BOOK II. CONTAINING SCENES OF MATRIMONIAL FELICITY IN DIFFERENT DEGREES OF LIFE; AND VARIOUS OTHER TRANSACTIONS DURING THE FIRST TWO YEARS AFTER THE MARRIAGE BETWEEN CAPTAIN BLIFIL AND MISS BRIDGET ALLWORTHY.
1. Chapter i. Showing what kind of a history this is...
Showing what kind of a history this is; what it is like, and what it
is not like.
Though we have properly enough entitled this our work, a history, and
not a life; nor an apology for a life, as is more in fashion; yet we
intend in it rather to pursue the method of those writers, who profess
to disclose the revolutions of countries, than to imitate the painful
and voluminous historian, who, to preserve the regularity of his
series, thinks himself obliged to fill up as much paper with the
detail of months and years in which nothing remarkable happened, as he
employs upon those notable aeras when the greatest scenes have been
transacted on the human stage.
Such histories as these do, in reality, very much resemble a
newspaper, which consists of just the same number of words, whether
there be any news in it or not. They may likewise be compared to a
stage coach, which performs constantly the same course, empty as well
as full. The writer, indeed, seems to think himself obliged to keep
even pace with time, whose amanuensis he is; and, like his master,
travels as slowly through centuries of monkish dulness, when the world
seems to have been asleep, as through that bright and busy age so
nobly distinguished by the excellent Latin poet--
Ad confligendum venientibus undique poenis,
Omnia cum belli trepido concussa tumultu
Horrida contremuere sub altis aetheris auris;
In dubioque fuit sub utrorum regna cadendum
Omnibus humanis esset, terraque marique.
Of which we wish we could give our readers a more adequate translation
than that by Mr Creech--
When dreadful Carthage frighted Rome with arms,
And all the world was shook with fierce alarms;
Whilst undecided yet, which part should fall,
Which nation rise the glorious lord of all.
Now it is our purpose, in the ensuing pages, to pursue a contrary
method. When any extraordinary scene presents itself (as we trust will
often be the case), we shall spare no pains nor paper to open it at
large to our reader; but if whole years should pass without producing
anything worthy his notice, we shall not be afraid of a chasm in our
history; but shall hasten on to matters of consequence, and leave such
periods of time totally unobserved.