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ceed in his story without interruption. He would not have introduced a matter of slight consequence with such a preface. Perhaps even this story will cure you of your mistake.'
Mrs. Miller gave tokens of submission, and then Mr. Blifil began thus: I am sure, sir, if you don't think proper to resent the ill usage of Mrs. Miller, I shall easily forgive what affects me only. I think your goodness hath not deserved this indignity at her bands. Well, child,' said Allworthy, but what is this new instance? What hath he done of late? What,' cries Blifil, notwithstanding all Mrs. Miller hath said, I am very sorry to relate; and what you should never have heard from me, had it not been a matter impossible to conceal from the whole world. In short, he hath killed a man: I will not say murdered, for perhaps it may not be so construed in law, and I hope the best for his sake.'
Allworthy looked shocked, and blessed himself; and then turning to Mrs. Miller, he cried, Well, madain, what say you now?"
Why, I say, sir,' answered she, that I never was more concerned at any thing in my life; but, if the fact be true, I am convinced the man, whoever he is, was in fault. Heaven knows there are many villains in this town, who make it their business to provoke young gentlemen. Nothing but the greatest provocation could have tempted him; for of all the gentlemen I ever had in my house, I never saw one so gentle, or so sweet-tempered. He was beloved by every one in the house, and every one who came near it.'
While she was thus running on, a violent knocking at the door interrupted their conversation, and prevented her from proceeding further, or from re ceiving any answer: for as she concluded this was a visitor to Mr. Allworthy, she hastily retired, taking with her her little girl, whose eyes were all over blubbered at the melancholy news she heard of
Jones, who used to call her his little wife, and not only gave her many playthings, but spent whole hours in playing with her himself.
Some readers may, perhaps, be pleased with these minute circumstances, in relating of which we folHow the example of Plutarch, one of the best of our brother-historians; and others, to whom they may appear trivial, will, we hope, at least pardon them, as we are never prolix on such occasions.
MRS. Miller had not long left the room, when
Mr. Western entered; but not before a small wrangling-bout had passed between him and his chairmen; for the fellows, who had taken up their burden at the Hercules' Pillars, had conceived no hopes of having any future good customer in the 'squire; and they were moreover farther encouraged by his generosity (for he had given them of his own accord sixpence more than their fare); they therefore very boldly demanded another shilling, which so provoked the 'squire, that he not only bestowed many hearty curses on them at the door, but retained his anger after he came into the room; swearing that all the Londoners were like the court, and thought of nothing but plundering country gentlemen. D-n me,' says he, if I won't walk in the rain rather than get into one of their handbarrows again. They have jolted me more in a mile than Brown Bess would in a long fox-chase.'
When his wrath on this occasion was a little appeased, he resumed the same passionate tone on another. There,' says he, there is fine business forwards now. The hounds have changed at last, and when we imagined we had a fox to deal with, od-rat it, it turns out to be a badger at last.'
Pray, my good neighbour,' said Allworthy, 'drop
your metaphors, and speak a little plainer.' Why then,' says the squire, to tell you plainly, we have been all this time afraid of a son of a whore of a bastard of somebody's, I don't know who's, not I--and now here is a confounded son of a whore of a lord, who may be a bastard too for what I know or care, for he shall never have a daughter of mine by my consent. They have beggared the nation, but they shall never beggar me. My land shall never be sent over to Hanover.'
You surprise me much, my good friend,' said Allworthy. Why, zounds! I am surprised myself!' answered the squire. I went to zee sister Western last night, according to her own appointment, and there I was had into a whole room-full of women. There was my Lady Cousin Bellaston, and my Lady Betty, and my Lady Catharine, and my Lady I don't know who; d-n me, if ever you catch me among such a kennel of hoop-petticoat bs. Dn me, I'd rather be run by my own dogs, as one Acton was; that the story-book says was turned into a hare, and his own dogs killed un, and eat un. Od-rabbit it, no mortal was ever run in such a manner; if I dogged one way, one had me; if I of fered to clap back, another snapped me. "O! certainly one of the greatest matches in England," says one cousin (here he attempted to mimic them): "A very advantageous offer indeed," cries another cou sin, (for you must know they be all my cousins, thof I never zeed half o'um before.) "Surely," says that fat ase b-, my Lady Bellaston, cousin, you must be out of your wits to think of refusing such an offer."
Now I begin to understand,' says Allworthy, ⚫ some person hath made proposals to Miss Western, which the ladies of the family approve, but is not to your liking.'
My liking!' said Western; should it? I tell you it is a lord,
how the devil and those are ab
ways volks whom you know I always resolved to
have nothing to do with. Did unt I refuse a matter of vorty years' purchase now for a bit of land, which one o'um had a mind to put into a park, only because I would have no dealings with lords; and dost think I would marry my daughter zu? Besides, ben't I engaged to you, and did I ever go off any bargain when I had promised?"
As to that point, neighbour,' said Allworthy, 'I entirely release you from any engagement. No contract can be binding between parties who have not a full power to make it at the time, nor ever afterwards acquire the power of fulfilling it.'
Slud! then,' answered Western, I tell you I have power, and I will fulfil it. Come along with me directly to Doctors' Commons, I will get a li cence; and I will go to sister, and take away the wench by force; and she shall ha' un, or I will lock her up, and keep her upon bread and water as long as she lives."
Mr. Western,' said Allworthy, shall I beg you will hear my full sentiments on this matter?' Hear thee! ay, to be sure I will,' answered he. Why, then, sir,' cries Allworthy, I can truly say, without a compliment either to you or the young lady, that when this match was proposed, I embraced it very readily and heartily, from my regard to you both. An alliance between two families so nearly neighbours, and between whom there has always existed so mutual an intercourse and good harmony. I thought a most desirable event; and with re, gard to the young lady, not only the concurrent opinion of all who knew her, but my own observation, assured me, that she would be an inestimable treasure to a good husband. I shall say nothing of her personal qualifications, which certainly are ad. mirable; her good-nature, her charitable disposi tion, her modesty, are too well known to need any panegyric: but she hath one quality which existed in a high degree in that best of women, who is now one of the first of angels, which, as it is not of a glaring
kind, more commonly escapes observation; so little indeed is it remarked, that I want a word to express it. I must use negatives on this occasion. I never heard any thing of pertness, or what is called repartee, out of her mouth; no pretence to wit, much less to that kind of wisdom which is the result only of great learning and experience; the af fectation of which, in a young woman, is as absurd as any of the affectations of an ape. No dictatorial sentiments, no judicial opinions, no profound critieisms. Whenever I have seen her in the company of men, she hath been all attention, with the mo desty of a learner, not the forwardness of a teacher. You'll pardon me for it, but I once, to try her only, desired her opinion on a point which was controverted between Mr. Thwackum and Mr. Square; to which she answered with much sweetness, "You will pardon me, good Mr. Allworthy, I am sure you cannot in earnest think me capable of deciding any point in which two such gentlemen disagree." Thwackum and Square, who both alike thought themselves sure of a favourable decision, seconded my request. She answered with the same good humour, "I must absolutely be excused; for I will affront neither so much, as to give my judgement on his side." Indeed, she always showed the highest deference to the understandings of men; a quality absolutely essential to making a good wife. I shall only add, that as she is most apparently void of all affectation, this difference must be certainly real.'
Here Blifil sighed bitterly; upon which Western, whose eyes were full of tears at the praise of So phia, blubbered out, Don't be chicken-hearted, for shat ha' her; dn me, shat ha' her, if she was twen ty times as good.'
Remember your promise, sir,' cried Allworthy, I was not to be interrupted.' Well, shat unt,' answered the 'squire; I won't speak another word.'