Joseph Andrews, by Henry Fielding

Chapter 11

Of several new matters not expected.

It is an observation sometimes made, that to indicate our idea of a simple fellow, we say, he is easily to be seen through: nor do I believe it a more improper denotation of a simple book. Instead of applying this to any particular performance, we chuse rather to remark the contrary in this history, where the scene opens itself by small degrees; and he is a sagacious reader who can see two chapters before him.

For this reason, we have not hitherto hinted a matter which now seems necessary to be explained; since it may be wondered at, first, that Joseph made such extraordinary haste out of town, which hath been already shewn; and secondly, which will be now shewn, that, 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 the Lady Booby’s country-seat, which he had left on his journey to London.

Be it known, then, that in the same parish where this seat stood there lived a young girl whom Joseph (though the best of sons and brothers) longed more impatiently to see than his parents or his sister. She was a poor girl, who had formerly been bred up in Sir John’s family; whence, a little before the journey to London, she had been discarded by Mrs Slipslop, on account of her extraordinary beauty: for I never could find any other reason.

This young creature (who now lived with a farmer in the parish) had been always beloved by Joseph, and returned his affection. She was two years only younger than our hero. They had been acquainted from their infancy, and had conceived a very early liking for each other; which had grown to such a degree of affection, that 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 together.

They followed this good man’s advice, as indeed his word was little less than a law in his parish; for as he had shown his parishioners, by an uniform behaviour of thirty-five years’ duration, that he had their good entirely at heart, so they consulted him on every occasion, and very seldom acted contrary to his opinion.

Nothing can be imagined more tender than was the parting between these two lovers. A thousand sighs heaved the bosom of Joseph, a thousand tears distilled from the lovely eyes of Fanny (for that was her name). Though her modesty would only suffer her to admit his eager kisses, her violent love made her more than passive in his embraces; and she often pulled him to her breast with a soft pressure, which though perhaps it would not have squeezed an insect to death, caused more emotion in the heart of Joseph than the closest Cornish hug could have done.

The reader may perhaps wonder that so fond a pair should, during a twelvemonth’s absence, never converse with one another: indeed, there was but one reason which did or could have prevented them; and this was, that poor Fanny could neither write nor read: nor could she be prevailed upon to transmit the delicacies of her tender and chaste passion by the hands of an amanuensis.

They contented themselves therefore with frequent inquiries after each other’s health, with a mutual confidence in each other’s fidelity, and the prospect of their future happiness.

Having explained these matters to our reader, and, as far as possible, satisfied all his doubts, we return to honest Joseph, whom we left just set out on his travels by the light of the moon.

Those who have read any romance or poetry, antient or modern, must have been informed that love hath wings: by which they are not to understand, as some young ladies by mistake have done, that a lover can fly; the writers, by this ingenious allegory, intending to insinuate no more than that lovers do not march like horse-guards; in short, that they put the best leg foremost; which our lusty youth, who could walk with any man, did so heartily on this occasion, that within four hours he reached a famous house of hospitality well known to the western traveller. It presents you a lion on the sign-post: and the master, who was christened Timotheus, is commonly called plain Tim. Some have conceived that he hath particularly chosen the lion for his sign, as he doth in countenance greatly resemble that magnanimous beast, though his disposition savours more of the sweetness of the lamb. He is a person well received among all sorts of men, being qualified to render himself agreeable to any; as he is well versed in history and politics, hath a smattering in law and divinity, cracks a good jest, and plays wonderfully well on the French horn.

A violent storm of hail forced Joseph to take shelter in this inn, where he remembered Sir Thomas had dined in his way to town. Joseph had no sooner seated himself by the kitchen fire than Timotheus, observing his livery, began to condole the loss of his late master; who was, he said, his very particular and intimate acquaintance, with whom he had cracked many a merry bottle, ay many a dozen, in his time. He then remarked, that all these things were over now, all passed, and just as if they had never been; and concluded with an excellent observation on the certainty of death, which his wife said was indeed very true. A fellow now arrived at the same inn with two horses, one of which he was leading farther down into the country to meet his master; these he put into the stable, and came and took his place by Joseph’s side, who immediately knew him to be the servant of a neighbouring gentleman, who used to visit at their house.

This fellow was likewise forced in by the storm; for he had orders to go twenty miles farther that evening, and luckily on the same road which Joseph himself intended to take. He, therefore, embraced this opportunity of complimenting his friend with his master’s horse (notwithstanding he had received express commands to the contrary), which was readily accepted; and so, after they had drank a loving pot, and the storm was over, they set out together.

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Last updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 20:37