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sooner saw Sophia, than she guessed every thing that had happened; and so great was her friendship to Jones, that it added not a few transports to those she felt on the happiness of her own daughter.
There have not, I believe, been many instances of a number of people met together, where every one was so perfectly happy, as in this company. Amongst whom the father of young Nightingale enjoyed the least perfect content; for, notwithstanding his affection for his son, notwithstanding the authority and the arguments of Allworthy, together with the other motive mentioned before, he could not so entirely be satisfied with his son's choice; and perhaps the presence of Sophia herself tended a little to aggravate and heighten his concern, as a thought now and then suggested itself, that his son might have had that lady, or some other such. Not that any of the charms, which adorned either the person or mind of Sophia, created the uneasiness; it was the contents of her father's coffers which set his heart a longing. These were the charms which he could not bear to think his son had sacrificed to the daughter of Mrs. Miller.
The brides were both very pretty women: but so totally were they eclipsed by the beauty of Sophia, that had they not been two of the best tempered girls in the world, it would have raised some envy in their breasts; for neither of their husbands could long keep their eyes from Sophia, who sat at the table like a queen receiving homage, or rather like a superior being receiving adoration from all around her. But it was an adoration which they gave, which she exacted; for she was as much distinguished by her modesty and affability, as by all her other perfections.
The evening was spent in much true mirth. All were happy; but those the most, who had been most unhappy before. Their former sufferings and fears gave such a relish to their felicity, even love and fortune, in their fullest flow, could not have given without the advantage of such a comparison. Yet, as great joy, especially after a sudden change and revolution of circumstances, is apt to be silent, and dwells rather in the heart than on the tongue, Jones and Sophia appeared the least merry of the whole company which Western observed with great impatience, often cry
ing out to them, 'Why do'st not talk, boy! Why do'st look so grave! Hast lost thy tongue, girl! Drink another glass of wine, sha't drink another glass.' And the more to enliven her, he would sometimes sing a merry song, which bore some relation to matrimony, and the loss of a maidenhead. Nay, he would have proceeded so far on that topic, as to have driven her out of the room, if Mr. Allworthy had not checked him sometimes by looks, and once or twice by a Fie! Mr. Western! He began indeed once to debate the matter, and assert his right to talk to his own daughter as he thought fit; but as nobody seconded him, he was soon reduced to order.
Notwithstanding this little restraint, he was so pleased with the cheerfulness and good-humour of the company, that he insisted on their meeting the next day at his lodgings. They all did so; and the lovely Sophia, who was now in private become a bride too, officiated as the mistress of the ceremonies, or, in the polite phrase, did the honours of the table. She had that morning given her hand to Jones, in the chapel at Doctors' Commons, where Mr. Allworthy, Mr. Western, and Mrs. Miller, were the only persons present.
Sophia had earnestly desired her father, that no others of the company, who were that day to dine with them, should be acquainted with her marriage. The same secrecy was enjoined to Mrs. Miller, and Jones undertook for Allworthy. This somewhat reconciled the delicacy of Sophia to the public entertainment, which, in compliance with her father's will, she was obliged to go to, greatly against her own inclinations. In confidence of this secrecy, she went through the day pretty well, till the 'squire, who was now advanced into the second bottle, could contain his joy no longer; but, filling out a bumper, drank a health to the bride. The health was immediately pledged by all present, to the great confusion of our poor blushing Sophia, and the great concern of Jones upon her account. To say truth, there was not a person present made wiser by this discovery; for Mrs. Miller had whispered it to her daughter, her daughter to her husband, her husband to his sister, and she to all the rest.
Sophia now took the first opportunity of withdrawing with the
ladies, and the 'squire sat in to his cups, in which he was by degrees deserted by all the company, except the uncle of young Nightingale, who loved his bottle as well as Western himself. These two therefore sat stoutly to it, during the whole evening, and long after that happy hour which had surrendered the charming Sophia to the eager arms of her enraptured Jones.
Thus, reader, we have at length brought our history to a conclusion; in which, to our great pleasure, though contrary perhaps to thy expectation, Mr. Jones appears to be the happiest of all human kind; for what happiness this world affords equal to the possession of such a woman as Sophia, I sincerely own I have never yet discovered.
As to the other persons who have made any considerable figure in this history, as some may desire to know a little more concerning them, we will proceed in as few words as possible, to satisfy their curiosity.
Allworthy hath never yet been prevailed upon to see Blifil; but he hath yielded to the importunity of Jones, backed by Sophia, to settle 2007. a-year upon him; to which Jones hath privately added a third. Upon this income he lives in one of the northern counties, about 200 miles distant from London, and lays up 2007. ayear out of it, in order to purchase a seat in the next parliament from a neighbouring borough, which he has bargained for with an attorney there. He is also lately turned methodist, in hopes of marrying a very rich widow of that sect, whose estate lies in that part of the kingdom.
Square died soon after he writ the before-mentioned letter; and as to Thwackum, he continues at his vicarage. He hath made many fruitless attempts to regain the confidence of Allworthy, or to ingratiate himself with Jones, both of whom he flatters to their faces, and abuses behind their backs. But, in his stead, Mr. Allworthy hath lately taken Mr. Abraham Adams into his house, of whom Sophia is grown immoderately fond, and declares he shall have the tuition of her children.
Mrs. Fitzpatrick is separated from her husband, and retains the little remains of her fortune. She lives in reputation at the polite end of the town, and is so good an economist, that she
spends three times the income of her fortune, without running in debt. She maintains a perfect intimacy with the lady of the Irish peer; and, in acts of friendship to her, repays all the obligations she owes to her husband.
Mrs. Western was soon reconciled to her niece Sophia, and hath spent two months together with her in the country. Lady Bellaston made the latter a formal visit at her return to town, where she behaved to Jones as to a perfect stranger, and, with great civility, wished him joy on his marriage.
Mr. Nightingale hath purchased an estate for his son in the neighbourhood of Jones, where the young gentleman, his lady, Mrs. Miller, and her little daughter reside, and the most agreeable intercourse subsists between the two families.
As to those of lower account, Mrs. Waters returned into the country, had a pension of 60%. a-year settled upon her by Mr. Allworthy, and is married to Parson Supple; on whom, at the instance of Sophia, Western hath bestowed a considerable living.
Black George, hearing the discovery that had been made, run away, and was never since heard of; and Jones bestowed the money on his family; but not in equal proportions, for Molly had much the greatest share.
As for Partridge, Jones hath settled 507. a-year on him; and he hath again set up a school, in which he meets with much better encouragement than formerly, and there is now a treaty of marriage on foot between him and Miss Molly Seagrim, which, through the mediation of Sophia, is likely to take effect.
We now return to take leave of Mr. Jones and Sophia, who, within two days after their marriage, attended Mr. Western and Mr. Allworthy into the country. Western hath resigned his familyseat, and the greater part of his estate, to his son-in-law, and hath retired to a lesser house of his, in another part of the country, which is better for hunting. Indeed, he is often as a visitant with Mr. Jones, who, as well as his daughter, hath an infinite delight in doing every thing in their power to please him. And this desire of theirs is attended with such success, that the old gentleman declares he was never happy in his life till now. He hath here a parlour and antechamber to himself, where he gets drunk with
whom he pleases; and his daughter is still as ready as formerly to play to him whenever he desires it; for Jones hath assured her that, as next to pleasing her, one of his highest satisfactions is to contribute to the happiness of the old man; so the great duty which she expresses and performs to her father, renders her almost equally dear to him, with the love which she bestows on himself.
Sophia hath already produced him two fine children, a boy and a girl, of whom the old gentleman is so fond, that he spends much of his time in the nursery; where he declares the tattling of his little grand-daughter, who is above a year and a half old, is sweeter music than the finest cry of dogs in England.
Allworthy was likewise greatly liberal to Jones on the marriage, and hath omitted no instance of showing his affection to him and his lady, who love him as a father. Whatever in the nature of Jones had a tendency to vice, has been corrected by continual conversation with this good man, and by his union with the lovely and virtuous Sophia. He hath also, by reflection on his past follies, acquired a discretion and prudence very uncommon in one of his lively parts.
To conclude, as there are not to be found a worthier man and woman than this fond couple, so neither can any be imagined more happy. They preserve the purest and tenderest affection for each other, an affection daily increased and confirmed by mutual endearments and mutual esteem. Nor is their conduct towards their relations and friends less amiable than towards one another. And such is their condescension, their indulgence, and their beneficence to those below them, that there is not a neighbour, a tenant, or a servant, who doth not most gratefully bless the day when Mr. Jones was married to his Sophia.