Cophagus then took up the conversation, and pointing out the uselessness of my roving about, and the propriety of my settling in life, proposed that I should take an apothecary’s shop, for which he would furnish the means, and that he could ensure me the custom of the whole Society of Friends in Reading, which was very large, as there was not one of the sect in that line of business. “Become one of us, Japhet—good business—marry by-and-bye—happy life—little children—and so on.” I thought of Susannah, and was silent. Cophagus then said, I had better reflect upon his offer, and make up my determination. If that did not suit me, he would still give me all the assistance in his power. I did reflect long before I could make up my mind. I was still worldly inclined; still my fancy would revel in the idea of finding out my father in high life, and, as once more appearing as a star of fashion, of returning with interest the contumely I had lately received, and re-assuming as a right that position in society which I had held under false colours.
I could not bear the idea of sinking at once into a tradesman, and probably ending my days in obscurity. Pride was still my ruling passion. Such were my first impulses, and then I looked upon the other side of the picture. I was without the means necessary to support myself; I could not return to high life without I discovered my parents in the first place, and in the second, found them to be such as my warm imagination had depicted. I had no chance of finding them. I had already been long seeking in vain. I had been twice taken up to Bow Street—nearly lost my life in Ireland—had been sentenced to death—had been insane, and recovered by a miracle, and all in prosecuting this useless search. All this had much contributed to cure me of the monomania. I agreed with Susannah that the search must be made by the other parties, and not by me. I recalled the treatment I had received from the world—the contempt with which I had been treated—the heartlessness of high life, and the little chance of my ever again being admitted into fashionable society.
I placed all this in juxtaposition with the kindness of those with whom I now resided—what they had done already for me, and what they now offered, which was to make me independent by my own exertions. I weighed all in my mind; was still undecided, for my pride still carried its weight; when I thought of the pure, beautiful Susannah Temple, and—my decision was made. I would not lose the substance by running after shadows.
That evening, with many thanks, I accepted the kind offers of Mr Cophagus, and expressed my determination of entering into the Society of Friends.
“Thou hast chosen wisely,” said Mrs Cophagus, extending her hand to me, “and it is with pleasure that we shall receive thee.”
“I welcome thee, Japhet Newland,” said Susannah, also offering her hand, “and I trust that thou wilt find more happiness among those with whom thou art about to sojourn, than in the world of vanity and deceit, in which thou hast hitherto played thy part. No longer seek an earthly father, who hath deserted thee, but a heavenly Father, who will not desert thee in thy afflictions.”