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Amelia

IV.2.
The Latter Part Of Which We Expect Will Please Our Reader Better Than The
Former
A whole week did our lady and gentleman live in this criminal conversation, in
which the happiness of the former was much more perfect than that of the latter;
for, though the charms of Miss Matthews, and her excessive endearments,
sometimes lulled every thought in the sweet lethargy of pleasure, yet in the
intervals of his fits his virtue alarmed and roused him, and brought the image of
poor injured Amelia to haunt and torment him. In fact, if we regard this world only,
it is the interest of every man to be either perfectly good or completely bad. He
had better destroy his conscience than gently wound it. The many bitter
reflections which every bad action costs a mind in which there are any remains of
goodness are not to be compensated by the highest pleasures which such an
action can produce.
So it happened to Mr. Booth. Repentance never failed to follow his
transgressions; and yet so perverse is our judgment, and so slippery is the
descent of vice when once we are entered into it, the same crime which he now
repented of became a reason for doing that which was to cause his future
repentance; and he continued to sin on because he had begun. His repentance,
however, returned still heavier and heavier, till, at last, it flung him into a
melancholy, which Miss Matthews plainly perceived, and at which she could not
avoid expressing some resentment in obscure hints and ironical compliments on
Amelia's superiority to her whole sex, who could not cloy a gay young fellow by
many years' possession. She would then repeat the compliments which others
had made to her own beauty, and could not forbear once crying out, "Upon my
soul, my dear Billy, I believe the chief disadvantage on my side is my superior
fondness; for love, in the minds of men, hath one quality, at least, of a fever,
which is to prefer coldness in the object. Confess, dear Will, is there not
something vastly refreshing in the cool air of a prude?" Booth fetched a deep
sigh, and begged her never more to mention Amelia's name. "O Will," cries she,
"did that request proceed from the motive I could wish, I should be the happiest
of womankind."--"You would not, sure, madam," said Booth, "desire a sacrifice
which I must be a villain to make to any?"--"Desire!" answered she, "are there
any bounds to the desires of love? have not I been sacrificed? hath not my first
love been torn from my bleeding heart? I claim a prior right. As for sacrifices, I
can make them too, and would sacrifice the whole world at the least call of my
love."
Here she delivered a letter to Booth, which she had received within an hour, the
contents of which were these:--
 
 
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