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...
Mr Allworthy answered to all this, and much more, which the captain
had urged on this subject, "That, however guilty the parents might be,
the children were certainly innocent: that as to the texts he had
quoted, the former of them was a particular denunciation against the
Jews, for the sin of idolatry, of relinquishing and hating their
heavenly King; and the latter was parabolically spoken, and rather
intended to denote the certain and necessary consequences of sin, than
any express judgment against it. But to represent the Almighty as
avenging the sins of the guilty on the innocent, was indecent, if not
blasphemous, as it was to represent him acting against the first
principles of natural justice, and against the original notions of
right and wrong, which he himself had implanted in our minds; by which
we were to judge not only in all matters which were not revealed, but
even of the truth of revelation itself. He said he knew many held the
same principles with the captain on this head; but he was himself
firmly convinced to the contrary, and would provide in the same manner
for this poor infant, as if a legitimate child had had fortune to have
been found in the same place."
While the captain was taking all opportunities to press these and such
like arguments, to remove the little foundling from Mr Allworthy's, of
whose fondness for him he began to be jealous, Mrs Deborah had made a
discovery, which, in its event, threatened at least to prove more
fatal to poor Tommy than all the reasonings of the captain.
Whether the insatiable curiosity of this good woman had carried her on
to that business, or whether she did it to confirm herself in the good
graces of Mrs Blifil, who, notwithstanding her outward behaviour to
the foundling, frequently abused the infant in private, and her
brother too, for his fondness to it, I will not determine; but she had
now, as she conceived, fully detected the father of the foundling.
Now, as this was a discovery of great consequence, it may be necessary
to trace it from the fountain-head. We shall therefore very minutely
lay open those previous matters by which it was produced; and for that
purpose we shall be obliged to reveal all the secrets of a little
family with which my reader is at present entirely unacquainted; and
of which the oeconomy was so rare and extraordinary, that I fear it
will shock the utmost credulity of many married persons.