« AnteriorContinuar »
What passed between the lady and Mrs. Slipslop; in which ice prophesy there are some strokes which every one will not truly comprehend at the first reading.
'Slipslop,' said the lady, 'I find too much reason to
'believe all thou hast told me of this wicked Joseph:
'I have determined to part with him instantly; so go
'you to the steward, and bid him pay him his wages.'
Slipslop, who had preserved hitherto a distance to her
lady—rather out of necessity than inclination—and who
thought the knowledge of this secret had thrown down
all distinction between them, answered her mistress very
pertly—' She wished she knew her own mind; and
'that she was certain she would call her back again
'before she was got half way down stairs.' The lady
replied, She had taken a resolution, and was resolved to
keep it.—' I am sorry for it,' cries Slipslop, 'and if I
had known you would have punished the poor lad so
severely, you should never have heard a particle of
the matter. Here's a fuss indeed about nothing.'—
Nothing!' returned my lady, 'Do you think I will
countenance lewdness in my house ?'—' if you will turn
away every footman,' said Slipslop, ' that is a lover of the
sport, you must soon open the coach door yourself, or
get a set of mophrodites to wait upon you; and I am
sure I hated the sight of them even singing in an
opera.'—' Do as I bid you,' says my lady, 'and don't
shock my ears with your beastly language.'—' Many
come up,' cries Slipslop, 'people's ears are sometimes
the nicest part about them.'
The lady, who began to admire the new style in which her waiting-gentlewoman delivered herself, and by the conclusion of her speech suspected somewhat of the truth, called her back, and desired to know what she meant by the extraordinary degree of freedom in which she thought proper to indulge her tongue.—' Freedom!' says Slipslop; 'I don't know what you call freedom, 4 Madam; servants have tongues as well as their mis* tresses.'—' Yes, and saucy ones too,' answered the lady; 'but I assure you I shall bear no such impertinence.'— 'Impertinence! I don't know that I am impertinent,' says Slipslop. 'Yes, indeed you are,' cries my lady, 1 and unless you mend your manners, this house is no 'place for you.'—'Manners!' cries Slipslop; 'I never 4 was thought to want manners, nor modesty neither; and 'for places, there are more places than one; and I know 'what I know.' — 'What do you know, mistress?' answered the lady. 'I am not obliged to tell every 'body,' says Slipslop,' 'any more than I am obliged to 'keep it a secret.'—' I desire you would provide yourself,' answered the lady.—' With all my heart,' replied the waiting-gentlewoman; and so departed in a passion, and slapped the door.after her.
The lady too plainly perceived that her waitinggentlewoman knew more than she would willingly have had her acquainted with; and this she imputed to Joseph's having discovered to her what passed at the first interview. This therefore blew up her rage against him, and confirmed her in a resolution of parting with him.
But the dismissing Mrs. Slipslop was a point not so easily to be resolved upon. She had the utmost tenderness for her reputation, as she knew on that depended many of the most valuable blessings of life; particularly cards, making curt'sies in public places, and, above all, the pleasure of demolishing the reputations of others, in which innocent amusement she had an extraordinary delight. She therefore determined to submit to any insult from a servant, rather than run a risk of losing the title to so many great privileges.
She therefore sent for her steward, Mr. Peter Pounce; and ordered him to pay Joseph his wages, to strip off his livery, and turn him out of the house that evening.
She then called Slipslop up, and, after refreshing her spirits with a small cordial, which she kept in her closet, she began in the following manner:
'Slipslop, why will you, who know my passionate temper, attempt to provoke me by your answers? I am convinced you are an honest servant, and should be very unwilling to part with you. I believe, likewise, you have found me an indulgent mistress on many occasions, and have as little reason on your side to desire a change. I can't help being surprised, therefore, that you will take the surest method to offend me —I mean, repeating my words, which you know I have always detested.' The prudent waiting-gentlewoman had duly weighed the whole matter, and found, on mature deliberation, that a good place in possession was better than one in expectation. As she found her mistress therefore inclined to relent, she thought proper also to put on some small condescension; which was as readily accepted; and so the affair was reconciled, all offences forgiven, and a present of a gown and petticoat made her, as an instance of her lady's future favour.
She offered once or twice to speak in favour of Joseph; but found her lady's heart so obdurate, that she prudently dropt all such efforts. She considered there were more footmen in the house, and some as stout fellows, though not quite so handsome as Joseph; besides, the reader hath already seen her tender advances had not met with the encouragement she might have reasonably expected. She thought she had thrown away a great deal of sack and sweetmeats on an ungrateful rascal; and being a little inclined to the opinion of that female sect, who hold one lusty young fellow to be near as good as another lusty young fellow, she at last gave up Joseph and his cause, and with a triumph over her passion highly commendable, walked off with her present, and with great tranquillity paid a visit to a stone-bottle, which is of sovereign use to a philosophical temper.
She left not her mistress so easy. The poor lady could not reflect without agony that her dear reputation was in the power of her servants. All her comfort, as to Joseph, was, that she hoped he did not understand her meaning; at least she could say for herself, she had not plainly expressed any thing to him; and as to Mrs. Slipslop, she imagined she could bribe her to secrecy.
But what hurt her most was, that in reality she had not so entirely conquered her passion; the little god lay lurking in her heart, though anger and disdain so hoodwinked her, that she could not see him. She was a thousand times on the very brink of revoking the sentence she had passed against the poor youth. Love became his advocate, and whispered many things in his favour. Honour likewise endeavoured to vindicate his crime, and Pity to mitigate his punishment. On the other side, Pride and Eevenge spoke as loudly against him. And thus the poor lady was tortured with perplexity, opposite passions distracting and tearing her mind different ways.
So have I seen, in the hall of Westminster, where Serjeant Bramble hath been retained on the right side, and Serjeant Puzzle on the left, the balance of opinion (so equal were their fees) alternately incline to either scale. Now Bramble throws in an argument, and Puzzle's scale strikes the beam; again, Bramble's shares the like fate, overpowered by the weight of Puzzle. Here Bramble hits, there Puzzle strikes; here one has you, there t'other has you; till at last all becomes one scene of confusion in the tortured minds of the hearers; equal wagers are laid on the success; and neither judge nor jury can possibly make any thing of the matter; all things are so enveloped by the careful Serjeants in doubt and obscurity.
Or, as it happens in the conscience, where honour and honesty pull one way, and a bribe and necessity another.
, If it was our present business only to make similes,
we could produce many more to this purpose; but a simile (as well as a word) to the wise.—We shall therefore see a little after our hero, for whom the reader is doubtless in some pain.
Joseph writes another letter: His transactions with Mr. Peter Pounce, &c, with his departure from Lady Booby.
The disconsolate Joseph would not have had an understanding sufficient for the principal subject of such a book as this, if he had any longer misunderstood the drift of his mistress; and indeed, that he did not discern it sooner, the reader will be pleased to impute to an unwillingness in him to discover what he must condemn in her as a fault. Having therefore quitted her presence, he retired into his own garret, and entered himself into an ejaculation on the numberless calamities which attended beauty, and the misfortune it was to be handsomer than one's neighbours.