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some proposals of marriage to Miss Wilmot, my son George's former mistress, this a good deal damped the heartiness of his reception : but accident in some measure relieved our embarrassment; for one of the company happening to mention her name, Mr Thornhill observed with an oath, that he never knew any thing more absurd than calling such a fright a beauty: “For strike me ugly,” continued he, “if I should not find as much pleasure in choosing my mistress by the information of a lamp under the clock at St Dunstan’s.” At this he laughed, and so did we —the jests of the rich are ever successful. Olivia too could not avoid whispering loud enough to be heard, that he had an infinite fund of humour. After dinner, I began with my tisual toast, the Church; for this I was thanked by the chaplain, as he said the Church was the only mistress of his affections.—“Come tell us honestly, Frank,” said the Squire, with his usual archness, “suppose the Church, your present mistress, drest in lawn sleeves, on one hand, and Miss Sophia, with no lawn about her, on the other, which would you be for 2" —“For both, to be sure,” cried the chaplain. —“Right, Frank,” cried the Squire, “for may this glass suffocate me, but a fine girl is worth all the priestcraft in the creation. For what are tithes and tricks but an imposition, all a confounded imposture, and I can prove it.”—“I wish you would,” cried my son Moses; “and I think, continued he, “that I should be able to answer you.”—“Very well, Sir,” cried the Squire, who immediately smoked him, and winking on the rest of the company to prepare us for the sport, “if you are for a cool argument upon that subject, I am ready to accept the challenge. And first, whether are you for managing it analogically or dialogically?”—“I am for managing it rationally,” cried Moses, quité happy at being permitted to dispute. “Good again,” cried the Squire, “and firstly, of the first: I hope you'll not deny, that whatever is, is. If you don't grant me that, I can go no further.”— “Why,” returned Moses, “I think I may grant that, and make the best of it.”—“I hope too,” returned the other, “you'll grant that a part is less than the whole.”—“I grant that too,” cried Moses, “it is but just and reasonable.”—“I hope,” cried the 'Squire, “you will not deny, that the two angles of a triangle are equal to two right ones.”—“Nothing can be plainer,” returned t'other, and looked round with his usual importance.”— .* Very well,” cried the Squire, speaking very quick, “the premises being thus settled, I proceed to observe, that the concatenation of self-existences, proceeding in a reciprocal duplicate ratio, naturally produce a problematical dialogism, which in some measure proves that the essence of spirituality may be referred to the second predicable.”—“Hold, hold,” cried the other, “I deny that: Do you think I can thus tamely submit to such heterodox
doctrines?”—“What " replied the Squire, as if in a passion, “not submit ! ... Answer me one plain question: Do you think Aristotle right when he says, that relatives are related 2" —“Undoubtedly,” replied the other. “If so, then,” cried the Squire, “answer me directly to what I propose: Whether do you judge the analytical investigation of the first part of my enthymem deficient secundum quoad, or quoad minus, and give me your reasons: give me your reasons, I say, directly.”—“I protest,” cried Moses, “I don't rightly comprehend the force of your reasoning; but if it be reduced to one simple proposition, I fancy it may then have an answer.”—“O Sir,” cried the Squire, “I am your most humble servant; I find you want me to furnish you with argument and intellects too. No, Sir, there I protest you are too hard for me.” This effectually raised the laugh against poor Moses, who sat the only dismal figure in a group of merry faces; nor did he offer a single syllable more during the whole entertainment. But though all this gave me no pleasure, it had a very different effect upon Olivia, who mistook it for humour, though but a mere act of the memory. She thought him therefore a very fine gentleman; and such as consider what powerful ingredients a good figure, fine clothes, and fortune are in that character, will easily forgive her. Mr Thornhill, notwithstanding his real ignorance, talked with ease, and could expatiate upon the common topics of conversation with fluency. It is not surprising then, that such talents should win the affections of a girl, who by education was taught to value an appearance in herself, and consequently to set a value upon it in another. Upon his departure, we again entered into a debate upon the merits of our young landlord. As he directed his looks and conversation to Olivia, it was no longer doubted but that she was the object that induced him to be our visitor. Nor did she seem to be much displeased at the innocent raillery of her brother and sister upon this occasion. Even Deborah herself seemed to share the glory of the day, and exulted in her daughter's victory as if it were her own. “And now my dear,” cried she to me, “I’ll fairly own, that it was I that instructed my girls to encourage our landlord's addresses. I had always some ambition, and you now see that I was right; for who knows how this may end?”—“Ay, who knows that indeed!” answered I, with a groan: “For my part, I don't much like it; and I could have been better pleased with one that was poor and honest, than this fine gentleman with his forture and infidelity; for depend on’t, if he be what I suspect him, no free thinker shall ever have a child of mine.” “Sure, father,” cried Moses, “you are too severe in this ; for Heaven will never arraign him for what he thinks, but for what he does. Every man has a thousand vicious thoughts, which arise without his power to suppress.
Thinking freely of religion may be involuntary with this gentleman; so that allowing his sentiments to be wrong, yet as he is purely passive in his assent, he is no more to be blamed for his errors, than the governor of a city without walls for the shelter he is obliged to afford an invading enemy.”
“True, my son,” cried I; “but if the governor invites the enemy there, he is justl culpable. And such is always the case wit those who embrace error. The vice does not lie in assenting to the proofs they see; but in being blind to many of the proofs that offer. So that, though our erroneous opinions be involuntary when formed, yet as we have been wilfully corrupt, or very negligent in forming them, we deserve punishment for our vice, or contempt for our folly.”
My wife now kept up the conversation, though not the argument: she observed, that several very prudent men of our acquaintance were free-thinkers, and made very good husbands; and she knew some sensible girls that had skill enough to make converts of their spouses : “And who knows, my dear,” continued she, “what Olivia may be able to do. The girl has a great deal to say upon every subject, and to my knowledge is very well skilled in controversy.”
“Why, my dear, what controversy can she have read?” cried I: “It does not occur to me that I ever put such books into her hands : you certainly over-rate her merit.”—“Indeed, papa,” replied Olivia, “she does not : I have read a great deal of controversy. I have read the disputes between Thwackum and Square; the controversy between Robinson Crusoe and Friday the savage, and am now employed in reading the controversy in Religious Courtship.”—“Very well,” cried I, “ that's a good girl, I find you are perfectly qualified for making converts; and so go help your mother to make the gooseberry-pie.”
AN AMOUR, which PROMISES LITTLE GOOD FoRTUNE, YET MAY BE PRODUCTIVE OF MUCH.
The next morning we were again visited by Mr Burchell, though I began, for certain reasons, to be displeased with the frequency of his return; but I could not refuse him my company and my fire-side. It is true, his labour more than requited his entertainment; for he wrought among us with vigour, and either in the meadow or at the hay-rick put himself foremost. Besides, he had always something amusing to say that lessened our toil, and was at once so out of the way, and yet so sensible, that I loved, laughed at, and pitied him. My only dislike arose from an attachment he discovered to my daughter: He would, in a jesting manner, call her his little
mistress, and when he bought each of the girls a set of ribands, hers was the finest. I knew not how, but he every day seemed to become more amiable, his wit to improve, and his simplicity to assume the superior airs of wisdom.
Our family dined in the field, and we sat, or rather reclined round a temperate repast, our cloth spread upon the hay, while Mr Burchell gave cheerfulness to the feast. To heighten our satisfaction, two blackbirds answered each other from opposite hedges, the familiar red-breast came and pecked the crumbs from our hands, and every sound seemed but the echo of tranquillity. “I never sit thus,” says Sophia, “but I think of the two lovers so sweetly described by Mr Gay, who were struck dead in each other's arms. There is something so pathetic in the description, that I have read it an hundred times with new rapture.”—“In my opinion,” cried my son, “the finest strokes in that description are much below those in the Acis and Galatea of Ovid. The Roman poet understands the use of contrast better; and upon that vigour artfully managed, all strength in the pathetic depends.”—“It is remarkable,” cried Mr Burchell, “that both the poets you mention have equally contributed to introduce a false taste into their respective countries, by loading all their lines with epithet. Men of little genius found them most easily imitated in their defects, and English poetry, like that in the latter empire of Rome, is nothing at present but a combination of luxuriant images, without plot or connexion; a string of epithets that improve the sound, without carrying on the sense. But perhaps, madam, while I thus reprehend others, you'll think it just that I should give them an opportunity to retaliate, and indeed I have made this remark only to have an opportunity of introducing to the company a ballad, which, whatever be its other defects, is, I think, at least free from those I have mentioned.”
A BALL AD.
“Turn, gentle Hermit of the dale, And guide my lonely way,
To where yon taper cheers the vale With hospitable ray.
“For here forlorn and lost I tread, With fainting steps and slow;
Where wilds, immeasurably spread, Seem lengthening as I go.”
“Forbear, my son,” the Hermit cries,
For yonder faithless phantom flies
“And when beside me in the dale, He carold lays of love,
His breath lent fragrance to the gale, And music to the grove.
“The blossom opening to the day,
Could nought of purity display
“The dew, the blossom on the tree, With charms inconstant shine;
Their charms were his, but wo to me, Their constancy was mine.
“For still I tried each fickle art,
And while his passion touch'd my heart,
“Till quite dejected with my scorn,
And sought a solitude forlorn,
“But mine the sorrow, mine the fault,
I'll seek the solitude he sought,
“And there forlorn, despairing, hid,
'Twas so for me that Edwin did,
“Forbid it, Heaven " the Hermit cried, And clasp'd her to his breast:
The wond'ring fair one turn'd to chide— 'Twas Edwin's self that prest.
“Turn, Angelina, ever dear !
“Thus let me hold thee to my heart,
And shall we never, never part,
“No never from this hour to part,
The sigh that rends thy constant heart,
While this ballad was reading, Sophia seem. ed to mix an air of tenderness with her approbation. But our tranquillity was soon disturbed by the report of a gun just by us, and immediately after a man was seen bursting through the hedge, to take up the game he had killed. This sportsman was the "Squire's chaplain, who had shot one of the blackbirds that so agreeably entertained us. So loud a report, and so near, startled my daughters; and I could perceive that Sophia in the fright
had thrown herself into Mr Burchell's arms for protection. The gentleman came up and asked pardon for having disturbed us, affirming that he was ignorant of our being so near. He therefore sat down by .# youngest daughter, and, sportsman like, offered her what he had killed that morning. She was going to refuse, but a private look from her mother soon induced her to correct the mistake, and accept his present, though with some reluctance. My wife, as usual, discovered her pride in a whisper, observing, that Sophy had made a conquest of the chaplain, as well as her sister had of the "Squire. I suspected, however, with more probability, that her affections were placed upon a different object. The chaplain's errand was to inform us, that Mr Thornhill had provided music and refreshments, and intended that night giving the young ladies a ball by moonlight, on the grassplot before our door. “Nor can I deny,” continued he, “but I have an interest in being first to deliver this message, as I expect for my reward to be honoured with Miss Sophy's hand as a partner.” To this my girl replied, that she should have no objection, if she could do it with honour; “But here,” continued she, “is a gentleman,” looking at Mr Burchell, “who has been my companion in the task for the day, and it is fit he should share in its amusements.” Mr Burchell returned her a compliment for her intentions; but resigned her up to the chaplain, adding, that he was to go that night five miles, being invited to an harvest supper. His refusal appeared to me a little extraordinary; nor could I conceive how so sensible a girl as my youngest, could thus prefer a man of broken fortunes to one whose expectations were much greater. But as men are most capable of distinguishing merit in women, so the ladies often form the truest judgments of us. The two sexes seem placed as spies upon each other, and are furnished with different abilities, adapted for mutual inspection.
TWO LADIES OF GREAT DISTINCTION INTRODUCED.—SUPERIOR FINERY EVER SEEMS To CONFER SUPERIOR BREEDING.
Mr BURCHELL had scarcely taken leave, and Sophia consented to dance with the chaplain, when my little ones came running out to tell us, that the Squire was come with a crowd of company. Upon our return in, we found our landlord, with a couple of under gentlemen and two young ladies richly drest, whom he introduced as women of very great distinction and fashion from town. We happened not to have chairs enough for the whole company; but Mr Thornhill immediately proposed, that every gentleman should sit in a lady's lap. This I positively objected to, not
withstanding a look of disapprobation from my wife. Moses was therefore despatched to borrow a couple of chairs ; and as we were in want of ladies to make up a set at country dances, the two gentlemen went with him in quest of a couple of partners. Chairs and partners were soon provided. The gentlemen returned with my neighbour Flamborough's rosy daughters, flaunting with red top-knots; but an unlucky circumstance was not adverted to—though the Miss Flamboroughs were reckoned the very best dancers in the parish, and understood the jig and round-about to perfection, yet they were totally unacquainted with country dances. This at first discomposed us ; however, after a little shoving and dragging, they at last went merrily on. Our music consisted of two fiddles, with a pipe and tabor. The moon shone bright. Mr Thornhill and my eldest daughter led up the Ball, to the great delight of the spectators; for the neighbours, hearing what was going forward, came flocking about us. My girl moved with so much grace and vivacity, that my wife could not avoid discovering the pride of her heart, by assuring me, that though the little chit did it so cleverly, all the steps were stolen from herself. The ladies of the town strove hard to be equally easy, but without success. They swam, sprawled, languished and frisked ; but all would not do : the gazers indeed owned that it was fine ; but neighbour Flamborough observed, that Miss Livy's feet seemed to pat to the music as its echo. After the dance had continued about an hour, the two ladies, who were apprehensive of catching cold, moved to break up the ball. One of them, I thought, expressed her sentiments upon this occasion in a very coarse manner, when she observed, that by the living jingo she was all of a muck of sweat. Upon our return to the house, we found a very elegant cold supper, which Mr Thornhill had ordered to be brought with him.—The conversation at this time was more reserved than before. The two ladies threw my girls quite into the shade; for they would talk of nothing but high-life and high-lived company; with other fashionable topics, such as pictures, taste, Shakspeare, and the musical glasses. 'Tis true they once or twice mortified us sensibly by slipping out an oath ; but that appeared to me as the surest symptom of their distinction (though I am since informed that swearing is perfectly unfashionable). Their finery, however, threw a veil over any grossness in their conversation. My daughters seemed to regard their superior accomplishments with envy; and what appeared amiss, was ascribed to tip-top quality breeding. But the condescension of the ladies was still superior to their other accomplishments. One of them observed, that had Miss Olivia seen a little more of the world, it would greatly improve her. To which the other added, that a single winter in town would make her little Sophia quite another thing. My wife
warmly assented to both; adding, that there was nothing she more ardently wished than to give her girls a single winter's polishing. To this I could not help replying, that their breeding was already superior to their fortune: and that greater refinement would only serve to make their poverty ridiculous, and give them a taste for pleasures they had no right to possess.-" And what pleasures,” cried Mr Thornhill, “do they not deserve to possess, who have so much in their power to bestow 3 As for my part,” continued he, “my fortune is pretty large; love, liberty, and pleasure are my maxims; but curse me if a settlement of half my estate could give my charming Olivia pleasure, it should be hers; and the only favour I would ask in return would be to add myself to the benefit.” I was not such a stranger to the world as to be ignorant that this was the fashionable cant to disguise the insolence of the basest proposal; but I made an effort to suppress my resentment.—“Sir.” cried I, “the family which you now condescend to favour with your company, has been bred with as nice a sense of honour as you. Any attempts to injure that, may be attended with very dangerous consequences. Honour, Sir, is our only possession at present, and of that last treasure we must be particularly careful.” —I was soon sorry for the warmth with which I had spoken this, when the young gentleman, grasping my hand, swore he commended my spirit, though he disapproved my suspicions. “As to your present hint,” continued he, “I protest nothing was farther from my heart than such a thought. No, by all that's tempt. ing, the virtue that will stand a regular siege was never to my taste ; for all my amours are carried by a coup-de-main.” The two ladies, who affected to be ignorant of the rest, seemed highly displeased with this last stroke of freedom, and began a very discreet and serious dialogue upon virtue; in this my wife, the chaplain, and I, soon joined; and the 'Squire himself was at last brought to confess a sense of sorrow for his former excesses. We talked of the pleasures of temperance, and of the sunshine in the mind unpolluted with guilt. I was so well pleased, that my little ones were kept up beyond the usual time to be edified by so much good conversation. Mr Thornhill even went beyond me, and demanded if I had any objection to giving prayers. . I joyfully embraced the proposal; and in this manner the night was passed in a most comfortable way, till at last the company began to think of returning. . . The ladies seemed very unwilling to part with my daughters, for whom they had conceived a particular affection, and joined in a request to have the pleasure of their company home. The "Squire seconded the proposal, and my wife added her entreaties; the girls too looked upon me as if they wished to go. In this perplexity I made two or three excuses, which my daughters as readily removed; so that at last I was obliged to give a