Page:Moll Flanders (1906 edition).djvu/247

This page has been validated.
215
THE LIFE OF ROXANA

days of his fife, which would be very unreasonable, and, as times go, not tolerable to all people; and the like on your side, madam.'

Had I now had my senses about me, and had my reason not been overcome by the powerful attraction of so kind, so beneficent a friend; had I consulted conscience and virtue, I should have repelled this Amy, however faithful and honest to me in other things, as a viper and engine of the devil. I ought to have remembered that neither he or I, either by the laws of God or man, could come together upon any other terms than that of notorious adultery. The ignorant jade's argument, that he had brought me out of the hands of the devil, by which she meant the devil of poverty and distress, should have been a powerful motive to me not to plunge myself into the jaws of hell, and into the power of the real devil, in recompense for that deliverance, I should have looked upon all the good this man had done for me to have been the particular work of the goodness of Heaven, and that goodness should have moved me to a return of duty and humble obedience. I should have received the mercy thank fully, and applied it soberly, to the praise and honour of my Maker; whereas, by this wicked course, all the bounty and kindness of this gentleman became a snare to me, was a mere bait to the devil's hook; I received his kindness at the dear expense of body and soul, mortgaging faith, religion, conscience, and modesty for (as I may call it) a morsel of bread; or, if you will, ruined my soul from a principle of gratitude, and gave myself up to the devil, to show myself grateful to my benefactor. I must do the gentleman that justice as to say I verily believe that he did nothing but what he thought was lawful; and I must do that justice upon myself as to say I did what my own conscience convinced me, at the very time I did it, was horribly unlawful, scandalous, and abominable.

But poverty was my snare, dreadful poverty! The misery I had been in was great, such as would make the heart tremble at the apprehensions of its return; and I might appeal to any that has had any experience of the world, whether one so entirely destitute as I was of all manner of all helps or friends, either to support me or to assist me to support myself, could withstand the proposal; not that I plead this as a justification of my conduct, but that it may move the pity even of those that abhor the crime.

Besides this, I was young, handsome, and, with all the mortifications I had met with, was vain, and that not a little; and, as it was a new thing, so it was a pleasant thing to be courted, caressed, embraced, and high professions of affection made to me, by a man so agreeable and so able to do me good.

Add to this that, if I had ventured to disoblige this gentleman, I had no friend in the world to have recourse to; I had no prospect—no, not of a bit of bread; I had nothing before me but to fall back into the same misery that I had been in before.

Amy had but too much rhetoric in this cause; she represented all those things in their proper colours; she argued them all with her utmost skill; and at last the merry jade, when she came to dress me, 'Look ye, madam', said she, 'if you won't consent, tell him you will do as Rachel did to Jacob, when she could have no children—put her maid to bed to him; tell him you cannot comply with him, but there's Amy, he may ask her the question; she has promised me she won't deny you.'

And would you have me say so, Amy? 'said I.