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One service then at least he may do me,' says Jones; sure he can certainly convey a letter to my Sophia.'
You have hit the nail ad unguem,' cries Partridge how came I not to think of it? I will engage he shall do it upon the very first mentioning.'
Well then,' said Jones, do you leave me at present, and I will write a letter, which you shall deliver to him to-morrow morning; for I suppose you know where to find him.'
"O yes, sir,' answered Partridge; I shall certainly find him again; there is no fear of that. The liquor is too good for him to stay away long. I make no doubt but he will be there every day he stays in town.'
'So you don't know the street then where my Sophia is lodged? cries Jones.
Indeed, sir, I do,' says Partridge.
What is the name of the street?" cries Jones.
The name, sir? why here, sir, just by,' answered Partridge, not above a street or two off. I don't indeed, know the very name; for as he never told me, if I had asked, you know it might have put some suspicion into his head. No, no, sir; let me alone for that. I am too cunning for that, I promise you.'
Thou art most wonderfully cunning, indeed,' replied Jones; however, I will write to my charmer, since I believe you will be cunning enough to find him to-morrow at the ale-house."
And now having dismissed the sagacious Partridge, Mr. Jones sat himself down to write; in which employment we shall leave him for a time. And here we put an end to the fifteenth book.
Containing the Space of five Days.
I HAVE heard of a dramatic writer, who used to
say, he would rather write a play than a prologue; in like manner, I think, I can with less pains write one of the books of this history, than the prefatory chapter to each of them.
To say the truth, I believe many a hearty curse hath been devoted on the head of that author, who first instituted the method of prefixing to his play that portion of matter which is called the prologue ; and which at first was part of the piece itself, but of latter years hath had usually so little connexion with the drama before which it stands, that the prologue to one play might as well serve for any other. Those, indeed, of more modern date, seem all to be written on the same three topics, viz. an abuse of the taste of the town, a condemnation of all contemporary authors, and an eulogium on the performance just about to be represented. The sentiments in all these are very little varied, nor is it possible they should;
and indeed I have often wondered at the great invention of authors, who have been capable of finding such various phrases to express the same thing..
In like manner, I apprehend, some future histo rian (if any one shall do me the honour of imitating my manner) will, after much scratching his pate, bestow some good wishes on my memory, for having first established these several initial chapters; most of which, like modern prologues, may as properly be prefixed to any other book in this history as to that which they introduce, or indeed to any other history as to this.
But however authors may suffer by either of these inventions, the reader will find sufficient emolument in the one, as the spectator hath long found in the other.
First, it is well known, that the prologue serves the critic for an opportunity to try his faculty of hissing, and to tune his catcall to the best advantage; by which means, I have known those musical instruments so well prepared, that they have been able to play in full concert at the first rising of the eurtain.
The same advantages may be drawn from these chapters, in which the critic will be always sure of meeting with something that may serve as a whetstone to his noble spirit; so that he may fall with a more hungry appetite for censure on the history it. self. And here his sagacity must make it needless to observe how artfully these chapters are calculated for that excellent purpose; for in these we have always taken care to intersperse somewhat of the sour or acid kind, in order to sharpen and stimulate the said spirit of criticism.
Again, the indolent reader, as well as spectator, finds great advantage from both these; for as they are not obliged either to see the one or read the other, and both the play and the book are thus pro. tracted; by the former they have a quarter of an hour longer allowed them to sit at dinner, and by
the latter they have the advantage of beginning to read at the fourth or fifth page instead of the first; a matter by no means of trivial consequence to persons who read books with no other view than to say they have read them, a more general motive to reading than is commonly imagined; and from which not only law-books, and good books, but the pages of Homer and Virgil, of Swift and Cervantes, have been often turned over.
Many others are the emoluments which arise from both these but they are for the most part so obvious, that we shall not at present stay to enumerate them; especially since it occurs to us that the prin. cipal merit of both the prologue and the preface is, that they be short.
WE E must now convey the reader to Mr. Western's lodgings, which were in Piccadilly, where he was placed by the recommendation of the landlord at the Hercules' Pillars at Hyde-Park Corner; for at the inn, which was the first he saw on his arrival in town, he placed his horses; and in those lodgings, which were the first he heard of, he deposited him self.
Here, when Sophia alighted from the hackneycoach, which brought her from the house of Lady Bellaston, she desired to retire to the apartment provided for her: to which her father very readily agreed, and whither he attended her himself. A short dialogue, neither very material nor pleasant to relate minutely, then passed between them, in which he pressed her vehemently to give her consent to the marriage with Blifil, who, as he acquainted her, was to be in town in a few days; but instead of complying, she gave a more peremptory and resolute refusal than she had ever done before. This so
incensed her father, that, after many bitter vows that he would force her to have him whether she would or no, he departed from her with many hard words and curses, locked the door, and put the key iuto his pocket.
While Sophia was left with no other company than what attend the closest state-prisoner, namely, fire and candle, the 'squire sat down to regale himself over a bottle of wine, with his parson, and the landlord of the Hercules' Pillars; who, as the 'squire said, would make an excellent third man, and could inform them of the news of the town, and how af fairs went; for to be sure,' says he, 'he knows a great deal, since the horses of many of the quality stand. at his house."
In this agreeable society Mr. Western passed that evening, and great part of the succeeding day, during which period nothing happened of sufficient consequence to find a place in this history. All this time Sophia passed by herself; for her father swore she should never come out of her chamber alive, unless she first consented to marry Blifil; nor did he ever suffer the door to be unlocked, unless to convey her food, on which occasions he always attended bimself.
The second morning after his arrival, while he and the parson were at breakfast together on a toast and tankard, he was informed that a gentleman was be low to wait on him.
A gentleman!' quoth the 'squire, who the de vil can he be? Do, doctor, go down, and see who 'tis. Mr. Blifil can hardly be come to town yet. Go down, do, and know what his business is.'
The doctor returned with an account that it was a very well-dressed man, and by the ribbon in his hat, he took him for an officer of the army; that he said he had some particular business, which he could deliver to none but Mr. Western himself.
An officer!' cries the 'squire; what can any