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,
So dull, so dead in look, so woe-begone,
Drew Priams curtains in the dead of night,
And would have told him, half his Troy was burnd)
entered the room, and declaredThat Madam Sophia was not to be found.
Not to be found! cries the squire, staring from his chair;
Zounds and dnation! Blood and fury! Where, when, how, whatNot 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.
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