"But my heart was so steel'd against her charms by pride and resentment, which were two chief ingredients in my disposition, that I remain'd insensible to all her arts"

— Smollett, Tobias (1721-1777)

Place of Publication
Printed for J. Osborn
"But my heart was so steel'd against her charms by pride and resentment, which were two chief ingredients in my disposition, that I remain'd insensible to all her arts"
Metaphor in Context
Next day, while I was at work in the shop, a bouncing damsel well dressed came in, on pretence of finding a vial for some use or other; and taking an opportunity when she thought I did not mind her, of observing me narrowly, went away with a silent look of disdain-- I easily guessed her sentiments, and my pride took the resolution of entertaining the same indifference and neglect towards her--At dinner, the maids with whom I dined in the kitchen, gave me to understand that this was my master's only daughter, who would have a very handsome fortune, on account of which, and her beauty, a great many young gentlemen made their addresses to her--that she had been twice on the brink of marriage, but disappointed by the stinginess of her father, who refused to part with a shilling as long as he should live--for which reason the young lady did not behave to her father with all the filial veneration that might be expected: In particular, she harbour'd the most perfect hatred for his countrymen, in which disposition her mother join'd, who was an English woman; and by the hints [Page 156] they dropp'd, I learn'd the grey mare was the better horse--that she was a matron of a high spirit, which was often manifested at the expence of her dependants: That she lov'd diversions; and look'd upon miss as her rival in all parties; which was indeed the true cause of her disappointments; for had the mother been hearty in her interest, the father would not have ventur'd to refuse her demands. --Over and above this intelligence, I of myself, soon made more discoveries; Mr. Lavement's significant grins at his wife, while she look'd another way, convinc'd me that he was not at all content with his lot: And his behaviour in presence of the captain, made me believe his chief torment was jealousy. --As for my own part, I was consider'd in no other light than that of a menial servant, and had been already six days in the house without being honour'd with one word from either mother or daughter, the latter (as I understood from the maids) having at table one day, expressed some surprize that her papa should entertain such an aukward, mean-looking journeyman. --I was nettled at this piece of information, and next sunday, (it being my turn to take my diversion) dressed myself in my new cloaths to the greatest advantage, and, vanity apart, made no contemptible figure. -- After having spent most part of the day in company with Strap and some of his acquaintance, I came home in the afternoon, and was let in by miss, who not knowing me, dropt a low courtesy as I advanced, which I returned with a profound bow, and shut the door--By that time I had turn'd about, she had perceiv'd her mistake, and chang'd colour, but did not withdraw. The passage being narrow, I could not get away without [Page 157] jostling her; so, I was forc'd to remain where I was, with my eyes fix'd on the ground, and my face glowing with blushes--At length her vanity coming to her assistance, she went away tittering, and I could hear her pronounce the word "creature:" From this day forward, she came into the shop fifty times every day, upon various pretences, and put in practice so many ridiculous airs, that I could easily perceive her opinion of me was chang'd, and that she did not think me altogether an unworthy conquest--But my heart was so steel'd against her charms by pride and resentment, which were two chief ingredients in my disposition, that I remain'd insensible to all her arts; and notwithstanding some advances she made, could not be prevail'd upon to yield her the least attention--This neglect soon banish'd all the favourable impressions she felt for me, and the rage of a slighted woman took place in her heart; which she manifested not only in all the suggestions her malice could invent to my prejudice with her father, but also in procuring for me such servile employments, as she hoped, would sufficiently humble my spirit. One day in particular, she order'd me to brush my master's coat, but I refusing, a smart dialogue ensued, which ended in her bursting into tears of rage; when her mother interposing, and examining into the merits of the cause, determin'd it in my favour; and this good office I ow'd not to any esteem or consideration she had for me, but solely to the desire of mortifying her daughter, who on this occasion observ'd, that let people be never so much in the right, there were some folks who would never do them justice; but to be sure, they had their reason for it, which some people were not

[Page 158]

ignorant of, although they despised their little arts. --This insinuation of some people and some folks, put me upon observing the behaviour of my mistress more narrowly for the future; and it was not long before I had reason to believe that she look'd upon her daughter as a rival in the affections of captain Odonnell, who lodged in the house. --In the mean time my industry and knowledge gain'd me the good will of my master, who would often say in French, "Mardy! c'est un bon Garçon." He had a great deal of business; but as he was mostly employ'd among his fellow refugees, his profits were small. --However, his expence for medicines was not great, he being the most expert man at a succedaneum, of any apothecary in London, so that I have been sometimes amaz'd to see him without the least hesitation, make up a physician's prescription, though he had not in his shop one medicine mention'd in it. --Oyster-shells he could convert into crab's eyes; common oil into oil of sweet almonds; syrup of sugar into balsamic syrup; Thames water into aqua cinnamomi; turpentine into capivi; and a hundred more costly preparations were produc'd in an instant, from the cheapest and coursest drugs of the materia medica: And when any common thing was order'd for a patient, he always took care to disguise it in colour or taste, or both, in such a manner, as that it could not possibly be known. --For which purpose, cochineal and oil of cloves were of great service among many nostrums which he possess'd; there was one for the venereal disease, that brought him a good deal of money; and this he conceal'd so artfully from me, that I could never learn its composition: But during the eight months I stay'd [Page 159] in his service, he was so unfortunate in the use of it, that three parts in four of those who took it, were fain to confirm the cure with a salivation under the direction of another doctor. --This bad success, in all appearance, attach'd him the more to his specifick; and before I left him, I may venture to say, he would have sooner renounc'd the Trinity (notwithstanding his being a good Huegonot) than his confidence in the never-failing power of this remedy. --Mr. Lavement had attempted more than once, to introduce a vegetable diet into his family, by launching out into the praise of it, and decrying the use of flesh, both as a Physician and Philosopher; but all his rhetoric could not make one proselyte to his opinion, and even the wife of his bosom declared against the proposal. --Whether it was owing to the little regard she paid to her husband's admonition in this particular, or to the natural warmth of her constitution, I know not; but this lady's passions became every day more and more violent, till at last she look'd upon decency as an unnecessary restraint; and one afternoon, when her husband was abroad, and her daughter visiting, order'd me to call a hackney coach, in which she and the captain drove off towards Covent-Garden. --Miss came home in the evening, and supping at her usual hour, went to bed. --About eleven a clock my master enter'd, and ask'd if his wife was gone to sleep: Upon which I told him, my mistress went out in the afternoon, and was not yet return'd. --This was like a clap of thunder to the poor Apothecary, who starting back, cried "Mort de ma vie! vat you tell a me? --My wife not, at home!" --At that instant a patient's servant arriv'd with a prescription for a draught, [Page 160] which my master taking, went into the shop to make it up himself. --While he rubb'd the ingredients in a glass mortar, he enquir'd of me, whether or no his wife went out alone; and no sooner heard that she was in company with the captain, than with one blow he split the mortar into a thousand pieces, and grinning like the head of a bass viol, exclaim'd, "Ah traitresse!" --It would have been impossible for me to have preserv'd my gravity a minute longer, when I was happily reliev'd by a rap at the door, which I open'd, and perceiv'd my mistress coming out of a coach; she flounc'd immediately into the shop, and addressed her husband thus: "I suppose you thought I was lost, my dear--Captain Odonnell has been so good as to treat me with a play." --"Play--play (replied he) Oho! yes by gar, I believe ver prettie play." --"Bless me! (said she) what's the matter?" --"Vat de matter? (cried he, forgetting all his former complaisance) by gar, you be one damn dog's wife --ventre bleu! me vill show you vat it is to put one horn upon mine head. Pardieu! le capitaine Odonnell be one." --Here the captain, who had been all the while at the door discharging the coach, entering, said with a terrible voice, "D---mme! what am I?" --Mr. Lavement changing his tone, immediately saluted him with, "Oh serviteur monsieur le capitaine, vous etes un galant homme--ma femme est fort obligée." --Then turning about towards me, pronounc'd with a low voice, "Et diablement obligeante sans doute." --"Harkee, Mr. Lavement, (said the captain) I am a man of honour, and I believe you are too much of a gentleman to be offended at the civility I shew your [Page 161] wife." --This declaration had such an effect on the apothecary, that he resum'd all the politesse of a Frenchman; and with the utmost prostration of compliment, assur'd the captain that he was perfectly satisfied with the honour he had done his wife. --Matters being thus compos'd, every body went to rest. --Next day I perceiv'd thro' a glass door that open'd from the shop into a parlour, the captain talking earnestly to miss, who heard him with a look that expressed anger mingled with scorn; which however he at last found means to mollify, and seal'd his reconciliation with a kiss. --This soon convinc'd me of the occasion of the quarrel; but notwithstanding all my vigilance, I could never discover any other commerce between them. --In the mean while, I had reason to believe I had inspir'd one of the maids with tender sentiments for me; and one night when I thought every other person in the house asleep, I took the opportunity of the other maid's absence (for she had got leave to go and visit her sick father who liv'd at Richmond) to avail myself of my conquest: Accordingly I got up, and (naked as I was) explor'd my way in the dark, to the garret where she lay. --I was ravish'd to find the door open, and moved softly to her bed-side, transported with the hope of compleating my wishes. --But what horrors of jealousy and disappointment did I feel, when I found her asleep, fast locked in the arms of a man, whom I easily guessed to be no other than the captain's servant! I was upon the point of doing some rash thing, when the noise of a rat scratching behind the wainscoat, put me to flight, and I was fain to get back to my own bed in safety. --Whether this alarm had disorder'd my mind, [Page 162] or that I was led astray by the power of destiny, I know not; but instead of turning to the left when I descended to the second story, I persu'd the contrary course, and mistook the young lady's bed-chamber for my own. I did not perceive my mistake before I had run against the bed posts; and then it was not in my power to retreat undiscover'd: for the nymph being awake, felt my approach, and with a soft voice, bid me make less noise lest the Scotch-booby in the next room should over-hear us. This hint was sufficient to inform me of the nature of the assignation; and as my passions, at any time high, were then in a state of exaltation, I was resolved to profit by my good fortune. --Without any more ceremony therefore, I made bold to slip into bed to this charmer, who gave me as favourable a reception as I could desire. --Our conversation was very sparing on my part, but she upbraided the person whom I represented, with his jealousy of me, whom she handled so roughly, that my resentment had well nigh occasion'd a discovery more than once; but I was consoled for her hatred of me, by understanding from her own mouth, that it was now high time to salve her reputation by matrimony; for she had reason to fear she could not much longer conceal the effects of their mutual intercourse. --While I was meditating an answer to this proposal, I heard a noise in my room, like something heavy falling down upon the floor: Upon which, I started up, and creeping to the door of my chamber, observ'd by moon-light, the shadow of a man groping his way out; whereupon, I retir'd to one side to let him pass, and saw him go down stairs as expeditiously as he could. --It was an easy matter to divine that this [Page 163] was the captain, who having over-slept himself, had got up at last to keep his assignation; and finding my door open, had enter'd into my apartment instead of that of his mistress, where I supplied his place. --But finding his mistake, by falling over my chair, was afraid the noise might alarm the family, and for that reason made off, delaying the gratification of his desire till another opportunity. --By this time, I was satisfied; and instead of returning to the place from whence I came, retreated to my own castle, which I fortified by bolting the door; and in the congratulation of my own happiness fell asleep. --But the truth of this adventure could not be long conceal'd from my young mistress, who next day came to an eclaircisement with the captain, upon his lamenting his last night's disappointment, and begging pardon for the noise he had made. --Their mutual chagrin, when they came to the knowledge of what had happen'd, may be easily conjectur'd, though each had a peculiar grief unfelt by the other; for she was conscious of having not only betray'd to me the secrets of her commerce with him; but also, of having incensed me by the freedoms she had taken with my name, beyond a hope of reconciliation. --On the other hand, his jealousy suggested, that her sorrow was all artifice; and that I had supplied his place with her own privity and consent. --That such was the situation of their thoughts, will appear in the sequel--for that very day she came into the shop where I was alone, and fixing her eyes, swimming in tears, upon me, sigh'd most piteously: But I was proof against her distress, by recollecting the epithets with which she had honour'd me the night before; and believing that the good reception I enjoy'd [Page 164] was destin'd for another. I therefore took no notice of her affliction; and she had the mortification to find her disdain return'd four-fold. -- However, from thenceforward she thought proper to use me with more complaisance than usual, knowing that it was in my power at any time to publish her shame. --By these means my life became much more agreeable (though I never could prevail upon myself to repeat my nocturnal visit) and as I every day improv'd in my knowledge of the town, I shook off my aukward air by degrees, and acquir'd the character of a polite journeyman apothecary.
(pp. 164)
Searching "heart" and "steel" in HDIS (Prose)
Over 45 entries in ESTC (1748, 1749, 1750, 1755, 1760, 1762, 1763, 1766, 1768, 1770, 1772, 1773, 1774, 1775, 1777, 1778, 1779, 1780, 1783, 1784, 1786, 1787, 1790, 1791, 1792, 1793, 1794, 1795, 1797, 1799, 1800).

Smollett, Tobias. The Adventures of Roderick Random. In Two Volumes. (London: printed for J. Osborn, 1748). <Link to ECCO>
Date of Entry

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