Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. IV. Eighteenth Century
By Henry Fielding (17071754)
THE DOCTORS answer was, that he would wait on the lady directly; and then, turning to his friend, he asked him if he would not take a walk in the park before dinner. I must go, says he, to the lady who was with us last night; for I am afraid, by her letter, some bad accident hath happened to her. Come, young gentleman, I spoke a little too hastily to you just now; but I ask your pardon. Some allowance must be made to the warmth of your blood. I hope we shall in time both think alike.
The old gentleman made his friend another compliment; and the young one declared he hoped he should always think, and act too, with the dignity becoming his cloth. After which the doctor took his leave for a while, and went to Amelias lodgings.
As soon as he was gone the old gentleman fell very severely on his son. Tom, says he, how can you be such a fool to undo, by your perverseness, all that I have been doing? Why will you not learn to study mankind with the attention which I have employed to that purpose? Do you think, if I had affronted this obstinate old fellow as you do, I should ever have engaged his friendship?
I cannot help it, sir, said Tom: I have not studied six years at the University to give up my sentiments to every one. It is true, indeed, he put together a set of sounding words; but, in the main, I never heard any one talk more foolishly.
What of that? cries the father; I never told you he was a wise man, nor did I ever think him so. If he had any understanding, he would have been a bishop long ago, to my certain knowledge. But, indeed, he hath been always a fool in private life; for I question whether he is worth £100 in the world, more than his annual income. He hath given away above half his fortune to the Lord knows who. I believe I have had above £200 of him, first and last; and would you lose such a milch-cow as this for want of a few compliments? Indeed, Tom, thou art as great a simpleton as himself. How do you expect to rise in the church if you cannot temporise and give into the opinions of your superiors?
I dont know, sir, cries Tom, what you mean by my superiors. In one sense, I own, a doctor of divinity is superior to a bachelor of arts, and so far I am ready to allow his superiority; but I understand Greek and Hebrew as well as he, and will maintain my opinion against him, or any other in the schools.
Tom, cries the old gentleman, till thou gettest the better of thy conceit I shall never have any hopes of thee. If thou art wise, thou wilt think every man thy superior of whom thou canst get anything; at least thou wilt persuade him that thou thinkest so, and that is sufficient. Tom, Tom, thou hast no policy in thee.
What have I been learning these seven years, answered he, in the University? However, father, I can account for your opinion. It is the common failing of old men to attribute all wisdom to themselves. Nestor did it long ago; but if you will inquire my character at college, I fancy you will not think I want to go to school again.
The father and the son then went to take their walk, during which the former repeated many good lessons of policy to his son, not greatly perhaps to his edification. In truth, if the old gentlemans fondness had not in a great measure blinded him to the imperfections of his son, he would have soon perceived that he was sowing all his instructions in a soil so choked with self-conceit that it was utterly impossible they should ever bear any fruit.