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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. o 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 goodmess 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 Blifi! and Tom Jones, the consequence of which had been a bloody nose to the former; for though master Blifii, notwithstanding he was the younger, was in size above the othe 's match, yet Tom was much his superior at the loole 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 face.” w ‘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 to pieces.’ At this the fire flashed from Thwackum's eyes, and he cried out in triumph: “Oh! oh! 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 o' 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 him*self 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 otha" 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 George.” 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 general pardom. 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 the other. 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 that account. 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 things. 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 discoyery 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 poorspirited wretch, with other epithets of the like kind; whilst Tom was honoured with the appellation 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 were 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.