Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker: Ch. 39

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His master promised to keep him for some time longer on trial; then desired to know in what manner lady Griskin and Mr Barton came to join their religious society, he told him, that her ladyship was the person who first carried my aunt and sister to the Tabernacle, whither he attended them, and had his devotion kindled by Mr W—'s preaching: that he was confirmed in this new way, by the preacher's sermons, which he had bought and studied with great attention: that his discourse and prayers had brought over Mrs Jenkins and the house-maid to the same way of thinking; but as for Mr Barton, he had never seen him at service before this day, when he came in company with lady Griskin. Humphry, moreover, owned that he had been encouraged to mount the rostrum, by the example and success of a weaver, who was much followed as a powerful minister: that on his first trial he found himself under such strong impulsions, as made him believe he was certainly moved by the spirit; and that he had assisted in lady Griskin's, and several private houses, at exercises of devotion.

Mr Bramble was no sooner informed, that her ladyship had acted as the primum mobile of this confederacy, than he concluded she had only made use of Clinker as a tool, subservient to the execution of some design, to the true secret of which he was an utter stranger — He observed, that her ladyship's brain was a perfect mill for projects; and that she and Tabby had certainly engaged in some secret treaty, the nature of which he could not comprehend. I told him I thought it was no difficult matter to perceive the drift of Mrs Tabitha, which was to ensnare the heart of Barton, and that in all likelihood my lady Griskin acted as her auxiliary: that this supposition would account for their endeavours to convert him to methodism; an event which would occasion a connexion of souls that might be easily improved into a matrimonial union.

My uncle seemed to be much diverted by the thoughts of this Scheme's succeeding; but I gave him to understand, that Barton was pre-engaged: that he had the day before made a present of an etuis to Liddy, which her aunt had obliged her to receive, with a view, no doubt, to countenance her own accepting of a snuff-box at the same time; that my sister having made me acquainted with this incident, I had desired an explanation of Mr Barton, who declared his intentions were honourable, and expressed his hope that I would have no objections to his alliance; that I had thanked him for the honour he intended our family; but told him, it would be necessary to consult her uncle and aunt, who were her guardians; and their approbation being obtained, I could have no objection to his proposal; though I was persuaded that no violence would be offered to my sister's inclinations, in a transaction that so nearly interested the happiness of her future life: that he had assured me, he should never think of availing himself of a guardian's authority, unless he could render his addresses agreeable to the young lady herself; and that he would immediately demand permission of Mr and Mrs Bramble, to make Liddy a tender of his hand and fortune.

The squire was not insensible to the advantages of such a match, and declared he would promote it with all his influence; but when I took notice that there seemed to be an aversion on the side of Liddy, he said he would sound her on the subject; and if her reluctance was such as would not be easily overcome, he would civilly decline the proposal of Mr Barton; for he thought that, in the choice of a husband a young woman ought not to sacrifice the feelings of her heart for any consideration upon earth — 'Liddy is not so desperate (said he) as to worship fortune at such an expence.'

I take it for granted, this whole affair will end in smoke; though there seems to be a storm brewing in the quarter of Mrs Tabby, who sat with all the sullen dignity of silence at dinner, seemingly pregnant with complaint and expostulation. As she had certainly marked Barton for her own prey, she cannot possibly favour his suit to Liddy; and therefore I expect something extraordinary will attend his declaring himself my sister's admirer. This declaration will certainly be made in form, as soon as the lover can pick up resolution enough to stand the brunt of Mrs Tabby's disappointment; for he is, without doubt, aware of her designs upon his person — The particulars of the denouement you shall know in due season: mean while I am

Always yours,
J. MELFORD
LONDON, June 10.