I intend to digress, through this whole History, as often as I see
Occasion: Of which I am myself a better Judge than any pitiful Critic whatever.
And here I must desire all those Critics to mind their own Business
till they produce the Authority by which they are constituted Judges, I shall
[not] plead to their Jurisdiction.
The narrator directly addresses the reader with these words in Chapter II of
Book I. The direct address of the reader is a typical trait of the narrator's
throughout the novel, to the point where he even assumes the status of a
character within the novel. These words also allow us to assume that Fielding
himself is the narrator, since he refers self-consciously to his own writing
style. The narrator's contempt for critics of his work becomes a recurring
theme—indeed, Fielding was obliged to preempt the slander of critics since
his work urges the rather unconventional vision of Virtue as an entity that can
be separated from Religion.