Study Guide

Tom Jones Book 18, Chapter 5

By Henry Fielding

Book 18, Chapter 5

In Which the History Is Continued

  • Mrs. Miller tells Squire Allworthy that the witnesses to Tom's duel were in the pay of a great lord.
  • Mr. Nightingale has spoken to their leader.
  • Apparently, this lord told the gang that Tom was a common beggar.
  • That's why they were so enthusiastic about forcing him onto a ship to work: because he's supposedly not worth leaving on land.
  • Squire Allworthy is stunned at all of this news.
  • Mr. Nightingale adds that he spotted Mr. Dowling talking to two of the men in this gang.
  • Mr. Nightingale assumes that Mr. Dowling must have been working for Squire Allworthy on this errand.
  • The reason he jumps to this conclusion is because of what the gang's members told him after Mr. Dowling left them.
  • Apparently, Mr. Dowling listened to their bad-for-Tom version of events (sponsored by the influence of Lord Fellamar).
  • And he informed them that they should tell the truth and speak up for Tom.
  • Squire Allworthy swears that he neversent Mr. Dowling to talk to the gang of witnesses.
  • Mr. Blifil arrives at just the right time to answer a few questions about all of this.
  • Squire Allworthy asks Mr. Blifil if he knows anything about Mr. Dowling talking to the duel witnesses.
  • Mr. Blifil claims that he sent Mr. Dowling to talk to the witnesses so that they would "soften their evidence" (18.5.7) against Tom.
  • Mr. Nightingale agrees that it did seem like Mr. Dowling was trying to encourage the witnesses to help Tom.
  • As soon as Squire Allworthy hears this, he is satisfied that Mr. Blifil is only being compassionate.
  • He immediately forgets all about the suspicions that Mr. Square's letter raised in his mind about his nephew.
  • Squire Allworthy suggests that they all—he, Mr. Blifil, Mrs. Miller, and Mr. Nightingale—go to visit Tom in jail.
  • Partridge comes in, pulls Mrs. Miller aside, and tells her about Mrs. Waters/Jenny Jones and Tom.
  • Mrs. Miller almost faints when she hears about Tom's incest with his mother.
  • But she quickly thinks of an excuse to stop Squire Allworthy from going to the prison and spotting Mrs. Waters.
  • She says that Tom is not well, and that the sudden arrival of Squire Allworthy might be too much of a shock for him.
  • Squire Allworthy asks if Tom's servant is outside? He wants to speak to him.
  • And Partridge has no choice but to go in.
  • Of course, Squire Allworthy recognizes Partridge at once.
  • Squire Allworthy asks about Tom's health and general wellbeing.
  • Mr. Nightingale, Mrs. Miller, and Mr. Blifil all eventually leave the room.
  • This is the moment Squire Allworthy has been waiting for: he has wanted to speak to Partridge alone.