Study Guide

Tom Jones Book 14, Chapter 8

By Henry Fielding

Book 14, Chapter 8

What Passed Between Jones and Old Mr Nightingale, With the Arrival of a Person Not Yet Mentioned in This History

  • Tom comes in justas Nightingale Senior is finishing up marriage negotiations with the father of the woman he wants his son to marry.
  • So Nightingale Senior is feeling really satisfied with himself.
  • When he first sees Tom, he assumes that he is going to try to get money off him.
  • He tells Tom that he will "pay no more of his [son's] bills" (14.8.6).
  • Once Nightingale Senior realizes that Tom isn't looking for money, he warms up a bit.
  • Tom keeps trying to tell Nightingale Senior about the beautiful, accomplished woman his son is marrying.
  • And Nightingale Senior keeps coming back to the fortune that his chosen daughter-in-law will bring in.
  • The two of them are both talking about different women but don't realize it.
  • Tom, of course, is talking about Nancy Miller.
  • Nightingale Senior is talking about a woman named Miss Harris.
  • Finally, Nightingale Senior understands that his son has married a woman with a fortune of barely two hundred pounds a year.
  • As Nightingale Senior stands there stunned, his brother comes into the room.
  • This brother is Nightingale Senior's total opposite.
  • (We're going to call Nightingale Senior's brother "Bro Nightingale" to separate him out from all the other Mr. Nightingales in this book.)
  • When Bro Nightingale was a young man, he made a bit of money as a businessman.
  • As soon as he was satisfied with his fortune, he bought a small estate in the country and retired to it.
  • He married a woman he loved, and they lived together happily for twenty-five years.
  • His wife has now passed away, and he has one surviving daughter, who is the apple of his eye.
  • It just so happens that he knows the girl Nightingale Senior had wanted his son to marry.
  • The reason Bro Nightingale has come to town is to convince Nightingale Senior not to go forward with the match.
  • The girl in question may be rich, but she is also ugly and bad-tempered.
  • Bro Nightingale insists that it's not possible to force two people into happiness through marriage.
  • Bro Nightingale admits that Mr. Nightingale shouldn't have gotten married without his father's consent.
  • But what did Nightingale Senior expect, when he kept insisting that his son had to marry a rich girl?
  • Between Tom and Bro Nightingale, Nightingale Senior gives in and accepts his son's marriage (though he still is not happy about it).
  • Tom is so glad, and happily leads Bro Nightingale to Mrs. Miller's house.