Summaries and Critical Commentary
After giving us succinct character sketches of Joseph himself, the Reverend Abraham Adams, and Lady Booby’s factotum, Mrs Slipslop, Fielding relates how, after Squire Booby’s death, his widow, Lady Booby, first promotes the handsome Joseph to be her footman, and then takes him to London with her, where he picks up some of the airs and graces of city servants but twice spurns Lady Booby’s determined attempts to seduce him. Egged on by Mrs Slipslop, whose cruder advances he has also rejected, she angrily dismisses him, and he sets out, at night, to walk home. He is set upon by footpads and after a gallant defence is robbed, stripped naked, and left for dead. The occupants of a passing stage-coach reluctantly convey him to an inn where he is grudgingly accommodated and visited, to no avail, by the doctor and the local vicar. There Adams, who has set off to London in hopes of selling his sermons, finds him in bed. Joseph’s inherent toughness soon overcomes his injuries and the friends decide to resume their journeys. An animated discussion at dinner is interrupted by a furious row between the landlord and his wife, the terrifying Mrs Tow-wouse, who has discovered her husband in bed with Betty the chambermaid, she having, like Lady Booby, first failed in her efforts to seduce the incorruptible Joseph. The hullabaloo, and Book I, end with Betty’s dismissal.
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