Henry Fielding: The History of Tom Jones, a foundling

13. Chapter xiii. A dialogue between Jones and Partridge. (continued)

"By what I can see, Partridge," cries Jones, "hanging is a matter non longe alienum a Scaevolae studiis." "You should say alienus," says Partridge,--"I remember the passage; it is an example under communis, alienus, immunis, variis casibus serviunt." "If you do remember it," cries Jones, "I find you don't understand it; but I tell thee, friend, in plain English, that he who finds another's property, and wilfully detains it from the known owner, deserves, in foro conscientiae, to be hanged, no less than if he had stolen it. And as for this very identical bill, which is the property of my angel, and was once in her dear possession, I will not deliver it into any hands but her own, upon any consideration whatever, no, though I was as hungry as thou art, and had no other means to satisfy my craving appetite; this I hope to do before I sleep; but if it should happen otherwise, I charge thee, if thou would'st not incur my displeasure for ever, not to shock me any more by the bare mention of such detestable baseness."

"I should not have mentioned it now," cries Partridge, "if it had appeared so to me; for I'm sure I scorn any wickedness as much as another; but perhaps you know better; and yet I might have imagined that I should not have lived so many years, and have taught school so long, without being able to distinguish between fas et nefas; but it seems we are all to live and learn. I remember my old schoolmaster, who was a prodigious great scholar, used often to say, Polly matete cry town is my daskalon. The English of which, he told us, was, That a child may sometimes teach his grandmother to suck eggs. I have lived to a fine purpose, truly, if I am to be taught my grammar at this time of day. Perhaps, young gentleman, you may change your opinion, if you live to my years: for I remember I thought myself as wise when I was a stripling of one or two and twenty as I am now. I am sure I always taught alienus, and my master read it so before me."

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