Henry Fielding: The History of Tom Jones, a foundling

7. Chapter vii. Containing a remark or two... (continued)

"But how can he have any right to make us papishes?" says the landlord.

"Never fear that," cries Partridge. "As to the matter of right, the gentleman there hath proved it as clear as the sun; and as to the matter of religion, it is quite out of the case. The papists themselves don't expect any such thing. A popish priest, whom I know very well, and who is a very honest man, told me upon his word and honour they had no such design."

"And another priest, of my acquaintance," said the landlady, "hath told me the same thing; but my husband is always so afraid of papishes. I know a great many papishes that are very honest sort of people, and spend their money very freely; and it is always a maxim with me, that one man's money is as good as another's."

"Very true, mistress," said the puppet-show man, "I don't care what religion comes; provided the Presbyterians are not uppermost; for they are enemies to puppet-shows."

"And so you would sacrifice your religion to your interest," cries the exciseman; "and are desirous to see popery brought in, are you?"

"Not I, truly," answered the other; "I hate popery as much as any man; but yet it is a comfort to one, that one should be able to live under it, which I could not do among Presbyterians. To be sure, every man values his livelihood first; that must be granted; and I warrant, if you would confess the truth, you are more afraid of losing your place than anything else; but never fear, friend, there will be an excise under another government as well as under this."

"Why, certainly," replied the exciseman, "I should be a very ill man if I did not honour the king, whose bread I eat. That is no more than natural, as a man may say: for what signifies it to me that there would be an excise-office under another government, since my friends would be out, and I could expect no better than to follow them? No, no, friend, I shall never be bubbled out of my religion in hopes only of keeping my place under another government; for I should certainly be no better, and very probably might be worse."

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