O my dear, how might we have been diverted by the practisings for the recovery of the long forgottens! could I have been sure that it would have been in my power to have put them asunder, in the Irish style, before they had come together. But there’s no trusting to the widow whose goods and chattels are in her own hands, addressed by an old bachelor who has fine things, and offers to leave her ten thousand pounds better than he found her, and sole mistress, besides, of all her notables! for these, as you will see by-and-by, are his proposals.
The old Triton’s address carries the writer’s marks upon the very subscription—To the equally amiable and worthy admired [there’s for you!] Mrs. ANABELLA Howe, widow, the last word added, I suppose as Esquire to a man, as a word of honour; or for fear the bella to Anna, should not enough distinguish the person meant from the spinster: [vain hussy you’ll call me, I know:] And then follows;—These humbly present. —Put down as a memorandum, I presume, to make a leg, and behave handsomely at presenting it, he intending, very probably, to deliver it himself.
And now stand by—to see
His head adorned with sea-weed, and a crown of cockle-shells;
as we see
him decked out in Mrs. Robinson’s grotto.
I did make a sort of resolution ten years ago never to marry. I saw in other families, where they lived best, you will be pleased to mark that, queernesses I could not away with. Then liked well enough to live single for the sake of my brother’s family; and for one child in it more than the rest. But that girl has turned us all off the hinges: and why should I deny myself any comforts for them, as will not thank me for so doing, I don’t know.
So much for my motives as from self and family: but the dear Mrs. Howe makes me go farther.
I have a very great fortune, I bless God for it, all of my own getting, or most of it; you will be pleased to mark that; for I was the youngest brother of three. You have also, God be thanked, a great estate, which you have improved by your own frugality and wise management. Frugality, let me stop to say, is one of the greatest virtues in this mortal life, because it enables us to do justice to all, and puts it in our power to benefit some by it, as we see they deserve.
You have but one child; and I am a bachelor, and have never a one—all bachelors cannot say so: wherefore your daughter may be the better for me, if she will keep up with my humour; which was never thought bad: especially to my equals. Servants, indeed, I don’t matter being angry with, when I please; they are paid for bearing it, and too-too often deserve it; as we have frequently taken notice of to one another. And, moreover, if we keep not servants at distance, they will be familiar. I always made it a rule to find fault, whether reasonable or not, that so I might have no reason to find fault. Young women and servants in general (as worthy Mr. Solmes observes) are better governed by fear than love. But this my humour as to servants will not effect either you or Miss, you know.