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The narrator has made quotations without citing books or their authors
throughout this history. He believes that the "Antients" to the "Moderns" are as
the rich to the poor.
Squire Western, tracking Sophia on the Worcester Road, bursts into a
volley of oaths and curses the fact that hunting for his daughter is preventing
him from hunting on this fine morning. At this moment, to Western and Parson
Supple's great surprise, a pack of hounds races by. Western leaps into action
and joins the hunt. However, since nature always conquers reason in every
character, we should not "arraign the Squire of any Want of Love for his
Daughter." The master of the hunt, impressed with Western's skills, invites him
to dinner. Western wishes to hunt the following day, but his host and Supple
discourage him from it.
Finally, the narrator returns to the story of Tom Jones and Partridge.
After departing from the Inn at Upton, Partridge wants to go home. But Jones
laments that he has no home and wishes only to join the army. Partridge argues
that perhaps the Man of the Hill was a spirit who was sent to warn them against
entering the military. He peppers his speech with non-sequitur Latin quotations,
which Tom brings to his attention. Although Partridge preaches that no Christian
should kill another man, he is terrified of losing an arm or leg, or even his
life, in battle.
At a crossway, Partridge shoos away a beggar, but Tom hands the man a shilling,
chastising Partridge for his hypocrisy. The beggar gives Tom something that he
has picked up—to Tom's elation, it is Sophia's pocket-book, which was
a present from Mrs. Western. Unfortunately, the beggar cannot read, or he
might have realized that inside the pocket-book lies one hundred pounds that
Western entrusted to his daughter. Tom gives the beggar a guinea for his
honesty, and the man leads them to the place where he found the pocket-book. He
then demands more money, but Tom insists that the money must be given to its
rightful owner. He writes down the man's name and address so that he can
compensate him in the future.
Tom and Partridge hear the noise of a drum, and Partridge fears that the rebels
are advancing. Partridge is eager to see a puppet show they pass by, "The
Provoked Husband." The show fetches high acclaim from the spectators and from
the puppet-master himself, who praises his show for its ability to "improve the
Morals of young People." A clerk agrees that everything base should be excluded
from theaters. Tom offends the puppet-master by saying that he would rather have
watched the merry pranks of Punch and Joan.
The landlady is in a frenzy after finding her maid, Grace, backstage with the
puppeteer who played Merry Andrew. She reminisces about the old days when puppet
shows staged Bible stories, silencing the puppeteer's
boasts. Tom is prevailed upon by Partridge, the puppet-master, and the landlady
to sleep at the inn before continuing his journey—he has hardly slept
since the "Accident of the broken Head" at Bristol. Partridge prefers eating to
sleeping or drinking. The uproar caused by Grace has passed and calm has been
restored among hosts and guests.
Although Partridge's pride prevents him answering to the title of "servant," his
constant bragging about Tom's superior status leads people to believe that Tom
is his master. Indeed, Partridge greatly embellishes Tom's fortune, convinced
that Tom is Allworthy's heir. Now Partridge tells the company at the inn
that he thinks Tom has gone mad. Some say that Tom should not be allowed to roam
the countryside in such a state, as he might cause trouble. Partridge perks up
at this idea—he is still keen to induce Tom to return to Allworthy. The
landlady cautions that no one should treat Tom with violence, admiring Tom's
pretty eyes and modesty in the process. The rest of the company debates how they
can prove Tom's insanity to a jury. The landlord enters the kitchen and
announces that the rebels are almost in London. The conversation now turns to
the rebellion and whether a right descends to a son if a father dies. The
landlord fears that the rebel leader Bonnie Prince Charlie will try to convert
everyone into Catholics.
Jones rescues the Merry Andrew puppeteer from the puppet-master, who is beating
him for his misconduct with Grace. Merry Andrew accuses the puppet-master of
wanting to violate "one of the prettiest Ladies that was ever seen in the
World." Tom perks up at these words and has a private conference with Merry
Andrew, who tells him that he saw Sophia ride through the town the day before.
Tom and Partridge set out along the route Merry Andrew points out, but a violent
rainstorm rises and they have to take shelter in an inn. Here they find the boy
who acted as Sophia's guide. Tom does not mention Sophia's name in
public—it is Partridge who has been bandying about stories of her.
Tom manages to get the boy to take them to London by horse. Jones insists on
sitting in the side-saddle—usually reserved for ladies—since this is
where his beloved Sophia sat. Partridge is delighted that Tom's thoughts are no
longer tending towards the rebellion. At three in the morning, Tom is trying to
convince the boy to take them to Coventry, when they are interrupted by Dowling,
the lawyer from Salisbury with whom Tom dined in Gloucester. Dowling urges Tom
to halt for the night, but he will not, even if it means traveling on foot. Tom
accepts Dowling's invitation to share a bottle of wine.
Dowling drinks to Allworthy and Blifil. Tom warns him not to confound the
names of the best and worst of men, shocking Dowling. Dowling in fact has never
met Allworthy, but has only heard reports of his goodness. His opinion of Blifil
is based on the boy's "pretty behavior on the news of his mother's death." Tom
explains that recently he has realized that Blifil has the "basest and Blackest
Designs." He does not elaborate on the details of these designs, however. The
narrator reminds the reader that even Tom Jones does not realize how dark these
designs in fact are. Tom admits that he is not a relation of Allworthy. Dowling
wishes to hear Tom's history. Dowling has much empathy for Tom in spite of his
being a lawyer. Tom avows that he has no interest in Allworthy's
fortune—he prefers the enjoyments of benevolent thoughts and acts to
Tom, Partridge, and the guide boy lose their way. Partridge, who has a wild
imagination, is terrified. He thinks a witch has cast a spell on them. When the
guide boy and his horse fall over, Partridge's believes his fears are confirmed.
Jones helps the guide boy recover while Partridge gripes.
Tom and Partridge spot a light and, as they approach, notice music and lanterns.
Partridge's superstition leads him to think it must be a witches' den. It is in
fact an Egyptian gypsy wedding in a barn. The King of the Gypsies welcomes Tom,
who has such an "open Countenance and courteous Behaviour" that he makes an
astounding first impression on everyone that he meets. Partridge has now relaxed
and has been decoyed by a young female gypsy pretending to tell his fortune. The
gypsy's husband catches them, and a trial ensues. The husband demands two
guineas from Partridge, but the king chastises him for putting a price on the
virtue of his wife. The king sentences the man to wear horns and his wife to be
called a "whore." The narrator expresses his support for the institution of
The narrator chides himself for his didactic digression in the previous chapter.
Tom Jones and Partridge travel from Coventry to St. Albans, which Sophia left
two hours earlier. Partridge wants to borrow some of Sophia's one hundred
pounds—he says that Fortune must have sent it for their use. Jones calls
this dishonest. Partridge, garbling some Greek into his speech, says that Tom
will understand life better when he grows older. They have offended each other,
but Partridge apologizes and Tom forgives him.
A stranger asks to join Jones and Partridge to London. They speak about the
dangers of robbery. Partridge alludes to the hundred pounds in Jones's pocket.
Near Highgate, the stranger suddenly whips out a pistol and demands the money
from Jones. Jones grabs the pistol and restrains the man, who calls for
mercy—he says that the gun is not loaded and that this is his first
robbery. Partridge, terrified, is still yelling. The man tells Jones that he has
five children and a pregnant wife and does not have money to feed them. Jones
gives the man a couple of guineas. Partridge says that Jones should have
punished the man—stealing deserves death by hanging. Jones reminds him
that not long ago Partridge stole some horses.
Book XII is one of the most eventful books of the novel, packed to the brim with
the adventures of Tom and Partridge: they discover Sophia's pocket-
book, they attend a puppet-show, Tom drinks with Dowling, they attend the Gypsy
wedding, and they are almost robbed on the highway. Before the narrator takes us
into the courtly realm of London for good, he escalates Tom's ribald road
adventures. While the book may seem to jump from one scenario to the next, many
of the events are important precursors to Tom's experience in London.
In the final chapter of the book, Fielding distinguishes Tom's sense of honor
from Partridge's hypocrisy—the worst characters in the book, including
Thwackum, Square, and Blifil, act in contradiction to their words. Partridge's
hypocrisy may be excused, however, on account of his pathetic character—he
believes the Gypsies to be witches, and he cannot come to Tom's assistance on
the highway because he cannot stop yelling. His is thus a less invidious
hypocrisy than Blifil's, whose evil is discovered only in the final book of the
Ace your assignments with our guide to Tom Jones!