Joseph Andrews, by Henry Fielding

Chapter 7

Philosophical reflections, the like not to be found in any light French romance. Mr Booby’s grave advice to Joseph, and Fanny’s encounter with a beau.

Habit, my good reader, hath so vast a prevalence over the human mind, that there is scarce anything too strange or too strong to be asserted of it. The story of the miser, who, from long accustoming to cheat others, came at last to cheat himself, and with great delight and triumph picked his own pocket of a guinea to convey to his hoard, is not impossible or improbable. In like manner it fares with the practisers of deceit, who, from having long deceived their acquaintance, gain at last a power of deceiving themselves, and acquire that very opinion (however false) of their own abilities, excellencies, and virtues, into which they have for years perhaps endeavoured to betray their neighbours. Now, reader, to apply this observation to my present purpose, thou must know, that as the passion generally called love exercises most of the talents of the female or fair world, so in this they now and then discover a small inclination to deceit; for which thou wilt not be angry with the beautiful creatures when thou hast considered that at the age of seven, or something earlier, miss is instructed by her mother that master is a very monstrous kind of animal, who will, if she suffers him to come too near her, infallibly eat her up and grind her to pieces: that, so far from kissing or toying with him of her own accord, she must not admit him to kiss or toy with her: and, lastly, that she must never have any affection towards him; for if she should, all her friends in petticoats would esteem her a traitress, point at her, and hunt her out of their society. These impressions, being first received, are farther and deeper inculcated by their school-mistresses and companions; so that by the age of ten they have contracted such a dread and abhorrence of the above-named monster, that whenever they see him they fly from him as the innocent hare doth from the greyhound. Hence, to the age of fourteen or fifteen, they entertain a mighty antipathy to master; they resolve, and frequently profess, that they will never have any commerce with him, and entertain fond hopes of passing their lives out of his reach, of the possibility of which they have so visible an example in their good maiden aunt. But when they arrive at this period, and have now passed their second climacteric, when their wisdom, grown riper, begins to see a little farther, and, from almost daily falling in master’s way, to apprehend the great difficulty of keeping out of it; and when they observe him look often at them, and sometimes very eagerly and earnestly too (for the monster seldom takes any notice of them till at this age), they then begin to think of their danger; and, as they perceive they cannot easily avoid him, the wiser part bethink themselves of providing by other means for their security. They endeavour, by all methods they can invent, to render themselves so amiable in his eyes, that he may have no inclination to hurt them; in which they generally succeed so well, that his eyes, by frequent languishing, soon lessen their idea of his fierceness, and so far abate their fears, that they venture to parley with him; and when they perceive him so different from what he hath been described, all gentleness, softness, kindness, tenderness, fondness, their dreadful apprehensions vanish in a moment; and now (it being usual with the human mind to skip from one extreme to its opposite, as easily, and almost as suddenly, as a bird from one bough to another) love instantly succeeds to fear: but, as it happens to persons who have in their infancy been thoroughly frightened with certain no-persons called ghosts, that they retain their dread of those beings after they are convinced that there are no such things, so these young ladies, though they no longer apprehend devouring, cannot so entirely shake off all that hath been instilled into them; they still entertain the idea of that censure which was so strongly imprinted on their tender minds, to which the declarations of abhorrence they every day hear from their companions greatly contribute. To avoid this censure, therefore, is now their only care; for which purpose they still pretend the same aversion to the monster: and the more they love him, the more ardently they counterfeit the antipathy. By the continual and constant practice of which deceit on others, they at length impose on themselves, and really believe they hate what they love. Thus, indeed, it happened to Lady Booby, who loved Joseph long before she knew it; and now loved him much more than she suspected. She had indeed, from the time of his sister’s arrival in the quality of her niece, and from the instant she viewed him in the dress and character of a gentleman, began to conceive secretly a design which love had concealed from herself till a dream betrayed it to her.

She had no sooner risen than she sent for her nephew. When he came to her, after many compliments on his choice, she told him, “He might perceive, in her condescension to admit her own servant to her table, that she looked on the family of Andrews as his relations, and indeed hers; that, as he had married into such a family, it became him to endeavour by all methods to raise it as much as possible. At length she advised him to use all his heart to dissuade Joseph from his intended match, which would still enlarge their relation to meanness and poverty; concluding that, by a commission in the army, or some other genteel employment, he might soon put young Mr Andrews on the foot of a gentleman; and, that being once done, his accomplishments might quickly gain him an alliance which would not be to their discredit.”

Her nephew heartily embraced this proposal, and, finding Mr Joseph with his wife, at his return to her chamber, he immediately began thus: “My love to my dear Pamela, brother, will extend to all her relations; nor shall I show them less respect than if I had married into the family of a duke. I hope I have given you some early testimonies of this, and shall continue to give you daily more. You will excuse me therefore, brother, if my concern for your interest makes me mention what may be, perhaps, disagreeable to you to hear: but I must insist upon it, that, if you have any value for my alliance or my friendship, you will decline any thoughts of engaging farther with a girl who is, as you are a relation of mine, so much beneath you. I know there may be at first some difficulty in your compliance, but that will daily diminish; and you will in the end sincerely thank me for my advice. I own, indeed, the girl is handsome; but beauty alone is a poor ingredient, and will make but an uncomfortable marriage.” — “Sir,” said Joseph, “I assure you her beauty is her least perfection; nor do I know a virtue which that young creature is not possesst of.” — “As to her virtues,” answered Mr Booby, “you can be yet but a slender judge of them; but, if she had never so many, you will find her equal in these among her superiors in birth and fortune, which now you are to esteem on a footing with yourself; at least I will take care they shall shortly be so, unless you prevent me by degrading yourself with such a match, a match I have hardly patience to think of, and which would break the hearts of your parents, who now rejoice in the expectation of seeing you make a figure in the world.” — “I know not,” replied Joseph, “that my parents have any power over my inclinations; nor am I obliged to sacrifice my happiness to their whim or ambition: besides, I shall be very sorry to see that the unexpected advancement of my sister should so suddenly inspire them with this wicked pride, and make them despise their equals. I am resolved on no account to quit my dear Fanny; no, though I could raise her as high above her present station as you have raised my sister.” — “Your sister, as well as myself,” said Booby, “are greatly obliged to you for the comparison: but, sir, she is not worthy to be compared in beauty to my Pamela; nor hath she half her merit. And besides, sir, as you civilly throw my marriage with your sister in my teeth, I must teach you the wide difference between us: my fortune enabled me to please myself; and it would have been as overgrown a folly in me to have omitted it as in you to do it.” — “My fortune enables me to please myself likewise,” said Joseph; “for all my pleasure is centered in Fanny; and whilst I have health I shall be able to support her with my labour in that station to which she was born, and with which she is content.” — “Brother,” said Pamela, “Mr Booby advises you as a friend; and no doubt my papa and mamma will be of his opinion, and will have great reason to be angry with you for destroying what his goodness hath done, and throwing down our family again, after he hath raised it. It would become you better, brother, to pray for the assistance of grace against such a passion than to indulge it.” — “Sure, sister, you are not in earnest; I am sure she is your equal, at least.” — “She was my equal,” answered Pamela; “but I am no longer Pamela Andrews; I am now this gentleman’s lady, and, as such, am above her. — I hope I shall never behave with an unbecoming pride: but, at the same time, I shall always endeavour to know myself, and question not the assistance of grace to that purpose.” They were now summoned to breakfast, and thus ended their discourse for the present, very little to the satisfaction of any of the parties.

Fanny was now walking in an avenue at some distance from the house, where Joseph had promised to take the first opportunity of coming to her. She had not a shilling in the world, and had subsisted ever since her return entirely on the charity of parson Adams. A young gentleman, attended by many servants, came up to her, and asked her if that was not the Lady Booby’s house before him? This, indeed, he well knew; but had framed the question for no other reason than to make her look up, and discover if her face was equal to the delicacy of her shape. He no sooner saw it than he was struck with amazement. He stopt his horse, and swore she was the most beautiful creature he ever beheld. Then, instantly alighting and delivering his horse to his servant, he rapt out half-a-dozen oaths that he would kiss her; to which she at first submitted, begging he would not be rude; but he was not satisfied with the civility of a salute, nor even with the rudest attack he could make on her lips, but caught her in his arms, and endeavoured to kiss her breasts, which with all her strength she resisted, and, as our spark was not of the Herculean race, with some difficulty prevented. The young gentleman, being soon out of breath in the struggle, quitted her, and, remounting his horse, called one of his servants to him, whom he ordered to stay behind with her, and make her any offers whatever to prevail on her to return home with him in the evening; and to assure her he would take her into keeping. He then rode on with his other servants, and arrived at the lady’s house, to whom he was a distant relation, and was come to pay a visit.

The trusty fellow, who was employed in an office he had been long accustomed to, discharged his part with all the fidelity and dexterity imaginable, but to no purpose. She was entirely deaf to his offers, and rejected them with the utmost disdain. At last the pimp, who had perhaps more warm blood about him than his master, began to sollicit for himself; he told her, though he was a servant, he was a man of some fortune, which he would make her mistress of; and this without any insult to her virtue, for that he would marry her. She answered, if his master himself, or the greatest lord in the land, would marry her, she would refuse him. At last, being weary with persuasions, and on fire with charms which would have almost kindled a flame in the bosom of an ancient philosopher or modern divine, he fastened his horse to the ground, and attacked her with much more force than the gentleman had exerted. Poor Fanny would not have been able to resist his rudeness a short time, but the deity who presides over chaste love sent her Joseph to her assistance. He no sooner came within sight, and perceived her struggling with a man, than, like a cannon-ball, or like lightning, or anything that is swifter, if anything be, he ran towards her, and, coming up just as the ravisher had torn her handkerchief from her breast, before his lips had touched that seat of innocence and bliss, he dealt him so lusty a blow in that part of his neck which a rope would have become with the utmost propriety, that the fellow staggered backwards, and, perceiving he had to do with something rougher than the little, tender, trembling hand of Fanny, he quitted her, and, turning about, saw his rival, with fire flashing from his eyes, again ready to assail him; and, indeed, before he could well defend himself, or return the first blow, he received a second, which, had it fallen on that part of the stomach to which it was directed, would have been probably the last he would have had any occasion for; but the ravisher, lifting up his hand, drove the blow upwards to his mouth, whence it dislodged three of his teeth; and now, not conceiving any extraordinary affection for the beauty of Joseph’s person, nor being extremely pleased with this method of salutation, he collected all his force, and aimed a blow at Joseph’s breast, which he artfully parried with one fist, so that it lost its force entirely in air; and, stepping one foot backward, he darted his fist so fiercely at his enemy, that, had he not caught it in his hand (for he was a boxer of no inferior fame), it must have tumbled him on the ground. And now the ravisher meditated another blow, which he aimed at that part of the breast where the heart is lodged; Joseph did not catch it as before, yet so prevented its aim that it fell directly on his nose, but with abated force. Joseph then, moving both fist and foot forwards at the same time, threw his head so dexterously into the stomach of the ravisher that he fell a lifeless lump on the field, where he lay many minutes breathless and motionless.

When Fanny saw her Joseph receive a blow in his face, and blood running in a stream from him, she began to tear her hair and invoke all human and divine power to his assistance. She was not, however, long under this affliction before Joseph, having conquered his enemy, ran to her, and assured her he was not hurt; she then instantly fell on her knees, and thanked God that he had made Joseph the means of her rescue, and at the same time preserved him from being injured in attempting it. She offered, with her handkerchief, to wipe his blood from his face; but he, seeing his rival attempting to recover his legs, turned to him, and asked him if he had enough? To which the other answered he had; for he believed he had fought with the devil instead of a man; and, loosening his horse, said he should not have attempted the wench if he had known she had been so well provided for.

Fanny now begged Joseph to return with her to parson Adams, and to promise that he would leave her no more. These were propositions so agreeable to Joseph, that, had he heard them, he would have given an immediate assent; but indeed his eyes were now his only sense; for you may remember, reader, that the ravisher had tore her handkerchief from Fanny’s neck, by which he had discovered such a sight, that Joseph hath declared all the statues he ever beheld were so much inferior to it in beauty, that it was more capable of converting a man into a statue than of being imitated by the greatest master of that art. This modest creature, whom no warmth in summer could ever induce to expose her charms to the wanton sun, a modesty to which, perhaps, they owed their inconceivable whiteness, had stood many minutes bare-necked in the presence of Joseph before her apprehension of his danger and the horror of seeing his blood would suffer her once to reflect on what concerned herself; till at last, when the cause of her concern had vanished, an admiration at his silence, together with observing the fixed position of his eyes, produced an idea in the lovely maid which brought more blood into her face than had flowed from Joseph’s nostrils. The snowy hue of her bosom was likewise changed to vermilion at the instant when she clapped her handkerchief round her neck. Joseph saw the uneasiness she suffered, and immediately removed his eyes from an object, in surveying which he had felt the greatest delight which the organs of sight were capable of conveying to his soul; — so great was his fear of offending her, and so truly did his passion for her deserve the noble name of love.

Fanny, being recovered from her confusion, which was almost equalled by what Joseph had felt from observing it, again mentioned her request; this was instantly and gladly complied with; and together they crossed two or three fields, which brought them to the habitation of Mr Adams.

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