Summary and Analysis
The surgeon despairs of Joseph's recovery, so Mr. Tow-wouse sends for a clergyman, Mr. Barnabas, who first drinks a dish of tea with the landlady and then a bowl of punch with the landlord before going up to see Joseph. Joseph is incoherent; he talks to himself about Fanny, but resigns himself without regret to the divine will. Barnabas considers all this "a rhapsody of nonsense." Later, when he finally talks with Joseph, his "Christian" admonitions to forget all carnal affections (Fanny) and to forgive everyone (the thieves) sound rather hollow. Barnabas descends for more punch while the good-natured Betty brings Joseph some tea (which Mrs. Tow-wouse had refused to serve him).
Mr. Barnabas is one of the many hypocritical clergymen who are a disgrace to the cloth in a way that Adams, disheveled on the outside but always decent on the inside, is not. The link between good nature and occupation is important; disposition demands practical exercise and encouragement. Hence Adams' office as a clergyman is important because "no other office could have given him so many opportunities of displaying his worthy inclinations" (Fielding's preface). Similarly, the hypocrites dissembling in the cloth can do great harm; there are no fewer than six such clergymen in Joseph Andrews, of whom Barnabas and Trulliber are the most glaring examples. Barnabas is more interested in punch than in his duties and he knows only the formulae of his faith. His dealings with Joseph are not at all related to Joseph's experience, and this discrepancy between formulae and "good works" (action) is one to which Fielding returns throughout the novel. The good nature of Joseph is, however, like Fielding's, essentially pragmatic; perhaps only Christ could forgive such enemies as Joseph encounters.
Again it is Betty who reveals a truly charitable heart in bringing Joseph the tea which was too much trouble for Mrs. Tow-wouse to prepare.