BOOK VII. CONTAINING THREE DAYS.
4. Chapter iv. A picture of a country gentlewoman...
These, however, were the only seasons when Mr Western saw his wife;
for when he repaired to her bed, he was generally so drunk that he
could not see; and in the sporting season he always rose from her
before it was light. Thus was she perfect mistress of her time, and
had besides a coach and four usually at her command; though unhappily,
indeed, the badness of the neighbourhood, and of the roads, made this
of little use; for none who had set much value on their necks would
have passed through the one, or who had set any value on their hours,
would have visited the other. Now to deal honestly with the reader,
she did not make all the return expected to so much indulgence; for
she had been married against her will by a fond father, the match
having been rather advantageous on her side; for the squire's estate
was upward of L3000 a year, and her fortune no more than a bare L8000.
Hence perhaps she had contracted a little gloominess of temper, for
she was rather a good servant than a good wife; nor had she always the
gratitude to return the extraordinary degree of roaring mirth, with
which the squire received her, even with a good-humoured smile. She
would, moreover, sometimes interfere with matters which did not
concern her, as the violent drinking of her husband, which in the
gentlest terms she would take some of the few opportunities he gave
her of remonstrating against. And once in her life she very earnestly
entreated him to carry her for two months to London, which he
peremptorily denied; nay, was angry with his wife for the request ever
after, being well assured that all the husbands in London are
For this last, and many other good reasons, Western at length heartily
hated his wife; and as he never concealed this hatred before her
death, so he never forgot it afterwards; but when anything in the
least soured him, as a bad scenting day, or a distemper among his
hounds, or any other such misfortune, he constantly vented his spleen
by invectives against the deceased, saying, "If my wife was alive now,
she would be glad of this."
These invectives he was especially desirous of throwing forth before
Sophia; for as he loved her more than he did any other, so he was
really jealous that she had loved her mother better than him. And this
jealousy Sophia seldom failed of heightening on these occasions; for
he was not contented with violating her ears with the abuse of her
mother, but endeavoured to force an explicit approbation of all this
abuse; with which desire he never could prevail upon her by any
promise or threats to comply.