Joseph Andrews, by Henry Fielding

Chapter 5

Containing justice business; curious precedents of depositions, and other matters necessary to be perused by all justices of the peace and their clerks.

The young squire and his lady were no sooner alighted from their coach than the servants began to inquire after Mr Joseph, from whom they said their lady had not heard a word, to her great surprize, since he had left Lady Booby’s. Upon this they were instantly informed of what had lately happened, with which they hastily acquainted their master, who took an immediate resolution to go himself, and endeavour to restore his Pamela her brother, before she even knew she had lost him.

The justice before whom the criminals were carried, and who lived within a short mile of the lady’s house, was luckily Mr Booby’s acquaintance, by his having an estate in his neighbourhood. Ordering therefore his horses to his coach, he set out for the judgment-seat, and arrived when the justice had almost finished his business. He was conducted into a hall, where he was acquainted that his worship would wait on him in a moment; for he had only a man and a woman to commit to Bridewell first. As he was now convinced he had not a minute to lose, he insisted on the servant’s introducing him directly into the room where the justice was then executing his office, as he called it. Being brought thither, and the first compliments being passed between the squire and his worship, the former asked the latter what crime those two young people had been guilty of? “No great crime,” answered the justice; “I have only ordered them to Bridewell for a month.” “But what is their crime?” repeated the squire. “Larceny, an’t please your honour,” said Scout. “Ay,” says the justice, “a kind of felonious larcenous thing. I believe I must order them a little correction too, a little stripping and whipping.” (Poor Fanny, who had hitherto supported all with the thoughts of Joseph’s company, trembled at that sound; but, indeed, without reason, for none but the devil himself would have executed such a sentence on her.) “Still,” said the squire, “I am ignorant of the crime — the fact I mean.” “Why, there it is in peaper,” answered the justice, showing him a deposition which, in the absence of his clerk, he had writ himself, of which we have with great difficulty procured an authentic copy; and here it follows verbatim et literatim: —

The depusition of James Scout, layer, and Thomas Trotter, yeoman, taken before mee, one of his magesty’s justasses of the piece for Zumersetshire.

“These deponants saith, and first Thomas Trotter for himself saith, that on the — of this instant October, being Sabbath-day, betwin the ours of 2 and 4 in the afternoon, he zeed Joseph Andrews and Francis Goodwill walk akross a certane felde belunging to layer Scout, and out of the path which ledes thru the said felde, and there he zede Joseph Andrews with a nife cut one hassel twig, of the value, as he believes, of three half-pence, or thereabouts; and he saith that the said Francis Goodwill was likewise walking on the grass out of the said path in the said felde, and did receive and karry in her hand the said twig, and so was cumfarting, eading, and abatting to the said Joseph therein. And the said James Scout for himself says that he verily believes the said twig to be his own proper twig,” &c.

“Jesu!” said the squire, “would you commit two persons to Bridewell for a twig?” “Yes,” said the lawyer, “and with great lenity too; for if we had called it a young tree, they would have been both hanged.” “Harkee,” says the justice, taking aside the squire; “I should not have been so severe on this occasion, but Lady Booby desires to get them out of the parish; so lawyer Scout will give the constable orders to let them run away, if they please: but it seems they intend to marry together, and the lady hath no other means, as they are legally settled there, to prevent their bringing an incumbrance on her own parish.” “Well,” said the squire, “I will take care my aunt shall be satisfied in this point; and likewise I promise you, Joseph here shall never be any incumbrance on her. I shall be obliged to you, therefore, if, instead of Bridewell, you will commit them to my custody.” “O! to be sure, sir, if you desire it,” answered the justice; and without more ado Joseph and Fanny were delivered over to Squire Booby, whom Joseph very well knew, but little guessed how nearly he was related to him. The justice burnt his mittimus, the constable was sent about his business, the lawyer made no complaint for want of justice; and the prisoners, with exulting hearts, gave a thousand thanks to his honour Mr Booby; who did not intend their obligations to him should cease here; for, ordering his man to produce a cloak-bag, which he had caused to be brought from Lady Booby’s on purpose, he desired the justice that he might have Joseph with him into a room; where, ordering his servant to take out a suit of his own clothes, with linnen and other necessaries, he left Joseph to dress himself, who, not yet knowing the cause of all this civility, excused his accepting such a favour as long as decently he could. Whilst Joseph was dressing, the squire repaired to the justice, whom he found talking with Fanny; for, during the examination, she had flopped her hat over her eyes, which were also bathed in tears, and had by that means concealed from his worship what might perhaps have rendered the arrival of Mr Booby unnecessary, at least for herself. The justice no sooner saw her countenance cleared up, and her bright eyes shining through her tears, than he secretly cursed himself for having once thought of Bridewell for her. He would willingly have sent his own wife thither, to have had Fanny in her place. And, conceiving almost at the same instant desires and schemes to accomplish them, he employed the minutes whilst the squire was absent with Joseph in assuring her how sorry he was for having treated her so roughly before he knew her merit; and told her, that since Lady Booby was unwilling that she should settle in her parish, she was heartily welcome to his, where he promised her his protection, adding that he would take Joseph and her into his own family, if she liked it; which assurance he confirmed with a squeeze by the hand. She thanked him very kindly, and said, “She would acquaint Joseph with the offer, which he would certainly be glad to accept; for that Lady Booby was angry with them both; though she did not know either had done anything to offend her, but imputed it to Madam Slipslop, who had always been her enemy.”

The squire now returned, and prevented any farther continuance of this conversation; and the justice, out of a pretended respect to his guest, but in reality from an apprehension of a rival (for he knew nothing of his marriage), ordered Fanny into the kitchen, whither she gladly retired; nor did the squire, who declined the trouble of explaining the whole matter, oppose it.

It would be unnecessary, if I was able, which indeed I am not, to relate the conversation between these two gentlemen, which rolled, as I have been informed, entirely on the subject of horse-racing. Joseph was soon drest in the plainest dress he could find, which was a blue coat and breeches, with a gold edging, and a red waistcoat with the same: and as this suit, which was rather too large for the squire, exactly fitted him, so he became it so well, and looked so genteel, that no person would have doubted its being as well adapted to his quality as his shape; nor have suspected, as one might, when my Lord — — or Sir — — or Mr — — appear in lace or embroidery, that the taylor’s man wore those clothes home on his back which he should have carried under his arm.

The squire now took leave of the justice; and, calling for Fanny, made her and Joseph, against their wills, get into the coach with him, which he then ordered to drive to Lady Booby’s. It had moved a few yards only, when the squire asked Joseph if he knew who that man was crossing the field; for, added he, I never saw one take such strides before. Joseph answered eagerly, “O, sir, it is parson Adams!” “O la, indeed, and so it is,” said Fanny; “poor man, he is coming to do what he could for us. Well, he is the worthiest, best-natured creature.” — “Ay,” said Joseph; “God bless him! for there is not such another in the universe.” “The best creature living sure,” cries Fanny. “Is he?” says the squire; “then I am resolved to have the best creature living in my coach;” and so saying, he ordered it to stop, whilst Joseph, at his request, hallowed to the parson, who, well knowing his voice, made all the haste imaginable, and soon came up with them. He was desired by the master, who could scarce refrain from laughter at his figure, to mount into the coach, which he with many thanks refused, saying he could walk by its side, and he’d warrant he kept up with it; but he was at length over-prevailed on. The squire now acquainted Joseph with his marriage; but he might have spared himself that labour; for his servant, whilst Joseph was dressing, had performed that office before. He continued to express the vast happiness he enjoyed in his sister, and the value he had for all who belonged to her. Joseph made many bows, and exprest as many acknowledgments: and parson Adams, who now first perceived Joseph’s new apparel, burst into tears with joy, and fell to rubbing his hands and snapping his fingers as if he had been mad.

They were now arrived at the Lady Booby’s, and the squire, desiring them to wait a moment in the court, walked in to his aunt, and calling her out from his wife, acquainted her with Joseph’s arrival; saying, “Madam, as I have married a virtuous and worthy woman, I am resolved to own her relations, and show them all a proper respect; I shall think myself therefore infinitely obliged to all mine who will do the same. It is true, her brother hath been your servant, but he is now become my brother; and I have one happiness, that neither his character, his behaviour, or appearance, give me any reason to be ashamed of calling him so. In short, he is now below, dressed like a gentleman, in which light I intend he shall hereafter be seen; and you will oblige me beyond expression if you will admit him to be of our party; for I know it will give great pleasure to my wife, though she will not mention it.”

This was a stroke of fortune beyond the Lady Booby’s hopes or expectation; she answered him eagerly, “Nephew, you know how easily I am prevailed on to do anything which Joseph Andrews desires — Phoo, I mean which you desire me; and, as he is now your relation, I cannot refuse to entertain him as such.” The squire told her he knew his obligation to her for her compliance; and going three steps, returned and told her — he had one more favour, which he believed she would easily grant, as she had accorded him the former. “There is a young woman — " — “Nephew,” says she, “don’t let my good-nature make you desire, as is too commonly the case, to impose on me. Nor think, because I have with so much condescension agreed to suffer your brother-inlaw to come to my table, that I will submit to the company of all my own servants, and all the dirty trollops in the country.” “Madam,” answered the squire, “I believe you never saw this young creature. I never beheld such sweetness and innocence joined with such beauty, and withal so genteel.” “Upon my soul I won’t admit her,” replied the lady in a passion; “the whole world shan’t prevail on me; I resent even the desire as an affront, and — ” The squire, who knew her inflexibility, interrupted her, by asking pardon, and promising not to mention it more. He then returned to Joseph, and she to Pamela. He took Joseph aside, and told him he would carry him to his sister, but could not prevail as yet for Fanny. Joseph begged that he might see his sister alone, and then be with his Fanny; but the squire, knowing the pleasure his wife would have in her brother’s company, would not admit it, telling Joseph there would be nothing in so short an absence from Fanny, whilst he was assured of her safety; adding, he hoped he could not so easily quit a sister whom he had not seen so long, and who so tenderly loved him. Joseph immediately complied; for indeed no brother could love a sister more; and, recommending Fanny, who rejoiced that she was not to go before Lady Booby, to the care of Mr Adams, he attended the squire upstairs, whilst Fanny repaired with the parson to his house, where she thought herself secure of a kind reception.

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