Henry Fielding. (17071754). The History of Tom Jones.
The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction. 1917.
Book VIII. Containing about Two Days
VII. Containing Better Reasons Than Any Which Have Yet Appeared for the Conduct of Partridge; an Apology for the Weakness of Jones; and Some Further Anecdotes Concerning My Landlady
THOUGH Partridge was one of the most superstitious of men, he would hardly perhaps have desired to accompany Jones on his expedition merely from the omens of the joint-stool and white mare, if his prospect had been no better than to have shared the plunder gained in the field of battle. In fact, when Partridge came to ruminate on the relation he had heard from Jones, he could not reconcile to himself that Mr. Allworthy should turn his son (for so he most firmly believed him to be) out of doors, for any reason which he had heard assigned. He concluded, therefore, that the whole was a fiction, and that Jones, of whom he had often from his correspondents heard the wildest character, had in reality run away from his father. It came into his head, therefore, that if he could prevail with the young gentleman to return back to his father, he should by that means render a service to Allworthy, which would obliterate all his former anger; nay, indeed, he conceived that very anger was counterfeited, and that Allworthy had sacrificed him to his own reputation. And this suspicion indeed he well accounted for, from the tender behaviour of that excellent man to the foundling child; from his great severity to Partridge, who, knowing himself to be innocent, could not conceive that any other should think him guilty; lastly, from the allowance which he had privately received long after the annuity had been publickly taken from him, and which he looked upon as a kind of smart-money, or rather by way of atonement for injustice; for it is very uncommon, I believe, for men to ascribe the benefactions they receive to pure charity, when they can possibly impute them to any other motive. If he could by any means therefore persuade the young gentleman to return home, he doubted not but that he should again be received into the favour of Allworthy, and well rewarded for his pains; nay, and should be again restored to his native country; a restoration which Ulysses himself never wished more heartily than poor Partridge.
As for Jones, he was well satisfied with the truth of what the other had asserted, and believed that Partridge had no other inducements but love to him, and zeal for the cause; a blameable want of caution and diffidence in the veracity of others, in which he was highly worthy of censure. To say the truth, there are but two ways by which men become possessed of this excellent quality. The one is from long experience, and the other is from nature; which last, I presume, is often meant by genius, or great natural parts; and it is infinitely the better of the two, not only as we are masters of it much earlier in life, but as it is much more infallible and conclusive; for a man who hath been imposed on by ever so many, may still hope to find others more honest; whereas he who receives certain necessary admonitions from within, that this is impossible, must have very little understanding indeed, if he ever renders himself liable to be once deceived. As Jones had not this gift from nature, he was too young to have gained it by experience; for at the diffident wisdom which is to be acquired this way, we seldom arrive till very late in life; which is perhaps the reason why some old men are apt to despise the understandings of all those who are a little younger than themselves.
Jones spent most part of the day in the company of a new acquaintance. This was no other than the landlord of the house, or rather the husband of the landlady. He had but lately made his descent downstairs, after a long fit of the gout, in which distemper he was generally confined to his room during one half of the year; and during the rest, he walked about the house, smoaked his pipe, and drank his bottle with his friends, without concerning himself in the least with any kind of business. He had been bred, as they call it, a gentleman; that is, bred up to do nothing; and had spent a very small fortune, which he inherited from an industrious farmer his uncle, in hunting, horse-racing, and cock-fighting, and had been married by my landlady for certain purposes, which he had long since desisted from answering; for which she hated him heartily. But as he was a surly kind of fellow, so she contented herself with frequently upbraiding him by disadvantageous comparisons with her first husband, whose praise she had eternally in her mouth; and as she was for the most part mistress of the profit, so she was satisfied to take upon herself the care and government of the family, and, after a long successless struggle, to suffer her husband to be master of himself.
In the evening, when Jones retired to his room, a small dispute arose between this fond couple concerning him:What, says the wife, you have been tippling with the gentleman, I see?Yes, answered the husband, we have cracked a bottle together, and a very gentlemanlike man he is, and hath a very pretty notion of horse-flesh. Indeed, he is young, and hath not seen much of the world; for I believe he hath been at very few horse-races.Oho! he is one of your order, is he? replies the landlady: he must be a gentleman to be sure, if he is a horseracer. The devil fetch such gentry! I am sure I wish I had never seen any of them. I have reason to love horseracers truly!That you have, says the husband; for I was one, you know.Yes, answered she, you are a pure one indeed. As my first husband used to say, I may put all the good I have ever got by you in my eyes, and see never the worse.Dn your first husband! cries he. Dont dn a better man than yourself, answered the wife: if he had been alive, you durst not have done it.Then you think, says he, I have not so much courage as yourself; for you have dnd him often in my hearing.If I did, says she, I have repented of it manys the good time and oft. And if he was so good to forgive me a word spoken in haste or so, it doth not become such a one as you to twitter me. He was a husband to me, he was; and if ever I did make use of an ill word or so in a passion, I never called him rascal; I should have told a lie, if I had called him rascal. Much more she said, but not in his hearing; for having lighted his pipe, he staggered off as fast as he could. We shall therefore transcribe no more of her speech, as it approached still nearer and nearer to a subject too indelicate to find any place in this history.
Early in the morning Partridge appeared at the bed-side of Jones, ready equipped for the journey, with his knapsack at his back. This was his own workmanship; for besides his other trades, he was no indifferent taylor. He had already put up his whole stock of linen in it, consisting of four shirts, to which he now added eight for Mr. Jones; and then packing up the portmanteau, he was departing with it towards his own house, but was stopt in his way by the landlady, who refused to suffer any removals till after the payment of the reckoning.
The landlady was, as we have said, absolute governess in these regions; it was therefore necessary to comply with her rules; so the bill was presently writ out, which amounted to a much larger sum than might have been expected, from the entertainment which Jones had met with. But here we are obliged to disclose some maxims, which publicans hold to be the grand mysteries of their trade. The first is, If they have anything good in their house (which indeed very seldom happens) to produce it only to persons who travel with great equipages. 2dly, To charge the same for the very worst provisions, as if they were the best. And lastly, If any of their guests call but for little, to make them pay a double price for everything they have; so that the amount by the head may be much the same.
The bill being made and discharged, Jones set forward with Partridge, carrying his knapsack; nor did the landlady condescend to wish him a good journey; for this was, it seems, an inn frequented by people of fashion; and I know not whence it is, but all those who get their livelihood by people of fashion, contract as much insolence to the rest of mankind, as if they really belonged to that rank themselves.