The Narrative Continued. More Of The Touchstone
Booth made a proper acknowledgment of Miss Matthew's civility, and then
renewed his story. "We were upon the footing of lovers; and Amelia threw off her
reserve more and more, till at length I found all that return of my affection which
the tenderest lover can require.
"My situation would now have been a paradise, had not my happiness been
interrupted with the same reflections I have already mentioned; had I not, in
short, concluded, that I must derive all my joys from the almost certain ruin of that
dear creature to whom I should owe them.
"This thought haunted me night and day, till I at last grew unable to support it: I
therefore resolved in the strongest manner, to lay it before Amelia.
"One evening then, after the highest professions of the most disinterested love, in
which Heaven knows my sincerity, I took an occasion to speak to Amelia in the
"Too true it is, I am afraid, my dearest creature, that the highest human
happiness is imperfect. How rich would be my cup, was it not for one poisonous
drop which embitters the whole! O, Amelia! what must be the consequence of my
ever having the honour to call you mine!--You know my situation in life, and you
know your own: I have nothing more than the poor provision of an ensign's
commission to depend on; your sole dependence is on your mother; should any
act of disobedience defeat your expectations, how wretched must your lot be with
me! O, Amelia! how ghastly an object to my mind is the apprehension of your
distress! Can I bear to reflect a moment on the certainty of your foregoing all the
conveniences of life? on the possibility of your suffering all its most dreadful
inconveniencies? what must be my misery, then, to see you in such a situation,
and to upbraid myself with being the accursed cause of bringing you to it?
Suppose too in such a season I should be summoned from you. Could I submit
to see you encounter all the hazards, the fatigues of war, with me? you could not
yourself, however willing, support them a single campaign. What then; must I
leave you to starve alone, deprived of the tenderness of a husband, deprived too
of the tenderness of the best of mothers, through my means? a woman most
dear to me, for being the parent, the nurse, and the friend of my Amelia.---But oh!
my sweet creature, carry your thoughts a little further. Think of the tenderest
consequences, the dearest pledges of our love. Can I bear to think of entailing
beggary on the posterity of my Amelia? on our---Oh, Heavens!--on our children!--
On the other side, is it possible even to mention the word --I will not, must not,