Henry Fielding. (17071754). The History of Tom Jones.
The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction. 1917.
Book XII. Containing the Same Individual Time with the Former
IX. Containing Little More Than a Few Odd Observations
JONES had been absent a full half-hour, when he returned into the kitchen in a hurry, desiring the landlord to let him know that instant what was to pay. And now the concern which Partridge felt at being obliged to quite the warm chimney-corner, and a cup of excellent liquor, was somewhat compensated by hearing that he was to proceed no farther on foot, for Jones, by golden arguments, had prevailed with the boy to attend him back to the inn whither he had before conducted Sophia; but to this however the lad consented, upon condition that the other guide would wait for him at the alehouse; because, as the landlord at Upton was an intimate acquaintance of the landlord at Gloucester, it might some time or other come to the ears of the latter that his horses had been let to more than one person; and so the boy might be brought to account for money which he wisely intended to put in his own pocket.
We were obliged to mention this circumstance, trifling as it may seem, since it retarded Mr. Jones a considerable time in his setting out; for the honesty of this latter boy was somewhat highthat is, somewhat high-priced, and would indeed have cost Jones very dear, had not Partridge, who, as we have said, was a very cunning fellow, artfully thrown in half-a-crown to be spent at that very alehouse, while the boy was waiting for his companion. This half-crown the landlord no sooner got scent of, than he opened after it with such vehement and persuasive outcry, that the boy was soon overcome, and consented to take half-a-crown more for his stay. Here we cannot help observing, that as there is so much of policy in the lowest life, great men often overvalue themselves on those refinements in imposture, in which they are frequently excelled by some of the lowest of the human species.
The horses being now produced, Jones directly leapt into the side-saddle, on which his dear Sophia had rid. The lad, indeed, very civilly offered him the use of his; but he chose the side-saddle, probably because it was softer. Partridge, however, though full as effeminate as Jones, could not bear the thoughts of degrading his manhood; he therefore accepted the boys offer: and now, Jones being mounted on the side-saddle of his Sophia, the boy on that of Mrs. Honour, and Partridge bestriding the third horse, they set forwards on their journey, and within four hours arrived at the inn where the reader hath already spent so much time. Partridge was in very high spirits during the whole way, and often mentioned to Jones the many good omens of his future success which had lately befriended him; and which the reader, without being the least superstitious, must allow to have been particularly fortunate. Partridge was moreover better pleased with the present pursuit of his companion than he had been with his pursuit of glory; and from these very omens, which assured the pedagogue of success, he likewise first acquired a clear idea of the amour between Jones and Sophia; to which he had before given very little attention, as he had originally taken a wrong scent concerning the reasons of Joness departure; and as to what happened at Upton, he was too much frightened just before and after his leaving that place to draw any other conclusions from thence than that poor Jones was a downright madman: a conceit which was not at all disagreeable to the opinion he before had of his extraordinary wildness, of which, he thought, his behaviour on their quitting Gloucester so well justified all the accounts he had formerly received. He was now, however, pretty well satisfied with his present expedition, and henceforth began to conceive much worthier sentiments of his friends understanding.
The clock had just struck three when they arrived, and Jones immediately bespoke post-horses; but unluckily there was not a horse to be procured in the whole place; which the reader will not wonder at when he considers the hurry in which the whole nation, and especially this part of it, was at this time engaged, when expresses were passing and repassing every hour of the day and night.
Jones endeavoured all he could to prevail with his former guide to escorte him to Coventry; but he was inexorable. While he was arguing with the boy in the inn-yard, a person came up to him, and saluting him by his name, enquired how all the good family did in Somersetshire; and now Jones casting his eyes upon this person, presently discovered him to be Mr. Dowling, the lawyer, with whom he had dined at Gloucester, and with much courtesy returned the salutation.
Dowling very earnestly pressed Mr. Jones to go no further that night; and backed his solicitations with many unanswerable arguments, such as, that it was almost dark, that the roads were very dirty, and that he would be able to travel much better by day-light, with many others equally good, some of which Jones had probably suggested to himself before; but as they were then ineffectual, so they were still: and he continued resolute in his design, even though he should be obliged to set out on foot.
When the good attorney found he could not prevail on Jones to stay, he as strenuously applied himself to persuade the guide to accompany him. He urged many motives to induce him to undertake this short journey, and at last concluded with saying, Do you think the gentleman wont very well reward you for your trouble?
Two to one are odds at every other thing as well as at foot-ball. But the advantage which this united force hath in persuasion or entreaty must have been visible to a curious observer; for he must have often seen, that when a father, a master, a wife, or any other person in authority, have stoutly adhered to a denial against all the reasons which a single man could produce, they have afterwards yielded to the repetition of the same sentiments by a second or third person, who hath undertaken the cause, without attempting to advance anything new in its behalf. And hence, perhaps, proceeds the phrase of seconding an argument or a motion, and the great consequence this is of in all assemblies of public debate. Hence, likewise, probably it is, that in our courts of law we often hear a learned gentleman (generally a serjeant) repeating for an hour together what another learned gentleman, who spoke just before him, had been saying.
Instead of accounting for this, we shall proceed in our usual manner to exemplify it in the conduct of the lad above mentioned, who submitted to the persuasions of Mr. Dowling, and promised once more to admit Jones into his side-saddle; but insisted on first giving the poor creatures a good bait, saying, they had travelled a great way, and been rid very hard. Indeed this caution of the boy was needless, for Jones, notwithstanding his hurry and impatience, would have ordered this of himself; for he by no means agreed with the opinion of those who consider animals as mere machines, and when they bury their spurs in the belly of their horse, imagine the spur and the horse to have an equal capacity of feeling pain.
While the beasts were eating their corn, or rather were supposed to eat it (for, as the boy was taking care of himself in the kitchen, the ostler took great care that his corn should not be consumed in the stable), Mr. Jones, at the earnest desire of Mr. Dowling, accompanied that gentleman into his room, where they sat down together over a bottle of wine.