Friday, January 19, 2018

Henry Fielding: 'The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling' (1749), Part VI

Henry Fielding (1707-1754), The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling. London: Andrew Millar, 1749. 

In which we continue our exploration of Fielding's language, including expressions still employed in the 21st century.

[The novel is divided into eighteen "books" (sections), each with its own chapter numbers starting with "i." References will be made to book number followed by chapter number; parenthetical page numbers correspond to the Modern Library edition published in 1985.]

"'Among my Acquaintance, the silliest Fellows are the worst Husbands; and I will venture to assert, as a Fact, that a Man of Sense rarely behaves very ill to a Wife, who deserves very well.'" (XI: viii) (page 602)

"The Antients [Ancients] may be considered as a rich Common, where every Person . . . hath a free Right to fatten his Muse. Or, to place it in a clearer Light, we Moderns are to the Antients what the Poor are to the Rich, By the Poor here I mean, that large and venerable Body which in English, we call the Mob." (XII: i) (page 620; proper attribution where possible is given for due credit by Fielding to the original author, page 621)

On War: "'What matters the Cause to me, or who gets the Victory, if I am killed? I shall never enjoy any Advantage from it. What are all the ringing of Bells, and Bonfires, to one that is six Foot under Ground? There will be an end of poor Partridge.' 'And an End to poor Partridge,' cries Jones, 'there must be one Time or other.' . . . 'But there is a great Difference between dying in one's Bed a great many Years hence, like a good Christian, with all our Friends crying about us; and being shot To-Day or Tomorrow, like a Mad-Dog; or, perhaps, hacked in twenty Pieces with a Sword, and that too, before we have repented of all our Sins. O Lord have Mercy upon us! To be sure, the Soldiers are a wicked Kind of People . . .'" (XII: iii) (page 629)

". . . Partridge, who at several Times had refreshed himself with several Naps, was more inclined to Eating than to Sleeping, and more to Drinking than to either." (XII: vii) (page 643)

"THEY now discovered a Light at some Distance, to the great Pleasure of Jones, and to the no small Terror of Patridge, who firmly believed himself to be bewitched, and that this Light was a Jack with a Lanthorn, or somewhat more mischievous." 

[Early form of Jack-o-Lantern, then also called will-o'-wisp, a distant cousin, perhaps, to the whip-poor-will in eeriness, one by sight and the other by sound.]  (XII: xii) (page 663)

"An Invocation . . . I shall be read, with Honour, by those who never knew nor saw me, and whom I shall neither know nor see." 

[Writing for the ages.] (XIII: i) (page [682]).

Lottery Card, British Museum
A mishmash of phrasings still employed: "This Point being cleared up, they soon found themselves so well pleased with each other . . ."  "'I will give you up'" and "He would have gone on." 

(XIII: xi) (pages 732-733)

" . . . in some Cases, to lie, is not only excusable but commendable . . . though at the Expence of a little Fibbing." (XIII: xii) (page 736)

"A true Knowledge of the World is gained only by Conversation, and the Manners of every Rank must be seen in order to be known." (XIV: i) (page 742)

Today's Rune: Harvest.  

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

Cool to see those references to early Jack o lanterns