BOOK II. CONTAINING SCENES OF MATRIMONIAL FELICITY IN DIFFERENT DEGREES OF LIFE; AND VARIOUS OTHER TRANSACTIONS DURING THE FIRST TWO YEARS AFTER THE MARRIAGE BETWEEN CAPTAIN BLIFIL AND MISS BRIDGET ALLWORTHY.
6. Chapter vi. The trial of Partridge, the schoolmaster...
The trial of Partridge, the schoolmaster, for incontinency; the
evidence of his wife; a short reflection on the wisdom of our law;
with other grave matters, which those will like best who understand
It may be wondered that a story so well known, and which had furnished
so much matter of conversation, should never have been mentioned to Mr
Allworthy himself, who was perhaps the only person in that country who
had never heard of it.
To account in some measure for this to the reader, I think proper to
inform him, that there was no one in the kingdom less interested in
opposing that doctrine concerning the meaning of the word charity,
which hath been seen in the preceding chapter, than our good man.
Indeed, he was equally intitled to this virtue in either sense; for as
no man was ever more sensible of the wants, or more ready to relieve
the distresses of others, so none could be more tender of their
characters, or slower to believe anything to their disadvantage.
Scandal, therefore, never found any access to his table; for as it
hath been long since observed that you may know a man by his
companions, so I will venture to say, that, by attending to the
conversation at a great man's table, you may satisfy yourself of his
religion, his politics, his taste, and indeed of his entire
disposition: for though a few odd fellows will utter their own
sentiments in all places, yet much the greater part of mankind have
enough of the courtier to accommodate their conversation to the taste
and inclination of their superiors.
But to return to Mrs Wilkins, who, having executed her commission with
great dispatch, though at fifteen miles distance, brought back such a
confirmation of the schoolmaster's guilt, that Mr Allworthy determined
to send for the criminal, and examine him viva voce. Mr Partridge,
therefore, was summoned to attend, in order to his defence (if he
could make any) against this accusation.
At the time appointed, before Mr Allworthy himself, at Paradise-hall,
came as well the said Partridge, with Anne, his wife, as Mrs Wilkins