READ STUDY GUIDE: Book X
IN WHICH THE HISTORY GOES FORWARD ABOUT TWELVE HOURS.
Containing instructions very necessary to be perused by modern critics.
Reader, it is impossible we should know what sort of person thou wilt be; for, perhaps, thou may'st be as learned in human nature as Shakespear himself was, and, perhaps, thou may'st be no wiser than some of his editors. Now, lest this latter should be the case, we think proper, before we go any farther together, to give thee a few wholesome admonitions; that thou may'st not as grossly misunderstand and misrepresent us, as some of the said editors have misunderstood and misrepresented their author.
First, then, we warn thee not too hastily to condemn any of the incidents in this our history as impertinent and foreign to our main design, because thou dost not immediately conceive in what manner such incident may conduce to that design. This work may, indeed, be considered as a great creation of our own; and for a little reptile of a critic to presume to find fault with any of its parts, without knowing the manner in which the whole is connected, and before he comes to the final catastrophe, is a most presumptuous absurdity. The allusion and metaphor we have here made use of, we must acknowledge to be infinitely too great for our occasion; but there is, indeed, no other, which is at all adequate to express the difference between an author of the first rate and a critic of the lowest.
Another caution we would give thee, my good reptile, is, that thou dost not find out too near a resemblance between certain characters here introduced; as, for instance, between the landlady who appears in the seventh book and her in the ninth. Thou art to know, friend, that there are certain characteristics in which most individuals of every profession and occupation agree. To be able to preserve these characteristics, and at the same time to diversify their operations, is one talent of a good writer. Again, to mark the nice distinction between two persons actuated by the same vice or folly is another; and, as this last talent is found in very few writers, so is the true discernment of it found in as few readers; though, I believe, the observation of this forms a very principal pleasure in those who are capable of the discovery; every person, for instance, can distinguish between Sir Epicure Mammon and Sir Fopling Flutter; but to note the difference between Sir Fopling Flutter and Sir Courtly Nice requires a more exquisite judgment: for want of which, vulgar spectators of plays very often do great injustice in the theatre; where I have sometimes known a poet in danger of being convicted as a thief, upon much worse evidence than the resemblance of hands hath been held to be in the law. In reality, I apprehend every amorous widow on the stage would run the hazard of being condemned as a servile imitation of Dido, but that happily very few of our play-house critics understand enough of Latin to read Virgil.
In the next place, we must admonish thee, my worthy friend (for, perhaps, thy heart may be better than thy head), not to condemn a character as a bad one, because it is not perfectly a good one. If thou dost delight in these models of perfection, there are books enow written to gratify thy taste; but, as we have not, in the course of our conversation, ever happened to meet with any such person, we have not chosen to introduce any such here. To say the truth, I a little question whether mere man ever arrived at this consummate degree of excellence, as well as whether there hath ever existed a monster bad enough to verify that
|_——nulla virtute redemptum|
[*] Whose vices are not allayed with a single virtue
in Juvenal; nor do I, indeed, conceive the good purposes served by inserting characters of such angelic perfection, or such diabolical depravity, in any work of invention; since, from contemplating either, the mind of man is more likely to be overwhelmed with sorrow and shame than to draw any good uses from such patterns; for in the former instance he may be both concerned and ashamed to see a pattern of excellence in his nature, which he may reasonably despair of ever arriving at; and in contemplating the latter he may be no less affected with those uneasy sensations, at seeing the nature of which he is a partaker degraded into so odious and detestable a creature.
In fact, if there be enough of goodness in a character to engage the admiration and affection of a well-disposed mind, though there should appear some of those little blemishes _quas humana parum cavit natura_, they will raise our compassion rather than our abhorrence. Indeed, nothing can be of more moral use than the imperfections which are seen in examples of this kind; since such form a kind of surprize, more apt to affect and dwell upon our minds than the faults of very vicious and wicked persons. The foibles and vices of men, in whom there is great mixture of good, become more glaring objects from the virtues which contrast them and shew their deformity; and when we find such vices attended with their evil consequence to our favourite characters, we are not only taught to shun them for our own sake, but to hate them for the mischiefs they have already brought on those we love.
And now, my friend, having given you these few admonitions, we will, if you please, once more set forward with our history.
Containing the arrival of an Irish gentleman, with very extraordinary adventures which ensued at the inn.
Now the little trembling hare, which the dread of all her numerous enemies, and chiefly of that cunning, cruel, carnivorous animal, man, had confined all the day to her lurking-place, sports wantonly o'er the lawns; now on some hollow tree the owl, shrill chorister of the night, hoots forth notes which might charm the ears of some modern connoisseurs in music; now, in the imagination of the half-drunk clown, as he staggers through the churchyard, or rather charnelyard, to his home, fear paints the bloody hobgoblin; now thieves and ruffians are awake, and honest watchmen fast asleep; in plain English, it was now midnight; and the company at the inn, as well those who have been already mentioned in this history, as some others who arrived in the evening, were all in bed. Only Susan Chambermaid was now stirring, she being obliged to wash the kitchen before she retired to the arms of the fond expecting hostler.
In this posture were affairs at the inn when a gentleman arrived there post. He immediately alighted from his horse, and, coming up to Susan, enquired of her, in a very abrupt and confused manner, being almost out of breath with eagerness, Whether there was any lady in the house? The hour of night, and the behaviour of the man, who stared very wildly all the time, a little surprized Susan, so that she hesitated before she made any answer; upon which the gentleman, with redoubled eagerness, begged her to give him a true information, saying, He had lost his wife, and was come in pursuit of her. "Upon my shoul," cries he, "I have been near catching her already in two or three places, if I had not found her gone just as I came up with her. If she be in the house, do carry me up in the dark and show her to me; and if she be gone away before me, do tell me which way I shall go after her to meet her, and, upon my shoul, I will make you the richest poor woman in the nation." He then pulled out a handful of guineas, a sight which would have bribed persons of much greater consequence than this poor wench to much worse purposes.
Susan, from the account she had received of Mrs Waters, made not the least doubt but that she was the very identical stray whom the right owner pursued. As she concluded, therefore, with great appearance of reason, that she never could get money in an honester way than by restoring a wife to her husband, she made no scruple of assuring the gentleman that the lady he wanted was then in the house; and was presently afterwards prevailed upon (by very liberal promises, and some earnest paid into her hands) to conduct him to the bedchamber of Mrs Waters.
It hath been a custom long established in the polite world, and that upon very solid and substantial reasons, that a husband shall never enter his wife's apartment without first knocking at the door. The many excellent uses of this custom need scarce be hinted to a reader who hath any knowledge of the world; for by this means the lady hath time to adjust herself, or to remove any disagreeable object out of the way; for there are some situations in which nice and delicate women would not be discovered by their husbands.
To say the truth, there are several ceremonies instituted among the polished part of mankind, which, though they may, to coarser judgments, appear as matters of mere form, are found to have much of substance in them, by the more discerning; and lucky would it have been had the custom above mentioned been observed by our gentleman in the present instance. Knock, indeed, he did at the door, but not with one of those gentle raps which is usual on such occasions. On the contrary, when he found the door locked, he flew at it with such violence, that the lock immediately gave way, the door burst open, and he fell headlong into the room.
He had no sooner recovered his legs than forth from the bed, upon his legs likewise, appeared—with shame and sorrow are we obliged to proceed—our heroe himself, who, with a menacing voice, demanded of the gentleman who he was, and what he meant by daring to burst open his chamber in that outrageous manner.
The gentleman at first thought he had committed a mistake, and was going to ask pardon and retreat, when, on a sudden, as the moon shone very bright, he cast his eyes on stays, gowns, petticoats, caps, ribbons, stockings, garters, shoes, clogs, &c., all which lay in a disordered manner on the floor. All these, operating on the natural jealousy of his temper, so enraged him, that he lost all power of speech; and, without returning any answer to Jones, he endeavoured to approach the bed.
Jones immediately interposing, a fierce contention arose, which soon proceeded to blows on both sides. And now Mrs Waters (for we must confess she was in the same bed), being, I suppose, awakened from her sleep, and seeing two men fighting in her bedchamber, began to scream in the most violent manner, crying out murder! robbery! and more frequently rape! which last, some, perhaps, may wonder she should mention, who do not consider that these words of exclamation are used by ladies in a fright, as fa, la, la, ra, da, &c., are in music, only as the vehicles of sound, and without any fixed ideas.
Next to the lady's chamber was deposited the body of an Irish gentleman who arrived too late at the inn to have been mentioned before. This gentleman was one of those whom the Irish call a calabalaro, or cavalier. He was a younger brother of a good family, and, having no fortune at home, was obliged to look abroad in order to get one; for which purpose he was proceeding to the Bath, to try his luck with cards and the women.
This young fellow lay in bed reading one of Mrs Behn's novels; for he had been instructed by a friend that he would find no more effectual method of recommending himself to the ladies than the improving his understanding, and filling his mind with good literature. He no sooner, therefore, heard the violent uproar in the next room, than he leapt from his bolster, and, taking his sword in one hand, and the candle which burnt by him in the other, he went directly to Mrs Waters's chamber.
If the sight of another man in his shirt at first added some shock to the decency of the lady, it made her presently amends by considerably abating her fears; for no sooner had the calabalaro entered the room than he cried out, "Mr Fitzpatrick, what the devil is the maning of this?" Upon which the other immediately answered, "O, Mr Maclachlan! I am rejoiced you are here.—This villain hath debauched my wife, and is got into bed with her."—"What wife?" cries Maclachlan; "do not I know Mrs Fitzpatrick very well, and don't I see that the lady, whom the gentleman who stands here in his shirt is lying in bed with, is none of her?"
Fitzpatrick, now perceiving, as well by the glimpse he had of the lady, as by her voice, which might have been distinguished at a greater distance than he now stood from her, that he had made a very unfortunate mistake, began to ask many pardons of the lady; and then, turning to Jones, he said, "I would have you take notice I do not ask your pardon, for you have bate me; for which I am resolved to have your blood in the morning."
Jones treated this menace with much contempt; and Mr Maclachlan answered, "Indeed, Mr Fitzpatrick, you may be ashamed of your own self, to disturb people at this time of night; if all the people in the inn were not asleep, you would have awakened them as you have me. The gentleman has served you very rightly. Upon my conscience, though I have no wife, if you had treated her so, I would have cut your throat."
Jones was so confounded with his fears for his lady's reputation, that he knew neither what to say or do; but the invention of women is, as hath been observed, much readier than that of men. She recollected that there was a communication between her chamber and that of Mr Jones; relying, therefore, on his honour and her own assurance, she answered, "I know not what you mean, villains! I am wife to none of you. Help! Rape! Murder! Rape!"—And now, the landlady coming into the room, Mrs Waters fell upon her with the utmost virulence, saying, "She thought herself in a sober inn, and not in a bawdy-house; but that a set of villains had broke into her room, with an intent upon her honour, if not upon her life; and both, she said, were equally dear to her."
The landlady now began to roar as loudly as the poor woman in bed had done before. She cried, "She was undone, and that the reputation of her house, which was never blown upon before, was utterly destroyed." Then, turning to the men, she cried, "What, in the devil's name, is the reason of all this disturbance in the lady's room?" Fitzpatrick, hanging down his head, repeated, "That he had committed a mistake, for which he heartily asked pardon," and then retired with his countryman. Jones, who was too ingenious to have missed the hint given him by his fair one, boldly asserted, "That he had run to her assistance upon hearing the door broke open, with what design he could not conceive, unless of robbing the lady; which, if they intended, he said, he had the good fortune to prevent." "I never had a robbery committed in my house since I have kept it," cries the landlady; "I would have you to know, sir, I harbour no highwaymen here; I scorn the word, thof I say it. None but honest, good gentlefolks, are welcome to my house; and, I thank good luck, I have always had enow of such customers; indeed as many as I could entertain. Here hath been my lord—," and then she repeated over a catalogue of names and titles, many of which we might, perhaps, be guilty of a breach of privilege by inserting.
Jones, after much patience, at length interrupted her, by making an apology to Mrs Waters, for having appeared before her in his shirt, assuring her "That nothing but a concern for her safety could have prevailed on him to do it." The reader may inform himself of her answer, and, indeed, of her whole behaviour to the end of the scene, by considering the situation which she affected, it being that of a modest lady, who was awakened out of her sleep by three strange men in her chamber. This was the part which she undertook to perform; and, indeed, she executed it so well, that none of our theatrical actresses could exceed her, in any of their performances, either on or off the stage.
And hence, I think, we may very fairly draw an argument, to prove how extremely natural virtue is to the fair sex; for, though there is not, perhaps, one in ten thousand who is capable of making a good actress, and even among these we rarely see two who are equally able to personate the same character, yet this of virtue they can all admirably well put on; and as well those individuals who have it not, as those who possess it, can all act it to the utmost degree of perfection.
When the men were all departed, Mrs Waters, recovering from her fear, recovered likewise from her anger, and spoke in much gentler accents to the landlady, who did not so readily quit her concern for the reputation of the house, in favour of which she began again to number the many great persons who had slept under her roof; but the lady stopt her short, and having absolutely acquitted her of having had any share in the past disturbance, begged to be left to her repose, which, she said, she hoped to enjoy unmolested during the remainder of the night. Upon which the landlady, after much civility and many courtsies, took her leave.
A dialogue between the landlady and Susan the chamber-maid, proper to be read by all inn-keepers and their servants; with the arrival, and affable behaviour of a beautiful young lady; which may teach persons of condition how they may acquire the love of the whole world.
The landlady, remembering that Susan had been the only person out of bed when the door was burst open, resorted presently to her, to enquire into the first occasion of the disturbance, as well as who the strange gentleman was, and when and how he arrived.
Susan related the whole story which the reader knows already, varying the truth only in some circumstances, as she saw convenient, and totally concealing the money which she had received. But whereas her mistress had, in the preface to her enquiry, spoken much in compassion for the fright which the lady had been in concerning any intended depredations on her virtue, Susan could not help endeavouring to quiet the concern which her mistress seemed to be under on that account, by swearing heartily she saw Jones leap out from her bed.
The landlady fell into a violent rage at these words. "A likely story, truly," cried she, "that a woman should cry out, and endeavour to expose herself, if that was the case! I desire to know what better proof any lady can give of her virtue than her crying out, which, I believe, twenty people can witness for her she did? I beg, madam, you would spread no such scandal of any of my guests; for it will not only reflect on them, but upon the house; and I am sure no vagabonds, nor wicked beggarly people, come here."
"Well," says Susan, "then I must not believe my own eyes." "No, indeed, must you not always," answered her mistress; "I would not have believed my own eyes against such good gentlefolks. I have not had a better supper ordered this half-year than they ordered last night; and so easy and good-humoured were they, that they found no fault with my Worcestershire perry, which I sold them for champagne; and to be sure it is as well tasted and as wholesome as the best champagne in the kingdom, otherwise I would scorn to give it 'em; and they drank me two bottles. No, no, I will never believe any harm of such sober good sort of people."
Susan being thus silenced, her mistress proceeded to other matters. "And so you tell me," continued she, "that the strange gentleman came post, and there is a footman without with the horses; why, then, he is certainly some of your great gentlefolks too. Why did not you ask him whether he'd have any supper? I think he is in the other gentleman's room; go up and ask whether he called. Perhaps he'll order something when he finds anybody stirring in the house to dress it. Now don't commit any of your usual blunders, by telling him the fire's out, and the fowls alive. And if he should order mutton, don't blab out that we have none. The butcher, I know, killed a sheep just before I went to bed, and he never refuses to cut it up warm when I desire it. Go, remember there's all sorts of mutton and fowls; go, open the door with, Gentlemen, d'ye call? and if they say nothing, ask what his honour will be pleased to have for supper? Don't forget his honour. Go; if you don't mind all these matters better, you'll never come to anything."
Susan departed, and soon returned with an account that the two gentlemen were got both into the same bed. "Two gentlemen," says the landlady, "in the same bed! that's impossible; they are two arrant scrubs, I warrant them; and I believe young Squire Allworthy guessed right, that the fellow intended to rob her ladyship; for, if he had broke open the lady's door with any of the wicked designs of a gentleman, he would never have sneaked away to another room to save the expense of a supper and a bed to himself. They are certainly thieves, and their searching after a wife is nothing but a pretence."
In these censures my landlady did Mr Fitzpatrick great injustice; for he was really born a gentleman, though not worth a groat; and though, perhaps, he had some few blemishes in his heart as well as in his head, yet being a sneaking or a niggardly fellow was not one of them. In reality, he was so generous a man, that, whereas he had received a very handsome fortune with his wife, he had now spent every penny of it, except some little pittance which was settled upon her; and, in order to possess himself of this, he had used her with such cruelty, that, together with his jealousy, which was of the bitterest kind, it had forced the poor woman to run away from him.
This gentleman then being well tired with his long journey from Chester in one day, with which, and some good dry blows he had received in the scuffle, his bones were so sore, that, added to the soreness of his mind, it had quite deprived him of any appetite for eating. And being now so violently disappointed in the woman whom, at the maid's instance, he had mistaken for his wife, it never once entered into his head that she might nevertheless be in the house, though he had erred in the first person he had attacked. He therefore yielded to the dissuasions of his friend from searching any farther after her that night, and accepted the kind offer of part of his bed.
The footman and post-boy were in a different disposition. They were more ready to order than the landlady was to provide; however, after being pretty well satisfied by them of the real truth of the case, and that Mr Fitzpatrick was no thief, she was at length prevailed on to set some cold meat before them, which they were devouring with great greediness, when Partridge came into the kitchen. He had been first awaked by the hurry which we have before seen; and while he was endeavouring to compose himself again on his pillow, a screech-owl had given him such a serenade at his window, that he leapt in a most horrible affright from his bed, and, huddling on his cloaths with great expedition, ran down to the protection of the company, whom he heard talking below in the kitchen.
His arrival detained my landlady from returning to her rest; for she was just about to leave the other two guests to the care of Susan; but the friend of young Squire Allworthy was not to be so neglected, especially as he called for a pint of wine to be mulled. She immediately obeyed, by putting the same quantity of perry to the fire; for this readily answered to the name of every kind of wine.
The Irish footman was retired to bed, and the post-boy was going to follow; but Partridge invited him to stay and partake of his wine, which the lad very thankfully accepted. The schoolmaster was indeed afraid to return to bed by himself; and as he did not know how soon he might lose the company of my landlady, he was resolved to secure that of the boy, in whose presence he apprehended no danger from the devil or any of his adherents.
And now arrived another post-boy at the gate; upon which Susan, being ordered out, returned, introducing two young women in riding habits, one of which was so very richly laced, that Partridge and the post-boy instantly started from their chairs, and my landlady fell to her courtsies, and her ladyships, with great eagerness.
The lady in the rich habit said, with a smile of great condescension, "If you will give me leave, madam, I will warm myself a few minutes at your kitchen fire, for it is really very cold; but I must insist on disturbing no one from his seat." This was spoken on account of Partridge, who had retreated to the other end of the room, struck with the utmost awe and astonishment at the splendor of the lady's dress. Indeed, she had a much better title to respect than this; for she was one of the most beautiful creatures in the world.
The lady earnestly desired Partridge to return to his seat; but could not prevail. She then pulled off her gloves, and displayed to the fire two hands, which had every property of snow in them, except that of melting. Her companion, who was indeed her maid, likewise pulled off her gloves, and discovered what bore an exact resemblance, in cold and colour, to a piece of frozen beef.
"I wish, madam," quoth the latter, "your ladyship would not think of going any farther to-night. I am terribly afraid your ladyship will not be able to bear the fatigue."
"Why sure," cries the landlady, "her ladyship's honour can never intend it. O, bless me! farther to-night, indeed! let me beseech your ladyship not to think on't——But, to be sure, your ladyship can't. What will your honour be pleased to have for supper? I have mutton of all kinds, and some nice chicken."
"I think, madam," said the lady, "it would be rather breakfast than supper; but I can't eat anything; and, if I stay, shall only lie down for an hour or two. However, if you please, madam, you may get me a little sack whey, made very small and thin."
"Yes, madam," cries the mistress of the house, "I have some excellent white wine."—"You have no sack, then?" says the lady. "Yes, an't please your honour, I have; I may challenge the country for that—but let me beg your ladyship to eat something."
"Upon my word, I can't eat a morsel," answered the lady; "and I shall be much obliged to you if you will please to get my apartment ready as soon as possible; for I am resolved to be on horseback again in three hours."
"Why, Susan," cries the landlady, "is there a fire lit yet in the Wild-goose? I am sorry, madam, all my best rooms are full. Several people of the first quality are now in bed. Here's a great young squire, and many other great gentlefolks of quality." Susan answered, "That the Irish gentlemen were got into the Wild-goose."
"Was ever anything like it?" says the mistress; "why the devil would you not keep some of the best rooms for the quality, when you know scarce a day passes without some calling here?——If they be gentlemen, I am certain, when they know it is for her ladyship, they will get up again."
"Not upon my account," says the lady; "I will have no person disturbed for me. If you have a room that is commonly decent, it will serve me very well, though it be never so plain. I beg, madam, you will not give yourself so much trouble on my account." "O, madam!" cries the other, "I have several very good rooms for that matter, but none good enough for your honour's ladyship. However, as you are so condescending to take up with the best I have, do, Susan, get a fire in the Rose this minute. Will your ladyship be pleased to go up now, or stay till the fire is lighted?" "I think I have sufficiently warmed myself," answered the lady; "so, if you please, I will go now; I am afraid I have kept people, and particularly that gentleman (meaning Partridge), too long in the cold already. Indeed, I cannot bear to think of keeping any person from the fire this dreadful weather."—She then departed with her maid, the landlady marching with two lighted candles before her.
When that good woman returned, the conversation in the kitchen was all upon the charms of the young lady. There is indeed in perfect beauty a power which none almost can withstand; for my landlady, though she was not pleased at the negative given to the supper, declared she had never seen so lovely a creature. Partridge ran out into the most extravagant encomiums on her face, though he could not refrain from paying some compliments to the gold lace on her habit; the post-boy sung forth the praises of her goodness, which were likewise echoed by the other post-boy, who was now come in. "She's a true good lady, I warrant her," says he; "for she hath mercy upon dumb creatures; for she asked me every now and tan upon the journey, if I did not think she should hurt the horses by riding too fast? and when she came in she charged me to give them as much corn as ever they would eat."
Such charms are there in affability, and so sure is it to attract the praises of all kinds of people. It may indeed be compared to the celebrated Mrs Hussey.[*] It is equally sure to set off every female perfection to the highest advantage, and to palliate and conceal every defect. A short reflection, which we could not forbear making in this place, where my reader hath seen the loveliness of an affable deportment; and truth will now oblige us to contrast it, by showing the reverse.
|[*] A celebrated mantua-maker in the Strand, famous for setting off|
|the shapes of women.|
Containing infallible nostrums for procuring universal disesteem and hatred.
The lady had no sooner laid herself on her pillow than the waiting-woman returned to the kitchen to regale with some of those dainties which her mistress had refused.
The company, at her entrance, shewed her the same respect which they had before paid to her mistress, by rising; but she forgot to imitate her, by desiring them to sit down again. Indeed, it was scarce possible they should have done so, for she placed her chair in such a posture as to occupy almost the whole fire. She then ordered a chicken to be broiled that instant, declaring, if it was not ready in a quarter of an hour, she would not stay for it. Now, though the said chicken was then at roost in the stable, and required the several ceremonies of catching, killing, and picking, before it was brought to the gridiron, my landlady would nevertheless have undertaken to do all within the time; but the guest, being unfortunately admitted behind the scenes, must have been witness to the _fourberie_; the poor woman was therefore obliged to confess that she had none in the house; "but, madam," said she, "I can get any kind of mutton in an instant from the butcher's."
"Do you think, then," answered the waiting-gentlewoman, "that I have the stomach of a horse, to eat mutton at this time of night? Sure you people that keep inns imagine your betters are like yourselves. Indeed, I expected to get nothing at this wretched place. I wonder my lady would stop at it. I suppose none but tradesmen and grasiers ever call here." The landlady fired at this indignity offered to her house; however, she suppressed her temper, and contented herself with saying, "Very good quality frequented it, she thanked heaven!" "Don't tell me," cries the other, "of quality! I believe I know more of people of quality than such as you.—But, prithee, without troubling me with any of your impertinence, do tell me what I can have for supper; for, though I cannot eat horse-flesh, I am really hungry." "Why, truly, madam," answered the landlady, "you could not take me again at such a disadvantage; for I must confess I have nothing in the house, unless a cold piece of beef, which indeed a gentleman's footman and the post-boy have almost cleared to the bone." "Woman," said Mrs Abigail (so for shortness we will call her), "I entreat you not to make me sick. If I had fasted a month, I could not eat what had been touched by the fingers of such fellows. Is there nothing neat or decent to be had in this horrid place?" "What think you of some eggs and bacon, madam?" said the landlady. "Are your eggs new laid? are you certain they were laid to-day? and let me have the bacon cut very nice and thin; for I can't endure anything that's gross.—Prithee try if you can do a little tolerably for once, and don't think you have a farmer's wife, or some of those creatures, in the house."—The landlady began then to handle her knife; but the other stopt her, saying, "Good woman, I must insist upon your first washing your hands; for I am extremely nice, and have been always used from my cradle to have everything in the most elegant manner."
The landlady, who governed herself with much difficulty, began now the necessary preparations; for as to Susan, she was utterly rejected, and with such disdain, that the poor wench was as hard put to it to restrain her hands from violence as her mistress had been to hold her tongue. This indeed Susan did not entirely; for, though she literally kept it within her teeth, yet there it muttered many "marry-come-ups, as good flesh and blood as yourself;" with other such indignant phrases.
While the supper was preparing, Mrs Abigail began to lament she had not ordered a fire in the parlour; but, she said, that was now too late. "However," said she, "I have novelty to recommend a kitchen; for I do not believe I ever eat in one before." Then, turning to the post-boys, she asked them, "Why they were not in the stable with their horses? If I must eat my hard fare here, madam," cries she to the landlady, "I beg the kitchen may be kept clear, that I may not be surrounded with all the blackguards in town: as for you, sir," says she to Partridge, "you look somewhat like a gentleman, and may sit still if you please; I don't desire to disturb anybody but mob."
"Yes, yes, madam," cries Partridge, "I am a gentleman, I do assure you, and I am not so easily to be disturbed. _Non semper vox casualis est verbo nominativus_." This Latin she took to be some affront, and answered, "You may be a gentleman, sir; but you don't show yourself as one to talk Latin to a woman." Partridge made a gentle reply, and concluded with more Latin; upon which she tossed up her nose, and contented herself by abusing him with the name of a great scholar.
The supper being now on the table, Mrs Abigail eat very heartily for so delicate a person; and, while a second course of the same was by her order preparing, she said, "And so, madam, you tell me your house is frequented by people of great quality?"
The landlady answered in the affirmative, saying, "There were a great many very good quality and gentlefolks in it now. There's young Squire Allworthy, as that gentleman there knows."
"And pray who is this young gentleman of quality, this young Squire Allworthy?" said Abigail.
"Who should he be," answered Partridge, "but the son and heir of the great Squire Allworthy, of Somersetshire!"
"Upon my word," said she, "you tell me strange news; for I know Mr Allworthy of Somersetshire very well, and I know he hath no son alive."
The landlady pricked up her ears at this, and Partridge looked a little confounded. However, after a short hesitation, he answered, "Indeed, madam, it is true, everybody doth not know him to be Squire Allworthy's son; for he was never married to his mother; but his son he certainly is, and will be his heir too, as certainly as his name is Jones." At that word, Abigail let drop the bacon which she was conveying to her mouth, and cried out, "You surprize me, sir! Is it possible Mr Jones should be now in the house?" "_Quare non?_" answered Partridge, "it is possible, and it is certain."
Abigail now made haste to finish the remainder of her meal, and then repaired back to her mistress, when the conversation passed which may be read in the next chapter.
Showing who the amiable lady, and her unamiable maid, were.
As in the month of June, the damask rose, which chance hath planted among the lilies, with their candid hue mixes his vermilion; or as some playsome heifer in the pleasant month of May diffuses her odoriferous breath over the flowery meadows; or as, in the blooming month of April, the gentle, constant dove, perched on some fair bough, sits meditating on her mate; so, looking a hundred charms and breathing as many sweets, her thoughts being fixed on her Tommy, with a heart as good and innocent as her face was beautiful, Sophia (for it was she herself) lay reclining her lovely head on her hand, when her maid entered the room, and, running directly to the bed, cried, "Madam—madam—who doth your ladyship think is in the house?" Sophia, starting up, cried, "I hope my father hath not overtaken us." "No, madam, it is one worth a hundred fathers; Mr Jones himself is here at this very instant." "Mr Jones!" says Sophia, "it is impossible! I cannot be so fortunate." Her maid averred the fact, and was presently detached by her mistress to order him to be called; for she said she was resolved to see him immediately.
Mrs Honour had no sooner left the kitchen in the manner we have before seen than the landlady fell severely upon her. The poor woman had indeed been loading her heart with foul language for some time, and now it scoured out of her mouth, as filth doth from a mud-cart, when the board which confines it is removed. Partridge likewise shovelled in his share of calumny, and (what may surprize the reader) not only bespattered the maid, but attempted to sully the lily-white character of Sophia herself. "Never a barrel the better herring," cries he, "_Noscitur a socio_, is a true saying. It must be confessed, indeed, that the lady in the fine garments is the civiller of the two; but I warrant neither of them are a bit better than they should be. A couple of Bath trulls, I'll answer for them; your quality don't ride about at this time o' night without servants." "Sbodlikins, and that's true," cries the landlady, "you have certainly hit upon the very matter; for quality don't come into a house without bespeaking a supper, whether they eat or no."
While they were thus discoursing, Mrs Honour returned and discharged her commission, by bidding the landlady immediately wake Mr Jones, and tell him a lady wanted to speak with him. The landlady referred her to Partridge, saying, "he was the squire's friend: but, for her part, she never called men-folks, especially gentlemen," and then walked sullenly out of the kitchen. Honour applied herself to Partridge; but he refused, "for my friend," cries he, "went to bed very late, and he would be very angry to be disturbed so soon." Mrs Honour insisted still to have him called, saying, "she was sure, instead of being angry, that he would be to the highest degree delighted when he knew the occasion." "Another time, perhaps, he might," cries Partridge; "but _non omnia possumus omnes_. One woman is enough at once for a reasonable man." "What do you mean by one woman, fellow?" cries Honour. "None of your fellow," answered Partridge. He then proceeded to inform her plainly that Jones was in bed with a wench, and made use of an expression too indelicate to be here inserted; which so enraged Mrs Honour, that she called him jackanapes, and returned in a violent hurry to her mistress, whom she acquainted with the success of her errand, and with the account she had received; which, if possible, she exaggerated, being as angry with Jones as if he had pronounced all the words that came from the mouth of Partridge. She discharged a torrent of abuse on the master, and advised her mistress to quit all thoughts of a man who had never shown himself deserving of her. She then ripped up the story of Molly Seagrim, and gave the most malicious turn to his formerly quitting Sophia herself; which, I must confess, the present incident not a little countenanced.
The spirits of Sophia were too much dissipated by concern to enable her to stop the torrent of her maid. At last, however, she interrupted her, saying, "I never can believe this; some villain hath belied him. You say you had it from his friend; but surely it is not the office of a friend to betray such secrets." "I suppose," cries Honour, "the fellow is his pimp; for I never saw so ill-looked a villain. Besides, such profligate rakes as Mr Jones are never ashamed of these matters."
To say the truth, this behaviour of Partridge was a little inexcusable; but he had not slept off the effect of the dose which he swallowed the evening before; which had, in the morning, received the addition of above a pint of wine, or indeed rather of malt spirits; for the perry was by no means pure. Now, that part of his head which Nature designed for the reservoir of drink being very shallow, a small quantity of liquor overflowed it, and opened the sluices of his heart; so that all the secrets there deposited run out. These sluices were indeed, naturally, very ill-secured. To give the best-natured turn we can to his disposition, he was a very honest man; for, as he was the most inquisitive of mortals, and eternally prying into the secrets of others, so he very faithfully paid them by communicating, in return, everything within his knowledge.
While Sophia, tormented with anxiety, knew not what to believe, nor what resolution to take, Susan arrived with the sack-whey. Mrs Honour immediately advised her mistress, in a whisper, to pump this wench, who probably could inform her of the truth. Sophia approved it, and began as follows: "Come hither, child; now answer me truly what I am going to ask you, and I promise you I will very well reward you. Is there a young gentleman in this house, a handsome young gentleman, that——." Here Sophia blushed and was confounded. "A young gentleman," cries Honour, "that came hither in company with that saucy rascal who is now in the kitchen?" Susan answered, "There was."—"Do you know anything of any lady?" continues Sophia, "any lady? I don't ask you whether she is handsome or no; perhaps she is not; that's nothing to the purpose; but do you know of any lady?" "La, madam," cries Honour, "you will make a very bad examiner. Hark'ee, child," says she, "is not that very young gentleman now in bed with some nasty trull or other?" Here Susan smiled, and was silent. "Answer the question, child," says Sophia, "and here's a guinea for you."—"A guinea! madam," cries Susan; "la, what's a guinea? If my mistress should know it I shall certainly lose my place that very instant." "Here's another for you," says Sophia, "and I promise you faithfully your mistress shall never know it." Susan, after a very short hesitation, took the money, and told the whole story, concluding with saying, "If you have any great curiosity, madam, I can steal softly into his room, and see whether he be in his own bed or no." She accordingly did this by Sophia's desire, and returned with an answer in the negative.
Sophia now trembled and turned pale. Mrs Honour begged her to be comforted, and not to think any more of so worthless a fellow. "Why there," says Susan, "I hope, madam, your ladyship won't be offended; but pray, madam, is not your ladyship's name Madam Sophia Western?" "How is it possible you should know me?" answered Sophia. "Why that man, that the gentlewoman spoke of, who is in the kitchen, told about you last night. But I hope your ladyship is not angry with me." "Indeed, child," said she, "I am not; pray tell me all, and I promise you I'll reward you." "Why, madam," continued Susan, "that man told us all in the kitchen that Madam Sophia Western—indeed I don't know how to bring it out."—Here she stopt, till, having received encouragement from Sophia, and being vehemently pressed by Mrs Honour, she proceeded thus:—"He told us, madam, though to be sure it is all a lie, that your ladyship was dying for love of the young squire, and that he was going to the wars to get rid of you. I thought to myself then he was a false-hearted wretch; but, now, to see such a fine, rich, beautiful lady as you be, forsaken for such an ordinary woman; for to be sure so she is, and another man's wife into the bargain. It is such a strange unnatural thing, in a manner."
Sophia gave her a third guinea, and, telling her she would certainly be her friend if she mentioned nothing of what had passed, nor informed any one who she was, dismissed the girl, with orders to the post-boy to get the horses ready immediately.
Being now left alone with her maid, she told her trusty waiting-woman, "That she never was more easy than at present. I am now convinced," said she, "he is not only a villain, but a low despicable wretch. I can forgive all rather than his exposing my name in so barbarous a manner. That renders him the object of my contempt. Yes, Honour, I am now easy; I am indeed; I am very easy;" and then she burst into a violent flood of tears.
After a short interval spent by Sophia, chiefly in crying, and assuring her maid that she was perfectly easy, Susan arrived with an account that the horses were ready, when a very extraordinary thought suggested itself to our young heroine, by which Mr Jones would be acquainted with her having been at the inn, in a way which, if any sparks of affection for her remained in him, would be at least some punishment for his faults.
The reader will be pleased to remember a little muff, which hath had the honour of being more than once remembered already in this history. This muff, ever since the departure of Mr Jones, had been the constant companion of Sophia by day, and her bedfellow by night; and this muff she had at this very instant upon her arm; whence she took it off with great indignation, and, having writ her name with her pencil upon a piece of paper which she pinned to it, she bribed the maid to convey it into the empty bed of Mr Jones, in which, if he did not find it, she charged her to take some method of conveying it before his eyes in the morning.
Then, having paid for what Mrs Honour had eaten, in which bill was included an account for what she herself might have eaten, she mounted her horse, and, once more assuring her companion that she was perfectly easy, continued her journey.
Containing, among other things, the ingenuity of Partridge, the madness of Jones, and the folly of Fitzpatrick.
It was now past five in the morning, and other company began to rise and come to the kitchen, among whom were the serjeant and the coachman, who, being thoroughly reconciled, made a libation, or, in the English phrase, drank a hearty cup together.
In this drinking nothing more remarkable happened than the behaviour of Partridge, who, when the serjeant drank a health to King George, repeated only the word King; nor could he be brought to utter more; for though he was going to fight against his own cause, yet he could not be prevailed upon to drink against it.
Mr Jones, being now returned to his own bed (but from whence he returned we must beg to be excused from relating), summoned Partridge from this agreeable company, who, after a ceremonious preface, having obtained leave to offer his advice, delivered himself as follows:—
"It is, sir, an old saying, and a true one, that a wise man may sometimes learn counsel from a fool; I wish, therefore, I might be so bold as to offer you my advice, which is to return home again, and leave these _horrida bella_, these bloody wars, to fellows who are contented to swallow gunpowder, because they have nothing else to eat. Now, everybody knows your honour wants for nothing at home; when that's the case, why should any man travel abroad?"
"Partridge," cries Jones, "thou art certainly a coward; I wish, therefore, thou wouldst return home thyself, and trouble me no more."
"I ask your honour's pardon," cries Partridge; "I spoke on your account more than my own; for as to me, Heaven knows my circumstances are bad enough, and I am so far from being afraid, that I value a pistol, or a blunderbuss, or any such thing, no more than a pop-gun. Every man must die once, and what signifies the manner how? besides, perhaps I may come off with the loss only of an arm or a leg. I assure you, sir, I was never less afraid in my life; and so, if your honour is resolved to go on, I am resolved to follow you. But, in that case, I wish I might give my opinion. To be sure, it is a scandalous way of travelling, for a great gentleman like you to walk afoot. Now here are two or three good horses in the stable, which the landlord will certainly make no scruple of trusting you with; but, if he should, I can easily contrive to take them; and, let the worst come to the worst, the king would certainly pardon you, as you are going to fight in his cause."
Now, as the honesty of Partridge was equal to his understanding, and both dealt only in small matters, he would never have attempted a roguery of this kind, had he not imagined it altogether safe; for he was one of those who have more consideration of the gallows than of the fitness of things; but, in reality, he thought he might have committed this felony without any danger; for, besides that he doubted not but the name of Mr Allworthy would sufficiently quiet the landlord, he conceived they should be altogether safe, whatever turn affairs might take; as Jones, he imagined, would have friends enough on one side, and as his friends would as well secure him on the other.
When Mr Jones found that Partridge was in earnest in this proposal, he very severely rebuked him, and that in such bitter terms, that the other attempted to laugh it off, and presently turned the discourse to other matters; saying, he believed they were then in a bawdy house, and that he had with much ado prevented two wenches from disturbing his honour in the middle of the night. "Heyday!" says he, "I believe they got into your chamber whether I would or no; for here lies the muff of one of them on the ground." Indeed, as Jones returned to his bed in the dark, he had never perceived the muff on the quilt, and, in leaping into his bed, he had tumbled it on the floor. This Partridge now took up, and was going to put into his pocket, when Jones desired to see it. The muff was so very remarkable, that our heroe might possibly have recollected it without the information annexed. But his memory was not put to that hard office; for at the same instant he saw and read the words Sophia Western upon the paper which was pinned to it. His looks now grew frantic in a moment, and he eagerly cried out, "Oh Heavens! how came this muff here?" "I know no more than your honour," cried Partridge; "but I saw it upon the arm of one of the women who would have disturbed you, if I would have suffered them." "Where are they?" cries Jones, jumping out of bed, and laying hold of his cloaths. "Many miles off, I believe, by this time," said Partridge. And now Jones, upon further enquiry, was sufficiently assured that the bearer of this muff was no other than the lovely Sophia herself.
The behaviour of Jones on this occasion, his thoughts, his looks, his words, his actions, were such as beggar all description. After many bitter execrations on Partridge, and not fewer on himself, he ordered the poor fellow, who was frightened out of his wits, to run down and hire him horses at any rate; and a very few minutes afterwards, having shuffled on his clothes, he hastened down-stairs to execute the orders himself, which he had just before given.
But before we proceed to what passed on his arrival in the kitchen, it will be necessary to recur to what had there happened since Partridge had first left it on his master's summons.
The serjeant was just marched off with his party, when the two Irish gentlemen arose, and came downstairs; both complaining that they had been so often waked by the noises in the inn, that they had never once been able to close their eyes all night.
The coach which had brought the young lady and her maid, and which, perhaps, the reader may have hitherto concluded was her own, was, indeed, a returned coach belonging to Mr King, of Bath, one of the worthiest and honestest men that ever dealt in horse-flesh, and whose coaches we heartily recommend to all our readers who travel that road. By which means they may, perhaps, have the pleasure of riding in the very coach, and being driven by the very coachman, that is recorded in this history.
The coachman, having but two passengers, and hearing Mr Maclachlan was going to Bath, offered to carry him thither at a very moderate price. He was induced to this by the report of the hostler, who said that the horse which Mr Maclachlan had hired from Worcester would be much more pleased with returning to his friends there than to prosecute a long journey; for that the said horse was rather a two-legged than a four-legged animal.
Mr Maclachlan immediately closed with the proposal of the coachman, and, at the same time, persuaded his friend Fitzpatrick to accept of the fourth place in the coach. This conveyance the soreness of his bones made more agreeable to him than a horse; and, being well assured of meeting with his wife at Bath, he thought a little delay would be of no consequence.
Maclachlan, who was much the sharper man of the two, no sooner heard that this lady came from Chester, with the other circumstances which he learned from the hostler, than it came into his head that she might possibly be his friend's wife; and presently acquainted him with this suspicion, which had never once occurred to Fitzpatrick himself. To say the truth, he was one of those compositions which nature makes up in too great a hurry, and forgets to put any brains into their head.
Now it happens to this sort of men, as to bad hounds, who never hit off a fault themselves; but no sooner doth a dog of sagacity open his mouth than they immediately do the same, and, without the guidance of any scent, run directly forwards as fast as they are able. In the same manner, the very moment Mr Maclachlan had mentioned his apprehension, Mr Fitzpatrick instantly concurred, and flew directly up-stairs, to surprize his wife, before he knew where she was; and unluckily (as Fortune loves to play tricks with those gentlemen who put themselves entirely under her conduct) ran his head against several doors and posts to no purpose. Much kinder was she to me, when she suggested that simile of the hounds, just before inserted; since the poor wife may, on these occasions, be so justly compared to a hunted hare. Like that little wretched animal, she pricks up her ears to listen after the voice of her pursuer; like her, flies away trembling when she hears it; and, like her, is generally overtaken and destroyed in the end.
This was not however the case at present; for after a long fruitless search, Mr Fitzpatrick returned to the kitchen, where, as if this had been a real chace, entered a gentleman hallowing as hunters do when the hounds are at a fault. He was just alighted from his horse, and had many attendants at his heels.
Here, reader, it may be necessary to acquaint thee with some matters, which, if thou dost know already, thou art wiser than I take thee to be. And this information thou shalt receive in the next chapter.
In which are concluded the adventures that happened at the inn at Upton.
In the first place, then, this gentleman just arrived was no other person than Squire Western himself, who was come hither in pursuit of his daughter; and, had he fortunately been two hours earlier, he had not only found her, but his niece into the bargain; for such was the wife of Mr Fitzpatrick, who had run away with her five years before, out of the custody of that sage lady, Madam Western.
Now this lady had departed from the inn much about the same time with Sophia; for, having been waked by the voice of her husband, she had sent up for the landlady, and being by her apprized of the matter, had bribed the good woman, at an extravagant price, to furnish her with horses for her escape. Such prevalence had money in this family; and though the mistress would have turned away her maid for a corrupt hussy, if she had known as much as the reader, yet she was no more proof against corruption herself than poor Susan had been.
Mr Western and his nephew were not known to one another; nor indeed would the former have taken any notice of the latter if he had known him; for, this being a stolen match, and consequently an unnatural one in the opinion of the good squire, he had, from the time of her committing it, abandoned the poor young creature, who was then no more than eighteen, as a monster, and had never since suffered her to be named in his presence.
The kitchen was now a scene of universal confusion, Western enquiring after his daughter, and Fitzpatrick as eagerly after his wife, when Jones entered the room, unfortunately having Sophia's muff in his hand.
As soon as Western saw Jones, he set up the same holla as is used by sportsmen when their game is in view. He then immediately run up and laid hold of Jones, crying, "We have got the dog fox, I warrant the bitch is not far off." The jargon which followed for some minutes, where many spoke different things at the same time, as it would be very difficult to describe, so would it be no less unpleasant to read.
Jones having, at length, shaken Mr Western off, and some of the company having interfered between them, our heroe protested his innocence as to knowing anything of the lady; when Parson Supple stepped up, and said, "It is folly to deny it; for why, the marks of guilt are in thy hands. I will myself asseverate and bind it by an oath, that the muff thou bearest in thy hand belongeth unto Madam Sophia; for I have frequently observed her, of later days, to bear it about her." "My daughter's muff!" cries the squire in a rage. "Hath he got my daughter's muff? bear witness the goods are found upon him. I'll have him before a justice of peace this instant. Where is my daughter, villain?" "Sir," said Jones, "I beg you would be pacified. The muff, I acknowledge, is the young lady's; but, upon my honour, I have never seen her." At these words Western lost all patience, and grew inarticulate with rage.
Some of the servants had acquainted Fitzpatrick who Mr Western was. The good Irishman, therefore, thinking he had now an opportunity to do an act of service to his uncle, and by that means might possibly obtain his favour, stept up to Jones, and cried out, "Upon my conscience, sir, you may be ashamed of denying your having seen the gentleman's daughter before my face, when you know I found you there upon the bed together." Then, turning to Western, he offered to conduct him immediately to the room where his daughter was; which offer being accepted, he, the squire, the parson, and some others, ascended directly to Mrs Waters's chamber, which they entered with no less violence than Mr Fitzpatrick had done before.
The poor lady started from her sleep with as much amazement as terror, and beheld at her bedside a figure which might very well be supposed to have escaped out of Bedlam. Such wildness and confusion were in the looks of Mr Western; who no sooner saw the lady than he started back, shewing sufficiently by his manner, before he spoke, that this was not the person sought after.
So much more tenderly do women value their reputation than their persons, that, though the latter seemed now in more danger than before, yet, as the former was secure, the lady screamed not with such violence as she had done on the other occasion. However, she no sooner found herself alone than she abandoned all thoughts of further repose; and, as she had sufficient reason to be dissatisfied with her present lodging, she dressed herself with all possible expedition.
Mr Western now proceeded to search the whole house, but to as little purpose as he had disturbed poor Mrs Waters. He then returned disconsolate into the kitchen, where he found Jones in the custody of his servants.
This violent uproar had raised all the people in the house, though it was yet scarcely daylight. Among these was a grave gentleman, who had the honour to be in the commission of the peace for the county of Worcester. Of which Mr Western was no sooner informed than he offered to lay his complaint before him. The justice declined executing his office, as he said he had no clerk present, nor no book about justice business; and that he could not carry all the law in his head about stealing away daughters, and such sort of things.
Here Mr Fitzpatrick offered to lend him his assistance, informing the company that he had been himself bred to the law. (And indeed he had served three years as clerk to an attorney in the north of Ireland, when, chusing a genteeler walk in life, he quitted his master, came over to England, and set up that business which requires no apprenticeship, namely, that of a gentleman, in which he had succeeded, as hath been already partly mentioned.)
Mr Fitzpatrick declared that the law concerning daughters was out of the present case; that stealing a muff was undoubtedly felony, and the goods being found upon the person, were sufficient evidence of the fact.
The magistrate, upon the encouragement of so learned a coadjutor, and upon the violent intercession of the squire, was at length prevailed upon to seat himself in the chair of justice, where being placed, upon viewing the muff which Jones still held in his hand, and upon the parson's swearing it to be the property of Mr Western, he desired Mr Fitzpatrick to draw up a commitment, which he said he would sign.
Jones now desired to be heard, which was at last, with difficulty, granted him. He then produced the evidence of Mr Partridge, as to the finding it; but, what was still more, Susan deposed that Sophia herself had delivered the muff to her, and had ordered her to convey it into the chamber where Mr Jones had found it.
Whether a natural love of justice, or the extraordinary comeliness of Jones, had wrought on Susan to make the discovery, I will not determine; but such were the effects of her evidence, that the magistrate, throwing himself back in his chair, declared that the matter was now altogether as clear on the side of the prisoner as it had before been against him: with which the parson concurred, saying, the Lord forbid he should be instrumental in committing an innocent person to durance. The justice then arose, acquitted the prisoner, and broke up the court.
Mr Western now gave every one present a hearty curse, and, immediately ordering his horses, departed in pursuit of his daughter, without taking the least notice of his nephew Fitzpatrick, or returning any answer to his claim of kindred, notwithstanding all the obligations he had just received from that gentleman. In the violence, moreover, of his hurry, and of his passion, he luckily forgot to demand the muff of Jones: I say luckily; for he would have died on the spot rather than have parted with it.
Jones likewise, with his friend Partridge, set forward the moment he had paid his reckoning, in quest of his lovely Sophia, whom he now resolved never more to abandon the pursuit of. Nor could he bring himself even to take leave of Mrs Waters; of whom he detested the very thoughts, as she had been, though not designedly, the occasion of his missing the happiest interview with Sophia, to whom he now vowed eternal constancy.
As for Mrs Waters, she took the opportunity of the coach which was going to Bath; for which place she set out in company with the two Irish gentlemen, the landlady kindly lending her her cloaths; in return for which she was contented only to receive about double their value, as a recompence for the loan. Upon the road she was perfectly reconciled to Mr Fitzpatrick, who was a very handsome fellow, and indeed did all she could to console him in the absence of his wife.
Thus ended the many odd adventures which Mr Jones encountered at his inn at Upton, where they talk, to this day, of the beauty and lovely behaviour of the charming Sophia, by the name of the Somersetshire angel.
In which the history goes backward.
Before we proceed any farther in our history, it may be proper to look a little back, in order to account for the extraordinary appearance of Sophia and her father at the inn at Upton.
The reader may be pleased to remember that, in the ninth chapter of the seventh book of our history, we left Sophia, after a long debate between love and duty, deciding the cause, as it usually, I believe, happens, in favour of the former.
This debate had arisen, as we have there shown, from a visit which her father had just before made her, in order to force her consent to a marriage with Blifil; and which he had understood to be fully implied in her acknowledgment "that she neither must nor could refuse any absolute command of his."
Now from this visit the squire retired to his evening potation, overjoyed at the success he had gained with his daughter; and, as he was of a social disposition, and willing to have partakers in his happiness, the beer was ordered to flow very liberally into the kitchen; so that before eleven in the evening there was not a single person sober in the house except only Mrs Western herself and the charming Sophia.
Early in the morning a messenger was despatched to summon Mr Blifil; for, though the squire imagined that young gentleman had been much less acquainted than he really was with the former aversion of his daughter, as he had not, however, yet received her consent, he longed impatiently to communicate it to him, not doubting but that the intended bride herself would confirm it with her lips. As to the wedding, it had the evening before been fixed, by the male parties, to be celebrated on the next morning save one.
Breakfast was now set forth in the parlour, where Mr Blifil attended, and where the squire and his sister likewise were assembled; and now Sophia was ordered to be called.
O, Shakespear! had I thy pen! O, Hogarth! had I thy pencil! then would I draw the picture of the poor serving-man, who, with pale countenance, staring eyes, chattering teeth, faultering tongue, and trembling limbs,
|(E'en such a man, so faint, so spiritless,|
|So dull, so dead in look, so woe-begone,|
|Drew Priam's curtains in the dead of night,|
|And would have told him, half his Troy was burn'd)|
entered the room, and declared—That Madam Sophia was not to be found.
"Not to be found!" cries the squire, starting from his chair; "Zounds and d—nation! Blood and fury! Where, when, how, what—Not to be found! Where?"
"La! brother," said Mrs Western, with true political coldness, "you are always throwing yourself into such violent passions for nothing. My niece, I suppose, is only walked out into the garden. I protest you are grown so unreasonable, that it is impossible to live in the house with you."
"Nay, nay," answered the squire, returning as suddenly to himself, as he had gone from himself; "if that be all the matter, it signifies not much; but, upon my soul, my mind misgave me when the fellow said she was not to be found." He then gave orders for the bell to be rung in the garden, and sat himself contentedly down.
No two things could be more the reverse of each other than were the brother and sister in most instances; particularly in this, That as the brother never foresaw anything at a distance, but was most sagacious in immediately seeing everything the moment it had happened; so the sister eternally foresaw at a distance, but was not so quick-sighted to objects before her eyes. Of both these the reader may have observed examples: and, indeed, both their several talents were excessive; for, as the sister often foresaw what never came to pass, so the brother often saw much more than was actually the truth.
This was not however the case at present. The same report was brought from the garden as before had been brought from the chamber, that Madam Sophia was not to be found.
The squire himself now sallied forth, and began to roar forth the name of Sophia as loudly, and in as hoarse a voice, as whilome did Hercules that of Hylas; and, as the poet tells us that the whole shore echoed back the name of that beautiful youth, so did the house, the garden, and all the neighbouring fields resound nothing but the name of Sophia, in the hoarse voices of the men, and in the shrill pipes of the women; while echo seemed so pleased to repeat the beloved sound, that, if there is really such a person, I believe Ovid hath belied her sex.
Nothing reigned for a long time but confusion; till at last the squire, having sufficiently spent his breath, returned to the parlour, where he found Mrs Western and Mr Blifil, and threw himself, with the utmost dejection in his countenance, into a great chair.
Here Mrs Western began to apply the following consolation:
"Brother, I am sorry for what hath happened; and that my niece should have behaved herself in a manner so unbecoming her family; but it is all your own doings, and you have nobody to thank but yourself. You know she hath been educated always in a manner directly contrary to my advice, and now you see the consequence. Have I not a thousand times argued with you about giving my niece her own will? But you know I never could prevail upon you; and when I had taken so much pains to eradicate her headstrong opinions, and to rectify your errors in policy, you know she was taken out of my hands; so that I have nothing to answer for. Had I been trusted entirely with the care of her education, no such accident as this had ever befallen you; so that you must comfort yourself by thinking it was all your own doing; and, indeed, what else could be expected from such indulgence?"
"Zounds! sister," answered he, "you are enough to make one mad. Have I indulged her? Have I given her her will?——It was no longer ago than last night that I threatened, if she disobeyed me, to confine her to her chamber upon bread and water as long as she lived.——You would provoke the patience of Job."
"Did ever mortal hear the like?" replied she. "Brother, if I had not the patience of fifty Jobs, you would make me forget all decency and decorum. Why would you interfere? Did I not beg you, did I not intreat you, to leave the whole conduct to me? You have defeated all the operations of the campaign by one false step. Would any man in his senses have provoked a daughter by such threats as these? How often have I told you that English women are not to be treated like Ciracessian[*] slaves. We have the protection of the world; we are to be won by gentle means only, and not to be hectored, and bullied, and beat into compliance. I thank Heaven no Salique law governs here. Brother, you have a roughness in your manner which no woman but myself would bear. I do not wonder my niece was frightened and terrified into taking this measure; and, to speak honestly, I think my niece will be justified to the world for what she hath done. I repeat it to you again, brother, you must comfort yourself by rememb'ring that it is all your own fault. How often have I advised—" Here Western rose hastily from his chair, and, venting two or three horrid imprecations, ran out of the room.
[*] Possibly Circassian.
When he was departed, his sister expressed more bitterness (if possible) against him than she had done while he was present; for the truth of which she appealed to Mr Blifil, who, with great complacence, acquiesced entirely in all she said; but excused all the faults of Mr Western, "as they must be considered," he said, "to have proceeded from the too inordinate fondness of a father, which must be allowed the name of an amiable weakness." "So much the more inexcuseable," answered the lady; "for whom doth he ruin by his fondness but his own child?" To which Blifil immediately agreed.
Mrs Western then began to express great confusion on the account of Mr Blifil, and of the usage which he had received from a family to which he intended so much honour. On this subject she treated the folly of her niece with great severity; but concluded with throwing the whole on her brother, who, she said, was inexcuseable to have proceeded so far without better assurances of his daughter's consent: "But he was (says she) always of a violent, headstrong temper; and I can scarce forgive myself for all the advice I have thrown away upon him."
After much of this kind of conversation, which, perhaps, would not greatly entertain the reader, was it here particularly related, Mr Blifil took his leave and returned home, not highly pleased with his disappointment: which, however, the philosophy which he had acquired from Square, and the religion infused into him by Thwackum, together with somewhat else, taught him to bear rather better than more passionate lovers bear these kinds of evils.
The escape of Sophia.
It is now time to look after Sophia; whom the reader, if he loves her half so well as I do, will rejoice to find escaped from the clutches of her passionate father, and from those of her dispassionate lover.
Twelve times did the iron register of time beat on the sonorous bell-metal, summoning the ghosts to rise and walk their nightly round.——In plainer language, it was twelve o'clock, and all the family, as we have said, lay buried in drink and sleep, except only Mrs Western, who was deeply engaged in reading a political pamphlet, and except our heroine, who now softly stole down-stairs, and, having unbarred and unlocked one of the house-doors, sallied forth, and hastened to the place of appointment.
Notwithstanding the many pretty arts which ladies sometimes practise, to display their fears on every little occasion (almost as many as the other sex uses to conceal theirs), certainly there is a degree of courage which not only becomes a woman, but is often necessary to enable her to discharge her duty. It is, indeed, the idea of fierceness, and not of bravery, which destroys the female character; for who can read the story of the justly celebrated Arria without conceiving as high an opinion of her gentleness and tenderness as of her fortitude? At the same time, perhaps, many a woman who shrieks at a mouse, or a rat, may be capable of poisoning a husband; or, what is worse, of driving him to poison himself.
Sophia, with all the gentleness which a woman can have, had all the spirit which she ought to have. When, therefore, she came to the place of appointment, and, instead of meeting her maid, as was agreed, saw a man ride directly up to her, she neither screamed out nor fainted away: not that her pulse then beat with its usual regularity; for she was, at first, under some surprize and apprehension: but these were relieved almost as soon as raised, when the man, pulling off his hat, asked her, in a very submissive manner, "If her ladyship did not expect to meet another lady?" and then proceeded to inform her that he was sent to conduct her to that lady.
Sophia could have no possible suspicion of any falsehood in this account: she therefore mounted resolutely behind the fellow, who conveyed her safe to a town about five miles distant, where she had the satisfaction of finding the good Mrs Honour: for, as the soul of the waiting-woman was wrapt up in those very habiliments which used to enwrap her body, she could by no means bring herself to trust them out of her sight. Upon these, therefore, she kept guard in person, while she detached the aforesaid fellow after her mistress, having given him all proper instructions.
They now debated what course to take, in order to avoid the pursuit of Mr Western, who they knew would send after them in a few hours. The London road had such charms for Honour, that she was desirous of going on directly; alleging that, as Sophia could not be missed till eight or nine the next morning, her pursuers would not be able to overtake her, even though they knew which way she had gone. But Sophia had too much at stake to venture anything to chance; nor did she dare trust too much to her tender limbs, in a contest which was to be decided only by swiftness. She resolved, therefore, to travel across the country, for at least twenty or thirty miles, and then to take the direct road to London. So, having hired horses to go twenty miles one way, when she intended to go twenty miles the other, she set forward with the same guide behind whom she had ridden from her father's house; the guide having now taken up behind him, in the room of Sophia, a much heavier, as well as much less lovely burden; being, indeed, a huge portmanteau, well stuffed with those outside ornaments, by means of which the fair Honour hoped to gain many conquests, and, finally, to make her fortune in London city.
When they had gone about two hundred paces from the inn on the London road, Sophia rode up to the guide, and, with a voice much fuller of honey than was ever that of Plato, though his mouth is supposed to have been a bee-hive, begged him to take the first turning which led towards Bristol.
Reader, I am not superstitious, nor any great believer of modern miracles. I do not, therefore, deliver the following as a certain truth; for, indeed, I can scarce credit it myself: but the fidelity of an historian obliges me to relate what hath been confidently asserted. The horse, then, on which the guide rode, is reported to have been so charmed by Sophia's voice, that he made a full stop, and expressed an unwillingness to proceed any farther.
Perhaps, however, the fact may be true, and less miraculous than it hath been represented; since the natural cause seems adequate to the effect: for, as the guide at that moment desisted from a constant application of his armed right heel (for, like Hudibras, he wore but one spur), it is more than possible that this omission alone might occasion the beast to stop, especially as this was very frequent with him at other times.
But if the voice of Sophia had really an effect on the horse, it had very little on the rider. He answered somewhat surlily, "That measter had ordered him to go a different way, and that he should lose his place if he went any other than that he was ordered."
Sophia, finding all her persuasions had no effect, began now to add irresistible charms to her voice; charms which, according to the proverb, makes the old mare trot, instead of standing still; charms! to which modern ages have attributed all that irresistible force which the antients imputed to perfect oratory. In a word, she promised she would reward him to his utmost expectation.
The lad was not totally deaf to these promises; but he disliked their being indefinite; for, though perhaps he had never heard that word, yet that, in fact, was his objection. He said, "Gentlevolks did not consider the case of poor volks; that he had like to have been turned away the other day, for riding about the country with a gentleman from Squire Allworthy's, who did not reward him as he should have done."
"With whom?" says Sophia eagerly. "With a gentleman from Squire Allworthy's," repeated the lad; "the squire's son, I think they call 'un."—"Whither? which way did he go?" says Sophia.—"Why, a little o' one side o' Bristol, about twenty miles off," answered the lad.—"Guide me," says Sophia, "to the same place, and I'll give thee a guinea, or two, if one is not sufficient."—"To be certain," said the boy, "it is honestly worth two, when your ladyship considers what a risk I run; but, however, if your ladyship will promise me the two guineas, I'll e'en venture: to be certain it is a sinful thing to ride about my measter's horses; but one comfort is, I can only be turned away, and two guineas will partly make me amends."
The bargain being thus struck, the lad turned aside into the Bristol road, and Sophia set forward in pursuit of Jones, highly contrary to the remonstrances of Mrs Honour, who had much more desire to see London than to see Mr Jones: for indeed she was not his friend with her mistress, as he had been guilty of some neglect in certain pecuniary civilities, which are by custom due to the waiting-gentlewoman in all love affairs, and more especially in those of a clandestine kind. This we impute rather to the carelessness of his temper than to any want of generosity; but perhaps she derived it from the latter motive. Certain it is that she hated him very bitterly on that account, and resolved to take every opportunity of injuring him with her mistress. It was therefore highly unlucky for her, that she had gone to the very same town and inn whence Jones had started, and still more unlucky was she in having stumbled on the same guide, and on this accidental discovery which Sophia had made.
Our travellers arrived at Hambrook[*] at the break of day, where Honour was against her will charged to enquire the route which Mr Jones had taken. Of this, indeed, the guide himself could have informed them; but Sophia, I know not for what reason, never asked him the question.
[*] This was the village where Jones met the Quaker.
When Mrs Honour had made her report from the landlord, Sophia, with much difficulty, procured some indifferent horses, which brought her to the inn where Jones had been confined rather by the misfortune of meeting with a surgeon than by having met with a broken head.
Here Honour, being again charged with a commission of enquiry, had no sooner applied herself to the landlady, and had described the person of Mr Jones, than that sagacious woman began, in the vulgar phrase, to smell a rat. When Sophia therefore entered the room, instead of answering the maid, the landlady, addressing herself to the mistress, began the following speech: "Good lack-a-day! why there now, who would have thought it? I protest the loveliest couple that ever eye beheld. I-fackins, madam, it is no wonder the squire run on so about your ladyship. He told me indeed you was the finest lady in the world, and to be sure so you be. Mercy on him, poor heart! I bepitied him, so I did, when he used to hug his pillow, and call it his dear Madam Sophia. I did all I could to dissuade him from going to the wars: I told him there were men enow that were good for nothing else but to be killed, that had not the love of such fine ladies." "Sure," says Sophia, "the good woman is distracted." "No, no," cries the landlady, "I am not distracted. What, doth your ladyship think I don't know then? I assure you he told me all." "What saucy fellow," cries Honour, "told you anything of my lady?" "No saucy fellow," answered the landlady, "but the young gentleman you enquired after, and a very pretty young gentleman he is, and he loves Madam Sophia Western to the bottom of his soul." "He love my lady! I'd have you to know, woman, she is meat for his master."—"Nay, Honour," said Sophia, interrupting her, "don't be angry with the good woman; she intends no harm." "No, marry, don't I," answered the landlady, emboldened by the soft accents of Sophia; and then launched into a long narrative too tedious to be here set down, in which some passages dropt that gave a little offence to Sophia, and much more to her waiting-woman, who hence took occasion to abuse poor Jones to her mistress the moment they were alone together, saying, "that he must be a very pitiful fellow, and could have no love for a lady, whose name he would thus prostitute in an ale-house."
Sophia did not see his behaviour in so very disadvantageous a light, and was perhaps more pleased with the violent raptures of his love (which the landlady exaggerated as much as she had done every other circumstance) than she was offended with the rest; and indeed she imputed the whole to the extravagance, or rather ebullience, of his passion, and to the openness of his heart.
This incident, however, being afterwards revived in her mind, and placed in the most odious colours by Honour, served to heighten and give credit to those unlucky occurrences at Upton, and assisted the waiting-woman in her endeavours to make her mistress depart from that inn without seeing Jones.
The landlady finding Sophia intended to stay no longer than till her horses were ready, and that without either eating or drinking, soon withdrew; when Honour began to take her mistress to task (for indeed she used great freedom), and after a long harangue, in which she reminded her of her intention to go to London, and gave frequent hints of the impropriety of pursuing a young fellow, she at last concluded with this serious exhortation: "For heaven's sake, madam, consider what you are about, and whither you are going."
This advice to a lady who had already rode near forty miles, and in no very agreeable season, may seem foolish enough. It may be supposed she had well considered and resolved this already; nay, Mrs Honour, by the hints she threw out, seemed to think so; and this I doubt not is the opinion of many readers, who have, I make no doubt, been long since well convinced of the purpose of our heroine, and have heartily condemned her for it as a wanton baggage.
But in reality this was not the case. Sophia had been lately so distracted between hope and fear, her duty and love to her father, her hatred to Blifil, her compassion, and (why should we not confess the truth?) her love for Jones; which last the behaviour of her father, of her aunt, of every one else, and more particularly of Jones himself, had blown into a flame, that her mind was in that confused state which may be truly said to make us ignorant of what we do, or whither we go, or rather, indeed, indifferent as to the consequence of either.
The prudent and sage advice of her maid produced, however, some cool reflection; and she at length determined to go to Gloucester, and thence to proceed directly to London.
But, unluckily, a few miles before she entered that town, she met the hack-attorney, who, as is before mentioned, had dined there with Mr Jones. This fellow, being well known to Mrs Honour, stopt and spoke to her; of which Sophia at that time took little notice, more than to enquire who he was.
But, having had a more particular account from Honour of this man afterwards at Gloucester, and hearing of the great expedition he usually made in travelling, for which (as hath been before observed) he was particularly famous; recollecting, likewise, that she had overheard Mrs Honour inform him that they were going to Gloucester, she began to fear lest her father might, by this fellow's means, be able to trace her to that city; wherefore, if she should there strike into the London road, she apprehended he would certainly be able to overtake her. She therefore altered her resolution; and, having hired horses to go a week's journey a way which she did not intend to travel, she again set forward after a light refreshment, contrary to the desire and earnest entreaties of her maid, and to the no less vehement remonstrances of Mrs Whitefield, who, from good breeding, or perhaps from good nature (for the poor young lady appeared much fatigued), pressed her very heartily to stay that evening at Gloucester.
Having refreshed herself only with some tea, and with lying about two hours on the bed, while her horses were getting ready, she resolutely left Mrs Whitefield's about eleven at night, and, striking directly into the Worcester road, within less than four hours arrived at that very inn where we last saw her.
Having thus traced our heroine very particularly back from her departure, till her arrival at Upton, we shall in a very few words bring her father to the same place; who, having received the first scent from the post-boy, who conducted his daughter to Hambrook, very easily traced her afterwards to Gloucester; whence he pursued her to Upton, as he had learned Mr Jones had taken that route (for Partridge, to use the squire's expression, left everywhere a strong scent behind him), and he doubted not in the least but Sophia travelled, or, as he phrased it, ran, the same way. He used indeed a very coarse expression, which need not be here inserted; as fox-hunters, who alone will understand it, will easily suggest it to themselves.