Amelia HTML version

Containing Wise Observations Of The Author, And Other Matters
There is nothing more difficult than to lay down any fixed and certain rules for
happiness; or indeed to judge with any precision of the happiness of others from
the knowledge of external circumstances. There is sometimes a little speck of
black in the brightest and gayest colours of fortune, which contaminates and
deadens the whole. On the contrary, when all without looks dark and dismal,
there is often a secret ray of light within the mind, which turns everything to real
joy and gladness.
I have in the course of my life seen many occasions to make this observation,
and Mr. Booth was at present a very pregnant instance of its truth. He was just
delivered from a prison, and in the possession of his beloved wife and children;
and (which might be imagined greatly to augment his joy) fortune had done all
this for him within an hour, without giving him the least warning or reasonable
expectation of the strange reverse in his circumstances; and yet it is certain that
there were very few men in the world more seriously miserable than he was at
this instant. A deep melancholy seized his mind, and cold damp sweats
overspread his person, so that he was scarce animated; and poor Amelia,
instead of a fond warm husband, bestowed her caresses on a dull lifeless lump
of clay. He endeavoured, however, at first, as much as possible, to conceal what
he felt, and attempted what is the hardest of all tasks, to act the part of a happy
man; but he found no supply of spirits to carry on this deceit, and would have
probably sunk under his attempt, had not poor Amelia's simplicity helped him to
another fallacy, in which he had much better success.
This worthy woman very plainly perceived the disorder in her husband's mind;
and, having no doubt of the cause of it, especially when she saw the tears stand
in his eyes at the sight of his children, threw her arms round his neck, and,
embracing him with rapturous fondness, cried out, "My dear Billy, let nothing
make you uneasy. Heaven will, I doubt not, provide for us and these poor babes.
Great fortunes are not necessary to happiness. For my own part, I can level my
mind with any state; and for those poor little things, whatever condition of life we
breed them to, that will be sufficient to maintain them in. How many thousands
abound in affluence whose fortunes are much lower than ours! for it is not from
nature, but from education and habit, that our wants are chiefly derived. Make
yourself easy, therefore, my dear love; for you have a wife who will think herself
happy with you, and endeavour to make you so, in any situation. Fear nothing,
Billy, industry will always provide us a wholesome meal; and I will take care that
neatness and chearfulness shall make it a pleasant one."