Henry Fielding: The History of Tom Jones, a foundling

12. Chapter xii. In which the thirteenth book is concluded.

In which the thirteenth book is concluded.

The elegant Lord Shaftesbury somewhere objects to telling too much truth: by which it may be fairly inferred, that, in some cases, to lie is not only excusable but commendable.

And surely there are no persons who may so properly challenge a right to this commendable deviation from truth, as young women in the affair of love; for which they may plead precept, education, and above all, the sanction, nay, I may say the necessity of custom, by which they are restrained, not from submitting to the honest impulses of nature (for that would be a foolish prohibition), but from owning them.

We are not, therefore, ashamed to say, that our heroine now pursued the dictates of the above-mentioned right honourable philosopher. As she was perfectly satisfied then, that Lady Bellaston was ignorant of the person of Jones, so she determined to keep her in that ignorance, though at the expense of a little fibbing.

Jones had not been long gone, before Lady Bellaston cryed, "Upon my word, a good pretty young fellow; I wonder who he is; for I don't remember ever to have seen his face before."

"Nor I neither, madam," cries Sophia. "I must say he behaved very handsomely in relation to my note."

"Yes; and he is a very handsome fellow," said the lady: "don't you think so?"

"I did not take much notice of him," answered Sophia, "but I thought he seemed rather awkward, and ungenteel than otherwise."

"You are extremely right," cries Lady Bellaston: "you may see, by his manner, that he hath not kept good company. Nay, notwithstanding his returning your note, and refusing the reward, I almost question whether he is a gentleman.----I have always observed there is a something in persons well born, which others can never acquire.----I think I will give orders not to be at home to him."

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