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.
2. Chapter ii. Religious cautions...
Religious cautions against showing too much favour to bastards; and a
great discovery made by Mrs Deborah Wilkins.
Eight months after the celebration of the nuptials between Captain
Blifil and Miss Bridget Allworthy, a young lady of great beauty,
merit, and fortune, was Miss Bridget, by reason of a fright, delivered
of a fine boy. The child was indeed to all appearances perfect; but
the midwife discovered it was born a month before its full time.
Though the birth of an heir by his beloved sister was a circumstance
of great joy to Mr Allworthy, yet it did not alienate his affections
from the little foundling, to whom he had been godfather, had given
his own name of Thomas, and whom he had hitherto seldom failed of
visiting, at least once a day, in his nursery.
He told his sister, if she pleased, the new-born infant should be bred
up together with little Tommy; to which she consented, though with
some little reluctance: for she had truly a great complacence for her
brother; and hence she had always behaved towards the foundling with
rather more kindness than ladies of rigid virtue can sometimes bring
themselves to show to these children, who, however innocent, may be
truly called the living monuments of incontinence.
The captain could not so easily bring himself to bear what he
condemned as a fault in Mr Allworthy. He gave him frequent hints, that
to adopt the fruits of sin, was to give countenance to it. He quoted
several texts (for he was well read in Scripture), such as, He visits
the sins of the fathers upon the children; and the fathers have eaten
sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge,&c. Whence he
argued the legality of punishing the crime of the parent on the
bastard. He said, "Though the law did not positively allow the
destroying such base-born children, yet it held them to be the
children of nobody; that the Church considered them as the children of
nobody; and that at the best, they ought to be brought up to the
lowest and vilest offices of the commonwealth."