Chapter 7

A town wit described. the dullest fellows may learn to be comical for a night or two

When the morning arrived on which we were to entertain our young landlord, it may be easily supposed what provisions were exhausted to make an appearance. It may also be conjectured that my wife and daughters expanded their gayest plumage upon this occasion. Mr. Thornhill came with a couple of friends, his chaplain and feeder. The servants, who were numerous, he politely ordered to the next alehouse: but my wife, in the triumph of heart, insisted on entertaining them all; for which, by the bye, our family was pinched for three weeks after. As Mr. Burchell had hinted to us the day before, that he was making 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 anything 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 usual 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, dressed in lawn sleeves, on one hand, and Miss Sophia, with no lawn about her, on the other, which would you be for?” “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 smoaked 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, quite 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-existence, 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?” “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 sate 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

  By PanEris using Melati.

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