Part 15 out of 18
the lady gave him her cue; and this was not to be till the evening,
when all the company but Lord Fellamar and himself were gone, and
while they were engaged in a rubber at whist.
To this time then, which was between seven and eight in the evening,
we will convey our reader; when Lady Bellaston, Lord Fellamar, Miss
Western, and Tom, being engaged at whist, and in the last game of
their rubbers, Tom received his cue from Lady Bellaston, which was, "I
protest, Tom, you are grown intolerable lately; you used to tell us
all the news of the town, and now you know no more of the world than
if you lived out of it."
Mr Edwards then began as follows: "The fault is not mine, madam: it
lies in the dulness of the age, that doth nothing worth talking
of.----O la! though now I think on't there hath a terrible accident
befallen poor Colonel Wilcox.----Poor Ned.----You know him, my lord,
everybody knows him; faith! I am very much concerned for him."
"What is it, pray?" says Lady Bellaston.
"Why, he hath killed a man this morning in a duel, that's all."
His lordship, who was not in the secret, asked gravely, whom he had
killed? To which Edwards answered, "A young fellow we none of us know;
a Somersetshire lad just came to town, one Jones his name is; a near
relation of one Mr Allworthy, of whom your lordship I believe hath
heard. I saw the lad lie dead in a coffee-house.--Upon my soul, he is
one of the finest corpses I ever saw in my life!"
Sophia, who had just began to deal as Tom had mentioned that a man was
killed, stopt her hand, and listened with attention (for all stories
of that kind affected her), but no sooner had he arrived at the latter
part of the story than she began to deal again; and having dealt three
cards to one, and seven to another, and ten to a third, at last dropt
the rest from her hand, and fell back in her chair.
The company behaved as usually on these occasions. The usual
disturbance ensued, the usual assistance was summoned, and Sophia at
last, as it is usual, returned again to life, and was soon after, at
her earnest desire, led to her own apartment; where, at my lord's
request, Lady Bellaston acquainted her with the truth, attempted to
carry it off as a jest of her own, and comforted her with repeated
assurances, that neither his lordship nor Tom, though she had taught
him the story, were in the true secret of the affair.
There was no farther evidence necessary to convince Lord Fellamar how
justly the case had been represented to him by Lady Bellaston; and
now, at her return into the room, a scheme was laid between these two
noble persons, which, though it appeared in no very heinous light to
his lordship (as he faithfully promised, and faithfully resolved too,
to make the lady all the subsequent amends in his power by marriage),
yet many of our readers, we doubt not, will see with just detestation.
The next evening at seven was appointed for the fatal purpose, when
Lady Bellaston undertook that Sophia should be alone, and his lordship
should be introduced to her. The whole family were to be regulated for
the purpose, most of the servants despatched out of the house; and for
Mrs Honour, who, to prevent suspicion, was to be left with her
mistress till his lordship's arrival, Lady Bellaston herself was to
engage her in an apartment as distant as possible from the scene of
the intended mischief, and out of the hearing of Sophia.
Matters being thus agreed on, his lordship took his leave, and her
ladyship retired to rest, highly pleased with a project, of which she
had no reason to doubt the success, and which promised so effectually
to remove Sophia from being any further obstruction to her amour with
Jones, by a means of which she should never appear to be guilty, even
if the fact appeared to the world; but this she made no doubt of
preventing by huddling up a marriage, to which she thought the
ravished Sophia would easily be brought to consent, and at which all
the rest of her family would rejoice.
But affairs were not in so quiet a situation in the bosom of the other
conspirator; his mind was tost in all the distracting anxiety so nobly
described by Shakespear--
"Between the acting of a dreadful thing,
And the first motion, all the interim is
Like a phantasma, or a hideous dream;
The genius and the mortal instruments
Are then in council; and the state of man,
Like to a little kingdom, suffers then
The nature of an insurrection."----
Though the violence of his passion had made him eagerly embrace the
first hint of this design, especially as it came from a relation of
the lady, yet when that friend to reflection, a pillow, had placed the
action itself in all its natural black colours before his eyes, with
all the consequences which must, and those which might probably attend
it, his resolution began to abate, or rather indeed to go over to the
other side; and after a long conflict, which lasted a whole night,
between honour and appetite, the former at length prevailed, and he
determined to wait on Lady Bellaston, and to relinquish the design.
Lady Bellaston was in bed, though very late in the morning, and Sophia
sitting by her bed-side, when the servant acquainted her that Lord
Fellamar was below in the parlour; upon which her ladyship desired him
to stay, and that she would see him presently; but the servant was no
sooner departed than poor Sophia began to intreat her cousin not to
encourage the visits of that odious lord (so she called him, though a
little unjustly) upon her account. "I see his design," said she; "for
he made downright love to me yesterday morning; but as I am resolved
never to admit it, I beg your ladyship not to leave us alone together
any more, and to order the servants that, if he enquires for me, I may
be always denied to him."
"La! child," says Lady Bellaston, "you country girls have nothing but
sweethearts in your head; you fancy every man who is civil to you is
making love. He is one of the most gallant young fellows about town,
and I am convinced means no more than a little gallantry. Make love to
you indeed! I wish with all my heart he would, and you must be an
arrant mad woman to refuse him."
"But as I shall certainly be that mad woman," cries Sophia, "I hope
his visits shall not be intruded upon me."
"O child!" said Lady Bellaston, "you need not be so fearful; if you
resolve to run away with that Jones, I know no person who can hinder
"Upon my honour, madam," cries Sophia, "your ladyship injures me. I
will never run away with any man; nor will I ever marry contrary to my
"Well, Miss Western," said the lady, "if you are not in a humour to
see company this morning, you may retire to your own apartment; for I
am not frightened at his lordship, and must send for him up into my
Sophia thanked her ladyship, and withdrew; and presently afterwards
Fellamar was admitted upstairs.
By which it will appear how dangerous an advocate a lady is when she
applies her eloquence to an ill purpose.
When Lady Bellaston heard the young lord's scruples, she treated them
with the same disdain with which one of those sages of the law, called
Newgate solicitors, treats the qualms of conscience in a young
witness. "My dear lord," said she, "you certainly want a cordial. I
must send to Lady Edgely for one of her best drams. Fie upon it! have
more resolution. Are you frightened by the word rape? Or are you
apprehensive----? Well! if the story of Helen was modern, I should
think it unnatural. I mean the behaviour of Paris, not the fondness of
the lady; for all women love a man of spirit. There is another story
of the Sabine ladies--and that too, I thank heaven, is very antient.
Your lordship, perhaps, will admire my reading; but I think Mr Hook
tells us, they made tolerable good wives afterwards. I fancy few of my
married acquaintance were ravished by their husbands." "Nay, dear Lady
Bellaston," cried he, "don't ridicule me in this manner." "Why, my
good lord," answered she, "do you think any woman in England would not
laugh at you in her heart, whatever prudery she might wear in her
countenance?----You force me to use a strange kind of language, and to
betray my sex most abominably; but I am contented with knowing my
intentions are good, and that I am endeavouring to serve my cousin;
for I think you will make her a husband notwithstanding this; or, upon
my soul, I would not even persuade her to fling herself away upon an
empty title. She should not upbraid me hereafter with having lost a
man of spirit; for that his enemies allow this poor young fellow to
Let those who have had the satisfaction of hearing reflections of this
kind from a wife or a mistress, declare whether they are at all
sweetened by coming from a female tongue. Certain it is, they sunk
deeper into his lordship than anything which Demosthenes or Cicero
could have said on the occasion.
Lady Bellaston, perceiving she had fired the young lord's pride, began
now, like a true orator, to rouse other passions to its assistance.
"My lord," says she, in a graver voice, "you will be pleased to
remember, you mentioned this matter to me first; for I would not
appear to you in the light of one who is endeavouring to put off my
cousin upon you. Fourscore thousand pounds do not stand in need of an
advocate to recommend them." "Nor doth Miss Western," said he,
"require any recommendation from her fortune; for, in my opinion, no
woman ever had half her charms." "Yes, yes, my lord," replied the
lady, looking in the glass, "there have been women with more than half
her charms, I assure you; not that I need lessen her on that account:
she is a most delicious girl, that's certain; and within these few
hours she will be in the arms of one, who surely doth not deserve her,
though I will give him his due, I believe he is truly a man of
"I hope so, madam," said my lord; "though I must own he doth not
deserve her; for, unless heaven or your ladyship disappoint me, she
shall within that time be in mine."
"Well spoken, my lord," answered the lady; "I promise you no
disappointment shall happen from my side; and within this week I am
convinced I shall call your lordship my cousin in public."
The remainder of this scene consisted entirely of raptures, excuses,
and compliments, very pleasant to have heard from the parties; but
rather dull when related at second hand. Here, therefore, we shall put
an end to this dialogue, and hasten to the fatal hour when everything
was prepared for the destruction of poor Sophia.
But this being the most tragical matter in our whole history, we shall
treat it in a chapter by itself.
Containing some matters which may affect, and others which may
surprize, the reader.
The clock had now struck seven, and poor Sophia, alone and melancholy,
sat reading a tragedy. It was the Fatal Marriage; and she was now come
to that part where the poor distrest Isabella disposes of her
Here the book dropt from her hand, and a shower of tears ran down into
her bosom. In this situation she had continued a minute, when the door
opened, and in came Lord Fellamar. Sophia started from her chair at
his entrance; and his lordship advancing forwards, and making a low
bow, said, "I am afraid, Miss Western, I break in upon you abruptly."
"Indeed, my lord," says she, "I must own myself a little surprized at
this unexpected visit." "If this visit be unexpected, madam," answered
Lord Fellamar, "my eyes must have been very faithless interpreters of
my heart, when last I had the honour of seeing you; for surely you
could not otherwise have hoped to detain my heart in your possession,
without receiving a visit from its owner." Sophia, confused as she
was, answered this bombast (and very properly I think) with a look of
inconceivable disdain. My lord then made another and a longer speech
of the same sort. Upon which Sophia, trembling, said, "Am I really to
conceive your lordship to be out of your senses? Sure, my lord, there
is no other excuse for such behaviour." "I am, indeed, madam, in the
situation you suppose," cries his lordship; "and sure you will pardon
the effects of a frenzy which you yourself have occasioned; for love
hath so totally deprived me of reason, that I am scarce accountable
for any of my actions." "Upon my word, my lord," said Sophia, "I
neither understand your words nor your behaviour." "Suffer me then,
madam," cries he, "at your feet to explain both, by laying open my
soul to you, and declaring that I doat on you to the highest degree of
distraction. O most adorable, most divine creature! what language can
express the sentiments of my heart?" "I do assure you, my lord," said
Sophia, "I shall not stay to hear any more of this." "Do not," cries
he, "think of leaving me thus cruelly; could you know half the
torments which I feel, that tender bosom must pity what those eyes
have caused." Then fetching a deep sigh, and laying hold of her hand,
he ran on for some minutes in a strain which would be little more
pleasing to the reader than it was to the lady; and at last concluded
with a declaration, "That if he was master of the world, he would lay
it at her feet." Sophia then, forcibly pulling away her hand from his,
answered with much spirit, "I promise you, sir, your world and its
master I should spurn from me with equal contempt." She then offered
to go; and Lord Fellamar, again laying hold of her hand, said, "Pardon
me, my beloved angel, freedoms which nothing but despair could have
tempted me to take.----Believe me, could I have had any hope that my
title and fortune, neither of them inconsiderable, unless when
compared with your worth, would have been accepted, I had, in the
humblest manner, presented them to your acceptance.----But I cannot
lose you.--By heaven, I will sooner part with my soul!--You are, you
must, you shall be only mine." "My lord," says she, "I intreat you to
desist from a vain pursuit; for, upon my honour, I will never hear you
on this subject. Let go my hand, my lord; for I am resolved to go from
you this moment; nor will I ever see you more." "Then, madam," cries
his lordship, "I must make the best use of this moment; for I cannot
live, nor will I live without you."----"What do you mean, my lord?"
said Sophia; "I will raise the family." "I have no fear, madam,"
answered he, "but of losing you, and that I am resolved to prevent,
the only way which despair points to me."--He then caught her in his
arms: upon which she screamed so loud, that she must have alarmed some
one to her assistance, had not Lady Bellaston taken care to remove all
But a more lucky circumstance happened for poor Sophia; another noise
now broke forth, which almost drowned her cries; for now the whole
house rang with, "Where is she? D--n me, I'll unkennel her this
instant. Show me her chamber, I say. Where is my daughter? I know
she's in the house, and I'll see her if she's above-ground. Show me
where she is."--At which last words the door flew open, and in came
Squire Western, with his parson and a set of myrmidons at his heels.
How miserable must have been the condition of poor Sophia, when the
enraged voice of her father was welcome to her ears! Welcome indeed it
was, and luckily did he come; for it was the only accident upon earth
which could have preserved the peace of her mind from being for ever
Sophia, notwithstanding her fright, presently knew her father's voice;
and his lordship, notwithstanding his passion, knew the voice of
reason, which peremptorily assured him, it was not now a time for the
perpetration of his villany. Hearing, therefore, the voice approach,
and hearing likewise whose it was (for as the squire more than once
roared forth the word daughter, so Sophia, in the midst of her
struggling, cried out upon her father), he thought proper to
relinquish his prey, having only disordered her handkerchief, and with
his rude lips committed violence on her lovely neck.
If the reader's imagination doth not assist me, I shall never be able
to describe the situation of these two persons when Western came into
the room. Sophia tottered into a chair, where she sat disordered,
pale, breathless, bursting with indignation at Lord Fellamar;
affrighted, and yet more rejoiced, at the arrival of her father.
His lordship sat down near her, with the bag of his wig hanging over
one of his shoulders, the rest of his dress being somewhat disordered,
and rather a greater proportion of linen than is usual appearing at
his bosom. As to the rest, he was amazed, affrighted, vexed, and
As to Squire Western, he happened at this time to be overtaken by an
enemy, which very frequently pursues, and seldom fails to overtake,
most of the country gentlemen in this kingdom. He was, literally
speaking, drunk; which circumstance, together with his natural
impetuosity, could produce no other effect than his running
immediately up to his daughter, upon whom he fell foul with his tongue
in the most inveterate manner; nay, he had probably committed violence
with his hands, had not the parson interposed, saying, "For heaven's
sake, sir, animadvert that you are in the house of a great lady. Let
me beg you to mitigate your wrath; it should minister a fulness of
satisfaction that you have found your daughter; for as to revenge, it
belongeth not unto us. I discern great contrition in the countenance
of the young lady. I stand assured, if you will forgive her, she will
repent her of all past offences, and return unto her duty."
The strength of the parson's arms had at first been of more service
than the strength of his rhetoric. However, his last words wrought
some effect, and the squire answered, "I'll forgee her if she wull ha
un. If wot ha un, Sophy, I'll forgee thee all. Why dost unt speak?
Shat ha un! d--n me, shat ha un! Why dost unt answer? Was ever such a
"Let me intreat you, sir, to be a little more moderate," said the
parson; "you frighten the young lady so, that you deprive her of all
power of utterance."
"Power of mine a--," answered the squire. "You take her part then,
you do? A pretty parson, truly, to side with an undutiful child! Yes,
yes, I will gee you a living with a pox. I'll gee un to the devil
"I humbly crave your pardon," said the parson; "I assure your worship
I meant no such matter."
My Lady Bellaston now entered the room, and came up to the squire, who
no sooner saw her, than, resolving to follow the instructions of his
sister, he made her a very civil bow, in the rural manner, and paid
her some of his best compliments. He then immediately proceeded to his
complaints, and said, "There, my lady cousin; there stands the most
undutiful child in the world; she hankers after a beggarly rascal, and
won't marry one of the greatest matches in all England, that we have
provided for her."
"Indeed, cousin Western," answered the lady, "I am persuaded you wrong
my cousin. I am sure she hath a better understanding. I am convinced
she will not refuse what she must be sensible is so much to her
This was a wilful mistake in Lady Bellaston, for she well knew whom Mr
Western meant; though perhaps she thought he would easily be
reconciled to his lordship's proposals.
"Do you hear there," quoth the squire, "what her ladyship says? All
your family are for the match. Come, Sophy, be a good girl, and be
dutiful, and make your father happy."
"If my death will make you happy, sir," answered Sophia, "you will
shortly be so."
"It's a lye, Sophy; it's a d--n'd lye, and you know it," said the
"Indeed, Miss Western," said Lady Bellaston, "you injure your father;
he hath nothing in view but your interest in this match; and I and all
your friends must acknowledge the highest honour done to your family
in the proposal."
"Ay, all of us," quoth the squire; "nay, it was no proposal of mine.
She knows it was her aunt proposed it to me first.--Come, Sophy, once
more let me beg you to be a good girl, and gee me your consent before
"Let me give him your hand, cousin," said the lady. "It is the fashion
now-a-days to dispense with time and long courtships."
"Pugh!" said the squire, "what signifies time; won't they have time
enough to court afterwards? People may court very well after they have
been a-bed together."
As Lord Fellamar was very well assured that he was meant by Lady
Bellaston, so, never having heard nor suspected a word of Blifil, he
made no doubt of his being meant by the father. Coming up, therefore,
to the squire, he said, "Though I have not the honour, sir, of being
personally known to you, yet, as I find I have the happiness to have
my proposals accepted, let me intercede, sir, in behalf of the young
lady, that she may not be more solicited at this time."
"You intercede, sir!" said the squire; "why, who the devil are you?"
"Sir, I am Lord Fellamar," answered he, "and am the happy man whom I
hope you have done the honour of accepting for a son-in-law."
"You are a son of a b----," replied the squire, "for all your laced
coat. You my son-in-law, and be d--n'd to you!"
"I shall take more from you, sir, than from any man," answered the
lord; "but I must inform you that I am not used to hear such language
"Resent my a--," quoth the squire. "Don't think I am afraid of such a
fellow as thee art! because hast got a spit there dangling at thy
side. Lay by your spit, and I'll give thee enough of meddling with
what doth not belong to thee. I'll teach you to father-in-law me. I'll
lick thy jacket."
"It's very well, sir," said my lord, "I shall make no disturbance
before the ladies. I am very well satisfied. Your humble servant, sir;
Lady Bellaston, your most obedient."
His lordship was no sooner gone, than Lady Bellaston, coming up to Mr
Western, said, "Bless me, sir, what have you done? You know not whom
you have affronted; he is a nobleman of the first rank and fortune,
and yesterday made proposals to your daughter; and such as I am sure
you must accept with the highest pleasure."
"Answer for yourself, lady cousin," said the squire, "I will have
nothing to do with any of your lords. My daughter shall have an honest
country gentleman; I have pitched upon one for her--and she shall ha'
un.--I am sorry for the trouble she hath given your ladyship with all
my heart." Lady Bellaston made a civil speech upon the word trouble;
to which the squire answered--"Why, that's kind--and I would do as
much for your ladyship. To be sure relations should do for one
another. So I wish your ladyship a good night.--Come, madam, you must
go along with me by fair means, or I'll have you carried down to the
Sophia said she would attend him without force; but begged to go in a
chair, for she said she should not be able to ride any other way.
"Prithee," cries the squire, "wout unt persuade me canst not ride in a
coach, wouldst? That's a pretty thing surely! No, no, I'll never let
thee out of my sight any more till art married, that I promise thee."
Sophia told him, she saw he was resolved to break her heart. "O break
thy heart and be d--n'd," quoth he, "if a good husband will break it.
I don't value a brass varden, not a halfpenny, of any undutiful b--
upon earth." He then took violent hold of her hand; upon which the
parson once more interfered, begging him to use gentle methods. At
that the squire thundered out a curse, and bid the parson hold his
tongue, saying, "At'nt in pulpit now? when art a got up there I never
mind what dost say; but I won't be priest-ridden, nor taught how to
behave myself by thee. I wish your ladyship a good-night. Come along,
Sophy; be a good girl, and all shall be well. Shat ha' un, d--n me,
shat ha' un!"
Mrs Honour appeared below-stairs, and with a low curtesy to the squire
offered to attend her mistress; but he pushed her away, saying, "Hold,
madam, hold, you come no more near my house." "And will you take my
maid away from me?" said Sophia. "Yes, indeed, madam, will I," cries
the squire: "you need not fear being without a servant; I will get you
another maid, and a better maid than this, who, I'd lay five pounds to
a crown, is no more a maid than my grannum. No, no, Sophy, she shall
contrive no more escapes, I promise you." He then packed up his
daughter and the parson into the hackney coach, after which he mounted
himself, and ordered it to drive to his lodgings. In the way thither
he suffered Sophia to be quiet, and entertained himself with reading a
lecture to the parson on good manners, and a proper behaviour to his
It is possible he might not so easily have carried off his daughter
from Lady Bellaston, had that good lady desired to have detained her;
but, in reality, she was not a little pleased with the confinement
into which Sophia was going; and as her project with Lord Fellamar had
failed of success, she was well contented that other violent methods
were now going to be used in favour of another man.
By what means the squire came to discover his daughter.
Though the reader, in many histories, is obliged to digest much more
unaccountable appearances than this of Mr Western, without any
satisfaction at all; yet, as we dearly love to oblige him whenever it
is in our power, we shall now proceed to shew by what method the
squire discovered where his daughter was.
In the third chapter, then, of the preceding book, we gave a hint (for
it is not our custom to unfold at any time more than is necessary for
the occasion) that Mrs Fitzpatrick, who was very desirous of
reconciling her uncle and aunt Western, thought she had a probable
opportunity, by the service of preserving Sophia from committing the
same crime which had drawn on herself the anger of her family. After
much deliberation, therefore, she resolved to inform her aunt Western
where her cousin was, and accordingly she writ the following letter,
which we shall give the reader at length, for more reasons than one.
"The occasion of my writing this will perhaps make a letter of mine
agreeable to my dear aunt, for the sake of one of her nieces, though
I have little reason to hope it will be so on the account of
"Without more apology, as I was coming to throw my unhappy self at
your feet, I met, by the strangest accident in the world, my cousin
Sophy, whose history you are better acquainted with than myself,
though, alas! I know infinitely too much; enough indeed to satisfy
me, that unless she is immediately prevented, she is in danger of
running into the same fatal mischief, which, by foolishly and
ignorantly refusing your most wise and prudent advice, I have
unfortunately brought on myself.
"In short, I have seen the man, nay, I was most part of yesterday in
his company, and a charming young fellow I promise you he is. By
what accident he came acquainted with me is too tedious to tell you
now; but I have this morning changed my lodgings to avoid him, lest
he should by my means discover my cousin; for he doth not yet know
where she is, and it is adviseable he should not, till my uncle hath
secured her.----No time therefore is to be lost; and I need only
inform you, that she is now with Lady Bellaston, whom I have seen,
and who hath, I find, a design of concealing her from her family.
You know, madam, she is a strange woman; but nothing could misbecome
me more than to presume to give any hint to one of your great
understanding and great knowledge of the world, besides barely
informing you of the matter of fact.
"I hope, madam, the care which I have shewn on this occasion for the
good of my family will recommend me again to the favour of a lady
who hath always exerted so much zeal for the honour and true
interest of us all; and that it may be a means of restoring me to
your friendship, which hath made so great a part of my former, and
is so necessary to my future happiness.
with the utmost respect,
your most dutiful obliged niece,
and most obedient humble
Mrs Western was now at her brother's house, where she had resided ever
since the flight of Sophia, in order to administer comfort to the poor
squire in his affliction. Of this comfort, which she doled out to him
in daily portions, we have formerly given a specimen.
She was now standing with her back to the fire, and, with a pinch of
snuff in her hand, was dealing forth this daily allowance of comfort
to the squire, while he smoaked his afternoon pipe, when she received
the above letter; which she had no sooner read than she delivered it
to him, saying, "There, sir, there is an account of your lost sheep.
Fortune hath again restored her to you, and if you will be governed by
my advice, it is possible you may yet preserve her."
The squire had no sooner read the letter than he leaped from his
chair, threw his pipe into the fire, and gave a loud huzza for joy. He
then summoned his servants, called for his boots, and ordered the
Chevalier and several other horses to be saddled, and that parson
Supple should be immediately sent for. Having done this, he turned to
his sister, caught her in his arms, and gave her a close embrace,
saying, "Zounds! you don't seem pleased; one would imagine you was
sorry I have found the girl."
"Brother," answered she, "the deepest politicians, who see to the
bottom, discover often a very different aspect of affairs, from what
swims on the surface. It is true, indeed, things do look rather less
desperate than they did formerly in Holland, when Lewis the Fourteenth
was at the gates of Amsterdam; but there is a delicacy required in
this matter, which you will pardon me, brother, if I suspect you want.
There is a decorum to be used with a woman of figure, such as Lady
Bellaston, brother, which requires a knowledge of the world, superior,
I am afraid, to yours."
"Sister," cries the squire, "I know you have no opinion of my parts;
but I'll shew you on this occasion who is a fool. Knowledge, quotha! I
have not been in the country so long without having some knowledge of
warrants and the law of the land. I know I may take my own wherever I
can find it. Shew me my own daughter, and if I don't know how to come
at her, I'll suffer you to call me a fool as long as I live. There be
justices of peace in London, as well as in other places."
"I protest," cries she, "you make me tremble for the event of this
matter, which, if you will proceed by my advice, you may bring to so
good an issue. Do you really imagine, brother, that the house of a
woman of figure is to be attacked by warrants and brutal justices of
the peace? I will inform you how to proceed. As soon as you arrive in
town, and have got yourself into a decent dress (for indeed, brother,
you have none at present fit to appear in), you must send your
compliments to Lady Bellaston, and desire leave to wait on her. When
you are admitted to her presence, as you certainly will be, and have
told her your story, and have made proper use of my name (for I think
you just know one another only by sight, though you are relations), I
am confident she will withdraw her protection from my niece, who hath
certainly imposed upon her. This is the only method.--Justices of
peace, indeed! do you imagine any such event can arrive to a woman of
figure in a civilised nation?"
"D--n their figures," cries the squire; "a pretty civilised nation,
truly, where women are above the law. And what must I stand sending a
parcel of compliments to a confounded whore, that keeps away a
daughter from her own natural father? I tell you, sister, I am not so
ignorant as you think me----I know you would have women above the law,
but it is all a lye; I heard his lordship say at size, that no one is
above the law. But this of yours is Hanover law, I suppose."
"Mr Western," said she, "I think you daily improve in ignorance.----I
protest you are grown an arrant bear."
"No more a bear than yourself, sister Western," said the
squire.--"Pox! you may talk of your civility an you will, I am sure
you never shew any to me. I am no bear, no, nor no dog neither, though
I know somebody, that is something that begins with a b; but pox! I
will show you I have got more good manners than some folks."
"Mr Western," answered the lady, "you may say what you please, _je
vous mesprise de tout mon coeur._ I shall not therefore be
angry.----Besides, as my cousin, with that odious Irish name, justly
says, I have that regard for the honour and true interest of my
family, and that concern for my niece, who is a part of it, that I
have resolved to go to town myself upon this occasion; for indeed,
indeed, brother, you are not a fit minister to be employed at a polite
court.--Greenland--Greenland should always be the scene of the
"I thank Heaven," cries the squire, "I don't understand you now. You
are got to your Hanoverian linguo. However, I'll shew you I scorn to
be behind-hand in civility with you; and as you are not angry for what
I have said, so I am not angry for what you have said. Indeed I have
always thought it a folly for relations to quarrel; and if they do now
and then give a hasty word, why, people should give and take; for my
part, I never bear malice; and I take it very kind of you to go up to
London; for I never was there but twice in my life, and then I did not
stay above a fortnight at a time, and to be sure I can't be expected
to know much of the streets and the folks in that time. I never denied
that you know'd all these matters better than I. For me to dispute
that would be all as one as for you to dispute the management of a
pack of dogs, or the finding a hare sitting, with me."--"Which I
promise you," says she, "I never will."--"Well, and I promise you,"
returned he, "that I never will dispute the t'other."
Here then a league was struck (to borrow a phrase from the lady)
between the contending parties; and now the parson arriving, and the
horses being ready, the squire departed, having promised his sister to
follow her advice, and she prepared to follow him the next day.
But having communicated these matters to the parson on the road, they
both agreed that the prescribed formalities might very well be
dispensed with; and the squire, having changed his mind, proceeded in
the manner we have already seen.
In which various misfortunes befel poor Jones.
Affairs were in the aforesaid situation when Mrs Honour arrived at Mrs
Miller's, and called Jones out from the company, as we have before
seen, with whom, when she found herself alone, she began as follows:--
"O, my dear sir! how shall I get spirits to tell you; you are undone,
sir, and my poor lady's undone, and I am undone." "Hath anything
happened to Sophia?" cries Jones, staring like a madman. "All that is
bad," cries Honour: "Oh, I shall never get such another lady! Oh that
I should ever live to see this day!" At these words Jones turned pale
as ashes, trembled, and stammered; but Honour went on--"O! Mr Jones, I
have lost my lady for ever." "How? what! for Heaven's sake, tell me.
O, my dear Sophia!" "You may well call her so," said Honour; "she was
the dearest lady to me. I shall never have such another
place."----"D--n your place!" cries Jones; "where is--what--what is
become of my Sophia?" "Ay, to be sure," cries she, "servants may be
d--n'd. It signifies nothing what becomes of them, though they are
turned away, and ruined ever so much. To be sure they are not flesh
and blood like other people. No, to be sure, it signifies nothing what
becomes of them." "If you have any pity, any compassion," cries Jones,
"I beg you will instantly tell me what hath happened to Sophia?" "To
be sure, I have more pity for you than you have for me," answered
Honour; "I don't d--n you because you have lost the sweetest lady in
the world. To be sure you are worthy to be pitied, and I am worthy to
be pitied too: for, to be sure, if ever there was a good mistress----"
"What hath happened?" cries Jones, in almost a raving fit.
"What?--What?" said Honour: "Why, the worst that could have happened
both for you and for me.--Her father is come to town, and hath carried
her away from us both." Here Jones fell on his knees in thanksgiving
that it was no worse. "No worse!" repeated Honour; "what could be
worse for either of us? He carried her off, swearing she should marry
Mr Blifil; that's for your comfort; and, for poor me, I am turned out
of doors." "Indeed, Mrs Honour," answered Jones, "you frightened me
out of my wits. I imagined some most dreadful sudden accident had
happened to Sophia; something, compared to which, even seeing her
married to Blifil would be a trifle; but while there is life there are
hopes, my dear Honour. Women in this land of liberty, cannot be
married by actual brutal force." "To be sure, sir," said she, "that's
true. There may be some hopes for you; but alack-a-day! what hopes are
there for poor me? And to be sure, sir, you must be sensible I suffer
all this upon your account. All the quarrel the squire hath to me is
for taking your part, as I have done, against Mr Blifil." "Indeed, Mrs
Honour," answered he, "I am sensible of my obligations to you, and
will leave nothing in my power undone to make you amends." "Alas!
sir," said she, "what can make a servant amends for the loss of one
place but the getting another altogether as good?" "Do not despair,
Mrs Honour," said Jones, "I hope to reinstate you again in the same."
"Alack-a-day, sir," said she, "how can I flatter myself with such
hopes when I know it is a thing impossible? for the squire is so set
against me: and yet, if you should ever have my lady, as to be sure I
now hopes heartily you will; for you are a generous, good-natured
gentleman; and I am sure you loves her, and to be sure she loves you
as dearly as her own soul; it is a matter in vain to deny it; because
as why, everybody, that is in the least acquainted with my lady, must
see it; for, poor dear lady, she can't dissemble: and if two people
who loves one another a'n't happy, why who should be so? Happiness
don't always depend upon what people has; besides, my lady has enough
for both. To be sure, therefore, as one may say, it would be all the
pity in the world to keep two such loviers asunder; nay, I am
convinced, for my part, you will meet together at last; for, if it is
to be, there is no preventing it. If a marriage is made in heaven, all
the justices of peace upon earth can't break it off. To be sure I
wishes that parson Supple had but a little more spirit, to tell the
squire of his wickedness in endeavouring to force his daughter
contrary to her liking; but then his whole dependance is on the
squire; and so the poor gentleman, though he is a very religious good
sort of man, and talks of the badness of such doings behind the
squire's back, yet he dares not say his soul is his own to his face.
To be sure I never saw him make so bold as just now; I was afeard the
squire would have struck him. I would not have your honour be
melancholy, sir, nor despair; things may go better, as long as you are
sure of my lady, and that I am certain you may be; for she never will
be brought to consent to marry any other man. Indeed I am terribly
afeared the squire will do her a mischief in his passion, for he is a
prodigious passionate gentleman; and I am afeared too the poor lady
will be brought to break her heart, for she is as tender-hearted as a
chicken. It is pity, methinks, she had not a little of my courage. If
I was in love with a young man, and my father offered to lock me up,
I'd tear his eyes out but I'd come at him; but then there's a great
fortune in the case, which it is in her father's power either to give
her or not; that, to be sure, may make some difference."
Whether Jones gave strict attention to all the foregoing harangue, or
whether it was for want of any vacancy in the discourse, I cannot
determine; but he never once attempted to answer, nor did she once
stop till Partridge came running into the room, and informed him that
the great lady was upon the stairs.
Nothing could equal the dilemma to which Jones was now reduced. Honour
knew nothing of any acquaintance that subsisted between him and Lady
Bellaston, and she was almost the last person in the world to whom he
would have communicated it. In this hurry and distress, he took (as is
common enough) the worst course, and, instead of exposing her to the
lady, which would have been of little consequence, he chose to expose
the lady to her; he therefore resolved to hide Honour, whom he had but
just time to convey behind the bed, and to draw the curtains.
The hurry in which Jones had been all day engaged on account of his
poor landlady and her family, the terrors occasioned by Mrs Honour,
and the confusion into which he was thrown by the sudden arrival of
Lady Bellaston, had altogether driven former thoughts out of his head;
so that it never once occurred to his memory to act the part of a sick
man; which, indeed, neither the gaiety of his dress, nor the freshness
of his countenance, would have at all supported.
He received her ladyship therefore rather agreeably to her desires
than to her expectations, with all the good humour he could muster in
his countenance, and without any real or affected appearance of the
Lady Bellaston no sooner entered the room, than she squatted herself
down on the bed: "So, my dear Jones," said she, "you find nothing can
detain me long from you. Perhaps I ought to be angry with you, that I
have neither seen nor heard from you all day; for I perceive your
distemper would have suffered you to come abroad: nay, I suppose you
have not sat in your chamber all day drest up like a fine lady to see
company after a lying-in; but, however, don't think I intend to scold
you; for I never will give you an excuse for the cold behaviour of a
husband, by putting on the ill-humour of a wife."
"Nay, Lady Bellaston," said Jones, "I am sure your ladyship will not
upbraid me with neglect of duty, when I only waited for orders. Who,
my dear creature, hath reason to complain? Who missed an appointment
last night, and left an unhappy man to expect, and wish, and sigh, and
"Do not mention it, my dear Mr Jones," cried she. "If you knew the
occasion, you would pity me. In short, it is impossible to conceive
what women of condition are obliged to suffer from the impertinence of
fools, in order to keep up the farce of the world. I am glad, however,
all your languishing and wishing have done you no harm; for you never
looked better in your life. Upon my faith! Jones, you might at this
instant sit for the picture of Adonis."
There are certain words of provocation which men of honour hold can
properly be answered only by a blow. Among lovers possibly there may
be some expressions which can be answered only by a kiss. Now the
compliment which Lady Bellaston now made Jones seems to be of this
kind, especially as it was attended with a look, in which the lady
conveyed more soft ideas than it was possible to express with her
Jones was certainly at this instant in one of the most disagreeable
and distressed situations imaginable; for, to carry on the comparison
we made use of before, though the provocation was given by the lady,
Jones could not receive satisfaction, nor so much as offer to ask it,
in the presence of a third person; seconds in this kind of duels not
being according to the law of arms. As this objection did not occur to
Lady Bellaston, who was ignorant of any other woman being there but
herself, she waited some time in great astonishment for an answer from
Jones, who, conscious of the ridiculous figure he made, stood at a
distance, and, not daring to give the proper answer, gave none at all.
Nothing can be imagined more comic, nor yet more tragical, than this
scene would have been if it had lasted much longer. The lady had
already changed colour two or three times; had got up from the bed and
sat down again, while Jones was wishing the ground to sink under him,
or the house to fall on his head, when an odd accident freed him from
an embarrassment out of which neither the eloquence of a Cicero, nor
the politics of a Machiavel, could have delivered him, without utter
This was no other than the arrival of young Nightingale, dead drunk;
or rather in that state of drunkenness which deprives men of the use
of their reason without depriving them of the use of their limbs.
Mrs Miller and her daughters were in bed, and Partridge was smoaking
his pipe by the kitchen fire; so that he arrived at Mr Jones's
chamber-door without any interruption. This he burst open, and was
entering without any ceremony, when Jones started from his seat and
ran to oppose him, which he did so effectually, that Nightingale never
came far enough within the door to see who was sitting on the bed.
Nightingale had in reality mistaken Jones's apartment for that in
which himself had lodged; he therefore strongly insisted on coming in,
often swearing that he would not be kept from his own bed. Jones,
however, prevailed over him, and delivered him into the hands of
Partridge, whom the noise on the stairs soon summoned to his master's
And now Jones was unwillingly obliged to return to his own apartment,
where at the very instant of his entrance he heard Lady Bellaston
venting an exclamation, though not a very loud one; and at the same
time saw her flinging herself into a chair in a vast agitation, which
in a lady of a tender constitution would have been an hysteric fit.
In reality the lady, frightened with the struggle between the two men,
of which she did not know what would be the issue, as she heard
Nightingale swear many oaths he would come to his own bed, attempted
to retire to her known place of hiding, which to her great confusion
she found already occupied by another.
"Is this usage to be borne, Mr Jones?" cries the lady.--"Basest of
men?----What wretch is this to whom you have exposed me?" "Wretch!"
cries Honour, bursting in a violent rage from her place of
concealment--"Marry come up!----Wretch forsooth?----as poor a wretch
as I am, I am honest; this is more than some folks who are richer can
Jones, instead of applying himself directly to take off the edge of
Mrs Honour's resentment, as a more experienced gallant would have
done, fell to cursing his stars, and lamenting himself as the most
unfortunate man in the world; and presently after, addressing himself
to Lady Bellaston, he fell to some very absurd protestations of
innocence. By this time the lady, having recovered the use of her
reason, which she had as ready as any woman in the world, especially
on such occasions, calmly replied: "Sir, you need make no apologies, I
see now who the person is; I did not at first know Mrs Honour: but now
I do, I can suspect nothing wrong between her and you; and I am sure
she is a woman of too good sense to put any wrong constructions upon
my visit to you; I have been always her friend, and it may be in my
power to be much more hereafter."
Mrs Honour was altogether as placable as she was passionate. Hearing,
therefore, Lady Bellaston assume the soft tone, she likewise softened
hers.----"I'm sure, madam," says she, "I have been always ready to
acknowledge your ladyship's friendships to me; sure I never had so
good a friend as your ladyship----and to be sure, now I see it is your
ladyship that I spoke to, I could almost bite my tongue off for very
mad.--I constructions upon your ladyship--to be sure it doth not
become a servant as I am to think about such a great lady--I mean I
was a servant: for indeed I am nobody's servant now, the more
miserable wretch is me.--I have lost the best mistress----" Here
Honour thought fit to produce a shower of tears.--"Don't cry, child,"
says the good lady; "ways perhaps may be found to make you amends.
Come to me to-morrow morning." She then took up her fan which lay on
the ground, and without even looking at Jones walked very majestically
out of the room; there being a kind of dignity in the impudence of
women of quality, which their inferiors vainly aspire to attain to in
circumstances of this nature.
Jones followed her downstairs, often offering her his hand, which she
absolutely refused him, and got into her chair without taking any
notice of him as he stood bowing before her.
At his return upstairs, a long dialogue past between him and Mrs
Honour, while she was adjusting herself after the discomposure she had
undergone. The subject of this was his infidelity to her young lady;
on which she enlarged with great bitterness; but Jones at last found
means to reconcile her, and not only so, but to obtain a promise of
most inviolable secrecy, and that she would the next morning endeavour
to find out Sophia, and bring him a further account of the proceedings
of the squire.
Thus ended this unfortunate adventure to the satisfaction only of Mrs
Honour; for a secret (as some of my readers will perhaps acknowledge
from experience) is often a very valuable possession: and that not
only to those who faithfully keep it, but sometimes to such as whisper
it about till it come to the ears of every one except the ignorant
person who pays for the supposed concealing of what is publickly
Short and sweet.
Notwithstanding all the obligations she had received from Jones, Mrs
Miller could not forbear in the morning some gentle remonstrances for
the hurricane which had happened the preceding night in his chamber.
These were, however, so gentle and so friendly, professing, and indeed
truly, to aim at nothing more than the real good of Mr Jones himself,
that he, far from being offended, thankfully received the admonition
of the good woman, expressed much concern for what had past, excused
it as well as he could, and promised never more to bring the same
disturbances into the house.
But though Mrs Miller did not refrain from a short expostulation in
private at their first meeting, yet the occasion of his being summoned
downstairs that morning was of a much more agreeable kind, being
indeed to perform the office of a father to Miss Nancy, and to give
her in wedlock to Mr Nightingale, who was now ready drest, and full as
sober as many of my readers will think a man ought to be who receives
a wife in so imprudent a manner.
And here perhaps it may be proper to account for the escape which this
young gentleman had made from his uncle, and for his appearance in the
condition in which we have seen him the night before.
Now when the uncle had arrived at his lodgings with his nephew, partly
to indulge his own inclinations (for he dearly loved his bottle), and
partly to disqualify his nephew from the immediate execution of his
purpose, he ordered wine to be set on the table; with which he so
briskly plyed the young gentleman, that this latter, who, though not
much used to drinking, did not detest it so as to be guilty of
disobedience or want of complacence by refusing, was soon completely
Just as the uncle had obtained this victory, and was preparing a bed
for his nephew, a messenger arrived with a piece of news, which so
entirely disconcerted and shocked him, that he in a moment lost all
consideration for his nephew, and his whole mind became entirely taken
up with his own concerns.
This sudden and afflicting news was no less than that his daughter had
taken the opportunity of almost the first moment of his absence, and
had gone off with a neighbouring young clergyman; against whom, though
her father could have had but one objection, namely, that he was worth
nothing, yet she had never thought proper to communicate her amour
even to that father; and so artfully had she managed, that it had
never been once suspected by any, till now that it was consummated.
Old Mr Nightingale no sooner received this account, than in the utmost
confusion he ordered a post-chaise to be instantly got ready, and,
having recommended his nephew to the care of a servant, he directly
left the house, scarce knowing what he did, nor whither he went.
The uncle thus departed, when the servant came to attend the nephew to
bed, had waked him for that purpose, and had at last made him sensible
that his uncle was gone, he, instead of accepting the kind offices
tendered him, insisted on a chair being called; with this the servant,
who had received no strict orders to the contrary, readily complied;
and, thus being conducted back to the house of Mrs Miller, he had
staggered up to Mr Jones's chamber, as hath been before recounted.
This bar of the uncle being now removed (though young Nightingale knew
not as yet in what manner), and all parties being quickly ready, the
mother, Mr Jones, Mr Nightingale, and his love, stept into a
hackney-coach, which conveyed them to Doctors' Commons; where Miss
Nancy was, in vulgar language, soon made an honest woman, and the poor
mother became, in the purest sense of the word, one of the happiest of
all human beings.
And now Mr Jones, having seen his good offices to that poor woman and
her family brought to a happy conclusion, began to apply himself to
his own concerns; but here, lest many of my readers should censure his
folly for thus troubling himself with the affairs of others, and lest
some few should think he acted more disinterestedly than indeed he
did, we think proper to assure our reader, that he was so far from
being unconcerned in this matter, that he had indeed a very
considerable interest in bringing it to that final consummation.
To explain this seeming paradox at once, he was one who could truly
say with him in Terence, _Homo sum: humani nihil a me alienum puto_.
He was never an indifferent spectator of the misery or happiness of
any one; and he felt either the one or the other in great proportion
as he himself contributed to either. He could not, therefore, be the
instrument of raising a whole family from the lowest state of
wretchedness to the highest pitch of joy without conveying great
felicity to himself; more perhaps than worldly men often purchase to
themselves by undergoing the most severe labour, and often by wading
through the deepest iniquity.
Those readers who are of the same complexion with him will perhaps
think this short chapter contains abundance of matter; while others
may probably wish, short as it is, that it had been totally spared as
impertinent to the main design, which I suppose they conclude is to
bring Mr Jones to the gallows, or, if possible, to a more deplorable
Containing love-letters of several sorts.
Mr Jones, at his return home, found the following letters lying on his
table, which he luckily opened in the order they were sent.
"Surely I am under some strange infatuation; I cannot keep my
resolutions a moment, however strongly made or justly founded. Last
night I resolved never to see you more; this morning I am willing to
hear if you can, as you say, clear up this affair. And yet I know
that to be impossible. I have said everything to myself which you
can invent.----Perhaps not. Perhaps your invention is stronger. Come
to me, therefore, the moment you receive this. If you can forge an
excuse I almost promise you to believe it. Betrayed too----I will
think no more.----Come to me directly.----This is the third letter I
have writ, the two former are burnt----I am almost inclined to burn
this too----I wish I may preserve my senses.----Come to me
"If you ever expect to be forgiven, or even suffered within my
doors, come to me this instant."
"I now find you was not at home when my notes came to your lodgings.
The moment you receive this let me see you;--I shall not stir out;
nor shall anybody be let in but yourself. Sure nothing can detain
Jones had just read over these three billets when Mr Nightingale came
into the room. "Well, Tom," said he, "any news from Lady Bellaston,
after last night's adventure?" (for it was now no secret to any one in
that house who the lady was). "The Lady Bellaston?" answered Jones
very gravely.----"Nay, dear Tom," cries Nightingale, "don't be so
reserved to your friends. Though I was too drunk to see her last
night, I saw her at the masquerade. Do you think I am ignorant who the
queen of the fairies is?" "And did you really then know the lady at
the masquerade?" said Jones. "Yes, upon my soul, did I," said
Nightingale, "and have given you twenty hints of it since, though you
seemed always so tender on that point, that I would not speak plainly.
I fancy, my friend, by your extreme nicety in this matter, you are not
so well acquainted with the character of the lady as with her person.
Don't be angry, Tom, but upon my honour, you are not the first young
fellow she hath debauched. Her reputation is in no danger, believe
Though Jones had no reason to imagine the lady to have been of the
vestal kind when his amour began; yet, as he was thoroughly ignorant
of the town, and had very little acquaintance in it, he had no
knowledge of that character which is vulgarly called a demirep; that
is to say, a woman who intrigues with every man she likes, under the
name and appearance of virtue; and who, though some over-nice ladies
will not be seen with her, is visited (as they term it) by the whole
town, in short, whom everybody knows to be what nobody calls her.
When he found, therefore, that Nightingale was perfectly acquainted
with his intrigue, and began to suspect that so scrupulous a delicacy
as he had hitherto observed was not quite necessary on the occasion,
he gave a latitude to his friend's tongue, and desired him to speak
plainly what he knew, or had ever heard of the lady.
Nightingale, who, in many other instances, was rather too effeminate
in his disposition, had a pretty strong inclination to tittle-tattle.
He had no sooner, therefore, received a full liberty of speaking from
Jones, than he entered upon a long narrative concerning the lady;
which, as it contained many particulars highly to her dishonour, we
have too great a tenderness for all women of condition to repeat. We
would cautiously avoid giving an opportunity to the future
commentators on our works, of making any malicious application and of
forcing us to be, against our will, the author of scandal, which never
entered into our head.
Jones, having very attentively heard all that Nightingale had to say,
fetched a deep sigh; which the other, observing, cried, "Heyday! why,
thou art not in love, I hope! Had I imagined my stories would have
affected you, I promise you should never have heard them." "O my dear
friend!" cries Jones, "I am so entangled with this woman, that I know
not how to extricate myself. In love, indeed! no, my friend, but I am
under obligations to her, and very great ones. Since you know so much,
I will be very explicit with you. It is owing, perhaps, solely to her,
that I have not, before this, wanted a bit of bread. How can I
possibly desert such a woman? and yet I must desert her, or be guilty
of the blackest treachery to one who deserves infinitely better of me
than she can; a woman, my Nightingale, for whom I have a passion which
few can have an idea of. I am half distracted with doubts how to act."
"And is this other, pray, an honourable mistress?" cries Nightingale.
"Honourable!" answered Jones; "no breath ever yet durst sully her
reputation. The sweetest air is not purer, the limpid stream not
clearer, than her honour. She is all over, both in mind and body,
consummate perfection. She is the most beautiful creature in the
universe: and yet she is mistress of such noble elevated qualities,
that, though she is never from my thoughts, I scarce ever think of her
beauty but when I see it."--"And can you, my good friend," cries
Nightingale, "with such an engagement as this upon your hands,
hesitate a moment about quitting such a--" "Hold," said Jones, "no
more abuse of her: I detest the thought of ingratitude." "Pooh!"
answered the other, "you are not the first upon whom she hath
conferred obligations of this kind. She is remarkably liberal where
she likes; though, let me tell you, her favours are so prudently
bestowed, that they should rather raise a man's vanity than his
gratitude." In short, Nightingale proceeded so far on this head, and
told his friend so many stories of the lady, which he swore to the
truth of, that he entirely removed all esteem for her from the breast
of Jones; and his gratitude was lessened in proportion. Indeed, he
began to look on all the favours he had received rather as wages than
benefits, which depreciated not only her, but himself too in his own
conceit, and put him quite out of humour with both. From this disgust,
his mind, by a natural transition, turned towards Sophia; her virtue,
her purity, her love to him, her sufferings on his account, filled all
his thoughts, and made his commerce with Lady Bellaston appear still
more odious. The result of all was, that, though his turning himself
out of her service, in which light he now saw his affair with her,
would be the loss of his bread; yet he determined to quit her, if he
could but find a handsome pretence: which being communicated to his
friend, Nightingale considered a little, and then said, "I have it, my
boy! I have found out a sure method; propose marriage to her, and I
would venture hanging upon the success." "Marriage?" cries Jones. "Ay,
propose marriage," answered Nightingale, "and she will declare off in
a moment. I knew a young fellow whom she kept formerly, who made the
offer to her in earnest, and was presently turned off for his pains."
Jones declared he could not venture the experiment. "Perhaps," said
he, "she may be less shocked at this proposal from one man than from
another. And if she should take me at my word, where am I then?
caught, in my own trap, and undone for ever." "No;" answered
Nightingale, "not if I can give you an expedient by which you may at
any time get out of the trap."----"What expedient can that be?"
replied Jones. "This," answered Nightingale. "The young fellow I
mentioned, who is one of the most intimate acquaintances I have in the
world, is so angry with her for some ill offices she hath since done
him, that I am sure he would, without any difficulty, give you a sight
of her letters; upon which you may decently break with her; and
declare off before the knot is tyed, if she should really be willing
to tie it, which I am convinced she will not."
After some hesitation, Jones, upon the strength of this assurance,
consented; but, as he swore he wanted the confidence to propose the
matter to her face, he wrote the following letter, which Nightingale
"I am extremely concerned, that, by an unfortunate engagement
abroad, I should have missed receiving the honour of your ladyship's
commands the moment they came; and the delay which I must now suffer
of vindicating myself to your ladyship greatly adds to this
misfortune. O, Lady Bellaston! what a terror have I been in for fear
your reputation should be exposed by these perverse accidents! There
is one only way to secure it. I need not name what that is. Only
permit me to say, that as your honour is as dear to me as my own, so
my sole ambition is to have the glory of laying my liberty at your
feet; and believe me when I assure you, I can never be made
completely happy without you generously bestow on me a legal right
of calling you mine for ever.--I am,
with most profound respect,
your ladyship's most obliged,
obedient, humble servant,
To this she presently returned the following answer:
"When I read over your serious epistle, I could, from its coldness
and formality, have sworn that you already had the legal right you
mention; nay, that we had for many years composed that monstrous
animal a husband and wife. Do you really then imagine me a fool? or
do you fancy yourself capable of so entirely persuading me out of my
senses, that I should deliver my whole fortune into your power, in
order to enable you to support your pleasures at my expense? Are
these the proofs of love which I expected? Is this the return for--?
but I scorn to upbraid you, and am in great admiration of your
"P.S. I am prevented from revising:----Perhaps I have said more than
I meant.----Come to me at eight this evening."
Jones, by the advice of his privy-council, replied:
"It is impossible to express how much I am shocked at the suspicion
you entertain of me. Can Lady Bellaston have conferred favours on a
man whom she could believe capable of so base a design? or can she
treat the most solemn tie of love with contempt? Can you imagine,
madam, that if the violence of my passion, in an unguarded moment,
overcame the tenderness which I have for your honour, I would think
of indulging myself in the continuance of an intercourse which could
not possibly escape long the notice of the world; and which, when
discovered, must prove so fatal to your reputation? If such be your
opinion of me, I must pray for a sudden opportunity of returning
those pecuniary obligations, which I have been so unfortunate to
receive at your hands; and for those of a more tender kind, I shall
ever remain, &c." And so concluded in the very words with which he
had concluded the former letter.
The lady answered as follows:
"I see you are a villain! and I despise you from my soul. If you
come here I shall not be at home."
Though Jones was well satisfied with his deliverance from a thraldom
which those who have ever experienced it will, I apprehend, allow to
be none of the lightest, he was not, however, perfectly easy in his
mind. There was in this scheme too much of fallacy to satisfy one who
utterly detested every species of falshood or dishonesty: nor would
he, indeed, have submitted to put it in practice, had he not been
involved in a distressful situation, where he was obliged to be guilty
of some dishonour, either to the one lady or the other; and surely the
reader will allow, that every good principle, as well as love, pleaded
strongly in favour of Sophia.
Nightingale highly exulted in the success of his stratagem, upon which
he received many thanks and much applause from his friend. He
answered, "Dear Tom, we have conferred very different obligations on
each other. To me you owe the regaining your liberty; to you I owe the
loss of mine. But if you are as happy in the one instance as I am in
the other, I promise you we are the two happiest fellows in England."
The two gentlemen were now summoned down to dinner, where Mrs Miller,
who performed herself the office of cook, had exerted her best talents
to celebrate the wedding of her daughter. This joyful circumstance she
ascribed principally to the friendly behaviour of Jones, her whole
soul was fired with gratitude towards him, and all her looks, words,
and actions, were so busied in expressing it, that her daughter, and
even her new son-in-law, were very little objects of her
Dinner was just ended when Mrs Miller received a letter; but as we
have had letters enow in this chapter, we shall communicate its
contents in our next.
Consisting partly of facts, and partly of observations upon them.
The letter then which arrived at the end of the preceding chapter was
from Mr Allworthy, and the purport of it was, his intention to come
immediately to town, with his nephew Blifil, and a desire to be
accommodated with his usual lodgings, which were the first floor for
himself, and the second for his nephew.
The chearfulness which had before displayed itself in the countenance
of the poor woman was a little clouded on this occasion. This news did
indeed a good deal disconcert her. To requite so disinterested a match
with her daughter, by presently turning her new son-in-law out of
doors, appeared to her very unjustifiable on the one hand; and on the
other, she could scarce bear the thoughts of making any excuse to Mr
Allworthy, after all the obligations received from him, for depriving
him of lodgings which were indeed strictly his due; for that
gentleman, in conferring all his numberless benefits on others, acted
by a rule diametrically opposite to what is practised by most generous
people. He contrived, on all occasions, to hide his beneficence, not
only from the world, but even from the object of it. He constantly
used the words Lend and Pay, instead of Give; and by every other
method he could invent, always lessened with his tongue the favours he
conferred, while he was heaping them with both his hands. When he
settled the annuity of £50 a year therefore on Mrs Miller, he told
her, "it was in consideration of always having her first-floor when he
was in town (which he scarce ever intended to be), but that she might
let it at any other time, for that he would always send her a month's
warning." He was now, however, hurried to town so suddenly, that he
had no opportunity of giving such notice; and this hurry probably
prevented him, when he wrote for his lodgings, adding, if they were
then empty; for he would most certainly have been well satisfied to
have relinquished them, on a less sufficient excuse than what Mrs
Miller could now have made.
But there are a sort of persons, who, as Prior excellently well
remarks, direct their conduct by something
Beyond the fix'd and settled rules
Of vice and virtue in the schools,
Beyond the letter of the law.
To these it is so far from being sufficient that their defence would
acquit them at the Old Bailey, that they are not even contented,
though conscience, the severest of all judges, should discharge them.
Nothing short of the fair and honourable will satisfy the delicacy of
their minds; and if any of their actions fall short of this mark, they
mope and pine, are as uneasy and restless as a murderer, who is afraid
of a ghost, or of the hangman.
Mrs Miller was one of these. She could not conceal her uneasiness at
this letter; with the contents of which she had no sooner acquainted
the company, and given some hints of her distress, than Jones, her
good angel, presently relieved her anxiety. "As for myself, madam,"
said he, "my lodging is at your service at a moment's warning; and Mr
Nightingale, I am sure, as he cannot yet prepare a house fit to
receive his lady, will consent to return to his new lodging, whither
Mrs Nightingale will certainly consent to go." With which proposal
both husband and wife instantly agreed.
The reader will easily believe, that the cheeks of Mrs Miller began
again to glow with additional gratitude to Jones; but, perhaps, it may
be more difficult to persuade him, that Mr Jones having in his last
speech called her daughter Mrs Nightingale (it being the first time
that agreeable sound had ever reached her ears), gave the fond mother
more satisfaction, and warmed her heart more towards Jones, than his
having dissipated her present anxiety.
The next day was then appointed for the removal of the new-married
couple, and of Mr Jones, who was likewise to be provided for in the
same house with his friend. And now the serenity of the company was
again restored, and they past the day in the utmost chearfulness, all
except Jones, who, though he outwardly accompanied the rest in their
mirth, felt many a bitter pang on the account of his Sophia, which
were not a little heightened by the news of Mr Blifil's coming to town
(for he clearly saw the intention of his journey); and what greatly
aggravated his concern was, that Mrs Honour, who had promised to
inquire after Sophia, and to make her report to him early the next
evening, had disappointed him.
In the situation that he and his mistress were in at this time, there
were scarce any grounds for him to hope that he should hear any good
news; yet he was as impatient to see Mrs Honour as if he had expected
she would bring him a letter with an assignation in it from Sophia,
and bore the disappointment as ill. Whether this impatience arose from
that natural weakness of the human mind, which makes it desirous to
know the worst, and renders uncertainty the most intolerable of pains;
or whether he still flattered himself with some secret hopes, we will
not determine. But that it might be the last, whoever has loved cannot
but know. For of all the powers exercised by this passion over our
minds, one of the most wonderful is that of supporting hope in the
midst of despair. Difficulties, improbabilities, nay, impossibilities,
are quite overlooked by it; so that to any man extremely in love, may
be applied what Addison says of Caesar,
"The Alps, and Pyrenaeans, sink before him!"
Yet it is equally true, that the same passion will sometimes make
mountains of molehills, and produce despair in the midst of hope; but
these cold fits last not long in good constitutions. Which temper
Jones was now in, we leave the reader to guess, having no exact
information about it; but this is certain, that he had spent two hours
in expectation, when, being unable any longer to conceal his
uneasiness, he retired to his room; where his anxiety had almost made
him frantick, when the following letter was brought him from Mrs
Honour, with which we shall present the reader _verbatim et
"I shud sartenly haf kaled on you a cordin too mi prommiss haddunt
itt bin that hur lashipp prevent mee; for to bee sur, Sir, you nose
very well that evere persun must luk furst at ome, and sartenly such
anuther offar mite not have ever hapned, so as I shud ave bin justly
to blam, had I not excepted of it when her lashipp was so veri kind
as to offar to mak mee hur one uman without mi ever askin any such
thing, to be sur shee is won of thee best ladis in thee wurld, and
pepil who sase to the kontrari must bee veri wiket pepil in thare
harts. To bee sur if ever I ave sad any thing of that kine it as bin
thru ignorens, and I am hartili sorri for it. I nose your onur to be
a genteelman of more onur and onesty, if I ever said ani such thing,
to repete it to hurt a pore servant that as alwais add thee gratest
respect in thee wurld for ure onur. To be sur won shud kepe wons
tung within wons teeth, for no boddi nose what may hapen; and to bee
sur if ani boddi ad tolde mee yesterday, that I shud haf bin in so
gud a plase to day, I shud not haf beleeved it; for to be sur I
never was a dremd of any such thing, nor shud I ever have soft after
ani other bodi's plase; but as her lashipp wass so kine of her one a
cord too give it mee without askin, to be sur Mrs Etoff herself, nor
no other boddi can blam mee for exceptin such a thing when it fals
in mi waye. I beg ure Onur not to menshion ani thing of what I haf
sad, for I wish ure Onur all thee gud luk in the wurld; and I don't
cuestion butt thatt u will haf Madam Sofia in the end; butt ass to
miself ure onur nose I kant bee of ani farder sarvis to u in that
matar, nou bein under thee cumand off anuther parson, and nott mi
one mistress, I begg ure Onur to say nothing of what past, and
belive me to be, sir, ure Onur's umble servant to cumand till deth,
Various were the conjectures which Jones entertained on this step of
Lady Bellaston; who, in reality, had little farther design than to
secure within her own house the repository of a secret, which she
chose should make no farther progress than it had made already; but
mostly, she desired to keep it from the ears of Sophia; for though
that young lady was almost the only one who would never have repeated
it again, her ladyship could not persuade herself of this; since, as
she now hated poor Sophia with most implacable hatred, she conceived a
reciprocal hatred to herself to be lodged in the tender breast of our
heroine, where no such passion had ever yet found an entrance.
While Jones was terrifying himself with the apprehension of a thousand
dreadful machinations, and deep political designs, which he imagined
to be at the bottom of the promotion of Honour, Fortune, who hitherto
seems to have been an utter enemy to his match with Sophia, tried a
new method to put a final end to it, by throwing a temptation in his
way, which in his present desperate situation it seemed unlikely he
should be able to resist.
Containing curious, but not unprecedented matter.
There was a lady, one Mrs Hunt, who had often seen Jones at the house
where he lodged, being intimately acquainted with the women there, and
indeed a very great friend to Mrs Miller. Her age was about thirty,
for she owned six-and-twenty; her face and person very good, only
inclining a little too much to be fat. She had been married young by
her relations to an old Turkey merchant, who, having got a great
fortune, had left off trade. With him she lived without reproach, but
not without pain, in a state of great self-denial, for about twelve
years; and her virtue was rewarded by his dying and leaving her very
rich. The first year of her widowhood was just at an end, and she had
past it in a good deal of retirement, seeing only a few particular
friends, and dividing her time between her devotions and novels, of
which she was always extremely fond. Very good health, a very warm
constitution, and a good deal of religion, made it absolutely
necessary for her to marry again; and she resolved to please herself
in her second husband, as she had done her friends in the first. From
her the following billet was brought to Jones:--
"From the first day I saw you, I doubt my eyes have told you too
plainly that you were not indifferent to me; but neither my tongue
nor my hand should have ever avowed it, had not the ladies of the
family where you are lodged given me such a character of you, and
told me such proofs of your virtue and goodness, as convince me you
are not only the most agreeable, but the most worthy of men. I have
also the satisfaction to hear from them, that neither my person,
understanding, or character, are disagreeable to you. I have a
fortune sufficient to make us both happy, but which cannot make me
so without you. In thus disposing of myself, I know I shall incur
the censure of the world; but if I did not love you more than I fear
the world, I should not be worthy of you. One only difficulty stops
me: I am informed you are engaged in a commerce of gallantry with a
woman of fashion. If you think it worth while to sacrifice that to
the possession of me, I am yours; if not, forget my weakness, and
let this remain an eternal secret between you and
At the reading of this, Jones was put into a violent flutter. His
fortune was then at a very low ebb, the source being stopt from which
hitherto he had been supplied. Of all he had received from Lady
Bellaston, not above five guineas remained; and that very morning he
had been dunned by a tradesman for twice that sum. His honourable
mistress was in the hands of her father, and he had scarce any hopes
ever to get her out of them again. To be subsisted at her expense,
from that little fortune she had independent of her father, went much
against the delicacy both of his pride and his love. This lady's
fortune would have been exceeding convenient to him, and he could have
no objection to her in any respect. On the contrary, he liked her as
well as he did any woman except Sophia. But to abandon Sophia, and
marry another, that was impossible; he could not think of it upon any
account, Yet why should he not, since it was plain she could not be
his? Would it not be kinder to her, than to continue her longer
engaged in a hopeless passion for him? Ought he not to do so in
friendship to her? This notion prevailed some moments, and he had
almost determined to be false to her from a high point of honour: but
that refinement was not able to stand very long against the voice of
nature, which cried in his heart that such friendship was treason to
love. At last he called for pen, ink, and paper, and writ as follows
to Mrs Hunt:--
"It would be but a poor return to the favour you have done me to
sacrifice any gallantry to the possession of you, and I would
certainly do it, though I were not disengaged, as at present I am,
from any affair of that kind. But I should not be the honest man you
think me, if I did not tell you that my affections are engaged to
another, who is a woman of virtue, and one that I never can leave,
though it is probable I shall never possess her. God forbid that, in
return of your kindness to me, I should do you such an injury as to
give you my hand when I cannot give my heart. No; I had much rather
starve than be guilty of that. Even though my mistress were married
to another, I would not marry you unless my heart had entirely
effaced all impressions of her. Be assured that your secret was not
more safe in your own breast, than in that of your most obliged, and
grateful humble servant,
When our heroe had finished and sent this letter, he went to his
scrutore, took out Miss Western's muff, kissed it several times, and
then strutted some turns about his room, with more satisfaction of
mind than ever any Irishman felt in carrying off a fortune of fifty
A discovery made by Partridge.
While Jones was exulting in the consciousness of his integrity,
Partridge came capering into the room, as was his custom when he
brought, or fancied he brought, any good tidings. He had been
despatched that morning by his master, with orders to endeavour, by
the servants of Lady Bellaston, or by any other means, to discover
whither Sophia had been conveyed; and he now returned, and with a
joyful countenance told our heroe that he had found the lost bird. "I
have seen, sir," says he, "Black George, the gamekeeper, who is one of
the servants whom the squire hath brought with him to town. I knew him
presently, though I have not seen him these several years; but you
know, sir, he is a very remarkable man, or, to use a purer phrase, he
hath a most remarkable beard, the largest and blackest I ever saw. It
was some time, however, before Black George could recollect me."
"Well, but what is your good news?" cries Jones; "what do you know of
my Sophia?" "You shall know presently, sir," answered Partridge, "I am
coming to it as fast as I can. You are so impatient, sir, you would
come at the infinitive mood before you can get to the imperative. As I
was saying, sir, it was some time before he recollected my
face."--"Confound your face!" cries Jones, "what of my Sophia?" "Nay,
sir," answered Partridge, "I know nothing more of Madam Sophia than
what I am going to tell you; and I should have told you all before
this if you had not interrupted me; but if you look so angry at me you
will frighten all of it out of my head, or, to use a purer phrase, out
of my memory. I never saw you look so angry since the day we left
Upton, which I shall remember if I was to live a thousand
years."--"Well, pray go on your own way," said Jones: "you are
resolved to make me mad I find." "Not for the world," answered
Partridge, "I have suffered enough for that already; which, as I said,
I shall bear in my remembrance the longest day I have to live." "Well,
but Black George?" cries Jones. "Well, sir, as I was saying, it was a
long time before he could recollect me; for, indeed, I am very much
altered since I saw him. _Non sum qualis eram._ I have had troubles in
the world, and nothing alters a man so much as grief. I have heard it
will change the colour of a man's hair in a night. However, at last,
know me he did, that's sure enough; for we are both of an age, and
were at the same charity school. George was a great dunce, but no
matter for that; all men do not thrive in the world according to their
learning. I am sure I have reason to say so; but it will be all one a
thousand years hence. Well, sir, where was I?--O--well, we no sooner
knew each other, than, after many hearty shakes by the hand, we agreed
to go to an alehouse and take a pot, and by good luck the beer was
some of the best I have met with since I have been in town. Now, sir,
I am coming to the point; for no sooner did I name you, and told him
that you and I came to town together, and had lived together ever
since, than he called for another pot, and swore he would drink to
your health; and indeed he drank your health so heartily that I was
overjoyed to see there was so much gratitude left in the world; and
after we had emptied that pot I said I would buy my pot too, and so we
drank another to your health; and then I made haste home to tell you
"What news?" cries Jones, "you have not mentioned a word of my
Sophia!" "Bless me! I had like to have forgot that. Indeed, we
mentioned a great deal about young Madam Western, and George told me
all; that Mr Blifil is coming to town in order to be married to her.
He had best make haste then, says I, or somebody will have her before
he comes; and, indeed, says I, Mr Seagrim, it is a thousand pities
somebody should not have her; for he certainly loves her above all the
women in the world. I would have both you and she know, that it is not
for her fortune he follows her; for I can assure you, as to matter of
that, there is another lady, one of much greater quality and fortune
than she can pretend to, who is so fond of somebody that she comes
after him day and night."
Here Jones fell into a passion with Partridge, for having, as he said,
betrayed him; but the poor fellow answered, he had mentioned no name:
"Besides, sir," said he, "I can assure you George is sincerely your
friend, and wished Mr Blifil at the devil more than once; nay, he said
he would do anything in his power upon earth to serve you; and so I am
convinced he will. Betray you, indeed! why, I question whether you
have a better friend than George upon earth, except myself, or one
that would go farther to serve you."
"Well," says Jones, a little pacified, "you say this fellow, who, I
believe, indeed, is enough inclined to be my friend, lives in the same
house with Sophia?"
"In the same house!" answered Partridge; "why, sir, he is one of the
servants of the family, and very well drest I promise you he is; if it
was not for his black beard you would hardly know him."
"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
"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
"So you don't know the street then where my Sophia is lodged?" cries
"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 alehouse."
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 historian (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 cat-call 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 curtain.
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 itself. 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 others, and both the play and the book are thus
protracted, 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 other 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 principal
merit of both the prologue and the preface is that they be short.
A whimsical adventure which befel the squire, with the distressed
situation of Sophia.
We 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
Here, when Sophia alighted from the hackney-coach, 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 into 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 affairs 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 past 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 past 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 himself.
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 below to wait on him.
"A gentleman!" quoth the squire, "who the devil 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-drest 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 such fellow have to do
with me? If he wants an order for baggage-waggons, I am no justice of
peace here, nor can I grant a warrant.--Let un come up then, if he
must speak to me."
A very genteel man now entered the room; who, having made his
compliments to the squire, and desired the favour of being alone with
him, delivered himself as follows:--
"Sir, I come to wait upon you by the command of my Lord Fellamar; but
with a very different message from what I suppose you expect, after
what past the other night."
"My lord who?" cries the squire; "I never heard the name o'un."
"His lordship," said the gentleman, "is willing to impute everything
to the effect of liquor, and the most trifling acknowledgment of that
kind will set everything right; for as he hath the most violent
attachment to your daughter, you, sir, are the last person upon earth
from whom he would resent an affront; and happy is it for you both
that he hath given such public demonstrations of his courage as to be
able to put up an affair of this kind without danger of any imputation
on his honour. All he desires, therefore, is, that you will before me
make some acknowledgment; the slightest in the world will be
sufficient; and he intends this afternoon to pay his respects to you,
in order to obtain your leave of visiting the young lady on the
footing of a lover."
"I don't understand much of what you say, sir," said the squire; "but
I suppose, by what you talk about my daughter, that this is the lord
which my cousin, Lady Bellaston, mentioned to me, and said something
about his courting my daughter. If so be that how that be the
case--you may give my service to his lordship, and tell un the girl is
disposed of already."
"Perhaps, sir," said the gentleman, "you are not sufficiently apprized
of the greatness of this offer. I believe such a person, title, and
fortune would be nowhere refused."
"Lookee, sir," answered the squire; "to be very plain, my daughter is
bespoke already; but if she was not, I would not marry her to a lord
upon any account; I hate all lords; they are a parcel of courtiers and
Hanoverians, and I will have nothing to do with them."
"Well, sir," said the gentleman, "if that is your resolution, the
message I am to deliver to you is that my lord desires the favour of
your company this morning in Hyde Park."
"You may tell my lord," answered the squire, "that I am busy and
cannot come. I have enough to look after at home, and can't stir
abroad on any account."
"I am sure, sir," quoth the other, "you are too much a gentleman to
send such a message; you will not, I am convinced, have it said of
you, that, after having affronted a noble peer, you refuse him
satisfaction. His lordship would have been willing, from his great
regard to the young lady, to have made up matters in another way; but
unless he is to look on you as a father, his honour will not suffer
his putting up such an indignity as you must be sensible you offered
"I offered him!" cries the squire; "it is a d--n'd lie! I never
offered him anything."
Upon these words the gentleman returned a very short verbal rebuke,
and this he accompanied at the same time with some manual
remonstrances, which no sooner reached the ears of Mr Western, than
that worthy squire began to caper very briskly about the room,
bellowing at the same time with all his might, as if desirous to
summon a greater number of spectators to behold his agility.
The parson, who had left great part of the tankard unfinished, was not
retired far; he immediately attended therefore on the squire's
vociferation, crying, "Bless me! sir, what's the matter?"--"Matter!"
quoth the squire, "here's a highwayman, I believe, who wants to rob
and murder me--for he hath fallen upon me with that stick there in his
hand, when I wish I may be d--n'd if I gid un the least provocation."
"How, sir," said the captain, "did you not tell me I lyed?"
"No, as I hope to be saved," answered the squire, "--I believe I might
say, 'Twas a lie that I had offered any affront to my lord--but I
never said the word, `you lie.'--I understand myself better, and you
might have understood yourself better than to fall upon a naked man.
If I had a stick in my hand, you would not have dared strike me. I'd
have knocked thy lantern jaws about thy ears. Come down into yard this
minute, and I'll take a bout with thee at single stick for a broken
head, that I will; or I will go into naked room and box thee for a
belly-full. At unt half a man, at unt, I'm sure."
The captain, with some indignation, replied, "I see, sir, you are
below my notice, and I shall inform his lordship you are below his. I
am sorry I have dirtied my fingers with you." At which words he
withdrew, the parson interposing to prevent the squire from stopping
him, in which he easily prevailed, as the other, though he made some
efforts for the purpose, did not seem very violently bent on success.
However, when the captain was departed, the squire sent many curses
and some menaces after him; but as these did not set out from his lips
till the officer was at the bottom of the stairs, and grew louder and
louder as he was more and more remote, they did not reach his ears, or
at least did not retard his departure.
Poor Sophia, however, who, in her prison, heard all her father's
outcries from first to last, began now first to thunder with her foot,
and afterwards to scream as loudly as the old gentleman himself had
done before, though in a much sweeter voice. These screams soon
silenced the squire, and turned all his consideration towards his
daughter, whom he loved so tenderly, that the least apprehension of
any harm happening to her, threw him presently into agonies; for,
except in that single instance in which the whole future happiness of
her life was concerned, she was sovereign mistress of his
Having ended his rage against the captain, with swearing he would take
the law of him, the squire now mounted upstairs to Sophia, whom, as
soon as he had unlocked and opened the door, he found all pale and
breathless. The moment, however, that she saw her father, she
collected all her spirits, and, catching him hold by the hand, she
cryed passionately, "O my dear sir, I am almost frightened to death! I
hope to heaven no harm hath happened to you." "No, no," cries the
squire, "no great harm. The rascal hath not hurt me much, but rat me
if I don't ha the la o' un." "Pray, dear sir," says she, "tell me
what's the matter; who is it that hath insulted you?" "I don't know
the name o' un," answered Western; "some officer fellow, I suppose,
that we are to pay for beating us; but I'll make him pay this bout, if
the rascal hath got anything, which I suppose he hath not. For thof he
was drest out so vine, I question whether he had got a voot of land in
the world." "But, dear sir," cries she, "what was the occasion of your
quarrel?" "What should it be, Sophy," answered the squire, "but about
you, Sophy? All my misfortunes are about you; you will be the death of
your poor father at last. Here's a varlet of a lord, the Lord knows
who, forsooth! who hath a taan a liking to you, and because I would
not gi un my consent, he sent me a kallenge. Come, do be a good girl,
Sophy, and put an end to all your father's troubles; come, do consent
to ha un; he will be in town within this day or two; do but promise me
to marry un as soon as he comes, and you will make me the happiest man
in the world, and I will make you the happiest woman; you shall have
the finest cloaths in London, and the finest jewels, and a coach and
six at your command. I promised Allworthy already to give up half my
estate--od rabbet it! I should hardly stick at giving up the whole."
"Will my papa be so kind," says she, "as to hear me speak?"--"Why wout
ask, Sophy?" cries he, "when dost know I had rather hear thy voice
than the musick of the best pack of dogs in England.--Hear thee, my
dear little girl! I hope I shall hear thee as long as I live; for if I
was ever to lose that pleasure, I would not gee a brass varden to live
a moment longer. Indeed, Sophy, you do not know how I love you, indeed
you don't, or you never could have run away and left your poor father,
who hath no other joy, no other comfort upon earth, but his little
Sophy." At these words the tears stood in his eyes; and Sophia (with
the tears streaming from hers) answered, "Indeed, my dear papa, I know
you have loved me tenderly, and heaven is my witness how sincerely I
have returned your affection; nor could anything but an apprehension
of being forced into the arms of this man have driven me to run from a
father whom I love so passionately, that I would, with pleasure,
sacrifice my life to his happiness; nay, I have endeavoured to reason
myself into doing more, and had almost worked up a resolution to
endure the most miserable of all lives, to comply with your
inclination. It was that resolution alone to which I could not force
my mind; nor can I ever." Here the squire began to look wild, and the
foam appeared at his lips, which Sophia, observing, begged to be heard
out, and then proceeded: "If my father's life, his health, or any real
happiness of his was at stake, here stands your resolved daughter; may
heaven blast me if there is a misery I would not suffer to preserve
you!--No, that most detested, most loathsome of all lots would I
embrace. I would give my hand to Blifil for your sake."--"I tell thee,
it will preserve me," answers the father; "it will give me health,
happiness, life, everything.--Upon my soul I shall die if dost refuse
me; I shall break my heart, I shall, upon my soul."--"Is it possible,"
says she, "you can have such a desire to make me miserable?"--"I tell
thee noa," answered he loudly, "d--n me if there is a thing upon earth
I would not do to see thee happy."--"And will not my dear papa allow
me to have the least knowledge of what will make me so? If it be true
that happiness consists in opinion, what must be my condition, when I
shall think myself the most miserable of all the wretches upon earth?"
"Better think yourself so," said he, "than know it by being married to
a poor bastardly vagabond." "If it will content you, sir," said
Sophia, "I will give you the most solemn promise never to marry him,
nor any other, while my papa lives, without his consent. Let me
dedicate my whole life to your service; let me be again your poor
Sophy, and my whole business and pleasure be, as it hath been, to
please and divert you." "Lookee, Sophy," answered the squire, "I am
not to be choused in this manner. Your aunt Western would then have
reason to think me the fool she doth. No, no, Sophy, I'd have you to
know I have a got more wisdom, and know more of the world, than to
take the word of a woman in a matter where a man is concerned." "How,
sir, have I deserved this want of confidence?" said she; "have I ever
broke a single promise to you? or have I ever been found guilty of a
falsehood from my cradle?" "Lookee, Sophy," cries he; "that's neither
here nor there. I am determined upon this match, and have him you
shall, d--n me if shat unt. D--n me if shat unt, though dost hang
thyself the next morning." At repeating which words he clinched his
fist, knit his brows, bit his lips, and thundered so loud, that the
poor afflicted, terrified Sophia sunk trembling into her chair, and,
had not a flood of tears come immediately to her relief, perhaps worse
Western beheld the deplorable condition of his daughter with no more
contrition or remorse than the turnkey of Newgate feels at viewing the
agonies of a tender wife, when taking her last farewel of her
condemned husband; or rather he looked down on her with the same
emotions which arise in an honest fair tradesman, who sees his debtor
dragged to prison for £10, which, though a just debt, the wretch is
wickedly unable to pay. Or, to hit the case still more nearly, he felt
the same compunction with a bawd, when some poor innocent, whom she
hath ensnared into her hands, falls into fits at the first proposal of
what is called seeing company. Indeed this resemblance would be exact,
was it not that the bawd hath an interest in what she doth, and the
father, though perhaps he may blindly think otherwise, can, in
reality, have none in urging his daughter to almost an equal
In this condition he left his poor Sophia, and, departing with a very
vulgar observation on the effect of tears, he locked the room, and
returned to the parson, who said everything he durst in behalf of the
young lady, which, though perhaps it was not quite so much as his duty
required, yet was it sufficient to throw the squire into a violent
rage, and into many indecent reflections on the whole body of the
clergy, which we have too great an honour for that sacred function to
commit to paper.
What happened to Sophia during her confinement.
The landlady of the house where the squire lodged had begun very early
to entertain a strange opinion of her guests. However, as she was
informed that the squire was a man of vast fortune, and as she had
taken care to exact a very extraordinary price for her rooms, she did
not think proper to give any offence; for, though she was not without
some concern for the confinement of poor Sophia, of whose great
sweetness of temper and affability the maid of the house had made so
favourable a report, which was confirmed by all the squire's servants,
yet she had much more concern for her own interest than to provoke