BOOK VI. CONTAINING ABOUT THREE WEEKS.
3. Chapter iii. Containing two defiances to the critics.
To say the truth, in discovering the deceit of others, it matters much
that our own art be wound up, if I may use the expression, in the same
key with theirs: for very artful men sometimes miscarry by fancying
others wiser, or, in other words, greater knaves, than they really
are. As this observation is pretty deep, I will illustrate it by the
following short story. Three countrymen were pursuing a Wiltshire
thief through Brentford. The simplest of them seeing "The Wiltshire
House," written under a sign, advised his companions to enter it, for
there most probably they would find their countryman. The second, who
was wiser, laughed at this simplicity; but the third, who was wiser
still, answered, "Let us go in, however, for he may think we should
not suspect him of going amongst his own countrymen." They accordingly
went in and searched the house, and by that means missed overtaking
the thief, who was at that time but a little way before them; and who,
as they all knew, but had never once reflected, could not read.
The reader will pardon a digression in which so invaluable a secret is
communicated, since every gamester will agree how necessary it is to
know exactly the play of another, in order to countermine him. This
will, moreover, afford a reason why the wiser man, as is often seen,
is the bubble of the weaker, and why many simple and innocent
characters are so generally misunderstood and misrepresented; but what
is most material, this will account for the deceit which Sophia put on
her politic aunt.
Dinner being ended, and the company retired into the garden, Mr
Western, who was thoroughly convinced of the certainty of what his
sister had told him, took Mr Allworthy aside, and very bluntly
proposed a match between Sophia and young Mr Blifil.
Mr Allworthy was not one of those men whose hearts flutter at any
unexpected and sudden tidings of worldly profit. His mind was, indeed,
tempered with that philosophy which becomes a man and a Christian. He
affected no absolute superiority to all pleasure and pain, to all joy
and grief; but was not at the same time to be discomposed and ruffled
by every accidental blast, by every smile or frown of fortune. He
received, therefore, Mr Western's proposal without any visible
emotion, or without any alteration of countenance. He said the
alliance was such as he sincerely wished; then launched forth into a
very just encomium on the young lady's merit; acknowledged the offer
to be advantageous in point of fortune; and after thanking Mr Western
for the good opinion he had professed of his nephew, concluded, that
if the young people liked each other, he should be very desirous to
complete the affair.