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.
5. Chapter v. Containing much matter...
Containing much matter to exercise the judgment and reflection of the
I believe it is a true observation, that few secrets are divulged to
one person only; but certainly, it would be next to a miracle that a
fact of this kind should be known to a whole parish, and not transpire
And, indeed, a very few days had past, before the country, to use a
common phrase, rung of the schoolmaster of Little Baddington; who was
said to have beaten his wife in the most cruel manner. Nay, in some
places it was reported he had murdered her; in others, that he had
broke her arms; in others, her legs: in short, there was scarce an
injury which can be done to a human creature, but what Mrs Partridge
was somewhere or other affirmed to have received from her husband.
The cause of this quarrel was likewise variously reported; for as some
people said that Mrs Partridge had caught her husband in bed with his
maid, so many other reasons, of a very different kind, went abroad.
Nay, some transferred the guilt to the wife, and the jealousy to the
Mrs Wilkins had long ago heard of this quarrel; but, as a different
cause from the true one had reached her ears, she thought proper to
conceal it; and the rather, perhaps, as the blame was universally laid
on Mr Partridge; and his wife, when she was servant to Mr Allworthy,
had in something offended Mrs Wilkins, who was not of a very forgiving
But Mrs Wilkins, whose eyes could see objects at a distance, and who
could very well look forward a few years into futurity, had perceived
a strong likelihood of Captain Blifil's being hereafter her master;
and as she plainly discerned that the captain bore no great goodwill
to the little foundling, she fancied it would be rendering him an
agreeable service, if she could make any discoveries that might lessen
the affection which Mr Allworthy seemed to have contracted for this
child, and which gave visible uneasiness to the captain, who could not
entirely conceal it even before Allworthy himself; though his wife,
who acted her part much better in public, frequently recommended to
him her own example, of conniving at the folly of her brother, which,
she said, she at least as well perceived, and as much resented, as any
other possibly could.