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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Farewell
By Henry Fielding (1707–1754)
 
From ‘Amelia’

“IF I am not mistaken, madam,” continued Booth, “I was just going to acquaint you with the doctor’s opinion, when we were interrupted by the keeper.  1
  “The doctor, having heard counsel on both sides, that is to say, Mrs. Harris for my staying and Miss Betty for my going, at last delivered his own sentiments. As for Amelia, she sat silent, drowned in her tears; nor was I myself in a much better situation.  2
  “‘As the commissions are not signed,’ said the doctor, ‘I think you may be said to remain in your former regiment; and therefore I think you ought to go on this expedition: your duty to your King and country, whose bread you have eaten, requires it; and this is a duty of too high a nature to admit the least deficiency; regard to your character likewise requires you to go; for the world, which might justly blame your staying at home if the case was even fairly stated, will not deal so honestly by you; you must expect to have every circumstance against you heightened, and most of what makes for your defense omitted; and thus you will be stigmatized as a coward, without any palliation. As the malicious disposition of mankind is too well known, and the cruel pleasure which they take in destroying the reputations of others, the use we are to make of this knowledge is to afford no handle to reproach: for bad as the world is, it seldom falls on any man who has not given some slight cause for censure, though this perhaps is often aggravated ten thousandfold; and when we blame the malice of the aggravation, we ought not to forget our own imprudence in giving the occasion. Remember, my boy, your honor is at stake; and you know how nice the honor of a soldier is in these cases. This is a treasure which he must be your enemy indeed who would attempt to rob you of; therefore you ought to consider every one as your enemy, who by desiring you to stay would rob you of your honor.’  3
  “‘Do you hear that, sister?’ cries Miss Betty. ‘Yes, I do hear it,’ answered Amelia, with more spirit than I ever saw her exert before; ‘and would preserve his honor at the expense of my life. I will preserve it if it should be at that expense; and since it is Dr. Harrison’s opinion that he ought to go, I give my consent. Go, my dear husband,’ cried she, falling upon her knees; ‘may every angel of heaven guard and preserve you!’ I cannot repeat her words without being affected,” said he, wiping his eyes; “the excellence of that woman no words can paint. Miss Matthews, she has every perfection in human nature.  4
  “I will not tire you with the repetition of any more that passed on that occasion, nor with the quarrel that ensued between Mrs. Harris and the doctor; for the old lady could not submit to my leaving her daughter in her present condition. She fell severely on the army, and cursed the day in which her daughter was married to a soldier, not sparing the doctor for having had some share in the match. I will omit, likewise, the tender scene which passed between Amelia and myself previous to my departure.”  5
  “Indeed, I beg you would not,” cries Miss Matthews: “nothing delights me more than scenes of tenderness. I should be glad to know, if possible, every syllable which was uttered on both sides.”  6
  “I will indulge you then,” cries Booth, “as far as it is in my power. Indeed, I believe I am able to recollect much the greater part; for the impression is never to be effaced from my memory.”  7
  He then proceeded as Miss Matthews desired; but lest our readers should not be of her opinion, we will, according to our usual custom, endeavor to accommodate ourselves to every taste; and shall therefore place this scene in a chapter by itself, which we desire all our readers who do not love, or who perhaps do not know the pleasure of tenderness, to pass over; since they may do this without any prejudice to the thread of the narrative.  8
 
 
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