Joseph Andrews, by Henry Fielding

Chapter 11

In which the history is continued.

Joseph Andrews had borne with great uneasiness the impertinence of beau Didapper to Fanny, who had been talking pretty freely to her, and offering her settlements; but the respect to the company had restrained him from interfering whilst the beau confined himself to the use of his tongue only; but the said beau, watching an opportunity whilst the ladies’ eyes were disposed another way, offered a rudeness to her with his hands; which Joseph no sooner perceived than he presented him with so sound a box on the ear, that it conveyed him several paces from where he stood. The ladies immediately screamed out, rose from their chairs; and the beau, as soon as he recovered himself, drew his hanger: which Adams observing, snatched up the lid of a pot in his left hand, and, covering himself with it as with a shield, without any weapon of offence in his other hand, stept in before Joseph, and exposed himself to the enraged beau, who threatened such perdition and destruction, that it frighted the women, who were all got in a huddle together, out of their wits, even to hear his denunciations of vengeance. Joseph was of a different complexion, and begged Adams to let his rival come on; for he had a good cudgel in his hand, and did not fear him. Fanny now fainted into Mrs Adams’s arms, and the whole room was in confusion, when Mr Booby, passing by Adams, who lay snug under the pot-lid, came up to Didapper, and insisted on his sheathing the hanger, promising he should have satisfaction; which Joseph declared he would give him, and fight him at any weapon whatever. The beau now sheathed his hanger, and taking out a pocket-glass, and vowing vengeance all the time, readjusted his hair; the parson deposited his shield; and Joseph, running to Fanny, soon brought her back to life. Lady Booby chid Joseph for his insult on Didapper; but he answered, he would have attacked an army in the same cause. “What cause?” said the lady. “Madam,” answered Joseph, “he was rude to that young woman.” — “What,” says the lady, “I suppose he would have kissed the wench; and is a gentleman to be struck for such an offer? I must tell you, Joseph, these airs do not become you.” — “Madam,” said Mr Booby, “I saw the whole affair, and I do not commend my brother; for I cannot perceive why he should take upon him to be this girl’s champion.” — “I can commend him,” says Adams: “he is a brave lad; and it becomes any man to be the champion of the innocent; and he must be the basest coward who would not vindicate a woman with whom he is on the brink of marriage.” — “Sir,” says Mr Booby, “my brother is not a proper match for such a young woman as this.” — “No,” says Lady Booby; “nor do you, Mr Adams, act in your proper character by encouraging any such doings; and I am very much surprized you should concern yourself in it. I think your wife and family your properer care.” — “Indeed, madam, your ladyship says very true,” answered Mrs Adams: “he talks a pack of nonsense, that the whole parish are his children. I am sure I don’t understand what he means by it; it would make some women suspect he had gone astray, but I acquit him of that; I can read Scripture as well as he, and I never found that the parson was obliged to provide for other folks’ children; and besides, he is but a poor curate, and hath little enough, as your ladyship knows, for me and mine.” — “You say very well, Mrs Adams,” quoth the Lady Booby, who had not spoke a word to her before; “you seem to be a very sensible woman; and I assure you, your husband is acting a very foolish part, and opposing his own interest, seeing my nephew is violently set against this match: and indeed I can’t blame him; it is by no means one suitable to our family.” In this manner the lady proceeded with Mrs Adams, whilst the beau hopped about the room, shaking his head, partly from pain and partly from anger; and Pamela was chiding Fanny for her assurance in aiming at such a match as her brother. Poor Fanny answered only with her tears, which had long since begun to wet her handkerchief; which Joseph perceiving, took her by the arm, and wrapping it in his carried her off, swearing he would own no relation to any one who was an enemy to her he loved more than all the world. He went out with Fanny under his left arm, brandishing a cudgel in his right, and neither Mr Booby nor the beau thought proper to oppose him. Lady Booby and her company made a very short stay behind him; for the lady’s bell now summoned them to dress; for which they had just time before dinner.

Adams seemed now very much dejected, which his wife perceiving, began to apply some matrimonial balsam. She told him he had reason to be concerned, for that he had probably ruined his family with his tricks almost; but perhaps he was grieved for the loss of his two children, Joseph and Fanny. His eldest daughter went on: “Indeed, father, it is very hard to bring strangers here to eat your children’s bread out of their mouths. You have kept them ever since they came home; and, for anything I see to the contrary, may keep them a month longer; are you obliged to give her meat, tho’f she was never so handsome? But I don’t see she is so much handsomer than other people. If people were to be kept for their beauty, she would scarce fare better than her neighbours, I believe. As for Mr Joseph, I have nothing to say; he is a young man of honest principles, and will pay some time or other for what he hath; but for the girl — why doth she not return to her place she ran away from? I would not give such a vagabond slut a halfpenny though I had a million of money; no, though she was starving.” “Indeed but I would,” cries little Dick; “and, father, rather than poor Fanny shall be starved, I will give her all this bread and cheese” — (offering what he held in his hand). Adams smiled on the boy, and told him he rejoiced to see he was a Christian; and that if he had a halfpenny in his pocket, he would have given it him; telling him it was his duty to look upon all his neighbours as his brothers and sisters, and love them accordingly. “Yes, papa,” says he, “I love her better than my sisters, for she is handsomer than any of them.” “Is she so, saucebox?” says the sister, giving him a box on the ear; which the father would probably have resented, had not Joseph, Fanny, and the pedlar at that instant returned together. Adams bid his wife prepare some food for their dinner; she said, “Truly she could not, she had something else to do.” Adams rebuked her for disputing his commands, and quoted many texts of Scripture to prove “That the husband is the head of the wife, and she is to submit and obey.” The wife answered, “It was blasphemy to talk Scripture out of church; that such things were very proper to be said in the pulpit, but that it was profane to talk them in common discourse.” Joseph told Mr Adams “He was not come with any design to give him or Mrs Adams any trouble; but to desire the favour of all their company to the George (an ale-house in the parish), where he had bespoke a piece of bacon and greens for their dinner.” Mrs Adams, who was a very good sort of woman, only rather too strict in oeconomies, readily accepted this invitation, as did the parson himself by her example; and away they all walked together, not omitting little Dick, to whom Joseph gave a shilling when he heard of his intended liberality to Fanny.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/f/fielding/henry/joseph_andrews/book4.11.html

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