Henry Fielding. (17071754). The History of Tom Jones.
The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction. 1917.
Book VI. Containing about Three Weeks
IV. Containing Sundry Curious Matters
AS soon as Mr. Allworthy returned home, he took Mr. Blifil apart, and after some preface, communicated to him the proposal which had been made by Mr. Western, and at the same time informed him how agreeable this match would be to himself.
The charms of Sophia had not made the least impression on Blifil; not that his heart was pre-engaged; neither was he totally insensible of beauty, or had any aversion to women; but his appetites were by nature so moderate, that he was able, by philosophy, or by study, or by some other method, easily to subdue them: and as to that passion which we have treated of in the first chapter of this book, he had not the least tincture of it in his whole composition.
But though he was so entirely free from that mixed passion, of which we there treated, and of which the virtues and beauty of Sophia formed so notable an object; yet was he altogether as well furnished with some other passions, that promised themselves very full gratification in the young ladys fortune. Such were avarice and ambition, which divided the dominion of his mind between them. He had more than once considered the possession of this fortune as a very desirable thing, and had entertained some distant views concerning it; but his own youth, and that of the young lady, and indeed principally a reflection that Mr. Western might marry again, and have more children, had restrained him from too hasty or eager a pursuit.
This last and most material objection was now in great measure removed, as the proposal came from Mr. Western himself. Blifil, therefore, after a very short hesitation, answered Mr. Allworthy, that matrimony was a subject on which he had not yet thought; but that he was so sensible of his friendly and fatherly care, that he should in all things submit himself to his pleasure.
Allworthy was naturally a man of spirit, and his present gravity arose from true wisdom and philosophy, not from any original phlegm in his disposition; for he had possessed much fire in his youth, and had married a beautiful woman for love. He was not therefore greatly pleased with this cold answer of his nephew; nor could he help launching forth into the praises of Sophia, and expressing some wonder that the heart of a young man could be impregnable to the force of such charms, unless it was guarded by some prior affection.
Blifil assured him he had no such guard; and then proceeded to discourse so wisely and religiously on love and marriage, that he would have stopt the mouth of a parent much less devoutly inclined than was his uncle. In the end, the good man was satisfied that his nephew, far from having any objections to Sophia, had that esteem for her, which in sober and virtuous minds is the sure foundation of friendship and love. And as he doubted not but the lover would, in a little time, become altogether as agreeable to his mistress, he foresaw great happiness arising to all parties by so proper and desirable an union. With Mr. Blifils consent therefore he wrote the next morning to Mr. Western, acquainting him that his nephew had very thankfully and gladly received the proposal, and would be ready to wait on the young lady, whenever she should be pleased to accept his visit.
Western was much pleased with this letter, and immediately returned an answer; in which, without having mentioned a word to his daughter, he appointed that very afternoon for opening the scene of courtship.
As soon as he had dispatched this messenger, he went in quest of his sister, whom he found reading and expounding the Gazette to parson Supple. To this exposition he was obliged to attend near a quarter of an hour, though with great violence to his natural impetuosity, before he was suffered to speak. At length, however, he found an opportunity of acquainting the lady, that he had business of great consequence to impart to her; to which she answered, Brother, I am entirely at your service. Things look so well in the north, that I was never in a better humour.
The parson then withdrawing, Western acquainted her with all which had passed, and desired her to communicate the affair to Sophia, which she readily and chearfully undertook; though perhaps her brother was a little obliged to that agreeable northern aspect which had so delighted her, that he heard no comment on his proceedings; for they were certainly somewhat too hasty and violent.