Part 3 out of 6
the Loire. We all felt that we had been betrayed, and the old officers,
pale with anger, wept in their misery. Paris in the hands of the
Prussians! Besides, were we to go to the other side of the Loire at the
command of Bluecher?
Desertions began that very day, and I said to Buche, "Let us return to
Phalsbourg and Harberg, and take up our work, and live like honest men."
About fifty of us from Alsace-Lorraine were in the battalion, and we set
off together on the road to Strasbourg.
On July 8 we heard that Louis XVIII. was to come back, and already the
white banner of the Bourbons was being displayed in the villages.
In some places there were rascals who called us Buonapartists, and
gendarmes who took us to the town hall and made us shout "Vive le Roi!"
Buche and some of the old soldiers hated this; but what did it matter
who was king, and what these fools wanted us to shout?
Our little company got smaller and smaller as men halted in their own
villages, and when, on July 16, we reached Phalsbourg, Buche and I were
Buche went on to break the news of my return, but I could not wait, and
ran after him.
I heard people saying, "There's Joseph, Bertha," and in a moment I was
in the house, and in Catherine's arms. Then I embraced M. Goulden, and
an hour later Aunt Gredel arrived.
Jean Buche would not stay and dine with us, but hurried home to Harberg.
I have often seen him since; and Zebede, too, who remained in the army.
Many insulting things were said about us by the Pinacles, but I had
happiness in my family circle, especially when Catherine presented me
with a little Joseph.
I am an old man now, but M. Goulden always said the principles of
freedom and liberty would triumph, and I have lived long enough to see
his words come true.
* * * * *
Romance of a Poor Young Man
Octave Feuillet, born at Saint Lo, in France, on August 11,
1821, was the son of a Norman gentleman who regarded
literature as an ignoble profession. When Octave ran away to
Paris in order to pursue a literary career, his father refused
to help him, and for some years the young writer had a very
hard struggle. But on taking to novel-writing, Feuillet
quickly acquired fame and fortune. His "Romance of a Poor
Young Man" ("Le Roman d'un Jeune Homme Pauvre"), which
appeared in 1858, made him the most popular author of the day.
Standing midway between the novelists of the romantic school
and the writers of the realistic movement, he combined a sense
of the poetry of life with a gift for analysing the finer
shades of feeling. The plot of the "Romance of a Poor Young
Man" is certainly extraordinary; but in the present case some
allowance must be made for the fact that the hero is induced
to accept the humble position in which he finds himself by his
old family lawyer, who secretly designs to marry him to the
daughter of his new employers. A scheme of this sort would not
Strike a French reader as improbable, for marriage in France
is often more a business arrangement than a love affair.
Feuillet spent the latter part of his life in retirement, and
died on December 29, 1890.
_I.--A Nobleman in Difficulties_
Here I am, then, in the situation that Lawyer Laubepin obtained for me.
I am alone at last, thank goodness, sitting in a gloomy room in this old
Breton castle, in which the former steward to the Laroque family used to
live. My position is certainly very strange, but as Laubepin was
discreet, and did not tell his clients that he was sending them a new
steward in the person of the young Marquis of Champcey, perhaps I shall
not find my post very difficult. I was afraid that the Laroques were a
family of the vulgarly rich sort, like the dreadful persons who have
bought my father's lands. Laroque is a picturesque figure in his old
age, and though his widowed daughter-in-law is rather more commonplace,
his grand-daughter, Marguerite Laroque, is a nobly beautiful girl.
If it were not for my accursed pride, I should now feel happier than I
have ever felt since that day of disaster, misery, and shame when
Laubepin told me that my poor dead father had lost his fortune in
speculations, and left nothing but his title and his debts. Well, I have
paid the debts, and if I can now only earn enough money to keep my
little sister Helene at school, I shall not grumble at my lot. I feel
the loss of my friends, it is true. There is not a soul I can confide
in, and I must find some outlet for the thoughts and feelings that
oppress me; so I will keep this diary.
It will be at least a silent confidant, and perhaps when I am older I
shall be able to read with a certain pleasurable interest its record of
my singular adventures. No other man in France, on May 1, 1857, can have
been transformed so suddenly, as by the wand of a witch, from a powerful
and wealthy young nobleman of ancient lineage into a humble and despised
domestic servant. Perhaps a good fairy will appear and restore me to my
proper shape; but I wish she had appeared at dinner this evening. There
were twenty guests, and it was the first time since the change of my
fortunes that I took part in a society affair. Nobody spoke to me,
except the pretty little governess of the family, Mlle. Helouin; and we
were placed at the end of the table. The position of honour was given to
a young and brilliant nobleman, M. de Bevallan, whose estate joined that
of the Laroque family. I gathered from Mlle. Helouin that it was his
ambition to unite the two estates by marrying Mlle. Marguerite Laroque.
I was, therefore, surprised when the lovely heiress led her grandfather
into the room when everybody was seated, placed him in a chair by
Bevallan, and came and sat by my side.
"She can't," I thought to myself, "be much in love with her wooer," and
I began to study her with a certain curiosity. Her fine, clear-cut
features and large dark eyes attracted me; and by way of opening the
conversation I spoke of the wildly beautiful scenery through which I had
passed on my way to the castle. It was a bad beginning.
"I see," she said, with a singular expression of irony, "that you are a
poet. You must talk about the forests and moorlands with Mlle. Helouin,
who also adores these things. For my part I do not love them."
"What is it, then, that you really love?" I said.
She gave me a supercilious look and said, in a hard voice, "Nothing,
I must confess I was hurt. I could not see that I had done anything to
lay myself open to so harsh an answer. No doubt I was only a servant.
But why had she come and sat beside me if she did not want to talk? I
was glad when the dinner was over and we went into the drawing-room.
Madame Laroque, the widowed mother of Marguerite, began to ask M.
Bevallan about the new opera in Paris; he was unable to reply, so, as I
had seen the work in Italy before it was produced in France, I gave her
a description of it. I am afraid I forgot myself with Madame Laroque--a
fine-looking, cultivated woman of forty years of age. Flattered by the
way in which she treated me entirely as her equal, I insensibly glided
from theatrical topics to fashionable gossip, and just stopped in time
in an anecdote about my tour in Russia. A few more words and she would
have learnt that her humble steward, Maxime Odiot--as I am now called--
was a man with very aristocratic connections.
In order to hide my embarrassment, I moved towards the table where some
of the guests were playing whist. This led to my committing a blunder
which, I fear, may make my position a difficult one. Among the whist-
players was a Mlle. de Porhoet-Gael, eighty-eight years of age and full
of strange crotchets. The last descendant of the noblest of Breton
families, she lived, so Madame Laroque told me, on an income of forty
pounds a year, her fortune having been spent in vainly fighting for the
succession to a great estate in Spain. She was talking about it to her
partner when I came up.
"The estate belongs to me," she was saying. "My father told me so a
hundred times, and the persons who are trying to take it from me have no
more connection with my family than this handsome young gentleman has."
And she designated me with a look and a movement of her head. No doubt
she did not mean to imply that because I was a steward I was of mean
birth; but I was stung by her remark, and forgetting myself, I replied
rather sharply, "You are mistaken, madam, in thinking that I am
unrelated to your family."
"You will have to prove that to me, young man."
Confused and ashamed, I withdrew into the corner and tried to talk to
Mlle. Helouin about poetry and art, but at last, upset and distracted, I
arose and walked out of the room. Mlle. de Porhoet followed me.
"Monsieur Odiot," she said, "would you mind seeing me home? My servant
has not arrived, and I am growing too feeble now to walk without help."
Naturally, I went with her.
"What did you mean," she said, as we walked on together, "by claiming to
be a relation of mine?"
"I hope," I replied very humbly, "that you will pardon a jest that--"
"A jest!" she interrupted. "Is a matter touching my honour a jest? I
see; a remark which would be an insult if addressed to a man becomes
only a jest when it is levelled at an old, unprotected woman."
After that, nothing was left to me, as a man of honour, but to entrust
her with my secret. There had been several marriages between our
families, and after listening with great interest to the story of my
troubles, she became wonderfully kind in her manner to me.
"You must come and see me to-morrow, cousin," she said, when we parted.
"My law-suit is going very badly and I should like you to go through all
my papers, and see if you can discover any new documents in support of
my claim. Do not despair, my dear, over your own misfortunes. I think I
shall be able to help you."
_II.--Love and Jealousy_
I am afraid I lack the industry necessary for keeping a diary. It is now
two months since I wrote the last entry. If I had made every night a
brief note of the events of the day, I should now have a better view of
my position. Has Mlle. de Porhoet betrayed my secret? There has
certainly been a curious change in my relations with the Laroques. I
fancy it began on the day when Marguerite and I met at last on an equal
footing at Mlle. de Porhoet's house. The document which I had just then
found may not be as important as we thought, but our common joy in what
we considered was a discovery of tremendous value brought us closer
But I cannot understand Marguerite. Sometimes she still goes out of her
way to be insulting towards me, and sometimes she treats me with a sweet
frankness which has something sisterly in it. One day, for instance, she
came to my window and asked me if I would go for a walk with her. "Bring
your sketch-book, Monsieur Odiot," she called out gaily, "and I will
take you to Merlin's Tomb in the Enchanted Valley."
As a matter of fact, the woods around the castle of the Laroques were
the remains of the famous forest of Broceliande, and I had always been
promising myself a long ramble through this region of romance, but I had
never found time to explore it. I was now glad I had waited, for
Marguerite was a charming guide. Never had I seen her so light-hearted.
When we reached a great block of stone in the depth of the wood, under
which the wizard Merlin is said to be imprisoned by Vivien, Marguerite
made herself a garland of oak-leaves, and standing like a lovely
priestess clad all in white against the Druidic monument, she asked me
to make a sketch of her. With what joy did I paint the poetic vision
before me! I think she was pleased with the drawing, but on our way back
to the castle a foolish word of mine brought our friendship to an end.
We came to a picturesque little lake, at the end of which was a
waterfall, overgrown with brambles. In order to show what a good swimmer
her dog was, Marguerite threw something in the current and told him to
fetch it, but he got carried over the waterfall and caught in the
"Come away! He is drowning--come away! I can't bear to see it!" cried
Marguerite, seizing me by the arm. "No, do not attempt to save him. The
pool is very dangerous."
I am a good swimmer, however, and with a little trouble I managed to
rescue the dog.
"What madness!" she murmured. "You might have been drowned, and just for
"It was yours," I answered in a low voice.
Her manner at once changed.
"You had better run home, Monsieur Odiot," she said very coldly, "or you
will get a chill. Do not wait for me."
So I returned alone, and for some days Marguerite never spoke a word to
me. What was still worse, M. Bevallan appeared at the castle, and she
went for walks with him, leaving me in the company of Mlle. Helouin. I
am afraid that I became very friendly with the pretty governess.
Nothing, however, that I ever said to her, or that she said to me,
prepared me for the strange scene that happened to-night. As I was
walking along the terrace, she came up and took my arm, and said, "Are
you really my friend, Maxime?"
"Yes," I said.
"Then tell me the truth," she exclaimed. "Do you love me, or do you love
"Why do you bring in her name?" I said.
"Ah, you love her!" she cried fiercely; "or, rather, you love her
fortune. But you shall never have it, Monsieur de Champcey. I know why
you came here under a false name, and so shall she."
With a movement of anger she departed. I cannot continue here under
suspicion of being a fortune-hunter, so I have written to Laubepin to
obtain another situation for me.
_III.--Two on a Tower_
It is all over. Was it because she still only half believed the slanders
spread against me that Marguerite again asked me to go for a walk with
her? Oh, what an unfortunate wretch I am! We rode through the forest
together to one of the most magnificent monuments in Brittany, the
Castle of Elven. Finding the door unlocked, we tethered our horses in
the deserted courtyard, and climbed up the narrow, winding staircase to
the battlements. The sea of autumnal foliage below was bathed in the
light of the setting sun, and for a long time we sat side by side in
silence, gazing at the infinite distances.
"Come!" she said at last, in a low whisper, as the light died out of the
sky. "It is finished!"
But on descending the dark staircase we found that the door of the keep
was locked. No doubt the shepherd boy who looked after the castle had
come and shut up the place while we were sitting, watching the sunset.
"Monsieur de Champcey," she said, in a cold, hard voice, "were there any
scoundrels in your family before you?"
"Marguerite!" I cried.
"You paid that boy to lock us in," she exclaimed. "You think you will
force me to marry you by compromising me in this manner. Do you think
you will win my hand--and, what is more important to you still, my
wretched wealth--by this trick? Rather than marry a scoundrel like you,
I will shut myself up in a convent!"
Carried away by my feelings, I seized her two hands, and said, "Now
listen, Marguerite. I love you, it is true. Never did man love more
devotedly, yes, and more disinterestedly, than I do. But I swear that if
I get out of this place alive I will never marry you until you are as
poor as I am, or I as rich as you are. If you love me, as I think you
do, fall on your knees and pray, for unless a miracle happens you will
never see me again alive."
But a miracle did happen. I threw myself out of the window, and fell
upon a branch of an oak-tree. It bent beneath my weight, and then broke;
but it came so near the earth before breaking that if my left arm had
not struck against the masonry I should have escaped uninjured. As it
was, my arm was smashed, and I swooned away with the pain. When I came
to, Marguerite was leaning out of the window, calling, "Maxime, speak to
me! For the love of heaven, speak to me, and say you pardon me!"
I arose, saying, "I am not hurt. If you will only wait another hour, I
will go home and get some one to let you out. Believe me, I will save
your honour as I have saved my own."
Binding up my arm, I got on my horse, and galloped back to Laroque
Castle. On the way I met Bevallan.
"Have you seen Mlle. Marguerite?" he said. "We are afraid she has got
"I met her this afternoon," I replied. "She told me she was going for a
ride to Elven Castle."
He rode off in the direction from which I had come, and when I returned
from the doctor with my broken arm set and bandaged, Marguerite and
Hearing that I had had an accident, Madame Laroque came up late to-night
to see me. Old Laroque has had a stroke of paralysis, she tells me, and
she wishes to get the marriage contract between her daughter and
Bevallan signed to-morrow. Laubepin is bringing the document.
_IV.---A Test Case_
I don't know why I take the trouble to go on with this diary, but having
begun it I may as well finish it. Laubepin wanted me to go into the
drawing-room to witness the signing of the marriage contract, but
happily I was too ill to leave my bed; not only was my arm very painful,
but I was suffering from the shock of the fall. What an hour of misery I
passed before Mlle. de Porhoet-Gael appeared with the news of what had
happened! Her sweet, kind old eyes were bright with joy.
"It is all over," she said. "Bevallan has gone, and young Helouin has
also been turned out of the house."
I started up with surprise.
"Yes," she continued, with a smile, "the contract has not been signed.
Our friend Laubepin drew it up in such a way that the husband was not
able to touch a penny of the wife's money. M. Bevallan objected to this;
while he and his lawyer were arguing the matter with Laubepin,
Marguerite rose up.
"'Throw the contract in the fire,' she said, 'and, mother, give this
gentleman back the presents he sent to me.'
"Laubepin threw the deed in the flames, and Marguerite and her mother
walked out of the room.
"'What is the meaning of this?' cried Bevallan.
"'I will tell you,' I answered. 'A certain young lady was afraid that
you were merely a fortune-hunter. She wanted to be certain of it, and
now she is so.'
"Thereupon I, too, left the room.
"But what is the matter with you, my dear boy? You are as pale as a
The fact was that the unexpected news aroused in me such a mixture of
joyful and painful feelings that I fell back in a swoon. When I
recovered, dear old Laubepin was standing by my bed.
"Will you not confide in me, my boy?" he said rather sadly. "Something,
I can see, has happened which has made you miserable on the very day on
which you should be full of joy. What is it?"
Moved by his sympathy, I gave him this diary to read, and poured out my
very soul to him.
"It is useless for me," he said at last, "to conceal from you the fact
that I sent you here with the design to marry you to Marguerite.
Everything at first went as well as I could wish, and Madame Laroque was
delighted with the match. You and Marguerite were made for each other,
and you fell in love almost at first sight. But this affair at the
Castle of Elven is something I had not reckoned on. To leap out of the
window at the risk of breaking your neck was, my romantic young friend,
a sufficient demonstration of your disinterestedness. You need not have
taken a solemn oath never to marry Marguerite until you were as rich as
she is. What can you do now? You cannot forswear yourself, and you
cannot suddenly make an immense fortune."
"I must depart with you," I said very sorrowfully. "There is no other
"No, Maxime," he replied, "you are too unwell to move. Remain here for
one month longer; then, if you do not hear from me, return to Paris."
It is now a week since he left me, and I have seen no one for the last
seven days but the servant who waits upon me. He tells me that Laroque
has died, and that Marguerite and her mother, who have been tending him
night and day, have worn themselves out, and are now laid up with some
sort of fever. Mlle. de Porhoet is also very ill, and not expected to
live. Since I am well enough to walk over to Mlle. de Porhoet. I am told
that she keeps asking to see me.
_V.--Two in a Garden_
The little maid who came to open the door was weeping, and as I came in
I was surprised to hear the voice of Laubepin.
"It is Maxime, Marguerite," he said.
Had Marguerite also risen up from a bed of sickness to see Mlle. de
Porhoet? I sprang up the stairs, and entered the room.
"My poor, dear boy!" said Mlle. de Porhoet, in a strange, broken voice.
She was lying in bed. Laubepin, a priest, and a doctor were standing on
one side, and Marguerite and her mother were kneeling down in prayer on
the other. I saw at once that she was at the point of death, and knelt
down beside Marguerite. The poor dying woman smiled faintly, and groped
for my hand and put it in Marguerite's, and then fell back on the
pillow. She was dead.
Laubepin led me out of the room, and put a document in my hand. It was a
will, and the ink on it was hardly dry. Mlle. de Porhoet had made me her
"How good of her!" I said to Laubepin. "I shall treasure her testament
as a mark of her love for me. I will settle her little estate on my
sister. It will at least keep Helene from having to go out into the
world as a governess."
"And it will keep you, my friend, from having to go out into the world
as a steward," said Laubepin, with a smile. "Don't you remember that
document about the Spanish succession which you discovered and sent to
me? We have won the law-suit, and you are the heir to an estate in Spain
which will make you one of the richest men in France."
I went into the garden to think over my strange fortune. How long I sat
there in the darkness I do not know. On rising up, I heard a faint sound
beneath one of the trees, and a beloved form emerged from the foliage,
and stood against the starry sky.
"Marguerite!" I cried, running up to her with outstretched arm.
She murmured my name, and as I clasped her her lips sought mine, and we
poured our souls out in a kiss.
* * * * *
I have given Helene half of my fortune. Marguerite is my wife, and I
close these pages for ever, having nothing more to confide to them. It
can be said of men, as it has been said of nations, "Happy are those
that have no story."
* * * * *
Henry Fielding was born at Sharpham Park, near Glastonbury,
England, April 12, 1707. His father, a grandson of the Earl of
Desmond, and great-grandson of the first Earl of Denbigh,
settled in England shortly after the battle of Ramillies as a
country squire. In due course, Fielding was sent to Eton, and
afterwards to Leyden, where he remained for two years studying
civil law. Financial difficulties, however, put a temporary
end to his intention of entering the Bar, and in 1727 he
solved the problem of a career by beginning to write for the
stage. During the next nine years some eighteen of his plays
were produced. In 1748 he was appointed a justice of peace for
Westminster, and his writings on police and crime are of
interest to this day. "Amelia" was published in 1751, when its
author was a magistrate at Bow Street. In a dedicatory letter,
Fielding explained that the book was "sincerely designed to
promote the cause of virtue, and to expose some of the most
glaring evils, as well public as private, which at present
infest the country." The licentiousness of wealthy "men about
town," the corruption of justice, the abuses of the prison
system, the lack of honour concerning marriage--these are some
of the "glaring evils" exposed with all the great novelist's
power in "Amelia." In the characters of Dr. Harrison and
Amelia herself, the virtuous man and woman are drawn so
clearly that they inevitably win the reader's sympathy.
"Amelia" does not equal the genius of "Tom Jones," but it is
remarkable for being so largely devoted to the adventures of a
married couple, instead of ending at marriage. Fielding died
on October 8, 1754.
_I.--The Inside of a Prison_
On the first of April, in the year--, the watchmen of a certain parish
in Westminster brought several persons, whom they had apprehended the
preceding night, before Jonathan Thrasher, Esq., one of the justices of
the peace for that city.
Among the prisoners a young fellow, whose name was Booth, was charged
with beating the watchman in the execution of his office, and breaking
his lantern. The justice perceiving the criminal to be but shabbily
dressed, was going to commit him without asking any further questions,
but at the earnest request of the accused the worthy magistrate
submitted to hear his defence.
The young man then alleged that as he was walking home to his lodgings
he saw two men in the street cruelly beating a third, upon which he had
stopped and endeavoured to assist the person who was so unequally
attacked; that the watch came up during the affray, and took them all
four into custody; that they were immediately carried to the
round-house, where the two original assailants found means to make up
the matter, and were discharged by the constable, a favour which he
himself, having no money in his pocket, was unable to obtain. He utterly
denied having assaulted any of the watchmen, and solemnly declared that
he was offered his liberty at the price of half a crown.
Though the bare word of an offender can never be taken against the oath
of his accuser, yet the magistrate might have employed some labour in
cross-examining the watchman, or at least have given the defendant time
to send for the other persons who were present at the affray; neither of
which he did.
Booth and the poor man in whose defence he had been engaged were both
dispatched to prison under a guard of watchmen.
Mr. Booth was no sooner arrived in the prison than a number of persons
gathered around him, all demanding garnish. The master or keeper of the
prison then acquainted him that it was the custom of the place for every
prisoner, upon his first arrival there, to give something to the former
prisoners to make them drink. This was what they called garnish. Mr.
Booth answered that he would readily comply with this laudable custom,
were it in his power; but that in reality he had not a shilling in his
pocket, and, what was worse, he had not a shilling in the world. Upon
which the keeper departed, and left poor Booth to the mercy of his
companions, who, without loss of time, stripped him of his coat and hid
Mr. Booth was too weak to resist and too wise to complain of his usage.
He summoned his philosophy to his assistance, and resolved to make
himself as easy as possible under his present circumstances.
On the following day, Miss Matthews, an old acquaintance whom he had not
seen for some years, was brought into the prison, and Booth was shortly
afterwards invited to the room this lady had engaged. Miss Matthews,
having told her story, requested Booth to do the same, and to this he
_II.--Captain Booth Tells His Story_
"From the first I was in love with Amelia; but my own fortune was so
desperate, and hers was entirely dependent on her mother, a woman of
violent passions, and very unlikely to consent to a match so highly
contrary to the interest of her daughter, that I endeavoured to refrain
from any proposal of love. I had nothing more than the poor provision of
an ensign's commission to depend on, and the thought of leaving my
Amelia to starve alone, deprived of her mother's help, was intolerable
"In spite of this I could not keep from telling Amelia the state of my
heart, and I soon found all that return of my affection which the
tenderest lover can require. Against the opposition of Amelia's mother,
Mrs. Harris, to our engagement, we had the support of that good man, Dr.
Harrison, the rector; and at last Mrs. Harris yielded to the doctor, and
we were married. There was an agreement that I should settle all my
Amelia's fortune on her, except a certain sum, which was to be laid out
in my advancement in the army, and shortly afterwards I was preferred to
the rank of a lieutenant in my regiment, and ordered to Gibraltar. I
noticed that Amelia's sister, Miss Betty, who had said many ill-natured
things of our marriage, now again became my friend.
"At the siege of Gibraltar I was very badly wounded, and in this
situation the image of my Amelia haunted me day and night. Two months
and more I continued in a state of uncertainty; when one afternoon poor
Atkinson, my servant, came running to my room. I asked him what was the
matter, when Amelia herself rushed into the room, and ran hastily to me.
She gently chided me for concealing my illness from her, saying, 'Oh,
Mr. Booth! And do you think so little of your Amelia as to think I could
or would survive you?' Amelia then informed me that she had received a
letter from an unknown hand, acquainting her with my misfortune, and
advising her, if she desired to see me more, to come directly to
"From the time of Amelia's arrival nothing remarkable happened till my
perfect recovery; and then the siege being at an end, and Amelia being
in some sort of fever, the governor gave me leave to attend my wife to
Montpelier, the air of which was judged to be most likely to restore her
"A fellow-officer, Captain James, willingly lent me money, and, after an
ample recovery at Montpelier, and a stay in Paris, we returned to
England. It was in Paris we received a long letter from Dr. Harrison,
enclosing L100, and containing the news that Mrs. Harris was dead, and
had left her whole fortune to Miss Betty. So now it was that I was a
married man with children, and the half-pay of a lieutenant.
"Dr. Harrison, at whose rectory we were staying, came to our assistance.
He asked me if I had any prospect of going again into the army; if not,
what scheme of life I proposed to myself.
"I told him that as I had no powerful friends, I could have but little
expectations in a military way; that I was incapable of thinking of any
other scheme, for I was without the necessary knowledge or experience,
and was likewise destitute of money to set up with.
"The doctor, after a little hesitation, said he had been thinking on
this subject, and proposed to me to turn farmer. At the same time he
offered to let me his parsonage, which was then become vacant; he said
it was a farm which required but little stock, and that little should
not be wanting.
"I embraced this offer very eagerly, and Amelia received the news with
the highest transports of joy. Thus, you see me degraded from my former
rank in life; no longer Captain Booth, but Farmer Booth.
"For a year all went well; love, health, and tranquillity filled our
lives. Then a heavy blow befell us, and we were robbed of our dear
friend the doctor, who was chosen to attend the young lord, the son of
the patron of the living, in his travels as a tutor.
"By this means I was bereft not only of the best companion in the world,
but of the best counsellor, and in consequence of this loss I fell into
"The first of these was in enlarging my business by adding a farm of one
hundred a year to the parsonage, in renting which I had also as bad a
bargain as the doctor had before given me a good one. The consequence of
which was that whereas at the end of the first year I was L80 to the
good, at the end of the second I was nearly L40 to the bad.
"A second folly I was guilty of was in uniting families with the curate
of the parish, who had just married. We had not, however, lived one
month together before I plainly perceived the curate's wife had taken a
great prejudice against my wife, though my Amelia had treated her with
nothing but kindness, and, with the mischievous nature of envy, spread
dislike against us.
"My greatest folly, however, was the purchase of an old coach. The
farmers and their wives considered that the setting up of a coach was
the elevating ourselves above them, and immediately began to declare war
against us. The neighbouring little squires, too, were uneasy to see a
poor renter become their equal in a matter in which they placed so much
dignity, and began to hate me likewise.
"My neighbours now began to conspire against me. Whatever I bought, I
was sure to buy dearer, and when I sold, I was obliged to sell cheaper
than any other. In fact, they were all united; and while they every day
committed trespasses on my lands with impunity, if any of my cattle
escaped into their fields I was either forced to enter into a law-suit
or to make amends for the damage sustained.
"The consequence of all this could be no other than ruin. Before the end
of four years I became involved in debt to the extent of L300. My
landlord seized my stock for rent, and, to avoid immediate confinement
in prison, I was forced to leave the country.
"In this condition I arrived in town a week ago. I had just taken a
lodging, and had written my dear Amelia word where she might find me;
and that very evening, as I was returning from a coffee-house, because I
endeavoured to assist the injured party in an affray, I was seized by
the watch and committed here by a justice of the peace."
_III.--Amelia in London_
Miss Matthews, being greatly drawn to Captain Booth, procured his
discharge by the expenditure of L20, and obtained her own release at the
Amelia arrived in London to receive her husband in her arms. "For," said
she, "your confinement was known all over the county, my sister having
spread the news with a malicious joy; and so, not hearing from you, I
hastened to town with our children."
Poor Booth, in spite of his release, was very cast down. Seeing tears in
his eyes at the sight of his children, Amelia, embracing him with
rapturous fondness, cried out, "My dear Billy, let nothing make you
uneasy. Heaven will provide for us and these poor babes. Great fortunes
are not necessary to happiness. Make yourself easy, my dear love, for
you have a wife who will think herself happy with you, and endeavour to
make you so, in any situation. Fear nothing, Billy; industry will always
provide us a wholesome meal."
Booth, who was naturally of a sanguine temper, took the cue she had
given him, but he could not help reproaching himself as the cause of all
her wretchedness. This it was that enervated his heart and threw him
into agonies, which all that profusion of heroic tenderness that the
most excellent of women intended for his comfort served only to heighten
and aggravate: as the more she rose in his admiration, the more she
quickened the sense of his unworthiness.
His affairs did not prosper; in vain he solicited a commission in the
army. With no great man to back him, and with his friend, Captain James
(now a colonel, and in London), too taken up with his own affairs to
exert any influence on behalf of Booth, it seemed as though no escape
from misery was possible. The beautiful Amelia, always patient and
cheerful, remained his comforter. And Atkinson, now a sergeant in the
guards, was the devoted servant of both Amelia and her husband.
Then one morning, when Amelia was out, Booth was arrested for debt and
carried to the bailiff's house in Gray's Inn Lane.
"Who has done this barbarous action?" cries Amelia, when the news is
told her by Sergeant Atkinson.
"One I am ashamed to name," cries the sergeant; "indeed, I had always a
very different opinion of him; but Dr. Harrison is the man who has done
"Dr. Harrison!" cries Amelia. "Well, then, there is an end of all
goodness in the world. I will never have a good opinion of any human
The fact was that while the doctor was abroad he had received from the
curate, and from a gentleman of the neighbourhood, accounts of Booth's
doings very much to his disadvantage. On his return to the parish these
accusations were confirmed by many witnesses, and the whole
neighbourhood rang with several gross and scandalous lies, which were
merely the inventions of Booth's enemies. Poisoned with all this malice,
the doctor came to London, and calling at Booth's lodgings, when both
the captain and Amelia were out, learnt from the servant-maid that the
children had got a gold watch and several fine trinkets. These presents,
indeed, had come from a certain noble lord, who hoped by these means to
win Amelia's affection; but no suspicion of his evil desire had entered
the innocent mind of Amelia.
The doctor had no doubt that these trinkets had been purchased by
Amelia; and this account tallied so well with the ideas he had imbibed
of Booth's extravagance in the country, that he firmly believed both the
husband and wife to be the vainest, silliest and most unjust people
But no sooner did the doctor hear that Booth was arrested than the
wretched condition of his wife and children began to affect his mind. In
this temper of mind he resolved to pay Amelia a second visit, and was on
his way thither when Sergeant Atkinson met him, and made himself known
The doctor received from Atkinson such an account of Booth and his
family that he hastened at once to Amelia, and soon became satisfied
concerning the trinkets which had given him so much uneasiness. Amelia
likewise gave the doctor some satisfaction as to what he had heard of
her husband's behaviour In the country, and assured him, upon her
honour, that Booth could answer every complaint against his conduct, so
that the doctor would find him an innocent, unfortunate man, the object
of a good man's compassion, not of his anger or resentment.
This worthy clergyman, who was not desirous of finding proofs to condemn
the captain, rejoiced heartily in every piece of evidence which tended
to clear up the character of his friend, and gave a ready ear to all
which Amelia said.
Induced, indeed, by the love he always had for that lady, whom he was
wont to call his daughter, as well as by pity for her present condition,
the doctor immediately endeavoured to comfort the afflicted, and then
proceeded to accomplish the captain's release.
"So, captain," says the doctor, on arrival at the bailiff's house, "when
last we met I believe that we neither of us expected to meet in such a
place as this."
"Indeed, doctor," cries Booth, "I did not expect to have been sent
hither by the gentleman who did me this favour."
"How so, sir!" said the doctor. "You were sent hither by some person, I
suppose, to whom you were indebted. But you ought to be more surprised
that the gentleman who sent you thither is come to release you."
_IV.--Fortune Smiles on Amelia_
Booth was again arrested some months later, and lodged in the bailiff's
house. This time his creditor was a Captain Trent, who had lent him
money, and promised him assistance in getting returned to the army. In
reality, Trent was only seeking to ingratiate himself with Amelia, and
meeting with no encouragement, took his revenge accordingly.
Amelia at once sought out Dr. Harrison, and told him what had occurred
to her husband; and the doctor set forwards to the bailiff's to see what
he could do for Booth.
The doctor had not got so much money in town as Booth's debt amounted
to, and therefore he was forced to give bail to the action.
While the necessary forms were being made out, the bailiff, addressing
himself to the doctor, said, "Sir, there is a man above in a dying
condition that desires the favour of speaking to you. I believe he wants
you to pray by him."
Without making any further inquiry, the doctor immediately went
The sick man mentioned his name, and explained that he lived for many
years in the town where the doctor resided, and that he used to write
for the attorneys in those parts. He was anxious, he said, as he hoped
for forgiveness, to make all the amends he could to some one he had
injured, and to undo, if possible, the injury he had done.
The doctor commended this as a sincere repentance.
"You know, good doctor," the sick man resumed, "that Mrs. Harris, of our
town, had two daughters--one now Mrs. Booth, and another. Before Mrs.
Harris died, she made a will, and left all her fortune, except L1,000,
to Mrs. Booth, to which will Mr. Murphy, the lawyer, myself, and another
were witnesses. Mrs. Harris afterwards died suddenly, upon which it was
contrived, by her other daughter and Mr. Murphy, to make a new will, in
which Mrs. Booth had a legacy of L10, and all the rest was given to the
"Good heaven, how wonderful is thy providence!" cries the doctor.
"Murphy, say you? Why, this Murphy is still my attorney."
Within a short time Murphy was arrested, and the sick man's depositions
taken. Booth was released on the doctor's bail, and on the following
morning Amelia learnt of the change in fortune that had befallen them.
Dr. Harrison himself broke the good news by reading the following
paragraph from the newspaper.
"Yesterday, one Murphy, an eminent attorney-at-law, was committed to
Newgate for the forgery of a will, under which an estate has been for
many years detained from the right owner."
"Now," said the doctor, "in this paragraph there is something very
remarkable, and that is that it is true. But now let us read the
following note upon the words 'right owner.' 'The right owner of this
estate is a young lady of the highest merit, whose maiden name was
Harris, and who some time since was married to an idle fellow, one
Lieutenant Booth; and the best historians assure us that letters from
the elder sister of this lady, which manifestly prove the forgery and
clear up the whole affair, are in the hands of an old parson, called Dr.
"And is this really true?" cries Amelia.
"Yes, really and sincerely," cries the doctor, "the whole estate--for
your mother left it you all; and it is as surely yours as if you were
already in possession."
"Gracious heaven!" cries she, falling on her knees, "I thank you!" And
then, starting up, she ran to her husband, and embracing him, cried, "My
dear love, I wish you joy! It is upon yours and my children's account
that I principally rejoice."
She then desired her children to be brought to her, whom she immediately
caught in her arms; and having profusely cried over them, soon regained
her usual temper and complexion.
Miss Harris, having received a letter from Amelia, informing her of the
discovery and the danger in which she stood, immediately set out for
France, carrying with her all her money, most of her clothes, and some
About a week afterwards, Booth and Amelia, with their children, and
Atkinson and his wife, all set forward together for Amelia's house,
where they arrived amidst the acclamations of all the neighbours, and
every public demonstration of joy.
Miss Harris lived for three years with a broken heart at Boulogne, where
she received annually L50 from her sister; and then died in a most
Dr. Harrison is grown old in years and in honour, beloved and respected
by all his parishioners and neighbours.
As to Booth and Amelia, fortune seems to have made them large amends for
the tricks she played them in their youth. They have continued to enjoy
an uninterrupted course of health and happiness. In about six weeks
after Booth's first coming into the country, he went to London and paid
all his debts, after which, and a stay of two days only, he returned
into the country, and has never since been thirty miles from home.
Amelia is still the finest woman in England of her age; Booth himself
often avers she is as handsome as ever. Nothing can equal the serenity
of their lives.
Amelia declared the other day that she did not remember to have seen her
husband out of humour these ten years!
* * * * *
"Jonathan Wild," published in 1743, is in many respects
Fielding's most powerful piece of satire, surpassed only,
perhaps, by Thackeray's "Barry Lyndon." It can hardly be
called a novel, and still less a serious biography, though it
is founded on the real history of a notorious highway robber
and thief. The author disclaimed in his preface any attempt on
his part at authentic history or faithful portraiture.
"Roguery, and not a rogue is my subject," he wrote; adding,
that the ideas of goodness and greatness are too often
confounded together. "A man may be great without being good,
or good without being great." The story of "Jonathan Wild" is
really a bitter, satirical attack on what Fielding called "the
greatness which is totally devoid of goodness." He avowed it
his intention "to expose the character of this bombast
greatness," and no one can deny the success of his
achievement. Surely no story was ever written under more
desperate circumstances. The evils of poverty, which at this
period were at their height, were aggravated by the serious
illness of his wife, and his own sufferings from attacks of
gout. These troubles and others may well increase our
admiration for the genius which, in the face of all
difficulties, is shown in "Jonathan Wild."
_I.--Mr. Wild's Early Exploits_
Mr. Jonathan Wild, who was descended from a long line of great men, was
born in 1665. His father followed the fortunes of Mr. Snap, who enjoyed
a reputable office under the sheriff of London and Middlesex; and his
mother was the daughter of Scragg Hollow, Esq., of Hockley-in-the-Hole.
He was scarce settled at school before he gave marks of his lofty and
aspiring temper, and was regarded by his schoolfellows with that
deference which men generally pay to those superior geniuses who will
exact it of them. If an orchard was to be robbed, Wild was consulted;
and though he was himself seldom concerned in the execution of the
design, yet was he always concerter of it, and treasurer of the booty,
some little part of which he would now and then, with wonderful
generosity, bestow on those who took it. He was generally very secret on
these occasions; but if any offered to plunder of his own head without
acquainting Master Wild, and making a deposit of the booty, he was sure
to have an information against him lodged with the schoolmaster, and to
be severely punished for his pains.
At the age of seventeen his father brought the young gentleman to town,
where he resided with him till he was of an age to travel.
Men of great genius as easily discover one another as Freemasons can. It
was therefore no wonder that the Count la Ruse--who was confined in Mr.
Snap's house until the day when he should appear in court to answer a
certain creditor--soon conceived an inclination to an intimacy with our
young hero, whose vast abilities could not be concealed from one of the
count's discernment; for though the latter was exceedingly expert at his
cards, he was no match for Master Wild, who never failed to send him
away from the table with less in his pocket than he brought to it. With
so much ingenuity, indeed, could our young hero extract a purse, that
his hands made frequent visits to the count's pocket before the latter
had entertained any suspicion of him. But one night, when Wild imagined
the count asleep, he made so unguarded an attack upon him that the other
caught him in the act. However, he did not think proper to acquaint him
with the discovery he had made, but only took care for the future to
button his pockets and to pack the cards with double industry.
In reality, this detection recommended these two prigs to each other,
for a wise man--that is to say, a rogue--considers a trick in life as a
gamester doth a trick at play. It sets him on his guard, but he admires
the dexterity of him who plays it.
When our two friends met the next morning, the count began to bewail the
misfortune of his captivity, and the backwardness of friends to assist
each other in their necessities.
Wild told him that bribery was the surest means of procuring his escape,
and advised him to apply to the maid, telling him at the same time that
as he had no money he must make it up with promises, which he would know
how to put off.
The maid only consented to leave the door open when Wild, depositing a
guinea in the girl's hands, declared that he himself would swear that he
saw the count descending from the window by a pair of sheets.
Thus did our young hero not only lend his rhetoric, which few people
care to do without a fee, but his money too, to procure liberty for his
friend. At the same time it would be highly derogatory from the great
character of Wild should the reader not understand that this was done
because our hero had some interested view in the count's enlargement.
Intimacy and friendship subsisted between the count and Mr. Wild, and
the latter, now dressed in good clothes, was introduced into the best
company. They constantly frequented the assemblies, auctions, gaming-
tables, and play-houses, and Wild passed for a gentleman of great
It was then that an accident occurred that obliged Wild to go abroad for
seven years to his majesty's plantations in America; and there are such
various accounts, one of which only can be true, of this accident that
we shall pass them all over. It is enough that Wild went abroad, and
stayed seven years.
_II.--An Example of Wild's Greatness_
The count was one night very successful at the gaming-table, where Wild,
who was just returned from his travels, was then present; as was
likewise a young gentleman whose name was Bob Bagshot, an acquaintance
of Mr. Wild's. Taking, therefore, Mr. Bagshot aside, he advised him to
provide himself with a case of pistols, and to attack the count on his
This was accordingly executed, and the count obliged to surrender to
savage force what he had in so genteel a manner taken at play. As one
misfortune never comes alone, the count had hardly passed the
examination of Mr. Bagshot when he fell into the hands of Mr. Snap, who
carried him to his house.
Mr. Wild and Mr. Bagshot went together to the tavern, where Mr. Bagshot
offered to share the booty. Having divided the money into two unequal
heaps, and added a golden snuffbox to the lesser heap, he desired Mr.
Wild to take his choice.
Mr. Wild immediately conveyed the larger share of the ready into his
pocket, according to an excellent maxim of his--"First secure what share
you can before you wrangle for the rest"; and then, turning to his
companion, he asked him whether he intended to keep all that sum
himself. "I grant you took it," Wild said; "but, pray, who proposed or
counselled the taking of it? Can you say that you have done more than
execute my scheme? The ploughman, the shepherd, the weaver, the builder,
and the soldier work not for themselves, but others; they are contented
with a poor pittance--the labourer's hire--and permit us, the great, to
enjoy the fruits of their labours. Why, then, should the state of a prig
differ from all others? Or why should you, who are the labourer only,
the executor of my scheme, expect a share in the profit? Be advised,
therefore; deliver the whole booty to me, and trust to my bounty for
Mr. Bagshot not being minded to yield to these arguments, Wild adopted a
fiercer tone, and the other was glad to let him borrow a part of his
share. So that Wild got three-fourths of the whole before taking leave
of his companion.
Wild then returned to visit his friend the count, now in captivity at
Mr. Snap's; for our hero was none of those half-bred fellows who are
ashamed to see their friends when they have plundered and betrayed them.
The count, little suspecting that Wild had been the sole contriver of
the misfortune which had befallen him, eagerly embraced him, and Wild
returned his embrace with equal warmth.
While they were discoursing, Mr. Snap introduced Mr. Bagshot; for Mr.
Bagshot had lost what money he had from Mr. Wild at a gaming-table, and
was directly afterwards arrested for debt. Mr. Wild no sooner saw his
friend than he immediately presented him to the count, who received him
with great civility. But no sooner was Mr. Bagshot out of the room than
the count said to Wild, "I am very well convinced that Bagshot is the
person who robbed me, and I will apply to a justice of the peace."
Wild replied with indignation that Mr. Bagshot was a man of honour, but,
as this had no weight with the count, he went on, more vehemently, "I am
ashamed of my own discernment when I mistook you for a great man.
Prosecute him, and you may promise yourself to be blown up at every
gaming-house in the town. But leave the affair to me, and if I find he
hath played you this trick, I will engage my own honour you shall in the
end be no loser." The count answered, "If I was sure to be no loser, Mr.
Wild, I apprehend you have a better opinion of my understanding than to
imagine I would prosecute a gentleman for the sake of the public."
Wild having determined to make use of Bagshot as long as he could, and
then send him to be hanged, went to Bagshot next day and told him the
count knew all, and intended to prosecute him, and the only thing to be
done was to refund the money.
"Refund the money!" cried Bagshot. "Why, you know what small part of it
fell to my share!"
"How?" replied Wild. "Is this your gratitude to me for saving your life?
For your own conscience must convince you of your guilt."
"Marry come up!" quoth Bagshot. "I believe my life alone will not be in
danger. Can you deny your share?"
"Yes, you rascal!" answered Wild. "I do deny everything, and do you find
a witness to prove it. I will show you the difference between committing
a robbery and conniving at it."
So alarmed was Bagshot at the threats of Wild that he drew forth all he
found in his pockets, to the amount of twenty-one guineas, which he had
just gained at dice.
Wild now returned to the count, and informed him that he had got ten
guineas of Bagshot, and by these means the count was once more enlarged,
and enabled to carry out a new plan of the great Wild.
_III.--Mr. Heartfree's Weakness_
By accident, Wild had met with a young fellow who had formerly been his
companion at school.
Mr. Thomas Heartfree (for that was his name) was of an honest and open
disposition. He was possessed of several great weaknesses of mind, being
good-natured, friendly, and generous to a great excess.
This young man, who was about Wild's age, had some time before set up in
the trade of a jeweller, in the materials for which he had laid out the
greatest part of a little fortune.
He no sooner recognised Wild than he accosted him in the most friendly
manner, and invited him home with him to breakfast, which invitation our
hero, with no great difficulty, consented to.
Wild, after vehement professions of friendship, then told him he had an
opportunity of recommending a gentleman, on the brink of marriage, to
his custom, "and," says he, "I will endeavour to prevail on him to
furnish his lady with jewels at your shop."
Having parted from Heartfree, Wild sought out the count, who, in order
to procure credit from tradesmen, had taken a handsome house,
ready-furnished, in one of the new streets. He instructed the count to
take only one of Heartfree's jewels at the first interview, to reject
the rest as not fine enough, and order him to provide some richer. The
count was then to dispose of the jewel, and by means of that money, and
his great abilities at cards and dice, to get together as large a sum as
possible, which he was to pay down to Heartfree at the delivery of the
set of jewels.
This method was immediately put in execution; and the count, the first
day, took only a single brilliant, worth about L300, and ordered a
necklace and earrings, of the value of L3,000 more, to be prepared by
that day week.
This interval was employed by Wild in raising a gang, and within a few
days he had levied several bold and resolute fellows, fit for any
enterprise, how dangerous or great soever.
The count disposed of his jewel for its full value, and by his dexterity
raised L1,000. This sum he paid down to Heartfree at the end of the
week, and promised him the rest within a month. Heartfree did not in the
least scruple giving him credit, but as he had in reality procured those
jewels of another, his own little stock not being able to furnish
anything so valuable. The count, in addition to the L1,000 in gold, gave
him his note for L2,800 more.
As soon as Heartfree was departed, Wild came in and received the casket
from the count, and an appointment was made to meet the next morning to
come to a division of its contents.
Two gentlemen of resolution, in the meantime, attacked Heartfree on his
way home, according to Wild's orders, and spoiled the enemy of the whole
sum he had received from the count. According to agreement, Wild, who
had made haste to overtake the conquerors, took nine-tenths of the
booty, but was himself robbed of this L900 before nightfall.
As for the casket, when he opened it, the stones were but paste. For the
sagacious count had conveyed the jewels into his own pocket, and in
their stead had placed artificial stones. On Wild's departure the count
hastened out of London, and was well on his way to Dover when Wild
knocked at his door.
Heartfree, wounded and robbed, had only the count's note left, and this
was returned to him as worthless, inquiries having proved that the count
had run away. So confused was poor Heartfree at this that his creditor
for the jewels was frightened, and at once had him arrested for the
Heartfree applied in vain for money to numerous customers who were
indebted to him; they all replied with various excuses, and the unhappy
wretch was soon taken to Newgate. He had been inclined to blame Wild for
his misfortunes, but our hero boldly attacked him for giving credit to
the count, and this degree of impudence convinced both Heartfree and his
wife of Wild's innocence, the more so as the latter promised to procure
bail for his friend. In this he was unsuccessful, and it was long before
Heartfree was released and restored to happiness.
_IV.--The Highest Pinnacle of Greatness_
Wild was a living instance that human greatness and happiness are not
always inseparable. He was under a continual alarm of frights and fears
and jealousies, and was thoroughly convinced there was not a single man
amongst his own gang who would not, for the value of five shillings,
bring him to the gallows.
A clause in an act of parliament procured by a learned judge entrapped
Wild. Hitherto he had always employed less gifted men to carry out his
plans. Now, by this law it was made capital in a prig to steal with the
hands of other people, and it was impossible for our hero to avoid the
destruction so plainly calculated for his greatness.
Wild, having received from some dutiful members of his gang a valuable
piece of goods, did, for a consideration, re-convey it to the right
owner, for which fact, being ungratefully informed against by the said
owner, he was surprised in his own house, and, being overpowered by
numbers, was hurried before a magistrate, and by him committed to
When the day of his trial arrived, our hero was, notwithstanding his
utmost caution and prudence, convicted and sentenced to be hanged by the
neck. He now suspected that the malice of his enemies would overpower
him, and therefore betook himself to that true support of greatness in
affliction--a bottle, by means of which he was enabled to curse, swear,
and bully, and brave his fate. Other comfort, indeed, he had not much,
for not a single friend ever came near him.
From the time our hero gave over all hopes of life, his conduct was
truly great and admirable. Instead of showing any marks of contrition or
dejection, he rather infused more confidence and assurance into his
looks. He spent most of his hours in drinking with acquaintances, and
with the good chaplain; and being asked whether he was afraid to die, he
answered, "It's only a dance without music. A man can die but once.
Zounds! Who's afraid?"
At length the morning came which Fortune had resolutely ordained for the
consummation of our hero's greatness; he had himself, indeed, modestly
declined the public honour she intended him, and had taken a quantity of
laudanum in order to retire quietly off the stage. But it is vain to
struggle against the decrees of fortune, and the laudanum proved
insufficient to stop his breath.
At the usual hour he was acquainted that the cart was ready, and his
fetters having been knocked off in a solemn and ceremonious manner,
after drinking a bumper of brandy, he ascended the cart, where he was no
sooner seated than he received the acclamations of the multitude, who
were highly ravished with his greatness.
The cart now moved slowly on, preceded by a troop of Horse Guards,
bearing javelins in their hands, through the streets lined with crowds
all admiring the great behaviour of our hero, who rode on, sometimes
sighing, sometimes swearing, sometimes singing or whistling, as his
When he came to the tree of glory, he was welcomed with an universal
shout of the people; but there were not wanting some who maligned this
completion of glory, now about to be fulfilled by our hero, and
endeavoured to prevent it by knocking him on the head as he stood under
the tree, while the chaplain was performing his last office.
They therefore began to batter the cart with stones, brick-bats, dirt,
and all manner of mischievous weapons, so that the ecclesiastic ended
almost in an instant, and conveyed himself into a place of safety in a
One circumstance must not be omitted. Whilst the chaplain was busy in
his ejaculations, Wild, in the midst of the shower of stones, etc.,
which played upon him, true to his character, applied his hands to the
parson's pocket, and emptied it of his bottle-screw, which he carried
out of the world in his hand.
The chaplain being now descended from the cart, Wild had just
opportunity to cast his eyes around the crowd, and to give them a hearty
curse, when immediately the horses moved on, and, with universal
applause, our hero swung out of this world.
* * * * *
"Joseph Andrews," Fielding's first novel, was published in
1742, and was intended to be a satire on Richardson's "Pamela"
(see Vol. VII), which appeared in 1740. He described it as
"written in the manner of Cervantes," and in Parson Adams
there is the same quaint blending of the humorous and the
pathetic as in the Knight of La Mancha. Although such
characters as Lady Booby and Mrs. Slipslop are admittedly
ridiculous, Parson Adams remains an admirable study of a
simple-minded clergyman of the eighteenth century.
_I.--The Virtues of Joseph Andrews_
Mr. Joseph Andrews was esteemed to be the only son of Gaffer and Gammer
Andrews, and brother to the illustrious Pamela.
At ten years old (by which time his education was advanced to writing
and reading) he was bound an apprentice to Sir Thomas Booby, an uncle of
Mr. Booby's by the father's side. From the stable of Sir Thomas he was
preferred to attend as foot-boy on Lady Booby, to go on her errands,
stand behind her chair, wait at her tea-table, and carry her prayer-book
to church; at which place he behaved so well in every respect at divine
service that it recommended him to the notice of Mr. Abraham Adams, the
curate, who took an opportunity one day to ask the young man several
questions concerning religion, with his answers to which he was
Mr. Abraham Adams was an excellent scholar, a man of good sense and good
nature, but at the same time entirely ignorant of the ways of the world.
At the age of fifty he was provided with a handsome income of twenty-
three pounds a year, which, however, he could not make any great figure
with, because he was a little encumbered with a wife and six children.
Adams had no nearer access to Sir Thomas or my lady than through Mrs.
Slipslop, the waiting-gentlewoman, for Sir Thomas was too apt to
estimate men merely by their dress or fortune, and my lady was a woman
of gaiety, who never spoke of any of her country neighbours by any other
appellation than that of the brutes.
Mrs. Slipslop, being herself the daughter of a curate, preserved some
respect for Adams; she would frequently dispute with him, and was a
mighty affecter of hard words, which she used in such a manner that the
parson was frequently at some loss to guess her meaning.
Adams was so much impressed by the industry and application he saw in
young Andrews that one day he mentioned the case to Mrs. Slipslop,
desiring her to recommend him to my lady as a youth very susceptible of
learning, and one whose instruction in Latin he would himself undertake,
by which means he might be qualified for a higher station than that of
footman. He therefore desired that the boy might be left behind under
his care when Sir Thomas and my lady went to London.
"La, Mr. Adams," said Mrs. Slipslop, "do you think my lady will suffer
any preambles about any such matter? She is going to London very
concisely, and I am confidous would not leave Joey behind on any
account, for he is one of the genteelest young fellows you may see in a
summer's day; and I am confidous she would as soon think of parting with
a pair of her grey mares, for she values herself on one as much as the
other. And why is Latin more necessitous for a footman than a gentleman?
I am confidous my lady would be angry with me for mentioning it, and I
shall draw myself into no such delemy."
So young Andrews went to London in attendance on Lady Booby, and became
acquainted with the brethren of his profession. They could not, however,
teach him to game, swear, drink, nor any other genteel vice the town
abounded with. He applied most of his leisure hours to music, in which
he greatly improved himself, so that he led the opinion of all the other
footmen at an opera. Though his morals remain entirely uncorrupted, he
was at the same time smarter and genteeler than any of the beaus in town
either in or out of livery.
At this time an accident happened, and this was no other than the death
of Sir Thomas Booby, who left his disconsolate lady closely confined to
her house. During the first six days the poor lady admitted none but
Mrs. Slipslop and three female friends, who made a party at cards; but
on the seventh she ordered Joey, whom we shall hereafter call Joseph, to
bring up her teakettle.
Lady Booby's affection for her footman had for some time been a matter
of gossip in the town, but it is certain that her innocent freedoms had
made no impression on young Andrews.
Now, however, he thought my lady had become distracted with grief at her
husband's death, so strange was her conduct, and wrote to his sister
Pamela on the subject.
If madam be mad, I shall not care for staying long in the
family, so I heartily wish you could get me a place at some
neighbouring gentleman's. I fancy I shall be discharged very
soon, and the moment I am I shall return to my old master's
country seat, if it be only to see Parson Adams, who is the
best man in the world. London is a bad place, and there is so
little good fellowship that the next-door neighbours don't
know one another. Your loving brother,
The sending of this letter was quickly followed by the discharge of the
writer. To Lady Booby's open declarations of love, Joseph replied that a
lady having no virtue was not a reason against his having any.
"I am out of patience!" cries the lady, "did ever mortal hear of a man's
virtue? Will magistrates who punish lewdness, or parsons who preach
against it, make any scruple of committing it? And can a boy have the
confidence to talk of his virtue?"
"Madam," says Joseph, "that boy is the brother of Pamela, and would be
ashamed that the chastity of his family, which is preserved in her,
should be stained in him. If there are such men as your ladyship
mentions, I am sorry for it, and I wish they had an opportunity of
reading my sister Pamela's letters; nor do I doubt but such an example
would amend them."
"You impudent villain!" cries the lady in a rage. "Get out of my sight,
and leave the house this night!"
Joseph having received what wages were due, and having been stripped of
his livery, took a melancholy leave of his fellow-servants and set out
at seven in the evening.
_II.--Adventures on the Road_
It may be wondered why Joseph made such extraordinary haste to get out
of London, and why, instead of proceeding to the habitation of his
father and mother, or to his beloved sister Pamela, he chose rather to
set out full speed to Lady Booby's country seat, which he had left on
his journey to town.
Be it known then, that in the same parish where this seat stood there
lived a young girl whom Joseph longed more impatiently to see than his
parents or his sister. She was a poor girl, formerly bred up in Sir
Thomas's house, and, discarded by Mrs. Slipslop on account of her
extraordinary beauty, was now a servant to a farmer in the parish.
Fanny was two years younger than our hero, and had been always beloved
by him, and returned his affection. They had been acquainted from their
infancy, and Mr. Adams had, with much ado, prevented them from marrying,
and persuaded them to wait till a few years' service and thrift had a
little improved their experience, and enabled them to live comfortably
They followed this good man's advice, as, indeed, his word was little
less than a law in his parish, for during twenty-five years he had shown
that he had the good of his parishioners entirely at heart, so that they
consulted him on every occasion, and very seldom acted contrary to his
Honest Joseph therefore set out on his travels without delay, in order
that he might once more look upon his Fanny, from whom he had been
absent for twelve months.
But on the road he was attacked by robbers, and, having been left
wounded in a ditch, was mercifully taken to an inn by some later
It was at this same inn that, to the great surprise on both sides, Mr.
Abraham Adams found Joseph.
The parson informed his young friend, who was still sick in bed, that
the occasion of the journey he was making to London was to publish three
volumes of sermons, being encouraged, as he said, by an advertisement
lately set forth by the Society of Booksellers; but, though he imagined
he should get a considerable sum of money on this occasion, which his
family were in urgent need of, he protested he would not leave Joseph in
his present penniless condition. Finally, he told him he had nine
shillings and threepence-halfpenny in his pocket, which he was welcome
to use as he pleased.
This goodness of Parson Adams brought tears into Joseph's eyes; he had
now a second reason to desire life, that he might show his gratitude to
such a friend.
Before pursuing his journey Adams made the acquaintance of another
clergyman named Barnabas at the inn, who in his turn, hearing that Adams
was proposing to publish sermons, introduced him to a stranger who he
said was a bookseller.
Adams, saluting the stranger, answered Barnabas that he was very much
obliged to him; that nothing could be more convenient, for he had no
other business to the great city, and was heartily desirous of returning
with the young man, who was just recovered of his misfortune. To induce
the bookseller to be as expeditious as possible, he assured them their
meeting was extremely lucky to himself, for that he had the most
pressing occasion for money at that time, his own being almost spent.
"So that nothing," says he, "could be so opportune as my making an
immediate bargain with you."
"Sir, sermons are mere drugs," said the stranger. "The trade is so
vastly stocked with them that really, unless they come out with the name
of Whitefield or Wesley, or some other such great man, as a bishop, or
those sort of people, I don't care to touch. However, I will, if you
please, take the manuscript with me to town, and send you my opinion of
it in a very short time."
When, however, Adams began to describe the nature of his sermons the
bookseller drew back, on the ground that the clergy would be certain to
cry down such a book.
An accident prevented Mr. Adams from pursuing a market for his sermons
any further, which he would have done in spite of the advice of Barnabas
and the bookseller. This accident was, that those sermons which the
parson was travelling to London to publish were left behind; what he had
mistaken for them in the saddle-bags were three shirts, which Mrs.
Adams, who thought her husband would need shirts rather than sermons on
his journey, had carefully provided for him.
Joseph, concerned at the disappointment to his friend, begged him to
pursue his journey all the same, and promised he would himself return
with the books to him with the utmost expedition.
"No, thank you, child," answered Adams; "it shall not be so. What would
it avail me to tarry in the great city unless I had my discourses with
me? No; as this accident has happened, I am resolved to return back to
my cure, together with you; which, indeed, my inclination sufficiently
leads me to."
Mr. Adams, whose credit was good wherever he was known, having borrowed
a guinea from a servant belonging to a coach-and-six, who had been
formerly one of his parishioners, discharged the bill for Joseph and
himself, and the two travellers set off.
Adams and Joseph Andrews being for a time separated on the road, through
the former's absent-mindedness, it fell to the lot of the parson to
hasten to the assistance of a damsel who in a lonely place was being
attacked by some ruffian.
Adams was as strong as he was brave, and having rescued the maiden, took
her under his protection. It was too dark for either to identify the
other, but on Mr. Adams ejaculating the name of Joseph Andrews, for
whose safety he was anxious, his companion recognised his voice, and the
parson was quickly informed that it was Fanny who was by his side.
The fact was the poor girl had heard of Joseph's misfortune from the
servants of a coach which had stopped at the inn while the poor youth
was confined to his bed; and she had that instant abandoned the cow she
was milking, and taking with her a little bundle of clothes under her
arm, and all the money she was worth in her own purse, immediately set
forward in pursuit of one whom she loved with inexpressible violence,
though with the purest and most delicate passion.
Fanny was now in the nineteenth year of her age; she was tall and
delicately shaped. Her hair was a chestnut brown; her complexion was
fair; and, to conclude all, she had a natural gentility which surprised
all who beheld her.
Can it be wondered that on the following day, when Adams and the damsel
overtook Andrews at a wayside ale-house, the youth imprinted numberless
kisses on her lips, while Parson Adams danced about the room in a
rapture of joy?
It was so late when our travellers left the ale-house that they had not
travelled many miles before night overtook them. They moved forwards
where the nearest light presented itself; and having crossed a common
field, they came to a meadow where they seemed to be at a very little
distance from the light, when, to their grief, they arrived at the banks
of a river. Adams declared he could swim, but Joseph answered, if they
walked along its banks they might be certain of soon finding a bridge,
especially as, by the number of lights, they might be assured a parish
"That's true, indeed," said Adams. "I did not think of that."
Accordingly, Joseph's advice being taken, they passed over two meadows,
and came to a little orchard which led them to a house. Fanny begged of
Joseph to knock at the door, assuring him she was so weary that she
could hardly stand on her feet; and the door being immediately opened, a
plain kind of man appeared at it. Adams acquainted him that they had a
young woman with them, who was so tired with her journey that he should
be much obliged to him if he would suffer her to come in and rest
The man, who saw Fanny by the light of the candle which he held in his
hand, perceiving her innocent and modest look, and having no
apprehensions from the civil behaviour of Adams, presently answered that
the young woman was very welcome to rest herself in his house, and so
were her company. He then ushered them into a very decent room, where
his wife was sitting at a table; she immediately rose up, and assisted
them in setting forth chairs, and desired them to sit down.
They now sat cheerfully round the fire till the master of the house,
having surveyed his guests, and conceiving that the cassock which
appeared under Adams's greatcoat, and the shabby livery of Joseph
Andrews, did not well suit the familiarity between them, began to
entertain some suspicions not much to their advantage. Addressing
himself, therefore, to Adams, he said he perceived he was a clergyman by
his dress, and supposed that honest man was his footman.
"Sir," answered Adams, "I am a clergyman, at your service; but as to
that young man, whom you have rightly termed honest, he is at present in
nobody's service; he never lived in any other family than that of Lady
Booby, from whence he was discharged; I assure you, for no crime."
The modest behaviour of Joseph, with the character which Adams gave of
him, entirely cured a jealousy which had lately been in the gentleman's
mind that Fanny was the daughter of some person of fashion and that
Joseph had run away with her, and Adams was concerned in the plot.
Having had a full account from Adams of Joseph's history he became
enamoured of his guests, drank their healths with great cheerfulness;
and, at the parson's request, told something of his own life.
"Sir," says Adams, at the conclusion of the history, "fortune has, I
think, paid you all her debts in this sweet retirement."
"Sir," replied the gentleman, whose name was Wilson, "I have the best of
wives and three pretty children; but within three years of my arrival
here I lost my eldest son. If he had died I could have borne the loss
with patience; but, alas, he was stolen away from my door by some wicked
travelling people, whom they call gypsies; nor could I ever, with the
most diligent search, recover him. Poor child, he had the sweetest look!
The exact picture of his mother!" Mr. Wilson went on to say that he
should know his son amongst ten thousand, for he had a mark on his
breast of a strawberry.
_IV.--Joseph Finds his Father_
Our travellers, having well refreshed themselves at Mr. Wilson's house,
renewed their journey next morning with great alacrity, and two days
later reached the parish they were seeking.
The people flocked about Parson Adams like children round a parent; and
the parson, on his side, shook every one by the hand. Nor did Joseph and
Fanny want a hearty welcome from all who saw them. Adams carried his
fellow-travellers home to his house, where he insisted on their
partaking whatever his wife could provide, and on the very next Sunday
he published, for the first time, the banns of marriage between Joseph
Andrews and Fanny Goodwill.
Lady Booby, who was now at her country seat again, was furious when she
heard in church these banns called, and at once sent for Mr. Adams, and
rated him soundly.
"It is my orders that you publish these banns no more, and if you dare,
I will recommend it to your master, the rector, to discard you from his
service," says my lady. "The fellow Andrews is a vagabond, and shall not
settle here and bring a nest of beggars into the parish."
"Madam," answered Adams, "I know not what your ladyship means by the
terms 'master' and 'service.' I am in the service of a Master who will
never discard me for doing my duty; and if the rector thinks proper to
turn me from my cure, God will provide me, I hope, another."
The malice of Lady Booby did not stop at this; she endeavoured to get
Joseph and Fanny convicted on a trumped-up charge of trespass. In this
base wickedness she was defeated by her nephew, young Squire Booby, who
had married the virtuous Pamela, Joseph's sister; and at once stopped
the proceedings. More than that, he carried off Andrews to Lady Booby's,
and on his arrival, said, "Madam, as I have married a virtuous and
worthy woman, I am resolved to own her relations, and show them all
respect; I shall think myself, therefore, infinitely obliged to all mine
who will do the same. It is true her brother has been your servant, but
he has now become my brother."
Lady Booby answered that she would be pleased to entertain Joseph
Andrews; but when the squire went on to speak of Fanny, his aunt put her
foot down resolutely against her civility to the young woman.
And now both Pamela and her husband were inclined to urge Joseph to
break off the engagement with Fanny, but the young man would not give
way, and in this he was supported by Mr. Adams.
The arrival of a peddler in the parish, who had shown some civility to
Adams and Andrews when they were travelling on the road, threatened the
marriage prospect much more dangerously for a time.
According to the pedaler, who was a man of some education and birth,
Fanny had been stolen away from her home when an infant, and sold for
three guineas to Sir Thomas Booby; the name of her family was Andrews,
and they had a daughter of a very strange name, Pamela. This story he
had received from a dying woman when he had been a drummer in an Irish
The only thing now to be done was to send for old Mr. Andrews and his
wife; and, in the meantime, the pedal was bidden to Booby Hall to tell
the whole story again. All who heard him were well satisfied of the
truth, except Pamela, who imagined as neither of her parents had ever
mentioned such an incident to her, it must be false; and except Lady
Booby, who suspected the falsehood of the story from her ardent desire
that it should be true; and Joseph, who feared its truth, from his
earnest wishes that it might prove false.
On the following morning news came of the arrival of old Mr. Andrews and
his wife. Mr. Andrews assured Mr. Booby that he had never lost a
daughter by gypsies, nor ever had any other children than Joseph and
Pamela. But old Mrs. Andrews, running to Fanny, embraced her, crying
out, "She is--she is my child!"
The company were all amazed at this disagreement, until the old woman
explained the mystery. During her husband's absence at Gibraltar, when
he was a sergeant in the army, a party of gypsies had stolen the little
girl who had been born to him, and left a small male child in her place.
So she had brought up the boy as her own.
"Well," says Gaffer Andrews, "you have proved, I think, very plainly,
that this girl does not belong to us; I hope you are certain the boy is
Then it turned out that Joseph had a strawberry mark on his left breast,
and this made the peddler, who knew all about Mr. Wilson's loss,
satisfied that Joseph was no other than Mr. Wilson's son.
So Mr. Wilson had to be sent for, who, on his arrival, no sooner saw the
mark than he cried out with tears of joy, "I have discovered my son!"
The banns having been duly called, there was now nothing to prevent the
wedding, which, having taken place, Joseph and his wife settled down in
Mr. Wilson's parish, Mr. Booby having given Fanny a fortune of L2,000.
He also presented Mr. Adams with a living of L130 a year.
* * * * *
"The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling," described in the
dedication as the "labour of some years of my life," appeared
in six volumes, on February 28, 1749, a short time after
Fielding's appointment as justice of peace for Westminster.
Though its broad humour and coarseness of expression are
perhaps hard to bear in these times, it is by common consent
Fielding's masterpiece, and by way of being one of the
greatest novels in the language. For experience of life,
observation of character, and sheer humanity, it is certainly
an outstanding specimen of the English novel and manners. Like
others of his books, "Tom Jones" was written during a period
of great mental strain. Ever haunted by poverty, Fielding
acknowledges his debt to his old schoolfellow Lyttelton, to
whom he owed his "existence during the composition of the
book." The story was popular from the first.
_I.--Mr. Allworthy Makes a Discovery_
In that part of the country which is commonly called Somersetshire there
lately lived a gentleman whose name was Allworthy, and who might well be
called the favourite of both nature and fortune. From the former of
these he derived an agreeable person, a sound constitution, a solid
understanding, and a benevolent heart; by the latter he was decreed to
the inheritance of one of the largest estates in the country.
Mr. Allworthy lived, for the most part, retired in the country, with one
sister, for whom he had a very tender affection. This lady, Miss Bridget
Allworthy, now somewhat past the age of thirty, was of that species of
women whom you commend rather for good qualities than beauty.
Mr. Allworthy had been absent a full quarter of a year in London on some
very particular business, and having returned to his house very late in
the evening, retired, much fatigued, to his chamber. Here, after he had
spent some minutes on his knees--a custom which he never broke through
on any account--he was preparing to step into bed, when, upon opening
the clothes, to his great surprise, he beheld an infant wrapped up in
some coarse linen, in a sweet and profound sleep, between his sheets. He
stood for some time lost in astonishment at this sight; but soon began
to be touched with sentiments of compassion for the little wretch before
him. He then rang his bell, and ordered an elderly woman-servant to rise
immediately and come to him.
The consternation of Mrs. Deborah Wilkins at the finding of the little
infant was rather greater than her master's had been; nor could she
refrain from crying out, with great horror, "My good sir, what's to be
Mr. Allworthy answered she must take care of the child that evening, and
in the morning he would give orders to provide it a nurse.
"Yes, sir," says she, "and I hope your worship will send out your
warrant to take up the hussy its mother. Indeed, such wicked sluts
cannot be too severely punished for laying their sins at honest men's
doors; and though your worship knows your own innocence, yet the world
is censorious, and if your worship should provide for the child it may
make the people after to believe. If I might be so bold as to give my
advice, I would have it put in a basket, and sent out and laid at the
churchwarden's door. It is a good night, only a little rainy and windy,
and if it was well wrapped up and put in a warm basket, it is two to one
but it lives till it is found in the morning. But if it should not, we
have discharged our duty in taking care of it; and it is, perhaps,
better for such creatures to die in a state of innocence than to grow up
and imitate their mothers."
But Mr. Allworthy had now got one of his fingers into the infant's hand,
which, by its gentle pressure, seeming to implore his assistance,
certainly outpleaded the eloquence of Mrs. Deborah. Mr. Allworthy gave
positive orders for the child to be taken away and provided with pap and
other things against it waked. He likewise ordered that proper clothes
should be procured for it early in the morning, and that it should be
brought to himself as soon as he was stirring.
Such was the respect Mrs. Wilkins bore her master, under whom she
enjoyed a most excellent place, that her scruples gave way to his
peremptory commands, and, declaring the child was a sweet little infant,
she walked off with it to her own chamber.
Allworthy betook himself to those pleasing slumbers which a heart that
hungers after goodness is apt to enjoy when thoroughly satisfied.
In the morning Mr. Allworthy told his sister he had a present for her,
and, when Mrs. Wilkins produced the little infant, told her the whole
story of its appearance.
Miss Bridget took the good-natured side of the question, intimated some
compassion for the helpless little creature, and commended her brother's
charity in what he had done. The good lady subsequently gave orders for
providing all necessaries for the child, and her orders were indeed so
liberal that had it been a child of her own she could not have exceeded
_II.--The Foundling Achieves Manhood_
Miss Bridget having been asked in marriage by one Captain Blifil, a
half-pay officer, and the nuptials duly celebrated, Mrs. Blifil was in
course of time delivered of a fine boy.
Though the birth of an heir to his beloved sister was a circumstance of
great joy to Mr. Allworthy, yet it did not alienate his affections from
the little foundling to whom he had been godfather, and had given his
own name of Thomas; the surname of Jones being added because it was
believed that was the mother's name.
He told his sister, if she pleased, the newborn infant should be bred up
together with little Tommy, to which she consented, for she had truly a
great complaisance for her brother.
The captain, however, could not so easily bring himself to bear what he
condemned as a fault in Mr. Allworthy; for his meditations being chiefly
employed on Mr. Allworthy's fortune, and on his hopes of succession, he
looked on all the instances of his brother-in-law's generosity as
diminutions of his own wealth.
But one day, while the captain was exulting in the happiness which would
accrue to him by Mr. Allworthy's death, he himself died of apoplexy.
So the two boys grew up together under the care of Mr. Allworthy and
Mrs. Blifil, and by the time he was fourteen Tom Jones--who, according
to universal opinion, was certainly born to be hanged--had been already
convicted of three robberies--_viz._, of robbing an orchard, of stealing
a duck out of a farmer's yard, and of picking Master Blifil's pocket of
The vices of this young man were, moreover, heightened by the
disadvantageous light in which they appeared when opposed to the virtues
of Master Blifil, his companion. He was, indeed, a lad of remarkable
disposition--sober, discreet, and pious beyond his age; and many
expressed their wonder that Mr. Allworthy should suffer such a lad as
Tom Jones to be educated with his nephew lest the morals of the latter
should be corrupted by his example.
To say the truth, the whole duck, and great part of the apples, were
converted to the use of Tom's friend, the gamekeeper, and his family;
though, as Jones alone was discovered, the poor lad bore not only the
whole smart, but the whole blame.
Mr. Allworthy had committed the instruction of the two boys to a learned
divine, the Reverend Mr. Thwackum, who resided in the house; but though
Mr. Allworthy had given him frequent orders to make no difference
between the lads, yet was Thwackum altogether as kind and gentle to
Master Blifil as he was harsh, nay, even barbarous, to the other. In
truth, Blifil had greatly gained his master's affections; partly by the
profound respect he always showed his person, but much more by the
decent reverence with which he received his doctrine, for he had got by
heart, and frequently repeated, his phrases, and maintained all his
master's religious principles, with a zeal which was surprising in one
Tom Jones, on the other hand, was not only deficient in outward tokens
of respect, often forgetting to pull off his cap at his master's
approach, but was altogether unmindful both of his master's precepts and
At the, age of twenty, however, Tom, for his love of hunting, had become
a great favourite with Mr. Allworthy's neighbour, Squire Western; and
Sophia, Mr. Western's only child, lost her heart irretrievably to him
before she suspected it was in danger. On his side, Tom was truly
sensible of the great worth of Sophia. He liked her person extremely, no
less admired her accomplishments, and tenderly loved her goodness. In
reality, as he had never once entertained any thoughts of possessing
her, nor had ever given the least voluntary indulgence to his
inclinations, he had a much stronger passion for her than he himself was
An accident occurred on the hunting-field in saving Sophia from her too
mettlesome horse kept Jones a prisoner for some time in Mr. Western's
house, and during those weeks he not only found that he loved Sophia
with an unbounded passion, but he plainly saw the tender sentiments she
had for him; yet could not this assurance lessen his despair of
obtaining the consent of her father, nor the horrors which attended his
pursuit of her by any base or treacherous method.
Hence, at the approach of the young lady, he grew pale; and, if this was
sudden, started. If his eyes accidentally met hers, the blood rushed
into his cheeks, and his countenance became all over scarlet. If he
touched her, his hand, nay, his whole frame, trembled.
All these symptoms escaped the notice of the squire, but not so of
Sophia. She soon perceived these agitations of mind in Jones, and was at
no loss to discover the cause; for, indeed, she recognised it in her own
breast. In a word, she was in love with him to distraction. It was not
long before Jones was able to attend her to the harpsichord, where she
would kindly condescend for hours together to charm him with the most
The news that Mr. Allworthy was dangerously ill (for a servant had
brought word that he was dying) broke off Tom's stay at Mr. Western's,
and drove all the thoughts of love out of his head. He hurried instantly
into the chariot which was sent for him, and ordered the coachman to
drive with all imaginable haste; nor did the idea of Sophia once occur
to him on the way.
_III.--Tom Jones Falls into Disgrace_
On the night when the physician announced that Mr. Allworthy was out of
danger Jones was thrown into such immoderate excess of rapture by the
news that he might be truly said to be drunk with joy--an intoxication
which greatly forwards the effects of wine; and as he was very free,
too, with the bottle, on this occasion he became very soon literally
Jones had naturally violent animal spirits, and Thwackum, resenting his
speeches, only the doctor's interposition prevented wrath kindling.
After which, Jones gave loose to mirth, sang two or three amorous songs,
and fell into every frantic disorder which unbridled joy is apt to
inspire; but so far was he from any disposition to quarrel that he was
ten times better-humoured, if possible, than when he was sober.
Blifil, whose mother had died during her brother's illness, was highly
offended at a behaviour which was so inconsistent with the sober and
prudent reserve of his own temper. The recent death of his mother, he
declared, made such conduct very indecent.
"It would become them better," he said, "to express the exultations of
their hearts at Mr. Allworthy's recovery in thanksgiving, than in
drunkenness and riot."
Wine had not so totally overpowered Jones as to prevent him recollecting
Blifil's loss the moment it was mentioned. He at once offered to shake
Mr. Blifil by the hand, and begged his pardon, saying his excessive joy
for Mr. Allworthy's recovery had driven every other thought out of his
Blifil scornfully rejected his hand, and with an insulting illusion to
the misfortune of Jones's birth provoked the latter to blows. The
scuffle which ensued might have produced mischief had it not been for
the interference of Thwackum and the physician.
Blifil, however, only waited for an opportunity to be revenged on Jones,
and the occasion was soon forthcoming when Mr. Allworthy was fully
recovered from his illness.
Mr. Western had found out that his daughter was in love with Tom Jones,
and at once decided that she should marry Blifil, to whom Sophia
professed great abhorrence.
As for Blifil, the success of Jones was much more grievous to him than
the loss of Sophia, whose estate, indeed, was dearer to him than her
Mr. Western swore that his daughter shouldn't have a ha'penny, nor the
twentieth part of a brass farthing, if she married Jones; and Blifil,
with many sighs, professed to his uncle that he could not bear the
thought of Sophia being ruined by her preference for Jones.
"This lady, I am sure, will be undone in every sense; for, besides the
loss of most part of her own fortune, she will be married to a beggar.
Nay, that is a trifle; for I know him to be one of the worst men in the
"How?" said Mr. All worthy. "I command you to tell me what you mean."
"You know, sir," said Blifil, "I never disobeyed you. In the very day of
your utmost danger, when myself and all the family were in tears, he
filled the house with riot and debauchery. He drank, and sang, and
roared; and when I gave him a gentle hint of the indecency of his
actions, he fell into a violent passion, swore many oaths, called me
rascal, and struck me. I am sure I have forgiven him that long ago. I
wish I could so easily forget his ingratitude to the best of
Thwackum was now sent for, and corroborated every circumstance which the
other had deposed.
Poor Jones was too full of grief at the thought that Western had
discovered the whole affair between him and Sophia to make any adequate
defence. He could not deny the charge of drunkenness, and out of modesty
sunk everything that related particularly to himself.
Mr. Allworthy answered that he was now resolved to banish him from his
sight for ever. "Your audacious attempt to steal away a young lady calls
upon me to justify my own character in punishing you. And there is no
part of your character which I resent more than your ill-treatment of
that good young man (meaning Blifil), who hath behaved with so much
tenderness and honour towards you."
A flood of tears now gushed from the eyes of Jones, and every faculty of
speech and motion seemed to have deserted him. It was some time before
he was able to obey Allworthy's peremptory commands of departing, which
he at length did, having first kissed his hands with a passion difficult
to be affected, and as difficult to be described.
Mr. Allworthy, however, did not permit him to leave the house penniless,
but presented him with a note for L500. He then commanded him to go
immediately, and told Jones that his clothes, and everything else,
should be sent to him whithersoever he should order them.