BOOK IV. CONTAINING THE TIME OF A YEAR.
11. Chapter xi. The narrow escape of Molly Seagrim...
The narrow escape of Molly Seagrim, with some observations for which
we have been forced to dive pretty deep into nature.
Tom Jones had ridden one of Mr Western's horses that morning in the
chase; so that having no horse of his own in the squire's stable, he
was obliged to go home on foot: this he did so expeditiously that he
ran upwards of three miles within the half-hour.
Just as he arrived at Mr Allworthy's outward gate, he met the
constable and company with Molly in their possession, whom they were
conducting to that house where the inferior sort of people may learn
one good lesson, viz., respect and deference to their superiors; since
it must show them the wide distinction Fortune intends between those
persons who are to be corrected for their faults, and those who are
not; which lesson if they do not learn, I am afraid they very rarely
learn any other good lesson, or improve their morals, at the house of
A lawyer may perhaps think Mr Allworthy exceeded his authority a
little in this instance. And, to say the truth, I question, as here
was no regular information before him, whether his conduct was
strictly regular. However, as his intention was truly upright, he
ought to be excused in foro conscientiae; since so many arbitrary
acts are daily committed by magistrates who have not this excuse to
plead for themselves.
Tom was no sooner informed by the constable whither they were
proceeding (indeed he pretty well guessed it of himself), than he
caught Molly in his arms, and embracing her tenderly before them all,
swore he would murder the first man who offered to lay hold of her. He
bid her dry her eyes and be comforted; for, wherever she went, he
would accompany her. Then turning to the constable, who stood
trembling with his hat off, he desired him, in a very mild voice, to
return with him for a moment only to his father (for so he now called
Allworthy); for he durst, he said, be assured, that, when he had
alledged what he had to say in her favour, the girl would be