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THE VICAR OF WAKEfield.
high wits by rote, long before they made
My wife and daughters happening to return a visit at neighbour Flamborough's, found that family had lately got their pictures drawn by a limner, who travelled the country, and took likenesses for fifteen shillings a head. As this family and ours had long a sort of rivalry in point of taste, our spirit took the alarm at this stolen march upon us; and, notwithstanding all I could say, and I said much, it was resolved that we should have our pictures done too.
Having, therefore, engaged the limner, -for what could I do?-our next deliberation was to show the superiority of our As for our neightaste in the attitudes.
bour's family, there were seven of them,
against the kitchen wall, where the canvas was stretched and painted, much too large to be got through any of the doors, and the jest of all our neighbours. One compared it to Robinson Crusoe's longboat, too large to be removed; another thought it more resembled a reel in a bottle: some wondered how it could be got out, but still more were amazed how it ever got in.
But though it excited the ridicule of some, it effectually raised more malicious suggestions in many. The Squire's por trait being found united with ours was an honour too great to escape envy. Scandalous whispers began to circulate at our expense, and our tranquillity was continually disturbed by persons, who came as friends, to tell us what was said of us by enemies. These reports we always resented with becoming spirit; but scandal' ever improves by opposition.
We once again, therefore, entered into a consultation upon obviating the malice of our enemies, and at last came to a resolution which had too much cunning to give me entire satisfaction. It was this: as our principal object was to discover the honour of Mr. Thornhill's addresses, my wife undertook to sound him, by pretending to ask his advice in the choice of a husband for her eldest daughter. If this was not found sufficient to induce him to a declaration, it was then resolved to terrify him with a rival. To this last step, however, I would by no means give my consent, till Olivia gave me the most solemn assurances that 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, from 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 assent
ing, 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 accomplishment 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 dead, and who wants a manager; you know whom I mean, Farmer Williams; a warm man, Mr. Thornhill, able to give her good bread, and who has several times made her proposals' (which was actually the case); "but, sir," concluded she, "I should be glad to have your approbation of our choice."-"How, madam," replied he, "my approbation!
my approbation of such a choice! Never. What! sacrifice so much beauty, and sense, and goodness, to a creature insensible of
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 encouragement to revive his former passion; so that in an evening or two he and Mr. Thornhill met at our house, and surveyed cach 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 all 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. 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 illplaced 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 sup ported 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 my 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 think. ing, that when sister Livy is married to Farmer Williams, we shall then have the loan of his cider 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,
And if you find it wondrous short,
In Islington there was a man,
Of whom the world might say,
When he put on his clothes.
Both mongrel, puppy, whelp, and hound, And curs of low degree.
This dog and man at first were friends;
The dog, to gain some private ends,
And swore the dog had lost his wits,
The wound it seem'd both sore and sad
That show'd the rogues they lied:
"A very good boy, Bill, upon my 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 song: it was a common saying in our country, that the family of the Blenkinsops could never look straight before them, nor the Hugginsons blow out a candle; that there were none of the Grograms but could sing a song, or of the Marjorams but could tell a story."-" However that be," cried I, "the most vulgar ballad of them all generally pleases me better than the fine modern odes, and things that petrify us in a single stanza, productions that we at once detest and praise.-Put the glass to your brother, Moses. The great fault of these elegiasts is, that they are in despair for griefs that
give the sensible part of mankind very little pain. A lady loses her muff, her fan, or her lap-dog, and so the silly poet runs home to versify the disaster.'
"That may be the mode," cried Moses, "in sublimer compositions: but the Ranelagh songs that come down to us are perfectly familiar, and all cast in the same mould: Colin meets Dolly, and they hold a dialogue together; he gives her a fairing to put in her hair, and she presents him with a nosegay; and then they go together to church, where they give good advice to young nymphs and swains to get married as fast as they can."
"And very good advice too," cried I; "and I am told there is not a place in the world where advice can be given with so much propriety as there for as it persuades us to marry, it also furnishes us with a wife; and surely that must be an excellent market, my boy, where we are told what we want, and supplied with it when wanting."
"Yes, sir," returned Moses, "and I know but of two such markets for wives in Europe, -Ranelagh in England, and Fontarabia in Spain. The Spanish market is open once a year; but our English wives are saleable every night."
untainted to posterity. Come, my son, we
"Father," cried my son, "is this your
"You are right, my boy," cried his mother; "Old England is the only place in the world for husbands to get wives.""And for wives to manage their husbands," interrupted I. "It is a proverb abroad, that if a bridge were built across the sea, all the ladies of the Continent would come over to take pattern from ours; for there are no such wives in Europe as our own. But let us have one bottle more, Deborah, my life; and, Moses, give us a good song. What thanks do we not owe to Heaven for thus bestowing tranquillity, health, and Indeed, sir," resumed my son, after a competence! I think myself happier now pause, "your rage is too violent and unthan the greatest monarch upon earth. He becoming. You should be my mother's has no such fireside, nor such pleasant comforter, and you increase her pain. It faces about it. Yes, Deborah, we are now ill suited you and your reverend character growing old; but the evening of our life thus to curse your greatest enemy: you is likely to be happy. We are descended should not have cursed him, villain as he from ancestors that knew no stain, and we is."—" I did not curse him child, did I?" shall leave a good and virtuous race of chil--" Indeed, sir, you did; you cursed him dren behind us. While we live, they will twice."-" Then may Heaven forgive me be our support and our pleasure here; and and him if I did! And now, my son, I when we die, they will transmit our honour see it was more than human benevolence