« AnteriorContinuar »
* comforted your la'ship, or I would have seen it at “ the devil before I would have touched it.”—“Ho“nour,’ says Sophia, “ you are a good girl, and it * is wain to attempt concealing longer my weakness “from you; I have thrown away my heart on a ‘man who hath forsaken me.”—“And is Mr. Jones,' answered the maid, “such a perfidy man?'—‘He * hath taken his leave of me,’ says Sophia, “ for ever “in that letter. Nay, he hath desired me to forget ‘ him. Could he have desired that, if he had loved * me Could he have borne such a thought? ‘Could he have written such a word '—“No cer“tainly, ma'am, cries Honour; “and to be sure, if * the best man in England was to desire me to for* get him, I'd take him at his word. Marry come ‘ up! I am sure your la'ship hath done him too much * honour ever to think on him. A young lady who * may take her choice of all the young men in the * country. And to be sure, if I may be so presump‘tuous as to offer my poor opinion, there is young “Mr. Blisil, who, besides that he is come of honest ‘parents, and will be one of the greatest squires all “hereabouts, he is to be sure, in my poor opinion, a ‘more handsomer and a more politer man by half; * and besides, he is a young gentleman of a sober cha“racter, and who may defy any of the neighbours * to say black is his eye; he follows no dirty trol* lops, nor can any bastards be laid at his door. * Forget him, indeed! I thank heaven I myself am ‘not so much at my last prayers, as to suffer any ‘man to bid me forget him twice. If the best he ‘that wears a head was for to go for to offer to say ‘such an affronting word to me, I would never give ‘ him my company afterwards, if there was another * young man in the kingdom. And as I was saying, ‘to be sure, there is young Mr. Blifil.’— ‘Name not “his detested name, cries Sophia. “Nay, ma'am,' says Honour, “if your la'ship doth not like him, ‘there be more jolly handsome young men that “would court your la'ship, if they had but the least en‘couragement. 'I don't believe there is arrow young ‘gentleman in this country, or in the next to it, ‘ that if your la'ship was but to look as if you had a “mind to him, would not come about to make his * offers directly.”—“What a wretch dost thou ima“gine me,’ cries Sophia, ‘by affronting my cars with ‘such stuff! I detest all mankind.”—“Nay, to be ‘sure, ma'am,' answered Honour, ‘your la'ship hath had enough to give you a surfeit of them. To be used ill by such a poor beggarly bastardly fellow.’ —‘Hold your blasphemous tongue, cries Sophia; “how dare you mention his name with disrespect ‘before me? He use me ill No, his poor bleed‘ing heart suffered more when he writ the cruel words, than mine from reading them. O! he is all heroic virtue, and angelic goodness. I am ashamed of the weakness of my own passion, for blaming what I ought to admire. O, Honour! it is my good only which he consults. To my interest he sacrifices both himself and me. The apprehension of ruining me hath driven him to despair."--- I am very glad,’says Honour, ‘to hear your la'ship takes that into your consideration; for to be sure, it must be nothing less than ruin, to give your mind * to one that is turned out of doors, and is not worth ‘ a farthing in the world."---'Turned out of doors!” cries Sophia hastily: ‘how! what dost thou mean?' ---‘Why, to be sure, ma'am, my master no sooner ‘ told squire Allworthy about Mr. Jones having of‘fered to make love to your la'ship, than the squire ‘stripped him stark naked, and turned him out of ‘doors "----' Ha!’ says Sophia, ‘I have been the ‘cursed, wretched cause of his destruction Turn‘ed naked out of doors! Here, Honour, take all ‘the money I have; take the rings from my fingers. * Here, my watch: carry him all. Go find him im‘ mediately.”—“For heaven's sake, ma'am,' answered Mrs. Honour, “do but consider, if my master should
‘miss any of these things, I should be made to an* swer for them. Therefore let me beg your la'ship * not to part with your watch and jewels. Besides, “ the money, I think, is enough of all conscience; ‘ and as for that, master can never know any ‘thing of the matter.”—“Here then,' cries Sophia, “take every farthing I am worth, find him out im‘mediately, and give it him. Go, go, lose not a mo* merrt.’ ... " Mrs. Honour departed according to orders, and finding Black George below stairs, delivered him the purse, which contained sixteen guineas, being indeed the whole stock of Sophia; for though her father was very liberal to her, she was much too generous to be rich. Black George having received the purse, set forward towards the alehouse; but in the way a thought occurred to him, whether he should not detain this money likewise. His conscience however immediately started at this suggestion, and began to upbraid him with ingratitude to his benefactor. To this his avarice answered, That his conscience should have considered the matter before, when he deprived poor Jones of his 500l. That having quietly acquiesced in what was of so much greater importance, it was absurd, if not downright hypocrisy, to affect any qualms at this trifle. In return to which, Conscience, like a good lawyer, attempted to distinguish between an absolute breach of trust, as here where the goods were delivered, and a bare concealment of what was found, as in the former case. Avarice presently treated this with ridicule, called it a distinction without a difference, and absolutely insisted, that when once all pretensions of honour and virtue were given up in any one instance, that there was no precedent for resorting to them upon a second occasion. In short, poor Conscience had certainly been defeated in the argument, had not Fear stept in to her assistance, and very strenuously urged, that the real distinction between the two actions, did not lie in the different degrees of honour, but of safety; for that the secreting the 500l. was a matter of very little hazard; whereas the detaining the sixteen guineas was liable to the utmost danger of discovery. By this friendly aid of Fear, Conscience obtained a complete victory in the mind of Black George, and, after making him a few compliments on his honesty, forced him to deliver the money to Jones.
CHAP. , XIV.
A short chapter, containing a short dialogue between squire Western and his sister.
MRSwestern had been engaged abroad all that day. The squire met her at her return home; and when she inquired after Sophia, he acquainted her that he had secured her safe enough. “She is locked ‘up in chamber, cries he, and Honour keeps the * key.” As his looks were full of prodigious wisdom and sagacity when he gave his sister this information, it is probable he expected much applause from her for what he had done; but how was he disappointed, when, with a most disdainful aspect, she cried, ‘Sure, brother, you are the weakest of all • men. Why will you not confide in me for the • management of my niece Why will you inter“pose? You have now undone all that I have been ‘spending my breath in order to bring about, * While I have been endeavouring to fill her mind * with maxims of prudence, you have been provok‘ing her to reject them. English women, brother, * I thank heaven, are no slaves. We are not to be • locked up like the Spanish and Italian wives. We “ have as good a right to liberty as yourselves. * We are to be convinced by reason and persuasion ‘ only, and not governed by force. I have seen the “world, brother, and know what arguments to make
• use of; and if your folly had not prevented me, * should have prevailed with her to form her conduct ‘ by those rules of prudence and discretion which I * formerly taught her.”—“To be sure,' said the squire, ‘ I an always in the wrong.”—“Brother,' answered the lady, “you are not in the wrong, unless when • you meddle with matters beyond your knowledge. * You must agree, that I have seen most of the “world; and happy had it been for my niece, if ‘she had not been taken from under my care. It is ‘ by living at home with you that she hath learnt ‘ romantic notions of love and nonsense.”—“You “don’t imagine, I hope, cries the squire, ‘ that * I have taught her any such things.”—“Your igno* rance, brother,’ returned she, “as the great Milton “says, almost subdues my patience *.”—“D—n Mil‘ton,' answered the squire: ‘if he had the impu* dence to say so to my face, I'd lent him a douse, ‘ thof he was never so great a man. Patience An “you come to that, sister, I have more occasion of * patience, to be used like an overgrown school‘ boy, as I am by you. Do you think no one hath “any understanding, unless he hath been about at * court? Pox the world is come to a fine pass in‘ deed, if we are all fools, except a parcel of round* heads and Hanover rats. Pox! I hope the times * are a coming that we shall make fools of them, ‘and every man shall enjoy his own. That's all, “sister; and every man shall enjoy his own. I hope * to zee it, sister, before the Hanover rats have ‘ eat up all our corn, and left us nothing but turnips * to feed upon.”—“I protest, brother,’ cries she, “you are now got beyond my understanding. Your ‘jargon of turnips and Hanover rats, is to me ‘perfectly unintelligible.”—“I believe, cries he, “you don't care to hear o'em; but the country in
* The reader may perhaps subdue his own patience, if he searches for this in Milton.