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The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith

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This etext was prepared by Charles J. Griep, St. Anthony, MN.




Supposed to be written by Himself

Sperate miseri, cavete faelices


There are an hundred faults in this Thing, and an hundred things
might be said to prove them beauties. But it is needless. A book
may be amusing with numerous errors, or it may be very dull
without a single absurdity. The hero of this piece unites in
himself the three greatest characters upon earth; he is a priest,
an husbandman, and the father of a family. He is drawn as ready
to teach, and ready to obey, as simple in affluence, and majestic
in adversity. In this age of opulence and refinement whom can
such a character please? Such as are fond of high life, will turn
with disdain from the simplicity of his country fire-side. Such
as mistake ribaldry for humour, will find no wit in his harmless
conversation; and such as have been taught to deride religion,
will laugh at one whose chief stores of comfort are drawn from



1. The description of the family of Wakefield; in which a kindred
likeness prevails as well of minds as of persons

2. Family misfortunes. The loss of fortune only serves to
increase the pride of the worthy

3. A migration. The fortunate circumstances of our lives are
generally found at last to be of our own procuring

4. A proof that even the humblest fortune may grant happiness,
which depends not on circumstance, but constitution 5. A new and
great acquaintance introduced. What we place most hopes upon
generally proves most fatal

6. The happiness of a country fire-side

7. A town wit described. The dullest fellows may learn to be
comical for a night or two

8. An amour, which promises little good fortune, yet may be
productive of much

9. Two ladies of great distinction introduced. Superior finery
ever seems to confer superior breeding

10. The family endeavours to cope with their betters. The
miseries of the poor when they attempt to appear above their

11. The family still resolve to hold up their heads

12. Fortune seems resolved to humble the family of Wakefield.
Mortifications are often more painful than real calamities

13. Mr Burchell is found to be an enemy; for he has the
confidence to give disagreeable advice

14. Fresh mortifications, or a demonstration that seeming
calamities may be real blessings

15. All Mr Burchell's villainy at once detected. The folly of

16. The Family use art, which is opposed with still greater

17. Scarce any virtue found to resist the power of long and
pleasing temptation 18. The pursuit of a father to reclaim a lost
child to virtue

19. The description of a Person discontented with the present
government, and apprehensive of the loss of our liberties

20. The history of a philosophic vagabond, pursuing novelty, but
losing content

21. The short continuance of friendship among the vicious, which
is coeval only with mutual satisfaction

22. Offences are easily pardoned where there is love at bottom

23. None but the guilty can be long and completely miserable

24. Fresh calamities

25. No situation, however wretched it seems, but has some sort of
comfort attending it

26. A reformation in the gaol. To make laws complete, they should
reward as well as punish

27. The same subject continued

28. Happiness and misery rather the result of prudence than of
virtue in this life. Temporal evils or felicities being regarded
by heaven as things merely in themselves trifling and unworthy
its care in the distribution

29. The equal dealings of providence demonstrated with regard to
the happy and the miserable here below. That from the nature of
pleasure and pain, the wretched must be repaid the balance of
their sufferings in the life hereafter

30. Happier prospects begin to appear. Let us be inflexible, and
fortune will at last change in our favour

31. Former benevolence now repaid with unexpected interest

32. The Conclusion


The description of the family of Wakefield; in which a kindred
likeness prevails as well of minds as of persons

I was ever of opinion, that the honest man who married and
brought up a large family, did more service than he who continued
single, and only talked of population. From this motive, I had
scarce taken orders a year before I began to think seriously of
matrimony, and chose my wife as she did her wedding gown, not for
a fine glossy surfaces but such qualities as would wear well. To
do her justice, she was a good-natured notable woman; and as for
breeding, there were few country ladies who could shew more. She
could read any English book without much spelling, but for
pickling, preserving, and cookery, none could excel her. She
prided herself also upon being an excellent contriver in house-
keeping; tho' I could never find that we grew richer with all her
contrivances. However, we loved each other tenderly, and our
fondness encreased as we grew old. There was in fact nothing that
could make us angry with the world or each other. We had an
elegant house, situated in a fine country, and a good
neighbourhood. The year was spent in moral or rural amusements;
in visiting our rich neighbours, and relieving such as were poor.
We had no revolutions to fear, nor fatigues to undergo; all our
adventures were by the fire-side, and all our migrations from the
blue bed to the brown.

As we lived near the road, we often had the traveller or stranger
visit us to taste our gooseberry wine, for which we had great
reputation; and I profess with the veracity of an historian, that
I never knew one of them find fault with it. Our cousins too,
even to the fortieth remove, all remembered their affinity,
without any help from the Herald's office, and came very
frequently to see us. Some of them did us no great honour by
these claims of kindred; as we had the blind, the maimed, and the
halt amongst the number. However, my wife always insisted that as
they were the same flesh and blood, they should sit with us at
the same table. So that if we had not, very rich, we generally
had very happy friends about us; for this remark will hold good
thro' life, that the poorer the guest, the better pleased he ever
is with being treated: and as some men gaze with admiration at
the colours of a tulip, or the wing of a butterfly, so I was by
nature an admirer of happy human faces. However, when any one of
our relations was found to be a person of very bad character, a
troublesome guest, or one we desired to get rid of, upon his
leaving my house, I ever took care to lend him a riding coat, or
a pair of boots, or sometimes an horse of small value, and I
always had the satisfaction of finding he never came back to
return them. By this the house was cleared of such as we did not
like; but never was the family of Wakefield known to turn the
traveller or the poor dependent out of doors.

Thus we lived several years in a state of much happiness, not but
that we sometimes had those little rubs which Providence sends to
enhance the value of its favours. My orchard was often robbed by
school-boys, and my wife's custards plundered by the cats or the
children. The 'Squire would sometimes fall asleep in the most
pathetic parts of my sermon, or his lady return my wife's
civilities at church with a mutilated curtesy. But we soon got
over the uneasiness caused by such accidents, and usually in
three or four days began to wonder how they vext us.

My children, the offspring of temperance, as they were educated
without softness, so they were at once well formed and healthy;
my sons hardy and active, my daughters beautiful and blooming.
When I stood in the midst of the little circle, which promised to
be the supports of my declining age, I could not avoid repeating
the famous story of Count Abensberg, who, in Henry II's progress
through Germany, while other courtiers came with their treasures,
brought his thirty-two children, and presented them to his
sovereign as the most valuable offering he had to bestow. In this
manner, though I had but six, I considered them as a very
valuable present made to my country, and consequently looked upon
it as my debtor. Our eldest son was named George, after his
uncle, who left us ten thousand pounds. Our second child, a girl,
I intended to call after her aunt Grissel; but my wife, who
during her pregnancy had been reading romances, insisted upon her
being called Olivia. In less than another year we had another
daughter, and now I was determined that Grissel should be her
name; but a rich relation taking a fancy to stand godmother, the
girl was, by her directions, called Sophia; so that we had two
romantic names in the family; but I solemnly protest I had no
hand in it. Moses was our next, and after an interval of twelve
years, we had two sons more.

It would be fruitless to deny my exultation when I saw my little
ones about me; but the vanity and the satisfaction of my wife
were even greater than mine. When our visitors would say, 'Well,
upon my word, Mrs Primrose, you have the finest children in the
whole country.'--'Ay, neighbour,' she would answer, 'they are as
heaven made them, handsome enough, if they be good enough; for
handsome is that handsome does.' And then she would bid the girls
hold up their heads; who, to conceal nothing, were certainly very
handsome. Mere outside is so very trifling a circumstance with
me, that I should scarce have remembered to mention it, had it
not been a general topic of conversation in the country. Olivia,
now about eighteen, had that luxuriancy of beauty with which
painters generally draw Hebe; open, sprightly, and commanding.
Sophia's features were not so striking at first; but often did
more certain execution; for they were soft, modest, and alluring.
The one vanquished by a single blow, the other by efforts
successfully repeated.

The temper of a woman is generally formed from the turn of her
features, at least it was so with my daughters. Olivia wished for
many lovers, Sophia to secure one. Olivia was often affected from
too great a desire to please. Sophia even represt excellence from
her fears to offend. The one entertained me with her vivacity
when I was gay, the other with her sense when I was serious. But
these qualities were never carried to excess in either, and I
have often seen them exchange characters for a whole day
together. A suit of mourning has transformed my coquet into a
prude, and a new set of ribbands has given her younger sister
more than natural vivacity. My eldest son George was bred at
Oxford, as I intended him for one of the learned professions. My
second boy Moses, whom I designed for business, received a sort
of a miscellaneous education at home. But it is needless to
attempt describing the particular characters of young people that
had seen but very little of the world. In short, a family
likeness prevailed through all, and properly speaking, they had
but one character, that of being all equally generous, credulous,
simple, and inoffensive.


Family misfortunes. The loss of fortune only serves to encrease
the pride of the worthy

The temporal concerns of our family were chiefly committed to my
wife's management, as to the spiritual I took them entirely under
my own direction. The profits of my living, which amounted to but
thirty-five pounds a year, I made over to the orphans and widows
of the clergy of our diocese; for having a sufficient fortune of
my own, I was careless of temporalities, and felt a secret
pleasure in doing my duty without reward. I also set a resolution
of keeping no curate, and of being acquainted with every man in
the parish, exhorting the married men to temperance and the
bachelors to matrimony; so that in a few years it was a common
saying, that there were three strange wants at Wakefield, a
parson wanting pride, young men wanting wives, and ale-houses
wanting customers. Matrimony was always one of my favourite
topics, and I wrote several sermons to prove its happiness: but
there was a peculiar tenet which I made a point of supporting;
for I maintained with Whiston, that it was unlawful for a priest
of the church of England, after the death of his first wife, to
take a second, or to express it in one word, I valued myself upon
being a strict monogamist. I was early innitiated into this
important dispute, on which so many laborious volumes have been
written. I published some tracts upon the subject myself, which,
as they never sold, I have the consolation of thinking are read
only by the happy Few. Some of my friends called this my weak
side; but alas! they had not like me made it the subject of long
contemplation. The more I reflected upon it, the more important
it appeared. I even went a step beyond Whiston in displaying my
principles: as he had engraven upon his wife's tomb that she was
the only wife of William Whiston; so I wrote a similar epitaph
for my wife, though still living, in which I extolled her
prudence, oeconomy, and obedience till death; and having got it
copied fair, with an elegant frame, it was placed over the
chimney-piece, where it answered several very useful purposes. It
admonished my wife of her duty to me, and my fidelity to her; it
inspired her with a passion for fame, and constantly put her in
mind of her end.

It was thus, perhaps, from hearing marriage so often recommended,
that my eldest son, just upon leaving college, fixed his
affections upon the daughter of a neighbouring clergyman, who was
a dignitary in the church, and in circumstances to give her a
large fortune: but fortune was her smallest accomplishment. Miss
Arabella Wilmot was allowed by all, except my two daughters, to
be completely pretty. Her youth, health, and innocence, were
still heightened by a complexion so transparent, and such an
happy sensibility of look, as even age could not gaze on with
indifference. As Mr Wilmot knew that I could make a very handsome
settlement on my son, he was not averse to the match; so both
families lived together in all that harmony which generally
precedes an expected alliance. Being convinced by experience that
the days of courtship are the most happy of our lives, I was
willing enough to lengthen the period; and the various amusements
which the young couple every day shared in each other's company,
seemed to encrease their passion. We were generally awaked in the
morning by music, and on fine days rode a hunting. The hours
between breakfast and dinner the ladies devoted to dress and
study: they usually read a page, and then gazed at themselves in
the glass, which even philosophers might own often presented the
page of greatest beauty. At dinner my wife took the lead; for as
she always insisted upon carving every thing herself, it being
her mother's way, she gave us upon these occasions the history of
every dish. When we had dined, to prevent the ladies leaving us,
I generally ordered the table to be removed; and sometimes, with
the music master's assistance, the girls would give us a very
agreeable concert. Walking out, drinking tea, country dances, and
forfeits, shortened the rest of the day, without the assistance
of cards, as I hated all manner of gaming, except backgammon, at
which my old friend and I sometimes took a two-penny hit. Nor can
I here pass over an ominous circumstance that happened the last
time we played together: I only wanted to fling a quatre, and yet
I threw deuce ace five times running. Some months were elapsed in
this manner, till at last it was thought convenient to fix a day
for the nuptials of the young couple, who seemed earnestly to
desire it. During the preparations for the wedding, I need not
describe the busy importance of my wife, nor the sly looks of my
daughters: in fact, my attention was fixed on another object, the
completing a tract which I intended shortly to publish in defence
of my favourite principle. As I looked upon this as a
master-piece both for argument and style, I could not in the
pride of my heart avoid shewing it to my old friend Mr Wilmot, as
I made no doubt of receiving his approbation; but not till too
late I discovered that he was most violently attached to the
contrary opinion, and with good reason; for he was at that time
actually courting a fourth wife. This, as may be expected,
produced a dispute attended with some acrimony, which threatened
to interrupt our intended alliance: but on the day before that
appointed for the ceremony, we agreed to discuss the subject at
large. It was managed with proper spirit on both sides: he
asserted that I was heterodox, I retorted the charge: he replied,
and I rejoined. In the mean time, while the controversy was
hottest, I was called out by one of my relations, who, with a
face of concern, advised me to give up the dispute, at least till
my son's wedding was over. 'How,' cried I, 'relinquish the cause
of truth, and let him be an husband, already driven to the very
verge of absurdity. You might as well advise me to give up my
fortune as my argument.' 'Your fortune,' returned my friend, 'I
am now sorry to inform you, is almost nothing. The merchant in
town, in whose hands your money was lodged, has gone off, to
avoid a statute of bankruptcy, and is thought not to have left a
shilling in the pound. I was unwilling to shock you or the family
with the account till after the wedding: but now it may serve to
moderate your warmth in the argument; for, I suppose, your own
prudence will enforce the necessity of dissembling at least till
your son has the young lady's fortune secure.'--'Well,' returned
I, 'if what you tell me be true, and if I am to be a beggar, it
shall never make me a rascal, or induce me to disavow my
principles. I'll go this moment and inform the company of my
circumstances; and as for the argument, I even here retract my
former concessions in the old gentleman's favour, nor will I
allow him now to be an husband in any sense of the expression.'

It would be endless to describe the different sensations of both
families when I divulged the news of our misfortune; but what
others felt was slight to what the lovers appeared to endure. Mr
Wilmot, who seemed before sufficiently inclined to break off the
match, was by this blow soon determined: one virtue he had in
perfection, which was prudence, too often the only one that is
left us at seventy-two.


A migration. The fortunate circumstances of our lives are
generally found at last to be of our own procuring

The only hope of our family now was, that the report of our
misfortunes might be malicious or premature: but a letter from my
agent in town soon came with a confirmation of every particular.
The loss of fortune to myself alone would have been trifling; the
only uneasiness I felt was for my family, who were to be humble
without an education to render them callous to contempt.

Near a fortnight had passed before I attempted to restrain their
affliction; for premature consolation is but the remembrancer of
sorrow. During this interval, my thoughts were employed on some
future means of supporting them; and at last a small Cure of
fifteen pounds a year was offered me in a distant neighbourhood,
where I could still enjoy my principles without molestation. With
this proposal I joyfully closed, having determined to encrease my
salary by managing a little farm.

Having taken this resolution, my next care was to get together
the wrecks of my fortune; and all debts collected and paid, out
of fourteen thousand pounds we had but four hundred remaining. My
chief attention therefore was now to bring down the pride of my
family to their circumstances; for I well knew that aspiring
beggary is wretchedness itself. 'You cannot be ignorant, my
children,' cried I, 'that no prudence of ours could have
prevented our late misfortune; but prudence may do much in
disappointing its effects. We are now poor, my fondlings, and
wisdom bids us conform to our humble situation. Let us then,
without repining, give up those splendours with which numbers are
wretched, and seek in humbler circumstances that peace with which
all may be happy. The poor live pleasantly without our help, why
then should not we learn to live without theirs. No, my children,
let us from this moment give up all pretensions to gentility; we
have still enough left for happiness if we are wise, and let us
draw upon content for the deficiencies of fortune.' As my eldest
son was bred a scholar, I determined to send him to town, where
his abilities might contribute to our support and his own. The
separation of friends and families is, perhaps, one of the most
distressful circumstances attendant on penury. The day soon
arrived on which we were to disperse for the first time. My son,
after taking leave of his mother and the rest, who mingled their
tears with their kisses, came to ask a blessing from me. This I
gave him from my heart, and which, added to five guineas, was all
the patrimony I had now to bestow. 'You are going, my boy,' cried
I, 'to London on foot, in the manner Hooker, your great ancestor,
travelled there before you. Take from me the same horse that was
given him by the good bishop Jewel, this staff, and take this
book too, it will be your comfort on the way: these two lines in
it are worth a million, I have been young, and now am old; yet
never saw I the righteous man forsaken, or his seed begging their
bread. Let this be your consolation as you travel on. Go, my boy,
whatever be thy fortune let me see thee once a year; still keep a
good heart, and farewell.' As he was possest of integrity and
honour, I was under no apprehensions from throwing him naked into
the amphitheatre of life; for I knew he would act a good part
whether vanquished or victorious. His departure only prepared the
way for our own, which arrived a few days afterwards. The leaving
a neighbourhood in which we had enjoyed so many hours of
tranquility, was not without a tear, which scarce fortitude
itself could suppress. Besides, a journey of seventy miles to a
family that had hitherto never been above ten from home, filled
us with apprehension, and the cries of the poor, who followed us
for some miles, contributed to encrease it. The first day's
journey brought us in safety within thirty miles of our future
retreat, and we put up for the night at an obscure inn in a
village by the way. When we were shewn a room, I desired the
landlord, in my usual way, to let us have his company, with which
he complied, as what he drank would encrease the bill next
morning. He knew, however, the whole neighbourhood to which I was
removing, particularly 'Squire Thornhill, who was to be my
landlord, and who lived within a few miles of the place. This
gentleman he described as one who desired to know little more of
the world than its pleasures, being particularly remarkable for
his attachment to the fair sex. He observed that no virtue was
able to resist his arts and assiduity, and that scarce a farmer's
daughter within ten miles round but what had found him successful
and faithless. Though this account gave me some pain, it had a
very different effect upon my daughters, whose features seemed to
brighten with the expectation of an approaching triumph, nor was
my wife less pleased and confident of their allurements and
virtue. While our thoughts were thus employed, the hostess
entered the room to inform her husband, that the strange
gentleman, who had been two days in the house, wanted money, and
could not satisfy them for his reckoning. 'Want money!' replied
the host, 'that must be impossible; for it was no later than
yesterday he paid three guineas to our beadle to spare an old
broken soldier that was to be whipped through the town for dog-
stealing.' The hostess, however, still persisting in her first
assertion, he was preparing to leave the room, swearing that he
would be satisfied one way or another, when I begged the landlord
would introduce me to a stranger of so much charity as he
described. With this he complied, shewing in a gentleman who
seemed to be about thirty, drest in cloaths that once were laced.
His person was well formed, and his face marked with the lines of
thinking. He had something short and dry in his address, and
seemed not to understand ceremony, or to despise it. Upon the
landlord's leaving the room, I could not avoid expressing my
concern to the stranger at seeing a gentleman in such
circumstances, and offered him my purse to satisfy the present
demand. 'I take it with all my heart, Sir,' replied he, 'and am
glad that a late oversight in giving what money I had about me,
has shewn me that there are still some men like you. I must,
however, previously entreat being informed of the name and
residence of my benefactor, in order to repay him as soon as
possible.' In this I satisfied him fully, not only mentioning my
name and late misfortunes, but the place to which I was going to
remove. 'This,' cried he, 'happens still more luckily than I
hoped for, as I am going the same way myself, having been
detained here two days by the floods, which, I hope, by to-morrow
will be found passable.' I testified the pleasure I should have
in his company, and my wife and daughters joining in entreaty, he
was prevailed upon to stay supper. The stranger's conversation,
which was at once pleasing and instructive, induced me to wish
for a continuance of it; but it was now high time to retire and
take refreshment against the fatigues of the following day.

The next morning we all set forward together: my family on
horseback, while Mr Burchell, our new companion, walked along the
foot-path by the road-side, observing, with a smile, that as we
were ill mounted, he would be too generous to attempt leaving us
behind. As the floods were not yet subsided, we were obliged to
hire a guide, who trotted on before, Mr Burchell and I bringing
up the rear. We lightened the fatigues of the road with
philosophical disputes, which he seemed to understand perfectly.
But what surprised me most was, that though he was a money-
borrower, he defended his opinions with as much obstinacy as if
he had been my patron. He now and then also informed me to whom
the different seats belonged that lay in our view as we travelled
the road. 'That,' cried he, pointing to a very magnificent house
which stood at some distance, 'belongs to Mr Thornhill, a young
gentleman who enjoys a large fortune, though entirely dependent
on the will of his uncle, Sir William Thornhill, a gentleman, who
content with a little himself, permits his nephew to enjoy the
rest, and chiefly resides in town.' 'What!' cried I, 'is my young
landlord then the nephew of a man whose virtues, generosity, and
singularities are so universally known? I have heard Sir William
Thornhill represented as one of the most generous, yet whimsical,
men in the kingdom; a man of consumate benevolence'--'Something,
perhaps, too much so,' replied Mr Burchell, 'at least he carried
benevolence to an excess when young; for his passions were then
strong, and as they all were upon the side of virtue, they led it
up to a romantic extreme. He early began to aim at the
qualifications of the soldier and scholar; was soon distinguished
in the army and had some reputation among men of learning.
Adulation ever follows the ambitious; for such alone receive most
pleasure from flattery. He was surrounded with crowds, who shewed
him only one side of their character; so that he began to lose a
regard for private interest in universal sympathy. He loved all
mankind; for fortune prevented him from knowing that there were
rascals. Physicians tell us of a disorder in which the whole body
is so exquisitely sensible, that the slightest touch gives pain:
what some have thus suffered in their persons, this gentleman
felt in his mind. The slightest distress, whether real or
fictitious, touched him to the quick, and his soul laboured under
a sickly sensibility of the miseries of others. Thus disposed to
relieve, it will be easily conjectured, he found numbers disposed
to solicit: his profusions began to impair his fortune, but not
his good-nature; that, indeed, was seen to encrease as the other
seemed to decay: he grew improvident as he grew poor; and though
he talked like a man of sense, his actions were those of a fool.
Still, however, being surrounded with importunity, and no longer
able to satisfy every request that was made him, instead of money
he gave promises. They were all he had to bestow, and he had not
resolution enough to give any man pain by a denial. By this he
drew round him crowds of dependants, whom he was sure to
disappoint; yet wished to relieve. These hung upon him for a
time, and left him with merited reproaches and contempt. But in
proportion as he became contemptable to others, he became
despicable to himself. His mind had leaned upon their adulation,
and that support taken away, he could find no pleasure in the
applause of his heart, which he had never learnt to reverence.
The world now began to wear a different aspect; the flattery of
his friends began to dwindle into simple approbation. Approbation
soon took the more friendly form of advice, and advice when
rejected produced their reproaches. He now, therefore found that
such friends as benefits had gathered round him, were little
estimable: he now found that a man's own heart must be ever given
to gain that of another. I now found, that--that--I forget what I
was going to observe: in short, sir, he resolved to respect
himself, and laid down a plan of restoring his falling fortune.
For this purpose, in his own whimsical manner he travelled
through Europe on foot, and now, though he has scarce attained
the age of thirty, his circumstances are more affluent than ever.
At present, his bounties are more rational and moderate than
before; but still he preserves the character of an humourist, and
finds most pleasure in eccentric virtues.'

My attention was so much taken up by Mr Burchell's account, that
I scarce looked forward as we went along, til we were alarmed by
the cries of my family, when turning, I perceived my youngest
daughter in the midst of a rapid stream, thrown from her horse,
and struggling with the torrent. She had sunk twice, nor was it
in my power to disengage myself in time to bring her relief. My
sensations were even too violent to permit my attempting her
rescue: she must have certainly perished had not my companion,
perceiving her danger, instantly plunged in to her relief, and
with some difficulty, brought her in safety to the opposite
shore. By taking the current a little farther up, the rest of the
family got safely over; where we had an opportunity of joining
our acknowledgments to her's. Her gratitude may be more readily
imagined than described: she thanked her deliverer more with
looks than words, and continued to lean upon his arm, as if still
willing to receive assistance. My wife also hoped one day to have
the pleasure of returning his kindness at her own house. Thus,
after we were refreshed at the next inn, and had dined together,
as Mr Burchell was going to a different part of the country, he
took leave; and we pursued our journey. My wife observing as we
went, that she liked him extremely, and protesting, that if he
had birth and fortune to entitle him to match into such a family
as our's, she knew no man she would sooner fix upon. I could not
but smile to hear her talk in this lofty strain: but I was never
much displeased with those harmless delusions that tend to make
us more happy.


A proof that even the humblest fortune may grant happiness, which
depends not on circumstance, but constitution

The place of our retreat was in a little neighbourhood,
consisting of farmers, who tilled their own grounds, and were
equal strangers to opulence and poverty. As they had almost all
the conveniencies of life within themselves, they seldom visited
towns or cities in search of superfluity. Remote from the polite,
they still retained the primaeval simplicity of manners, and
frugal by habit, they scarce knew that temperance was a virtue.
They wrought with cheerfulness on days of labour; but observed
festivals as intervals of idleness and pleasure. They kept up the
Christmas carol, sent true love-knots on Valentine morning, eat
pancakes on Shrove-tide, shewed their wit on the first of April,
and religiously cracked nuts on Michaelmas eve. Being apprized of
our approach, the whole neighbourhood came out to meet their
minister, drest in their finest cloaths, and preceded by a pipe
and tabor: A feast also was provided for our reception, at which
we sat cheerfully down; and what the conversation wanted in wit,
was made up in laughter.

Our little habitation was situated at the foot of a sloping hill,
sheltered with a beautiful underwood behind, and a pratling river
before; on one side a meadow, on the other a green. My farm
consisted of about twenty acres of excellent land, having given
an hundred pound for my predecessor's good-will. Nothing could
exceed the neatness of my little enclosures: the elms and hedge
rows appearing with inexpressible beauty. My house consisted of
but one story, and was covered with thatch, which gave it an air
of great snugness; the walls on the inside were nicely white-
washed, and my daughters undertook to adorn them with pictures of
their own designing. Though the same room served us for parlour
and kitchen, that only made it the warmer. Besides, as it was
kept with the utmost neatness, the dishes, plates, and coppers,
being well scoured, and all disposed in bright rows on the
shelves, the eye was agreeably relieved, and did not want richer
furniture. There were three other apartments, one for my wife and
me, another for our two daughters, within our own, and the third,
with two beds, for the rest of the children.

The little republic to which I gave laws, was regulated in the
following manner: by sun-rise we all assembled in our common
appartment; the fire being previously kindled by the servant.
After we had saluted each other with proper ceremony, for I
always thought fit to keep up some mechanical forms of good
breeding, without which freedom ever destroys friendship, we all
bent in gratitude to that Being who gave us another day. This
duty being performed, my son and I went to pursue our usual
industry abroad, while my wife and daughters employed themselves
in providing breakfast, which was always ready at a certain time.
I allowed half an hour for this meal, and an hour for dinner;
which time was taken up in innocent mirth between my wife and
daughters, and in philosophical arguments between my son and me.

As we rose with the sun, so we never pursued our labours after it
was gone down, but returned home to the expecting family; where
smiling looks, a treat hearth, and pleasant fire, were prepared
for our reception. Nor were we without guests: sometimes farmer
Flamborough, our talkative neighbour, and often the blind piper,
would pay us a visit, and taste our gooseberry wine; for the
making of which we had lost neither the receipt nor the
reputation. These harmless people had several ways of being good
company, while one played, the other would sing some soothing
ballad, Johnny Armstrong's last good night, or the cruelty of
Barbara Allen. The night was concluded in the manner we began the
morning, my youngest boys being appointed to read the lessons of
the day, and he that read loudest, distinctest, and best, was to
have an half-penny on Sunday to put in the poor's box.

When Sunday came, it was indeed a day of finery, which all my
sumptuary edicts could not restrain. How well so ever I fancied
my lectures against pride had conquered the vanity of my
daughters; yet I still found them secretly attached to all their
former finery: they still loved laces, ribbands, bugles and
catgut; my wife herself retained a passion for her crimson
paduasoy, because I formerly happened to say it became her.

The first Sunday in particular their behaviour served to mortify
me: I had desired my girls the preceding night to be drest early
the next day; for I always loved to be at church a good while
before the rest of the congregation. They punctually obeyed my
directions; but when we were to assemble in the morning at
breakfast, down came my wife and daughters, drest out in all
their former splendour: their hair plaistered up with pomatum,
their faces patched to taste, their trains bundled up into an
heap behind, and rustling at every motion. I could not help
smiling at their vanity, particularly that of my wife, from whom
I expected more discretion. In this exigence, therefore, my only
resource was to order my son, with an important air, to call our
coach. The girls were amazed at the command; but I repeated it
with more solemnity than before.--'Surely, my dear, you jest,'
cried my wife, 'we can walk it perfectly well: we want no coach
to carry us now.' 'You mistake, child,' returned I, 'we do want a
coach; for if we walk to church in this trim, the very children
in the parish will hoot after us.'--'Indeed,' replied my wife, 'I
always imagined that my Charles was fond of seeing his children
neat and handsome about him.'--'You may be as neat as you
please,' interrupted I, 'and I shall love you the better for it,
but all this is not neatness, but frippery. These rufflings, and
pinkings, and patchings, will only make us hated by all the wives
of all our neighbours. No, my children,' continued I, more
gravely, 'those gowns may be altered into something of a plainer
cut; for finery is very unbecoming in us, who want the means of
decency. I do not know whether such flouncing and shredding is
becoming even in the rich, if we consider, upon a moderate
calculation, that the nakedness of the indigent world may be
cloathed from the trimmings of the vain.'

This remonstrance had the proper effect; they went with great
composure, that very instant, to change their dress; and the next
day I had the satisfaction of finding my daughters, at their own
request employed in cutting up their trains into Sunday
waistcoats for Dick and Bill, the two little ones, and what was
still more satisfactory, the gowns seemed improved by this


A new and great acquaintance introduced. What we place most hopes
upon, generally proves most fatal

At a small distance from the house my predecessor had made a
seat, overshaded by an hedge of hawthorn and honeysuckle. Here,
when the weather was fine, and our labour soon finished, we
usually sate together, to enjoy an extensive landschape, in the
calm of the evening. Here too we drank tea, which now was become
an occasional banquet; and as we had it but seldom, it diffused a
new joy, the preparations for it being made with no small share
of bustle and ceremony. On these occasions, our two little ones
always read for us, and they were regularly served after we had
done. Sometimes, to give a variety to our amusements, the girls
sung to the guitar; and while they thus formed a little concert,
my wife and I would stroll down the sloping field, that was
embellished with blue bells and centaury, talk of our children
with rapture, and enjoy the breeze that wafted both health and

In this manner we began to find that every situation in life
might bring its own peculiar pleasures: every morning waked us to
a repetition of toil; but the evening repaid it with vacant

It was about the beginning of autumn, on a holiday, for I kept
such as intervals of relaxation from labour, that I had drawn out
my family to our usual place of amusement, and our young
musicians began their usual concert. As we were thus engaged, we
saw a stag bound nimbly by, within about twenty paces of where we
were sitting, and by its panting, it seemed prest by the hunters.
We had not much time to reflect upon the poor animal's distress,
when we perceived the dogs and horsemen come sweeping along at
some distance behind, and making the very path it had taken. I
was instantly for returning in with my family; but either
curiosity or surprize, or some more hidden motive, held my wife
and daughters to their seats. The huntsman, who rode foremost,
past us with great swiftness, followed by four or five persons
more, who seemed in equal haste. At last, a young gentleman of a
more genteel appearance than the rest, came forward, and for a
while regarding us, instead of pursuing the chace, stopt short,
and giving his horse to a servant who attended, approached us
with a careless superior air. He seemed to want no introduction,
but was going to salute my daughters as one certain of a kind
reception; but they had early learnt the lesson of looking
presumption out of countenance. Upon which he let us know that
his name was Thornhill, and that he was owner of the estate that
lay for some extent round us. He again, therefore, offered to
salute the female part of the family, and such was the power of
fortune and fine cloaths, that he found no second repulse. As his
address, though confident, was easy, we soon became more
familiar; and perceiving musical instruments lying near, he
begged to be favoured with a song. As I did not approve of such
disproportioned acquaintances, I winked upon my daughters in
order to prevent their compliance; but my hint was counteracted
by one from their mother; so that with a chearful air they gave
us, a favourite song of Dryden's. Mr Thornhill seemed highly
delighted with their performance and choice, and then took up the
guitar himself. He played but very indifferently; however, my
eldest daughter repaid his former applause with interest, and
assured him that his tones were louder than even those of her
master. At this compliment he bowed, which she returned with a
curtesy. He praised her taste, and she commended his
understanding: an age could not have made them better acquainted.
While the fond mother too, equally happy, insisted upon her
landlord's stepping in, and tasting a glass of her gooseberry.
The whole family seemed earnest to please him: my girls attempted
to entertain him with topics they thought most modern, while
Moses, on the contrary, gave him a question or two from the
ancients, for which he had the satisfaction of being laughed at:
my little ones were no less busy, and fondly stuck close to the
stranger. All my endeavours could scarce keep their dirty fingers
from handling and tarnishing the lace on his cloaths, and lifting
up the flaps of his pocket holes, to see what was there. At the
approach of evening he took leave; but not till he had requested
permission to renew his visit, which, as he was our landlord, we
most readily agreed to.

As soon as he was gone, my wife called a council on the conduct
of the day. She was of opinion, that it was a most fortunate hit;
for that she had known even stranger things at last brought to
bear. She hoped again to see the day in which we might hold up
our heads with the best of them; and concluded, she protested she
could see no reason why the two Miss Wrinklers should marry great
fortunes, and her children get none. As this last argument was
directed to me, I protested I could see no reason for it neither,
nor why Mr Simpkins got the ten thousand pound prize in the
lottery, and we sate down with a blank. 'I protest, Charles,'
cried my wife, 'this is the way you always damp my girls and me
when we are in Spirits. Tell me, Sophy, my dear, what do you
think of our new visitor? Don't you think he seemed to be good-
natured?'--'Immensely so, indeed, Mamma,' replied she. 'I think
he has a great deal to say upon every thing, and is never at a
loss; and the more trifling the subject, the more he has to say.'
--'Yes,' cried Olivia, 'he is well enough for a man; but for my
part, I don't much like him, he is so extremely impudent and
familiar; but on the guitar he is shocking.' These two last
speeches I interpreted by contraries. I found by this, that
Sophia internally despised, as much as Olivia secretly admired
him.--'Whatever may be your opinions of him, my children,' cried
I, 'to confess a truth, he has not prepossest me in his favour.
Disproportioned friendships ever terminate in disgust; and I
thought, notwithstanding all his ease, that he seemed perfectly
sensible of the distance between us. Let us keep to companions of
our own rank. There is no character more contemptible than a man
that is a fortune-hunter, and I can see no reason why fortune-
hunting women should not be contemptible too. Thus, at best, we
shall be contemptible if his views be honourable; but if they be
otherwise! I should shudder but to think of that! It is true I
have no apprehensions from the conduct of my children, but I
think there are some from his character.'--I would have
proceeded, but for the interruption of a servant from the
'Squire, who, with his compliments, sent us a side of venison,
and a promise to dine with us some days after. This well-timed
present pleaded more powerfully in his favour, than any thing I
had to say could obviate. I therefore continued silent, satisfied
with just having pointed out danger, and leaving it to their own
discretion to avoid it. That virtue which requires to be ever
guarded, is scarce worth the centinel.


The happiness of a country fire-side

As we carried on the former dispute with some degree of warmth,
in order to accommodate matters, it was universally agreed, that
we should have a part of the venison for supper, and the girls
undertook the task with alacrity. 'I am sorry,' cried I, 'that we
have no neighbour or stranger to take a part in this good cheer:
feasts of this kind acquire a double relish from hospitality.'--
'Bless me,' cried my wife, 'here comes our good friend Mr
Burchell, that saved our Sophia, and that run you down fairly in
the argument'--'Confute me in argument, child!' cried I. 'You
mistake there, my dear. I believe there are but few that can do
that: I never dispute your abilities at making a goose-pye, and I
beg you'll leave argument to me.'--As I spoke, poor Mr Burchell
entered the house, and was welcomed by the family, who shook him
heartily by the hand, while little Dick officiously reached him a

I was pleased with the poor man's friendship for two reasons;
because I knew that he wanted mine, and I knew him to be friendly
as far as he was able. He was known in our neighbourhood by the
character of the poor Gentleman that would do no good when he was
young, though he was not yet thirty. He would at intervals talk
with great good sense; but in general he was fondest of the
company of children, whom he used to call harmless little men. He
was famous, I found, for singing them ballads, and telling them
stories; and seldom went out without something in his pockets for
them, a piece of gingerbread, or an halfpenny whistle. He
generally came for a few days into our neighbourhood once a year,
and lived upon the neighbours hospitality. He sate down to supper
among us, and my wife was not sparing of her gooseberry wine. The
tale went round; he sung us old songs, and gave the children the
story of the Buck of Beverland, with the history of Patient
Grissel, the adventures of Catskin, and then Fair Rosamond's
bower. Our cock, which always crew at eleven, now told us it was
time for repose; but an unforeseen difficulty started about
lodging the stranger: all our beds were already taken up, and it
was too late to send him to the next alehouse. In this dilemma,
little Dick offered him his part of the bed, if his brother Moses
would let him lie with him; 'And I,' cried Bill, 'will give Mr
Burchell my part, if my sisters will take me to theirs.'--'Well
done, my good children,' cried I, 'hospitality is one of the
first Christian duties. The beast retires to its shelter, and the
bird flies to its nest; but helpless man can only find refuge
from his fellow creature. The greatest stranger in this world,
was he that came to save it. He never had an house, as if willing
to see what hospitality was left remaining amongst us. Deborah,
my dear,' cried I, to my wife, 'give those boys a lump of sugar
each, and let Dick's be the largest, because he spoke first.'

In the morning early I called out my whole family to help at
saving an after-growth of hay, and, our guest offering his
assistance, he was accepted among the number. Our labours went on
lightly, we turned the swath to the wind, I went foremost, and
the rest followed in due succession. I could not avoid, however,
observing the assiduity of Mr Burchell in assisting my daughter
Sophia in her part of the task. When he had finished his own, he
would join in her's, and enter into a close conversation: but I
had too good an opinion of Sophia's understanding, and was too
well convinced of her ambition, to be under any uneasiness from a
man of broken fortune. When we were finished for the day, Mr
Burchell was invited as on the night before; but he refused, as
he was to lie that night at a neighbour's, to whose child he was
carrying a whistle. When gone, our conversation at supper turned
upon our late unfortunate guest. 'What a strong instance,' said
I, 'is that poor man of the miseries attending a youth of levity
and extravagance. He by no means wants sense, which only serves
to aggravate his former folly. Poor forlorn creature, where are
now the revellers, the flatterers, that he could once inspire and
command! Gone, perhaps, to attend the bagnio pander, grown rich
by his extravagance. They once praised him, and now they applaud
the pander: their former raptures at his wit, are now converted
into sarcasms at his folly: he is poor, and perhaps deserves
poverty; for he has neither the ambition to be independent, nor
the skill to be useful.' Prompted, perhaps, by some secret
reasons, I delivered this observation with too much acrimony,
which my Sophia gently reproved. 'Whatsoever his former conduct
may be, pappa, his circumstances should exempt him from censure
now. His present indigence is a sufficient punishment for former
folly; and I have heard my pappa himself say, that we should
never strike our unnecessary blow at a victim over whom
providence holds the scourge of its resentment.'--'You are right,
Sophy,' cried my son Moses, 'and one of the ancients finely
represents so malicious a conduct, by the attempts of a rustic to
flay Marsyas, whose skin, the fable tells us, had been wholly
stript off by another.' Besides, I don't know if this poor man's
situation be so bad as my father would represent it. We are not
to judge of the feelings of others by what we might feel if in
their place. However dark the habitation of the mole to our eyes,
yet the animal itself finds the apartment sufficiently lightsome.
And to confess a truth, this man's mind seems fitted to his
station; for I never heard any one more sprightly than he was
to-day, when he conversed with you.'--This was said without the
least design, however it excited a blush, which she strove to
cover by an affected laugh, assuring him, that she scarce took
any notice of what he said to her; but that she believed he might
once have been a very fine gentleman. The readiness with which
she undertook to vindicate herself, and her blushing, were
symptoms I did not internally approve; but I represt my

As we expected our landlord the next day, my wife went to make
the venison pasty; Moses sate reading, while I taught the little
ones: my daughters seemed equally busy with the rest; and I
observed them for a good while cooking something over the fire. I
at first supposed they were assisting their mother; but little
Dick informed me in a whisper, that they were making a wash for
the face. Washes of all kinds I had a natural antipathy to; for I
knew that instead of mending the complexion they spoiled it. I
therefore approached my chair by sly degrees to the fire, and
grasping the poker, as if it wanted mending, seemingly by
accident, overturned the whole composition, and it was too late
to begin another.


A town wit described. The dullest fellows may learn to be comical
for a night or two

When the morning arrived on which we were to entertain our young
landlord, it may be easily supposed what provisions were
exhausted to make an appearance. It may also be conjectured that
my wife and daughters expanded their gayest plumage upon this
occasion. Mr Thornhill came with a couple of friends, his
chaplain, and feeder. The servants, who were numerous, he
politely ordered to the next ale-house: but my wife, in the
triumph of her heart, insisted on entertaining them all; for
which, by the bye, our family was pinched for three weeks after.
As Mr Burchell had hinted to us the day before, that he was
making some proposals of marriage, to Miss Wilmot, my son
George's former mistress, this a good deal damped the heartiness
of his reception: but accident, in some measure, relieved our
embarrasment; for one of the company happening to mention her
name, Mr Thornhill observed with an oath, that he never knew any
thing more absurd than calling such a fright a beauty: 'For
strike me ugly,' continued he, 'if I should not find as much
pleasure in choosing my mistress by the information of a lamp
under the clock at St Dunstan's.' At this he laughed, and so did
we:--the jests of the rich are ever successful. Olivia too could
not avoid whispering, loud enough to be heard, that he had an
infinite fund of humour. After dinner, I began with my usual
toast, the Church; for this I was thanked by the chaplain, as he
said the church was the only mistress of his affections.--'Come
tell us honestly, Frank,' said the 'Squire, with his usual
archness, 'suppose the church, your present mistress, drest in
lawnsleeves, on one hand, and Miss Sophia, with no lawn about
her, on the other, which would you be for?' 'For both, to be
sure,' cried the chaplain.--'Right Frank,' cried the 'Squire;
'for may this glass suffocate me but a fine girl is worth all the
priestcraft in the creation. For what are tythes and tricks but
an imposition, all a confounded imposture, and I can prove it.'--
'I wish you would,' cried my son Moses, 'and I think,' continued
he, 'that I should be able to answer you.'--'Very well, Sir,'
cried the 'Squire, who immediately smoaked him,' and winking on
the rest of the company, to prepare us for the sport, if you are
for a cool argument upon that subject, I am ready to accept the
challenge. And first, whether are you for managing it
analogically, or dialogically?' 'I am for managing it
rationally,' cried Moses, quite happy at being permitted to
dispute. 'Good again,' cried the 'Squire, 'and firstly, of the
first. I hope you'll not deny that whatever is is. If you don't
grant me that, I can go no further.'--'Why,' returned Moses, 'I
think I may grant that, and make the best of it.'--'I hope too,'
returned the other, 'you'll grant that a part is less than the
whole.' 'I grant that too,' cried Moses, 'it is but just and
reasonable.'--'I hope,' cried the 'Squire, 'you will not deny,
that the two angles of a triangle are equal to two right ones.'--
'Nothing can be plainer,' returned t'other, and looked round with
his usual importance.--'Very well,' cried the 'Squire, speaking
very quick, 'the premises being thus settled, I proceed to
observe, that the concatenation of self existences, proceeding in
a reciprocal duplicate ratio, naturally produce a problematical
dialogism, which in some measure proves that the essence of
spirituality may be referred to the second predicable'--'Hold,
hold,' cried the other, 'I deny that: Do you think I can thus
tamely submit to such heterodox doctrines?'--'What,' replied the
'Squire, as if in a passion, 'not submit! Answer me one plain
question: Do you think Aristotle right when he says, that
relatives are related?' 'Undoubtedly,' replied the other.--'If so
then,' cried the 'Squire, 'answer me directly to what I propose:
Whether do you judge the analytical investigation of the first
part of my enthymem deficient secundum quoad, or quoad minus, and
give me your reasons: give me your reasons, I say, directly.'--'I
protest,' cried Moses, 'I don't rightly comprehend the force of
your reasoning; but if it be reduced to one simple proposition, I
fancy it may then have an answer.'--'O sir,' cried the 'Squire,
'I am your most humble servant, I find you want me to furnish you
with argument and intellects too. No, sir, there I protest you
are too hard for me.' This effectually raised the laugh against
poor Moses, who sate the only dismal figure in a groupe of merry
faces: nor, did he offer a single syllable more during the whole

But though all this gave me no pleasure, it had a very different
effect upon Olivia, who mistook it for humour, though but a mere
act of the memory. She thought him therefore a very fine
gentleman; and such as consider what powerful ingredients a good
figure, fine cloaths, and fortune, are in that character, will
easily forgive her. Mr Thornhill, notwithstanding his real
ignorance, talked with ease, and could expatiate upon the common
topics of conversation with fluency. It is not surprising then
that such talents should win the affections of a girl, who by
education was taught to value an appearance in herself, and
consequently to set a value upon it in another.

Upon his departure, we again entered into a debate upon the
merits of our young landlord. As he directed his looks and
conversation to Olivia, it was no longer doubted but that she was
the object that induced him to be our visitor. Nor did she seem
to be much displeased at the innocent raillery of her brother and
sister upon this occasion. Even Deborah herself seemed to share
the glory of the day, and exulted in her daughter's victory as if
it were her own. 'And now, my dear,' cried she to me, 'I'll
fairly own, that it was I that instructed my girls to encourage
our landlord's addresses. I had always some ambition, and you now
see that I was right; for who knows how this may end?' 'Ay, who
knows that indeed,' answered I, with a groan: 'for my part I
don't much like it; and I could have been better pleased with one
that was poor and honest, than this fine gentleman with his
fortune and infidelity; for depend on't, if he be what I suspect
him, no free- thinker shall ever have a child of mine.' 'Sure,
father,' cried Moses, 'you are too severe in this; for heaven
will never arraign him for what he thinks, but for what he does.
Every man has a thousand vicious thoughts, which arise without
his power to suppress. Thinking freely of religion, may be
involuntary with this gentleman: so that allowing his sentiments
to be wrong, yet as he is purely passive in his assent, he is no
more to be blamed for his errors than the governor of a city
without walls for the shelter he is obliged to afford an invading

'True, my son,' cried I; 'but if the governor invites the enemy,
there he is justly culpable. And such is always the case with
those who embrace error. The vice does not lie in assenting to
the proofs they see; but in being blind to many of the proofs
that offer. So that, though our erroneous opinions be involuntary
when formed, yet as we have been wilfully corrupt, or very
negligent in forming them, we deserve punishment for our vice, or
contempt for our folly.' My wife now kept up the conversation,
though not the argument: she observed, that several very prudent
men of our acquaintance were free-thinkers, and made very good
husbands; and she knew some sensible girls that had skill enough
to make converts of their spouses: 'And who knows, my dear,'
continued she, 'what Olivia may be able to do. The girl has a
great deal to say upon every subject, and to my knowledge is very
well skilled in controversy.'

'Why, my dear, what controversy can she have read?' cried I. 'It
does not occur to me that I ever put such books into her hands:
you certainly over-rate her merit.' 'Indeed, pappa,' replied
Olivia, 'she does not: I have read a great deal of controversy. I
have read the disputes between Thwackum and Square; the
controversy between Robinson Crusoe and Friday the savage, and I
am now employed in reading the controversy in Religious
courtship' --'Very well,' cried I, 'that's a good girl, I find
you are perfectly qualified for making converts, and so go help
your mother to make the gooseberry-pye.'


An amour, which promises little good fortune, yet may be
productive of much

The next morning we were again visited by Mr Burchell, though I
began, for certain reasons, to be displeased with the frequency
of his return; but I could not refuse him my company and
fire-side. It is true his labour more than requited his
entertainment; for he wrought among us with vigour, and either in
the meadow or at the hay-rick put himself foremost. Besides, he
had always something amusing to say that lessened our toil, and
was at once so out of the way, and yet so sensible, that I loved,
laughed at, and pitied him. My only dislike arose from an
attachment he discovered to my daughter: he would, in a jesting
manner, call her his little mistress, and when he bought each of
the girls a set of ribbands, hers was the finest. I knew not how,
but he every day seemed to become more amiable, his wit to
improve, and his simplicity to assume the superior airs of

Our family dined in the field, and we sate, or rather reclined,
round a temperate repast, our cloth spread upon the hay, while Mr
Burchell gave cheerfulness to the feast. To heighten our
satisfaction two blackbirds answered each other from opposite
hedges, the familiar redbreast came and pecked the crumbs from
our hands, and every sound seemed but the echo of tranquillity.
'I never sit thus,' says Sophia, 'but I think of the two lovers,
so sweetly described by Mr Gay, who were struck dead in each
other's arms. There is something so pathetic in the description,
that I have read it an hundred times with new rapture.'--'In my
opinion,' cried my son, 'the finest strokes in that description
are much below those in the Acis and Galatea of Ovid. The Roman
poet understands the use of contrast better, and upon that figure
artfully managed all strength in the pathetic depends.'--'It is
remarkable,' cried Mr Burchell, 'that both the poets you mention
have equally contributed to introduce a false taste into their
respective countries, by loading all their lines with epithet.
Men of little genius found them most easily imitated in their
defects, and English poetry, like that in the latter empire of
Rome, is nothing at present but a combination of luxuriant
images, without plot or connexion; a string of epithets that
improve the sound, without carrying on the sense. But perhaps,
madam, while I thus reprehend others, you'll think it just that I
should give them an opportunity to retaliate, and indeed I have
made this remark only to have an opportunity of introducing to
the company a ballad, which, whatever be its other defects, is I
think at least free from those I have mentioned.'


'Turn, gentle hermit of the dale,
And guide my lonely way,
To where yon taper cheers the vale,
With hospitable ray.

'For here forlorn and lost I tread,
With fainting steps and slow;
Where wilds immeasurably spread,
Seem lengthening as I go.'

'Forbear, my son,' the hermit cries,
'To tempt the dangerous gloom;
For yonder faithless phantom flies
To lure thee to thy doom.

'Here to the houseless child of want,
My door is open still;
And tho' my portion is but scant,
I give it with good will.

'Then turn to-night, and freely share
Whate'er my cell bestows;
My rushy couch, and frugal fare,
My blessing and repose.

'No flocks that range the valley free,
To slaughter I condemn:
Taught by that power that pities me,
I learn to pity them.

'But from the mountain's grassy side,
A guiltless feast I bring;
A scrip with herbs and fruits supply'd,
And water from the spring.

'Then, pilgrim, turn, thy cares forego;
All earth-born cares are wrong:
Man wants but little here below,
Nor wants that little long.'

Soft as the dew from heav'n descends,
His gentle accents fell:
The modest stranger lowly bends,
And follows to the cell.

Far in a wilderness obscure
The lonely mansion lay;
A refuge to the neighbouring poor,
And strangers led astray.

No stores beneath its humble thatch
Requir'd a master's care;
The wicket opening with a latch,
Receiv'd the harmless pair.

And now when busy crowds retire
To take their evening rest,
The hermit trimm'd his little fire,
And cheer'd his pensive guest:

And spread his vegetable store,
And gayly prest, and smil'd;
And skill'd in legendary lore,
The lingering hours beguil'd.

Around in sympathetic mirth
Its tricks the kitten tries,
The cricket chirrups in the hearth;
The crackling faggot flies.

But nothing could a charm impart
To sooth the stranger's woe;
For grief was heavy at his heart,
And tears began to flow.

His rising cares the hermit spy'd,
With answering care opprest:
'And whence, unhappy youth,' he cry'd,
'The sorrows of thy breast?

'From better habitations spurn'd,
Reluctant dost thou rove;
Or grieve for friendship unreturn'd,
Or unregarded love?

'Alas! the joys that fortune brings,
Are trifling and decay;
And those who prize the paltry things,
More trifling still than they.

'And what is friendship but a name,
A charm that lulls to sleep;
A shade that follows wealth or fame,
But leaves the wretch to weep?

'And love is still an emptier sound,
The modern fair one's jest:
On earth unseen, or only found
To warm the turtle's nest.

'For shame fond youth thy sorrows hush
And spurn the sex,' he said:
But while he spoke a rising blush
His love-lorn guest betray'd.

Surpriz'd he sees new beauties rise,
Swift mantling to the view;
Like colours o'er the morning skies,
As bright, as transient too.

The bashful look, the rising breast,
Alternate spread alarms:
The lovely stranger stands confest
A maid in all her charms.

'And, ah,'forgive a stranger rude,
A wretch forlorn,' she cry'd;
'Whose feet unhallowed thus intrude
Where heaven and you reside.

'But let a maid thy pity share,
Whom love has taught to stray;
Who seeks for rest, but finds despair
Companion of her way.

'My father liv'd beside the Tyne,
A wealthy Lord was he;
And all his wealth was mark'd as mine,
He had but only me.

'To win me from his tender arms,
Unnumber'd suitors came;
Who prais'd me for imputed charms,
And felt or feign'd a flame.

'Each hour a mercenary crowd,
With richest proffers strove:
Among the rest young Edwin bow'd,
But never talk'd of love.

'In humble simplest habit clad,
No wealth nor power had he;
Wisdom and worth were all he had,
But these were all to me.

'The blossom opening to the day,
The dews of heaven refin'd,
Could nought of purity display,
To emulate his mind.

'The dew, the blossom on the tree,
With charms inconstant shine;
Their charms were his, but woe to me,
Their constancy was mine.

'For still I try'd each fickle art,
Importunate and vain;
And while his passion touch'd my heart,
I triumph'd in his pain.

'Till quite dejected with my scorn,
He left me to my pride;
And sought a solitude forlorn,
In secret where he died.

'But mine the sorrow, mine the fault,
And well my life shall pay;
I'll seek the solitude he sought,
And stretch me where he lay.

'And there forlorn despairing hid,
I'll lay me down and die:
'Twas so for me that Edwin did,
And so for him will I.'

'Forbid it heaven!' the hermit cry'd,
And clasp'd her to his breast:
The wondering fair one turn'd to chide,
'Twas Edwin's self that prest.

'Turn, Angelina, ever dear,
My charmer, turn to see,
Thy own, thy long-lost Edwin here,
Restor'd to love and thee.

'Thus let me hold thee to my heart,
And ev'ry care resign:
And shall we never, never part,
My life,--my all that's mine.

'No, never, from this hour to part,
We'll live and love so true;
The sigh that tends thy constant heart,
Shall break thy Edwin's too.'

While this ballad was reading, Sophia seemed to mix an air of
tenderness with her approbation. But our tranquillity was soon
disturbed by the report of a gun just by us, and immediately
after a man was seen bursting through the hedge, to take up the
game he had killed. This sportsman was the 'Squire's chaplain,
who had shot one of the blackbirds that so agreeably entertained
us. So loud a report, and so near, startled my daughters; and I
could perceive that Sophia in the fright had thrown herself into
Mr Burchell's arms for protection. The gentleman came up, and
asked pardon for having disturbed us, affirming that he was
ignorant of our being so near. He therefore sate down by my
youngest daughter, and, sportsman like, offered her what he had
killed that morning. She was going to refuse, but a private look
from her mother soon induced her to correct the mistake, and
accept his present, though with some reluctance. My wife, as
usual, discovered her pride in a whisper, observing, that Sophy
had made a conquest of the chaplain, as well as her sister had of
the 'Squire. I suspected, however, with more probability, that
her affections were placed upon a different object. The
chaplain's errand was to inform us, that Mr Thornhill had
provided music and refreshments, and intended that night giving
the young ladies a ball by moon-light, on the grass-plot before
our door. 'Nor can I deny,' continued he, 'but I have an interest
in being first to deliver this message, as I expect for my reward
to be honoured with miss Sophy's hand as a partner.' To this my
girl replied, that she should have no objection, if she could do
it with honour: 'But here,' continued she, 'is a gentleman,'
looking at Mr Burchell, 'who has been my companion in the task
for the day, and it is fit he should share in its amusements.' Mr
Burchell returned her a compliment for her intentions; but
resigned her up to the chaplain, adding that he was to go that
night five miles, being invited to an harvest supper. His refusal
appeared to me a little extraordinary, nor could I conceive how
so sensible a girl as my youngest, could thus prefer a man of
broken fortunes to one whose expectations were much greater. But
as men are most capable of distinguishing merit in women, so the
ladies often form the truest judgments of us. The two sexes seem
placed as spies upon each other, and are furnished with different
abilities, adapted for mutual inspection.


Two ladies of great distinction introduced. Superior finery ever
seems to confer superior breeding

Mr Burchell had scarce taken leave, and Sophia consented to dance
with the chaplain, when my little ones came running out to tell
us that the 'Squire was come, with a crowd of company. Upon our
return, we found our landlord, with a couple of under gentlemen
and two young ladies richly drest, whom he introduced as women of
very great distinction and fashion from town. We happened not to
have chairs enough for the whole company; but Mr Thornhill
immediately proposed that every gentleman should sit in a lady's
lap. This I positively objected to, notwithstanding a look of
disapprobation from my wife. Moses was therefore dispatched to
borrow a couple of chairs; and as we were in want of ladies to
make up a set at country dances, the two gentlemen went with him
in quest of a couple of partners. Chairs and partners were soon
provided. The gentlemen returned with my neighbour Flamborough's
rosy daughters, flaunting with red top-knots, but an unlucky
circumstance was not adverted to; though the Miss Flamboroughs
were reckoned the very best dancers in the parish, and understood
the jig and the round-about to perfection; yet they were totally
unacquainted with country dances.' This at first discomposed us:
however, after a little shoving and dragging, they at last went
merrily on. Our music consisted of two fiddles, with a pipe and
tabor. The moon shone bright, Mr Thornhill and my eldest daughter
led up the ball, to the great delight of the spectators; for the
neighbours hearing what was going forward, came flocking about
us. My girl moved with so much grace and vivacity, that my wife
could not avoid discovering the pride of her heart, by assuring
me, that though the little chit did it so cleverly, all the steps
were stolen from herself. The ladies of the town strove hard to
be equally easy, but without success. They swam, sprawled,
languished, and frisked; but all would not do: the gazers indeed
owned that it was fine; but neighbour Flamborough observed, that
Miss Livy's feet seemed as pat to the music as its echo. After
the dance had continued about an hour, the two ladies, who were
apprehensive of catching cold, moved to break up the ball. One of
them, I thought, expressed her sentiments upon this occasion in a
very coarse manner, when she observed, that by the living jingo,
she was all of a muck of sweat. Upon our return to the house, we
found a very elegant cold supper, which Mr Thornhill had ordered
to be brought with him. The conversation at this time was more
reserved than before. The two ladies threw my girls quite into
the shade; for they would talk of nothing but high life, and high
lived company; with other fashionable topics, such as pictures,
taste, Shakespear, and the musical glasses. 'Tis true they once
or twice mortified us sensibly by slipping out an oath; but that
appeared to me as the surest symptom of their distinction, (tho'
I am since informed that swearing is perfectly unfashionable.)
Their finery, however, threw a veil over any grossness in their
conversation. My daughters seemed to regard their superior
accomplishments with envy; and what appeared amiss was ascribed
to tip-top quality breeding. But the condescension of the ladies
was still superior to their other accomplishments. One of them
observed, that had miss Olivia seen a little more of the world,
it would greatly improve her. To which the other added, that a
single winter in town would make her little Sophia quite another
thing. My wife warmly assented to both; adding, that there was
nothing she more ardently wished than to give her girls a single
winter's polishing. To this I could not help replying, that their
breeding was already superior to their fortune; and that greater
refinement would only serve to make their poverty ridiculous, and
give them a taste for pleasures they had no right to possess.--
'And what pleasures,' cried Mr Thornhill, 'do they not deserve to
possess, who have so much in their power to bestow? As for my
part,' continued he, 'my fortune is pretty large, love, liberty,
and pleasure, are my maxims; but curse me if a settlement of half
my estate could give my charming Olivia pleasure, it should be
hers; and the only favour I would ask in return would be to add
myself to the benefit.' I was not such a stranger to the world as
to be ignorant that this was the fashionable cant to disguise the
insolence of the basest proposal; but I made an effort to
suppress my resentment. 'Sir,' cried I, 'the family which you now
condescend to favour with your company, has been bred with as
nice a sense of honour as you. Any attempts to injure that, may
be attended with very dangerous consequences. Honour, Sir, is our
only possession at present, and of that last treasure we must be
particularly careful.'--I was soon sorry for the warmth with
which I had spoken this, when the young gentleman, grasping my
hand, swore he commended my spirit, though he disapproved my
suspicions. 'As to your present hint,' continued he, 'I protest
nothing was farther from my heart than such a thought. No, by all
that's tempting, the virtue that will stand a regular siege was
never to my taste; for all my amours are carried by a coup de

The two ladies, who affected to be ignorant of the rest, seemed
highly displeased with this last stroke of freedom, and began a
very discreet and serious dialogue upon virtue: in this my wife,
the chaplain, and I, soon joined; and the 'Squire himself was at
last brought to confess a sense of sorrow for his former
excesses. We talked of the pleasures of temperance, and of the
sun-shine in the mind unpolluted with guilt. I was so well
pleased, that my little ones were kept up beyond the usual time
to be edified by so much good conversation. Mr Thornhill even
went beyond me, and demanded if I had any objection to giving
prayers. I joyfully embraced the proposal, and in this manner the
night was passed in a most comfortable way, till at last the
company began to think of returning. The ladies seemed very
unwilling to part with my daughters; for whom they had conceived
a particular affection, and joined in a request to have the
pleasure of their company home. The 'Squire seconded the
proposal, and my wife added her entreaties: the girls too looked
upon me as if they wished to go. In this perplexity I made two or
three excuses, which my daughters as readily removed; so that at
last I was obliged to give a peremptory refusal; for which we had
nothing but sullen looks and short answers the whole day ensuing.


The family endeavours to cope with their betters. The miseries of
the poor when they attempt to appear above their circumstances

I now began to find that all my long and painful lectures upon
temperance, simplicity, and contentment, were entirely
disregarded. The distinctions lately paid us by our betters
awaked that pride which I had laid asleep, but not removed. Our
windows again, as formerly, were filled with washes for the neck
and face. The sun was dreaded as an enemy to the skin without
doors, and the fire as a spoiler of the complexion within. My
wife observed, that rising too early. would hurt her daughters'
eyes, that working after dinner would redden their noses, and she
convinced me that the hands never looked so white as when they
did nothing. Instead therefore of finishing George's shirts, we
now had them new modelling their old gauzes, or flourishing upon
catgut. The poor Miss Flamboroughs, their former gay companions,
were cast off as mean acquaintance, and the whole conversation
ran upon high life and high lived company, with pictures, taste,
Shakespear, and the musical glasses.

But we could have borne all this, had not a fortune-telling
gypsey come to raise us into perfect sublimity. The tawny sybil
no sooner appeared, than my girls came running to me for a
shilling a piece to cross her hand with silver. To say the truth,
I was tired of being always wise, and could not help gratifying
their request, because I loved to see them happy. I gave each of
them a shilling; though, for the honour of the family, it must be
observed, that they never went without money themselves, as my
wife always generously let them have a guinea each, to keep in
their pockets; but with strict injunctions never to change it.
After they had been closetted up with the fortune-teller for some
time, I knew by their looks, upon their returning, that they had
been promised something great.--'Well, my girls, how have you
sped? Tell me, Livy, has the fortune-teller given thee a
pennyworth?'--'I protest, pappa,' says the girl, 'I believe she
deals with some body that's not right; for she positively
declared, that I am to be married to a 'Squire in less than a
twelvemonth!'--'Well now, Sophy, my child,' said I, 'and what
sort of a husband are you to have?' 'Sir,' replied she, 'I am to
have a Lord soon after my sister has married the 'Squire.'--
'How,' cried I, 'is that all you are to have for your two
shillings! Only a Lord and a 'Squire for two shillings! You
fools, I could have promised you a Prince and a Nabob for half
the money.' This curiosity of theirs, however, was attended with
very serious effects: we now began to think ourselves designed by
the stars for something exalted, and already anticipated our
future grandeur. It has been a thousand times observed, and I
must observe it once more, that the hours we pass with happy
prospects in view, are more pleasing than those crowned with
fruition. In the first case we cook the dish to our own appetite;
in the latter nature cooks it for us. It is impossible to repeat
the train of agreeable reveries we called up for our
entertainment. We looked upon our fortunes as once more rising;
and as the whole parish asserted that the 'Squire was in love
with my daughter, she was actually so with him; for they
persuaded her into the passion. In this agreeable interval, my
wife had the most lucky dreams in the world, which she took care
to tell us every morning, with great solemnity and exactness. It
was one night a coffin and cross bones, the sign of an
approaching wedding: at another time she imagined her daughters'
pockets filled with farthings, a certain sign of their being
shortly stuffed with gold. The girls themselves had their omens.
They felt strange kisses on their lips; they saw rings in the
candle, purses bounced from the fire, and true love-knots lurked
in the bottom of every tea-cup.

Towards the end of the week we received a card from the town
ladies; in which, with their compliments, they hoped to see all
our family at church the Sunday following. All Saturday morning I
could perceive, in consequence of this, my wife and daughters in
close conference together, and now and then glancing at me with
looks that betrayed a latent plot. To be sincere, I had strong
suspicions that some absurd proposal was preparing for appearing
with splendor the next day. In the evening they began their
operations in a very regular manner, and my wife undertook to
conduct the siege. After tea, when I seemed in spirits, she began
thus.--'I fancy, Charles, my dear, we shall have a great deal of
good company at our church to-morrow,'--'Perhaps we may, my
dear,' returned I; 'though you need be under no uneasiness about
that, you shall have a sermon whether there be or not.'--'That is
what I expect,' returned she; 'but I think, my dear, we ought to
appear there as decently as possible, for who knows what may
happen?' 'Your precautions,' replied I, 'are highly commendable.
A decent behaviour and appearance in church is what charms me. We
should be devout and humble, chearful and serene.'--'Yes,' cried
she, 'I know that; but I mean we should go there in as proper a
manner as possible; not altogether like the scrubs about us."
'You are quite right, my dear,' returned I, 'and I was going to
make the very same proposal. The proper manner of going is, to go
there as early as possible, to have time for meditation before
the service begins.'--'Phoo, Charles,' interrupted she, 'all that
is very true; but not what I would be at. I mean, we should go
there genteelly. You know the church is two miles off, and I
protest I don't like to see my daughters trudging up to their pew
all blowzed and red with walking, and, looking for all the world
as if they had been winners at a smock race. Now, my dear, my
proposal is this: there are our two plow horses, the Colt that
has been in our family these nine years, and his companion
Blackberry, that have scarce done an earthly thing for this month
past. They are both grown fat and lazy. Why should not they do
something as well as we? And let me tell you, when Moses has
trimmed them a little, they will cut a very tolerable figure.' To
this proposal I objected, that walking would be twenty times more
genteel than such a paltry conveyance, as Blackberry was
wall-eyed, and the Colt wanted a tail: that they had never been
broke to the rein; but had an hundred vicious tricks; and that we
had but one saddle and pillion in the whole house. All these
objections, however, were over-ruled; so that I was obliged to
comply. The next morning I perceived them not a little busy in
collecting such materials as might be necessary for the
expedition; but as I found it would be a business of time, I
walked on to the church before, and they promised speedily to
follow. I waited near an hour in the reading desk for their
arrival; but not finding them come as expected, I was obliged to
begin, and went through the service, not without some uneasiness
at finding them absent. This was encreased when all was finished,
and no appearance of the family. I therefore walked back by the
horse-way, which was five miles round, tho' the foot-way was but
two, and when got about half way home, perceived the procession
marching slowly forward towards the church; my son, my wife, and
the two little ones exalted upon one horse, and my two daughters
upon the other. I demanded the cause of their delay; but I soon
found by their looks they had met with a thousand misfortunes on
the road. The horses had at first refused to move from the door,
till Mr Burchell was kind enough to beat them forward for about
two hundred yards with his cudgel. Next the straps of my wife's
pillion broke down, and they were obliged to stop to repair them
before they could proceed. After that, one of the horses took it
into his head to stand still, and neither blows nor entreaties
could prevail with him to proceed. It was just recovering from
this dismal situation that I found them; but perceiving every
thing safe, I own their present mortification did not much
displease me, as it would give me many opportunities of future
triumph, and teach my daughters more humility.


The family still resolve to hold up their heads

Michaelmas eve happening on the next day, we were invited to burn
nuts and play tricks at neighbour Flamborough's. Our late
mortifications had humbled us a little, or it is probable we
might have rejected such an invitation with contempt: however, we
suffered ourselves to be happy. Our honest neighbour's goose and
dumplings were fine, and the lamb's-wool, even in the opinion of
my wife, who was a connoiscur, was excellent. It is true, his
manner of telling stories was not quite so well. They were very
long, and very dull, and all about himself, and we had laughed at
them ten times before: however, we were kind enough to laugh at
them once more.

Mr Burchell, who was of the party, was always fond of seeing some
innocent amusement going forward, and set the boys and girls to
blind man's buff. My wife too was persuaded to join in the
diversion, and it gave me pleasure to think she was not yet too
old. In the mean time, my neighbour and I looked on, laughed at
every feat, and praised our own dexterity when we were young. Hot
cockles succeeded next, questions and commands followed that, and
last of all, they sate down to hunt the slipper. As every person
may not be acquainted with this primaeval pastime, it may be
necessary to observe, that the company at this play themselves in
a ring upon the ground, all, except one who stands in the middle,
whose business it is to catch a shoe, which the company shove
about under their hams from one to another, something like a
weaver's shuttle. As it is impossible, in this case, for the lady
who is up to face all the company at once, the great beauty of
the play lies in hitting her a thump with the heel of the shoe on
that side least capable of making a defence. It was in this
manner that my eldest daughter was hemmed in, and thumped about,
all blowzed, in spirits, and bawling for fair play, fair play,
with a voice that might deafen a ballad singer, when confusion on
confusion, who should enter the room but our two great
acquaintances from town, Lady Blarney and Miss Carolina Wilelmina
Amelia Skeggs! Description would but beggar, therefore it is
unnecessary to describe this new mortification. Death! To be seen
by ladies of such high breeding in such vulgar attitudes! Nothing
better could ensue from such a vulgar play of Mr Flamborough's
proposing. We seemed stuck to the ground for some time, as if
actually petrified with amazement.

The two ladies had been at our house to see us, and finding us
from home, came after us hither, as they were uneasy to know what
accident could have kept us from church the day before. Olivia
undertook to be our prolocutor, and delivered the whole in a
summary way, only saying, 'We were thrown from our horses.' At
which account the ladies were greatly concerned; but being told
the family received no hurt, they were extremely glad: but being
informed that we were almost killed by the fright, they were
vastly sorry; but hearing that we had a very good night, they
were extremely glad again. Nothing could exceed their
complaisance to my daughters; their professions the last evening
were warm, but now they were ardent. They protested a desire of
having a more lasting acquaintance. Lady Blarney was particularly
attached to Olivia; Miss Carolina Wilelmina Amelia Skeggs (I love
to give the whole name) took a greater fancy to her sister. They
supported the conversation between themselves, while my daughters
sate silent, admiring their exalted breeding. But as every
reader, however beggarly himself, is fond of high-lived
dialogues, with anecdotes of Lords, Ladies, and Knights of the
Garter, I must beg leave to give him the concluding part of the
present conversation. 'All that I know of the matter,' cried Miss
Skeggs, 'is this, that it may be true, or it may not be true: but
this I can assure your Ladyship, that the whole rout was in
amaze; his Lordship turned all manner of colours, my Lady fell
into a sound; but Sir Tomkyn, drawing his sword, swore he was
her's to the last drop of his blood.' 'Well,' replied our
Peeress, 'this I can say, that the Dutchess never told me a
syllable of the matter, and I believe her Grace would keep
nothing a secret from me. This you may depend upon as fact, that
the next morning my Lord Duke cried out three times to his valet
de chambre, Jernigan, Jernigan, Jernigan, bring me my garters.'

But previously I should have mentioned the very impolite
behaviour of Mr Burchell, who, during this discourse, sate with
his face turned to the fire, and at the conclusion of every
sentence would cry out FUDGE! an expression which displeased us
all, and in some measure damped the rising spirit of the

'Besides, my dear Skeggs,' continued our Peeress, 'there is
nothing of this in the copy of verses that Dr Burdock made upon
the occasion.'--'FUDGE!'

'I am surprised at that,' cried Miss Skeggs; 'for he seldom
leaves any thing out, as he writes only for his own amusement.
But can your Ladyship favour me with a sight of them?'--'FUDGE!'

'My dear creature,' replied our Peeress, 'do you think I carry
such things about me? Though they are very fine to be sure, and I
think myself something of a judge; at least I know what pleases
myself. Indeed I was ever an admirer of all Doctor Burdock's
little pieces; for except what he does, and our dear Countess at
Hanover-Square, there's nothing comes out but the most lowest
stuff in nature; not a bit of high life among them.'--'FUDGE!'

'Your Ladyship should except,' says t'other, 'your own things in
the Lady's Magazine. I hope you'll say there's nothing low lived
there? But I suppose we are to have no more from that quarter?'--

'Why, my dear,' says the Lady, 'you know my reader and companion
has left me, to be married to Captain Roach, and as my poor eyes
won't suffer me to write myself, I have been for some time
looking out for another. A proper person is no easy matter to
find, and to be sure thirty pounds a year is a small stipend for
a well-bred girl of character, that can read, write, and behave
in company; as for the chits about town, there is no bearing them
about one.'--'FUDGE!'

'That I know,' cried Miss Skeggs, 'by experience. For of the
three companions I had this last half year, one of them refused
to do plain-work an hour in the day, another thought twenty-five
guineas a year too small a salary, and I was obliged to send away
the third, because I suspected an intrigue with the chaplain.
Virtue, my dear Lady Blarney, virtue is worth any price; but
where is that to be found?'--'FUDGE!'

My wife had been for a long time all attention to this discourse;
but was particularly struck with the latter part of it. Thirty
pounds and twenty-five guineas a year made fifty-six pounds five
shillings English money, all which was in a manner going
a-begging, and might easily be secured in the family. She for a
moment studied my looks for approbation; and, to own a truth, I
was of opinion, that two such places would fit our two daughters
exactly. Besides, if the 'Squire had any real affection for my
eldest daughter, this would be the way to make her every way
qualified for her fortune. My wife therefore was resolved that we
should not be deprived of such advantages for want of assurance,
and undertook to harangue for the family. 'I hope,' cried she,
'your Ladyships will pardon my present presumption. It is true,
we have no right to pretend to such favours; but yet it is
natural for me to wish putting my children forward in the world.
And I will be bold to say my two girls have had a pretty good
education, and capacity, at least the country can't shew better.
They can read, write, and cast accompts; they understand their
needle, breadstitch, cross and change, and all manner of
plain-work; they can pink, point, and frill; and know something
of music; they can do up small cloaths, work upon catgut; my
eldest can cut paper, and my youngest has a very pretty manner of
telling fortunes upon the cards.'--'FUDGE!'

When she had delivered this pretty piece of eloquence, the two
ladies looked at each other a few minutes in silence, with an air
of doubt and importance. At last, Miss Carolina Wilelmina Amelia
Skeggs condescended to observe, that the young ladies, from the
opinion she could form of them from so slight an acquaintance,
seemed very fit for such employments: 'But a thing of this kind,
Madam,' cried she, addressing my spouse, requires a thorough
examination into characters, and a more perfect knowledge of each
other. Not, Madam,' continued she, 'that I in the least suspect
the young ladies virtue, prudence and discretion; but there is a
form in these things, Madam, there is a form.'

My wife approved her suspicions very much, observing, that she
was very apt to be suspicious herself; but referred her to all
the neighbours for a character: but this our Peeress declined as
unnecessary, alledging that her cousin Thornhill's recommendation
would be sufficient, and upon this we rested our petition.


Fortune seems resolved to humble the family of Wakefield.
Mortifications are often more painful than real calamities

When we were returned home, the night was dedicated to schemes of
future conquest. Deborah exerted much sagacity in conjecturing
which of the two girls was likely to have the best place, and
most opportunities of seeing good company. The only obstacle to
our preferment was in obtaining the 'Squire's recommendation; but
he had already shewn us too many instances of his friendship to
doubt of it now. Even in bed my wife kept up the usual theme:
'Well, faith, my dear Charles, between ourselves, I think we have
made an excellent day's work of it.'--'Pretty well,' cried I, not
knowing what to say.--'What only pretty well!' returned she. 'I
think it is very well. Suppose the girls should come to make
acquaintances of taste in town! This I am assured of, that London
is the only place in the world for all manner of husbands.
Besides, my dear, stranger things happen every day: and as ladies
of quality are so taken with my daughters, what will not men of
quality be! Entre nous, I protest I like my Lady Blarney vastly,
so very obliging. However, Miss Carolina Wilelmina Anielia Skeggs
has my warm heart. But yet, when they came to talk of places in
town, you saw at once how I nailed them. Tell me, my dear, don't
you think I did for my children there?'--'Ay,' returned I, not
knowing well what to think of the matter, 'heaven grant they may
be both the better for it this day three months!' This was one of
those observations I usually made to impress my wife with an
opinion of my sagacity; for if the girls succeeded, then it was a
pious wish fulfilled; but if any thing unfortunate ensued, then
it might be looked upon as a prophecy. All this conversation,
however, was only preparatory to another scheme, and indeed I
dreaded as much. This was nothing less than, that as we were now
to hold up our heads a little higher in the world, it would be
proper to sell the Colt, which was grown old, at a neighbouring
fair, and buy us an horse that would carry single or double upon
an occasion, and make a pretty appearance at church or upon a
visit. This at first I opposed stoutly; but it was as stoutly
defended. However, as I weakened, my antagonist gained strength,
till at last it was resolved to part with him.

As the fair happened on the following day, I had intentions of
going myself, but my wife persuaded me that I had got a cold, and
nothing could prevail upon her to permit me from home. 'No, my
dear,' said she, 'our son Moses is a discreet boy, and can buy
and sell to very good advantage; you know all our great bargains
are of his purchasing. He always stands out and higgles, and
actually tires them till he gets a bargain.'

As I had some opinion of my son's prudence, I was willing enough
to entrust him with this commission; and the next morning I
perceived his sisters mighty busy in fitting out Moses for the
fair; trimming his hair, brushing his buckles, and cocking his
hat with pins. The business of the toilet being over, we had at
last the satisfaction of seeing him mounted upon the Colt, with a
deal box before him to bring home groceries in. He had on a coat
made of that cloth they call thunder and lightning, which, though
grown too short, was much too good to be thrown away. His
waistcoat was of gosling green, and his sisters had tied his hair
with a broad black ribband. We all followed him several paces,
from the door, bawling after him good luck, good luck, till we
could see him no longer.

He was scarce gone, when Mr Thornhill's butler came to
congratulate us upon our good fortune, saying, that he overheard
his young master mention our names with great commendation.

Good fortune seemed resolved not to come alone. Another footman
from the same family followed, with a card for my daughters,
importing, that the two ladies had received such pleasing
accounts from Mr Thornhill of us all, that, after a few previous
enquiries, they hoped to be perfectly satisfied. 'Ay,' cried my
wife, I now see it is no easy matter to get into the families of
the great; but when one once gets in, then, as Moses says, one
may go sleep.' To this piece of humour, for she intended it for
wit, my daughters assented with a loud laugh of pleasure. In
short, such was her satisfaction at this message, that she
actually put her hand in her pocket, and gave the messenger
seven-pence halfpenny.

This was to be our visiting-day. The next that came was Mr
Burchell, who had been at the fair. He brought my little ones a
pennyworth of gingerbread each, which my wife undertook to keep
for them, and give them by letters at a time. He brought my
daughters also a couple of boxes, in which they might keep
wafers, snuff, patches, or even money, when they got it. My wife
was usually fond of a weesel skin purse, as being the most lucky;
but this by the bye. We had still a regard for Mr Burchell,
though his late rude behaviour was in some measure displeasing;
nor could we now avoid communicating our happiness to him, and
asking his advice: although we seldom followed advice, we were
all ready enough to ask it. When he read the note from the two
ladies, he shook his head, and observed, that an affair of this
sort demanded the utmost circumspection.--This air of diffidence
highly displeased my wife. 'I never doubted, Sir,' cried she,
'your readiness to be against my daughters and me. You have more
circumspection than is wanted. However, I fancy when we come to
ask advice, we will apply to persons who seem to have made use of
it themselves.'--'Whatever my own conduct may have been, madam,'
replied he, 'is not the present question; tho' as I have made no
use of advice myself, I should in conscience give it to those
that will.'--As I was apprehensive this answer might draw on a
repartee, making up by abuse what it wanted in wit, I changed the
subject, by seeming to wonder what could keep our son so long at
the fair, as it was now almost nightfall.--'Never mind our son,'
cried my wife, 'depend upon it he knows what he is about. I'll
warrant we'll never see him sell his hen of a rainy day. I have
seen him buy such bargains as would amaze one. I'll tell you a
good story about that, that will make you split your sides with
laughing--But as I live, yonder comes Moses, without an horse,
and the box at his back.'

As she spoke, Moses came slowly on foot, and sweating under the
deal box, which he had strapt round his shoulders like a pedlar.-
- 'Welcome, welcome, Moses; well, my boy, what have you brought
us from the fair?'--'I have brought you myself,' cried Moses,
with a sly look, and resting the box on the dresser.--'Ay,
Moses,' cried my wife, 'that we know, but where is the horse?' 'I
have sold him,' cried Moses, 'for three pounds five shillings and
two- pence.'--'Well done, my goqd boy,' returned she, 'I knew you
would touch them off. Between ourselves, three pounds five
shillings and two-pence is no bad day's work. Come, let us have
it then.'--'I have brought back no money,' cried Moses'again. 'I
have laid it all out in a bargain, and here it is,' pulling out a
bundle from his breast: 'here they are; a groce of green
spectacles, with silver rims and shagreen cases.'--'A groce of
green spectacles!' repeated my wife in a faint voice. 'And you
have parted with the Colt, and brought us back nothing but a
groce of green paltry spectacles!'--'Dear mother,' cried the boy,
'why won't you listen to reason? I had them a dead bargain, or I
should not have bought them. The silver rims alone will sell for
double money.'--'A fig for the silver rims,' cried my wife, in a
passion: 'I dare swear they won't sell for above half the money
at the rate of broken silver, five shillings an ounce.'--'You
need be under no uneasiness,' cried I, 'about selling the rims;
for they are not worth six-pence, for I perceive they are only
copper varnished over.'--'What,' cried my wife, 'not silver, the
rims not silver!' 'No,' cried I, 'no more silver than your
saucepan,' --'And so,' returned she, 'we have parted with the
Colt, and have only got a groce of green spectacles, with copper
rims and shagreen cases! A murrain take such trumpery. The
blockhead has been imposed upon, and should have known his
company better.'-- 'There, my dear,' cried I, 'you are wrong, he
should not have known them at all.'--'Marry, hang the ideot,'
returned she, 'to bring me such stuff, if I had them, I would
throw them in the fire.' 'There again you are wrong, my dear,'
cried I; 'for though they be copper, we will keep them by us, as
copper spectacles, you know, are better than nothing.'

By this time the unfortunate Moses was undeceived. He now saw
that he had indeed been imposed upon by a prowling sharper, who,
observing his figure, had marked him for an easy prey. I
therefore asked the circumstances of his deception. He sold the
horse, it seems, and walked the fair in search of another. A
reverend looking man brought him to a tent, under pretence of
having one to sell. 'Here,' continued Moses, 'we met another man,
very well drest, who desired to borrow twenty pounds upon these,
saying, that he wanted money, and would dispose of them for a
third of the value. The first gentleman, who pretended to be my
friend, whispered me to buy them, and cautioned me not to let so
good an offer pass. I sent for Mr Flamborough, and they talked
him up as finely as they did me, and so at last we were persuaded
to buy the two groce between us.'

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