Summary and Analysis
Book IV: Chapters 4-6
On Tuesday, two days after her interviews with Adams and Scout, Lady Booby is returning from church, where she has just heard the second publication of the banns. To her further dismay she now learns from Slipslop that Scout has carried both Fanny and Joseph before the justice. Earlier, she wanted to be rid of them both, but now she cannot bear to lose Joseph. Her worries are interrupted, however, by the arrival of her nephew and his wife, Pamela (who is Joseph's sister). News of Joseph's arrest reaches Mr. Booby through his servants, and he leaves to see what he can do to help his brother-in-law. He arrives at the "judgment-seat" just after the justice, who is a neighbor and an acquaintance of his, has ordered Joseph and Fanny to Bridewell for a month. Mr. Booby reads the deposition, written by the justice himself, and is horrified to find that the trumped-up charge is no more than that "Joseph Andrews with a nife cut one hassel-twig" belonging to lawyer Scout, who smugly remarks that "if we had called it a young tree, they would have been both hanged." Booby protests and the justice commits Joseph and Fanny to Mr. Booby's custody. When Joseph is dressed in a suit of Mr. Booby's, the three return in Mr. Booby's coach and meet Parson Adams on his way to rescue his two parishioners. Lady Booby is delighted to learn that Joseph has become a member of the family, but she will not tolerate the presence of Fanny, who departs with Adams. Joseph joyfully meets his sister, but at the end of his account of his adventures, he is dismayed to find that he is expected to spend the night at Lady Booby's. Late that night, Lady Booby talks to Slipslop about her various doubts and passions, and Slipslop dutifully echoes Lady Booby's vilification of Fanny and her fulsome praise of Joseph. She is a little too direct, however, in her encouragement to the "lady of fashion" to marry Joseph. Lady Booby is highly indignant, but Slipslop merely laughs at her mistress and bids her goodnight.
The justice, like Scout, is a miserably inadequate man of law; illiterate and open to pressure, he is prepared to initiate any charge simply to satisfy Lady Booby — and is equally prepared to drop it to accommodate Mr. Booby.
It is vanity that leads Mr. Booby to dress up his brother-in-law for presentation to Lady Booby, who is delighted to see Joseph again. The novel has come full circle; at the beginning, Joseph was stripped of his livery, now he is being clothed. Significantly, he chooses "the plainest dress he could find," his genteel appearance stemming not so much from the superficial perfection of fit, but from Joseph's own essential qualities: "no person would have doubted its being as well adapted to his quality as his shape."