Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker: Ch. 40

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Having cast my eyes over this billet, I told her ladyship, that I would no longer retard the friendly office she had undertaken: and I and Jery forthwith retired into another room. There we soon perceived the conversation grow very warm betwixt the two ladies; and, at length, could distinctly hear certain terms of altercation, which we could no longer delay interrupting, with any regard to decorum. When we entered the scene of contention, we found Liddy had joined the disputants, and stood trembling betwixt them, as if she had been afraid they would have proceeded to something more practical than words. Lady Griskin's face was like the full moon in a storm of wind, glaring, fiery, and portentous; while Tabby looked grim and ghastly, with an aspect breathing discord and dismay. — Our appearance put a stop to their mutual revilings; but her ladyship turning to me, 'Cousin (said she) I can't help saying I have met with a very ungrateful return from this lady, for the pains I have taken to serve her family' — 'My family is much obliged to your ladyship (cried Tabby, with a kind of hysterical giggle); but we have no right to the good offices of such an honourable go-between.' 'But, for all that, good Mrs Tabitha Bramble (resumed the other), I shall be content with the reflection, That virtue is its own reward; and it shall not be my fault, if you continue to make yourself ridiculous — Mr Bramble, who has no little interest of his own to serve, will, no doubt, contribute all in his power to promote a match betwixt Mr Barton and his niece, which will be equally honourable and advantageous; and, I dare say, Miss Liddy herself will have no objection to a measure so well calculated to make her happy in life' — 'I beg your ladyship's pardon (exclaimed Liddy, with great vivacity) I have nothing but misery to expect from such a measure; and I hope my guardians will have too much compassion, to barter my peace of mind for any consideration of interest or fortune' — 'Upon my word, Miss Liddy! (said she) you have profited by the example of your good aunt — I comprehend your meaning, and will explain it when I have a proper opportunity — In the mean time, I shall take my leave — Madam, your most obedient, and devoted humble servant,' said she, advancing close up to my sister, and curtsying so low, that I thought she intended to squat herself down on the floor — This salutation Tabby returned with equal solemnity; and the expression of the two faces, while they continued in this attitude, would be no bad subject for a pencil like that of the incomparable Hogarth, if any such should ever appear again, in these times of dullness and degeneracy.

Jery accompanied her ladyship to her house, that he might have an opportunity to restore the etuis to Barton, and advise him to give up his suit, which was so disagreeable to his sister, against whom, however, he returned much irritated — Lady Griskin had assured him that Liddy's heart was pre-occupied; and immediately the idea of Wilson recurring to his imagination, his family-pride took the alarm. He denounced vengeance against the adventurer, and was disposed to be very peremptory with his sister; but I desired he would suppress his resentment, until I should have talked with her in private.

The poor girl, when I earnestly pressed her on this head, owned with a flood of tears, that Wilson had actually come to the Hot Well at Bristol, and even introduced himself into our lodgings as a Jew pedlar; but that nothing had passed betwixt them, further than her begging him to withdraw immediately, if he had any regard for her peace of mind: that he had disappeared accordingly, after having attempted to prevail upon my sister's maid, to deliver a letter; which, however, she refused to receive, though she had consented to carry a message, importing that he was a gentleman of a good family; and that, in a very little time, he would avow his passion in that character — She confessed, that although he had not kept his word in this particular, he was not yet altogether indifferent to her affection; but solemnly promised, she would never carry on any correspondence with him, or any other admirer, for the future, without the privity and approbation of her brother and me.