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desires which an ortolan inspires into the soul of an epicure. Now the agonies which affected the mind of Sophia, rather augmented than impaired her beauty; for her tears added brightness to her eyes, and her breasts rose higher with her sighs. Indeed, no one hath seen beauty in its highest lustre, who hath never secrl it in distress. Blifil therefore looked on this human ortolan with greater desire than when he viewed her last; nor was his desire at all lessened by the aversion which he discovered in her to himself. On the contrary, this served rather to heighten the pleasure he proposed in rifling her charms, as it added triumph to lust; nay, he had some further vicws, from obtaining the absolute possession of her person, which we detest too much even to mention; and revenge itself was not without its share in the gratifications which he promised himself. The rivalling poor Jones, and supplanting him in her af. fections, added another spur to his pursuit, and promised another additional rapture to his enjoyment. Besides all these views, which to some scrupulous persons may seem to savour too much of malevolence, he had one prospect, which few readers will regard with any great abhorrence. And this was, the cstate of Mr. Western ; which was all to be settled on his daughter and her issue; for so extravagant was the affection of that fond parcnt, that, provided his child would but consent to be miserable with the husband he chose, he cared not at what price he purchased him. For these reasons Mr. Blifi! was so desirous of the match, that he intended to deceive Sophia, by pretending love to her; and to deceive her father and his own uncle, by pretending he was beloved by her. In doing this, he availed himself of the piety of Thwackum, who held, that if the end proposed was religious (as surely matrimony is) it mattered not how wicked were the means. As to other occasions, he used to apply the philosophy of Square, which taught, that the end was immaterial, so that the means were fair and consistent with moral rectitude. To say truth, there were few occurrences in life on which he could not draw advantage from the precepts of one or other of those great masters. Little deceit was indeed necessary to be practised on Mr. Western; who thought the inclinations of his daughter of as little consequence as Blifil himself conceived them to be ; but as the sentiments of Mr. Allworthy were of a very different kind, so it was absolutely necessary to impose on him. In this, however, Blifil was so well assisted by Western, that he succeeded without diffieulty; for as Mr. Allworthy had been assured by her father, that Sophia had a proper affection for Blifil, and that all which he had suspected concerning Jones was entirely false, Blifil had nothing more to do than to confirm these assertions; which he did with such equivocations, that ho preserved a salvo for his conscience; and had the satisfaction of conveying a lie to his uncle, without the guilt of telling one. When he was examined touching the inclinations of Sophia by Allworthy, who said, “He would on no account be accessary to “forcing a young lady into a marriage contrary to * her own will;’ he answered, “That the real sen‘timents of young ladies were very difficult to be * understood; that her behaviour to him was full as * forward as he wishcd it, and that if he could believe * her father, she had all the affection for him which * any lover could desire. As for Jones,’ said he, * whom I am loth to call villain, though his beha* viour to you, sir, sufficiently justifies the appella* tion, his own vanity, or perhaps some wicked * views, might make him boast of a falsehood; for if * there had been any reality in miss Western's love * to him, the greatness of her fortune would never * have suffered him to desert her, as you are well in* formed he hath. Lastly, sir, I promise you I * would not myself, for any consideration, no, not * for the whole world, consent to marry this young * lady, if I was not persuaded she had all the passion * for me which I desire she should have.” This excellent method of conveying a falsehood with the heart only, without making the tongue guilty of an untruth, by the means of equivocation and imposture, hath quieted the conscience of many a notable deceiver; and yet, when we consider that it is Omniscience on which these endeavour to impose, it may possibly seem capable of affording only a very superficial comfort; and that this artful and refined distinction between communicating a lie, and telling one, is hardly worth the pains it costs them. Allworthy was pretty well satisfied with what Mr.
Western and Mr. Bifil told him; and the treaty was
now, at the end of two days, concluded. Nothing then resnained previous to the office of the priest, but the office of the lawyers, which threatened to take up so much time, that Western offered to bind himself by all manner of covenants, rather than defer the happiness of the young couple. Indeed, he was so very earnest and pressing, that an indifferent person might have concluded he was more a principal in this match than he really was; but this eagerness was natural to him on all occasions; and he conducted every scheme he undertook in such a manner, as if the success of that alone was sufficient to constitute the whole happiness of his life. . The joint importunities of both father and son-inlaw would probably have prevailed on Mr. Allworthy, who brooked but ill any delay of giving happiness to others, had not Sophia herself prevented it, and taken measures to put a final end to the whole treaty, and to rob both church and law of those taxes which these wise bodies have thought proper to receive from the propagation of the human species in a lawful manner. Of which in the next chapter. - *
A strange resolution of Sophia, and a more strange stratagem of Mrs. Honour.
THOUGH Mrs. Honour was principally attached to her own interest, she was not without some little attachment to Sophia. To say truth, it was very difficult for any one to know that young lady without loving her. She no sooner therefore heard a piece of news, which she imagined to be of great importance to her mistress, than, quite forgetting the anger which she had conceived two days before, at her unpleasant dismission from Sophia's presence, she ran hastily to inform her of the news. The beginning of her discourse was as abrupt as her entrance into the room. “O dear ma'am!" says she, “what doth your la'ship think? To be sure I ‘am frightened out of my wits; and yet I thought “it my duty to tell your la'ship, though perhaps “it may make you angry, for we servants don't al‘ ways know what will make our ladies angry; for ‘to be sure, every thing is always laid to the charge ‘ of a servant. When our ladies are out of humour, to be sure, we must be scolded; and to be sure I should not wonder if your la'ship should be out of humour; nay, it must surprise you certainly, ay, and shock you too.”—“Good Honour, let me know it without any longer preface,’ says Sophia; “there are few things, I promise you, which will surprise, and fewer which will shock me.”—“Dear ma'am,” answered Honour, to be sure, I overheard my * master talking to parson Supple about getting a * licence this very afternoon; and to be sure I heard ‘ him say, your la'ship should be married to-morrow ‘morning.’ Sophia turned pale at these words, and repeated eagerly, ‘to-morrow morning !’—‘Yes, ‘ma'am,' replied the trusty waiting-woman, ‘I will “take my oath I heard my master say so.”—“Honour,”
says Sophia, ‘you have both surprised and shocked * me to such a degree, that I have scarce any breath “ or spirits left. What is to be done in my dreadful ‘ situation ?”—“ I wish I was able to advise your ‘la'ship,” says she. “Do advise me,’ cries Sophia, ‘pray, dear Honour, advise me. Think what you “would attempt if it was your own case.'— Indeed, ‘ma'am, cries Honour, “I wish your la'ship and “I could change situations; that is, I mean, with‘ out hurting your la'ship; for to be sure I don't wish “you so bad as to be a servant; but because that if “so be it was my case, I should find no manner of * difficulty in it; for in my poor opinion, young ‘ squire Blifil is a charming, sweet, handsome man.' — Don't mention such stuff, cries Sophia. “Such ‘ stuff,' repeated Honour; ‘why there. Well, to ‘ be sure, what's one man's meat is another man's ‘poison, and the same is altogether as true of wo* men.”—“Honour,’ says Sophia, “ rather than sub‘mit to be the wife of that contemptible wretch, * I would plunge a dagger into my heart.”—“O ‘lud, ma'am!' answered the other, ‘ I am sure you “frighten me out of my wits now. Let me beseech “your la'ship not to suffer such wicked thoughts to * come into your head. O lud! to be sure I trem‘ble every inch of me. Dear ma'am, consider, “that to be denied christian burial, and to have ‘your corpse buried in the highway, and a stake ‘ drove through you, as farmer Halfpenny was served * at Ox Cross; and, to be sure, his ghost hath walked * there ever since, for several people have seen ‘ him. To be sure it can be nothing but the devil ‘which can put such wicked thoughts into the head * of any body; for certainly it is less wicked to hurt * all the world than one's own dear self, and so I * have heard said by more parsons than one. If your * la'ship hath such a violent aversion, and hates the “young gentleman so very bad, that you can't bear ‘to think of going into bed to him; for to be sure