BOOK V. CONTAINING A PORTION OF TIME SOMEWHAT LONGER THAN HALF A YEAR.
6. Chapter vi. By comparing which with the former...
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.
This consideration gave him no little uneasiness, till Betty, the
elder sister, was so kind, some time afterwards, entirely to cure him
by a hint, that one Will Barnes, and not himself, had been the first
seducer of Molly; and that the little child, which he had hitherto so
certainly concluded to be his own, might very probably have an equal
title, at least, to claim Barnes for its father.
Jones eagerly pursued this scent when he had first received it; and in
a very short time was sufficiently assured that the girl had told him
truth, not only by the confession of the fellow, but at last by that
of Molly herself.
This Will Barnes was a country gallant, and had acquired as many
trophies of this kind as any ensign or attorney's clerk in the
kingdom. He had, indeed, reduced several women to a state of utter
profligacy, had broke the hearts of some, and had the honour of
occasioning the violent death of one poor girl, who had either drowned
herself, or, what was rather more probable, had been drowned by him.
Among other of his conquests, this fellow had triumphed over the heart
of Betty Seagrim. He had made love to her long before Molly was grown
to be a fit object of that pastime; but had afterwards deserted her,
and applied to her sister, with whom he had almost immediate success.
Now Will had, in reality, the sole possession of Molly's affection,
while Jones and Square were almost equally sacrifices to her interest
and to her pride.