The History of Tom Jones, a foundling
Part 3 out of 18
had never yet attempted to invade his territories. Nor had he done it
now, had not the younger sportsman, who was excessively eager to
pursue the flying game, over-persuaded him; but Jones being very
importunate, the other, who was himself keen enough after the sport,
yielded to his persuasions, entered the manor, and shot one of the
The gentleman himself was at that time on horse-back, at a little
distance from them; and hearing the gun go off, he immediately made
towards the place, and discovered poor Tom; for the gamekeeper had
leapt into the thickest part of the furze-brake, where he had happily
The gentleman having searched the lad, and found the partridge upon
him, denounced great vengeance, swearing he would acquaint Mr
Allworthy. He was as good as his word: for he rode immediately to his
house, and complained of the trespass on his manor in as high terms
and as bitter language as if his house had been broken open, and the
most valuable furniture stole out of it. He added, that some other
person was in his company, though he could not discover him; for that
two guns had been discharged almost in the same instant. And, says he,
"We have found only this partridge, but the Lord knows what mischief
they have done."
At his return home, Tom was presently convened before Mr Allworthy. He
owned the fact, and alledged no other excuse but what was really true,
viz., that the covey was originally sprung in Mr Allworthy's own
Tom was then interrogated who was with him, which Mr Allworthy
declared he was resolved to know, acquainting the culprit with the
circumstance of the two guns, which had been deposed by the squire and
both his servants; but Tom stoutly persisted in asserting that he was
alone; yet, to say the truth, he hesitated a little at first, which
would have confirmed Mr Allworthy's belief, had what the squire and
his servants said wanted any further confirmation.
The gamekeeper, being a suspected person, was now sent for, and the
question put to him; but he, relying on the promise which Tom had made
him, to take all upon himself, very resolutely denied being in company
with the young gentleman, or indeed having seen him the whole
Mr Allworthy then turned towards Tom, with more than usual anger in
his countenance, and advised him to confess who was with him;
repeating, that he was resolved to know. The lad, however, still
maintained his resolution, and was dismissed with much wrath by Mr
Allworthy, who told him he should have to the next morning to consider
of it, when he should be questioned by another person, and in another
Poor Jones spent a very melancholy night; and the more so, as he was
without his usual companion; for Master Blifil was gone abroad on a
visit with his mother. Fear of the punishment he was to suffer was on
this occasion his least evil; his chief anxiety being, lest his
constancy should fail him, and he should be brought to betray the
gamekeeper, whose ruin he knew must now be the consequence.
Nor did the gamekeeper pass his time much better. He had the same
apprehensions with the youth; for whose honour he had likewise a much
tenderer regard than for his skin.
In the morning, when Tom attended the reverend Mr Thwackum, the person
to whom Mr Allworthy had committed the instruction of the two boys, he
had the same questions put to him by that gentleman which he had been
asked the evening before, to which he returned the same answers. The
consequence of this was, so severe a whipping, that it possibly fell
little short of the torture with which confessions are in some
countries extorted from criminals.
Tom bore his punishment with great resolution; and though his master
asked him, between every stroke, whether he would not confess, he was
contented to be flead rather than betray his friend, or break the
promise he had made.
The gamekeeper was now relieved from his anxiety, and Mr Allworthy
himself began to be concerned at Tom's sufferings: for besides that Mr
Thwackum, being highly enraged that he was not able to make the boy
say what he himself pleased, had carried his severity much beyond the
good man's intention, this latter began now to suspect that the squire
had been mistaken; which his extreme eagerness and anger seemed to
make probable; and as for what the servants had said in confirmation
of their master's account, he laid no great stress upon that. Now, as
cruelty and injustice were two ideas of which Mr Allworthy could by no
means support the consciousness a single moment, he sent for Tom, and
after many kind and friendly exhortations, said, "I am convinced, my
dear child, that my suspicions have wronged you; I am sorry that you
have been so severely punished on this account." And at last gave him
a little horse to make him amends; again repeating his sorrow for what
Tom's guilt now flew in his face more than any severity could make it.
He could more easily bear the lashes of Thwackum, than the generosity
of Allworthy. The tears burst from his eyes, and he fell upon his
knees, crying, "Oh, sir, you are too good to me. Indeed you are.
Indeed I don't deserve it." And at that very instant, from the fulness
of his heart, had almost betrayed the secret; but the good genius of
the gamekeeper suggested to him what might be the consequence to the
poor fellow, and this consideration sealed his lips.
Thwackum did all he could to persuade Allworthy from showing any
compassion or kindness to the boy, saying, "He had persisted in an
untruth;" and gave some hints, that a second whipping might probably
bring the matter to light.
But Mr Allworthy absolutely refused to consent to the experiment. He
said, the boy had suffered enough already for concealing the truth,
even if he was guilty, seeing that he could have no motive but a
mistaken point of honour for so doing.
"Honour!" cryed Thwackum, with some warmth, "mere stubbornness and
obstinacy! Can honour teach any one to tell a lie, or can any honour
exist independent of religion?"
This discourse happened at table when dinner was just ended; and there
were present Mr Allworthy, Mr Thwackum, and a third gentleman, who now
entered into the debate, and whom, before we proceed any further, we
shall briefly introduce to our reader's acquaintance.
The character of Mr Square the philosopher, and of Mr Thwackum the
divine; with a dispute concerning----
The name of this gentleman, who had then resided some time at Mr
Allworthy's house, was Mr Square. His natural parts were not of the
first rate, but he had greatly improved them by a learned education.
He was deeply read in the antients, and a profest master of all the
works of Plato and Aristotle. Upon which great models he had
principally formed himself; sometimes according with the opinion of
the one, and sometimes with that of the other. In morals he was a
profest Platonist, and in religion he inclined to be an Aristotelian.
But though he had, as we have said, formed his morals on the Platonic
model, yet he perfectly agreed with the opinion of Aristotle, in
considering that great man rather in the quality of a philosopher or a
speculatist, than as a legislator. This sentiment he carried a great
way; indeed, so far, as to regard all virtue as matter of theory only.
This, it is true, he never affirmed, as I have heard, to any one; and
yet upon the least attention to his conduct, I cannot help thinking it
was his real opinion, as it will perfectly reconcile some
contradictions which might otherwise appear in his character.
This gentleman and Mr Thwackum scarce ever met without a disputation;
for their tenets were indeed diametrically opposite to each other.
Square held human nature to be the perfection of all virtue, and that
vice was a deviation from our nature, in the same manner as deformity
of body is. Thwackum, on the contrary, maintained that the human mind,
since the fall, was nothing but a sink of iniquity, till purified and
redeemed by grace. In one point only they agreed, which was, in all
their discourses on morality never to mention the word goodness. The
favourite phrase of the former, was the natural beauty of virtue; that
of the latter, was the divine power of grace. The former measured all
actions by the unalterable rule of right, and the eternal fitness of
things; the latter decided all matters by authority; but in doing
this, he always used the scriptures and their commentators, as the
lawyer doth his Coke upon Lyttleton, where the comment is of equal
authority with the text.
After this short introduction, the reader will be pleased to remember,
that the parson had concluded his speech with a triumphant question,
to which he had apprehended no answer; viz., Can any honour exist
independent on religion?
To this Square answered; that it was impossible to discourse
philosophically concerning words, till their meaning was first
established: that there were scarce any two words of a more vague and
uncertain signification, than the two he had mentioned; for that there
were almost as many different opinions concerning honour, as
concerning religion. "But," says he, "if by honour you mean the true
natural beauty of virtue, I will maintain it may exist independent of
any religion whatever. Nay," added he, "you yourself will allow it may
exist independent of all but one: so will a Mahometan, a Jew, and all
the maintainers of all the different sects in the world."
Thwackum replied, this was arguing with the usual malice of all the
enemies to the true Church. He said, he doubted not but that all the
infidels and hereticks in the world would, if they could, confine
honour to their own absurd errors and damnable deceptions; "but
honour," says he, "is not therefore manifold, because there are many
absurd opinions about it; nor is religion manifold, because there are
various sects and heresies in the world. When I mention religion, I
mean the Christian religion; and not only the Christian religion, but
the Protestant religion; and not only the Protestant religion, but the
Church of England. And when I mention honour, I mean that mode of
Divine grace which is not only consistent with, but dependent upon,
this religion; and is consistent with and dependent upon no other. Now
to say that the honour I here mean, and which was, I thought, all the
honour I could be supposed to mean, will uphold, much less dictate an
untruth, is to assert an absurdity too shocking to be conceived."
"I purposely avoided," says Square, "drawing a conclusion which I
thought evident from what I have said; but if you perceived it, I am
sure you have not attempted to answer it. However, to drop the article
of religion, I think it is plain, from what you have said, that we
have different ideas of honour; or why do we not agree in the same
terms of its explanation? I have asserted, that true honour and true
virtue are almost synonymous terms, and they are both founded on the
unalterable rule of right, and the eternal fitness of things; to which
an untruth being absolutely repugnant and contrary, it is certain that
true honour cannot support an untruth. In this, therefore, I think we
are agreed; but that this honour can be said to be founded on
religion, to which it is antecedent, if by religion be meant any
"I agree," answered Thwackum, with great warmth, "with a man who
asserts honour to be antecedent to religion! Mr Allworthy, did I
He was proceeding when Mr Allworthy interposed, telling them very
coldly, they had both mistaken his meaning; for that he had said
nothing of true honour.--It is possible, however, he would not have
easily quieted the disputants, who were growing equally warm, had not
another matter now fallen out, which put a final end to the
conversation at present.
Containing a necessary apology for the author; and a childish
incident, which perhaps requires an apology likewise.
Before I proceed farther, I shall beg leave to obviate some
misconstructions into which the zeal of some few readers may lead
them; for I would not willingly give offence to any, especially to men
who are warm in the cause of virtue or religion.
I hope, therefore, no man will, by the grossest misunderstanding or
perversion of my meaning, misrepresent me, as endeavouring to cast any
ridicule on the greatest perfections of human nature; and which do,
indeed, alone purify and ennoble the heart of man, and raise him above
the brute creation. This, reader, I will venture to say (and by how
much the better man you are yourself, by so much the more will you be
inclined to believe me), that I would rather have buried the
sentiments of these two persons in eternal oblivion, than have done
any injury to either of these glorious causes.
On the contrary, it is with a view to their service, that I have taken
upon me to record the lives and actions of two of their false and
pretended champions. A treacherous friend is the most dangerous enemy;
and I will say boldly, that both religion and virtue have received
more real discredit from hypocrites than the wittiest profligates or
infidels could ever cast upon them: nay, farther, as these two, in
their purity, are rightly called the bands of civil society, and are
indeed the greatest of blessings; so when poisoned and corrupted with
fraud, pretence, and affectation, they have become the worst of civil
curses, and have enabled men to perpetrate the most cruel mischiefs to
their own species.
Indeed, I doubt not but this ridicule will in general be allowed: my
chief apprehension is, as many true and just sentiments often came
from the mouths of these persons, lest the whole should be taken
together, and I should be conceived to ridicule all alike. Now the
reader will be pleased to consider, that, as neither of these men were
fools, they could not be supposed to have holden none but wrong
principles, and to have uttered nothing but absurdities; what
injustice, therefore, must I have done to their characters, had I
selected only what was bad! And how horribly wretched and maimed must
their arguments have appeared!
Upon the whole, it is not religion or virtue, but the want of them,
which is here exposed. Had not Thwackum too much neglected virtue, and
Square, religion, in the composition of their several systems, and had
not both utterly discarded all natural goodness of heart, they had
never been represented as the objects of derision in this history; in
which we will now proceed.
This matter then, which put an end to the debate mentioned in the last
chapter, was no other than a quarrel between Master Blifil and Tom
Jones, the consequence of which had been a bloody nose to the former;
for though Master Blifil, notwithstanding he was the younger, was in
size above the other's match, yet Tom was much his superior at the
noble art of boxing.
Tom, however, cautiously avoided all engagements with that youth; for
besides that Tommy Jones was an inoffensive lad amidst all his
roguery, and really loved Blifil, Mr Thwackum being always the second
of the latter, would have been sufficient to deter him.
But well says a certain author, No man is wise at all hours; it is
therefore no wonder that a boy is not so. A difference arising at play
between the two lads, Master Blifil called Tom a beggarly bastard.
Upon which the latter, who was somewhat passionate in his disposition,
immediately caused that phenomenon in the face of the former, which we
have above remembered.
Master Blifil now, with his blood running from his nose, and the tears
galloping after from his eyes, appeared before his uncle and the
tremendous Thwackum. In which court an indictment of assault, battery,
and wounding, was instantly preferred against Tom; who in his excuse
only pleaded the provocation, which was indeed all the matter that
Master Blifil had omitted.
It is indeed possible that this circumstance might have escaped his
memory; for, in his reply, he positively insisted, that he had made
use of no such appellation; adding, "Heaven forbid such naughty words
should ever come out of his mouth!"
Tom, though against all form of law, rejoined in affirmance of the
words. Upon which Master Blifil said, "It is no wonder. Those who will
tell one fib, will hardly stick at another. If I had told my master
such a wicked fib as you have done, I should be ashamed to show my
"What fib, child?" cries Thwackum pretty eagerly.
"Why, he told you that nobody was with him a shooting when he killed
the partridge; but he knows" (here he burst into a flood of tears),
"yes, he knows, for he confessed it to me, that Black George the
gamekeeper was there. Nay, he said--yes you did--deny it if you can,
that you would not have confest the truth, though master had cut you
At this the fire flashed from Thwackum's eyes, and he cried out in
triumph--"Oh! ho! this is your mistaken notion of honour! This is the
boy who was not to be whipped again!" But Mr Allworthy, with a more
gentle aspect, turned towards the lad, and said, "Is this true, child?
How came you to persist so obstinately in a falsehood?"
Tom said, "He scorned a lie as much as any one: but he thought his
honour engaged him to act as he did; for he had promised the poor
fellow to conceal him: which," he said, "he thought himself farther
obliged to, as the gamekeeper had begged him not to go into the
gentleman's manor, and had at last gone himself, in compliance with
his persuasions." He said, "This was the whole truth of the matter,
and he would take his oath of it;" and concluded with very
passionately begging Mr Allworthy "to have compassion on the poor
fellow's family, especially as he himself only had been guilty, and
the other had been very difficultly prevailed on to do what he did.
Indeed, sir," said he, "it could hardly be called a lie that I told;
for the poor fellow was entirely innocent of the whole matter. I
should have gone alone after the birds; nay, I did go at first, and he
only followed me to prevent more mischief. Do, pray, sir, let me be
punished; take my little horse away again; but pray, sir, forgive poor
Mr Allworthy hesitated a few moments, and then dismissed the boys,
advising them to live more friendly and peaceably together.
The opinions of the divine and the philosopher concerning the two
boys; with some reasons for their opinions, and other matters.
It is probable, that by disclosing this secret, which had been
communicated in the utmost confidence to him, young Blifil preserved
his companion from a good lashing; for the offence of the bloody nose
would have been of itself sufficient cause for Thwackum to have
proceeded to correction; but now this was totally absorbed in the
consideration of the other matter; and with regard to this, Mr
Allworthy declared privately, he thought the boy deserved reward
rather than punishment, so that Thwackum's hand was withheld by a
Thwackum, whose meditations were full of birch, exclaimed against this
weak, and, as he said he would venture to call it, wicked lenity. To
remit the punishment of such crimes was, he said, to encourage them.
He enlarged much on the correction of children, and quoted many texts
from Solomon, and others; which being to be found in so many other
books, shall not be found here. He then applied himself to the vice of
lying, on which head he was altogether as learned as he had been on
Square said, he had been endeavouring to reconcile the behaviour of
Tom with his idea of perfect virtue, but could not. He owned there was
something which at first sight appeared like fortitude in the action;
but as fortitude was a virtue, and falsehood a vice, they could by no
means agree or unite together. He added, that as this was in some
measure to confound virtue and vice, it might be worth Mr Thwackum's
consideration, whether a larger castigation might not be laid on upon
As both these learned men concurred in censuring Jones, so were they
no less unanimous in applauding Master Blifil. To bring truth to
light, was by the parson asserted to be the duty of every religious
man; and by the philosopher this was declared to be highly conformable
with the rule of right, and the eternal and unalterable fitness of
All this, however, weighed very little with Mr Allworthy. He could not
be prevailed on to sign the warrant for the execution of Jones. There
was something within his own breast with which the invincible fidelity
which that youth had preserved, corresponded much better than it had
done with the religion of Thwackum, or with the virtue of Square. He
therefore strictly ordered the former of these gentlemen to abstain
from laying violent hands on Tom for what had past. The pedagogue was
obliged to obey those orders; but not without great reluctance, and
frequent mutterings that the boy would be certainly spoiled.
Towards the gamekeeper the good man behaved with more severity. He
presently summoned that poor fellow before him, and after many bitter
remonstrances, paid him his wages, and dismist him from his service;
for Mr Allworthy rightly observed, that there was a great difference
between being guilty of a falsehood to excuse yourself, and to excuse
another. He likewise urged, as the principal motive to his inflexible
severity against this man, that he had basely suffered Tom Jones to
undergo so heavy a punishment for his sake, whereas he ought to have
prevented it by making the discovery himself.
When this story became public, many people differed from Square and
Thwackum, in judging the conduct of the two lads on the occasion.
Master Blifil was generally called a sneaking rascal, a poor-spirited
wretch, with other epithets of the like kind; whilst Tom was honoured
with the appellations of a brave lad, a jolly dog, and an honest
fellow. Indeed, his behaviour to Black George much ingratiated him
with all the servants; for though that fellow was before universally
disliked, yet he was no sooner turned away than he was as universally
pitied; and the friendship and gallantry of Tom Jones was celebrated
by them all with the highest applause; and they condemned Master
Blifil as openly as they durst, without incurring the danger of
offending his mother. For all this, however, poor Tom smarted in the
flesh; for though Thwackum had been inhibited to exercise his arm on
the foregoing account, yet, as the proverb says, It is easy to find a
stick, &c. So was it easy to find a rod; and, indeed, the not being
able to find one was the only thing which could have kept Thwackum any
long time from chastising poor Jones.
Had the bare delight in the sport been the only inducement to the
pedagogue, it is probable Master Blifil would likewise have had his
share; but though Mr Allworthy had given him frequent orders to make
no difference between the lads, yet was Thwackum altogether as kind
and gentle to this youth, as he was harsh, nay even barbarous, to the
other. To say the truth, Blifil had greatly gained his master's
affections; partly by the profound respect he always showed his
person, but much more by the decent reverence with which he received
his doctrine; for he had got by heart, and frequently repeated, his
phrases, and maintained all his master's religious principles with a
zeal which was surprizing in one so young, and which greatly endeared
him to the worthy preceptor.
Tom Jones, on the other hand, was not only deficient in outward tokens
of respect, often forgetting to pull off his hat, or to bow at his
master's approach; but was altogether as unmindful both of his
master's precepts and example. He was indeed a thoughtless, giddy
youth, with little sobriety in his manners, and less in his
countenance; and would often very impudently and indecently laugh at
his companion for his serious behaviour.
Mr Square had the same reason for his preference of the former lad;
for Tom Jones showed no more regard to the learned discourses which
this gentleman would sometimes throw away upon him, than to those of
Thwackum. He once ventured to make a jest of the rule of right; and at
another time said, he believed there was no rule in the world capable
of making such a man as his father (for so Mr Allworthy suffered
himself to be called).
Master Blifil, on the contrary, had address enough at sixteen to
recommend himself at one and the same time to both these opposites.
With one he was all religion, with the other he was all virtue. And
when both were present, he was profoundly silent, which both
interpreted in his favour and in their own.
Nor was Blifil contented with flattering both these gentlemen to their
faces; he took frequent occasions of praising them behind their backs
to Allworthy; before whom, when they two were alone, and his uncle
commended any religious or virtuous sentiment (for many such came
constantly from him) he seldom failed to ascribe it to the good
instructions he had received from either Thwackum or Square; for he
knew his uncle repeated all such compliments to the persons for whose
use they were meant; and he found by experience the great impressions
which they made on the philosopher, as well as on the divine: for, to
say the truth, there is no kind of flattery so irresistible as this,
at second hand.
The young gentleman, moreover, soon perceived how extremely grateful
all those panegyrics on his instructors were to Mr Allworthy himself,
as they so loudly resounded the praise of that singular plan of
education which he had laid down; for this worthy man having observed
the imperfect institution of our public schools, and the many vices
which boys were there liable to learn, had resolved to educate his
nephew, as well as the other lad, whom he had in a manner adopted, in
his own house; where he thought their morals would escape all that
danger of being corrupted to which they would be unavoidably exposed
in any public school or university.
Having, therefore, determined to commit these boys to the tuition of a
private tutor, Mr Thwackum was recommended to him for that office, by
a very particular friend, of whose understanding Mr Allworthy had a
great opinion, and in whose integrity he placed much confidence. This
Thwackum was fellow of a college, where he almost entirely resided;
and had a great reputation for learning, religion, and sobriety of
manners. And these were doubtless the qualifications by which Mr
Allworthy's friend had been induced to recommend him; though indeed
this friend had some obligations to Thwackum's family, who were the
most considerable persons in a borough which that gentleman
represented in parliament.
Thwackum, at his first arrival, was extremely agreeable to Allworthy;
and indeed he perfectly answered the character which had been given of
him. Upon longer acquaintance, however, and more intimate
conversation, this worthy man saw infirmities in the tutor, which he
could have wished him to have been without; though as those seemed
greatly overbalanced by his good qualities, they did not incline Mr
Allworthy to part with him: nor would they indeed have justified such
a proceeding; for the reader is greatly mistaken, if he conceives that
Thwackum appeared to Mr Allworthy in the same light as he doth to him
in this history; and he is as much deceived, if he imagines that the
most intimate acquaintance which he himself could have had with that
divine, would have informed him of those things which we, from our
inspiration, are enabled to open and discover. Of readers who, from
such conceits as these, condemn the wisdom or penetration of Mr
Allworthy, I shall not scruple to say, that they make a very bad and
ungrateful use of that knowledge which we have communicated to them.
These apparent errors in the doctrine of Thwackum served greatly to
palliate the contrary errors in that of Square, which our good man no
less saw and condemned. He thought, indeed, that the different
exuberancies of these gentlemen would correct their different
imperfections; and that from both, especially with his assistance, the
two lads would derive sufficient precepts of true religion and virtue.
If the event happened contrary to his expectations, this possibly
proceeded from some fault in the plan itself; which the reader hath my
leave to discover, if he can: for we do not pretend to introduce any
infallible characters into this history; where we hope nothing will be
found which hath never yet been seen in human nature.
To return therefore: the reader will not, I think, wonder that the
different behaviour of the two lads above commemorated, produced the
different effects of which he hath already seen some instance; and
besides this, there was another reason for the conduct of the
philosopher and the pedagogue; but this being matter of great
importance, we shall reveal it in the next chapter.
Containing a better reason still for the before-mentioned opinions.
It is to be known then, that those two learned personages, who have
lately made a considerable figure on the theatre of this history, had,
from their first arrival at Mr Allworthy's house, taken so great an
affection, the one to his virtue, the other to his religion, that they
had meditated the closest alliance with him.
For this purpose they had cast their eyes on that fair widow, whom,
though we have not for some time made any mention of her, the reader,
we trust, hath not forgot. Mrs Blifil was indeed the object to which
they both aspired.
It may seem remarkable, that, of four persons whom we have
commemorated at Mr Allworthy's house, three of them should fix their
inclinations on a lady who was never greatly celebrated for her
beauty, and who was, moreover, now a little descended into the vale of
years; but in reality bosom friends, and intimate acquaintance, have a
kind of natural propensity to particular females at the house of a
friend--viz., to his grandmother, mother, sister, daughter, aunt,
niece, or cousin, when they are rich; and to his wife, sister,
daughter, niece, cousin, mistress, or servant-maid, if they should be
We would not, however, have our reader imagine, that persons of such
characters as were supported by Thwackum and Square, would undertake a
matter of this kind, which hath been a little censured by some rigid
moralists, before they had thoroughly examined it, and considered
whether it was (as Shakespear phrases it) "Stuff o' th' conscience,"
or no. Thwackum was encouraged to the undertaking by reflecting that
to covet your neighbour's sister is nowhere forbidden: and he knew it
was a rule in the construction of all laws, that "_Expressum facit
cessare tacitum._" The sense of which is, "When a lawgiver sets down
plainly his whole meaning, we are prevented from making him mean what
we please ourselves." As some instances of women, therefore, are
mentioned in the divine law, which forbids us to covet our neighbour's
goods, and that of a sister omitted, he concluded it to be lawful. And
as to Square, who was in his person what is called a jolly fellow, or
a widow's man, he easily reconciled his choice to the eternal fitness
Now, as both of these gentlemen were industrious in taking every
opportunity of recommending themselves to the widow, they apprehended
one certain method was, by giving her son the constant preference to
the other lad; and as they conceived the kindness and affection which
Mr Allworthy showed the latter, must be highly disagreeable to her,
they doubted not but the laying hold on all occasions to degrade and
vilify him, would be highly pleasing to her; who, as she hated the
boy, must love all those who did him any hurt. In this Thwackum had
the advantage; for while Square could only scarify the poor lad's
reputation, he could flea his skin; and, indeed, he considered every
lash he gave him as a compliment paid to his mistress; so that he
could, with the utmost propriety, repeat this old flogging line,
_"Castigo te non quod odio habeam, sed quod_ AMEM. I chastise thee not
out of hatred, but out of love." And this, indeed, he often had in his
mouth, or rather, according to the old phrase, never more properly
applied, at his fingers' ends.
For this reason, principally, the two gentlemen concurred, as we have
seen above, in their opinion concerning the two lads; this being,
indeed, almost the only instance of their concurring on any point;
for, beside the difference of their principles, they had both long ago
strongly suspected each other's design, and hated one another with no
little degree of inveteracy.
This mutual animosity was a good deal increased by their alternate
successes; for Mrs Blifil knew what they would be at long before they
imagined it; or, indeed, intended she should: for they proceeded with
great caution, lest she should be offended, and acquaint Mr Allworthy.
But they had no reason for any such fear; she was well enough pleased
with a passion, of which she intended none should have any fruits but
herself. And the only fruits she designed for herself were, flattery
and courtship; for which purpose she soothed them by turns, and a long
time equally. She was, indeed, rather inclined to favour the parson's
principles; but Square's person was more agreeable to her eye, for he
was a comely man; whereas the pedagogue did in countenance very nearly
resemble that gentleman, who, in the Harlot's Progress, is seen
correcting the ladies in Bridewell.
Whether Mrs Blifil had been surfeited with the sweets of marriage, or
disgusted by its bitters, or from what other cause it proceeded, I
will not determine; but she could never be brought to listen to any
second proposals. However, she at last conversed with Square with such
a degree of intimacy that malicious tongues began to whisper things of
her, to which, as well for the sake of the lady, as that they were
highly disagreeable to the rule of right and the fitness of things, we
will give no credit, and therefore shall not blot our paper with them.
The pedagogue, 'tis certain, whipped on, without getting a step nearer
to his journey's end.
Indeed he had committed a great error, and that Square discovered much
sooner than himself. Mrs Blifil (as, perhaps, the reader may have
formerly guessed) was not over and above pleased with the behaviour of
her husband; nay, to be honest, she absolutely hated him, till his
death at last a little reconciled him to her affections. It will not
be therefore greatly wondered at, if she had not the most violent
regard to the offspring she had by him. And, in fact, she had so
little of this regard, that in his infancy she seldom saw her son, or
took any notice of him; and hence she acquiesced, after a little
reluctance, in all the favours which Mr Allworthy showered on the
foundling; whom the good man called his own boy, and in all things put
on an entire equality with Master Blifil. This acquiescence in Mrs
Blifil was considered by the neighbours, and by the family, as a mark
of her condescension to her brother's humour, and she was imagined by
all others, as well as Thwackum and Square, to hate the foundling in
her heart; nay, the more civility she showed him, the more they
conceived she detested him, and the surer schemes she was laying for
his ruin: for as they thought it her interest to hate him, it was very
difficult for her to persuade them she did not.
Thwackum was the more confirmed in his opinion, as she had more than
once slily caused him to whip Tom Jones, when Mr Allworthy, who was an
enemy to this exercise, was abroad; whereas she had never given any
such orders concerning young Blifil. And this had likewise imposed
upon Square. In reality, though she certainly hated her own son--of
which, however monstrous it appears, I am assured she is not a
singular instance--she appeared, notwithstanding all her outward
compliance, to be in her heart sufficiently displeased with all the
favour shown by Mr Allworthy to the foundling. She frequently
complained of this behind her brother's back, and very sharply
censured him for it, both to Thwackum and Square; nay, she would throw
it in the teeth of Allworthy himself, when a little quarrel, or miff,
as it is vulgarly called, arose between them.
However, when Tom grew up, and gave tokens of that gallantry of temper
which greatly recommends men to women, this disinclination which she
had discovered to him when a child, by degrees abated, and at last she
so evidently demonstrated her affection to him to be much stronger
than what she bore her own son, that it was impossible to mistake her
any longer. She was so desirous of often seeing him, and discovered
such satisfaction and delight in his company, that before he was
eighteen years old he was become a rival to both Square and Thwackum;
and what is worse, the whole country began to talk as loudly of her
inclination to Tom, as they had before done of that which she had
shown to Square: on which account the philosopher conceived the most
implacable hatred for our poor heroe.
In which the author himself makes his appearance on the stage.
Though Mr Allworthy was not of himself hasty to see things in a
disadvantageous light, and was a stranger to the public voice, which
seldom reaches to a brother or a husband, though it rings in the ears
of all the neighbourhood; yet was this affection of Mrs Blifil to Tom,
and the preference which she too visibly gave him to her own son, of
the utmost disadvantage to that youth.
For such was the compassion which inhabited Mr Allworthy's mind, that
nothing but the steel of justice could ever subdue it. To be
unfortunate in any respect was sufficient, if there was no demerit to
counterpoise it, to turn the scale of that good man's pity, and to
engage his friendship and his benefaction.
When therefore he plainly saw Master Blifil was absolutely detested
(for that he was) by his own mother, he began, on that account only,
to look with an eye of compassion upon him; and what the effects of
compassion are, in good and benevolent minds, I need not here explain
to most of my readers.
Henceforward he saw every appearance of virtue in the youth through
the magnifying end, and viewed all his faults with the glass inverted,
so that they became scarce perceptible. And this perhaps the amiable
temper of pity may make commendable; but the next step the weakness of
human nature alone must excuse; for he no sooner perceived that
preference which Mrs Blifil gave to Tom, than that poor youth (however
innocent) began to sink in his affections as he rose in hers. This, it
is true, would of itself alone never have been able to eradicate Jones
from his bosom; but it was greatly injurious to him, and prepared Mr
Allworthy's mind for those impressions which afterwards produced the
mighty events that will be contained hereafter in this history; and to
which, it must be confest, the unfortunate lad, by his own wantonness,
wildness, and want of caution, too much contributed.
In recording some instances of these, we shall, if rightly understood,
afford a very useful lesson to those well-disposed youths who shall
hereafter be our readers; for they may here find, that goodness of
heart, and openness of temper, though these may give them great
comfort within, and administer to an honest pride in their own minds,
will by no means, alas! do their business in the world. Prudence and
circumspection are necessary even to the best of men. They are indeed,
as it were, a guard to Virtue, without which she can never be safe. It
is not enough that your designs, nay, that your actions, are
intrinsically good; you must take care they shall appear so. If your
inside be never so beautiful, you must preserve a fair outside also.
This must be constantly looked to, or malice and envy will take care
to blacken it so, that the sagacity and goodness of an Allworthy will
not be able to see through it, and to discern the beauties within. Let
this, my young readers, be your constant maxim, that no man can be
good enough to enable him to neglect the rules of prudence; nor will
Virtue herself look beautiful, unless she be bedecked with the outward
ornaments of decency and decorum. And this precept, my worthy
disciples, if you read with due attention, you will, I hope, find
sufficiently enforced by examples in the following pages.
I ask pardon for this short appearance, by way of chorus, on the
stage. It is in reality for my own sake, that, while I am discovering
the rocks on which innocence and goodness often split, I may not be
misunderstood to recommend the very means to my worthy readers, by
which I intend to show them they will be undone. And this, as I could
not prevail on any of my actors to speak, I myself was obliged to
A childish incident, in which, however, is seen a good-natured
disposition in Tom Jones.
The reader may remember that Mr Allworthy gave Tom Jones a little
horse, as a kind of smart-money for the punishment which he imagined
he had suffered innocently.
This horse Tom kept above half a year, and then rode him to a
neighbouring fair, and sold him.
At his return, being questioned by Thwackum what he had done with the
money for which the horse was sold, he frankly declared he would not
"Oho!" says Thwackum, "you will not! then I will have it out of your
br--h;" that being the place to which he always applied for
information on every doubtful occasion.
Tom was now mounted on the back of a footman, and everything prepared
for execution, when Mr Allworthy, entering the room, gave the criminal
a reprieve, and took him with him into another apartment; where, being
alone with Tom, he put the same question to him which Thwackum had
before asked him.
Tom answered, he could in duty refuse him nothing; but as for that
tyrannical rascal, he would never make him any other answer than with
a cudgel, with which he hoped soon to be able to pay him for all his
Mr Allworthy very severely reprimanded the lad for his indecent and
disrespectful expressions concerning his master; but much more for his
avowing an intention of revenge. He threatened him with the entire
loss of his favour, if he ever heard such another word from his mouth;
for, he said, he would never support or befriend a reprobate. By these
and the like declarations, he extorted some compunction from Tom, in
which that youth was not over-sincere; for he really meditated some
return for all the smarting favours he had received at the hands of
the pedagogue. He was, however, brought by Mr Allworthy to express a
concern for his resentment against Thwackum; and then the good man,
after some wholesome admonition, permitted him to proceed, which he
did as follows:--
"Indeed, my dear sir, I love and honour you more than all the world: I
know the great obligations I have to you, and should detest myself if
I thought my heart was capable of ingratitude. Could the little horse
you gave me speak, I am sure he could tell you how fond I was of your
present; for I had more pleasure in feeding him than in riding him.
Indeed, sir, it went to my heart to part with him; nor would I have
sold him upon any other account in the world than what I did. You
yourself, sir, I am convinced, in my case, would have done the same:
for none ever so sensibly felt the misfortunes of others. What would
you feel, dear sir, if you thought yourself the occasion of them?
Indeed, sir, there never was any misery like theirs."
"Like whose, child?" says Allworthy: "What do you mean?"
"Oh, sir!" answered Tom, "your poor gamekeeper, with all his large
family, ever since your discarding him, have been perishing with all
the miseries of cold and hunger: I could not bear to see these poor
wretches naked and starving, and at the same time know myself to have
been the occasion of all their sufferings. I could not bear it, sir;
upon my soul, I could not." [Here the tears ran down his cheeks, and
he thus proceeded.] "It was to save them from absolute destruction I
parted with your dear present, notwithstanding all the value I had for
it: I sold the horse for them, and they have every farthing of the
Mr Allworthy now stood silent for some moments, and before he spoke
the tears started from his eyes. He at length dismissed Tom with a
gentle rebuke, advising him for the future to apply to him in cases of
distress, rather than to use extraordinary means of relieving them
This affair was afterwards the subject of much debate between Thwackum
and Square. Thwackum held, that this was flying in Mr Allworthy's
face, who had intended to punish the fellow for his disobedience. He
said, in some instances, what the world called charity appeared to him
to be opposing the will of the Almighty, which had marked some
particular persons for destruction; and that this was in like manner
acting in opposition to Mr Allworthy; concluding, as usual, with a
hearty recommendation of birch.
Square argued strongly on the other side, in opposition perhaps to
Thwackum, or in compliance with Mr Allworthy, who seemed very much to
approve what Jones had done. As to what he urged on this occasion, as
I am convinced most of my readers will be much abler advocates for
poor Jones, it would be impertinent to relate it. Indeed it was not
difficult to reconcile to the rule of right an action which it would
have been impossible to deduce from the rule of wrong.
Containing an incident of a more heinous kind, with the comments of
Thwackum and Square.
It hath been observed by some man of much greater reputation for
wisdom than myself, that misfortunes seldom come single. An instance
of this may, I believe, be seen in those gentlemen who have the
misfortune to have any of their rogueries detected; for here discovery
seldom stops till the whole is come out. Thus it happened to poor Tom;
who was no sooner pardoned for selling the horse, than he was
discovered to have some time before sold a fine Bible which Mr
Allworthy gave him, the money arising from which sale he had disposed
of in the same manner. This Bible Master Blifil had purchased, though
he had already such another of his own, partly out of respect for the
book, and partly out of friendship to Tom, being unwilling that the
Bible should be sold out of the family at half-price. He therefore
deposited the said half-price himself; for he was a very prudent lad,
and so careful of his money, that he had laid up almost every penny
which he had received from Mr Allworthy.
Some people have been noted to be able to read in no book but their
own. On the contrary, from the time when Master Blifil was first
possessed of this Bible, he never used any other. Nay, he was seen
reading in it much oftener than he had before been in his own. Now, as
he frequently asked Thwackum to explain difficult passages to him,
that gentleman unfortunately took notice of Tom's name, which was
written in many parts of the book. This brought on an inquiry, which
obliged Master Blifil to discover the whole matter.
Thwackum was resolved a crime of this kind, which he called sacrilege,
should not go unpunished. He therefore proceeded immediately to
castigation: and not contented with that he acquainted Mr Allworthy,
at their next meeting, with this monstrous crime, as it appeared to
him: inveighing against Tom in the most bitter terms, and likening him
to the buyers and sellers who were driven out of the temple.
Square saw this matter in a very different light. He said, he could
not perceive any higher crime in selling one book than in selling
another. That to sell Bibles was strictly lawful by all laws both
Divine and human, and consequently there was no unfitness in it. He
told Thwackum, that his great concern on this occasion brought to his
mind the story of a very devout woman, who, out of pure regard to
religion, stole Tillotson's Sermons from a lady of her acquaintance.
This story caused a vast quantity of blood to rush into the parson's
face, which of itself was none of the palest; and he was going to
reply with great warmth and anger, had not Mrs Blifil, who was present
at this debate, interposed. That lady declared herself absolutely of
Mr Square's side. She argued, indeed, very learnedly in support of his
opinion; and concluded with saying, if Tom had been guilty of any
fault, she must confess her own son appeared to be equally culpable;
for that she could see no difference between the buyer and the seller;
both of whom were alike to be driven out of the temple.
Mrs Blifil having declared her opinion, put an end to the debate.
Square's triumph would almost have stopt his words, had he needed
them; and Thwackum, who, for reasons before-mentioned, durst not
venture at disobliging the lady, was almost choaked with indignation.
As to Mr Allworthy, he said, since the boy had been already punished
he would not deliver his sentiments on the occasion; and whether he
was or was not angry with the lad, I must leave to the reader's own
Soon after this, an action was brought against the gamekeeper by
Squire Western (the gentleman in whose manor the partridge was
killed), for depredations of the like kind. This was a most
unfortunate circumstance for the fellow, as it not only of itself
threatened his ruin, but actually prevented Mr Allworthy from
restoring him to his favour: for as that gentleman was walking out one
evening with Master Blifil and young Jones, the latter slily drew him
to the habitation of Black George; where the family of that poor
wretch, namely, his wife and children, were found in all the misery
with which cold, hunger, and nakedness, can affect human creatures:
for as to the money they had received from Jones, former debts had
consumed almost the whole.
Such a scene as this could not fail of affecting the heart of Mr
Allworthy. He immediately gave the mother a couple of guineas, with
which he bid her cloath her children. The poor woman burst into tears
at this goodness, and while she was thanking him, could not refrain
from expressing her gratitude to Tom; who had, she said, long
preserved both her and hers from starving. "We have not," says she,
"had a morsel to eat, nor have these poor children had a rag to put
on, but what his goodness hath bestowed on us." For, indeed, besides
the horse and the Bible, Tom had sacrificed a night-gown, and other
things, to the use of this distressed family.
On their return home, Tom made use of all his eloquence to display the
wretchedness of these people, and the penitence of Black George
himself; and in this he succeeded so well, that Mr Allworthy said, he
thought the man had suffered enough for what was past; that he would
forgive him, and think of some means of providing for him and his
Jones was so delighted with this news, that, though it was dark when
they returned home, he could not help going back a mile, in a shower
of rain, to acquaint the poor woman with the glad tidings; but, like
other hasty divulgers of news, he only brought on himself the trouble
of contradicting it: for the ill fortune of Black George made use of
the very opportunity of his friend's absence to overturn all again.
In which Master Blifil and Jones appear in different lights.
Master Blifil fell very short of his companion in the amiable quality
of mercy; but he as greatly exceeded him in one of a much higher kind,
namely, in justice: in which he followed both the precepts and example
of Thwackum and Square; for though they would both make frequent use
of the word mercy, yet it was plain that in reality Square held it to
be inconsistent with the rule of right; and Thwackum was for doing
justice, and leaving mercy to heaven. The two gentlemen did indeed
somewhat differ in opinion concerning the objects of this sublime
virtue; by which Thwackum would probably have destroyed one half of
mankind, and Square the other half.
Master Blifil then, though he had kept silence in the presence of
Jones, yet, when he had better considered the matter, could by no
means endure the thought of suffering his uncle to confer favours on
the undeserving. He therefore resolved immediately to acquaint him
with the fact which we have above slightly hinted to the readers. The
truth of which was as follows:
The gamekeeper, about a year after he was dismissed from Mr
Allworthy's service, and before Tom's selling the horse, being in want
of bread, either to fill his own mouth or those of his family, as he
passed through a field belonging to Mr Western espied a hare sitting
in her form. This hare he had basely and barbarously knocked on the
head, against the laws of the land, and no less against the laws of
The higgler to whom the hare was sold, being unfortunately taken many
months after with a quantity of game upon him, was obliged to make his
peace with the squire, by becoming evidence against some poacher. And
now Black George was pitched upon by him, as being a person already
obnoxious to Mr Western, and one of no good fame in the country. He
was, besides, the best sacrifice the higgler could make, as he had
supplied him with no game since; and by this means the witness had an
opportunity of screening his better customers: for the squire, being
charmed with the power of punishing Black George, whom a single
transgression was sufficient to ruin, made no further enquiry.
Had this fact been truly laid before Mr Allworthy, it might probably
have done the gamekeeper very little mischief. But there is no zeal
blinder than that which is inspired with the love of justice against
offenders. Master Blifil had forgot the distance of the time. He
varied likewise in the manner of the fact: and by the hasty addition
of the single letter S he considerably altered the story; for he said
that George had wired hares. These alterations might probably have
been set right, had not Master Blifil unluckily insisted on a promise
of secrecy from Mr Allworthy before he revealed the matter to him; but
by that means the poor gamekeeper was condemned without having an
opportunity to defend himself: for as the fact of killing the hare,
and of the action brought, were certainly true, Mr Allworthy had no
doubt concerning the rest.
Short-lived then was the joy of these poor people; for Mr Allworthy
the next morning declared he had fresh reason, without assigning it,
for his anger, and strictly forbad Tom to mention George any more:
though as for his family, he said he would endeavour to keep them from
starving; but as to the fellow himself, he would leave him to the
laws, which nothing could keep him from breaking.
Tom could by no means divine what had incensed Mr Allworthy, for of
Master Blifil he had not the least suspicion. However, as his
friendship was to be tired out by no disappointments, he now
determined to try another method of preserving the poor gamekeeper
Jones was lately grown very intimate with Mr Western. He had so
greatly recommended himself to that gentleman, by leaping over
five-barred gates, and by other acts of sportsmanship, that the squire
had declared Tom would certainly make a great man if he had but
sufficient encouragement. He often wished he had himself a son with
such parts; and one day very solemnly asserted at a drinking bout,
that Tom should hunt a pack of hounds for a thousand pound of his
money, with any huntsman in the whole country.
By such kind of talents he had so ingratiated himself with the squire,
that he was a most welcome guest at his table, and a favourite
companion in his sport: everything which the squire held most dear, to
wit, his guns, dogs, and horses, were now as much at the command of
Jones, as if they had been his own. He resolved therefore to make use
of this favour on behalf of his friend Black George, whom he hoped to
introduce into Mr Western's family, in the same capacity in which he
had before served Mr Allworthy.
The reader, if he considers that this fellow was already obnoxious to
Mr Western, and if he considers farther the weighty business by which
that gentleman's displeasure had been incurred, will perhaps condemn
this as a foolish and desperate undertaking; but if he should totally
condemn young Jones on that account, he will greatly applaud him for
strengthening himself with all imaginable interest on so arduous an
For this purpose, then, Tom applied to Mr Western's daughter, a young
lady of about seventeen years of age, whom her father, next after
those necessary implements of sport just before mentioned, loved and
esteemed above all the world. Now, as she had some influence on the
squire, so Tom had some little influence on her. But this being the
intended heroine of this work, a lady with whom we ourselves are
greatly in love, and with whom many of our readers will probably be in
love too, before we part, it is by no means proper she should make her
appearance at the end of a book.
CONTAINING THE TIME OF A YEAR.
Containing five pages of paper.
As truth distinguishes our writings from those idle romances which are
filled with monsters, the productions, not of nature, but of
distempered brains; and which have been therefore recommended by an
eminent critic to the sole use of the pastry-cook; so, on the other
hand, we would avoid any resemblance to that kind of history which a
celebrated poet seems to think is no less calculated for the emolument
of the brewer, as the reading it should be always attended with a
tankard of good ale--
While--history with her comrade ale,
Soothes the sad series of her serious tale
For as this is the liquor of modern historians, nay, perhaps their
muse, if we may believe the opinion of Butler, who attributes
inspiration to ale, it ought likewise to be the potation of their
readers, since every book ought to be read with the same spirit and in
the same manner as it is writ. Thus the famous author of Hurlothrumbo
told a learned bishop, that the reason his lordship could not taste
the excellence of his piece was, that he did not read it with a fiddle
in his hand; which instrument he himself had always had in his own,
when he composed it.
That our work, therefore, might be in no danger of being likened to
the labours of these historians, we have taken every occasion of
interspersing through the whole sundry similes, descriptions, and
other kind of poetical embellishments. These are, indeed, designed to
supply the place of the said ale, and to refresh the mind, whenever
those slumbers, which in a long work are apt to invade the reader as
well as the writer, shall begin to creep upon him. Without
interruptions of this kind, the best narrative of plain matter of fact
must overpower every reader; for nothing but the ever lasting
watchfulness, which Homer has ascribed only to Jove himself, can be
proof against a newspaper of many volumes.
We shall leave to the reader to determine with what judgment we have
chosen the several occasions for inserting those ornamental parts of
our work. Surely it will be allowed that none could be more proper
than the present, where we are about to introduce a considerable
character on the scene; no less, indeed, than the heroine of this
heroic, historical, prosaic poem. Here, therefore, we have thought
proper to prepare the mind of the reader for her reception, by filling
it with every pleasing image which we can draw from the face of
nature. And for this method we plead many precedents. First, this is
an art well known to, and much practised by, our tragick poets, who
seldom fail to prepare their audience for the reception of their
Thus the heroe is always introduced with a flourish of drums and
trumpets, in order to rouse a martial spirit in the audience, and to
accommodate their ears to bombast and fustian, which Mr Locke's blind
man would not have grossly erred in likening to the sound of a
trumpet. Again, when lovers are coming forth, soft music often
conducts them on the stage, either to soothe the audience with the
softness of the tender passion, or to lull and prepare them for that
gentle slumber in which they will most probably be composed by the
And not only the poets, but the masters of these poets, the managers
of playhouses, seem to be in this secret; for, besides the aforesaid
kettle-drums, &c., which denote the heroe's approach, he is generally
ushered on the stage by a large troop of half a dozen scene-shifters;
and how necessary these are imagined to his appearance, may be
concluded from the following theatrical story:--
King Pyrrhus was at dinner at an ale-house bordering on the theatre,
when he was summoned to go on the stage. The heroe, being unwilling to
quit his shoulder of mutton, and as unwilling to draw on himself the
indignation of Mr Wilks (his brother-manager) for making the audience
wait, had bribed these his harbingers to be out of the way. While Mr
Wilks, therefore, was thundering out, "Where are the carpenters to
walk on before King Pyrrhus?" that monarch very quietly eat his
mutton, and the audience, however impatient, were obliged to entertain
themselves with music in his absence.
To be plain, I much question whether the politician, who hath
generally a good nose, hath not scented out somewhat of the utility of
this practice. I am convinced that awful magistrate my lord-mayor
contracts a good deal of that reverence which attends him through the
year, by the several pageants which precede his pomp. Nay, I must
confess, that even I myself, who am not remarkably liable to be
captivated with show, have yielded not a little to the impressions of
much preceding state. When I have seen a man strutting in a
procession, after others whose business was only to walk before him, I
have conceived a higher notion of his dignity than I have felt on
seeing him in a common situation. But there is one instance, which
comes exactly up to my purpose. This is the custom of sending on a
basket-woman, who is to precede the pomp at a coronation, and to strew
the stage with flowers, before the great personages begin their
procession. The antients would certainly have invoked the goddess
Flora for this purpose, and it would have been no difficulty for their
priests, or politicians to have persuaded the people of the real
presence of the deity, though a plain mortal had personated her and
performed her office. But we have no such design of imposing on our
reader; and therefore those who object to the heathen theology, may,
if they please, change our goddess into the above-mentioned
basket-woman. Our intention, in short, is to introduce our heroine
with the utmost solemnity in our power, with an elevation of stile,
and all other circumstances proper to raise the veneration of our
reader.--Indeed we would, for certain causes, advise those of our male
readers who have any hearts, to read no farther, were we not well
assured, that how amiable soever the picture of our heroine will
appear, as it is really a copy from nature, many of our fair
countrywomen will be found worthy to satisfy any passion, and to
answer any idea of female perfection which our pencil will be able to
And now, without any further preface, we proceed to our next chapter.
A short hint of what we can do in the sublime, and a description of
Miss Sophia Western.
Hushed be every ruder breath. May the heathen ruler of the winds
confine in iron chains the boisterous limbs of noisy Boreas, and the
sharp-pointed nose of bitter-biting Eurus. Do thou, sweet Zephyrus,
rising from thy fragrant bed, mount the western sky, and lead on those
delicious gales, the charms of which call forth the lovely Flora from
her chamber, perfumed with pearly dews, when on the 1st of June, her
birth-day, the blooming maid, in loose attire, gently trips it over
the verdant mead, where every flower rises to do her homage, till the
whole field becomes enamelled, and colours contend with sweets which
shall ravish her most.
So charming may she now appear! and you the feathered choristers of
nature, whose sweetest notes not even Handel can excell, tune your
melodious throats to celebrate her appearance. From love proceeds your
music, and to love it returns. Awaken therefore that gentle passion in
every swain: for lo! adorned with all the charms in which nature can
array her; bedecked with beauty, youth, sprightliness, innocence,
modesty, and tenderness, breathing sweetness from her rosy lips, and
darting brightness from her sparkling eyes, the lovely Sophia comes!
Reader, perhaps thou hast seen the statue of the _Venus de Medicis_.
Perhaps, too, thou hast seen the gallery of beauties at Hampton Court.
Thou may'st remember each bright Churchill of the galaxy, and all the
toasts of the Kit-cat. Or, if their reign was before thy times, at
least thou hast seen their daughters, the no less dazzling beauties of
the present age; whose names, should we here insert, we apprehend they
would fill the whole volume.
Now if thou hast seen all these, be not afraid of the rude answer
which Lord Rochester once gave to a man who had seen many things. No.
If thou hast seen all these without knowing what beauty is, thou hast
no eyes; if without feeling its power, thou hast no heart.
Yet is it possible, my friend, that thou mayest have seen all these
without being able to form an exact idea of Sophia; for she did not
exactly resemble any of them. She was most like the picture of Lady
Ranelagh: and, I have heard, more still to the famous dutchess of
Mazarine; but most of all she resembled one whose image never can
depart from my breast, and whom, if thou dost remember, thou hast
then, my friend, an adequate idea of Sophia.
But lest this should not have been thy fortune, we will endeavour with
our utmost skill to describe this paragon, though we are sensible that
our highest abilities are very inadequate to the task.
Sophia, then, the only daughter of Mr Western, was a middle-sized
woman; but rather inclining to tall. Her shape was not only exact, but
extremely delicate: and the nice proportion of her arms promised the
truest symmetry in her limbs. Her hair, which was black, was so
luxuriant, that it reached her middle, before she cut it to comply
with the modern fashion; and it was now curled so gracefully in her
neck, that few could believe it to be her own. If envy could find any
part of the face which demanded less commendation than the rest, it
might possibly think her forehead might have been higher without
prejudice to her. Her eyebrows were full, even, and arched beyond the
power of art to imitate. Her black eyes had a lustre in them, which
all her softness could not extinguish. Her nose was exactly regular,
and her mouth, in which were two rows of ivory, exactly answered Sir
John Suckling's description in those lines:--
Her lips were red, and one was thin,
Compar'd to that was next her chin.
Some bee had stung it newly.
Her cheeks were of the oval kind; and in her right she had a dimple,
which the least smile discovered. Her chin had certainly its share in
forming the beauty of her face; but it was difficult to say it was
either large or small, though perhaps it was rather of the former
kind. Her complexion had rather more of the lily than of the rose; but
when exercise or modesty increased her natural colour, no vermilion
could equal it. Then one might indeed cry out with the celebrated Dr
--Her pure and eloquent blood
Spoke in her cheeks, and so distinctly wrought
That one might almost say her body thought.
Her neck was long and finely turned: and here, if I was not afraid of
offending her delicacy, I might justly say, the highest beauties of
the famous _Venus de Medicis_ were outdone. Here was whiteness which
no lilies, ivory, nor alabaster could match. The finest cambric might
indeed be supposed from envy to cover that bosom which was much whiter
than itself.--It was indeed,
_Nitor splendens Pario marmore purius_.
A gloss shining beyond the purest brightness of Parian marble.
Such was the outside of Sophia; nor was this beautiful frame disgraced
by an inhabitant unworthy of it. Her mind was every way equal to her
person; nay, the latter borrowed some charms from the former; for when
she smiled, the sweetness of her temper diffused that glory over her
countenance which no regularity of features can give. But as there are
no perfections of the mind which do not discover themselves in that
perfect intimacy to which we intend to introduce our reader with this
charming young creature, so it is needless to mention them here: nay,
it is a kind of tacit affront to our reader's understanding, and may
also rob him of that pleasure which he will receive in forming his own
judgment of her character.
It may, however, be proper to say, that whatever mental
accomplishments she had derived from nature, they were somewhat
improved and cultivated by art: for she had been educated under the
care of an aunt, who was a lady of great discretion, and was
thoroughly acquainted with the world, having lived in her youth about
the court, whence she had retired some years since into the country.
By her conversation and instructions, Sophia was perfectly well bred,
though perhaps she wanted a little of that ease in her behaviour which
is to be acquired only by habit, and living within what is called the
polite circle. But this, to say the truth, is often too dearly
purchased; and though it hath charms so inexpressible, that the
French, perhaps, among other qualities, mean to express this, when
they declare they know not what it is; yet its absence is well
compensated by innocence; nor can good sense and a natural gentility
ever stand in need of it.
Wherein the history goes back to commemorate a trifling incident that
happened some years since; but which, trifling as it was, had some
The amiable Sophia was now in her eighteenth year, when she is
introduced into this history. Her father, as hath been said, was
fonder of her than of any other human creature. To her, therefore, Tom
Jones applied, in order to engage her interest on the behalf of his
friend the gamekeeper.
But before we proceed to this business, a short recapitulation of some
previous matters may be necessary.
Though the different tempers of Mr Allworthy and of Mr Western did not
admit of a very intimate correspondence, yet they lived upon what is
called a decent footing together; by which means the young people of
both families had been acquainted from their infancy; and as they were
all near of the same age, had been frequent playmates together.
The gaiety of Tom's temper suited better with Sophia, than the grave
and sober disposition of Master Blifil. And the preference which she
gave the former of these, would often appear so plainly, that a lad of
a more passionate turn than Master Blifil was, might have shown some
displeasure at it.
As he did not, however, outwardly express any such disgust, it would
be an ill office in us to pay a visit to the inmost recesses of his
mind, as some scandalous people search into the most secret affairs of
their friends, and often pry into their closets and cupboards, only to
discover their poverty and meanness to the world.
However, as persons who suspect they have given others cause of
offence, are apt to conclude they are offended; so Sophia imputed an
action of Master Blifil to his anger, which the superior sagacity of
Thwackum and Square discerned to have arisen from a much better
Tom Jones, when very young, had presented Sophia with a little bird,
which he had taken from the nest, had nursed up, and taught to sing.
Of this bird, Sophia, then about thirteen years old, was so extremely
fond, that her chief business was to feed and tend it, and her chief
pleasure to play with it. By these means little Tommy, for so the bird
was called, was become so tame, that it would feed out of the hand of
its mistress, would perch upon the finger, and lie contented in her
bosom, where it seemed almost sensible of its own happiness; though
she always kept a small string about its leg, nor would ever trust it
with the liberty of flying away.
One day, when Mr Allworthy and his whole family dined at Mr Western's,
Master Blifil, being in the garden with little Sophia, and observing
the extreme fondness that she showed for her little bird, desired her
to trust it for a moment in his hands. Sophia presently complied with
the young gentleman's request, and after some previous caution,
delivered him her bird; of which he was no sooner in possession, than
he slipt the string from its leg and tossed it into the air.
The foolish animal no sooner perceived itself at liberty, than
forgetting all the favours it had received from Sophia, it flew
directly from her, and perched on a bough at some distance.
Sophia, seeing her bird gone, screamed out so loud, that Tom Jones,
who was at a little distance, immediately ran to her assistance.
He was no sooner informed of what had happened, than he cursed Blifil
for a pitiful malicious rascal; and then immediately stripping off his
coat he applied himself to climbing the tree to which the bird
Tom had almost recovered his little namesake, when the branch on which
it was perched, and that hung over a canal, broke, and the poor lad
plumped over head and ears into the water.
Sophia's concern now changed its object. And as she apprehended the
boy's life was in danger, she screamed ten times louder than before;
and indeed Master Blifil himself now seconded her with all the
vociferation in his power.
The company, who were sitting in a room next the garden, were
instantly alarmed, and came all forth; but just as they reached the
canal, Tom (for the water was luckily pretty shallow in that part)
arrived safely on shore.
Thwackum fell violently on poor Tom, who stood dropping and shivering
before him, when Mr Allworthy desired him to have patience; and
turning to Master Blifil, said, "Pray, child, what is the reason of
all this disturbance?"
Master Blifil answered, "Indeed, uncle, I am very sorry for what I
have done; I have been unhappily the occasion of it all. I had Miss
Sophia's bird in my hand, and thinking the poor creature languished
for liberty, I own I could not forbear giving it what it desired; for
I always thought there was something very cruel in confining anything.
It seemed to be against the law of nature, by which everything hath a
right to liberty; nay, it is even unchristian, for it is not doing
what we would be done by; but if I had imagined Miss Sophia would have
been so much concerned at it, I am sure I never would have done it;
nay, if I had known what would have happened to the bird itself: for
when Master Jones, who climbed up that tree after it, fell into the
water, the bird took a second flight, and presently a nasty hawk
carried it away."
Poor Sophia, who now first heard of her little Tommy's fate (for her
concern for Jones had prevented her perceiving it when it happened),
shed a shower of tears. These Mr Allworthy endeavoured to assuage,
promising her a much finer bird: but she declared she would never have
another. Her father chid her for crying so for a foolish bird; but
could not help telling young Blifil, if he was a son of his, his
backside should be well flead.
Sophia now returned to her chamber, the two young gentlemen were sent
home, and the rest of the company returned to their bottle; where a
conversation ensued on the subject of the bird, so curious, that we
think it deserves a chapter by itself.
Containing such very deep and grave matters, that some readers,
perhaps, may not relish it.
Square had no sooner lighted his pipe, than, addressing himself to
Allworthy, he thus began: "Sir, I cannot help congratulating you on
your nephew; who, at an age when few lads have any ideas but of
sensible objects, is arrived at a capacity of distinguishing right
from wrong. To confine anything, seems to me against the law of
nature, by which everything hath a right to liberty. These were his
words; and the impression they have made on me is never to be
eradicated. Can any man have a higher notion of the rule of right, and
the eternal fitness of things? I cannot help promising myself, from
such a dawn, that the meridian of this youth will be equal to that of
either the elder or the younger Brutus."
Here Thwackum hastily interrupted, and spilling some of his wine, and
swallowing the rest with great eagerness, answered, "From another
expression he made use of, I hope he will resemble much better men.
The law of nature is a jargon of words, which means nothing. I know
not of any such law, nor of any right which can be derived from it. To
do as we would be done by, is indeed a Christian motive, as the boy
well expressed himself; and I am glad to find my instructions have
borne such good fruit."
"If vanity was a thing fit," says Square, "I might indulge some on the
same occasion; for whence only he can have learnt his notions of right
or wrong, I think is pretty apparent. If there be no law of nature,
there is no right nor wrong."
"How!" says the parson, "do you then banish revelation? Am I talking
with a deist or an atheist?"
"Drink about," says Western. "Pox of your laws of nature! I don't know
what you mean, either of you, by right and wrong. To take away my
girl's bird was wrong, in my opinion; and my neighbour Allworthy may
do as he pleases; but to encourage boys in such practices, is to breed
them up to the gallows."
Allworthy answered, "That he was sorry for what his nephew had done,
but could not consent to punish him, as he acted rather from a
generous than unworthy motive." He said, "If the boy had stolen the
bird, none would have been more ready to vote for a severe
chastisement than himself; but it was plain that was not his design:"
and, indeed, it was as apparent to him, that he could have no other
view but what he had himself avowed. (For as to that malicious purpose
which Sophia suspected, it never once entered into the head of Mr
Allworthy.) He at length concluded with again blaming the action as
inconsiderate, and which, he said, was pardonable only in a child.
Square had delivered his opinion so openly, that if he was now silent,
he must submit to have his judgment censured. He said, therefore, with
some warmth, "That Mr Allworthy had too much respect to the dirty
consideration of property. That in passing our judgments on great and
mighty actions, all private regards should be laid aside; for by
adhering to those narrow rules, the younger Brutus had been condemned
of ingratitude, and the elder of parricide."
"And if they had been hanged too for those crimes," cried Thwackum,
"they would have had no more than their deserts. A couple of
heathenish villains! Heaven be praised we have no Brutuses now-a-days!
I wish, Mr Square, you would desist from filling the minds of my
pupils with such antichristian stuff; for the consequence must be,
while they are under my care, its being well scourged out of them
again. There is your disciple Tom almost spoiled already. I overheard
him the other day disputing with Master Blifil that there was no merit
in faith without works. I know that is one of your tenets, and I
suppose he had it from you."
"Don't accuse me of spoiling him," says Square. "Who taught him to
laugh at whatever is virtuous and decent, and fit and right in the
nature of things? He is your own scholar, and I disclaim him. No, no,
Master Blifil is my boy. Young as he is, that lad's notions of moral
rectitude I defy you ever to eradicate."
Thwackum put on a contemptuous sneer at this, and replied, "Ay, ay, I
will venture him with you. He is too well grounded for all your
philosophical cant to hurt. No, no, I have taken care to instil such
principles into him--"
"And I have instilled principles into him too," cries Square. "What
but the sublime idea of virtue could inspire a human mind with the
generous thought of giving liberty? And I repeat to you again, if it
was a fit thing to be proud, I might claim the honour of having
infused that idea."--
"And if pride was not forbidden," said Thwackum, "I might boast of
having taught him that duty which he himself assigned as his motive."
"So between you both," says the squire, "the young gentleman hath been
taught to rob my daughter of her bird. I find I must take care of my
partridge-mew. I shall have some virtuous religious man or other set
all my partridges at liberty." Then slapping a gentleman of the law,
who was present, on the back, he cried out, "What say you to this, Mr
Counsellor? Is not this against law?"
The lawyer with great gravity delivered himself as follows:--
"If the case be put of a partridge, there can be no doubt but an
action would lie; for though this be _ferae naturae_, yet being
reclaimed, property vests: but being the case of a singing bird,
though reclaimed, as it is a thing of base nature, it must be
considered as _nullius in bonis_. In this case, therefore, I conceive
the plaintiff must be non-suited; and I should disadvise the bringing
any such action."
"Well," says the squire, "if it be _nullus bonus_, let us drink about,
and talk a little of the state of the nation, or some such discourse
that we all understand; for I am sure I don't understand a word of
this. It may be learning and sense for aught I know: but you shall
never persuade me into it. Pox! you have neither of you mentioned a
word of that poor lad who deserves to be commended: to venture
breaking his neck to oblige my girl was a generous-spirited action: I
have learning enough to see that. D--n me, here's Tom's health! I
shall love the boy for it the longest day I have to live."
Thus was the debate interrupted; but it would probably have been soon
resumed, had not Mr Allworthy presently called for his coach, and
carried off the two combatants.
Such was the conclusion of this adventure of the bird, and of the
dialogue occasioned by it; which we could not help recounting to our
reader, though it happened some years before that stage or period of
time at which our history is now arrived.
Containing matter accommodated to every taste.
"Parva leves capiunt animos--Small things affect light minds," was the
sentiment of a great master of the passion of love. And certain it is,
that from this day Sophia began to have some little kindness for Tom
Jones, and no little aversion for his companion.
Many accidents from time to time improved both these passions in her
breast; which, without our recounting, the reader may well conclude,
from what we have before hinted of the different tempers of these
lads, and how much the one suited with her own inclinations more than
the other. To say the truth, Sophia, when very young, discerned that
Tom, though an idle, thoughtless, rattling rascal, was nobody's enemy
but his own; and that Master Blifil, though a prudent, discreet, sober
young gentleman, was at the same time strongly attached to the
interest only of one single person; and who that single person was the
reader will be able to divine without any assistance of ours.
These two characters are not always received in the world with the
different regard which seems severally due to either; and which one
would imagine mankind, from self-interest, should show towards them.
But perhaps there may be a political reason for it: in finding one of
a truly benevolent disposition, men may very reasonably suppose they
have found a treasure, and be desirous of keeping it, like all other
good things, to themselves. Hence they may imagine, that to trumpet
forth the praises of such a person, would, in the vulgar phrase, be
crying Roast-meat, and calling in partakers of what they intend to
apply solely to their own use. If this reason does not satisfy the
reader, I know no other means of accounting for the little respect
which I have commonly seen paid to a character which really does great
honour to human nature, and is productive of the highest good to
society. But it was otherwise with Sophia. She honoured Tom Jones, and
scorned Master Blifil, almost as soon as she knew the meaning of those
Sophia had been absent upwards of three years with her aunt; during
all which time she had seldom seen either of these young gentlemen.
She dined, however, once, together with her aunt, at Mr Allworthy's.
This was a few days after the adventure of the partridge, before
commemorated. Sophia heard the whole story at table, where she said
nothing: nor indeed could her aunt get many words from her as she
returned home; but her maid, when undressing her, happening to say,
"Well, miss, I suppose you have seen young Master Blifil to-day?" she
answered with much passion, "I hate the name of Master Blifil, as I do
whatever is base and treacherous: and I wonder Mr Allworthy would
suffer that old barbarous schoolmaster to punish a poor boy so cruelly
for what was only the effect of his good-nature." She then recounted
the story to her maid, and concluded with saying, "Don't you think he
is a boy of noble spirit?"
This young lady was now returned to her father; who gave her the
command of his house, and placed her at the upper end of his table,
where Tom (who for his great love of hunting was become a great
favourite of the squire) often dined. Young men of open, generous
dispositions are naturally inclined to gallantry, which, if they have
good understandings, as was in reality Tom's case, exerts itself in an
obliging complacent behaviour to all women in general. This greatly
distinguished Tom from the boisterous brutality of mere country
squires on the one hand, and from the solemn and somewhat sullen
deportment of Master Blifil on the other; and he began now, at twenty,
to have the name of a pretty fellow among all the women in the
Tom behaved to Sophia with no particularity, unless perhaps by showing
her a higher respect than he paid to any other. This distinction her
beauty, fortune, sense, and amiable carriage, seemed to demand; but as
to design upon her person he had none; for which we shall at present
suffer the reader to condemn him of stupidity; but perhaps we shall be
able indifferently well to account for it hereafter.
Sophia, with the highest degree of innocence and modesty, had a
remarkable sprightliness in her temper. This was so greatly increased
whenever she was in company with Tom, that had he not been very young
and thoughtless, he must have observed it: or had not Mr Western's
thoughts been generally either in the field, the stable, or the
dog-kennel, it might have perhaps created some jealousy in him: but so
far was the good gentleman from entertaining any such suspicions, that
he gave Tom every opportunity with his daughter which any lover could
have wished; and this Tom innocently improved to better advantage, by
following only the dictates of his natural gallantry and good-nature,
than he might perhaps have done had he had the deepest designs on the
But indeed it can occasion little wonder that this matter escaped the
observation of others, since poor Sophia herself never remarked it;
and her heart was irretrievably lost before she suspected it was in
Matters were in this situation, when Tom, one afternoon, finding
Sophia alone, began, after a short apology, with a very serious face,
to acquaint her that he had a favour to ask of her which he hoped her
goodness would comply with.
Though neither the young man's behaviour, nor indeed his manner of
opening this business, were such as could give her any just cause of
suspecting he intended to make love to her; yet whether Nature
whispered something into her ear, or from what cause it arose I will
not determine; certain it is, some idea of that kind must have
intruded itself; for her colour forsook her cheeks, her limbs
trembled, and her tongue would have faltered, had Tom stopped for an
answer; but he soon relieved her from her perplexity, by proceeding to
inform her of his request; which was to solicit her interest on behalf
of the gamekeeper, whose own ruin, and that of a large family, must
be, he said, the consequence of Mr Western's pursuing his action
Sophia presently recovered her confusion, and, with a smile full of
sweetness, said, "Is this the mighty favour you asked with so much
gravity? I will do it with all my heart. I really pity the poor
fellow, and no longer ago than yesterday sent a small matter to his
wife." This small matter was one of her gowns, some linen, and ten
shillings in money, of which Tom had heard, and it had, in reality,
put this solicitation into his head.
Our youth, now, emboldened with his success, resolved to push the
matter farther, and ventured even to beg her recommendation of him to
her father's service; protesting that he thought him one of the
honestest fellows in the country, and extremely well qualified for the
place of a gamekeeper, which luckily then happened to be vacant.
Sophia answered, "Well, I will undertake this too; but I cannot
promise you as much success as in the former part, which I assure you
I will not quit my father without obtaining. However, I will do what I
can for the poor fellow; for I sincerely look upon him and his family
as objects of great compassion. And now, Mr Jones, I must ask you a
"A favour, madam!" cries Tom: "if you knew the pleasure you have given
me in the hopes of receiving a command from you, you would think by
mentioning it you did confer the greatest favour on me; for by this
dear hand I would sacrifice my life to oblige you."
He then snatched her hand, and eagerly kissed it, which was the first
time his lips had ever touched her. The blood, which before had
forsaken her cheeks, now made her sufficient amends, by rushing all
over her face and neck with such violence, that they became all of a
scarlet colour. She now first felt a sensation to which she had been
before a stranger, and which, when she had leisure to reflect on it,
began to acquaint her with some secrets, which the reader, if he doth
not already guess them, will know in due time.
Sophia, as soon as she could speak (which was not instantly), informed
him that the favour she had to desire of him was, not to lead her
father through so many dangers in hunting; for that, from what she had
heard, she was terribly frightened every time they went out together,
and expected some day or other to see her father brought home with
broken limbs. She therefore begged him, for her sake, to be more
cautious; and as he well knew Mr Western would follow him, not to ride
so madly, nor to take those dangerous leaps for the future.
Tom promised faithfully to obey her commands; and after thanking her
for her kind compliance with his request, took his leave, and departed
highly charmed with his success.
Poor Sophia was charmed too, but in a very different way. Her
sensations, however, the reader's heart (if he or she have any) will
better represent than I can, if I had as many mouths as ever poet
wished for, to eat, I suppose, those many dainties with which he was
so plentifully provided.
It was Mr Western's custom every afternoon, as soon as he was drunk,
to hear his daughter play on the harpsichord; for he was a great lover
of music, and perhaps, had he lived in town, might have passed for a
connoisseur; for he always excepted against the finest compositions of
Mr Handel. He never relished any music but what was light and airy;
and indeed his most favourite tunes were Old Sir Simon the King, St
George he was for England, Bobbing Joan, and some others.
His daughter, though she was a perfect mistress of music, and would
never willingly have played any but Handel's, was so devoted to her
father's pleasure, that she learnt all those tunes to oblige him.
However, she would now and then endeavour to lead him into her own
taste; and when he required the repetition of his ballads, would
answer with a "Nay, dear sir;" and would often beg him to suffer her
to play something else.
This evening, however, when the gentleman was retired from his bottle,
she played all his favourites three times over without any
solicitation. This so pleased the good squire, that he started from
his couch, gave his daughter a kiss, and swore her hand was greatly
improved. She took this opportunity to execute her promise to Tom; in
which she succeeded so well, that the squire declared, if she would
give him t'other bout of Old Sir Simon, he would give the gamekeeper
his deputation the next morning. Sir Simon was played again and again,
till the charms of the music soothed Mr Western to sleep. In the
morning Sophia did not fail to remind him of his engagement; and his
attorney was immediately sent for, ordered to stop any further
proceedings in the action, and to make out the deputation.
Tom's success in this affair soon began to ring over the country, and
various were the censures passed upon it; some greatly applauding it
as an act of good nature; others sneering, and saying, "No wonder that
one idle fellow should love another." Young Blifil was greatly enraged
at it. He had long hated Black George in the same proportion as Jones
delighted in him; not from any offence which he had ever received, but
from his great love to religion and virtue;--for Black George had the
reputation of a loose kind of a fellow. Blifil therefore represented
this as flying in Mr Allworthy's face; and declared, with great
concern, that it was impossible to find any other motive for doing
good to such a wretch.
Thwackum and Square likewise sung to the same tune. They were now
(especially the latter) become greatly jealous of young Jones with the
widow; for he now approached the age of twenty, was really a fine
young fellow, and that lady, by her encouragements to him, seemed
daily more and more to think him so.
Allworthy was not, however, moved with their malice. He declared
himself very well satisfied with what Jones had done. He said the
perseverance and integrity of his friendship was highly commendable,
and he wished he could see more frequent instances of that virtue.
But Fortune, who seldom greatly relishes such sparks as my friend Tom,
perhaps because they do not pay more ardent addresses to her, gave now
a very different turn to all his actions, and showed them to Mr
Allworthy in a light far less agreeable than that gentleman's goodness
had hitherto seen them in.
An apology for the insensibility of Mr Jones to all the charms of the
lovely Sophia; in which possibly we may, in a considerable degree,
lower his character in the estimation of those men of wit and
gallantry who approve the heroes in most of our modern comedies.
There are two sorts of people, who, I am afraid, have already
conceived some contempt for my heroe, on account of his behaviour to
Sophia. The former of these will blame his prudence in neglecting an
opportunity to possess himself of Mr Western's fortune; and the latter
will no less despise him for his backwardness to so fine a girl, who
seemed ready to fly into his arms, if he would open them to receive
Now, though I shall not perhaps be able absolutely to acquit him of
either of these charges (for want of prudence admits of no excuse; and
what I shall produce against the latter charge will, I apprehend, be
scarce satisfactory); yet, as evidence may sometimes be offered in
mitigation, I shall set forth the plain matter of fact, and leave the
whole to the reader's determination.
Mr Jones had somewhat about him, which, though I think writers are not
thoroughly agreed in its name, doth certainly inhabit some human
breasts; whose use is not so properly to distinguish right from wrong,
as to prompt and incite them to the former, and to restrain and
withhold them from the latter.
This somewhat may be indeed resembled to the famous trunk-maker in the
playhouse; for, whenever the person who is possessed of it doth what
is right, no ravished or friendly spectator is so eager or so loud in
his applause: on the contrary, when he doth wrong, no critic is so apt
to hiss and explode him.
To give a higher idea of the principle I mean, as well as one more
familiar to the present age; it may be considered as sitting on its
throne in the mind, like the Lord High Chancellor of this kingdom in
his court; where it presides, governs, directs, judges, acquits, and
condemns according to merit and justice, with a knowledge which
nothing escapes, a penetration which nothing can deceive, and an
integrity which nothing can corrupt.
This active principle may perhaps be said to constitute the most
essential barrier between us and our neighbours the brutes; for if
there be some in the human shape who are not under any such dominion,
I choose rather to consider them as deserters from us to our
neighbours; among whom they will have the fate of deserters, and not
be placed in the first rank.
Our heroe, whether he derived it from Thwackum or Square I will not
determine, was very strongly under the guidance of this principle; for
though he did not always act rightly, yet he never did otherwise
without feeling and suffering for it. It was this which taught him,
that to repay the civilities and little friendships of hospitality by
robbing the house where you have received them, is to be the basest
and meanest of thieves. He did not think the baseness of this offence
lessened by the height of the injury committed; on the contrary, if to
steal another's plate deserved death and infamy, it seemed to him
difficult to assign a punishment adequate to the robbing a man of his
whole fortune, and of his child into the bargain.
This principle, therefore, prevented him from any thought of making
his fortune by such means (for this, as I have said, is an active
principle, and doth not content itself with knowledge or belief only).
Had he been greatly enamoured of Sophia, he possibly might have
thought otherwise; but give me leave to say, there is great difference
between running away with a man's daughter from the motive of love,
and doing the same thing from the motive of theft.
Now, though this young gentleman was not insensible of the charms of
Sophia; though he greatly liked her beauty, and esteemed all her other
qualifications, she had made, however, no deep impression on his
heart; for which, as it renders him liable to the charge of stupidity,
or at least of want of taste, we shall now proceed to account.
The truth then is, his heart was in the possession of another woman.
Here I question not but the reader will be surprized at our long
taciturnity as to this matter; and quite at a loss to divine who this
woman was, since we have hitherto not dropt a hint of any one likely
to be a rival to Sophia; for as to Mrs Blifil, though we have been
obliged to mention some suspicions of her affection for Tom, we have
not hitherto given the least latitude for imagining that he had any
for her; and, indeed, I am sorry to say it, but the youth of both
sexes are too apt to be deficient in their gratitude for that regard
with which persons more advanced in years are sometimes so kind to
That the reader may be no longer in suspense, he will be pleased to
remember, that we have often mentioned the family of George Seagrim
(commonly called Black George, the gamekeeper), which consisted at
present of a wife and five children.
The second of these children was a daughter, whose name was Molly, and
who was esteemed one of the handsomest girls in the whole country.
Congreve well says there is in true beauty something which vulgar
souls cannot admire; so can no dirt or rags hide this something from
those souls which are not of the vulgar stamp.
The beauty of this girl made, however, no impression on Tom, till she
grew towards the age of sixteen, when Tom, who was near three years
older, began first to cast the eyes of affection upon her. And this
affection he had fixed on the girl long before he could bring himself
to attempt the possession of her person: for though his constitution
urged him greatly to this, his principles no less forcibly restrained
him. To debauch a young woman, however low her condition was, appeared
to him a very heinous crime; and the good-will he bore the father,
with the compassion he had for his family, very strongly corroborated
all such sober reflections; so that he once resolved to get the better
of his inclinations, and he actually abstained three whole months
without ever going to Seagrim's house, or seeing his daughter.
Now, though Molly was, as we have said, generally thought a very fine
girl, and in reality she was so, yet her beauty was not of the most
amiable kind. It had, indeed, very little of feminine in it, and would
have become a man at least as well as a woman; for, to say the truth,
youth and florid health had a very considerable share in the
Nor was her mind more effeminate than her person. As this was tall and
robust, so was that bold and forward. So little had she of modesty,
that Jones had more regard for her virtue than she herself. And as
most probably she liked Tom as well as he liked her, so when she
perceived his backwardness she herself grew proportionably forward;
and when she saw he had entirely deserted the house, she found means
of throwing herself in his way, and behaved in such a manner that the
youth must have had very much or very little of the heroe if her
endeavours had proved unsuccessful. In a word, she soon triumphed over
all the virtuous resolutions of Jones; for though she behaved at last
with all decent reluctance, yet I rather chuse to attribute the
triumph to her, since, in fact, it was her design which succeeded.
In the conduct of this matter, I say, Molly so well played her part,
that Jones attributed the conquest entirely to himself, and considered
the young woman as one who had yielded to the violent attacks of his
passion. He likewise imputed her yielding to the ungovernable force of
her love towards him; and this the reader will allow to have been a
very natural and probable supposition, as we have more than once
mentioned the uncommon comeliness of his person: and, indeed, he was
one of the handsomest young fellows in the world.
As there are some minds whose affections, like Master Blifil's, are
solely placed on one single person, whose interest and indulgence
alone they consider on every occasion; regarding the good and ill of
all others as merely indifferent, any farther than as they contribute
to the pleasure or advantage of that person: so there is a different
temper of mind which borrows a degree of virtue even from self-love.
Such can never receive any kind of satisfaction from another, without
loving the creature to whom that satisfaction is owing, and without
making its well-being in some sort necessary to their own ease.
Of this latter species was our heroe. He considered this poor girl as
one whose happiness or misery he had caused to be dependent on
himself. Her beauty was still the object of desire, though greater
beauty, or a fresher object, might have been more so; but the little
abatement which fruition had occasioned to this was highly
overbalanced by the considerations of the affection which she visibly
bore him, and of the situation into which he had brought her. The
former of these created gratitude, the latter compassion; and both,
together with his desire for her person, raised in him a passion which
might, without any great violence to the word, be called love; though,
perhaps, it was at first not very judiciously placed.
This, then, was the true reason of that insensibility which he had
shown to the charms of Sophia, and that behaviour in her which might
have been reasonably enough interpreted as an encouragement to his
addresses; for as he could not think of abandoning his Molly, poor and
destitute as she was, so no more could he entertain a notion of
betraying such a creature as Sophia. And surely, had he given the
least encouragement to any passion for that young lady, he must have
been absolutely guilty of one or other of those crimes; either of
which would, in my opinion, have very justly subjected him to that
fate, which, at his first introduction into this history, I mentioned
to have been generally predicted as his certain destiny.
Being the shortest chapter in this book.
Her mother first perceived the alteration in the shape of Molly; and
in order to hide it from her neighbours, she foolishly clothed her in
that sack which Sophia had sent her; though, indeed, that young lady
had little apprehension that the poor woman would have been weak
enough to let any of her daughters wear it in that form.
Molly was charmed with the first opportunity she ever had of showing
her beauty to advantage; for though she could very well bear to
contemplate herself in the glass, even when dressed in rags; and
though she had in that dress conquered the heart of Jones, and perhaps
of some others; yet she thought the addition of finery would much
improve her charms, and extend her conquests.
Molly, therefore, having dressed herself out in this sack, with a new
laced cap, and some other ornaments which Tom had given her, repairs
to church with her fan in her hand the very next Sunday. The great are
deceived if they imagine they have appropriated ambition and vanity to
themselves. These noble qualities flourish as notably in a country
church and churchyard as in the drawing-room, or in the closet.
Schemes have indeed been laid in the vestry which would hardly
disgrace the conclave. Here is a ministry, and here is an opposition.
Here are plots and circumventions, parties and factions, equal to
those which are to be found in courts.
Nor are the women here less practised in the highest feminine arts
than their fair superiors in quality and fortune. Here are prudes and
coquettes. Here are dressing and ogling, falsehood, envy, malice,
scandal; in short, everything which is common to the most splendid
assembly, or politest circle. Let those of high life, therefore, no
longer despise the ignorance of their inferiors; nor the vulgar any
longer rail at the vices of their betters.
Molly had seated herself some time before she was known by her
neighbours. And then a whisper ran through the whole congregation,
"Who is she?" but when she was discovered, such sneering, gigling,
tittering, and laughing ensued among the women, that Mr Allworthy was
obliged to exert his authority to preserve any decency among them.
A battle sung by the muse in the Homerican style, and which none but
the classical reader can taste.
Mr Western had an estate in this parish; and as his house stood at
little greater distance from this church than from his own, he very
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