When the doctor made his next appearance in Sir Launcelot’s apartment, the knight addressed him in these words: “Sir, the practice of medicine is one of the most honourable professions exercised among the sons of men; a profession which hath been revered at all periods, and in all nations, and even held sacred in the most polished ages of antiquity. The scope of it is to preserve the being, and confirm the health of our fellow-creatures; of consequence, to sustain the blessings of society, and crown life with fruition. The character of a physician, therefore, not only supposes natural sagacity, and acquired erudition, but it also implies every delicacy of sentiment, every tenderness of nature, and every virtue of humanity. That these qualities are centred in you, doctor, I would willingly believe. But it will be sufficient for my purpose, that you are possessed of common integrity. To whose concern I am indebted for your visits, you best know. But if you understand the art of medicine, you must be sensible by this time, that, with respect to me, your prescriptions are altogether unnecessary.

“Come, sir, you cannot—you don’t believe that my intellects are disordered. Yet, granting me to be really under the influence of that deplorable malady, no person has a right to treat me as a lunatic, or to sue out a commission, but my nearest kindred.—That you may not plead ignorance of my name and family, you shall understand that I am Sir Launcelot Greaves, of the county of York, Baronet; and that my nearest relation is Sir Reginald Meadows, of Cheshire, the eldest son of my mother’s sister—that gentleman, I am sure, had no concern in seducing me by false pretences under the clouds of night into the fields, where I was surprised, overpowered, and kidnapped by armed ruffians. Had he really believed me insane, he would have proceeded according to the dictates of honour, humanity, and the laws of his country. Situated as I am, I have a right, by making application to the Lord Chancellor, to be tried by a jury of honest men. But of that right I cannot avail myself, while I remain at the mercy of a brutal miscreant, in whose house I am enclosed, unless you contribute your assistance. Your assistance, therefore, I demand, as you are a gentleman, a Christian, and a fellow-subject, who, though every other motive should be overlooked, ought to interest himself in my case as a common concern, and concur with all your power towards the punishment of those who dare commit such outrages against the liberty of your country.”

The doctor seemed to be a little disconcerted; but, after some recollection, resumed his air of sufficiency and importance, and assured our adventurer he would do him all the service in his power; but in the meantime advised him to take the potion he had prescribed.

The knight’s eyes lightening with indignation, “I am now convinced,” cried he, “that you are an accomplice in the villany which has been practised upon me; that you are a sordid wretch, without principle or feeling, a disgrace to the faculty, and a reproach to human nature—yes, sirrah, you are the most perfidious of all assassins—you are the hireling minister of the worst of all villains; who, from motives even baser than malice, envy, and revenge, rob the innocent of all the comforts of life, brand them with the imputation of madness, the most cruel species of slander, and wantonly protract their misery, by leaving them in the most shocking confinement, a prey to reflections infinitely more bitter than death but I will be calm—do me justice at your peril. I demand the protection of the legislature—if I am refused—remember a day of reckoning will come—you and the rest of the miscreants who have combined against me, must, in order to cloak your treachery, have recourse to murder,—an expedient which I believe you very capable of embracing,—or a man of my rank and character cannot be much longer concealed. Tremble, caitiff, at the thoughts of my release—in the meantime, be gone, lest my just resentment impel me to dash your brains out upon that marble—away”——

The honest doctor was not so firmly persuaded of his patient’s lunacy as to reject his advice, which he made what haste he could to follow, when an unexpected accident intervened.

That this may be properly introduced, we must return to the knight’s brace of trusty friends, Captain Crowe and lawyer Clarke, whom we left in sorrowful deliberation upon the fate of their patron. Clarke’s genius being rather more fruitful in resources than that of the seaman, he suggested an advertisement, which was accordingly inserted in the daily papers; importing that, “Whereas a gentleman of considerable rank and fortune had suddenly disappeared, on such a night, from his house near Golden Square, in consequence of a letter delivered to him by a porter; and there is great reason to believe some violence hath been offered to his life; any person capable of giving such information as may tend to clear up this dark transaction, shall, by applying to Mr. Thomas Clarke, attorney, at his lodgings in Upper Brook Street, receive proper security for the reward of one hundred guineas, to be paid to him upon his making the discovery required.”

The porter who delivered the letter appeared accordingly, but could give no other information, except that it was put into his hand with a shilling, by a man muffled up in a greatcoat, who stopped him for the purpose, in his passing through Queen Street. It was necessary that the advertisement should produce an effect upon another person, who was no other than the hackney-coachman who drove our hero to the place of his imprisonment. This fellow had been enjoined secrecy; and, indeed, bribed to hold his tongue, by a considerable gratification, which, it was supposed, would have been effectual, as the man was a master coachman in good circumstances, and well known to the keeper of the madhouse, by whom he had been employed on former occasions of the same nature. Perhaps his fidelity to his employer, reinforced by the hope of many future jobs of that kind, might have been proof against the offer of fifty pounds; but double that sum was a temptation he could not resist. He no sooner read the intimation in the Daily Advertiser, over his morning’s pot at an alehouse, than he entered into consultation with his own thoughts; and, having no reason to doubt that this was the very fare he had conveyed, he resolved to earn the reward, and abstain from all such adventures in time coming. He had the precaution, however, to take an attorney along with him to Mr. Clarke, who entered into a conditional bond; and, with the assistance of his uncle, deposited the money, to be forthcoming when the conditions should be fulfilled. These previous measures being taken, the coachman declared what he knew, and discovered the house in which Sir Launcelot had been immured. He, moreover, accompanied our two adherents to a judge’s chamber, where he made oath to the truth of his information; and a warrant was immediately granted to search the house of Bernard Shackle, and set at liberty Sir Launcelot Greaves, if there found.

Fortified with this authority, they engaged a constable, with a formidable posse, and, embarking them in coaches, repaired with all possible expedition to the house of Mr. Shackle, who did not think proper to dispute their claim, but admitted them, though not without betraying evident symptoms of consternation. One of the servants directing them, by his master’s order, to Sir Launcelot’s apartment, they hurried upstairs in a body, occasioning such a noise as did not fail to alarm the physician, who had just opened the door to retire, when he perceived their irruption. Captain Crowe conjecturing he was guilty from the confusion that appeared in his countenance, made no scruple of seizing him by the collar as he endeavoured to retreat; while the tender-hearted Tom Clarke, running up to the knight, with his eyes brimful of joy and affection, forgot all the forms of distant respect, and throwing his arms round his neck, blubbered in his bosom.

Our hero did not receive this proof of attachment unmoved. He strained him in his embrace, honoured him with the title of his deliverer, and asked him by what miracle he had discovered the place of his confinement. The lawyer began to unfold the various steps he had taken with equal minuteness and self-complacency, when Crowe, dragging the doctor still by the collar, shook his old friend by the hand, protesting he was never so overjoyed since he got clear of a Sallee rover on the coast of Barbary; and that two glasses ago he would have started all the money he had in the world in the hold of any man who would have shown Sir Launcelot safe at his moorings. The knight having made a proper return to this sincere manifestation of goodwill, desired him to dismiss that worthless fellow, meaning the doctor; who, finding himself released, withdrew with some precipitation.

Then our adventurer, attended by his friends, walked off with a deliberate pace to the outward gate, which he found open, and getting into one of the coaches, was entertained by the way to his own house with a detail of every measure which had been pursued for his release.

In his own parlour he found Mrs. Dolly Cowslip, who had been waiting with great fear and impatience for the issue of Mr. Clarke’s adventure. She now fell upon her knees, and bathed the knight’s hands with tears of joy; while the face of this young woman, recalling the idea of her mistress, roused his heart to strong emotions, and stimulated his mind to the immediate achievement he had already planned. As for Mr. Crabshaw, he was not the last to signify his satisfaction at his master’s return. After having kissed the hem of his garment, he retired to the stable, where he communicated these tidings to his friend Gilbert, whom he saddled and bridled; the same office he performed for Bronzomarte; then putting on his squire-like attire and accoutrements, he mounted one, and led the other to the knight’s door, before which he paraded, uttering, from time to time, repeated shouts, to the no small entertainment of the populace, until he received orders to house his companions. Thus commanded, he led them back to their stalls, resumed his livery, and rejoined his fellow-servants, who were resolved to celebrate the day with banquets and rejoicings.

Their master’s heart was not sufficiently at ease to share in their festivity. He held a consultation with his friends in the parlour, whom he acquainted with the reasons he had to believe Miss Darnel was confined in the same house which had been his prison; a circumstance which filled them with equal pleasure and astonishment. Dolly in particular, weeping plentifully, conjured him to deliver her dear lady without delay. Nothing now remained but to concert the plan for her deliverance. As Aurelia had informed Dolly of her connexion with Mrs. Kawdle, at whose house she proposed to lodge, before she was overtaken on the road by her uncle, this particular was now imparted to the council, and struck a light which seemed to point out the direct way to Miss Darnel’s enlargement.

Our hero, accompanied by Mrs. Cowslip and Tom Clarke, set out immediately for the house of Dr. Kawdle, who happened to be abroad, but his wife received them with great courtesy. She was a well-bred, sensible, genteel woman, and strongly attached to Aurelia by the ties of affection, as well as of consanguinity. She no sooner learned the situation of her cousin than she expressed the most impatient concern for her being set at liberty, and assured Sir Launcelot she would concur in any scheme he should propose for that purpose. There was no room for hesitation or choice; he attended her immediately to the judge, who, upon proper application, issued another search-warrant for Aurelia Darnel. The constable and his posse were again retained, and Sir Launcelot Greaves once more crossed the threshold of Mr. Bernard Shackle. Nor was the search-warrant the only implement of justice with which he had furnished himself for this visit. In going thither they agreed upon the method in which they should introduce themselves gradually to Miss Darnel, that her tender nature might not be too much shocked by their sudden appearance.

When they arrived at the house, therefore, and produced their credentials, in consequence of which a female attendant was directed to show the lady’s apartment, Mrs. Dolly first entered the chamber of the accomplished Aurelia, who, lifting up her eyes, screamed aloud, and flew into the arms of her faithful Cowslip. Some minutes elapsed before Dolly could make shift to exclaim, “Am coom to live and daai with my beloved leady!”—“Dear Dolly!” cried her mistress, “I cannot express the pleasure I have in seeing you again. Good Heaven! what solitary hours of keen affliction have I passed since we parted!—but, tell me, how did you discover the place of my retreat?—has my uncle relented?—do I owe your coming to his indulgence?”

Dolly answered in the negative; and by degrees gave her to understand that her cousin, Mrs. Kawdle, was in the next room; that lady immediately appeared, and a very tender scene of recognition passed between the two relations. It was she who, in the course of conversation, perceiving that Aurelia was perfectly composed, declared the happy tidings of her approaching deliverance. When the other eagerly insisted upon knowing to whose humanity and address she was indebted for this happy turn of fortune, her cousin declared the obligation was due to a young gentleman of Yorkshire, called Sir Launcelot Greaves. At mention of that name her face was overspread with a crimson glow, and her eyes beamed redoubled splendour. “Cousin,” said she, with a sigh, “I know not what to say— that gentleman, Sir Launcelot Greaves, was surely born—Lord bless me! I tell you, cousin, he has been my guardian angel.”

Mrs. Kawdle, who had maintained a correspondence with her by letters, was no stranger to the former part of the connexion subsisting between those two lovers, and had always favoured the pretensions of our hero, without being acquainted with his person. She now observed with a smile, that as Aurelia esteemed the knight her guardian angel, and he adored her as a demi-deity, nature seemed to have intended them for each other; for such sublime ideas exalted them both above the sphere of ordinary mortals. She then ventured to intimate that he was in the house, impatient to pay his respects in person. At this declaration the colour vanished from her cheeks, which, however, soon underwent a total suffusion. Her heart panted, her bosom heaved, and her gentle frame was agitated by transports rather violent than unpleasing. She soon, however, recollected herself, and her native serenity returned; when, rising from her seat, she declared he would see him in the next apartment, where he stood in the most tumultuous suspense, waiting for permission to approach her person. Here she broke in upon him, arrayed in an elegant white undress, the emblem of her purity, beaming forth the emanations of amazing beauty, warmed and improved with a glow of gratitude and affection. His heart was too big for utterance; he ran towards her with rapture, and throwing himself at her feet, imprinted a most respectful kiss upon her lily hand.—“This, divine Aurelia,” cried he, “is a foretaste of that ineffable bliss which you was born to bestow!—Do I then live to see you smile again? to see you restored to liberty, your mind at ease, and your health unimpaired?”—“You have lived,” said she, “to see my obligations to Sir Launcelot Greaves accumulated in such a manner, that a whole life spent in acknowledgment will scarce suffice to demonstrate a due sense of his goodness.”—“You greatly overrate my services, which have been rather the duties of common humanity, than the efforts of a generous passion, too noble to be thus evinced;—but let not my unseasonable transports detain you a moment longer on this detested scene. Give me leave to hand you into the coach, and commit you to the care of this good lady, attended by this honest young gentleman, who is my particular friend.” So saying, he presented Mr. Thomas Clarke, who had the honour to salute the fair hand of the ever-amiable Aurelia.

The ladies being safely coached under the escort of the lawyer, Sir Launcelot assured them he should wait on them in the evening at the house of Dr. Kawdle, whither they immediately directed their course. Our hero, who remained with the constable and his gang, inquired for Mr. Bernard Shackle, upon whose person he intended to serve a writ of conspiracy, over and above a prosecution for robbery, in consequence of his having disencumbered the knight of his money and other effects, on the first night of his confinement. Mr. Shackle had discretion enough to avoid this encounter, and even to anticipate the indictment for felony, by directing one of his servants to restore the cash and papers, which our adventurer accordingly received before he quitted the house.

In the prosecution of his search after Shackle, he chanced to enter the chamber of the bard, whom he found in dishabille, writing at a table, with a bandage over one eye, and his head covered with a nightcap of baize. The knight, having made an apology for this intrusion, desired to know if he could be of any service to Mr. Distich, as he was now at liberty to use the little influence he had for the relief of his fellow-sufferers.—The poet having eyed him for some time askance, “I told you,” said he, “your stay in this place would be of short duration. —I have sustained a small disaster on my left eye, from the hands of a rascally cordwainer, who pretends to believe himself the King of Prussia, and I am now in the very act of galling his majesty with keen iambics.— If you can help me to a roll of tobacco and a bottle of geneva, so;—if you are not so inclined, your humble servant, I shall share in the joy of your deliverance.”

The knight declined gratifying him in these particulars, which he apprehended might be prejudicial to his health, but offered his assistance in redressing his grievances, provided he laboured under any cruel treatment or inconvenience. “I comprehend the full extent of your generosity,” replied the satirist; “you are willing to assist me in everything, except the only circumstances in which assistance is required—God b’w’ye—If you see Ben Bullock, tell him I wish he would not dedicate any more of his works to me.—D—n the fellow, he has changed his note, and begins to snivel.—For my part, I stick to my former maxim, defy all the world, and will die hard, even if death should be preceded by damnation.”

The knight, finding him incorrigible, left him to the slender chance of being one day comforted by the dram-bottle; but resolved, if possible, to set on foot an accurate inquiry into the economy and transactions of this private inquisition, that ample justice might be done in favour of every injured individual confined within its walls.

In the afternoon he did not fail to visit his Aurelia; and all the protestations of their mutual passion were once more interchanged. He now produced the letter which had caused such fatal disquiet in his bosom; and Miss Darnel no sooner eyed the paper, than she recollected it was a formal dismission, which she had intended and directed for Mr. Sycamore. This the uncle had intercepted, and cunningly enclosed in another cover, addressed to Sir Launcelot Greaves, who was now astonished beyond measure to see the mystery so easily unfolded. The joy that now diffused itself in the hearts of our lovers, is more easily conceived than described; but, in order to give a stability to this mutual satisfaction, it was necessary that Aurelia should be secured from the tyranny of her uncle, whose power of guardianship would not otherwise expire for some months.

Dr. Kawdle and his lady having entered into their deliberations on the subject, it was agreed that Miss Darnel should have recourse to the protection of the Lord Chancellor; but such application was rendered unnecessary by the unexpected arrival of John Clump with the following letter to Mrs. Kawdle from the steward of Anthony Darnel, dated at Aurelia’s house in the country:—

“MADAM,—It hath pleased God to afflict Mr. Darnel with a severe stroke of the dead palsy.—He was taken ill yesterday, and now lies insensible, seemingly at the point of death. Among the papers in his pocket I found the enclosed, by which it appears that my honoured young lady, Miss Darnel, is confined in a private madhouse. I am afraid Mr. Darnel’s fate is a just judgment of God upon him for his cruelty to that excellent person. I need not exhort you, madam, to take immediately upon the receipt of this, such measures as will be necessary for the enlargement of my poor young lady. In the meantime, I shall do the needful for the preservation of her property in this place, and send you an account of any further alteration that may happen; being very respectfully, madam, your most obedient humble servant, RALPH MATTOCKS.”

Clump had posted up to London with this intimation on the wings of love, and being covered with clay from the heels to the eyes upwards, he appeared in such an unfavourable light at Dr. Kawdle’s door, that the footman refused him admittance. Nevertheless, he pushed him aside, and fought his way upstairs into the dining-room, where the company was not a little astonished at such an apparition.

The fellow himself was no less amazed at seeing Aurelia and his own sweetheart Mrs. Dolly Cowslip. He forthwith fell upon his knees, and in silence held out the letter, which was taken by the doctor, and presented to his wife, according to the direction. She did not fail to communicate the contents, which were far from being unwelcome to the individuals who composed this little society. Mr. Clump was honoured with the approbation of his young lady, who commended him for his zeal and expedition; bestowed upon him a handsome gratuity in the meantime, and desired to see him again when he should be properly refreshed after the fatigue he had undergone.

Mr. Thomas Clarke being consulted on this occasion, gave it as his opinion, that Miss Darnel should, without delay, choose another guardian for the few months that remained of her minority. The opinion was confirmed by the advice of some eminent lawyers, to whom immediate recourse was had; and Dr. Kawdle being the person pitched upon for this office, the necessary forms were executed with all possible despatch.

The first use the doctor made of his guardianship was to sign a power, constituting Mr. Ralph Mattocks his attorney pro tempore for managing the estate of Miss Aurelia Darnel; and this was forwarded to the steward by the hands of Clump, who set out with it for the seat of Darnel Hill, though not without a heavy heart, occasioned by some intimation he had received concerning the connexion between his dear Dolly and Mr. Clarke, the lawyer.

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