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
4. Chapter iv. Containing a necessary apology for the author...
Containing a necessary apology for the author; and a childish
incident, which perhaps requires an apology likewise.
Before I proceed farther, I shall beg leave to obviate some
misconstructions into which the zeal of some few readers may lead
them; for I would not willingly give offence to any, especially to men
who are warm in the cause of virtue or religion.
I hope, therefore, no man will, by the grossest misunderstanding or
perversion of my meaning, misrepresent me, as endeavouring to cast any
ridicule on the greatest perfections of human nature; and which do,
indeed, alone purify and ennoble the heart of man, and raise him above
the brute creation. This, reader, I will venture to say (and by how
much the better man you are yourself, by so much the more will you be
inclined to believe me), that I would rather have buried the
sentiments of these two persons in eternal oblivion, than have done
any injury to either of these glorious causes.
On the contrary, it is with a view to their service, that I have taken
upon me to record the lives and actions of two of their false and
pretended champions. A treacherous friend is the most dangerous enemy;
and I will say boldly, that both religion and virtue have received
more real discredit from hypocrites than the wittiest profligates or
infidels could ever cast upon them: nay, farther, as these two, in
their purity, are rightly called the bands of civil society, and are
indeed the greatest of blessings; so when poisoned and corrupted with
fraud, pretence, and affectation, they have become the worst of civil
curses, and have enabled men to perpetrate the most cruel mischiefs to
their own species.
Indeed, I doubt not but this ridicule will in general be allowed: my
chief apprehension is, as many true and just sentiments often came
from the mouths of these persons, lest the whole should be taken
together, and I should be conceived to ridicule all alike. Now the
reader will be pleased to consider, that, as neither of these men were
fools, they could not be supposed to have holden none but wrong
principles, and to have uttered nothing but absurdities; what
injustice, therefore, must I have done to their characters, had I
selected only what was bad! And how horribly wretched and maimed must
their arguments have appeared!