Joseph Andrews, by Henry Fielding

Chapter 13

What happened to Joseph during his sickness at the inn, with the curious discourse between him and Mr Barnabas, the parson of the parish.

As soon as Joseph had communicated a particular history of the robbery, together with a short account of himself, and his intended journey, he asked the surgeon if he apprehended him to be in any danger: to which the surgeon very honestly answered, “He feared he was; for that his pulse was very exalted and feverish, and, if his fever should prove more than symptomatic, it would be impossible to save him.” Joseph, fetching a deep sigh, cried, “Poor Fanny, I would I could have lived to see thee! but God’s will be done.”

The surgeon then advised him, if he had any worldly affairs to settle, that he would do it as soon as possible; for, though he hoped he might recover, yet he thought himself obliged to acquaint him he was in great danger; and if the malign concoction of his humours should cause a suscitation of his fever, he might soon grow delirious and incapable to make his will. Joseph answered, “That it was impossible for any creature in the universe to be in a poorer condition than himself; for since the robbery he had not one thing of any kind whatever which he could call his own.” “I had,” said he, “a poor little piece of gold, which they took away, that would have been a comfort to me in all my afflictions; but surely, Fanny, I want nothing to remind me of thee. I have thy dear image in my heart, and no villain can ever tear it thence.”

Joseph desired paper and pens, to write a letter, but they were refused him; and he was advised to use all his endeavours to compose himself. They then left him; and Mr Tow-wouse sent to a clergyman to come and administer his good offices to the soul of poor Joseph, since the surgeon despaired of making any successful applications to his body.

Mr Barnabas (for that was the clergyman’s name) came as soon as sent for; and, having first drank a dish of tea with the landlady, and afterwards a bowl of punch with the landlord, he walked up to the room where Joseph lay; but, finding him asleep, returned to take the other sneaker; which when he had finished, he again crept softly up to the chamber-door, and, having opened it, heard the sick man talking to himself in the following manner:—

“O most adorable Pamela! most virtuous sister! whose example could alone enable me to withstand all the temptations of riches and beauty, and to preserve my virtue pure and chaste for the arms of my dear Fanny, if it had pleased Heaven that I should ever have come unto them. What riches, or honours, or pleasures, can make us amends for the loss of innocence? Doth not that alone afford us more consolation than all worldly acquisitions? What but innocence and virtue could give any comfort to such a miserable wretch as I am? Yet these can make me prefer this sick and painful bed to all the pleasures I should have found in my lady’s. These can make me face death without fear; and though I love my Fanny more than ever man loved a woman, these can teach me to resign myself to the Divine will without repining. O thou delightful charming creature! if Heaven had indulged thee to my arms, the poorest, humblest state would have been a paradise; I could have lived with thee in the lowest cottage without envying the palaces, the dainties, or the riches of any man breathing. But I must leave thee, leave thee for ever, my dearest angel! I must think of another world; and I heartily pray thou may’st meet comfort in this.” — Barnabas thought he had heard enough, so downstairs he went, and told Tow-wouse he could do his guest no service; for that he was very light-headed, and had uttered nothing but a rhapsody of nonsense all the time he stayed in the room.

The surgeon returned in the afternoon, and found his patient in a higher fever, as he said, than when he left him, though not delirious; for, notwithstanding Mr Barnabas’s opinion, he had not been once out of his senses since his arrival at the inn.

Mr Barnabas was again sent for, and with much difficulty prevailed on to make another visit. As soon as he entered the room he told Joseph “He was come to pray by him, and to prepare him for another world: in the first place, therefore, he hoped he had repented of all his sins.” Joseph answered, “He hoped he had; but there was one thing which he knew not whether he should call a sin; if it was, he feared he should die in the commission of it; and that was, the regret of parting with a young woman whom he loved as tenderly as he did his heart-strings.” Barnabas bad him be assured “that any repining at the Divine will was one of the greatest sins he could commit; that he ought to forget all carnal affections, and think of better things.” Joseph said, “That neither in this world nor the next he could forget his Fanny; and that the thought, however grievous, of parting from her for ever, was not half so tormenting as the fear of what she would suffer when she knew his misfortune.” Barnabas said, “That such fears argued a diffidence and despondence very criminal; that he must divest himself of all human passions, and fix his heart above.” Joseph answered, “That was what he desired to do, and should be obliged to him if he would enable him to accomplish it.” Barnabas replied, “That must be done by grace.” Joseph besought him to discover how he might attain it. Barnabas answered, “By prayer and faith.” He then questioned him concerning his forgiveness of the thieves. Joseph answered, “He feared that was more than he could do; for nothing would give him more pleasure than to hear they were taken.” — “That,” cries Barnabas, “is for the sake of justice.” — “Yes,” said Joseph, “but if I was to meet them again, I am afraid I should attack them, and kill them too, if I could.” — “Doubtless,” answered Barnabas, “it is lawful to kill a thief; but can you say you forgive them as a Christian ought?” Joseph desired to know what that forgiveness was. “That is,” answered Barnabas, “to forgive them as — as — it is to forgive them as — in short, it is to forgive them as a Christian.” — Joseph replied, “He forgave them as much as he could.” — “Well, well,” said Barnabas, “that will do.” He then demanded of him, “If he remembered any more sins unrepented of; and if he did, he desired him to make haste and repent of them as fast as he could, that they might repeat over a few prayers together.” Joseph answered, “He could not recollect any great crimes he had been guilty of, and that those he had committed he was sincerely sorry for.” Barnabas said that was enough, and then proceeded to prayer with all the expedition he was master of, some company then waiting for him below in the parlour, where the ingredients for punch were all in readiness; but no one would squeeze the oranges till he came.

Joseph complained he was dry, and desired a little tea; which Barnabas reported to Mrs Tow-wouse, who answered, “She had just done drinking it, and could not be slopping all day;” but ordered Betty to carry him up some small beer.

Betty obeyed her mistress’s commands; but Joseph, as soon as he had tasted it, said, he feared it would increase his fever, and that he longed very much for tea; to which the good-natured Betty answered, he should have tea, if there was any in the land; she accordingly went and bought him some herself, and attended him with it; where we will leave her and Joseph together for some time, to entertain the reader with other matters.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:54