Henry Fielding: The History of Tom Jones, a foundling

10. Chapter x. In which Mr Jones and Mr Dowling... (continued)

"Ay! ay!" cries Dowling; "I protest, then, it is a pity such a person should inherit the great estate of your uncle Allworthy."

"Alas, sir," cries Jones, "you do me an honour to which I have no title. It is true, indeed, his goodness once allowed me the liberty of calling him by a much nearer name; but as this was only a voluntary act of goodness, I can complain of no injustice when he thinks proper to deprive me of this honour; since the loss cannot be more unmerited than the gift originally was. I assure you, sir, I am no relation of Mr Allworthy; and if the world, who are incapable of setting a true value on his virtue, should think, in his behaviour to me, he hath dealt hardly by a relation, they do an injustice to the best of men: for I--but I ask your pardon, I shall trouble you with no particulars relating to myself; only as you seemed to think me a relation of Mr Allworthy, I thought proper to set you right in a matter that might draw some censures upon him, which I promise you I would rather lose my life than give occasion to."

"I protest, sir," cried Dowling, "you talk very much like a man of honour; but instead of giving me any trouble, I protest it would give me great pleasure to know how you came to be thought a relation of Mr Allworthy's, if you are not. Your horses won't be ready this half-hour, and as you have sufficient opportunity, I wish you would tell me how all that happened; for I protest it seems very surprizing that you should pass for a relation of a gentleman, without being so."

Jones, who in the compliance of his disposition (though not in his prudence) a little resembled his lovely Sophia, was easily prevailed on to satisfy Mr Dowling's curiosity, by relating the history of his birth and education, which he did, like Othello.

          ------Even from his boyish years,
      To th' very moment he was bad to tell:

the which to hear, Dowling, like Desdemona, did seriously incline;

     He swore 'twas strange, 'twas passing strange;
     'Twas pitiful, 'twas wonderous pitiful.

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