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The arrival of Mr. Western, with some matters concerning the paternal authority.
RS. Miller had not long left the room, when Mr. Western entered; but not before a small wrangling bout had pass'd between him and his chairmen; for the fellows who had taken up their burden at the Hercules Pillars, had conceived no hopes of having any future good customer in the squire; and they were moreover farther encouraged by his generosity, (for he had given them of his own accord sixpence more than their fare;) they therefore very boldly demanded another shilling, which so provoked the squire, that he not only bestowed many hearty curses on them at the door, but retained his anger after he came into the room; swearing, that all the Londoners were like the court, and thought of nothing but plundering country gentlemen. "D-n me," says he, "if I won't walk in the rain rather than get into one of their handbarrows again. They have jolted me more in a mile than Brown Bess would in a long fox chace.
When his wrath on this occasion was a little appeased, heresumed the same passionate tone on another. "There,' says he, "there is fine business forwards now. The hounds have changed at last, and when we imagined we had a fox to deal with, od-rat-it, it turns out to be a badger at last."
"Pray, my good neighbour," said Allworthy, "drop your metaphors, and speak a little plainer." "Why then," says the squire, "to tell you plainly, we have been all this time afraid of a son of a whore of a bastard of somebody's, I don't know who's, not I—and now here is
a confounded son of a whore of a lord, who may be a bastard too for ought I know or care, for he shall never have a daughter of mine by my consent. They have beggared the nation, but they shall never beggar me. My land shall never be sent over to Hannover.'
"You surprize me much, my good friend," said Allworthy. "Why, zounds! I am surprized myself," answered the squire, "I went to zee sister Western last night, according to her own appointment, and there I was a had into a whole room-full of women.-There was my lady cousin Bellaston, and my Lady Betty, and my Lady Catherine, and my lady I don't know who; d-n me if ever you catch me among such a kennel of hooppetticoat b-s. D―n me, I'd rather be run by my own dogs, as one Acton was, that the story book says was turned into a hare; and his own dogs kill'd un, and eat un. Od-rabbet-it, no mortal was ever run in such a manner; if I dodged one way, one had me, if I offered to clapback, another snap'd me. 'O! certainly one of the greatest matches in England,' says one cousin (here he attempted to mimic them) 'A very advantageous offer indeed,' cries another cousin, (for you must know they be all my cousins, thof I never zeed half oum before.) 'Surely,' says that fat a-se b-, my Lady Bellaston, 'Cousin, you must be out of your wits to think of refusing such an offer.'
"Now I begin to understand," says Allworthy, "some person hath made proposals to Miss Western, which the ladies of the family approve, but is not to your liking.'
"My liking!" said Western, "how the devil should it? I tell you it is a lord, and those are always volks whom you know I always resolved to have nothing to do with. Did unt I refuse a matter of vorty years purchase now
for a bit of land, which one oum had a mind to put into a park, only because I would have no dealings with lords, and dost think I would marry my daughter zu? Besides, ben't I engaged to you, and did I ever go off any bargain when I had promised?"
"As to that point, neighbour," said Allworthy, "I entirely release you from any engagement. No contract can be binding between parties who have not a full power to make it at the time, nor ever afterwards acquire the power of fulfilling it.'
"Slud! then," answered Western, "I tell you I have power, and I will fulfil it. Come along with me directly to Doctors Commons, I will get a licence; and I will go to sister and take away the wench by force, and she shall ha un, or I will lock her up and keep her upon bread and water as long as she lives.
"Mr. Western," said Allworthy, "shall I beg you will hear my full sentiments on this matter?" "Hear thee! ay to be sure, I will," answered he. "Why then, sir," cries Allworthy, "I can truly say, without a compliment either to you or the young lady, that when this match. was proposed, I embraced it very readily and heartily, from my regard to you both. An alliance between two families so nearly neighbours, and between whom there had always existed so mutual an intercourse and good harmony, I thought a most desirable event; and with regard to the young lady, not only the concurrent opinion of all who knew her, but my own observation assured me that she would be an inestimable treasure to a good husband. I shall say nothing of her personal qualifications, which certainly are admirable; her good-nature, her charitable disposition, her modesty are too well known to need any panegyric: but she hath one quality
which existed in a high degree in that best of women, who is now one of the first of angels, which as it is not of a glaring kind, more commonly escapes observation; so little indeed is it remarked, that I want a word to express it. I must use negatives on this occasion. I never heard any thing of pertness, or what is called repartee out of her mouth; no pretence to wit, much less to that kind of wisdom, which is the result only of great learning and experience; the affectation of which, in a young woman, is as absurd as any of the affectations of an ape. No dictatorial sentiments, no judicial opinions, no profound criticisms. Whenever I have seen her in the company of men, she hath been all attention, with the modesty of a learner, not the forwardness of a teacher. You'll pardon me for it, but I once, to try her only, desired her opinion on a point which was controverted between Mr. Thwackum and Mr. Square. To which she answered with much sweetness, 'You will pardon me, good Mr. Allworthy, I am sure you cannot in earnest think me capable of deciding any point in which two such gentlemen disagree.' Thwackum and Square, who both alike thought themselves sure of a favourable decision, seconded my request. She answered with the same good humour, 'I must absolutely be excused; for I will affront neither so much, as to give my judgment on his side.' Indeed, she always shewed the highest deference to the understandings of men; a quality, absolutely essential to the making a good wife. I shall only add, that as she is most apparently void of all affectation, this deference must be certainly real."
Here Blifil sighed bitterly; upon which Western, whose eyes were full of tears at the praise of Sophia, blubbered out, "Don't be chicken-hearted, for shat ha
her, d―n me, shat ha her, if she was twenty times as good."
"Remember your promise, sir," cried Allworthy, “I was not to be interrupted." "Well, shat unt," answered the squire, "I won't speak another word."
"Now, my good friend," continued Allworthy, "I have dwelt so long on the merit of this young lady, partly as I really am in love with her character, and partly that fortune (for the match in that light is really advantageous on my nephew's side) might not be imagined to be my principal view in having so eagerly embraced the proposal. Indeed I heartily wished to receive so great a jewel into my family; but tho' I may wish for many good things, I would not therefore steal them, or be guilty of any violence or injustice to possess myself of them. Now to force a woman into a marriage contrary to her consent or approbation, is an act of such injustice and oppression, that I wish the laws of our country could restrain it; but a good conscience is never lawless in the worst-regulated state, and will provide those laws for itself, which the neglect of legislators hath forgotten to supply. This is surely a case of that kind; for is it not cruel, nay impious, to force a woman into that state against her will; for her behaviour in which she is to be accountable to the highest and most dreadful court of judicature, and to answer at the peril of her soul? To discharge the matrimonial duties in an adequate manner is no easy task, and shall we lay this burthen upon a woman, while we at the same time deprive her of all that assistance which may enable her to undergo it? Shall we tear her very heart from her, while we enjoin her duties to which a whole heart is scarce equal. I must speak very plainly here, I think parents who act in this manner are accessaries to all the