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The Vicar of Wakefield
The Vicar of Wakefield

The Vicar of Wakefield - 24 - Oliver Goldsmith - Web Novel


Fresh calamities.


The next morning the sun rose with peculiar warmth for the season; so that we agreed to breakfast together on the honeysuckle bank: where, while we sate, my youngest daughter, at my request, joined her voice to the concert on the trees about us. It was in this place my poor Olivia first met her seducer, and every object served to recall her sadness. But that melancholy, which is excited by objects of pleasure, or inspired by sounds of harmony, sooths the heart instead of corroding it. Her mother too, upon this occasion, felt a pleasing distress, and wept, and loved her daughter as before. ‘Do, my pretty Olivia,’ cried she, ‘let us have that little melancholy air your pappa was so fond of, your sister Sophy has already obliged us. Do child, it will please your old father.’ She complied in a manner so exquisitely pathetic as moved me.


When lovely woman stoops to folly, And finds too late that men betray, What charm can sooth her melancholy, What art can wash her guilt away?


The only art her guilt to cover, To hide her shame from every eye, To give repentance to her lover, And wring his bosom—is to die.


As she was concluding the last stanza, to which an interruption in her voice from sorrow gave peculiar softness, the appearance of Mr Thornhill’s equipage at a distance alarmed us all, but particularly encreased the uneasiness of my eldest daughter, who, desirous of shunning her betrayer, returned to the house with her sister. In a few minutes he was alighted from his chariot, and making up to the place where I was still sitting, enquired after my health with his usual air of familiarity. ‘Sir,’ replied I, ‘your present assurance only serves to aggravate the baseness of your character; and there was a time when I would have chastised your insolence, for presuming thus to appear before me. But now you are safe; for age has cooled my passions, and my calling restrains them.’

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