Joseph Andrews By Henry Fielding Book III: Chapters 6-9

The hare was caught within a yard or two of Adams, who lay asleep at some distance from the lovers; and the hounds, in devouring it, and pulling it backwards and forwards, had drawn it so close to him, that some of them (by mistake perhaps for the hare's skin) laid hold of the skirts of his cassock; others at the same time applying their teeth to his wig, which he had with a handkerchief fastened to his head, began to pull him about; and had not the motion of his body had more effect on him than seemed to be wrought by the noise, they must certainly have tasted his flesh, which delicious flavour might have been fatal to him; but being roused by these tuggings, he instantly awaked, and with a jerk delivering his head from his wig, he with most admirable dexterity recovered his legs, which now seemed the only members he could entrust his safety to. Having, therefore, escaped likewise from at least a third part of his cassock, which he willingly left as his exuviae or spoils to the enemy, he fled with the utmost speed he could summon to his assistance. Nor let this be any detraction from the bravery of his character: let the number of the enemies, and the surprize in which he was taken, be considered; and if there be any modern so outrageously brave that he cannot admit of flight in any circumstance whatever, I say (but I whisper that softly, and I solemnly declare without any intention of giving offence to any brave man in the nation), I say, or rather I whisper, that he is an ignorant fellow, and hath never read Homer nor Virgil, nor knows he anything of Hector or Turnus; nay, he is unacquainted with the history of some great men living, who, though as brave as lions, ay, as tigers, have run away, the Lord knows how far, and the Lord knows why, to the surprize of their friends and the entertainment of their enemies. But if persons of such heroic disposition are a little offended at the behaviour of Adams, we assure them they shall be as much pleased with what we shall immediately relate of Joseph Andrews. The master of the pack was just arrived, or, as the sportsmen call it, come in, when Adams set out, as we have before mentioned. This gentleman was generally said to be a great lover of humour; but, not to mince the matter, especially as we are upon this subject, he was a great hunter of men; indeed, he had hitherto followed the sport only with dogs of his own species; for he kept two or three couple of barking curs for that use only. However, as he thought he had now found a man nimble enough, he was willing to indulge himself with other sport, and accordingly, crying out, "Stole away," encouraged the hounds to pursue Mr Adams, swearing it was the largest jack-hare he ever saw; at the same time hallooing and hooping as if a conquered foe was flying before him; in which he was imitated by these two or three couple of human or rather two-legged curs on horseback which we have mentioned before.

Now, thou, whoever thou art, whether a muse, or by what other name soever thou choosest to be called, who presidest over biography, and hast inspired all the writers of lives in these our times: thou who didst infuse such wonderful humour into the pen of immortal Gulliver; who hast carefully guided the judgment whilst thou hast exalted the nervous manly style of thy Mallet: thou who hadst no hand in that dedication and preface, or the translations, which thou wouldst willingly have struck out of the life of Cicero: lastly, thou who, without the assistance of the least spice of literature, and even against his inclination, hast, in some pages of his book, forced Colley Cibber to write English; do thou assist me in what I find myself unequal to. Do thou introduce on the plain the young, the gay, the brave Joseph Andrews, whilst men shall view him with admiration and envy, tender virgins with love and anxious concern for his safety.

No sooner did Joseph Andrews perceive the distress of his friend, when first the quick-scenting dogs attacked him, than he grasped his cudgel in his right hand — a cudgel which his father had of his grandfather, to whom a mighty strong man of Kent had given it for a present in that day when he broke three heads on the stage. It was a cudgel of mighty strength and wonderful art, made by one of Mr Deard's best workmen, whom no other artificer can equal, and who hath made all those sticks which the beaus have lately walked with about the Park in a morning; but this was far his masterpiece. On its head was engraved a nose and chin, which might have been mistaken for a pair of nutcrackers. The learned have imagined it designed to represent the Gorgon; but it was in fact copied from the face of a certain long English baronet, of infinite wit, humour, and gravity. He did intend to have engraved here many histories: as the first night of Captain B — — 's play, where you would have seen critics in embroidery transplanted from the boxes to the pit, whose ancient inhabitants were exalted to the galleries, where they played on catcalls. He did intend to have painted an auction room, where Mr Cock would have appeared aloft in his pulpit, trumpeting forth the praises of a china basin, and with astonishment wondering that "Nobody bids more for that fine, that superb — " He did intend to have engraved many other things, but was forced to leave all out for want of room.

No sooner had Joseph grasped his cudgel in his hands than lightning darted from his eyes; and the heroick youth, swift of foot, ran with the utmost speed to his friend's assistance. He overtook him just as Rockwood had laid hold of the skirt of his cassock, which, being torn, hung to the ground. Reader, we would make a simile on this occasion, but for two reasons: the first is, it would interrupt the description, which should be rapid in this part; but that doth not weigh much, many precedents occurring for such an interruption: the second and much the greater reason is, that we could find no simile adequate to our purpose: for indeed, what instance could we bring to set before our reader's eyes at once the idea of friendship, courage, youth, beauty, strength, and swiftness? all which blazed in the person of Joseph Andrews. Let those, therefore, that describe lions and tigers, and heroes fiercer than both, raise their poems or plays with the simile of Joseph Andrews, who is himself above the reach of any simile.

Now Rockwood had laid fast hold on the parson's skirts, and stopt his flight; which Joseph no sooner perceived than he levelled his cudgel at his head and laid him sprawling. Jowler and Ringwood then fell on his greatcoat, and had undoubtedly brought him to the ground, had not Joseph, collecting all his force, given Jowler such a rap on the back, that, quitting his hold, he ran howling over the plain. A harder fate remained for thee, O Ringwood! Ringwood the best hound that ever pursued a hare, who never threw his tongue but where the scent was undoubtedly true; good at trailing, and sure in a highway; no babler, no overrunner; respected by the whole pack, who, whenever he opened, knew the game was at hand. He fell by the stroke of Joseph. Thunder and Plunder, and Wonder and Blunder, were the next victims of his wrath, and measured their lengths on the ground. Then Fairmaid, a bitch which Mr John Temple had bred up in his house, and fed at his own table, and lately sent the squire fifty miles for a present, ran fiercely at Joseph and bit him by the leg: no dog was ever fiercer than she, being descended from an Amazonian breed, and had worried bulls in her own country, but now waged an unequal fight, and had shared the fate of those we have mentioned before, had not Diana (the reader may believe it or not if he pleases) in that instant interposed, and, in the shape of the huntsman, snatched her favourite up in her arms.

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After Adams returns penniless from Pastor Trulliber's, who pays his bills at the inn?




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