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.
4. Chapter iv. Containing one of the most bloody battles...
Mankind have always taken great delight in knowing and descanting on
the actions of others. Hence there have been, in all ages and nations,
certain places set apart for public rendezvous, where the curious
might meet and satisfy their mutual curiosity. Among these, the
barbers' shops have justly borne the pre-eminence. Among the Greeks,
barbers' news was a proverbial expression; and Horace, in one of his
epistles, makes honourable mention of the Roman barbers in the same
Those of England are known to be no wise inferior to their Greek or
Roman predecessors. You there see foreign affairs discussed in a
manner little inferior to that with which they are handled in the
coffee-houses; and domestic occurrences are much more largely and
freely treated in the former than in the latter. But this serves only
for the men. Now, whereas the females of this country, especially
those of the lower order, do associate themselves much more than those
of other nations, our polity would be highly deficient, if they had
not some place set apart likewise for the indulgence of their
curiosity, seeing they are in this no way inferior to the other half
of the species.
In enjoying, therefore, such place of rendezvous, the British fair
ought to esteem themselves more happy than any of their foreign
sisters; as I do not remember either to have read in history, or to
have seen in my travels, anything of the like kind.
This place then is no other than the chandler's shop, the known seat
of all the news; or, as it is vulgarly called, gossiping, in every
parish in England.
Mrs Partridge being one day at this assembly of females, was asked by
one of her neighbours, if she had heard no news lately of Jenny Jones?
To which she answered in the negative. Upon this the other replied,
with a smile, That the parish was very much obliged to her for having
turned Jenny away as she did.
Mrs Partridge, whose jealousy, as the reader well knows, was long
since cured, and who had no other quarrel to her maid, answered
boldly, She did not know any obligation the parish had to her on that
account; for she believed Jenny had scarce left her equal behind her.