One may make a plan to make a conquest of a heart, which is "not very susceptible of tender impressions; but, on the contrary, fortified with insensibility and prejudice against the charms of the whole sex"

— Smollett, Tobias (1721-1777)

Place of Publication
Printed for the author
One may make a plan to make a conquest of a heart, which is "not very susceptible of tender impressions; but, on the contrary, fortified with insensibility and prejudice against the charms of the whole sex"
Metaphor in Context
This disgrace was attended by a fit of peevish devotion that lasted three or four weeks; during which period, she had the additional chagreen of seeing the young lady gain an absolute ascendency over the mind of her brother, who was persuaded to set up a gay equipage, and improve his housekeeping, by an augmentation in his expence, to the amount of a thousand a year at least: tho' this alteration in the oeconomy of his houshold, effected no change in his own disposition, or manner of life; for, soon as the painful ceremony of receiving and returning visits was performed, he had recourse again to the company of his sea-friends, with whom he spent the best part of his time. But, if he was satisfied with his condition, the case was otherwise with Mrs. Grizzle, who finding her importance in the family greatly diminished, her attractions neglected by all the male-sex in the neighbourhood, and the withering hand of time hang threatning over her head, began to feel the horror of eternal virginity, and in a sort of desperation, resolved at any rate to rescue herself from that reproachful and uncomfortable situation. Thus determined, she formed a plan, the execution of which, to a spirit less enterprizing and sufficient than her's, would have appeared altogether impracticable; this was no other than to make a conquest of the commodore's heart, which the reader will easily believe was not very susceptible of tender impressions; but, on the contrary, fortified with insensibility and prejudice against the charms of the whole sex, and particularly prepossessed to the prejudice of that class distinguished by the appellation of old maids, in which Mrs. Grizzle was, by this time, unhappily ranked. She nevertheless took the field, and having invested this seemingly impregnable fortress, began to break ground one day, when Trunnion dined at her brother's, by springing certain ensnaring commendations on the honesty and sincerity of sea-faring people, paying a particular attention to his plate, and affecting a simper of approbation at every thing he said which by any means she could construe into a joke, or with modesty be supposed to hear: nay, even when he left decency on the left hand, (which was often the case) she ventured to reprimand his freedom of speech with a gracious grin, saying, "Sure you gentlemen belonging to the sea have such an odd way with you." But, all this complacency was so ineffectual, that, far from suspecting the true cause of it, the commodore, that very evening, at the club, in presence of her brother, with whom, by this time, he could take any manner of freedom, did not scruple to damn her for a squinting, block-faced, chattering piss-kitchen; and immediately after drank despair to all old maids; a toast which Mr. Pickle pledged without the least hesitation, and next day intimated to his sister, who bore the indignity with surprising resignation, and did not therefore desist from her scheme, unpromising as it seemed to be, until her attention was called off, and engaged in another care, which, for some time, interrupted the progress of this design. Her sister had not been married many months, when she exhibited evident symptoms of pregnancy, to the general satisfaction of all concerned, and the inexpressible joy of Mrs. Grizzle, who (as we have already hinted) was more interested in the preservation of the family-name, than in any other consideration whatever. She therefore no sooner discovered appearances to justify and confirm her hopes, than postponing her own purpose, and laying aside that pique and resentment she had conceived from the behaviour of Mrs. Pickle, when she superseded her authority; or perhaps, considering her in no other light than that of the vehicle which contained, and was destined to convey her brother's heir to light, she determined to exert her uttermost in nursing, tending, and cherishing her, during the term of her important charge. With this view she purchased Culpepper's midwifery, which, with that sagacious performance dignified with Aristotle's name, she studied with indefatigable care, and diligently perused the Compleat House-wife, together with Quincy's dispensatory, culling every jelly, marmalade and conserve which these authors recommend as either salutary or toothsome, for the benefit and comfort of her sister-in-law, during her gestation. She restricted her from eating roots, pot-herbs, fruit, and all sort of vegetables; and one day when Mrs. Pickle had plucked a peach with her own hand, and was in the very act of putting it between her teeth, Mrs. Grizzle perceived the rash attempt, and running up to her, fell upon her knees in the garden, intreating her, with tears in her eyes, to resist such a pernicious appetite. Her request was no sooner complied with, than recollecting that if her sister's longing was baulked, the child might be affected with some disagreeable mark, or deplorable disease, she begged as earnestly that she would swallow the fruit, and in the mean time ran for some cordial water of her own composing, which she forced upon her sister, as an antidote to the poison she had received.
(pp. 30-3)
Searching "conque" and "heart" in HDIS (Prose Fiction)
33 entries in ESTC (1751, 1758, 1763, 1765, 1769, 1773, 1775, 1776, 1778, 1779, 1781, 1784, 1785, 1786, 1787, 1788, 1791, 1793, 1794, 1798, 1799, 1800).

Smollett, Tobias. The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle. In which are included, Memoirs of a Lady of Quality., 4 vols. (London: Printed for the author, 1751). <Link to ESTC>
Date of Entry

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.