilty. The captain being sounded as to his opinion, declared he would be steered in that, as well as every other course of life, by Sir Launcelot and his lady, whom he verily revered as being of an order superior to the ordinary race of mankind. This favourable response being obtained from the sailor, our hero took an opportunity on the road, one day after dinner, in presence of the whole company, to accost the lawyer in these words: “My good friend Clarke, I have your happiness very much at heart—your father was an honest man, to whom my family had manifold obligations. I have had these many years a personal regard for yourself, derived from your own integrity of heart and goodness of disposition—I see, you are affected, and shall be brief —Besides this regard, I am indebted to your friendship for the liberty— what shall I say?—for the inestimable happiness I now enjoy, in possessing the most excellent—But I understand that significant glance of my Aurelia, I will not offend her delicacy—The truth is, my obligation is very great, and it is time I should evince my gratitude— If the stewardship of my estate is worth your acceptance, you shall have it immediately, together with the house and farm of Cockerton in my neighbourhood. I know you have a passion for Mrs. Dolly; and believe she looks upon you with the eyes of tender prepossession—don’t blush, Dolly —Besides your agreeable person, which all the world must approve, you can boast of virtue, fidelity, and friendship. Your attachment to Lady Greaves neither she nor I shall ever forget—If you are willing to unite your fate with Mr. Clarke, your mistress gives me leave to assure you she will stock the farm at her own expense, and we will celebrate the wedding at Greavesbury Hall”—

By this time the hearts of these grateful lovers had overflowed. Dolly was sitting on her knees, bathing her lady’s hand with her tears, and Mr. Clarke appeared in the same attitude by Sir Launcelot. The uncle, almost as affected as the nephew by the generosity of our adventurer, cried aloud, “I pray God that you and your glorious consort may have smooth seas and gentle gales whithersoever you are bound; as for my kinsman Tom, I’ll give him a thousand pounds to set him fairly afloat; and if he prove not a faithful tender to you his benefactor, I hope he will founder in this world, and be damned in that which is to come.” Nothing now was wanting to the completion of their happiness but the consent of Dolly’s mother at the Black Lion, who they did not suppose could have any objection to such an advantageous match for her daughter; but in this particular they were mistaken.

In the meantime they arrived at the village where the knight had exercised the duties of chivalry; and there he received the gratulation of Mr. Fillet and the attorney who had offered to bail him before Justice Gobble. Mutual civilities having passed, they gave him to understand that Gobble and his wife were turned Methodists. All the rest of the prisoners whom he had delivered came to testify their gratitude, and were hospitably entertained. Next day they halted at the Black Lion, where the good woman was overjoyed to see Dolly so happily preferred; but when Sir Launcelot unfolded the proposed marriage, she interrupted him with a scream—“Christ Jesus forbid—marry and amen!—match with her own brother!”

At this exclamation Dolly fainted; her lover stood with his ears erect, and his mouth wide open; Crowe stared, while the knight and his lady expressed equal surprise and concern. When Sir Launcelot entreated Mrs. Cowslip to explain this mystery, she told him, that about sixteen years ago, Mr. Clarke, senior, had brought Dolly, then an infant, to her house, when she and her late husband lived in another part of the country; and as she had then been lately delivered of a child which did not live, he hired her as a nurse to the little foundling. He owned she was a love-begotten babe, and from time to time paid handsomely for the board of Dolly, who he desired might pass for her own daughter. In his last illness, he assured her he had taken care to provide for the child; but since his death she had received no account of any such provision. She moreover informed his honour, that Mr. Clarke had deposited in her hands a diamond ring, and a sealed paper, never to be opened without his order, until Dolly should be demanded in marriage by the man she should like, and not then, except in the presence of the clergyman of the parish. “Send for the clergyman this instant,” cried our hero, reddening, and fixing his eyes on Dolly; “I hope all will yet be well.”

The vicar arriving, and being made acquainted with the nature of the case, the landlady produced the paper; which, being opened, appeared to be an authentic certificate, that the person commonly known by the name of Dorothy Cowslip, was in fact Dorothy Greaves, daughter of Jonathan Greaves, Esq., by a young gentlewoman who had been some years deceased.

“The remaining part of the mystery I myself can unfold,” exclaimed the knight, while he ran and embraced the astonished Dolly as his kinswoman. “Jonathan Greaves was my uncle, and died before he came of age, so that he could make no settlement on his child, the fruit of a private amour, founded on a promise of marriage, of which this ring was a token. Mr. Clarke, being his confidant, disposed of the child, and at length, finding his constitution decay, revealed the secret to my father, who in his will bequeathed one hundred pounds a year to this agreeable foundling; but, as they both died while I was abroad, and some of the memorandums touching this transaction probably were mislaid, I never till now could discover where or how my pretty cousin was situated. I shall recompense the good woman for her care and fidelity, and take pleasure in bringing this affair to a happy issue.”

The lovers were now overwhelmed with transports of joy and gratitude, and every countenance was lighted up with satisfaction. From this place to the habitation of Sir Launcelot, the bells were rung in every parish, and the corporation in their formalities congratulated him in every town through which he passed. About five miles from Greavesbury Hall he was met by above five thousand persons of both sexes and every age, dressed out in their gayest apparel, headed by Mr. Ralph Mattocks from Darnel Hill, and the rector from the knight’s own parish. They were preceded by music of different kinds, ranged under a great variety of flags and ensigns; and the women, as well as the men, bedizened with fancy knots and marriage favours. At the end of the avenue, a select bevy of comely virgins arrayed in white, and a separate band of choice youths distinguished by garlands of laurel and holly interweaved, fell into the procession, and sung in chorus a rustic epithalamium composed by the curate. At the gate they were received by the venerable housekeeper, Mrs. Oakley, whose features were so brightened by the occasion, that with the first glance she made a conquest of the heart of Captain Crowe; and this connexion was improved afterwards into a legal conjunction.

Meanwhile the houses of Greavesbury Hall and Darnel Hill were set open for the entertainment of all-comers, and both echoed with the sounds of festivity. After the ceremony of giving and receiving visits had been performed by Sir Launcelot Greaves and his lady, Mr. Clarke was honoured with the hand of the agreeable Miss Dolly Greaves; and the captain was put in possession of his paternal estate. The perfect and uninterrupted felicity of the knight and his endearing consort, diffused itself through the whole adjacent country, as far as their example and influence could extend. They were admired, esteemed, and applauded by every person of taste, sentiment, and benevolence; at the same time beloved, revered, and almost adored by the common people, among whom they suffered not the merciless hand of indigence or misery to seize one single sacrifice.

Ferret, at first, seemed to enjoy his easy circumstances; but the novelty of this situation soon wore off, and all his misanthropy returned. He could not bear to see his fellow-creatures happy around him, and signified his disgust to Sir Launcelot, declaring his intention of returning to the metropolis, where he knew there would be always food sufficient for the ravenous appetite of his spleen. Before he departed, the knight made him partake of his bounty, though he could not make him taste of his happiness, which soon received a considerable addition in the birth of a son, destined to be the heir and representative of two worthy families, whose mutual animosity the union of his parents had so happily extinguished.


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