Tom Jones: Part 3 - Life in London

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      The Third Part relates the adventures of Tom and Sophia in London. The scene, for the most part, is laid in that "very good part of the town, which included Bond Street, Hanover Square, Piccadilly, the Haymarket, and Pall Mall. Several new characters are introduced. Lady Bellaston, an unappetizing, middle-aged, artfully bedizened woman of quality, not by any means of the vestal kind; Lord Fellamar, who, though fundamentally a man of honor, could be goaded by a woman's ridicule into attempting a most dishonorable action; simple, warm-hearted Mrs. Miller, with a tongue always ready for the service of her friends; her two daughters, Nancy and Betty, aged seventeen and ten respectively; little Jack Nightingale, who affected the looseness of a lady killer and town-top, but was meant by nature for a much better character; Jack's tough old father and uncle; and the ceremonious Captain Egglane. The period covered is rather less than a month—from 4th December, the day after the arrival of Tom and Sophia in town, to 29th December, the day of their marriage. The exact timing of the action is carried on, no less carefully than in the second part, up to, and including, 25th December. But the events of the next two days are confusedly lumped together, instead of being assigned, with the precision hitherto observed, to particular days. The chief happenings on 28th December, however, are clearly indicated.

      Arriving in London, after some difficulties, he could meet Mrs. Fitzpatrick who would give him no information of Sophia but who, on the contrary, tried to put Lady Bellaston on her guard and thus prevent him from meeting her. Lady Bellaston thought it necessary to see him so that she could recognize him and thus make arrangements to prevent his entrance into her house. This could be easily arranged because Jones paid, as he had promised to do, a second visit to Mrs. Fitzpatrick. Lady Bellaston was invited to be present on this occasion. The ultimate result of this, however, was that Lady Bellaston got herself introduced to Jones at a masquerade to which she contrived coming, and from that time, began a career of lax amour with him, and indeed made him live as a man in affluent circumstances.

      Lady Bellaston began to meet him in a house far away from her own, but the owner of that house having turned methodist and not continuing to remain willing to help Lady Bellaston's amours, she fell back on her own house. One night she contrived to send Sophia and Mrs. Honour to the theatre and asked Jones to meet her during the period they were expected to be at the theatre. Accident turned everything topsy-turvy. Sophia did not like the play and therefore returned after the first act. Lady Bellaston was detained longer at dinner than she expected and hence Tom Jones could meet Sophia all alone. After some explanations and Tom's returning the pocketbook with the bank bills to Sophia, when they had begun to be tender, Lady Bellaston entered. Sophia indicated that she did not know Jones who had only come to return the pocketbook and when Lady Bellaston discovered that Tom had not given her away, she treated the matter jocularly, as if she was not in the least affected by it.

      Throughout this course of amour, Jones had been staying with one Mrs. Miller who had two daughters, Nancy and Betty by name. Mrs. Miller had one other lodger, viz., Mr. Nightingale. He had contracted undue intimacy with Miss Nancy and had promised marriage to her. Lady Bellaston's coming to Tom at Mrs. Miller's one night and staying about four hours, scandalized Mrs. Miller and yet she felt great obligation to Jones. Mr. Anderson who was a relation of Mrs. Miller and who had acted the highwayman to Jones on his way to London, but who was, as a matter of fact, a fairly honest man in extreme distress, was materially helped by Tom. Then, again, Mrs. Miller had come to know through Partridge about the relationship between Tom and Allworthy, and Mrs. Miller owed her all to Allworthy. She, therefore, put her ideas before Tom as mildly as possible, but there was no mistake about her desire; if Tom did not stop having disreputable company at her house, he must seek other lodgings. Tom had decided to shift when Mr. Nightingale told him that he also was shifting. They thought therefore of stopping together. Nightingale left a note for Miss Nancy behind him, saying that he could not but obey his father and marry somebody else. Nancy was in danger of losing her reputation and when Tom learned this, he took it upon himself to improve matters by persuading Nightingale to the right of things. Nightingale had sincere love for the girl, but was afraid of his father. Tom undertook to bring round the father. He did not succeed, but the lie that Nightingale and Nancy were already married, brought Nightingale's uncle in favor of the marriage and he came to Mrs. Miller's where Nightingale had preceded him. The fact that the marriage was not yet an accomplished fact changed the uncle, but he was sobered down by the knowledge he now received of an equally imprudent marriage in his family. Anyhow, in the absence of his father and uncle, Nightingale was duly married the next day to Miss Nancy Miller.

      In the meanwhile, Lady Bellaston had laid a very black design against Sophia. She contrived to get the willing consent of one Lord Fellamar to attempt to win Sophia by force and Sophia was saved only by the appearance of Squire Western in the nick of the time. Squire Western, in his own peculiarly rough manner, asked Sophia if she was not willing to marry Blifil, and when she disappointed him, he locked her up in one of the rooms in his Lodgings. Squire Western who had abandoned all hope of meeting his daughter and had returned home, had learned about Sophia's being in London and at Lady Bellaston's, from Mrs. Fitzpatrick, who, in that way, expected to make her peace with Squire and Mrs. Western. Having arranged to invite Blifil to London, the Squire made haste to reach Lady Bellaston's and really succeeded in saving Sophia from Lord Fellamar. Allworthy, who was assured by Blifil that he would not marry Sophia against her will, but that he had hopes still to win her over by persuasion, accompanied Blifil to London and they both came to stay at Mrs. Miller's from which place Nightingale, Mrs. Nightingale and Jones had removed to other quarters.

      Mrs. Honour had come to inform Jones about the forcible removal of Sophia from Lady Bellaston's when Lady Bellaston's coming over there, made Mrs. Honour aware of Tom's amour with the lady. In order to keep the matter secret, Lady Bellaston employed Mrs. Honour, whose greatest concern was the loss of her employment as her maid, and hence Mrs. Honour could no further help Tom in his embassies to Sophia. Here, however, Partridge came to his help. He had met Black George, and through Black George, in an ingenious manner, some correspondence was carried on between Tom and Sophia.

      Tom's greatest concern now was how to dispose of Lady Bellaston, and Nightingale suggested to him that he should make proposals of marriage to her which were sure to be rejected. If they were not rejected, Tom could wriggle out of the difficulty with the help of the disclosure of some of Lady Bellaston's erstwhile correspondence with somebody else. After some hesitation, Tom adopted the plan, and the plan succeeded beyond expectation.

     Now a temptation of another kind lay before our hero. One Mrs. Hunt, a very rich widow, not above thirty, offered marriage to him, but he found no difficulty in delicately refusing the offer.

      In the meanwhile, Mrs. Western who followed Squire Western to London, managed to get Sophia released and sent to her place under her charge.

      Tom had accompanied Mrs. Miller and her younger daughter to the play-house: the play was Hamlet, and Partridge, who was one of the company, contributed a large amount of mirth to the audience. While at the play-house, Mrs. Fitzpatrick made an appointment with Jones, told him that she had something to say which might be of great service to him and Jones promised to attend her the next afternoon. Elsewhere a scheme for the ruin of Jones had been set on foot. At the instance of Lady Bellaston, Lord Fellamar had engaged a gang to kidnap Jones to some far-off country. Jones kept his appointment with Mrs. Fitzpatrick, who suggested to him that, by making advances to Mrs. Western, he might get the opportunity of meeting Sophia and who, later on, indicated that she would rather have him for herself. Jones took his hasty leave of her and as he came out of the house, he met Mr. Fitzphtrick who had learned the whereabouts of his wife from Mrs. Western, and in whose head Jones and Upton were running in a confused manner. Fitzpatrick gave a blow to Jones and drew his sword. Jones accepted the challenge and pressed on so boldly upon Fitzpatrick that he beat down his guard and sheathed one half of his sword in his body. Lord Fellamar's gang, which had dogged Jones into the house of Mrs. Fitzpatrick, now rushed in and seized Jones and wisely concluded that its business now was to deliver him into the hands of a civil magistrate. Jones was committed to the Gatehouse where, the next morning, Partridge brought Sophia's letter, which Black George had conveyed to him, and wherein Sophia had shown her knowledge of Tom’s proposals of marriage to Lady Bellaston and had asked that his name might never more be mentioned to her.

      While Mrs. Western and Lady Bellaston were contriving, in several ways, to procure the consent of Sophia to the match with Lord Fellamar, Mrs. Miller was softening the heart of All worthy towards Jones. She and Nightingale tried to relieve Jones from his present distress. Nightingale tried to see if he could get witnesses who knew that the first blow in the combat was given by the dying or dead Fitzpatrick but witnesses were suborned by Blifil through Dowling and, therefore, maintained that the first below was given by Tom. Mrs. Miller conveyed Tom's letter to Sophia, but Tom had not explained in it his proposals of marriage to Lady Bellaston and hence the letter proved no better than a riddle to Sophia. Things looked better, however, when Mrs. Waters who had supplanted the place of his wife with Mr. Fitzpatrick came to the Gatehouse and assured Jones that Fitzpatrick was out of danger and anyway he was prepared to aver that he gave the first blow.

      Partridge had not been able to see Mrs. Waters at Upton, or so Fielding suggests in the 2nd chapter of the 18th Book, but here is, to our mind, an inconsistency; because in the 3rd chapter of the 9th Book, it is related that while Partridge was fighting with the landlady, Mrs. Waters descended from above, and 'fell upon the poor woman who was boxing with Partridge' and that Partridge continued his fight encouraged by this assistance. Perhaps, however, we are to suppose that he was too busy with the fight to notice her identity. Now, when he saw Mrs. Waters going out from Tom's chambers, he recognized her to be Jenny Jones who had admitted to being the mother of Tom. Naturally, Tom's shock was as great as Partridge's. Mrs. Waters, however, cleared the matter and disclosed, for the first time, that Miss Bridget Allworthy was the mother of Tom, and one Mr. Summer, who had been a very good man and who had been kept at the University by Allworthy, was his father. Mrs. Blifil had indeed communicated the whole in a letter to Allworthy, which, however Mr. Blifil never allowed him the chance to read. Square, who was on his deathbed at Bath, reported at last and corrected, by a letter, the distorted version of Tom's conduct on the day of Allworthy's recovery. It was also discovered that Blifil had engaged Dowling to suborn witnesses to prove Tom's having given the first blow to Fitzpatrick. All the hypocrisy of Blifil having been discovered and the innate goodness of Tom's heart having appeared, Allworthy was reconciled to Jones, whom Lord Fellamar himself and the Irish Peer (who helped Mrs. Fitzpatrick to get a divorce from Mr. Fitzpatrick) helped in recovering his liberty.

      With the desire of bringing about a reconciliation between the Nightingales —father and son, Allworthy interviewed the father, and besides succeeding in the enterprise, also learned that it was Black George who had stolen the £500 Tom had lost.

      No sooner did Squire Western learn that Tom was the nephew of Allworthy and that Allworthy was completely reconciled to him, he was as strongly in favor of Sophia's marrying Tom as he was before in favor of her marriage with Blifil. It was more difficult to win over Sophia, but the difficulties were not insuperable and Tom and Squire Western, between themselves, successfully managed the business and Tom and Sophia was duly married.


      Fielding concludes the story with some account of each of the characters of the novel, who have made any considerable figure in it. Suffice it to say, however, for our purpose, that while Tom became quite happy with his Sophia, Allworthy could not be prevailed upon even to see Blifil. He, at last, yielded to the importunity of Jones, backed by Sophia, to settle £200 a year upon him, to which Jones privately added a third. The expectations of the rest of the characters were more than fulfilled on account of the generosity of Squire Allworthy and Tom Jones.

      While narrating the story of this great comic epic, we could not, unfortunately, give any attention to the "introductory chapters" to each of the eighteen books, which Fielding has written in his novel. Fielding himself looked upon these little initial essays as an indispensable part of his scheme. Though they have nothing directly to do with the elaboration of the story, they are a delightful running commentary on the aims and the ways of his work. An artist, explaining his methods of work, will always make himself interesting and instructive, but Fielding deserves special honor for having discovered certain principles of criticism which have become general only in recent times. All these essays are interesting, but those that introduce the 1st, the 2nd, the 5th, the 7th, the 8th, the 13th and the 14th Books will probably command slightly greater respect than others. In the chapter on serious writing, he represents dogmatic criticism in its proper perspective and gives a substantial reason for varying the serious with the comic—the law of contrast, which he emphasizes, being really a great principle in art. In the initial chapter on The World and the Stage, he successfully analyses the varying opinions that readers would have of his Black George and teaches the great and memorable lesson that a single bad act no more constitutes a villain in life, than a single bad part on the stage. And so in every essay there is something very remarkable and it may be well worth some publisher's while to put all these introductory chapters together.

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