Henry Fielding: The History of Tom Jones, a foundling

6. Chapter vi. Containing great variety of matter. (continued)

This excellent method of conveying a falsehood with the heart only, without making the tongue guilty of an untruth, by the means of equivocation and imposture, hath quieted the conscience of many a notable deceiver; and yet, when we consider that it is Omniscience on which these endeavour to impose, it may possibly seem capable of affording only a very superficial comfort; and that this artful and refined distinction between communicating a lie, and telling one, is hardly worth the pains it costs them.

Allworthy was pretty well satisfied with what Mr Western and Mr Blifil told him: and the treaty was now, at the end of two days, concluded. Nothing then remained previous to the office of the priest, but the office of the lawyers, which threatened to take up so much time, that Western offered to bind himself by all manner of covenants, rather than defer the happiness of the young couple. Indeed, he was so very earnest and pressing, that an indifferent person might have concluded he was more a principal in this match than he really was; but this eagerness was natural to him on all occasions: and he conducted every scheme he undertook in such a manner, as if the success of that alone was sufficient to constitute the whole happiness of his life.

The joint importunities of both father and son-in-law would probably have prevailed on Mr Allworthy, who brooked but ill any delay of giving happiness to others, had not Sophia herself prevented it, and taken measures to put a final end to the whole treaty, and to rob both church and law of those taxes which these wise bodies have thought proper to receive from the propagation of the human species in a lawful manner. Of which in the next chapter.

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