« AnteriorContinuar »
she would marry the person provided to rival him upon this occasion, if he did not prevent it by taking her himself. Such was the scheme laid, which, though I did not strenuously oppose, I did not entirely approve.
The next time, therefore, that Mr Thornhill came to see us, my girls took care to be out of the way, in order to give their mamma an opportunity of putting her scheme in execution; but they only retired to the next room, whence they could overhear the whole conversation.
My wife artfully introduced it, by observing, that one of the Miss Flamboroughs was like to have a very good match of it in Mr Spanker. To this the Squire assenting, she proceeded to remark, that they who had warm fortunes were always sure of getting good husbands : “But Heaven help,” continued she, “the girls that have none ! What signifies beauty, Mr Thornhill ? or what signifies all the virtue, and all the qualifications in the world, in this age of self-interest ? It is not, What is she? but, What has she? is all the cry."
“ Madam,” returned he, “ I highly approve the justice, as well as the novelty, of your remarks, and if I were a king, it should be otherwise. It should then, indeed, be fine times with the girls without fortunes : our two young ladies should be the first for whom I would provide.”
Ah, sir,” returned my wife, “ you are pleased to be facetious : but I wish I were a queen, and then I know where my eldest daughter should look for a husband. But, now that you have put it into my head, seriously, Mr Thornhill, can't you recommend me a proper husband for her ? she is now nineteen years old, well grown and well educated, and, in my humble opinion, does not want for parts.”
Madam,” replied he, “if I were to choose, I would find out a person possessed of every accomplishmenť that can make an angel happy. One with prudence, fortune, taste, and sincerity ; such, madam, would be, in my opinion, the proper husband.”
"Ay, sir,” said she, “but do you know of any such person ?". -“ No, madam,” returned he,“ it is impossible to know any person that deserves to be her husband : she's too great a treasure for one man's possession ; she's a goddess! Upon my soul, I speak what I think - she's an angel.”—“ Ah, Mr Thornhill, you only flatter my poor girl : but we have been thinking of marrying her to one of your tenants, whose mother is lately de and who wants à
manager: you know whom I mean,-- farmer Williams ; a
After he was gone, upon a general consultation, we could not tell what to make of these fine sentiments. Olivia considered them as instances of the most exalted passion ; but I was not quite so sanguine : it seemed to me pretty plain, that they had more of love than matrimony in them; yet whatever they might portend, it was resolved to prosecute the scheme of farmer Williams, who, from my daughter's first appearance in the country, had paid her his addresses.
SCARCELY ANY VIRTUE FOUND TO RESIST THE POWER OP LONG AXD
As I only studied my child's real happiness, the assiduity of Mr Williams pleased me, as he was in easy circumstances, prudent, and sincere. It required but very little encourageînent to revive his former passion ; so that in an evening or two he and Mr Thornhill met at our house, and surveyed each other for some time with looks of anger; but Williams owed his landlord no rent, and little regarded his indignation. Olivia, on her side, acted the coquette to perfection, if that might be called acting which was her real character, pretending to lavish all her tenderness on her new lover. Mr Thornhill appeared quite dejected at this preference, and
with a pensive air took leave, though I own it puzzled me to find him in so much pain as he appeared to be, when he had it in his power so easily to remove the cause, by declaring an honourable passion. But whatever uneasiness he seemed to endure, it could easily be perceived that Olivia's anguish was still greater. After any of these interviews between Her lovers, of which there were several, she usually retired to solitude, and there indulged her grief. It was in such a situation I found her one evening, after she had been for some time supporting a fictitious gaiety.
“ You now see, my child,” said I, “ that your confidence in Mr Thornhill's passion was alf a dream : he permits the rivalry of another, every way
his inferior, though he knows it lies in his power to secure you to himself by a candid declaration.”_ Yes, papa,” returned she; “ but he has his reasons for this delay : I know he has. The sincerity of his looks and words convinces me of his real esteem. A short time, I hope, will discover the generosity of his sentiments, and convince you that my opinion of him has been more just than yours.”.
“ Olivia, my darling," returned I, “every scheme that has been hitherto pursued to compel him to a declaration, has been proposed and planned by yourself, nor can you in the least say that I have constrained you. But you must not suppose, my dear, that I will ever be instrumental in suffering his honest rival to be the dupe of your ill-placed passion. Whatever time you require to bring your fancied admirer to an explanation, shall be granted'; but at the expiration of that term, if he is still regardless, I must absolutely insist that honest Mr Williams shall be rewarded for his fidelity. The character which I have hitherto supported in life demands this from me, and my tenderness as a parent shall never influence my integrity as a man. Name, then, your day ; let it be as distant as you think proper ; and in the meantime, take care to let Mr Thornhill know the exact time on which I design delivering you up to another. If he really loves you, his own good sense will readily suggest that there is but one method alone to prevent his losing you for ever.” This proposal, which she could not avoid considering as perfectly just, was readily agreed to. She again renewed her most positive promise of marrying Mr Williams, in case of the other's insensibility ; and at the next opportunity, in Mr Thornhill's presence, that day month was fixed upon for her nuptials with his rival.
Such vigorous proceedings seemed to redouble Mr Thornhill's anxiety : but what Olivia really felt gave me some uneasiness. In this struggle between prudence and passion, her vivacity quite forsook her, and every opportunity of solitude was sought, and spent in tears. One week passed away ; but Mr Thornhill made no efforts to restrain her nuptials. The succeeding week he was still assiduous ; but not more open.
On the third, he discontinued his visits entirely, and instead of my daughter testifying any impatience, as I expected, she seemed to retain a pensive tranquillity, which I looked upon as resignation. For my own part, I was now sincerely pleased with thinking that
child was going to be secured in a continuance of competence and peace, and frequently applauded her resolution, in preferring happiness to ostentation.
It was within about four days of her intended nuptials, that my little family at night were gathered round a charming fire, telling stories of the past, and laying schemes for the future : busied in forming a thousand projects, and laughing at whatever folly came uppermost. “Well
, Moses," cried I, “ we shall soon, my boy, have a wedding in the family: what is your opinion of matters and things in general ?" -“ My opinion, father, is, that all things go on very well ; and I was just now thinking, that when sister Livy is married to farmer Williams, we shall then have the loan of his cyder-press and brewing tubs for nothing." “ That we shall, Moses,” cried I, « and he will sing us • Death and the Lady, to raise our spirits into the bargain.” -“ He has taught that song to our Dick,” cried Moses ; " and I think he goes through it very prettily.”. Does he so ?” cried I ; "then let us have it: where is little Dick ? let him up with it boldly.”— “ My brother Dick,” cried Bill, my youngest,“ is just gone out with sister Livy : but Mr Williams has taught me two songs, and I'll sing them for you, papa. Which song do you choose, The Dying Swan,' or the Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog?'”—“ The elegy, child, by all means," said I ; “I never heard that yet ; and Deborah, my life, grief you know is dry, let us have a bottle of the best gooseberry wine, to keep up our spirits. I have wept so much at all sorts of elegies of late, that without an enlivening glass, I am sure this will overcome me; and Sophy, love, take your guitar, and thrum in with the boy a Little.”
AN ELEGY ON THE DEATH OF A MAD DOG.
Good people all, of every sort,
Give ear unto my song,
It cannot hold you long.
Of whom the world might say,
Whene'er he went to pray.
A kind and gentle heart he had,
To comfort friends and foes ;
When he put on his clothes.
As many dogs there be,
And curs of low degree.
This dog and man at first were friends;
But when a pique began,
Went mad, and bit the man.
Around from all the neighbouring streets
The wond'ring neighbours ran,
To bite so good a man.
The wound it seem'd both sore and sad
To every Christian eye ;
They swore the man would die.
That shew'd the rogues they lied :
The dog it was that died.
" A very good boy, Bill, upon my word; and an elegy that may truly be called tragical. Come, my children, here's Bill's health, and may he one day be a bishop!”
With all my heart," cried my wife : « and if he but preaches as well as he sings, I make no doubt of him. The most of his family, by the mother's side, could sing a good