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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Old-Fashioned Love-Making: An Old-Fashioned Wedding
By Tobias George Smollett (1721–1771)
 
From ‘Peregrine Pickle’

PEREGRINE, whose health required the enjoyment of fresh air after his long confinement, sent a message to Emilia that same night announcing his arrival, and giving her notice that he would breakfast with her next morning; when he and our hero, who had dressed himself for the purpose, taking a hackney-coach, repaired to her lodging, and were introduced into a parlor adjoining that in which the tea-table was set. Here they had not waited many minutes when they heard the sound of feet coming down-stairs; upon which our hero’s heart began to beat the alarm. He concealed himself behind the screen, by the direction of his friend, whose ears being saluted with Sophy’s voice from the next room, he flew into it with great ardor, and enjoyed upon her lips the sweet transports of a meeting so unexpected; for he had left her in her father’s house at Windsor.  1
  Amidst these emotions, he had almost forgotten the situation of Peregrine; when Emilia, assuming her enchanting air,—“Is not this,” said she, “a most provoking scene to a young woman like me, who am doomed to wear the willow, by the strange caprice of my lover? Upon my word, brother, you have done me infinite prejudice in promoting this jaunt with my obstinate correspondent, who, I suppose, is so ravished with this transient glimpse of liberty that he will never be persuaded to incur unnecessary confinement for the future.” “My dear sister,” replied the captain tauntingly, “your own pride set him the example; so you must e’en stand to the consequence of his imitation.” “’Tis a hard case, however,” answered the fair offender, “that I should suffer all my life by one venial trespass. Heigh ho! who would imagine that a sprightly girl such as I, with ten thousand pounds, should go a-begging? I have a good mind to marry the next person that asks me the question, in order to be revenged upon this unyielding humorist. Did the dear fellow discover no inclination to see me, in all the term of his releasement? Well, if ever I catch the fugitive again, he shall sing in his cage for life.”  2
  It is impossible to convey to the reader a just idea of Peregrine’s transports while he overheard this declaration,—which was no sooner pronounced, than, unable to resist the impetuosity of his passion, he sprung from his lurking-place, exclaiming, “Here I surrender!” and rushing into her presence, was so dazzled with her beauty that his speech failed: he was fixed like a statue to the floor; and all his faculties were absorbed in admiration. Indeed she was now in the full bloom of her charms, and it was nearly impossible to look upon her without emotion. The ladies screamed with surprise at his appearance, and Emilia underwent such agitation as flushed every charm with irresistible energy.  3
  While he was almost fainting with unutterable delight, she seemed to sink under the tumults of tenderness and confusion; when our hero, perceiving her condition, obeyed the impulse of his love and circled the charmer in his arms, without suffering the least frown or symptom of displeasure. Not all the pleasures of his life had amounted to the ineffable joy of this embrace, in which he continued for some minutes totally entranced. He fastened upon her pouting lips with all the eagerness of rapture; and while his brain seemed to whirl round with transport, exclaimed in a delirium of bliss, “Heaven and earth! this is too much to bear.”  4
  His imagination was accordingly relieved, and his attention in some measure divided, by the interposition of Sophy, who kindly chid him for his having overlooked his old friends: thus accosted, he quitted his delicious armful, and saluting Mrs. Gauntlet, asked pardon for his neglect; observing that such rudeness was excusable, considering the long and unhappy exile which he had suffered from the jewel of his soul. Then turning to Emilia,—“I am come, madam,” said he, “to claim the performance of your promise, which I can produce under your own fair hand: you may therefore lay aside all superfluous ceremony and shyness, and crown my happiness without farther delay; for upon my soul! my thoughts are wound up to the last pitch of expectation, and I shall certainly run distracted if I am doomed to any term of probation.”  5
  His mistress, having by this time recollected herself, replied with a most exhilarating smile, “I ought to punish you for your obstinacy with the mortification of a twelvemonth’s trial; but it is dangerous to tamper with an admirer of your disposition, and therefore I think I must make sure of you while it is in my power.”  6
  “You are willing then to take me for better for worse, in presence of Heaven and these witnesses?” cried Peregrine kneeling, and applying her hand to his lips.  7
  At this interrogation, her features softened into an amazing expression of condescending love; and while she darted a side glance that thrilled to his marrow, and heaved a sigh more soft than Zephyr’s balmy wing, her answer was, “Why—ay—and Heaven grant me patience to bear the humors of such a yoke-fellow.”  8
  “And may the same powers,” replied the youth, “grant me life and opportunity to manifest the immensity of my love. Meanwhile I have eighty thousand pounds, which shall be laid in your lap.”  9
  So saying, he sealed the contract upon her lips, and explained the mystery of his last words, which had begun to operate upon the wonder of the two sisters. Sophy was agreeably surprised with the account of his good fortune: nor was it, in all probability, unacceptable to the lovely Emilia; though from this information she took an opportunity to upbraid her admirer with the inflexibility of his pride, which, she scrupled not to say, would have baffled all the suggestions of passion had it not been gratified by this providential event.  10
  Matters being thus happily matured, the lover begged that immediate recourse might be had to the church, and his happiness ascertained. He fell at her feet in all the agony of impatience; swore that his life and intellects would actually be in jeopardy by her refusal: and when she attempted to argue him out of his demand, began to rave with such extravagance that Sophy was frightened into conviction; and Godfrey enforcing the remonstrances of his friend, the amiable Emilia was teased into compliance….  11
  He accordingly led her into the dining-room, where the ceremony was performed without delay; and after the husband had asserted his prerogative on her lips, the whole company saluted her by the name of Mrs. Pickle….  12
  An express was immediately dispatched to Mrs. Gauntlet with an account of her daughter’s marriage; a town-house was hired, and a handsome equipage set up, in which the new-married pair appeared at all public places, to the astonishment of our adventurer’s fair-weather friends and the admiration of all the world: for in point of figure such another couple was not to be found in the whole United Kingdom. Envy despaired, and detraction was struck dumb, when our hero’s new accession of fortune was consigned to the celebration of public fame; Emilia attracted the notice of all observers, from the pert Templar to the Sovereign himself, who was pleased to bestow encomiums upon the excellence of her beauty. Many persons of consequence, who had dropped the acquaintance of Peregrine in the beginning of his decline, now made open efforts to cultivate his friendship anew: but he discouraged all these advances with the most mortifying disdain; and one day when the nobleman whom he had formerly obliged came up to him in the drawing-room, with the salutation of “Your servant, Mr. Pickle,” he eyed him with a look of ineffable contempt, saying, “I suppose your Lordship is mistaken in your man,” and turned his head another way in presence of the whole court.  13
  When he had made a circuit round all the places frequented by the beau monde, to the utter confusion of those against whom his resentment was kindled, paid off his debts, and settled his money matters in town, Hatchway was dismissed to the country, in order to prepare for the reception of his fair Emilia. In a few days after his departure, the whole company (Cadwallader himself included) set out for his father’s house; and in their way took up Mrs. Gauntlet, the mother, who was sincerely rejoiced to see our hero in the capacity of her son-in-law.  14
 
 
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