The Vicar of Wakefield

The Vicar of Wakefield


But previously I should have mentioned the very impolite behaviour of Mr Burchell, who, during this discourse, sate with his face turned to the fire, and at the conclusion of every sentence would cry out FUDGE! an expression which displeased us all, and in some measure damped the rising spirit of the conversation.

'Besides, my dear Skeggs,' continued our Peeress, 'there is nothing of this in the copy of verses that Dr Burdock made upon the occasion.'--'FUDGE!'

'I am surprised at that,' cried Miss Skeggs; 'for he seldom leaves any thing out, as he writes only for his own amusement.

But can your Ladyship favour me with a sight of them?'--'FUDGE!'

'My dear creature,' replied our Peeress, 'do you think I carry such things about me? Though they are very fine to be sure, and I think myself something of a judge; at least I know what pleases myself. Indeed I was ever an admirer of all Doctor Burdock's little pieces; for except what he does, and our dear Countess at Hanover-Square, there's nothing comes out but the most lowest stuff in nature; not a bit of high life among them.'--'FUDGE!'

'Your Ladyship should except,' says t'other, 'your own things in the Lady's Magazine. I hope you'll say there's nothing low lived there? But I suppose we are to have no more from that quarter?'--'FUDGE!'

'Why, my dear,' says the Lady, 'you know my reader and companion has left me, to be married to Captain Roach, and as my poor eyes won't suffer me to write myself, I have been for some time looking out for another. A proper person is no easy matter to find, and to be sure thirty pounds a year is a small stipend for a well-bred girl of character, that can read, write, and behave in company; as for the chits about town, there is no bearing them about one.'--'FUDGE!'

'That I know,' cried Miss Skeggs, 'by experience. For of the three companions I had this last half year, one of them refused to do plain-work an hour in the day, another thought twenty-five guineas a year too small a salary, and I was obliged to send away the third, because I suspected an intrigue with the chaplain.

Virtue, my dear Lady Blarney, virtue is worth any price; but where is that to be found?'--'FUDGE!'

My wife had been for a long time all attention to this discourse; but was particularly struck with the latter part of it. Thirty pounds and twenty-five guineas a year made fifty-six pounds five shillings English money, all which was in a manner going a-begging, and might easily be secured in the family. She for a moment studied my looks for approbation; and, to own a truth, I was of opinion, that two such places would fit our two daughters exactly. Besides, if the 'Squire had any real affection for my eldest daughter, this would be the way to make her every way qualified for her fortune. My wife therefore was resolved that we should not be deprived of such advantages for want of assurance, and undertook to harangue for the family. 'I hope,' cried she, 'your Ladyships will pardon my present presumption. It is true, we have no right to pretend to such favours; but yet it is natural for me to wish putting my children forward in the world.

And I will be bold to say my two girls have had a pretty good education, and capacity, at least the country can't shew better.

They can read, write, and cast accompts; they understand their needle, breadstitch, cross and change, and all manner of plain-work; they can pink, point, and frill; and know something of music; they can do up small cloaths, work upon catgut; my eldest can cut paper, and my youngest has a very pretty manner of telling fortunes upon the cards.'--'FUDGE!'

When she had delivered this pretty piece of eloquence, the two ladies looked at each other a few minutes in silence, with an air of doubt and importance. At last, Miss Carolina Wilelmina Amelia Skeggs condescended to observe, that the young ladies, from the opinion she could form of them from so slight an acquaintance, seemed very fit for such employments: 'But a thing of this kind, Madam,' cried she, addressing my spouse, requires a thorough examination into characters, and a more perfect knowledge of each other. Not, Madam,' continued she, 'that I in the least suspect the young ladies virtue, prudence and discretion; but there is a form in these things, Madam, there is a form.'

My wife approved her suspicions very much, observing, that she was very apt to be suspicious herself; but referred her to all the neighbours for a character: but this our Peeress declined as unnecessary, alledging that her cousin Thornhill's recommendation would be sufficient, and upon this we rested our petition.

Oliver Goldsmith