Joseph Andrews, by Henry Fielding

Chapter 4

A short chapter, but very full of matter; particularly the arrival of Mr Booby and his lady.

All that night, and the next day, the Lady Booby past with the utmost anxiety; her mind was distracted and her soul tossed up and down by many turbulent and opposite passions. She loved, hated, pitied, scorned, admired, despised the same person by fits, which changed in a very short interval. On Tuesday morning, which happened to be a holiday, she went to church, where, to her surprize, Mr Adams published the banns again with as audible a voice as before. It was lucky for her that, as there was no sermon, she had an immediate opportunity of returning home to vent her rage, which she could not have concealed from the congregation five minutes; indeed, it was not then very numerous, the assembly consisting of no more than Adams, his clerk, his wife, the lady, and one of her servants. At her return she met Slipslop, who accosted her in these words:— “O meam, what doth your ladyship think? To be sure, lawyer Scout hath carried Joseph and Fanny both before the justice. All the parish are in tears, and say they will certainly be hanged; for nobody knows what it is for” — “I suppose they deserve it,” says the lady. “What! dost thou mention such wretches to me?” — “O dear madam,” answered Slipslop, “is it not a pity such a graceless young man should die a virulent death? I hope the judge will take commensuration on his youth. As for Fanny, I don’t think it signifies much what becomes of her; and if poor Joseph hath done anything, I could venture to swear she traduced him to it: few men ever come to a fragrant punishment, but by those nasty creatures, who are a scandal to our sect.” The lady was no more pleased at this news, after a moment’s reflection, than Slipslop herself; for, though she wished Fanny far enough, she did not desire the removal of Joseph, especially with her. She was puzzled how to act or what to say on this occasion, when a coach and six drove into the court, and a servant acquainted her with the arrival of her nephew Booby and his lady. She ordered them to be conducted into a drawing-room, whither she presently repaired, having composed her countenance as well as she could, and being a little satisfied that the wedding would by these means be at least interrupted, and that she should have an opportunity to execute any resolution she might take, for which she saw herself provided with an excellent instrument in Scout.

The Lady Booby apprehended her servant had made a mistake when he mentioned Mr Booby’s lady; for she had never heard of his marriage: but how great was her surprize when, at her entering the room, her nephew presented his wife to her; saying, “Madam, this is that charming Pamela, of whom I am convinced you have heard so much.” The lady received her with more civility than he expected; indeed with the utmost; for she was perfectly polite, nor had any vice inconsistent with good-breeding. They past some little time in ordinary discourse, when a servant came and whispered Mr Booby, who presently told the ladies he must desert them a little on some business of consequence; and, as their discourse during his absence would afford little improvement or entertainment to the reader, we will leave them for a while to attend Mr Booby.

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