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The word "critic" is Greek and denotes "Judgment." Most critics are slanderers
since they only find fault with the books and authors they read. There have,
however, been some fine critics—for instance, the ancient critics
Aristotle and Horace, or the French critics Dacier and Bossu. Critics need to
have mercy, and not condemn an entire work if they only find fault with one part
On the road to London, Sophia and Mrs. Honour meet up with another young
lady and her maid on horseback. They exchange compliments and civilities. As
daylight breaks, Sophia recognizes that the lady is her cousin Harriet, the
wife of Fitzpatrick. They eventually arrive at an inn, where Sophia can
barely muster the strength to dismount from her horse. The landlord attempts to
help her, but they both fall over backwards, to the amusement of all on-lookers.
This landlord convinces himself that Sophia and Harriet are "Rebel Ladies," and
that Sophia is in fact Jenny Cameron, whom the Whigs allege is the lover of the
Jacobite leader Bonnie Prince Charlie. The landlord does not support the
Jacobites, but when he hears that the rebels are making headway in London, he
decides to flatter Sophia and Harriet in the hopes that they will later reward
him. The landlady cannot believe that Sophia is a gentlewoman since she is
courteous to people of all classes.
Mrs. Fitzpatrick would be deemed beautiful if she were not with Sophia, who
looks more radiant now than ever before. Harriet has agreed to accompany Sophia
to London. The landlady has become a "staunch Jacobite" since Sophia, who she
also believes to be Jenny Cameron, has treated her with such deference. Sophia
and Harriet agree to relate their histories in turn.
Mrs. Fitzpatrick reminisces about the days when she and Sophia lived at their
Aunt Western's house. She was "Miss Giddy" while Sophia was "Miss
Graveairs." She tells Sophia that she met her husband in Bath on a trip with
their aunt. Her husband, although he had no title, was the envy of all the men
because he was much admired by the ladies. He was one of the favorites of Mrs.
Western, with whom he shamelessly flirted. He flirted with Harriet too, however,
and eventually revealed that he was only feigning interest in her aunt in order
to win Harriet's love. Flattered, Harriet agreed to marry him, much to the fury
of Mrs. Western, who departed immediately from Bath. Harriet laments to Sophia
that she based her opinion of Mr. Fitzpatrick on the opinions of others.
Mrs. Fitzpatrick continues her story. Mr. Fitzpatrick wanted to return to his
native Ireland after the wedding, but she did not care to leave England. One day
she discovered a letter lying on the floor, from which she learned that her
husband had married her only for her money. When she confronted him, however, he
mollified her by means of caresses and protestations of love. In Ireland, she
grew more and more depressed, and her husband attempted to drag her down further
with snide remarks. She became pregnant by him—the man she "scorned,
hated, and detested."
Distraught from her cousin's story, Sophia has lost her appetite. Harriet has
not. The landlady interrupts their conversation to impart some "good News." Mrs.
Honour suddenly bursts in, shouting "they are come, they are come!" Sophia
thinks Honour means her father. She is secretly relieved to discover that it is
the Jacobite rebels who have arrived.
Mrs. Fitzpatrick concludes her story. In Ireland, she made friends with a
lieutenant and his wife, of whom Mr. Fitzpatrick grew jealous since he did not
share their intellect. Mrs. Fitzpatrick lived in utter solitude most of the time
after her child died, and her husband frequently traveled to Dublin and London.
One day, a lady relation of Mr. Fitzpatrick's informed Mrs. Fitzpatrick that her
husband was having an affair. Mr. Fitzpatrick returned from London having lost
all his money, and demanded that they sell one of her estates. She refused, and
accused him of having a mistress. He locked her in her room, but she managed to
escape and has been running away from him ever since.
Sophia tells Mrs. Fitzpatrick her story without saying a word about Tom. At the
conclusion, they hear an awful screeching noise—Mrs. Honour has learned
that the landlord believes Sophia to be Jenny Cameron and has begun to scratch
him indignantly. The landlord now believes Sophia to be of even greater
consequence than Jenny Cameron. He announces to Sophia and Mrs. Fitzpatrick that
an Irishman has arrived to see them. This man happens to be the person who
helped Harriet escape from Ireland. This friend denounces the institution of
marriage and offers to take Sophia and Harriet to London in his coach.
Having settled their bill at the Inn, Sophia and Harriet prepare to leave for
London with Harriet's friend. Sophia discovers that she has lost the one hundred
pounds her father gave her. The narrator praises Sophia's ability to present a
cheerful face to others while she feels dismayed inside. Moreover, Sophia leaves
a present for the landlord, over which he rejoices. After a journey of two days,
Sophia and Harriet arrive in London.
Out of propriety, Harriet will not stay her friend's house since his wife is out
of town. She and Sophia therefore find lodging for the night. The next morning,
Sophia seeks out her relation since she is a little suspicious of Harriet's
behavior. Sophia suspects that Harriet seeks a man to rescue her from her dire
situation. Sophia tracks down her relation Lady Bellaston, since "there was
not a Chairman in Town to whom her House was not perfectly well known."
Although Sophia and Harriet appear to be making a normal journey to
London, they are in fact both fleeing. This vacillation between incarceration
and escape is one of the most important themes of the novel—Sophia's
existence fluctuates between being locked up and regaining her liberty.
Harriet's history, which takes Book XI away from the chief narrative to a
secondary plot, likewise tells the story of a woman locked up—albeit by
her husband—who manages to escape. Hand in hand with the idea of escape is
the idea of pursuit. It is no accident that Western is literally a hunter.
The novel also revolves around the pursuit of money. Although Fielding
characterizes the lower classes with more leeway and affection than he does the
upper classes, he idealizes neither. The landlord in Chapter II of Book XI has
so little political integrity that he is willing to defect from being an anti-
Jacobite to being a Jacobite in order to earn a financial reward. This
motivation is not unlike the motivation of most of the servants in the novel:
Captain Blifil falls down dead while musing on how much money he will make out
of Allworthy; Black George steals Tom's five hundred pounds; Mrs. Honour
deliberates whether or not to accompany Sophia by weighing up the pecuniary
advantages; and Partridge becomes Tom's servant in the hopes of being
financially rewarded. Fielding does not exempt the upper class characters from
this critique, and even criticizes them more for their greed in coveting more
money than they already possess.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Tom Jones!