Summary and Analysis
Book II: Chapters 10-11
A group of young "bird-batters" discovers the distraught woman and her rescuer; Adams is still vacillating between faith in his legs or in the law. He tries to relate what has happened, but the canny villain interrupts with his own version: He is a poor traveler who was robbed by this pair of rogues! Catching a pair of thieves immediately seems better sport than catching birds, and so the bird-batters march Adams and the woman off to the justice. The resigned Adams, constantly sympathetic toward his companion, misses an opportunity to escape, for when the clerk of the company mentions the possibility of an 80 pound reward they all start to bicker about their share. In his mournful ejaculations, Adams mentions the name of Joseph Andrews, which leads to the revelation that the woman is none other than Joseph's beloved Fanny, who had heard of Joseph's misfortune, had immediately abandoned the cow she was milking, and set out to find Joseph. Fanny denies her passion to Adams, who "never saw farther into people than they desired to let him," but Fielding tells us that she loved Joseph "with inexpressible violence."
Adams and Fanny are put in a stable while the justice, just returned from a fox chase, finishes his dinner. Afterward, the justice, "being in the height of his mirth and his cups," proceeds to "have good sport" with them, without any regard to the issues at stake. While lewd remarks are leveled at Fanny, a witty fellow spies Adams' cassock beneath his greatcoat and taunts him with several lines of Latin. Adams quickly challenges the wit's linguistic mistakes — but, to the amusement of the crowd, he has no money to back up his wager. Meanwhile, the justice orders the clerk to make the mittimus (without reading a word of the de-positions), and the indignant objections from Adams do nothing to prick his conscience. At this point, the clerk introduces into the evidence Adams' copy of Aeschylus, which is literally and figuratively Greek to the justice, who mutters darkly about "cyphers." The parson of the parish fares little better with the book, and the justice triumphantly takes Aeschylus to be Adams' fictitious name. By chance, a squire in the crowd recognizes Adams and, when the justice hears Adams referred to as a clergyman and gentleman, he hastily tries to make amends. Adams gives the true account of the whole affair, which the justice believes as readily as he did the first version. The villain of the episode, however, has quietly withdrawn, leaving the bird-batters in a loud drunken quarrel concerning who would have received the most money had Adams been convicted. Adams takes a drink with the justice and, despite his wise observations on the folly of people who argue vehemently about matters of small import to them, he almost comes to blows with the justice in a debate on the conduct of the arraignment. Fanny interrupts the dispute when she learns that a young fellow is about to set out for the inn where Joseph's stagecoach has stopped. She and Adams accompany the young man to the inn.
Though Adams is accused of stealing his cassock, it is the ignorant parson of the parish who proves to be the impostor. The theme of incompetent clergymen is soon to be filled out by the ale-swilling Parson Trulliber. To provide spice to his satire, Fielding inserts a parody on "a knowledge of Latin" and also provides us with a justice, thick and bloated from his own meal. Fielding was himself a magistrate and had first-hand knowledge of the abuse of common law by those supposed to be on the right side of it. The world of Aeschylus, the feeder of Adams' better self, is unknown to these lesser mortals — but Fielding emphasizes Adams' humanity by allowing him, despite his own philosophical observations, to warm up almost to boiling point in his debate with the justice.