The History of Tom Jones HTML version
Containing About Three Weeks.
In our last book we have been obliged to deal pretty much with the passion of
love; and in our succeeding book shall be forced to handle this subject still more
largely. It may not therefore in this place be improper to apply ourselves to the
examination of that modern doctrine, by which certain philosophers, among many
other wonderful discoveries, pretend to have found out, that there is no such
passion in the human breast.
Whether these philosophers be the same with that surprising sect, who are
honourably mentioned by the late Dr Swift, as having, by the mere force of
genius alone, without the least assistance of any kind of learning, or even
reading, discovered that profound and invaluable secret that there is no God; or
whether they are not rather the same with those who some years since very
much alarmed the world, by showing that there were no such things as virtue or
goodness really existing in human nature, and who deduced our best actions
from pride, I will not here presume to determine. In reality, I am inclined to
suspect, that all these several finders of truth, are the very identical men who are
by others called the finders of gold. The method used in both these searches
after truth and after gold, being indeed one and the same, viz., the searching,
rummaging, and examining into a nasty place; indeed, in the former instances,
into the nastiest of all places, A BAD MIND.
But though in this particular, and perhaps in their success, the truth-finder and
the gold-finder may very properly be compared together; yet in modesty, surely,
there can be no comparison between the two; for who ever heard of a gold-finder
that had the impudence or folly to assert, from the ill success of his search, that
there was no such thing as gold in the world? whereas the truth-finder, having
raked out that jakes, his own mind, and being there capable of tracing no ray of
divinity, nor anything virtuous or good, or lovely, or loving, very fairly, honestly,
and logically concludes that no such things exist in the whole creation.
To avoid, however, all contention, if possible, with these philosophers, if they will
be called so; and to show our own disposition to accommodate matters
peaceably between us, we shall here make them some concessions, which may
possibly put an end to the dispute.
First, we will grant that many minds, and perhaps those of the philosophers, are
entirely free from the least traces of such a passion.
Secondly, that what is commonly called love, namely, the desire of satisfying a
voracious appetite with a certain quantity of delicate white human flesh, is by no
means that passion for which I here contend. This is indeed more properly
hunger; and as no glutton is ashamed to apply the word love to his appetite, and
to say he LOVES such and such dishes; so may the lover of this kind, with equal
propriety, say, he HUNGERS after such and such women.