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these disappointments: again, he will find it written much about the same place, that a woman, who hath once been pleased with the possession of a man, will go above half way to the devil, to prevent any other woman from enjoying the same.
If he will not be contented with these reasons, I freely confess I see no other motive to the actions of that lady, unless he will conceive she was bribed by Lord Fellamar, which for my own part I see no cause to suspect.
Now this was the affair which Mrs. Western was preparing to introduce to Sophia, by some prefatory discourse on the folly of love, and on the wisdom of legal prostitution for hire, when her brother and Blifil broke abruptly in upon her; and hence arose all that coldness in her behaviour to Blifil, which, though the 'squire, as was usual with him, imputed to a wrong cause, infused into Blifil himself (he be ing a much more cunning man) a suspicion of the real truth.
HEreader may now, perhaps, be pleased to return with us to Mr. Jones, who, at the appointed hour, attended on Mrs. Fitzpatrick; but, before we relate the conversation which now passed, it may be proper, according to our method, to return a little back, and to account for so great an alteration of behaviour in this lady; that, from changing her lodging principally to avoid Mr. Jones, she had now industriously, as hath been seen, sought this interview.
And here we shall need only to resort to what happened the preceding day, when hearing from Lady Bellaston, that Mr. Western was arrived in town, she went to pay her duty to him, at his lodgings at Piccadilly, where she was received with many
scurvy compellations too coarse to be repeated, and was even threatened to be kicked out of doors. From hence, an old servant of her aunt Western, with whom she was well acquainted, conducted her to the lodgings of that lady, who treated her not more kindly, but more politely; or to say the truth, with rudeness in another way. In short, she returned from both, plainly convinced not only that her scheme of reconciliation had proved abortive, but that she must for ever give over all thoughts of bringing it about by any means whatever. From this moment, desire of revenge only filled her mind; and in this temper meeting Jones at the play, an opportunity seemed to her to occur of effecting this purpose.
The reader must remember, that he was acquainted by Mrs. Fitzpatrick, in the account she gave of her own story, with the fondness Mrs. Western had formerly shown for Mr. Fitzpatrick at Bath; from the disappointment of which, Mrs. Fitzpatrick derived the great bitterness her aunt had expressed towards her. She had therefore no doubt but that the good lady would as easily listen to the addresses of Mr. Jones, as she had before done to the other; for the superiority of charms was clearly on the side of Mr. Jones; and the advance which her aunt had since made in age, she concluded (how justly I will not say), was an argument rather in favour of her project than against it.
Therefore, when Jones attended, after a previous declaration of her desire of serving him, arising, as she said, from a firm assurance how much she should by so doing oblige Sophia; and after some excuses for her former disappointment, and after acquainting Mr. Jones in whose custody his mistress was, of which she thought him ignorant; she very explicitly mentioned her scheme to him, and advised him to make sham addresses to the older lady, in order to procure an easy access to the younger, informing him at the same time of the success which Mr.
Fitzpatrick had formerly owed to the very same stratagem.
Mr. Jones expressed great gratitude to the lady for the kind intentions towards him which she had expressed, and indeed testified, by this proposal; but besides intimating some diffidence of success from the lady's knowledge of his love to her niece, which had not been her case in regard to Mr. Fitz. patrick, he said he was afraid Miss Western would never agree to an imposition of this kind, as well from her utter detestation of all fallacy, as from her avowed duty to her aunt.
- Mrs. Fitzpatrick was a little netiled at this; and indeed, if it may not be called a lapse of the tongue,' it was a small deviation from politeness in Jones; and into which he scarce would have fallen, had not the delight he felt in praising Sophia hurried him out of all reflections; for this commendation of one cousin was more than a tacit rebuke on the other.
Indeed, sir,' answered the lady, with some warmth, I caunot think there is any thing easier than to cheat an old woman with a profession of love, when her complexion is amorous; and though she is my aunt, I must say there never was a more liquorish one than her ladyship. Can't you pretend that a despair of possessing her niece, from being promised to Blifil, has made you turn your thoughts towards her? As to my cousin Sophia, I can't ima gine her to be such a simpleton as to have the least scruple on such an account, or to conceive any harm in punishing one of these hags for the many mis chiefs they bring upon families, by their tragi-comic passions; for which I think it is pity they are not pu nishable by law. I had no such scruple myself; and yet I hope my cousin Sophia will not think it an affront when I say she cannot detest every real species of falsehood more than her cousin Fitzpatrick. To my aunt, indeed, I pretend no duty, nor doth she de serve any. However, sir, I have given you my ad
vice; and if you decline pursuing it, I shall have the less opinion of your understanding,---that's all.' Jones now clearly saw the error he had committed, and exerted his utmost power to rectify it; but he only faltered and stuttered into nonsense and contradiction. To say the truth, it is often safer to abide by the consequences of the first blunder, than to endea vour to rectify it; for by such endeavours, we generally plunge deeper, instead of extricating ourselves; and few persons will on such occasions have the good na ture, which Mrs. Fitzpatrick displayed to Jones, by saying with a smile, You need attempt no more excuses; for I can easily forgive a real lover, whatever is the effect of fondness for his mistress.'
She then renewed her proposal, and very fervently recommended it, omitting no argument which her invention could suggest on the subject; for she was so violently incensed against her aunt, that scarce any thing was capable of affording ber equal pleasure with exposing her; and, like a true woman, she would see no difficulties in the execution of a favourite scheme.
Jones, however, persisted in declining the undertaking, which had not, indeed, the least probability of success. He easily perceived the motives which induced Mrs. Fitzpatrick to be so eager in pressing her advice. He said, he would not deny the tender and passionate regard he had for Sophia; but was so conscious of the inequality of their situations, that he could never flatter himself so far as to hope that so divine a young lady would condescend to think on so unworthy a man; nay, he protested, he could scarce bring himself to wish she should. He concluded with a profession of generous sentiments, which we have not at present leisure to insert.
There are some fine women (for I dare not here speak in too general terms) with whom self is so predominant, that they never detach it from any subject; and as vanity is with them a ruling principle,
they are apt to lay hold of whatever praise they meet with; and, though the property of others, convey it to their own use. In the company of these ladies, it is impossible to say any thing handsome of another woman, which they will not apply to them. selves; nay, they often improve the praise they seize; as for instance, if her beauty, her wit, her gentility, her good-humour, deserve so much commendation, what do I deserve, who possess those qualities in so much more eminent a degree?
To these ladies, a man often recommends himself while he is recommending another woman; and while he is expressing ardour and generous sentiments for his mistress, they are considering what a charming lover this man would make to them, who can feel all this tenderness for an inferior degree of merit. Of this, strange as it may seem, I have seen many instances besides Mrs. Fitzpatrick; to whom all this really happened, and who now began to feel a somewhat for Mr. Jones, the symptoms of which she much sooner understood than poor Sophia had for merly done.
To say the truth, perfect beauty in both sexes is a more irresistible object than it is generally thought; for notwithstanding some of us are contented with more homely lots, and learn by rote (as children are apt to repeat what gives them no idea) to despise outside, and to value more solid charms; yet I have always observed, at the approach of consummate beauty, that these more solid charms only shine with that kind of lustre which the stars have after the rising of the sun.
When Jones had finished his exclamations, many of which would have become the mouth of Oröondates himself, Mrs. Fitzpatrick heaved a deep sigh, and taking her eyes off from Jones, on whom they had been some time fixed, and dropping them on the ground, she cried, 'Indeed, Mr. Jones, I pity you; but it is the curse of such tenderness to be thrown