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The Vicar of Wakefield
The Vicar of Wakefield

sensibly enough expostulated upon my obstinacy, in refusing a submission, which promised to give me freedom. He observed, that the rest of my family was not to be sacrificed to the peace of one child alone, and she the only one who had offended me. ‘Beside,’ added he, ‘I don’t know if it be just thus to obstruct the union of man and wife, which you do at present, by refusing to consent to a match which you cannot hinder, but may render unhappy.’


‘Sir,’ replied I, ‘you are unacquainted with the man that oppresses us. I am very sensible that no submission I can make could procure me liberty even for an hour. I am told that even in this very room a debtor of his, no later than last year, died for want. But though my submission and approbation could transfer me from hence, to the most beautiful apartment he is possessed of; yet I would grant neither, as something whispers me that it would be giving a sanction to adultery. While my daughter lives, no other marriage of his shall ever be legal in my eye. Were she removed, indeed, I should be the basest of men, from any resentment of my own, to attempt putting asunder those who wish for an union. No, villain as he is, I should then wish him married, to prevent the consequences of his future debaucheries. But now should I not be the most cruel of all fathers, to sign an Instrument which must send my child to the grave, merely to avoid a prison myself; and thus to escape one pang, break my child’s heart with a thousand?’


He acquiesced in the justice of this answer, but could not avoid observing, that he feared my daughter’s life was already too much wasted to keep me long a prisoner. ‘However,’ continued he, ‘though you refuse to submit to the nephew, I hope you have no objections to laying your case before the uncle, who has the first character in the kingdom for every thing that is just and good. I would advise you to send him a letter by the post, intimating all his nephew’s ill usage, and my life for it that in three days you shall have an answer.’ I thank’d him for the hint, and instantly set about complying; but I wanted paper, and unluckily all our money had been laid out that morning in provisions; however he supplied me.


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