Henry Fielding. (17071754). The History of Tom Jones.
The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction. 1917.
Book VII. Containing Three Days
II. Containing a Conversation Which Mr. Jones Had with Himself
JONES received his effects from Mr. Allworthys early in the morning, with the following answer to his letter:
SIR,I am commanded by my uncle to acquaint you, that as he did not proceed to those measures he had taken with you, without the greatest deliberation, and after the fullest evidence of your unworthiness, so will it be always out of your power to cause the least alteration in his resolution. He expresses great surprize at your presumption in saying you have resigned all pretensions to a young lady, to whom it is impossible you should ever have had any, her birth and fortune having made her so infinitely your superior. Lastly, I am commanded to tell you, that the only instance of your complaince with my uncles inclinations which he requires, is your immediately quitting this country. I cannot conclude this without offering you my advice, as a Christian, that you would seriously think of amending your life. That you may be assisted with grace so to do, will be always the prayer of
Many contending passions were raised in our heroes mind by this letter; but the tender prevailed at last over the indignant and irascible, and a flood of tears came seasonably to his assistance, and possibly prevented his misfortunes from either turning his head, or bursting his heart.
He grew, however, soon ashamed of indulging this remedy; and starting up, he cried, Well, then, I will give Mr. Allworthy the only instance he requires of my obedience. I will go this momentbut whither?why. let Fortune direct; since there is no other who thinks it of any consequence what becomes of this wretched person, it shall be a matter of equal indifference to myself. Shall I alone regard what no otherHa! have I not reason to think there is another? one whose value is above that of the whole world!I may, I must imagine my Sophia is not indifferent to what becomes of me. Shall I then leave this only friendand such a friend? Shall I not stay with her?Wherehow can I stay with her? Have I any hopes of ever seeing her, though she was as desirous as myself, without exposing her to the wrath of her father, and to what purpose? Can I think of soliciting such a creature to consent to her own ruin? Shall I indulge any passion of mine at such a price? Shall I lurk about this country like a thief, with such intentions?No, I disdain, I detest the thought. Farewel, Sophia; farewel, most lovely, most beloved Here passion stopped his mouth, and found a vent at his eyes.
And now having taken a resolution to leave the country, he began to debate with himself whither he should go. The world, as Milton phrases it, lay all before him; and Jones, no more than Adam, had any man to whom he might resort for comfort or assistance. All his acquaintances were the acquaintance of Mr. Allworthy; and he had no reason to expect any countenance from them, as that gentleman had withdrawn his favour from him. Men of great and good characters should indeed be very cautious how they discard their dependents; for the consequence to the unhappy sufferer is being discarded by all others.
What course of life to pursue, or to what business to apply himself, was a second consideration: and here the prospect was all a melancholy void. Every profession, and every trade, required length of time, and what was worse, money; for matters are so constituted, that nothing out of nothing is not a truer maxim in physics than in politics; and every man who is greatly destitute of money, is on that account entirely excluded from all means of acquiring it.
At last the Ocean, that hospitable friend to the wretched, opened her capacious arms to receive him; and he instantly resolved to accept her kind invitation. To express myself less figuratively, he determined to go to sea.