Summary and Analysis
Book IV: Chapters 1-3
Lady Booby returns home and the sight of Joseph once again sets her passion rioting against her reason. After an agitated night, she summons Mrs. Slipslop and asks for an account of Joseph's dismissal and departure. Mrs. Slipslop, however, begins to praise the handsome, young Joseph, and the two women engage in another jealous tiff.
When Lady Booby attends church the next day, her ogling of Joseph is interrupted by Adams' announcement of the banns of marriage between Joseph and Fanny. Furious, Lady Booby summons Adams and condemns the character of the two lovers, but Adams stands firm in his approval of the match, despite Lady Booby's threats to have him dismissed. Moreover, she is alarmed by what Adams has learned from lawyer Scout: any person who serves a year gains a settlement in the parish where he serves. She sends for this potentially dangerous lawyer. Unlike Adams, however, Scout quickly bends himself to Lady Booby's purpose; he echoes her reasoning, vilifies Fanny, and refers her to Justice Frolick as the man to legally exterminate the two. Fielding closes by saying that the vermin who eat up the poor committed to Bridewell are really none other than the Scouts of this world, who are the "pests of society."
The turbulence of Lady Booby's emotions is strikingly shown by the way that Adams' reference to Fanny's beauty lodges itself in her distracted mind, which feasts with a strange fascination on this poisonous piece of knowledge.
The steadfast honesty of Adams stands in direct contrast to the sly hypocrisy of Scout, who will ensure — for certain favors — that no law stands in the way of the will of such eminent people as Lady Booby.