Henry Fielding. (17071754). The History of Tom Jones.
The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction. 1917.
Book VIII. Containing about Two Days
IX. Containing Several Dialogues between Jones and Partridge, Concerning Love, Cold, Hunger, and Other Matters; with the Lucky and Narrow Escape of Partridge, as He Was on the Very Brink of Making a Fatal Discovery to His Friend
THE SHADOWS began now to descend larger from the high mountains; the feathered creation had betaken themselves to their rest. Now the highest order of mortals were sitting down to their dinners, and the lowest order to their suppers. In a word, the clock struck five just as Mr. Jones took his leave of Gloucester; an hour at which (as it was now mid-winter) the dirty fingers of Night would have drawn her sable curtain over the universe, had not the moon forbid her, who now, with a face as broad and as red as those of some jolly mortals, who, like her, turn night into day, began to rise from her bed, where she had slumbered away the day, in order to sit up all night. Jones had not travelled far before he paid his compliments to that beautiful planet, and, turning to his companion, asked him if he had ever beheld so delicious an evening? Partridge making no ready answer to his question, he proceeded to comment on the beauty of the moon, and repeated some passages from Milton, who hath certainly excelled all other poets in his description of the heavenly luminaries. He then told Partridge the story from the Spectator, of two lovers who had agreed to entertain themselves when they were at a great distance from each other, by repairing, at a certain fixed hour, to look at the moon; thus pleasing themselves with the thought that they were both employed in contemplating the same object at the same time. Those lovers, added he, must have had souls truly capable of feeling all the tenderness of the sublimest of all human passions.Very probably, cries Partridge: but I envy them more, if they had bodies incapable of feeling cold; for I am almost frozen to death, and am very much afraid I shall lose a piece of my nose before we get to another house of entertainment. Nay, truly, we may well expect some judgment should happen to us for our folly in running away so by night from one of the most excellent inns I ever set my foot into. I am sure I never saw more good things in my life, and the greatest lord in the land cannot live better in his own house than he may there. And to forsake such a house, and go a rambling about the country, the Lord knows whither, per devia rura viarum, I say nothing for my part; but some people might not have charity enough to conclude we were in our sober senses.Fie upon it, Mr. Partridge! says Jones, have a better heart; consider you are going to face an enemy; and are you afraid of facing a little cold? I wish, indeed, we had a guide to advise which of these roads we should take.May I be so bold, says Partridge, to offer my advice? Interdum stultus opportuna loquitur.Why, which of them, cries Jones, would you recommend?Truly neither of them, answered Partridge. The only road we can be certain of finding, is the road we came. A good hearty pace will bring us back to Gloucester in an hour; but if we go forward, the Lord Harry knows when we shall arrive at any place; for I see at least fifty miles before me, and no house in all the way.You see, indeed, a very fair prospect, says Jones, which receives great additional beauty from the extreme lustre of the moon. However, I will keep the left-hand track, as that seems to lead directly to those hills, which we were informed lie not far from Worcester. And here, if you are inclined to quit me, you may, and return back again; but for my part, I am resolved to go forward.
It is unkind in you, sir, says Partridge, to suspect me of any such intention. What I have advised hath been as much on your account as on my own: but since you are determined to go on, I am as much determined to follow. I præ sequar te.
They now travelled some miles without speaking to each other, during which suspense of discourse Jones often sighed, and Benjamin groaned as bitterly, though from a very different reason. At length Jones made a full stop, and turning about, cries, Who knows, Partridge, but the loveliest creature in the universe may have her eyes now fixed on that very moon which I behold at this instant? Very likely, sir, answered Partridge; and if my eyes were fixed on a good surloin of roast beef, the devil might take the moon and her horns into the bargain. Did ever Tramontane make such an answer? cries Jones. Prithee, Partridge, wast thou ever susceptible of love in thy life, or hath time worn away all the traces of it from thy memory? Alack-a-day! cries Partridge, well would it have been for me if I had never known what love was. Infandum regina jubes renovare dolorem. I am sure I have tasted all the tenderness, and sublimities, and bitternesses of the passion. Was your mistress unkind, then? says Jones. Very unkind, indeed, sir, answered Partridge; for she married me, and made one of the most confounded wives in the world. However, heaven be praised, shes gone; and if I believed she was in the moon, according to a book I once read, which teaches that to be the receptacle of departed spirits, I would never look at it for fear of seeing her; but I wish, sir, that the moon was a looking-glass for your sake, and that Miss Sophia Western was now placed before it. My dear Partridge, cries Jones, what a thought was there! A thought which I am certain could never have entered into any mind but that of a lover. O Partridge! could I hope once again to see that face; but, alas! all those golden dreams are vanished for ever, and my only refuge from future misery is to forget the object of all my former happiness. And do you really despair of ever seeing Miss Western again? answered Partridge; if you will follow my advice I will engage you shall not only see her but have her in your arms. Ha! do not awaken a thought of that nature, cries Jones: I have struggled sufficiently to conquer all such wishes already. Nay, answered Partridge, if you do not wish to have your mistress in your arms you are a most extraordinary lover indeed. Well, well, says Jones, let us avoid this subject; but pray what is your advice? To give it you in the military phrase, then, says Partridge, as we are soldiers, To the right about. Let us return the way we came; we may yet reach Gloucester to-night, though late; whereas, if we proceed, we are likely, for aught I see, to ramble about for ever without coming either to house or home. I have already told you my resolution is to go on, answered Jones; but I would have you go back. I am obliged to you for your company hither; and I beg you to accept a guinea as a small instance of my gratitude. Nay, it would be cruel in me to suffer you to go any farther; for, to deal plainly with you, my chief end and desire is a glorious death in the service of my king and country. As for your money, replied Partridge, I beg, sir, you will put it up; I will receive none of you at this time; for at present I am, I believe, the richer man of the two. And as your resolution is to go on, so mine is to follow you if you do. Nay, now my presence appears absolutely necessary to take care of you, since your intentions are so desperate; for I promise you my views are much more prudent; as you are resolved to fall in battle if you can, so I am resolved as firmly to come to no hurt if I can help it. And, indeed, I have the comfort to think there will be but little danger; for a popish priest told me the other day the business would soon be over, and he believed without a battle. A popish priest! cries Jones, I have heard is not always to be believed when he speaks in behalf of his religion. Yes, but so far, answered the other, from speaking in behalf of his religion, he assured me the Catholicks did not expect to be any gainers by the change; for that Prince Charles was as good a Protestant as any in England; and that nothing but regard to right made him and the rest of the popish party to be Jacobites.I believe him to be as much a Protestant as I believe he hath any right, says Jones; and I make no doubt of our success, but not without a battle. So that I am not so sanguine as your friend the popish priest. Nay, to be sure, sir, answered Partridge, all the prophecies I have ever read speak of a great deal of blood to be spilt in the quarrel, and the miller with three thumbs, who is now alive, is to hold the horses of three kings, up to his knees in blood. Lord, have mercy upon us all, and send better times! With what stuff and nonsense hast thou filled thy head! answered Jones: this too, I suppose, comes from the popish priest. Monsters and prodigies are the proper arguments to support monstrous and absurd doctrines. The cause of King George is the cause of liberty and true religion. In other words, it is the cause of common sense, my boy, and I warrant you will succeed, though Briarius himself was to rise again with his hundred thumbs, and to turn miller. Partridge made no reply to this. He was, indeed, cast into the utmost confusion by this declaration of Jones. For, to inform the reader of a secret, which he had no proper opportunity of revealing before, Partridge was in truth a Jacobite, and had concluded that Jones was of the same party, and was now proceeding to join the rebels. An opinion which was not without foundation. For the tall, long-sided dame, mentioned by Hudibrasthat many-eyed, many-tongued, many-mouthed, many-eared monster of Virgil, had related the story of the quarrel between Jones and the officer, with the usual regard to truth. She had, indeed, changed the name of Sophia into that of the Pretender, and had reported, that drinking his health was the cause for which Jones was knocked down. This Partridge had heard, and most firmly believed. Tis no wonder, therefore, that he had thence entertained the above-mentioned opinion of Jones; and which he had almost discovered to him before he found out his own mistake. And at this the reader will be the less inclined to wonder, if he pleases to recollect the doubtful phrase in which Jones first communicated his resolution to Mr. Partridge; and, indeed, had the words been less ambiguous, Partridge might very well have construed them as he did; being persuaded as he was that the whole nation were of the same inclination in their hearts; nor did it stagger him that Jones had travelled in the company of soldiers; for he had the same opinion of the army which he had of the rest of the people.
But however well affected he might be to James or Charles, he was still much more attached to Little Benjamin than to either; for which reason he no sooner discovered the principles of his fellow-traveller than he thought proper to conceal and outwardly give up his own to the man on whom he depended for the making his fortune, since he by no means believed the affairs of Jones to be so desperate as they really were with Mr. Allworthy; for as he had kept a constant correspondence with some of his neighbours since he left that country, he had heard much, indeed, more than was true, of the great affection Mr. Allworthy bore this young man, who, as Partridge had been instructed, was to be that gentlemans heir, and whom, as we have said, he did not in the least doubt to be his son.
He imagined therefore that whatever quarrel was between them, it would be certainly made up at the return of Mr. Jones; an event from which he promised great advantages, if he could take this opportunity of ingratiating himself with that young gentleman; and if he could by any means be instrumental in procuring his return, he doubted not, as we have before said, but it would as highly advance him in the favour of Mr. Allworthy.
We have already observed, that he was a very good-natured fellow, and he hath himself declared the violent attachment he had to the person and character of Jones; but possibly the views which I have just before mentioned, might likewise have some little share in prompting him to undertake this expedition, at least in urging him to continue it, after he had discovered that his master and himself, like some prudent fathers and sons, though they travelled together in great friendship, had embraced opposite parties. I am led into this conjecture, by having remarked, that though love, friendship, esteem, and such like, have very powerful operations in the human mind; interest, however, is an ingredient seldom omitted by wise men, when they would work others to their own purposes. This is, indeed, a most excellent medicine, and, like Wards pill, flies at once to the particular part of the body on which you desire to operate, whether it be the tongue, the hand, or any other member, where it scarce ever fails of immediately producing the desired effect.