Page images
[ocr errors]

--Mr. Scamper, who knew his interests too well to run **the hazard of offending the family of the Whiffletons,

assured Jane that if she did not make the most submisį sive apology, he would make her and her family repent

their conduct. She told him she defied both him and his threats; that she was convinced she had right on her side; and that if he himself was to behave as Mr. Whiffleton

had done, she should not make the least ceremony of city serving him the same trick she had played his friend. 1. The father of Jane, by the appearance of Captain

Popinjay, thought himself very sure of protection against the tyranny of Mr. Scamper. He waited on him, was admitted, and saw the captain : but what was his as· tonishment when, instead of the kind reception he

expected, the young soldier asked him if he was the father to the saucy young woman who had the audacity to behave in so insolent a manner to his dear friend Mr. Scamper, a man of honour, a gentleman! The

father boldly answered that he did not look upon him te as either; and that he was glad his child had acted like

a soldier's daughter, and a girl of spirit. The captain

informed the veteran, that he was willing to give him imit a trifle, knowing his poverty, if he made his girl ask par

don on her knees for her rudeness to the friend of Mr. Scamper. Then the father showed him his wounds, told him he was a soldier, and that a soldier's child, whether the daughter of a general or a private, had her honour to defend, and that he should always love his girl for defending hers; and as for going down upon her knees,

it was what none of his family had ever done, except Iran when they prayed to GOD ALMIGHTY. The captain

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

enraged, bade the old man to leave the room. The other obeyed with indignation. • Captain Popinjay gave out that old Wildfire was an idle fellow, to whom he had formerly done a thousand good actions while he was in his regiment, for which he had behaved in the most ungrateful manner. They could get no work; they were half starved; the poor brother died; pay-day came round, and they had not a shilling in the world to pay their rent. They had now completed their misfortunes, and received orders to turn out in five days time.

In this scene of calamity, they had not a straw to eling to, until chance raised them a friend in Robert Wildfire, a hard-working cottager, in a village some five miles off. Bob had been an old sweetheart of Jane's; but, in one of their quarrels, while they were: making hay, he said something which, not pleasing his mistress, she had taken up a large stick, and given him a severe beating with it. From that time forwards, he swore he would have nothing to do with her, and went to a small cottage with his old mother, where, for poor people, they lived tolerably well. When Robert heard of Jane's conduct towards Mr. Whiffleton, he construed the violence of her behaviour into a partiality for him. self, and began to feel very uneasy about her. When he found how much she had suffered from her rigid principles of virtue, he set off directly to her village, to renew his former offer of his hand and heart, at the same time promising to place her parents in the same cottage with his mother: he could leave them all comfortable, he said, especially as he could get a high boun

· ty as a substitute, (the war with America then raging),

in the army. - To be a soldier's wife had always been the height of

poor Jane's ambition; and indeed, had Bob been in the army, he would certainly have been accepted long before this period. The father and mother weré thus settled in another parish, where the squire was a decided enemy to Mr. Scamper, on account of a late election: as soon as he heard he wished to ruin these people, they were taken into favour, and met every encouragement from their new landlord, who, though one of the most hard-hearted men in the world, was always ready to do good, when, by so acting, he could mortify those who were not of his own opinion.

The parents thus provided for, she trudged away with her dear Robert. He soon joined his regiment, which was ordered abroad. A few of the women were permitted to embark with their husbands, and she was more than happy in being admitted into the number. They were soon landed on the then hostile shores of America. The scenes of universal confusion she at first met with were so like those that her father had formerly described to her, her senses were bewildered with the novelty of the scene: this novelty soon vanished, and she waked to sorrow, to suffering, and to hardship. Sometimes they marched whole days together, unable to enjoy a comfortable meal: sometimes they were compelled to lie on snow hillocks, or sleep in ditches nearly frozen by the intenseness of the cold. She saw many a lusty fellow faint with hunger; many a stout heart expire with fatigue. Many months were passed this way previous to their coming into action, One day, after fording a deep river up to their knees in water, they met the enemy drawn up to double their number on the other side. A hot action immediately took place. The English forces were wasted by famine and fatigue; the enemy's were fresh and vigorous; and during the engagement their women could supply them with brandy, into which they put a quantity of opium, which inflamed them almost to madness. Our poor fellows could get nothing but water, yet they fought like heroes. Overpowered by numbers, they were at length compelled to fly. Jane snatched up a dead serjeant's sword, and retreated with her dear Bob. They fell in with a straggling party, who were bearing off an officer prisoner. The enemy were three in number; but the husband and wife resolved to attempt his rescue; and chiefly by the undaunted courage of the woman, they had the gratification of releasing the officer, and arming him with the sword of one of his captors. In this exploit, her face and eye were terribly mangled by a pistol shot. In various actions she met with wounds which horribly mutilated a face once admired for its beauty. While General

G w as colonel, he lay wounded on the ground, in a hot action, a soldier advanced to dash out his brains with a musket, Jane received the blow on her mouth, and shot the soldier in his attempt. Her husband fell in battle. She was inconsolable for his loss; for, although her nerves were strong, her heart was tenderness itself. When she re. turned, she found all her relations dead. Left alone in a wide world, she was compelled, in opposition to her pride, to seek relief from those she had rescued from death and danger.

General G- settled fifteen pounds a year on her; and her parents being no more, poor Jane thought this a vast sum, took a small cottage, and by vigorous exertions, was able not only to support herself, but to do a great deal of good to many poor people around her: she never was so proud as when she had it in her power to show the gratitude of her heart. She was, she is, and she will die a heroine. Such is the story of this poor but singular woman; singular for virtue, courage, and for fidelity. Had Jane been the wife of a colonel or a general, she had been extolled in prints, recorded in history, and held up by poetry to the example and imitation of future ages. Good fortune is a great agent in conferring fame, and good fortune alone was wanting to render Jane the equal of Joan of Arc, or the celebrated Jane de Montfort!


A Dialogue between a Bookseller and a young Author,

* Slander, the worst of poisons, ever finds,

An easy entrance in ignoble minds." HARVEY's Juvenal.

.... In London I had not been known to many, and I thought that, by changing my name and residing in a different quarter of the town, I might escape detection, and live free from observation. I took a small lodging, and resolved to make an essay of my literary talents in the capacity of an author. I had often amused myself in making a version of Horace's Satires, and had translated two of the most beautiful of Ovid's Epistles; I

« PreviousContinue »