A Woman of Learning.
We are now brought, in the course of our story, to the memorable scene at Miss Cranley’s. “Miss Cranley’s!” exclaims one of our readers, in a tone of admiration. “Miss Cranley’s!” cries another, “and pray who is she?”
I distribute my readers into two classes, the indolent and the supercilious, and shall accordingly address them upon the present occasion. To the former I have nothing more to say, than to refer them back to the latter part of Chapter I., Part I. where, my dear ladies, you will find an accurate account of the character of two personages, who it seems you have totally forgotten.
To the supercilious I have a very different story to tell. Most learned sirs, I kiss your hands. I acknowledge my error, and throw myself upon your clemency. You see however, gentlemen, that you were somewhat mistaken, when you imagined that I, like my fair patrons, the indolent, had quite lost these characters from my memory.
To speak ingenuously, I did indeed suppose, as far as I could calculate the events of this important narrative beforehand, that the Miss Cranleys would have come in earlier, and have made a more conspicuous figure, than they now seem to have any chance of doing. Having thus settled accounts with my readers; I take up again the thread of my story, and thus I proceed.
Mr. Hartley being now, as he believed, upon the point of disposing of his daughter in marriage, began seriously to consider that he should want a female companion to manage, his family, to nurse his ailments, and to repair the breaches, that the hand of wintry time had made in his spirits and his constitution. The reader will be pleased to recollect, that he had already laid siege to the heart of the gentle Sophia. He now prosecuted his affair with more alacrity than ever.
Alas, my dear readers! while we have been junketting along from Southampton to Oxford, from Oxford to Windsor, and from Windsor to Southampton back again, such is the miserable fate of human kind! Miss Amelia Wilhelmina Cranley, the most pious of her sex, the flower of Mr. Whitfield’s converts, the wonder and admiration of Roger the cobler, has given up the ghost. You will please then, in what follows, to represent to yourselves the charms of Sophia as decked and burnished with a suit of sables. Her exterior indeed was sable and gloomy, but her heart was far superior to the attacks of wayward fate. She sat aloft in the region of philosophy. She steeled her heart with the dignity of republicanism; for her to drop one tear of sorrow would have been an eternal disgrace.
About this time—it was perhaps in reality a manoeuvre to forward the affair, to which she had no aversion at bottom, with the father of Delia—that Miss Cranley gave a grand entertainment, at which were present Mr. Hartley, Mr. Prattle, sir William Twyford, lord Martin, most of the ladies we have already commemorated, and many others.