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ledge affords much delightful contemplation, and is easily acquired; but the practice would be vexatious and troublesome ; and, therefore, the same wisdom which teaches them to know this, teaches them to avoid carrying it into execution. Mr. Square happened to be at church on that Sunday, when, as the reader may be pleased to remember, the appearance of Molly in her sack had caused all that disturbance. Here he first observed her, and was so pleased with her beauty, that he prevailed with the young gentlemen to change their intended ride that evening, that he might pass by the habitation of Molly, and by that means might obtain a second chance of seeing her. This reason, however, as he did not at that time mention to any, so neither did we think proper to communicate it then to the reader. Among other particulars which constituted the unfitness of things in Mr. Square's opinion, danger and difficulty were two. The difficulty therefore which he apprehended there might be in corrupting this young wench, and the danger which would accrue to his character on the discovery, were such strong dissuasives, that it is probable he at first intended to have contented himself with the pleasing ideas which the sight of beauty furnishes us with. These the gravest men, after a full meal of serious meditation, often allow themselves by way of dessert: for which purpose, certain books and pictures find their way into the most private recesses of their study, and a certain liquorish part of natural philosophy is often the principal subject of their conversation. But when the philosopher heard, a day or two asterwards, that the fortress of virtue had already been subdued, he began to give a larger scope to his desires. His appetite was not of that squeamish kind which cannot feed on a dainty because another hath tasted it. In short, he liked the girl the better for the want of that chastity, which, if she had possessed it, must have been a bar to his pleasures; he pursued and obtained her. The reader will be mistaken, if he thinks Molly gave Square the preference to her younger lover: on the contrary, had she been confined to the choice of one only, Tom Jones would undoubtedly have been, of the two, the victorious person. Nor was it solely the consideration that two are better than one (though this had its proper weight) to which Mr. Square owed his success: the absence of Jones during his confinement was an unlucky circumstance; and in that interval, some well chosen presents from the philosopher so softened and unguarded the girl's heart, that a favourable opportunity became irresistible, and Square triumphed over the poor remains of virtue which subsisted in the bosom of Molly. It was now about a fortnight since this conquest, when Jones paid the above-mentioned visit to his mistress, at a time when she and Square were in bed together. This was the true reason why the mother denied her as we have seen; for as the old woman shared in the profits arising from the iniquity of her daughter, she encouraged and protected her in it to the utmost of her power; but such was the envy and hatred which the eldest sister bore towards Molly, that, notwithstanding she had some part of the booty, she would willingly have parted with this to ruin her sister and spoil her trade. Hence she had acquainted Jones with her being above stairs in bed, in hopes that he might have caught her in Square's arms. This, however, Molly found means to prevent, as the door was fastened; which gave her an opportunity of conveying her lover behind that rug or blanket where he now was unhappily discovered. o no sooner made his appearance than Molly flung herself back in her bed, cried out she was undone, and abandoned herself to despair. This poor girl, who was yet but a novice in her business, f A FOUNDLING. 231 had not arrived to that perfection of assurance which helps off a town lady in any extremity; and either prompts her with an excuse, or else inspires her to brazen out the matter with her husband; who, from love of quiet, or out of fear of his reputation, and sometimes, perhaps, from fear of the gallant, who, like Mr. Constant in the play, wears a sword, is glad to shut his eyes, and contented to put his horns in his pocket. Molly, on the contrary, was silenced by this evidence, and very fairly gave up a cause which she had hitherto maintained with so many tears, and with such solemn and vehement protestations of the purest love and constancy. As to the gentleman behind the arras, he was not in much less consternation. He stood for a while motionless, and seemed equally at a loss what to say, or whither to direct his eyes. Jones, though perhaps the most astonished of the three, first found his tongue; and, being immediately recovered from those uneasy sensations which Molly by her upbraidings had occasioned, he burst into a loud laughter, and then saluting Mr. Square, advanced to take him by the hand, and to relieve him from his place of confinement. Square, being now arrived in the middle of the room, in which part only he could stand upright, looked at Jones with a very grave countenance, and said to him, ‘Well, sir, I see you enjoy this mighty “discovery, and, I dare swear, take great delight in “ the thoughts of exposing me; but if you will con‘sider the matter fairly, you will find you are your“self only to blame. I am not guilty of corrupting ‘innocence. I have done nothing for which that “ part of the world which judges of matters by the ‘ rule of right, will condemn me. Fitness is go“verned by the nature of things, and not by cus‘toms, forms, or municipal laws. Nothing is indeed * unfit which is not unnatural.”—“Well reasoned, ‘old boy,' answered Jones; ‘ but why dost thou
* think that I should desire to expose thee? I pro‘mise thee, I was never better pleased with thee in “my life; and unless thou hast a mind to discover it ‘thyself, this affair may remain a profound secret ‘ for me.”—“Nay, Mr. Jones,' replied Square, ‘I ‘ would not be thought to undervalue reputation. * Good fame is a species of the Kalon, and it is by * no means fitting to neglect it. Besides, to murder ‘ one's own reputation is a kind of suicide, a detest‘ able and odious vice. If you think proper, there* fore, to conceal any infirmity of mine (for such I * may have, since no man is perfectly perfect), I “promise you I will not betray myself. Things “may be fitting to be done, which are not fitting to * be boasted of; for by the perverse judgement of * the world, that often becomes the subject of cen‘sure, which is, in truth, not only innocent but ‘ laudable.”— Right !' cries Jones: “what can be * more innocent than the indulgence of a natural * appetite? or what more laudable than the propa‘gation of our species?”—“To be serious with you,' answered Square, ‘ I profess they always appeared ‘ so to me.”—“And yet,' said Jones, “ you was of a * different opinion when my affair with this girl was * first discovered.”—“Why, I must confess,’ says Square, “as the matter was misrepresented to me ‘by that parson Thwackum, I might condemn the • ‘corruption of innocence: it was that, sir, it was ‘ that—and that—: for you must know, Mr. Jones, “in the consideration of fitness, very minute circum“stances, sir, very minute circumstances cause great ‘ alteration.”—“Well, cries Jones, “be that as it * will, it shall be your own fault, as I have promised * you, if you ever hear any more of this adventure. “Behave kindly to the girl, and I will never open “my lips concerning the matter to any one. And, * Molly, do you be faithful to your friend, and I ‘will not only forgive your infidelity to me, but ‘will do you all the service I can.” So saying, he - - ,”
took a hasty leave, and, slipping down the ladder, retired with much expedition.
Square was rejoiced to find this adventure was likely to have no worse conclusion; and as for Molly, being recovered from her confusion, she began at first to upbraid Square with having been the occasion of her loss of Jones; but that gentleman soon found the means of mitigating her anger, partly by caresses, and partly by a small nostrum from his purse, of wonderful and approved efficacy in purging off the ill humours of the mind, and in restoring it to a good temper.
She then poured forth a vast profusion of tendermess towards her new lover; turned all she had said to Jones, and Jones himself, into ridicule; and vowed, though he once had the possession of her person, that none but Square had ever been master of her heart.
By comparing which with the former, the reader may possibly correct some abuse which he hath formerly been guilty of in the application of the word Love.
THE infidelity of Molly, which Jones had now discovered, would, perhaps, have vindicated a much greater degree of resentment than he expressed on the occasion; and if he had abandoned her directly from that moment, very few, I believe, would have blamed him. Certain, however, it is, that he saw her in the light of compassion; and though his love to her was not of that kind which could give him any great uneasiness at her inconstancy, yet was he not a little shocked on reflecting that he had himself originally corrupted her innocence; for to this corruption he imputed all the vice into which she appeared now so likely to plunge herself.