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.
7. Chapter vii. A short sketch of that felicity...
It is possible, however, that Mr Allworthy saw enough to render him a
little uneasy; for we are not always to conclude, that a wise man is
not hurt, because he doth not cry out and lament himself, like those
of a childish or effeminate temper. But indeed it is possible he might
see some faults in the captain without any uneasiness at all; for men
of true wisdom and goodness are contented to take persons and things
as they are, without complaining of their imperfections, or attempting
to amend them. They can see a fault in a friend, a relation, or an
acquaintance, without ever mentioning it to the parties themselves, or
to any others; and this often without lessening their affection.
Indeed, unless great discernment be tempered with this overlooking
disposition, we ought never to contract friendship but with a degree
of folly which we can deceive; for I hope my friends will pardon me
when I declare, I know none of them without a fault; and I should be
sorry if I could imagine I had any friend who could not see mine.
Forgiveness of this kind we give and demand in turn. It is an exercise
of friendship, and perhaps none of the least pleasant. And this
forgiveness we must bestow, without desire of amendment. There is,
perhaps, no surer mark of folly, than an attempt to correct the
natural infirmities of those we love. The finest composition of human
nature, as well as the finest china, may have a flaw in it; and this,
I am afraid, in either case, is equally incurable; though,
nevertheless, the pattern may remain of the highest value.
Upon the whole, then, Mr Allworthy certainly saw some imperfections in
the captain; but as this was a very artful man, and eternally upon his
guard before him, these appeared to him no more than blemishes in a
good character, which his goodness made him overlook, and his wisdom
prevented him from discovering to the captain himself. Very different
would have been his sentiments had he discovered the whole; which
perhaps would in time have been the case, had the husband and wife
long continued this kind of behaviour to each other; but this kind
Fortune took effectual means to prevent, by forcing the captain to do
that which rendered him again dear to his wife, and restored all her
tenderness and affection towards him.