Henry Fielding. (17071754). The History of Tom Jones.
The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction. 1917.
Book IV. Containing the Time of a Year
VII. Being the Shortest Chapter in This Book
HER mother first perceived the alteration in the shape of Molly; and in order to hide it from her neighbours, she foolishly clothed her in that sack which Sophia had sent her; though, indeed, that young lady had little apprehension that the poor woman would have been weak enough to let any of her daughters wear it in that form.
Molly was charmed with the first opportunity she ever had of showing her beauty to advantage; for though she could very well bear to contemplate herself in the glass, even when dressed in rags; and though she had in that dress conquered the heart of Jones, and perhaps of some others; yet she thought the addition of finery would much improve her charms, and extend her conquests.
Molly, therefore, having dressed herself out in this sack, with a new laced cap, and some other ornaments which Tom had given her, repairs to church with her fan in her hand the very next Sunday. The great are deceived if they imagine they have appropriated ambition and vanity to themselves. These noble qualities flourish as notably in a country church and churchyard as in the drawing-room, or in the closet. Schemes have indeed been laid in the vestry which would hardly disgrace the conclave. Here is a ministry, and here in an opposition. Here are plots and circumventions, parties and factions, equal to those which are to be found in courts.
Nor are the women here less practised in the highest feminine arts than their fair superiors in quality and fortune. Here are prudes and coquettes. Here are dressing and ogling, falsehood, envy, malice, scandal; in short, everything which is common to the most splendid assembly, or politest circle. Let those of high life, therefore, no longer despise the ignorance of their inferiors; nor the vulgar any longer rail at the vices of their betters.
Molly had seated herself some time before she was known by her neighbours. And then a whisper ran through the whole congregation, Who is she? but when she was discovered, such sneering, giggling, tittering, and laughing ensued among the women, that Mr. Allworthy was obliged to exert his authority to preserve any decency among them.