Part 16 out of 18
one, whom, as she said, she perceived to be a very hastish kind of a
Though Sophia eat but little, yet she was regularly served with her
meals; indeed, I believe, if she had liked any one rarity, that the
squire, however angry, would have spared neither pains nor cost to
have procured it for her; since, however strange it may appear to some
of my readers, he really doated on his daughter, and to give her any
kind of pleasure was the highest satisfaction of his life.
The dinner-hour being arrived, Black George carried her up a pullet,
the squire himself (for he had sworn not to part with the key)
attending the door. As George deposited the dish, some compliments
passed between him and Sophia (for he had not seen her since she left
the country, and she treated every servant with more respect than some
persons shew to those who are in a very slight degree their
inferiors). Sophia would have had him take the pullet back, saying,
she could not eat; but George begged her to try, and particularly
recommended to her the eggs, of which he said it was full.
All this time the squire was waiting at the door; but George was a
great favourite with his master, as his employment was in concerns of
the highest nature, namely, about the game, and was accustomed to take
many liberties. He had officiously carried up the dinner, being, as he
said, very desirous to see his young lady; he made therefore no
scruple of keeping his master standing above ten minutes, while
civilities were passing between him and Sophia, for which he received
only a good-humoured rebuke at the door when he returned.
The eggs of pullets, partridges, pheasants, &c., were, as George well
knew, the most favourite dainties of Sophia. It was therefore no
wonder that he, who was a very good-natured fellow, should take care
to supply her with this kind of delicacy, at a time when all the
servants in the house were afraid she would be starved; for she had
scarce swallowed a single morsel in the last forty hours.
Though vexation hath not the same effect on all persons as it usually
hath on a widow, whose appetite it often renders sharper than it can
be rendered by the air on Bansted Downs, or Salisbury Plain; yet the
sublimest grief, notwithstanding what some people may say to the
contrary, will eat at last. And Sophia, herself, after some little
consideration, began to dissect the fowl, which she found to be as
full of eggs as George had reported it.
But, if she was pleased with these, it contained something which would
have delighted the Royal Society much more; for if a fowl with three
legs be so invaluable a curiosity, when perhaps time hath produced a
thousand such, at what price shall we esteem a bird which so totally
contradicts all the laws of animal oeconomy, as to contain a letter in
its belly? Ovid tells us of a flower into which Hyacinthus was
metamorphosed, that bears letters on its leaves, which Virgil
recommended as a miracle to the Royal Society of his day; but no age
nor nation hath ever recorded a bird with a letter in its maw.
But though a miracle of this kind might have engaged all the
_Académies des Sciences_ in Europe, and perhaps in a fruitless
enquiry; yet the reader, by barely recollecting the last dialogue
which passed between Messieurs Jones and Partridge, will be very
easily satisfied from whence this letter came, and how it found its
passage into the fowl.
Sophia, notwithstanding her long fast, and notwithstanding her
favourite dish was there before her, no sooner saw the letter than she
immediately snatched it up, tore it open, and read as follows:--
"Was I not sensible to whom I have the honour of writing, I should
endeavour, however difficult, to paint the horrors of my mind at the
account brought me by Mrs Honour; but as tenderness alone can have
any true idea of the pangs which tenderness is capable of feeling,
so can this most amiable quality, which my Sophia possesses in the
most eminent degree, sufficiently inform her what her Jones must
have suffered on this melancholy occasion. Is there a circumstance
in the world which can heighten my agonies, when I hear of any
misfortune which hath befallen you? Surely there is one only, and
with that I am accursed. It is, my Sophia, the dreadful
consideration that I am myself the wretched cause. Perhaps I here do
myself too much honour, but none will envy me an honour which costs
me so extremely dear. Pardon me this presumption, and pardon me a
greater still, if I ask you, whether my advice, my assistance, my
presence, my absence, my death, or my tortures can bring you any
relief? Can the most perfect admiration, the most watchful
observance, the most ardent love, the most melting tenderness, the
most resigned submission to your will, make you amends for what you
are to sacrifice to my happiness? If they can, fly, my lovely angel,
to those arms which are ever open to receive and protect you; and to
which, whether you bring yourself alone, or the riches of the world
with you, is, in my opinion, an alternative not worth regarding. If,
on the contrary, wisdom shall predominate, and, on the most mature
reflection, inform you, that the sacrifice is too great; and if
there be no way left to reconcile your father, and restore the peace
of your dear mind, but by abandoning me, I conjure you drive me for
ever from your thoughts, exert your resolution, and let no
compassion for my sufferings bear the least weight in that tender
bosom. Believe me, madam, I so sincerely love you better than
myself, that my great and principal end is your happiness. My first
wish (why would not fortune indulge me in it?) was, and pardon me if
I say, still is, to see you every moment the happiest of women; my
second wish is, to hear you are so; but no misery on earth can equal
mine, while I think you owe an uneasy moment to him who is,
in every sense, and to every purpose,
What Sophia said, or did, or thought, upon this letter, how often she
read it, or whether more than once, shall all be left to our reader's
imagination. The answer to it he may perhaps see hereafter, but not at
present: for this reason, among others, that she did not now write
any, and that for several good causes, one of which was this, she had
no paper, pen, nor ink.
In the evening, while Sophia was meditating on the letter she had
received, or on something else, a violent noise from below disturbed
her meditations. This noise was no other than a round bout at
altercation between two persons. One of the combatants, by his voice,
she immediately distinguished to be her father; but she did not so
soon discover the shriller pipes to belong to the organ of her aunt
Western, who was just arrived in town, where having, by means of one
of her servants, who stopt at the Hercules Pillars, learned where her
brother lodged, she drove directly to his lodgings.
We shall therefore take our leave at present of Sophia, and, with our
usual good-breeding, attend her ladyship.
In which Sophia is delivered from her confinement.
The squire and the parson (for the landlord was now otherwise engaged)
were smoaking their pipes together, when the arrival of the lady was
first signified. The squire no sooner heard her name, than he
immediately ran down to usher her upstairs; for he was a great
observer of such ceremonials, especially to his sister, of whom he
stood more in awe than of any other human creature, though he never
would own this, nor did he perhaps know it himself.
Mrs Western, on her arrival in the dining-room, having flung herself
into a chair, began thus to harangue: "Well, surely, no one ever had
such an intolerable journey. I think the roads, since so many turnpike
acts, are grown worse than ever. La, brother, how could you get into
this odious place? no person of condition, I dare swear, ever set foot
here before." "I don't know," cries the squire, "I think they do well
enough; it was landlord recommended them. I thought, as he knew most
of the quality, he could best shew me where to get among um." "Well,
and where's my niece?" says the lady; "have you been to wait upon Lady
Bellaston yet?" "Ay, ay," cries the squire, "your niece is safe
enough; she is upstairs in chamber." "How!" answered the lady, "is my
niece in this house, and does she not know of my being here?" "No,
nobody can well get to her," says the squire, "for she is under lock
and key. I have her safe; I vetched her from my lady cousin the first
night I came to town, and I have taken care o' her ever since; she is
as secure as a fox in a bag, I promise you." "Good heaven!" returned
Mrs Western, "what do I hear? I thought what a fine piece of work
would be the consequence of my consent to your coming to town
yourself; nay, it was indeed your own headstrong will, nor can I
charge myself with having ever consented to it. Did not you promise
me, brother, that you would take none of these headstrong measures?
Was it not by these headstrong measures that you forced my niece to
run away from you in the country? Have you a mind to oblige her to
take such another step?" "Z--ds and the devil!" cries the squire,
dashing his pipe on the ground; "did ever mortal hear the like? when I
expected you would have commended me for all I have done, to be fallen
upon in this manner!" "How, brother!" said the lady, "have I ever
given you the least reason to imagine I should commend you for locking
up your daughter? Have I not often told you that women in a free
country are not to be treated with such arbitrary power? We are as
free as the men, and I heartily wish I could not say we deserve that
freedom better. If you expect I should stay a moment longer in this
wretched house, or that I should ever own you again as my relation, or
that I should ever trouble myself again with the affairs of your
family, I insist upon it that my niece be set at liberty this
instant." This she spoke with so commanding an air, standing with her
back to the fire, with one hand behind her, and a pinch of snuff in
the other, that I question whether Thalestris, at the head of her
Amazons, ever made a more tremendous figure. It is no wonder,
therefore, that the poor squire was not proof against the awe which
she inspired. "There," he cried, throwing down the key, "there it is,
do whatever you please. I intended only to have kept her up till
Blifil came to town, which can't be long; and now if any harm happens
in the mean time, remember who is to be blamed for it."
"I will answer it with my life," cried Mrs Western, "but I shall not
intermeddle at all, unless upon one condition, and that is, that you
will commit the whole entirely to my care, without taking any one
measure yourself, unless I shall eventually appoint you to act. If you
ratify these preliminaries, brother, I yet will endeavour to preserve
the honour of your family; if not, I shall continue in a neutral
"I pray you, good sir," said the parson, "permit yourself this once to
be admonished by her ladyship: peradventure, by communing with young
Madam Sophia, she will effect more than you have been able to
perpetrate by more rigorous measures."
"What, dost thee open upon me?" cries the squire: "if thee dost begin
to babble, I shall whip thee in presently."
"Fie, brother," answered the lady, "is this language to a clergyman?
Mr Supple is a man of sense, and gives you the best advice; and the
whole world, I believe, will concur in his opinion; but I must tell
you I expect an immediate answer to my categorical proposals. Either
cede your daughter to my disposal, or take her wholly to your own
surprizing discretion, and then I here, before Mr Supple, evacuate the
garrison, and renounce you and your family for ever."
"I pray you let me be a mediator," cries the parson, "let me
"Why, there lies the key on the table," cries the squire. "She may
take un up, if she pleases: who hinders her?"
"No, brother," answered the lady, "I insist on the formality of its
being delivered me, with a full ratification of all the concessions
"Why then I will deliver it to you.--There 'tis," cries the squire. "I
am sure, sister, you can't accuse me of ever denying to trust my
daughter to you. She hath a-lived wi' you a whole year and muore to a
time, without my ever zeeing her."
"And it would have been happy for her," answered the lady, "if she had
always lived with me. Nothing of this kind would have happened under
"Ay, certainly," cries he, "I only am to blame."
"Why, you are to blame, brother," answered she. "I have been often
obliged to tell you so, and shall always be obliged to tell you so.
However, I hope you will now amend, and gather so much experience from
past errors, as not to defeat my wisest machinations by your blunders.
Indeed, brother, you are not qualified for these negociations. All
your whole scheme of politics is wrong. I once more, therefore,
insist, that you do not intermeddle. Remember only what is past."----
"Z--ds and bl--d, sister," cries the squire, "what would you have me
say? You are enough to provoke the devil."
"There, now," said she, "just according to the old custom. I see,
brother, there is no talking to you. I will appeal to Mr Supple, who
is a man of sense, if I said anything which could put any human
creature into a passion; but you are so wrongheaded every way."
"Let me beg you, madam," said the parson, "not to irritate his
"Irritate him?" said the lady; "sure, you are as great a fool as
himself. Well, brother, since you have promised not to interfere, I
will once more undertake the management of my niece. Lord have mercy
upon all affairs which are under the directions of men! The head of
one woman is worth a thousand of yours." And now having summoned a
servant to show her to Sophia, she departed, bearing the key with her.
She was no sooner gone, than the squire (having first shut the door)
ejaculated twenty bitches, and as many hearty curses against her, not
sparing himself for having ever thought of her estate; but added, "Now
one hath been a slave so long, it would be pity to lose it at last,
for want of holding out a little longer. The bitch can't live for
ever, and I know I am down for it upon the will."
The parson greatly commended this resolution: and now the squire
having ordered in another bottle, which was his usual method when
anything either pleased or vexed him, did, by drinking plentifully of
this medicinal julap, so totally wash away his choler, that his temper
was become perfectly placid and serene, when Mrs Western returned with
Sophia into the room. The young lady had on her hat and capuchin, and
the aunt acquainted Mr Western, "that she intended to take her niece
with her to her own lodgings; for, indeed, brother," says she, "these
rooms are not fit to receive a Christian soul in."
"Very well, madam," quoth Western, "whatever you please. The girl can
never be in better hands than yours; and the parson here can do me the
justice to say, that I have said fifty times behind your back, that
you was one of the most sensible women in the world."
"To this," cries the parson, "I am ready to bear testimony."
"Nay, brother," says Mrs Western, "I have always, I'm sure, given you
as favourable a character. You must own you have a little too much
hastiness in your temper; but when you will allow yourself time to
reflect I never knew a man more reasonable."
"Why then, sister, if you think so," said the squire, "here's your
good health with all my heart. I am a little passionate sometimes, but
I scorn to bear any malice. Sophy, do you be a good girl, and do
everything your aunt orders you."
"I have not the least doubt of her," answered Mrs Western. "She hath
had already an example before her eyes in the behaviour of that wretch
her cousin Harriet, who ruined herself by neglecting my advice. O
brother, what think you? You was hardly gone out of hearing, when you
set out for London, when who should arrive but that impudent fellow
with the odious Irish name--that Fitzpatrick. He broke in abruptly
upon me without notice, or I would not have seen him. He ran on a
long, unintelligible story about his wife, to which he forced me to
give him a hearing; but I made him very little answer, and delivered
him the letter from his wife, which I bid him answer himself. I
suppose the wretch will endeavour to find us out, but I beg you will
not see her, for I am determined I will not."
"I zee her!" answered the squire; "you need not fear me. I'll ge no
encouragement to such undutiful wenches. It is well for the fellow,
her husband, I was not at huome. Od rabbit it, he should have taken a
dance thru the horse-pond, I promise un. You zee, Sophy, what
undutifulness brings volks to. You have an example in your own
"Brother," cries the aunt, "you need not shock my niece by such odious
repetitions. Why will you not leave everything entirely to me?" "Well,
well, I wull, I wull," said the squire.
And now Mrs Western, luckily for Sophia, put an end to the
conversation by ordering chairs to be called. I say luckily, for had
it continued much longer, fresh matter of dissension would, most
probably, have arisen between the brother and sister; between whom
education and sex made the only difference; for both were equally
violent and equally positive: they had both a vast affection for
Sophia, and both a sovereign contempt for each other.
In which Jones receives a letter from Sophia, and goes to a play with
Mrs Miller and Partridge.
The arrival of Black George in town, and the good offices which that
grateful fellow had promised to do for his old benefactor, greatly
comforted Jones in the midst of all the anxiety and uneasiness which
he had suffered on the account of Sophia; from whom, by the means of
the said George, he received the following answer to his letter, which
Sophia, to whom the use of pen, ink, and paper was restored with her
liberty, wrote the very evening when she departed from her
"As I do not doubt your sincerity in what you write, you will be
pleased to hear that some of my afflictions are at an end, by the
arrival of my aunt Western, with whom I am at present, and with whom
I enjoy all the liberty I can desire. One promise my aunt hath
insisted on my making, which is, that I will not see or converse
with any person without her knowledge and consent. This promise I
have most solemnly given, and shall most inviolably keep: and though
she hath not expressly forbidden me writing, yet that must be an
omission from forgetfulness; or this, perhaps, is included in the
word conversing. However, as I cannot but consider this as a breach
of her generous confidence in my honour, you cannot expect that I
shall, after this, continue to write myself or to receive letters,
without her knowledge. A promise is with me a very sacred thing, and
to be extended to everything understood from it, as well as to what
is expressed by it; and this consideration may, perhaps, on
reflection, afford you some comfort. But why should I mention a
comfort to you of this kind; for though there is one thing in which
I can never comply with the best of fathers, yet am I firmly
resolved never to act in defiance of him, or to take any step of
consequence without his consent. A firm persuasion of this must
teach you to divert your thoughts from what fortune hath (perhaps)
made impossible. This your own interest persuades you. This may
reconcile, I hope, Mr Allworthy to you; and if it will, you have my
injunctions to pursue it. Accidents have laid some obligations on
me, and your good intentions probably more. Fortune may, perhaps, be
some time kinder to us both than at present. Believe this, that I
shall always think of you as I think you deserve, and am,
your obliged humble servant,
"I charge you write to me no more--at present at least; and accept
this, which is now of no service to me, which I know you must want,
and think you owe the trifle only to that fortune by which you found
[*] Meaning, perhaps, the bank-bill for £100.
A child who hath just learnt his letters would have spelt this letter
out in less time than Jones took in reading it. The sensations it
occasioned were a mixture of joy and grief; somewhat like what divide
the mind of a good man when he peruses the will of his deceased
friend, in which a large legacy, which his distresses make the more
welcome, is bequeathed to him. Upon the whole, however, he was more
pleased than displeased; and, indeed, the reader may probably wonder
that he was displeased at all; but the reader is not quite so much in
love as was poor Jones; and love is a disease which, though it may, in
some instances, resemble a consumption (which it sometimes causes), in
others proceeds in direct opposition to it, and particularly in this,
that it never flatters itself, or sees any one symptom in a favourable
One thing gave him complete satisfaction, which was, that his mistress
had regained her liberty, and was now with a lady where she might at
least assure herself of a decent treatment. Another comfortable
circumstance was the reference which she made to her promise of never
marrying any other man; for however disinterested he might imagine his
passion, and notwithstanding all the generous overtures made in his
letter, I very much question whether he could have heard a more
afflicting piece of news than that Sophia was married to another,
though the match had been never so great, and never so likely to end
in making her completely happy. That refined degree of Platonic
affection which is absolutely detached from the flesh, and is, indeed,
entirely and purely spiritual, is a gift confined to the female part
of the creation; many of whom I have heard declare (and, doubtless,
with great truth), that they would, with the utmost readiness, resign
a lover to a rival, when such resignation was proved to be necessary
for the temporal interest of such lover. Hence, therefore, I conclude
that this affection is in nature, though I cannot pretend to say I
have ever seen an instance of it.
Mr Jones having spent three hours in reading and kissing the aforesaid
letter, and being, at last, in a state of good spirits, from the
last-mentioned considerations, he agreed to carry an appointment,
which he had before made, into execution. This was, to attend Mrs
Miller, and her younger daughter, into the gallery at the play-house,
and to admit Mr Partridge as one of the company. For as Jones had
really that taste for humour which many affect, he expected to enjoy
much entertainment in the criticisms of Partridge, from whom he
expected the simple dictates of nature, unimproved, indeed, but
likewise unadulterated, by art.
In the first row then of the first gallery did Mr Jones, Mrs Miller,
her youngest daughter, and Partridge, take their places. Partridge
immediately declared it was the finest place he had ever been in. When
the first music was played, he said, "It was a wonder how so many
fiddlers could play at one time, without putting one another out."
While the fellow was lighting the upper candles, he cried out to Mrs
Miller, "Look, look, madam, the very picture of the man in the end of
the common-prayer book before the gunpowder-treason service." Nor
could he help observing, with a sigh, when all the candles were
lighted, "That here were candles enough burnt in one night, to keep an
honest poor family for a whole twelvemonth."
As soon as the play, which was Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, began,
Partridge was all attention, nor did he break silence till the
entrance of the ghost; upon which he asked Jones, "What man that was
in the strange dress; something," said he, "like what I have seen in a
picture. Sure it is not armour, is it?" Jones answered, "That is the
ghost." To which Partridge replied with a smile, "Persuade me to that,
sir, if you can. Though I can't say I ever actually saw a ghost in my
life, yet I am certain I should know one, if I saw him, better than
that comes to. No, no, sir, ghosts don't appear in such dresses as
that, neither." In this mistake, which caused much laughter in the
neighbourhood of Partridge, he was suffered to continue, till the
scene between the ghost and Hamlet, when Partridge gave that credit to
Mr Garrick, which he had denied to Jones, and fell into so violent a
trembling, that his knees knocked against each other. Jones asked him
what was the matter, and whether he was afraid of the warrior upon the
stage? "O la! sir," said he, "I perceive now it is what you told me. I
am not afraid of anything; for I know it is but a play. And if it was
really a ghost, it could do one no harm at such a distance, and in so
much company; and yet if I was frightened, I am not the only person."
"Why, who," cries Jones, "dost thou take to be such a coward here
besides thyself?" "Nay, you may call me coward if you will; but if
that little man there upon the stage is not frightened, I never saw
any man frightened in my life. Ay, ay: go along with you: Ay, to be
sure! Who's fool then? Will you? Lud have mercy upon such
fool-hardiness!--Whatever happens, it is good enough for
you.----Follow you? I'd follow the devil as soon. Nay, perhaps it is
the devil----for they say he can put on what likeness he pleases.--Oh!
here he is again.----No farther! No, you have gone far enough already;
farther than I'd have gone for all the king's dominions." Jones
offered to speak, but Partridge cried "Hush, hush! dear sir, don't you
hear him?" And during the whole speech of the ghost, he sat with his
eyes fixed partly on the ghost and partly on Hamlet, and with his
mouth open; the same passions which succeeded each other in Hamlet,
succeeding likewise in him.
When the scene was over Jones said, "Why, Partridge, you exceed my
expectations. You enjoy the play more than I conceived possible."
"Nay, sir," answered Partridge, "if you are not afraid of the devil, I
can't help it; but to be sure, it is natural to be surprized at such
things, though I know there is nothing in them: not that it was the
ghost that surprized me, neither; for I should have known that to have
been only a man in a strange dress; but when I saw the little man so
frightened himself, it was that which took hold of me." "And dost thou
imagine, then, Partridge," cries Jones, "that he was really
frightened?" "Nay, sir," said Partridge, "did not you yourself observe
afterwards, when he found it was his own father's spirit, and how he
was murdered in the garden, how his fear forsook him by degrees, and
he was struck dumb with sorrow, as it were, just as I should have
been, had it been my own case?--But hush! O la! what noise is that?
There he is again.----Well, to be certain, though I know there is
nothing at all in it, I am glad I am not down yonder, where those men
are." Then turning his eyes again upon Hamlet, "Ay, you may draw your
sword; what signifies a sword against the power of the devil?"
During the second act, Partridge made very few remarks. He greatly
admired the fineness of the dresses; nor could he help observing upon
the king's countenance. "Well," said he, "how people may be deceived
by faces! _Nulla fides fronti_ is, I find, a true saying. Who would
think, by looking in the king's face, that he had ever committed a
murder?" He then enquired after the ghost; but Jones, who intended he
should be surprized, gave him no other satisfaction, than, "that he
might possibly see him again soon, and in a flash of fire."
Partridge sat in a fearful expectation of this; and now, when the
ghost made his next appearance, Partridge cried out, "There, sir, now;
what say you now? is he frightened now or no? As much frightened as
you think me, and, to be sure, nobody can help some fears. I would not
be in so bad a condition as what's his name, squire Hamlet, is there,
for all the world. Bless me! what's become of the spirit? As I am a
living soul, I thought I saw him sink into the earth." "Indeed, you
saw right," answered Jones. "Well, well," cries Partridge, "I know it
is only a play: and besides, if there was anything in all this, Madam
Miller would not laugh so; for as to you, sir, you would not be
afraid, I believe, if the devil was here in person.--There, there--Ay,
no wonder you are in such a passion, shake the vile wicked wretch to
pieces. If she was my own mother, I would serve her so. To be sure all
duty to a mother is forfeited by such wicked doings.----Ay, go about
your business, I hate the sight of you."
Our critic was now pretty silent till the play, which Hamlet
introduces before the king. This he did not at first understand, till
Jones explained it to him; but he no sooner entered into the spirit of
it, than he began to bless himself that he had never committed murder.
Then turning to Mrs Miller, he asked her, "If she did not imagine the
king looked as if he was touched; though he is," said he, "a good
actor, and doth all he can to hide it. Well, I would not have so much
to answer for, as that wicked man there hath, to sit upon a much
higher chair than he sits upon. No wonder he ran away; for your sake
I'll never trust an innocent face again."
The grave-digging scene next engaged the attention of Partridge, who
expressed much surprize at the number of skulls thrown upon the stage.
To which Jones answered, "That it was one of the most famous
burial-places about town." "No wonder then," cries Partridge, "that
the place is haunted. But I never saw in my life a worse grave-digger.
I had a sexton, when I was clerk, that should have dug three graves
while he is digging one. The fellow handles a spade as if it was the
first time he had ever had one in his hand. Ay, ay, you may sing. You
had rather sing than work, I believe."--Upon Hamlet's taking up the
skull, he cried out, "Well! it is strange to see how fearless some men
are: I never could bring myself to touch anything belonging to a dead
man, on any account.--He seemed frightened enough too at the ghost, I
thought. _Nemo omnibus horis sapit._"
Little more worth remembering occurred during the play, at the end of
which Jones asked him, "Which of the players he had liked best?" To
this he answered, with some appearance of indignation at the question,
"The king, without doubt." "Indeed, Mr Partridge," says Mrs Miller,
"you are not of the same opinion with the town; for they are all
agreed, that Hamlet is acted by the best player who ever was on the
stage." "He the best player!" cries Partridge, with a contemptuous
sneer, "why, I could act as well as he myself. I am sure, if I had
seen a ghost, I should have looked in the very same manner, and done
just as he did. And then, to be sure, in that scene, as you called it,
between him and his mother, where you told me he acted so fine, why,
Lord help me, any man, that is, any good man, that had such a mother,
would have done exactly the same. I know you are only joking with me;
but indeed, madam, though I was never at a play in London, yet I have
seen acting before in the country; and the king for my money; he
speaks all his words distinctly, half as loud again as the
other.--Anybody may see he is an actor."
While Mrs Miller was thus engaged in conversation with Partridge, a
lady came up to Mr Jones, whom he immediately knew to be Mrs
Fitzpatrick. She said, she had seen him from the other part of the
gallery, and had taken that opportunity of speaking to him, as she had
something to say, which might be of great service to himself. She then
acquainted him with her lodgings, and made him an appointment the next
day in the morning; which, upon recollection, she presently changed to
the afternoon; at which time Jones promised to attend her.
Thus ended the adventure at the playhouse; where Partridge had
afforded great mirth, not only to Jones and Mrs Miller, but to all who
sat within hearing, who were more attentive to what he said, than to
anything that passed on the stage.
He durst not go to bed all that night, for fear of the ghost; and for
many nights after sweated two or three hours before he went to sleep,
with the same apprehensions, and waked several times in great horrors,
crying out, "Lord have mercy upon us! there it is."
In which the history is obliged to look back.
It is almost impossible for the best parent to observe an exact
impartiality to his children, even though no superior merit should
bias his affection; but sure a parent can hardly be blamed, when that
superiority determines his preference.
As I regard all the personages of this history in the light of my
children; so I must confess the same inclination of partiality to
Sophia; and for that I hope the reader will allow me the same excuse,
from the superiority of her character.
This extraordinary tenderness which I have for my heroine never
suffers me to quit her any long time without the utmost reluctance. I
could now, therefore, return impatiently to enquire what hath happened
to this lovely creature since her departure from her father's, but
that I am obliged first to pay a short visit to Mr Blifil.
Mr Western, in the first confusion into which his mind was cast upon
the sudden news he received of his daughter, and in the first hurry to
go after her, had not once thought of sending any account of the
discovery to Blifil. He had not gone far, however, before he
recollected himself, and accordingly stopt at the very first inn he
came to, and dispatched away a messenger to acquaint Blifil with his
having found Sophia, and with his firm resolution to marry her to him
immediately, if he would come up after him to town.
As the love which Blifil had for Sophia was of that violent kind,
which nothing but the loss of her fortune, or some such accident,
could lessen, his inclination to the match was not at all altered by
her having run away, though he was obliged to lay this to his own
account. He very readily, therefore, embraced this offer. Indeed, he
now proposed the gratification of a very strong passion besides
avarice, by marrying this young lady, and this was hatred; for he
concluded that matrimony afforded an equal opportunity of satisfying
either hatred or love; and this opinion is very probably verified by
much experience. To say the truth, if we are to judge by the ordinary
behaviour of married persons to each other, we shall perhaps be apt to
conclude that the generality seek the indulgence of the former passion
only, in their union of everything but of hearts.
There was one difficulty, however, in his way, and this arose from Mr
Allworthy. That good man, when he found by the departure of Sophia
(for neither that, nor the cause of it, could be concealed from him),
the great aversion which she had for his nephew, began to be seriously
concerned that he had been deceived into carrying matters so far. He
by no means concurred with the opinion of those parents, who think it
as immaterial to consult the inclinations of their children in the
affair of marriage, as to solicit the good pleasure of their servants
when they intend to take a journey; and who are by law, or decency at
least, withheld often from using absolute force. On the contrary, as
he esteemed the institution to be of the most sacred kind, he thought
every preparatory caution necessary to preserve it holy and inviolate;
and very wisely concluded, that the surest way to effect this was by
laying the foundation in previous affection.
Blifil indeed soon cured his uncle of all anger on the score of
deceit, by many vows and protestations that he had been deceived
himself, with which the many declarations of Western very well
tallied; but now to persuade Allworthy to consent to the renewing his
addresses was a matter of such apparent difficulty, that the very
appearance was sufficient to have deterred a less enterprizing genius;
but this young gentleman so well knew his own talents, that nothing
within the province of cunning seemed to him hard to be achieved.
Here then he represented the violence of his own affection, and the
hopes of subduing aversion in the lady by perseverance. He begged
that, in an affair on which depended all his future repose, he might
at least be at liberty to try all fair means for success. Heaven
forbid, he said, that he should ever think of prevailing by any other
than the most gentle methods! "Besides, sir," said he, "if they fail,
you may then (which will be surely time enough) deny your consent." He
urged the great and eager desire which Mr Western had for the match;
and lastly, he made great use of the name of Jones, to whom he imputed
all that had happened; and from whom, he said, to preserve so valuable
a young lady was even an act of charity.
All these arguments were well seconded by Thwackum, who dwelt a little
stronger on the authority of parents than Mr Blifil himself had done.
He ascribed the measures which Mr Blifil was desirous to take to
Christian motives; "and though," says he, "the good young gentleman
hath mentioned charity last, I am almost convinced it is his first and
Square, possibly, had he been present, would have sung to the same
tune, though in a different key, and would have discovered much moral
fitness in the proceeding: but he was now gone to Bath for the
recovery of his health.
Allworthy, though not without reluctance, at last yielded to the
desires of his nephew. He said he would accompany him to London, where
he might be at liberty to use every honest endeavour to gain the lady:
"But I declare," said he, "I will never give my consent to any
absolute force being put on her inclinations, nor shall you ever have
her, unless she can be brought freely to compliance."
Thus did the affection of Allworthy for his nephew betray the superior
understanding to be triumphed over by the inferior; and thus is the
prudence of the best of heads often defeated by the tenderness of the
best of hearts.
Blifil, having obtained this unhoped-for acquiescence in his uncle,
rested not till he carried his purpose into execution. And as no
immediate business required Mr Allworthy's presence in the country,
and little preparation is necessary to men for a journey, they set out
the very next day, and arrived in town that evening, when Mr Jones, as
we have seen, was diverting himself with Partridge at the play.
The morning after his arrival Mr Blifil waited on Mr Western, by whom
he was most kindly and graciously received, and from whom he had every
possible assurance (perhaps more than was possible) that he should
very shortly be as happy as Sophia could make him; nor would the
squire suffer the young gentleman to return to his uncle till he had,
almost against his will, carried him to his sister.
In which Mr Western pays a visit to his sister, in company with Mr
Mrs Western was reading a lecture on prudence, and matrimonial
politics, to her niece, when her brother and Blifil broke in with less
ceremony than the laws of visiting require. Sophia no sooner saw
Blifil than she turned pale, and almost lost the use of all her
faculties; but her aunt, on the contrary, waxed red, and, having all
her faculties at command, began to exert her tongue on the squire.
"Brother," said she, "I am astonished at your behaviour; will you
never learn any regard to decorum? Will you still look upon every
apartment as your own, or as belonging to one of your country tenants?
Do you think yourself at liberty to invade the privacies of women of
condition, without the least decency or notice?"----"Why, what a pox
is the matter now?" quoth the squire; "one would think I had caught
you at--"--"None of your brutality, sir, I beseech you," answered
she.----"You have surprized my poor niece so, that she can hardly, I
see, support herself.----Go, my dear, retire, and endeavour to recruit
your spirits; for I see you have occasion." At which words Sophia, who
never received a more welcome command, hastily withdrew.
"To be sure, sister," cries the squire, "you are mad, when I have
brought Mr Blifil here to court her, to force her away."
"Sure, brother," says she, "you are worse than mad, when you know in
what situation affairs are, to----I am sure I ask Mr Blifil's pardon,
but he knows very well to whom to impute so disagreeable a reception.
For my own part, I am sure I shall always be very glad to see Mr
Blifil; but his own good sense would not have suffered him to proceed
so abruptly, had you not compelled him to it."
Blifil bowed and stammered, and looked like a fool; but Western,
without giving him time to form a speech for the purpose, answered,
"Well, well, I am to blame, if you will, I always am, certainly; but
come, let the girl be fetched back again, or let Mr Blifil go to
her.----He's come up on purpose, and there is no time to be lost."
"Brother," cries Mrs Western, "Mr Blifil, I am confident, understands
himself better than to think of seeing my niece any more this morning,
after what hath happened. Women are of a nice contexture; and our
spirits, when disordered, are not to be recomposed in a moment. Had
you suffered Mr Blifil to have sent his compliments to my niece, and
to have desired the favour of waiting on her in the afternoon, I
should possibly have prevailed on her to have seen him; but now I
despair of bringing about any such matter."
"I am very sorry, madam," cried Blifil, "that Mr Western's
extraordinary kindness to me, which I can never enough acknowledge,
should have occasioned--" "Indeed, sir," said she, interrupting him,
"you need make no apologies, we all know my brother so well."
"I don't care what anybody knows of me," answered the squire;----"but
when must he come to see her? for, consider, I tell you, he is come
up on purpose, and so is Allworthy."--"Brother," said she, "whatever
message Mr Blifil thinks proper to send to my niece shall be
delivered to her; and I suppose she will want no instructions to make
a proper answer. I am convinced she will not refuse to see Mr Blifil
at a proper time."--"The devil she won't!" answered the
squire.--"Odsbud!--Don't we know--I say nothing, but some volk are
wiser than all the world.----If I might have had my will, she had not
run away before: and now I expect to hear every moment she is guone
again. For as great a fool as some volk think me, I know very well
she hates----" "No matter, brother," replied Mrs Western, "I will not
hear my niece abused. It is a reflection on my family. She is an
honour to it; and she will be an honour to it, I promise you. I will
pawn my whole reputation in the world on her conduct.----I shall be
glad to see you, brother, in the afternoon; for I have somewhat of
importance to mention to you.--At present, Mr Blifil, as well as you,
must excuse me; for I am in haste to dress." "Well, but," said the
squire, "do appoint a time." "Indeed," said she, "I can appoint no
time. I tell you I will see you in the afternoon."--"What the devil
would you have me do?" cries the squire, turning to Blifil; "I can no
more turn her, than a beagle can turn an old hare. Perhaps she will
be in a better humour in the afternoon."--"I am condemned, I see,
sir, to misfortune," answered Blifil; "but I shall always own my
obligations to you." He then took a ceremonious leave of Mrs Western,
who was altogether as ceremonious on her part; and then they
departed, the squire muttering to himself with an oath, that Blifil
should see his daughter in the afternoon.
If Mr Western was little pleased with this interview, Blifil was less.
As to the former, he imputed the whole behaviour of his sister to her
humour only, and to her dissatisfaction at the omission of ceremony in
the visit; but Blifil saw a little deeper into things. He suspected
somewhat of more consequence, from two or three words which dropt from
the lady; and, to say the truth, he suspected right, as will appear
when I have unfolded the several matters which will be contained in
the following chapter.
Schemes of Lady Bellaston for the ruin of Jones.
Love had taken too deep a root in the mind of Lord Fellamar to be
plucked up by the rude hands of Mr Western. In the heat of resentment
he had, indeed, given a commission to Captain Egglane, which the
captain had far exceeded in the execution; nor had it been executed at
all, had his lordship been able to find the captain after he had seen
Lady Bellaston, which was in the afternoon of the day after he had
received the affront; but so industrious was the captain in the
discharge of his duty, that, having after long enquiry found out the
squire's lodgings very late in the evening, he sat up all night at a
tavern, that he might not miss the squire in the morning, and by that
means missed the revocation which my lord had sent to his lodgings.
In the afternoon then next after the intended rape of Sophia, his
lordship, as we have said, made a visit to Lady Bellaston, who laid
open so much of the character of the squire, that his lordship plainly
saw the absurdity he had been guilty of in taking any offence at his
words, especially as he had those honourable designs on his daughter.
He then unbosomed the violence of his passion to Lady Bellaston, who
readily undertook the cause, and encouraged him with certain assurance
of a most favourable reception from all the elders of the family, and
from the father himself when he should be sober, and should be made
acquainted with the nature of the offer made to his daughter. The only
danger, she said, lay in the fellow she had formerly mentioned, who,
though a beggar and a vagabond, had, by some means or other, she knew
not what, procured himself tolerable cloaths, and past for a
gentleman. "Now," says she, "as I have, for the sake of my cousin,
made it my business to enquire after this fellow, I have luckily found
out his lodgings;" with which she then acquainted his lordship. "I am
thinking, my lord," added she "(for this fellow is too mean for your
personal resentment), whether it would not be possible for your
lordship to contrive some method of having him pressed and sent on
board a ship. Neither law nor conscience forbid this project: for the
fellow, I promise you, however well drest, is but a vagabond, and as
proper as any fellow in the streets to be pressed into the service;
and as for the conscientious part, surely the preservation of a young
lady from such ruin is a most meritorious act; nay, with regard to the
fellow himself, unless he could succeed (which Heaven forbid) with my
cousin, it may probably be the means of preserving him from the
gallows, and perhaps may make his fortune in an honest way."
Lord Fellamar very heartily thanked her ladyship for the part which
she was pleased to take in the affair, upon the success of which his
whole future happiness entirely depended. He said, he saw at present
no objection to the pressing scheme, and would consider of putting it
in execution. He then most earnestly recommended to her ladyship to do
him the honour of immediately mentioning his proposals to the family;
to whom he said he offered a _carte blanche_, and would settle his
fortune in almost any manner they should require. And after uttering
many ecstasies and raptures concerning Sophia, he took his leave and
departed, but not before he had received the strongest charge to
beware of Jones, and to lose no time in securing his person, where he
should no longer be in a capacity of making any attempts to the ruin
of the young lady.
The moment Mrs Western was arrived at her lodgings, a card was
despatched with her compliments to Lady Bellaston; who no sooner
received it than, with the impatience of a lover, she flew to her
cousin, rejoiced at this fair opportunity, which beyond her hopes
offered itself, for she was much better pleased with the prospect of
making the proposals to a woman of sense, and who knew the world, than
to a gentleman whom she honoured with the appellation of Hottentot;
though, indeed, from him she apprehended no danger of a refusal.
The two ladies being met, after very short previous ceremonials, fell
to business, which was indeed almost as soon concluded as begun; for
Mrs Western no sooner heard the name of Lord Fellamar than her cheeks
glowed with pleasure; but when she was acquainted with the eagerness
of his passion, the earnestness of his proposals, and the generosity
of his offer, she declared her full satisfaction in the most explicit
In the progress of their conversation their discourse turned to Jones,
and both cousins very pathetically lamented the unfortunate attachment
which both agreed Sophia had to that young fellow; and Mrs Western
entirely attributed it to the folly of her brother's management. She
concluded, however, at last, with declaring her confidence in the good
understanding of her niece, who, though she would not give up her
affection in favour of Blifil, will, I doubt not, says she, soon be
prevailed upon to sacrifice a simple inclination to the addresses of a
fine gentleman, who brings her both a title and a large estate: "For,
indeed," added she, "I must do Sophy the justice to confess this
Blifil is but a hideous kind of fellow, as you know, Bellaston, all
country gentlemen are, and hath nothing but his fortune to recommend
"Nay," said Lady Bellaston, "I don't then so much wonder at my cousin;
for I promise you this Jones is a very agreeable fellow, and hath one
virtue, which the men say is a great recommendation to us. What do you
think, Mrs Western--I shall certainly make you laugh; nay, I can
hardly tell you myself for laughing--will you believe that the fellow
hath had the assurance to make love to me? But if you should be
inclined to disbelieve it, here is evidence enough, his own
handwriting, I assure you." She then delivered her cousin the letter
with the proposals of marriage, which, if the reader hath a desire to
see, he will find already on record in the XVth book of this history.
"Upon my word I am astonished," said Mrs Western; "this is, indeed, a
masterpiece of assurance. With your leave I may possibly make some use
of this letter." "You have my full liberty," cries Lady Bellaston, "to
apply it to what purpose you please. However, I would not have it
shewn to any but Miss Western, nor to her unless you find occasion."
"Well, and how did you use the fellow?" returned Mrs Western. "Not as
a husband," said the lady; "I am not married, I promise you, my dear.
You know, Bell, I have tried the comforts once already; and once, I
think, is enough for any reasonable woman."
This letter Lady Bellaston thought would certainly turn the balance
against Jones in the mind of Sophia, and she was emboldened to give it
up, partly by her hopes of having him instantly dispatched out of the
way, and partly by having secured the evidence of Honour, who, upon
sounding her, she saw sufficient reason to imagine was prepared to
testify whatever she pleased.
But perhaps the reader may wonder why Lady Bellaston, who in her heart
hated Sophia, should be so desirous of promoting a match which was so
much to the interest of the young lady. Now, I would desire such
readers to look carefully into human nature, page almost the last, and
there he will find, in scarce legible characters, that women,
notwithstanding the preposterous behaviour of mothers, aunts, &c., in
matrimonial matters, do in reality think it so great a misfortune to
have their inclinations in love thwarted, that they imagine they ought
never to carry enmity higher than upon these disappointments; again,
he will find it written much about the same place, that a woman who
hath once been pleased with the possession of a man, will go above
halfway to the devil, to prevent any other woman from enjoying the
If he will not be contented with these reasons, I freely confess I see
no other motive to the actions of that lady, unless we will conceive
she was bribed by Lord Fellamar, which for my own part I see no cause
Now this was the affair which Mrs Western was preparing to introduce
to Sophia, by some prefatory discourse on the folly of love, and on
the wisdom of legal prostitution for hire, when her brother and Blifil
broke abruptly in upon her; and hence arose all that coldness in her
behaviour to Blifil, which, though the squire, as was usual with him,
imputed to a wrong cause, infused into Blifil himself (he being a much
more cunning man) a suspicion of the real truth.
In which Jones pays a visit to Mrs Fitzpatrick.
The reader may now, perhaps, be pleased to return with us to Mr Jones,
who, at the appointed hour, attended on Mrs Fitzpatrick; but before we
relate the conversation which now past it may be proper, according to
our method, to return a little back, and to account for so great an
alteration of behaviour in this lady, that from changing her lodging
principally to avoid Mr Jones, she had now industriously, as hath been
seen, sought this interview.
And here we shall need only to resort to what happened the preceding
day, when, hearing from Lady Bellaston that Mr Western was arrived in
town, she went to pay her duty to him, at his lodgings at Piccadilly,
where she was received with many scurvy compellations too coarse to be
repeated, and was even threatened to be kicked out of doors. From
hence, an old servant of her aunt Western, with whom she was well
acquainted, conducted her to the lodgings of that lady, who treated
her not more kindly, but more politely; or, to say the truth, with
rudeness in another way. In short, she returned from both, plainly
convinced, not only that her scheme of reconciliation had proved
abortive, but that she must for ever give over all thoughts of
bringing it about by any means whatever. From this moment desire of
revenge only filled her mind; and in this temper meeting Jones at the
play, an opportunity seemed to her to occur of effecting this purpose.
The reader must remember that he was acquainted by Mrs Fitzpatrick, in
the account she gave of her own story, with the fondness Mrs Western
had formerly shewn for Mr Fitzpatrick at Bath, from the disappointment
of which Mrs Fitzpatrick derived the great bitterness her aunt had
expressed toward her. She had, therefore, no doubt but that the good
lady would as easily listen to the addresses of Mr Jones as she had
before done to the other; for the superiority of charms was clearly on
the side of Mr Jones; and the advance which her aunt had since made in
age, she concluded (how justly I will not say), was an argument rather
in favour of her project than against it.
Therefore, when Jones attended, after a previous declaration of her
desire of serving him, arising, as she said, from a firm assurance how
much she should by so doing oblige Sophia; and after some excuses for
her former disappointment, and after acquainting Mr Jones in whose
custody his mistress was, of which she thought him ignorant; she very
explicitly mentioned her scheme to him, and advised him to make sham
addresses to the older lady, in order to procure an easy access to the
younger, informing him at the same time of the success which Mr
Fitzpatrick had formerly owed to the very same stratagem.
Mr Jones expressed great gratitude to the lady for the kind intentions
towards him which she had expressed, and indeed testified, by this
proposal; but, besides intimating some diffidence of success from the
lady's knowledge of his love to her niece, which had not been her case
in regard to Mr Fitzpatrick, he said, he was afraid Miss Western would
never agree to an imposition of this kind, as well from her utter
detestation of all fallacy as from her avowed duty to her aunt.
Mrs Fitzpatrick was a little nettled at this; and indeed, if it may
not be called a lapse of the tongue, it was a small deviation from
politeness in Jones, and into which he scarce would have fallen, had
not the delight he felt in praising Sophia hurried him out of all
reflection; for this commendation of one cousin was more than a tacit
rebuke on the other.
"Indeed, sir," answered the lady, with some warmth, "I cannot think
there is anything easier than to cheat an old woman with a profession
of love, when her complexion is amorous; and, though she is my aunt, I
must say there never was a more liquorish one than her ladyship. Can't
you pretend that the despair of possessing her niece, from her being
promised to Blifil, has made you turn your thoughts towards her? As to
my cousin Sophia, I can't imagine her to be such a simpleton as to
have the least scruple on such an account, or to conceive any harm in
punishing one of these haggs for the many mischiefs they bring upon
families by their tragi-comic passions; for which I think it is a pity
they are not punishable by law. I had no such scruple myself; and yet
I hope my cousin Sophia will not think it an affront when I say she
cannot detest every real species of falsehood more than her cousin
Fitzpatrick. To my aunt, indeed, I pretend no duty, nor doth she
deserve any. However, sir, I have given you my advice; and if you
decline pursuing it, I shall have the less opinion of your
Jones now clearly saw the error he had committed, and exerted his
utmost power to rectify it; but he only faultered and stuttered into
nonsense and contradiction. To say the truth, it is often safer to
abide by the consequences of the first blunder than to endeavour to
rectify it; for by such endeavours we generally plunge deeper instead
of extricating ourselves; and few persons will on such occasions have
the good-nature which Mrs Fitzpatrick displayed to Jones, by saying,
with a smile, "You need attempt no more excuses; for I can easily
forgive a real lover, whatever is the effect of fondness for his
She then renewed her proposal, and very fervently recommended it,
omitting no argument which her invention could suggest on the subject;
for she was so violently incensed against her aunt, that scarce
anything was capable of affording her equal pleasure with exposing
her; and, like a true woman, she would see no difficulties in the
execution of a favourite scheme.
Jones, however, persisted in declining the undertaking, which had not,
indeed, the least probability of success. He easily perceived the
motives which induced Mrs Fitzpatrick to be so eager in pressing her
advice. He said he would not deny the tender and passionate regard he
had for Sophia; but was so conscious of the inequality of their
situations, that he could never flatter himself so far as to hope that
so divine a young lady would condescend to think on so unworthy a man;
nay, he protested, he could scarce bring himself to wish she should.
He concluded with a profession of generous sentiments, which we have
not at present leisure to insert.
There are some fine women (for I dare not here speak in too general
terms) with whom self is so predominant, that they never detach it
from any subject; and, as vanity is with them a ruling principle, they
are apt to lay hold of whatever praise they meet with; and, though the
property of others, convey it to their own use. In the company of
these ladies it is impossible to say anything handsome of another
woman which they will not apply to themselves; nay, they often improve
the praise they seize; as, for instance, if her beauty, her wit, her
gentility, her good humour deserve so much commendation, what do I
deserve, who possess those qualities in so much more eminent a degree?
To these ladies a man often recommends himself while he is commending
another woman; and, while he is expressing ardour and generous
sentiments for his mistress, they are considering what a charming
lover this man would make to them, who can feel all this tenderness
for an inferior degree of merit. Of this, strange as it may seem, I
have seen many instances besides Mrs Fitzpatrick, to whom all this
really happened, and who now began to feel a somewhat for Mr Jones,
the symptoms of which she much sooner understood than poor Sophia had
To say the truth, perfect beauty in both sexes is a more irresistible
object than it is generally thought; for, notwithstanding some of us
are contented with more homely lots, and learn by rote (as children to
repeat what gives them no idea) to despise outside, and to value more
solid charms; yet I have always observed, at the approach of
consummate beauty, that these more solid charms only shine with that
kind of lustre which the stars have after the rising of the sun.
When Jones had finished his exclamations, many of which would have
become the mouth of Oroöndates himself, Mrs Fitzpatrick heaved a
deep sigh, and, taking her eyes off from Jones, on whom they had been
some time fixed, and dropping them on the ground, she cried, "Indeed,
Mr Jones, I pity you; but it is the curse of such tenderness to be
thrown away on those who are insensible of it. I know my cousin better
than you, Mr Jones, and I must say, any woman who makes no return to
such a passion, and such a person, is unworthy of both."
"Sure, madam," said Jones, "you can't mean----" "Mean!" cries Mrs
Fitzpatrick, "I know not what I mean; there is something, I think, in
true tenderness bewitching; few women ever meet with it in men, and
fewer still know how to value it when they do. I never heard such
truly noble sentiments, and I can't tell how it is, but you force one
to believe you. Sure she must be the most contemptible of women who
can overlook such merit."
The manner and look with which all this was spoke infused a suspicion
into Jones which we don't care to convey in direct words to the
reader. Instead of making any answer, he said, "I am afraid, madam, I
have made too tiresome a visit;" and offered to take his leave.
"Not at all, sir," answered Mrs Fitzpatrick.--"Indeed I pity you, Mr
Jones; indeed I do: but if you are going, consider of the scheme I
have mentioned--I am convinced you will approve it--and let me see you
again as soon as you can.--To-morrow morning if you will, or at least
some time to-morrow. I shall be at home all day."
Jones, then, after many expressions of thanks, very respectfully
retired; nor could Mrs Fitzpatrick forbear making him a present of a
look at parting, by which if he had understood nothing, he must have
had no understanding in the language of the eyes. In reality, it
confirmed his resolution of returning to her no more; for, faulty as
he hath hitherto appeared in this history, his whole thoughts were now
so confined to his Sophia, that I believe no woman upon earth could
have now drawn him into an act of inconstancy.
Fortune, however, who was not his friend, resolved, as he intended to
give her no second opportunity, to make the best of this; and
accordingly produced the tragical incident which we are now in
sorrowful notes to record.
The consequence of the preceding visit.
Mr Fitzpatrick having received the letter before mentioned from Mrs
Western, and being by that means acquainted with the place to which
his wife was retired, returned directly to Bath, and thence the day
after set forward to London.
The reader hath been already often informed of the jealous temper of
this gentleman. He may likewise be pleased to remember the suspicion
which he had conceived of Jones at Upton, upon his finding him in the
room with Mrs Waters; and, though sufficient reasons had afterwards
appeared entirely to clear up that suspicion, yet now the reading so
handsome a character of Mr Jones from his wife, caused him to reflect
that she likewise was in the inn at the same time, and jumbled
together such a confusion of circumstances in a head which was
naturally none of the clearest, that the whole produced that
green-eyed monster mentioned by Shakespear in his tragedy of Othello.
And now, as he was enquiring in the street after his wife, and had
just received directions to the door, unfortunately Mr Jones was
issuing from it.
Fitzpatrick did not yet recollect the face of Jones; however, seeing a
young well-dressed fellow coming from his wife, he made directly up to
him, and asked him what he had been doing in that house? "for I am
sure," said he, "you must have been in it, as I saw you come out of
Jones answered very modestly, "That he had been visiting a lady
there." To which Fitzpatrick replied, "What business have you with the
lady?" Upon which Jones, who now perfectly remembered the voice,
features, and indeed coat, of the gentleman, cried out----"Ha, my good
friend! give me your hand; I hope there is no ill blood remaining
between us, upon a small mistake which happened so long ago."
"Upon my soul, sir," said Fitzpatrick, "I don't know your name nor
your face." "Indeed, sir," said Jones, "neither have I the pleasure of
knowing your name, but your face I very well remember to have seen
before at Upton, where a foolish quarrel happened between us, which,
if it is not made up yet, we will now make up over a bottle."
"At Upton!" cried the other;----"Ha! upon my soul, I believe your name
is Jones?" "Indeed," answered he, "it is."--"O! upon my soul," cries
Fitzpatrick, "you are the very man I wanted to meet.--Upon my soul I
will drink a bottle with you presently; but first I will give you a
great knock over the pate. There is for you, you rascal. Upon my soul,
if you do not give me satisfaction for that blow, I will give you
another." And then, drawing his sword, put himself in a posture of
defence, which was the only science he understood.
Jones was a little staggered by the blow, which came somewhat
unexpectedly; but presently recovering himself he also drew, and
though he understood nothing of fencing, prest on so boldly upon
Fitzpatrick, that he beat down his guard, and sheathed one half of his
sword in the body of the said gentleman, who had no sooner received it
than he stept backwards, dropped the point of his sword, and leaning
upon it, cried, "I have satisfaction enough: I am a dead man."
"I hope not," cries Jones, "but whatever be the consequence, you must
be sensible you have drawn it upon yourself." At this instant a number
of fellows rushed in and seized Jones, who told them he should make no
resistance, and begged some of them at least would take care of the
"Ay," cries one of the fellows, "the wounded gentleman will be taken
care enough of; for I suppose he hath not many hours to live. As for
you, sir, you have a month at least good yet." "D--n me, Jack," said
another, "he hath prevented his voyage; he's bound to another port
now;" and many other such jests was our poor Jones made the subject of
by these fellows, who were indeed the gang employed by Lord Fellamar,
and had dogged him into the house of Mrs Fitzpatrick, waiting for him
at the corner of the street when this unfortunate accident happened.
The officer who commanded this gang very wisely concluded that his
business was now to deliver his prisoner into the hands of the civil
magistrate. He ordered him, therefore, to be carried to a
public-house, where, having sent for a constable, he delivered him to
The constable, seeing Mr Jones very well drest, and hearing that the
accident had happened in a duel, treated his prisoner with great
civility, and at his request dispatched a messenger to enquire after
the wounded gentleman, who was now at a tavern under the surgeon's
hands. The report brought back was, that the wound was certainly
mortal, and there were no hopes of life. Upon which the constable
informed Jones that he must go before a justice. He answered,
"Wherever you please; I am indifferent as to what happens to me; for
though I am convinced I am not guilty of murder in the eye of the law,
yet the weight of blood I find intolerable upon my mind."
Jones was now conducted before the justice, where the surgeon who
dressed Mr Fitzpatrick appeared, and deposed that he believed the
wound to be mortal; upon which the prisoner was committed to the
Gatehouse. It was very late at night, so that Jones would not send for
Partridge till the next morning; and, as he never shut his eyes till
seven, so it was near twelve before the poor fellow, who was greatly
frightened at not hearing from his master so long, received a message
which almost deprived him of his being when he heard it.
He went to the Gatehouse with trembling knees and a beating heart, and
was no sooner arrived in the presence of Jones than he lamented the
misfortune that had befallen him with many tears, looking all the
while frequently about him in great terror; for as the news now
arrived that Mr Fitzpatrick was dead, the poor fellow apprehended
every minute that his ghost would enter the room. At last he delivered
him a letter, which he had like to have forgot, and which came from
Sophia by the hands of Black George.
Jones presently dispatched every one out of the room, and, having
eagerly broke open the letter, read as follows:--
"You owe the hearing from me again to an accident which I own
surprizes me. My aunt hath just now shown me a letter from you to
Lady Bellaston, which contains a proposal of marriage. I am
convinced it is your own hand; and what more surprizes me is, that
it is dated at the very time when you would have me imagine you was
under such concern on my account.--I leave you to comment on this
fact. All I desire is, that your name may never more be mentioned
Of the present situation of Mr Jones's mind, and of the pangs with
which he was now tormented, we cannot give the reader a better idea
than by saying, his misery was such that even Thwackum would almost
have pitied him. But, bad as it is, we shall at present leave him in
it, as his good genius (if he really had any) seems to have done. And
here we put an end to the sixteenth book of our history.
CONTAINING THREE DAYS.
Containing a portion of introductory writing.
When a comic writer hath made his principal characters as happy as he
can, or when a tragic writer hath brought them to the highest pitch of
human misery, they both conclude their business to be done, and that
their work is come to a period.
Had we been of the tragic complexion, the reader must now allow we
were very nearly arrived at this period, since it would be difficult
for the devil, or any of his representatives on earth, to have
contrived much greater torments for poor Jones than those in which we
left him in the last chapter; and as for Sophia, a good-natured woman
would hardly wish more uneasiness to a rival than what she must at
present be supposed to feel. What then remains to complete the tragedy
but a murder or two and a few moral sentences!
But to bring our favourites out of their present anguish and distress,
and to land them at last on the shore of happiness, seems a much
harder task; a task indeed so hard that we do not undertake to execute
it. In regard to Sophia, it is more than probable that we shall
somewhere or other provide a good husband for her in the end--either
Blifil, or my lord, or somebody else; but as to poor Jones, such are
the calamities in which he is at present involved, owing to his
imprudence, by which if a man doth not become felon to the world, he
is at least a _felo de se_; so destitute is he now of friends, and so
persecuted by enemies, that we almost despair of bringing him to any
good; and if our reader delights in seeing executions, I think he
ought not to lose any time in taking a first row at Tyburn.
This I faithfully promise, that, notwithstanding any affection which
we may be supposed to have for this rogue, whom we have unfortunately
made our heroe, we will lend him none of that supernatural assistance
with which we are entrusted, upon condition that we use it only on
very important occasions. If he doth not therefore find some natural
means of fairly extricating himself from all his distresses, we will
do no violence to the truth and dignity of history for his sake; for
we had rather relate that he was hanged at Tyburn (which may very
probably be the case) than forfeit our integrity, or shock the faith
of our reader.
In this the antients had a great advantage over the moderns. Their
mythology, which was at that time more firmly believed by the vulgar
than any religion is at present, gave them always an opportunity of
delivering a favourite heroe. Their deities were always ready at the
writer's elbow, to execute any of his purposes; and the more
extraordinary the invention was, the greater was the surprize and
delight of the credulous reader. Those writers could with greater ease
have conveyed a heroe from one country to another, nay from one world
to another, and have brought him back again, than a poor circumscribed
modern can deliver him from a jail.
The Arabians and Persians had an equal advantage in writing their
tales from the genii and fairies, which they believe in as an article
of their faith, upon the authority of the Koran itself. But we have
none of these helps. To natural means alone we are confined; let us
try therefore what, by these means, may be done for poor Jones; though
to confess the truth, something whispers me in the ear that he doth
not yet know the worst of his fortune; and that a more shocking piece
of news than any he hath yet heard remains for him in the unopened
leaves of fate.
The generous and grateful behaviour of Mrs Miller.
Mr Allworthy and Mrs Miller were just sat down to breakfast, when
Blifil, who had gone out very early that morning, returned to make one
of the company.
He had not been long seated before he began as follows: "Good Lord! my
dear uncle, what do you think hath happened? I vow I am afraid of
telling it you, for fear of shocking you with the remembrance of ever
having shewn any kindness to such a villain." "What is the matter,
child?" said the uncle. "I fear I have shewn kindness in my life to
the unworthy more than once. But charity doth not adopt the vices of
its objects." "O, sir!" returned Blifil, "it is not without the secret
direction of Providence that you mention the word adoption. Your
adopted son, sir, that Jones, that wretch whom you nourished in your
bosom, hath proved one of the greatest villains upon earth." "By all
that's sacred 'tis false," cries Mrs Miller. "Mr Jones is no villain.
He is one of the worthiest creatures breathing; and if any other
person had called him villain, I would have thrown all this boiling
water in his face." Mr Allworthy looked very much amazed at this
behaviour. But she did not give him leave to speak, before, turning to
him, she cried, "I hope you will not be angry with me; I would not
offend you, sir, for the world; but, indeed, I could not bear to hear
him called so." "I must own, madam," said Allworthy, very gravely, "I
am a little surprized to hear you so warmly defend a fellow you do not
know." "O! I do know him, Mr Allworthy," said she, "indeed I do; I
should be the most ungrateful of all wretches if I denied it. O! he
hath preserved me and my little family; we have all reason to bless
him while we live.--And I pray Heaven to bless him, and turn the
hearts of his malicious enemies. I know, I find, I see, he hath such."
"You surprize me, madam, still more," said Allworthy; "sure you must
mean some other. It is impossible you should have any such obligations
to the man my nephew mentions." "Too surely," answered she, "I have
obligations to him of the greatest and tenderest kind. He hath been
the preserver of me and mine. Believe me, sir, he hath been abused,
grossly abused to you; I know he hath, or you, whom I know to be all
goodness and honour, would not, after the many kind and tender things
I have heard you say of this poor helpless child, have so disdainfully
called him fellow.--Indeed, my best of friends, he deserves a kinder
appellation from you, had you heard the good, the kind, the grateful
things which I have heard him utter of you. He never mentions your
name but with a sort of adoration. In this very room I have seen him
on his knees, imploring all the blessings of heaven upon your head. I
do not love that child there better than he loves you."
"I see, sir, now," said Blifil, with one of those grinning sneers with
which the devil marks his best beloved, "Mrs Miller really doth know
him. I suppose you will find she is not the only one of your
acquaintance to whom he hath exposed you. As for my character, I
perceive, by some hints she hath thrown out, he hath been very free
with it, but I forgive him." "And the Lord forgive you, sir!" said Mrs
Miller; "we have all sins enough to stand in need of his forgiveness."
"Upon my word, Mrs Miller," said Allworthy, "I do not take this
behaviour of yours to my nephew kindly; and I do assure you, as any
reflections which you cast upon him must come only from that wickedest
of men, they would only serve, if that were possible, to heighten my
resentment against him: for I must tell you, Mrs Miller, the young man
who now stands before you hath ever been the warmest advocate for the
ungrateful wretch whose cause you espouse. This, I think, when you
hear it from my own mouth, will make you wonder at so much baseness
"You are deceived, sir," answered Mrs Miller; "if they were the last
words which were to issue from my lips, I would say you were deceived;
and I once more repeat it, the Lord forgive those who have deceived
you! I do not pretend to say the young man is without faults; but they
are all the faults of wildness and of youth; faults which he may, nay,
which I am certain he will, relinquish, and, if he should not, they
are vastly overbalanced by one of the most humane, tender, honest
hearts that ever man was blest with."
"Indeed, Mrs Miller," said Allworthy, "had this been related of you, I
should not have believed it." "Indeed, sir," answered she, "you will
believe everything I have said, I am sure you will: and when you have
heard the story which I shall tell you (for I will tell you all), you
will be so far from being offended, that you will own (I know your
justice so well), that I must have been the most despicable and most
ungrateful of wretches if I had acted any other part than I have."
"Well, madam," said Allworthy, "I shall be very glad to hear any good
excuse for a behaviour which, I must confess, I think wants an excuse.
And now, madam, will you be pleased to let my nephew proceed in his
story without interruption. He would not have introduced a matter of
slight consequence with such a preface. Perhaps even this story will
cure you of your mistake."
Mrs Miller gave tokens of submission, and then Mr Blifil began thus:
"I am sure, sir, if you don't think proper to resent the ill-usage of
Mrs Miller, I shall easily forgive what affects me only. I think your
goodness hath not deserved this indignity at her hands." "Well,
child," said Allworthy, "but what is this new instance? What hath he
done of late?" "What," cries Blifil, "notwithstanding all Mrs Miller
hath said, I am very sorry to relate, and what you should never have
heard from me, had it not been a matter impossible to conceal from the
whole world. In short he hath killed a man; I will not say
murdered--for perhaps it may not be so construed in law, and I hope
the best for his sake."
Allworthy looked shocked, and blessed himself; and then, turning to
Mrs Miller, he cried, "Well, madam, what say you now?"
"Why, I say, sir," answered she, "that I never was more concerned at
anything in my life; but, if the fact be true, I am convinced the man,
whoever he is, was in fault. Heaven knows there are many villains in
this town who make it their business to provoke young gentlemen.
Nothing but the greatest provocation could have tempted him; for of
all the gentlemen I ever had in my house, I never saw one so gentle or
so sweet-tempered. He was beloved by every one in the house, and every
one who came near it."
While she was thus running on, a violent knocking at the door
interrupted their conversation, and prevented her from proceeding
further, or from receiving any answer; for, as she concluded this was
a visitor to Mr Allworthy, she hastily retired, taking with her her
little girl, whose eyes were all over blubbered at the melancholy news
she heard of Jones, who used to call her his little wife, and not only
gave her many playthings, but spent whole hours in playing with her
Some readers may, perhaps, be pleased with these minute circumstances,
in relating of which we follow the example of Plutarch, one of the
best of our brother historians; and others, to whom they may appear
trivial, will, we hope, at least pardon them, as we are never prolix
on such occasions.
The arrival of Mr Western, with some matters concerning the paternal
Mrs Miller had not long left the room when Mr Western entered; but not
before a small wrangling bout had passed between him and his chairmen;
for the fellows, who had taken up their burden at the Hercules
Pillars, had conceived no hopes of having any future good customer in
the squire; and they were moreover farther encouraged by his
generosity (for he had given them of his own accord sixpence more than
their fare); they therefore very boldly demanded another shilling,
which so provoked the squire, that he not only bestowed many hearty
curses on them at the door, but retained his anger after he came into
the room; swearing that all the Londoners were like the court, and
thought of nothing but plundering country gentlemen. "D--n me," says
he, "if I won't walk in the rain rather than get into one of their
hand-barrows again. They have jolted me more in a mile than Brown Bess
would in a long fox-chase."
When his wrath on this occasion was a little appeased, he resumed the
same passionate tone on another. "There," says he, "there is fine
business forwards now. The hounds have changed at last; and when we
imagined we had a fox to deal with, od-rat it, it turns out to be a
badger at last!"
"Pray, my good neighbour," said Allworthy, "drop your metaphors, and
speak a little plainer." "Why, then," says the squire, "to tell you
plainly, we have been all this time afraid of a son of a whore of a
bastard of somebody's, I don't know whose, not I. And now here's a
confounded son of a whore of a lord, who may be a bastard too for what
I know or care, for he shall never have a daughter of mine by my
consent. They have beggared the nation, but they shall never beggar
me. My land shall never be sent over to Hanover."
"You surprize me much, my good friend," said Allworthy. "Why, zounds!
I am surprized myself," answered the squire. "I went to zee sister
Western last night, according to her own appointment, and there I was
had into a whole room full of women. There was my lady cousin
Bellaston, and my Lady Betty, and my Lady Catherine, and my lady I
don't know who; d--n me, if ever you catch me among such a kennel of
hoop-petticoat b--s! D--n me, I'd rather be run by my own dogs, as one
Acton was, that the story-book says was turned into a hare, and his
own dogs killed un and eat un. Od-rabbit it, no mortal was ever run in
such a manner; if I dodged one way, one had me; if I offered to clap
back, another snapped me. `O! certainly one of the greatest matches in
England,' says one cousin (here he attempted to mimic them); `A very
advantageous offer indeed,' cries another cousin (for you must know
they be all my cousins, thof I never zeed half o' um before).
`Surely,' says that fat a--se b--, my Lady Bellaston, `cousin, you
must be out of your wits to think of refusing such an offer.'"
"Now I begin to understand," says Allworthy; "some person hath made
proposals to Miss Western, which the ladies of the family approve, but
is not to your liking."
"My liking!" said Western, "how the devil should it? I tell you it is
a lord, and those are always volks whom you know I always resolved to
have nothing to do with. Did unt I refuse a matter of vorty years'
purchase now for a bit of land, which one o' um had a mind to put into
a park, only because I would have no dealings with lords, and dost
think I would marry my daughter zu? Besides, ben't I engaged to you,
and did I ever go off any bargain when I had promised?"
"As to that point, neighbour," said Allworthy, "I entirely release you
from any engagement. No contract can be binding between parties who
have not a full power to make it at the time, nor ever afterwards
acquire the power of fulfilling it."
"Slud! then," answered Western, "I tell you I have power, and I will
fulfil it. Come along with me directly to Doctors' Commons, I will get
a licence; and I will go to sister and take away the wench by force,
and she shall ha un, or I will lock her up, and keep her upon bread
and water as long as she lives."
"Mr Western," said Allworthy, "shall I beg you will hear my full
sentiments on this matter?"--"Hear thee; ay, to be sure I will,"
answered he. "Why, then, sir," cries Allworthy, "I can truly say,
without a compliment either to you or the young lady, that when this
match was proposed, I embraced it very readily and heartily, from my
regard to you both. An alliance between two families so nearly
neighbours, and between whom there had always existed so mutual an
intercourse and good harmony, I thought a most desirable event; and
with regard to the young lady, not only the concurrent opinion of all
who knew her, but my own observation assured me that she would be an
inestimable treasure to a good husband. I shall say nothing of her
personal qualifications, which certainly are admirable; her good
nature, her charitable disposition, her modesty, are too well known to
need any panegyric: but she hath one quality which existed in a high
degree in that best of women, who is now one of the first of angels,
which, as it is not of a glaring kind, more commonly escapes
observation; so little indeed is it remarked, that I want a word to
express it. I must use negatives on this occasion. I never heard
anything of pertness, or what is called repartee, out of her mouth; no
pretence to wit, much less to that kind of wisdom which is the result
only of great learning and experience, the affectation of which, in a
young woman, is as absurd as any of the affectations of an ape. No
dictatorial sentiments, no judicial opinions, no profound criticisms.
Whenever I have seen her in the company of men, she hath been all
attention, with the modesty of a learner, not the forwardness of a
teacher. You'll pardon me for it, but I once, to try her only, desired
her opinion on a point which was controverted between Mr Thwackum and
Mr Square. To which she answered, with much sweetness, `You will
pardon me, good Mr Allworthy; I am sure you cannot in earnest think me
capable of deciding any point in which two such gentlemen disagree.'
Thwackum and Square, who both alike thought themselves sure of a
favourable decision, seconded my request. She answered with the same
good humour, `I must absolutely be excused: for I will affront neither
so much as to give my judgment on his side.' Indeed, she always shewed
the highest deference to the understandings of men; a quality
absolutely essential to the making a good wife. I shall only add, that
as she is most apparently void of all affectation, this deference must
be certainly real."
Here Blifil sighed bitterly; upon which Western, whose eyes were full
of tears at the praise of Sophia, blubbered out, "Don't be
chicken-hearted, for shat ha her, d--n me, shat ha her, if she was
twenty times as good."
"Remember your promise, sir," cried Allworthy, "I was not to be
interrupted." "Well, shat unt," answered the squire; "I won't speak
"Now, my good friend," continued Allworthy, "I have dwelt so long on
the merit of this young lady, partly as I really am in love with her
character, and partly that fortune (for the match in that light is
really advantageous on my nephew's side) might not be imagined to be
my principal view in having so eagerly embraced the proposal. Indeed,
I heartily wished to receive so great a jewel into my family; but
though I may wish for many good things, I would not, therefore, steal
them, or be guilty of any violence or injustice to possess myself of
them. Now to force a woman into a marriage contrary to her consent or
approbation, is an act of such injustice and oppression, that I wish
the laws of our country could restrain it; but a good conscience is
never lawless in the worst regulated state, and will provide those
laws for itself, which the neglect of legislators hath forgotten to
supply. This is surely a case of that kind; for, is it not cruel, nay,
impious, to force a woman into that state against her will; for her
behaviour in which she is to be accountable to the highest and most
dreadful court of judicature, and to answer at the peril of her soul?
To discharge the matrimonial duties in an adequate manner is no easy
task; and shall we lay this burthen upon a woman, while we at the same
time deprive her of all that assistance which may enable her to
undergo it? Shall we tear her very heart from her, while we enjoin her
duties to which a whole heart is scarce equal? I must speak very
plainly here. I think parents who act in this manner are accessories
to all the guilt which their children afterwards incur, and of course
must, before a just judge, expect to partake of their punishment; but
if they could avoid this, good heaven! is there a soul who can bear
the thought of having contributed to the damnation of his child?
"For these reasons, my best neighbour, as I see the inclinations of
this young lady are most unhappily averse to my nephew, I must decline
any further thoughts of the honour you intended him, though I assure
you I shall always retain the most grateful sense of it."
"Well, sir," said Western (the froth bursting forth from his lips the
moment they were uncorked), "you cannot say but I have heard you out,
and now I expect you'll hear me; and if I don't answer every word
on't, why then I'll consent to gee the matter up. First then, I
desire you to answer me one question--Did not I beget her? did not I
beget her? answer me that. They say, indeed, it is a wise father that
knows his own child; but I am sure I have the best title to her, for
I bred her up. But I believe you will allow me to be her father, and
if I be, am I not to govern my own child? I ask you that, am I not to
govern my own child? and if I am to govern her in other matters,
surely I am to govern her in this, which concerns her most. And what
am I desiring all this while? Am I desiring her to do anything for
me? to give me anything?--Zu much on t'other side, that I am only
desiring her to take away half my estate now, and t'other half when I
die. Well, and what is it all vor? Why, is unt it to make her happy?
It's enough to make one mad to hear volks talk; if I was going to
marry myself, then she would ha reason to cry and to blubber; but, on
the contrary, han't I offered to bind down my land in such a manner,
that I could not marry if I would, seeing as narro' woman upon earth
would ha me. What the devil in hell can I do more? I contribute to
her damnation!--Zounds! I'd zee all the world d--n'd bevore her
little vinger should be hurt. Indeed, Mr Allworthy, you must excuse
me, but I am surprized to hear you talk in zuch a manner, and I must
say, take it how you will, that I thought you had more sense."
Allworthy resented this reflection only with a smile; nor could he, if
he would have endeavoured it, have conveyed into that smile any
mixture of malice or contempt. His smiles at folly were indeed such as
we may suppose the angels bestow on the absurdities of mankind.
Blifil now desired to be permitted to speak a few words. "As to using
any violence on the young lady, I am sure I shall never consent to it.
My conscience will not permit me to use violence on any one, much less
on a lady for whom, however cruel she is to me, I shall always
preserve the purest and sincerest affection; but yet I have read that
women are seldom proof against perseverance. Why may I not hope then
by such perseverance at last to gain those inclinations, in which for
the future I shall, perhaps, have no rival; for as for this lord, Mr
Western is so kind to prefer me to him; and sure, sir, you will not
deny but that a parent hath at least a negative voice in these
matters; nay, I have heard this very young lady herself say so more
than once, and declare that she thought children inexcusable who
married in direct opposition to the will of their parents. Besides,
though the other ladies of the family seem to favour the pretensions
of my lord, I do not find the lady herself is inclined to give him any
countenance; alas! I am too well assured she is not; I am too sensible
that wickedest of men remains uppermost in her heart."
"Ay, ay, so he does," cries Western.
"But surely," says Blifil, "when she hears of this murder which he
hath committed, if the law should spare his life----"
"What's that?" cries Western. "Murder! hath he committed a murder, and
is there any hopes of seeing him hanged?--Tol de rol, tol lol de rol."
Here he fell a singing and capering about the room.
"Child," says Allworthy, "this unhappy passion of yours distresses me
beyond measure. I heartily pity you, and would do every fair thing to
promote your success."
"I desire no more," cries Blifil; "I am convinced my dear uncle hath a
better opinion of me than to think that I myself would accept of
"Lookee," says Allworthy, "you have my leave to write, to visit, if
she will permit it--but I insist on no thoughts of violence. I will
have no confinement, nothing of that kind attempted."
"Well, well," cries the squire, "nothing of that kind shall be
attempted; we will try a little longer what fair means will effect;
and if this fellow be but hanged out of the way--Tol lol de rol! I
never heard better news in my life--I warrant everything goes to my
mind.--Do, prithee, dear Allworthy, come and dine with me at the
Hercules Pillars: I have bespoke a shoulder of mutton roasted, and a
spare-rib of pork, and a fowl and egg-sauce. There will be nobody but
ourselves, unless we have a mind to have the landlord; for I have sent
Parson Supple down to Basingstoke after my tobacco-box, which I left
at an inn there, and I would not lose it for the world; for it is an
old acquaintance of above twenty years' standing. I can tell you
landlord is a vast comical bitch, you will like un hugely."
Mr Allworthy at last agreed to this invitation, and soon after the
squire went off, singing and capering at the hopes of seeing the
speedy tragical end of poor Jones.
When he was gone, Mr Allworthy resumed the aforesaid subject with much
gravity. He told his nephew, "He wished with all his heart he would
endeavour to conquer a passion, in which I cannot," says he, "flatter
you with any hopes of succeeding. It is certainly a vulgar error, that
aversion in a woman may be conquered by perseverance. Indifference
may, perhaps, sometimes yield to it; but the usual triumphs gained by
perseverance in a lover are over caprice, prudence, affectation, and
often an exorbitant degree of levity, which excites women not
over-warm in their constitutions to indulge their vanity by prolonging
the time of courtship, even when they are well enough pleased with the
object, and resolve (if they ever resolve at all) to make him a very
pitiful amends in the end. But a fixed dislike, as I am afraid this
is, will rather gather strength than be conquered by time. Besides, my
dear, I have another apprehension which you must excuse. I am afraid
this passion which you have for this fine young creature hath her
beautiful person too much for its object, and is unworthy of the name
of that love which is the only foundation of matrimonial felicity. To
admire, to like, and to long for the possession of a beautiful woman,
without any regard to her sentiments towards us, is, I am afraid, too
natural; but love, I believe, is the child of love only; at least, I
am pretty confident that to love the creature who we are assured hates
us is not in human nature. Examine your heart, therefore, thoroughly,
my good boy, and if, upon examination, you have but the least
suspicion of this kind, I am sure your own virtue and religion will
impel you to drive so vicious a passion from your heart, and your good
sense will soon enable you to do it without pain."
The reader may pretty well guess Blifil's answer; but, if he should be
at a loss, we are not at present at leisure to satisfy him, as our
history now hastens on to matters of higher importance, and we can no
longer bear to be absent from Sophia.
An extraordinary scene between Sophia and her aunt.
The lowing heifer and the bleating ewe, in herds and flocks, may
ramble safe and unregarded through the pastures. These are, indeed,
hereafter doomed to be the prey of man; yet many years are they
suffered to enjoy their liberty undisturbed. But if a plump doe be
discovered to have escaped from the forest, and to repose herself in
some field or grove, the whole parish is presently alarmed, every man
is ready to set his dogs after her; and, if she is preserved from the
rest by the good squire, it is only that he may secure her for his own
I have often considered a very fine young woman of fortune and
fashion, when first found strayed from the pale of her nursery, to be
in pretty much the same situation with this doe. The town is
immediately in an uproar; she is hunted from park to play, from court
to assembly, from assembly to her own chamber, and rarely escapes a
single season from the jaws of some devourer or other; for, if her
friends protect her from some, it is only to deliver her over to one
of their own chusing, often more disagreeable to her than any of the
rest; while whole herds or flocks of other women securely, and scarce
regarded, traverse the park, the play, the opera, and the assembly;
and though, for the most part at least, they are at last devoured, yet
for a long time do they wanton in liberty, without disturbance or
Of all these paragons none ever tasted more of this persecution than
poor Sophia. Her ill stars were not contented with all that she had
suffered on account of Blifil, they now raised her another pursuer,
who seemed likely to torment her no less than the other had done. For
though her aunt was less violent, she was no less assiduous in teizing
her, than her father had been before.
The servants were no sooner departed after dinner than Mrs Western,
who had opened the matter to Sophia, informed her, "That she expected
his lordship that very afternoon, and intended to take the first
opportunity of leaving her alone with him." "If you do, madam,"
answered Sophia, with some spirit, "I shall take the first opportunity
of leaving him by himself." "How! madam!" cries the aunt; "is this the
return you make me for my kindness in relieving you from your
confinement at your father's?" "You know, madam," said Sophia, "the
cause of that confinement was a refusal to comply with my father in
accepting a man I detested; and will my dear aunt, who hath relieved
me from that distress, involve me in another equally bad?" "And do you
think then, madam," answered Mrs Western, "that there is no difference
between my Lord Fellamar and Mr Blifil?" "Very little, in my opinion,"
cries Sophia; "and, if I must be condemned to one, I would certainly
have the merit of sacrificing myself to my father's pleasure." "Then
my pleasure, I find," said the aunt, "hath very little weight with
you; but that consideration shall not move me. I act from nobler
motives. The view of aggrandizing my family, of ennobling yourself, is
what I proceed upon. Have you no sense of ambition? Are there no
charms in the thoughts of having a coronet on your coach?" "None, upon
my honour," said Sophia. "A pincushion upon my coach would please me
just as well." "Never mention honour," cries the aunt. "It becomes not
the mouth of such a wretch. I am sorry, niece, you force me to use
these words, but I cannot bear your groveling temper; you have none of
the blood of the Westerns in you. But, however mean and base your own
ideas are, you shall bring no imputation on mine. I will never suffer
the world to say of me that I encouraged you in refusing one of the
best matches in England; a match which, besides its advantage in
fortune, would do honour to almost any family, and hath, indeed, in
title, the advantage of ours." "Surely," says Sophia, "I am born
deficient, and have not the senses with which other people are
blessed; there must be certainly some sense which can relish the
delights of sound and show, which I have not; for surely mankind would
not labour so much, nor sacrifice so much for the obtaining, nor would
they be so elate and proud with possessing, what appeared to them, as
it doth to me, the most insignificant of all trifles."
"No, no, miss," cries the aunt; "you are born with as many senses as
other people; but I assure you you are not born with a sufficient
understanding to make a fool of me, or to expose my conduct to the
world; so I declare this to you, upon my word, and you know, I
believe, how fixed my resolutions are, unless you agree to see his
lordship this afternoon, I will, with my own hands, deliver you
to-morrow morning to my brother, and will never henceforth interfere
with you, nor see your face again." Sophia stood a few moments silent
after this speech, which was uttered in a most angry and peremptory
tone; and then, bursting into tears, she cryed, "Do with me, madam,
whatever you please; I am the most miserable undone wretch upon earth;
if my dear aunt forsakes me where shall I look for a protector?" "My
dear niece," cries she, "you will have a very good protector in his
lordship; a protector whom nothing but a hankering after that vile
fellow Jones can make you decline." "Indeed, madam," said Sophia, "you
wrong me. How can you imagine, after what you have shewn me, if I had
ever any such thoughts, that I should not banish them for ever? If it
will satisfy you, I will receive the sacrament upon it never to see
his face again." "But, child, dear child," said the aunt, "be
reasonable; can you invent a single objection?" "I have already, I
think, told you a sufficient objection," answered Sophia. "What?"
cries the aunt; "I remember none." "Sure, madam," said Sophia, "I told
you he had used me in the rudest and vilest manner." "Indeed, child,"
answered she, "I never heard you, or did not understand you:--but what
do you mean by this rude, vile manner?" "Indeed, madam," said Sophia,
"I am almost ashamed to tell you. He caught me in his arms, pulled me
down upon the settee, and thrust his hand into my bosom, and kissed it
with such violence that I have the mark upon my left breast at this
moment." "Indeed!" said Mrs Western. "Yes, indeed, madam," answered
Sophia; "my father luckily came in at that instant, or Heaven knows
what rudeness he intended to have proceeded to." "I am astonished and
confounded," cries the aunt. "No woman of the name of Western hath
been ever treated so since we were a family. I would have torn the
eyes of a prince out, if he had attempted such freedoms with me. It is
impossible! sure, Sophia, you must invent this to raise my indignation
against him." "I hope, madam," said Sophia, "you have too good an
opinion of me to imagine me capable of telling an untruth. Upon my
soul it is true." "I should have stabbed him to the heart, had I been
present," returned the aunt. "Yet surely he could have no
dishonourable design; it is impossible! he durst not: besides, his
proposals shew he hath not; for they are not only honourable, but
generous. I don't know; the age allows too great freedoms. A distant
salute is all I would have allowed before the ceremony. I have had
lovers formerly, not so long ago neither; several lovers, though I
never would consent to marriage, and I never encouraged the least
freedom. It is a foolish custom, and what I never would agree to. No
man kissed more of me than my cheek. It is as much as one can bring
oneself to give lips up to a husband; and, indeed, could I ever have
been persuaded to marry, I believe I should not have soon been brought
to endure so much." "You will pardon me, dear madam," said Sophia, "if
I make one observation: you own you have had many lovers, and the
world knows it, even if you should deny it. You refused them all, and,
I am convinced, one coronet at least among them." "You say true, dear
Sophy," answered she; "I had once the offer of a title." "Why, then,"
said Sophia, "will you not suffer me to refuse this once?" "It is
true, child," said she, "I have refused the offer of a title; but it
was not so good an offer; that is, not so very, very good an
offer."--"Yes, madam," said Sophia; "but you have had very great
proposals from men of vast fortunes. It was not the first, nor the
second, nor the third advantageous match that offered itself." "I own
it was not," said she. "Well, madam," continued Sophia, "and why may
not I expect to have a second, perhaps, better than this? You are now
but a young woman, and I am convinced would not promise to yield to
the first lover of fortune, nay, or of title too. I am a very young
woman, and sure I need not despair." "Well, my dear, dear Sophy,"
cries the aunt, "what would you have me say?" "Why, I only beg that I
may not be left alone, at least this evening; grant me that, and I
will submit, if you think, after what is past, I ought to see him in
your company." "Well, I will grant it," cries the aunt. "Sophy, you
know I love you, and can deny you nothing. You know the easiness of my
nature; I have not always been so easy. I have been formerly thought
cruel; by the men, I mean. I was called the cruel Parthenissa. I have
broke many a window that has had verses to the cruel Parthenissa in
it. Sophy, I was never so handsome as you, and yet I had something of
you formerly. I am a little altered. Kingdoms and states, as Tully
Cicero says in his epistles, undergo alterations, and so must the
human form." Thus run she on for near half an hour upon herself, and
her conquests, and her cruelty, till the arrival of my lord, who,
after a most tedious visit, during which Mrs Western never once
offered to leave the room, retired, not much more satisfied with the
aunt than with the niece; for Sophia had brought her aunt into so
excellent a temper, that she consented to almost everything her niece
said; and agreed that a little distant behaviour might not be improper
to so forward a lover.
Thus Sophia, by a little well-directed flattery, for which surely none
will blame her, obtained a little ease for herself, and, at least, put
off the evil day. And now we have seen our heroine in a better
situation than she hath been for a long time before, we will look a
little after Mr Jones, whom we left in the most deplorable situation
that can be well imagined.
Mrs Miller and Mr Nightingale visit Jones in the prison.
When Mr Allworthy and his nephew went to meet Mr Western, Mrs Miller
set forwards to her son-in-law's lodgings, in order to acquaint him
with the accident which had befallen his friend Jones; but he had
known it long before from Partridge (for Jones, when he left Mrs
Miller, had been furnished with a room in the same house with Mr
Nightingale). The good woman found her daughter under great affliction
on account of Mr Jones, whom having comforted as well as she could,
she set forwards to the Gatehouse, where she heard he was, and where
Mr Nightingale was arrived before her.
The firmness and constancy of a true friend is a circumstance so
extremely delightful to persons in any kind of distress, that the
distress itself, if it be only temporary, and admits of relief, is
more than compensated by bringing this comfort with it. Nor are
instances of this kind so rare as some superficial and inaccurate
observers have reported. To say the truth, want of compassion is not
to be numbered among our general faults. The black ingredient which
fouls our disposition is envy. Hence our eye is seldom, I am afraid,
turned upward to those who are manifestly greater, better, wiser, or
happier than ourselves, without some degree of malignity; while we
commonly look downwards on the mean and miserable with sufficient
benevolence and pity. In fact, I have remarked, that most of the
defects which have discovered themselves in the friendships within my
observation have arisen from envy only: a hellish vice; and yet one
from which I have known very few absolutely exempt. But enough of a
subject which, if pursued, would lead me too far.
Whether it was that Fortune was apprehensive lest Jones should sink
under the weight of his adversity, and that she might thus lose any
future opportunity of tormenting him, or whether she really abated
somewhat of her severity towards him, she seemed a little to relax her
persecution, by sending him the company of two such faithful friends,
and what is perhaps more rare, a faithful servant. For Partridge,
though he had many imperfections, wanted not fidelity; and though fear
would not suffer him to be hanged for his master, yet the world, I
believe, could not have bribed him to desert his cause.
While Jones was expressing great satisfaction in the presence of his
friends, Partridge brought an account that Mr Fitzpatrick was still
alive, though the surgeon declared that he had very little hopes. Upon
which, Jones fetching a deep sigh, Nightingale said to him, "My dear
Tom, why should you afflict yourself so upon an accident, which,
whatever be the consequence, can be attended with no danger to you,
and in which your conscience cannot accuse you of having been the
least to blame? If the fellow should die, what have you done more than
taken away the life of a ruffian in your own defence? So will the
coroner's inquest certainly find it; and then you will be easily
admitted to bail; and, though you must undergo the form of a trial,
yet it is a trial which many men would stand for you for a shilling."
"Come, come, Mr Jones," says Mrs Miller, "chear yourself up. I knew
you could not be the aggressor, and so I told Mr Allworthy, and so he
shall acknowledge too, before I have done with him."
Jones gravely answered, "That whatever might be his fate, he
should always lament the having shed the blood of one of his
fellow-creatures, as one of the highest misfortunes which could
have befallen him. But I have another misfortune of the tenderest
kind----O! Mrs Miller, I have lost what I held most dear upon earth."
"That must be a mistress," said Mrs Miller; "but come, come; I know
more than you imagine" (for indeed Partridge had blabbed all); "and I
have heard more than you know. Matters go better, I promise you, than
you think; and I would not give Blifil sixpence for all the chance
which he hath of the lady."
"Indeed, my dear friend, indeed," answered Jones, "you are an entire
stranger to the cause of my grief. If you was acquainted with the
story, you would allow my case admitted of no comfort. I apprehend no
danger from Blifil. I have undone myself." "Don't despair," replied
Mrs Miller; "you know not what a woman can do; and if anything be in
my power, I promise you I will do it to serve you. It is my duty. My
son, my dear Mr Nightingale, who is so kind to tell me he hath
obligations to you on the same account, knows it is my duty. Shall I
go to the lady myself? I will say anything to her you would have me
"Thou best of women," cries Jones, taking her by the hand, "talk not
of obligations to me;--but as you have been so kind to mention it,
there is a favour which, perhaps, may be in your power. I see you are
acquainted with the lady (how you came by your information I know
not), who sits, indeed, very near my heart. If you could contrive to
deliver this (giving her a paper from his pocket), I shall for ever
acknowledge your goodness."
"Give it me," said Mrs Miller. "If I see it not in her own possession
before I sleep, may my next sleep be my last! Comfort yourself, my
good young man! be wise enough to take warning from past follies, and