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Now, my good friend,' continued Allworthy, 1 have dwelt so long on the merit of this young lady, partly as I really am in love with her charac ter, and partly that fortune (for the match in that light is really advantageous on my nephew's side) might not be imagined to be my principal view in having so eagerly embraced the proposal. Indeed, I heartily wished to receive so great a jewel into my family; but though I may wish for many good things, I would not therefore steal them, or be guilty of any violence or injustice to possess myself of them. Now, to force a woman into a marriage contrary to her consent or approbation, is an act of such injustice and oppression, that I wish the laws of our country could restrain it; but a good conscience is never lawless in the worst-regulated state, and will provide those laws for itself, which the neglect of legislators hath forgotten to supply. This is surely a case of that kind; for is it not cruel, nay impious, to force a woman into that state against her will, for her behaviour in which she is. to be accountable to the highest and most dreadful court of judicature, and to answer at the peril of her soul? To discharge the matrimonial duties in an adequate manner is no easy task; and shall we lay this burden upon a woman, while we at the same time deprive her of all that assistance which may enable her to undergo it? Shall we tear her very heart from her, while we enjoin her duties to which a whole heart is scarce equal? I must speak very plainly here: I think parents who act in this manner are accessary to all the guilt which their children afterwards incur; and of course must, before a just judge, expect to partake of their punishment; but if they could avoid this, good Heaven! is there a soul who can bear the thought of having contributed to the damnation of his child?
For these reasons, my best neighbour, as I see the inclinations of this young lady are most unhappily averse to my nephew, I must decline any fur
ther thoughts of the honour you intended him, though I assure you I shall always retain the most grateful sense of it.'
'Well, sir,' said Western (the froth bursting forth from his lips the moment they were uncorked), you cannot say but I have heard you out, and now I expect you'll hear me; and if I don't answer every word on't, why then I'll consent to gee the matter up. First then, I desire you to answer me one question, Did not I beget her? did not I beget her? answer me that. They say, indeed, it is a wise father that knows his own child; but I am sure I have the best title to her, for I bred her up, But I believe you will allow me to be her father; and if I be, am I not to govern my own child? I ask you that, am I not to govern my own child? and if I am to govern her in other matters, surely I am to govern her in this which concerns her most. And what am I desiring all this while? Am I desiring her to do any thing for me? to give me any thing? Zu much on t'other side, that I am only desiring her to take away half my estate now, and t'other half when I die. Well, and what is it all vor? Why is unt to make her happy? It's enough to make one mad to hear volks talk. If I was going to marry myself, then she would ha' reason to cry and to blubber; but, on the contrary, han't I offer. ed to bind down my land in zuch a manner, that I could not marry if I would, zeeing as narro' woman upon earth would ha' me? What the devil in hell can I do more? I contribute to her damnation!-Zounds! I'd zee all the world d--n'd bevore her little vinger should be hurt. Indeed, Mr. Allwor. thy, you must excuse me, but I am surprised to hear you talk in such a manner; and I must say, take it how you will, that I thought you had more
Allworthy resented this reflection only with a smile; nor could he, if he would have endeavoured it, have conveyed into that smile any mixture of
malice or contempt. His smiles at folly were indeed such as we may suppose the angels bestow on the absurdities of mankind.
Blifil now desired to be permitted to speak a few words. As to using any violence on the young lady, I am sure I shall never consent to it. My conscience will not permit me to use violence on any one, much less on a lady, for whom, however cruel she is to me, I shall always preserve the purest and sincerest affection; but yet I have read, that women are seldom proof against perseverance. Why may I not hope then, by such perseverance, at last to gain those inclinations, in which for the future I shall, perhaps, have no rival? for as for this lord, Mr. Western is so kind as to prefer me to him; and sure, sir, you will not deny but that a parent hath at least a negative voice in these mat ters; nay, I have heard this very young lady her self say so more than once, and declare, that she thought children inexcusable who married in direct opposition to the will of their parents. Besides, though the other ladies of the family seem to favour the pretensions of my lord, I do not find the lady herself is inclined to give him any countenance: alas! I am too well assured she is not; I am too sensible that wickedest of men remains uppermost in her heart."
Ay, ay, so he does,' cries Western.
But surely,' says Blifil, when she hears of this murder which he hath committed, if the law should spare his life
What's that? cries Western: Murder! hath he committed a murder, and is there any hopes of seeing him hanged?-Tol de rol, tol lol de rol.' Here he fell a singing and capering about the
Child,' says Allworthy, this unhappy passion of yours distresses me beyond measure. I heartily pity you, and would do every fair thing to promote your success."
I desire no more,' cries Blifil: I am convinced my dear uncle hath a better opinion of me than to think that I myself would accept of more.'
Lookee,' says Allworthy, you have my leave to write, to visit, if she will permit it, but I insist on no thoughts of violence. I will have no confinement, nothing of that kind attempted.'
nothing of that
Well, well,' cries the 'squire, kind shall be attempted; we will try a little longer what fair means will effect; and if this fellow be but hanged out of the way--Tol lol de rol! I never heard better news in my life--I warrant every thing goes to my mind. Do, prithee, dear All worthy, come and dine with me at the Hercules' Pillars: I have bespoke a shoulder of mutton roasted, and a sparerib of pork, and a fowl and egg-sauce. There will be nobody but ourselves, unless we have a mind to have the landlord; for I have sent Parson Supple down to Basingstoke, after my tobacco-box, which I left at an inn there, and I would not lose it for the world; for it is an old acquaintance of above twenty years standing. I can tell you, landlord is a vast comical bitch; you will like un hugely.'
Mr. Allworthy at last agreed to this invitation, and soon after the 'squire went off, singing and capering at the hopes of seeing the speedy tragical end of poor Jones.
When he was gone, Mr. Allworthy resumed the aforesaid subject with much gravity. He told his nephew, He wished, with all his heart, he would endeavour to conquer a passion, in which I cannot,' says he, flatter you with any hopes of succeeding. It is certainly a vulgar error, that aversion in a woman may be conquered by perseverance. Indifference may, perhaps, sometimes yield to it; but the usual triumphs gained by perseverance in a lover, are over caprice, prudence, affectation, and often an exorbitant degree of levity, which excites women, not over-warm in their constitutions, to indulge
their vanity by prolonging the time of courtship, even when they are well enough pleased with the object, and resolve (if they ever resolve at all) to make him a very pitiful amends in the end. But a fixed dislike, as I am afraid this is, will rather ga. ther strength, than be conquered by time. Besides, my dear, I have another apprehension which you must excuse. I am afraid this passion which you have for this fine young creature, hath her beautiful person too much for its object, and is unworthy of the name of that love which is the only foundation of matrimonial felicity. To admire, to like, and to long for the possession of a beautiful woman, without any regard to her sentiments towards us, is, I am afraid, too natural; but love, I believe, is the child of love only; at least, I am pretty confident, that to love the creature, who, we are assur ed, hates us, is not in human nature. Examine your heart, therefore, thoroughly, my good boy, and if, upon examination, you have but the least suspi cion of this kind, I am sure your own virtue and religion will impel you to drive so vicious a passion from your heart, and your good sense will soon enable you to do it without pain.'
The reader may pretty well guess Blifil's answer; but if he should be at a loss, we are not, at present, at leisure to satisfy him, as our history now hastens on to matters of higher importance, and we can no longer bear to be absent from Sophia.
THE lowing heifer, and the bleating ewe, in herds and flocks, may ramble safe and unregarded through the pastures. These are, indeed, hereafter doomed to be the prey of man; yet many years are they suffered to enjoy their liberty undisturbed. But if a plump doe be discovered to have escaped