Henry Fielding: The History of Tom Jones, a foundling

10. Chapter x. In which Mr Jones and Mr Dowling... (continued)

Mr Dowling was indeed very greatly affected with this relation; for he had not divested himself of humanity by being an attorney. Indeed, nothing is more unjust than to carry our prejudices against a profession into private life, and to borrow our idea of a man from our opinion of his calling. Habit, it is true, lessens the horror of those actions which the profession makes necessary, and consequently habitual; but in all other instances, Nature works in men of all professions alike; nay, perhaps, even more strongly with those who give her, as it were, a holiday, when they are following their ordinary business. A butcher, I make no doubt, would feel compunction at the slaughter of a fine horse; and though a surgeon can feel no pain in cutting off a limb, I have known him compassionate a man in a fit of the gout. The common hangman, who hath stretched the necks of hundreds, is known to have trembled at his first operation on a head: and the very professors of human blood-shedding, who, in their trade of war, butcher thousands, not only of their fellow-professors, but often of women and children, without remorse; even these, I say, in times of peace, when drums and trumpets are laid aside, often lay aside all their ferocity, and become very gentle members of civil society. In the same manner an attorney may feel all the miseries and distresses of his fellow-creatures, provided he happens not to be concerned against them.

Jones, as the reader knows, was yet unacquainted with the very black colours in which he had been represented to Mr Allworthy; and as to other matters, he did not shew them in the most disadvantageous light; for though he was unwilling to cast any blame on his former friend and patron; yet he was not very desirous of heaping too much upon himself. Dowling therefore observed, and not without reason, that very ill offices must have been done him by somebody: "For certainly," cries he, "the squire would never have disinherited you only for a few faults, which any young gentleman might have committed. Indeed, I cannot properly say disinherited: for to be sure by law you cannot claim as heir. That's certain; that nobody need go to counsel for. Yet when a gentleman had in a manner adopted you thus as his own son, you might reasonably have expected some very considerable part, if not the whole; nay, if you had expected the whole, I should not have blamed you: for certainly all men are for getting as much as they can, and they are not to be blamed on that account."

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