BOOK IV. CONTAINING THE TIME OF A YEAR.
13. Chapter xiii. A dreadful accident which befel Sophia.
The squire alighted from his horse, and proceeded to his house on
foot, with his daughter and Jones. An impartial spectator, who had met
them on the way, would, on viewing their several countenances, have
concluded Sophia alone to have been the object of compassion: for as
to Jones, he exulted in having probably saved the life of the young
lady, at the price only of a broken bone; and Mr Western, though he
was not unconcerned at the accident which had befallen Jones, was,
however, delighted in a much higher degree with the fortunate escape
of his daughter.
The generosity of Sophia's temper construed this behaviour of Jones
into great bravery; and it made a deep impression on her heart: for
certain it is, that there is no one quality which so generally
recommends men to women as this; proceeding, if we believe the common
opinion, from that natural timidity of the sex, which is, says Mr
Osborne, "so great, that a woman is the most cowardly of all the
creatures God ever made;"--a sentiment more remarkable for its
bluntness than for its truth. Aristotle, in his Politics, doth them, I
believe, more justice, when he says, "The modesty and fortitude of men
differ from those virtues in women; for the fortitude which becomes a
woman, would be cowardice in a man; and the modesty which becomes a
man, would be pertness in a woman." Nor is there, perhaps, more of
truth in the opinion of those who derive the partiality which women
are inclined to show to the brave, from this excess of their fear. Mr
Bayle (I think, in his article of Helen) imputes this, and with
greater probability, to their violent love of glory; for the truth of
which, we have the authority of him who of all others saw farthest
into human nature, and who introduces the heroine of his Odyssey, the
great pattern of matrimonial love and constancy, assigning the glory
of her husband as the only source of her affection towards him.[*]
[*] The English reader will not find this in the poem; for the
sentiment is entirely left out in the translation.
However this be, certain it is that the accident operated very
strongly on Sophia; and, indeed, after much enquiry into the matter, I
am inclined to believe, that, at this very time, the charming Sophia
made no less impression on the heart of Jones; to say truth, he had
for some time become sensible of the irresistible power of her charms.