Summary and Analysis
Book IV: Chapters 9-11
Lady Booby arrives with her entourage at Parson Adams', taking the cluttered Adams household quite by surprise; her purpose is to reunite Fanny as firmly as possible with her gentleman assailant, who on his arrival at Booby-Hall gave Lady Booby a rapturous account of his encounter with Fanny. The gentleman's name is Beau Didapper, and in mind and body, he resembles a stunted insect. While he flirts with Fanny, Lady Booby asks to hear the parson's son read a little. Dick is somewhat confused by his father's request in Latin, but after some testy prompting, he begins to read the history of Leonard and his wife, who were a quarreling pair frequently greeted by Paul, an old friend. Paul patches over their quarrels by secretly assuring each one that theirs is the right side in whatever dispute arises, and that the person who is right should always submit. What happens when Leonard and his wife discover this secret diplomacy, we never learn for the history is interrupted when Joseph notices Didapper trying to lay hold of Fanny. He promptly boxes him on the ear, and chaos ensues. They exchange loud blows, while Lady Booby upbraids Joseph for defending such a wench as Fanny. Adams springs to Joseph's defense, fully armed with the lid of a pan. Mr. Booby and Pamela add their comments about the impropriety of the match, and the two men are finally parted. Joseph leaves, bearing Fanny with him. He is soon followed by Lady Booby and company, after which Adams is berated by his wife and daughter. Joseph returns then with Fanny and the peddler who saved Dick from drowning and invites the Adams family to dinner; despite her recent harsh words, Mrs. Adams accepts readily, pleased to be relieved of providing for them all.
Fielding told us in the preface that anyone who looked on poverty as being ridiculous in itself "hath a very ill-framed mind"; Lady Booby's attitude of contempt toward Adams and his impoverished household hardly measures up to the sincere welcome which Adams gives to his unexpected guests. And, while we have read previously of Adams' vanity as a teacher, then observe poor Dick at a loss with his Latin, it is much more important to recognize the sense of charity which the son has clearly learned from his father. Joseph's generosity in his gift of a shilling to Dick also reveals the parson's influence. Indeed, Joseph's conduct now has a new courage and assurance which have been slowly developing throughout the book.