BOOK III. CONTAINING THE MOST MEMORABLE TRANSACTIONS WHICH PASSED IN THE FAMILY OF MR ALLWORTHY, FROM THE TIME WHEN TOMMY JONES ARRIVED AT THE AGE OF FOURTEEN, TILL HE ATTAINED THE AGE OF NINETEEN. IN THIS BOOK THE READER MAY PICK UP SOME HINTS CONCERNING
3. Chapter iii. The character of Mr Square the philosopher...
The character of Mr Square the philosopher, and of Mr Thwackum the
divine; with a dispute concerning----
The name of this gentleman, who had then resided some time at Mr
Allworthy's house, was Mr Square. His natural parts were not of the
first rate, but he had greatly improved them by a learned education.
He was deeply read in the antients, and a profest master of all the
works of Plato and Aristotle. Upon which great models he had
principally formed himself; sometimes according with the opinion of
the one, and sometimes with that of the other. In morals he was a
profest Platonist, and in religion he inclined to be an Aristotelian.
But though he had, as we have said, formed his morals on the Platonic
model, yet he perfectly agreed with the opinion of Aristotle, in
considering that great man rather in the quality of a philosopher or a
speculatist, than as a legislator. This sentiment he carried a great
way; indeed, so far, as to regard all virtue as matter of theory only.
This, it is true, he never affirmed, as I have heard, to any one; and
yet upon the least attention to his conduct, I cannot help thinking it
was his real opinion, as it will perfectly reconcile some
contradictions which might otherwise appear in his character.
This gentleman and Mr Thwackum scarce ever met without a disputation;
for their tenets were indeed diametrically opposite to each other.
Square held human nature to be the perfection of all virtue, and that
vice was a deviation from our nature, in the same manner as deformity
of body is. Thwackum, on the contrary, maintained that the human mind,
since the fall, was nothing but a sink of iniquity, till purified and
redeemed by grace. In one point only they agreed, which was, in all
their discourses on morality never to mention the word goodness. The
favourite phrase of the former, was the natural beauty of virtue; that
of the latter, was the divine power of grace. The former measured all
actions by the unalterable rule of right, and the eternal fitness of
things; the latter decided all matters by authority; but in doing
this, he always used the scriptures and their commentators, as the
lawyer doth his Coke upon Lyttleton, where the comment is of equal
authority with the text.