Study Guide

Tom Jones Book 7, Chapter 11

By Henry Fielding

Book 7, Chapter 11

The Adventure of a Company of Soldiers

  • In the middle of the night, a company of soldiers arrive at the inn.
  • They drink a ton and make a lot of noise.
  • Naturally, Tom wakes up and joins them.
  • At the end of this sudden party, a fight breaks out over who owes what.
  • Tom is in the middle of a conversation with the sergeant of the company, and he sees the argument.
  • It looks as though the fight among the soldiers is going to become physical.
  • Tom steps in and says he'll pay the whole amount.
  • It's not actually that much: 3 shillings and 4 pence. Let's take a break from literature to do some math: a shilling is worth 5 pence (a.k.a. pennies). A pound coin is worth 20 shillings. A guinea coin is worth 21 shillings.
  • (Yes, in Britain they used to have two separate coins that were worth almost but not quite the exact same amount. Why? Your guess is as good as ours.)
  • Anyway, all told, Tom got 16 guineas from Sophia. That equals 336 shillings. Tom spends 3 of those shillings on beer. So Tom spends about 0.8% of the money he got from Sophia on this bash. We hope you've enjoyed this installment of Math Fun Time with Tom Jones!
  • Back to the action: the company all agrees that Tom is awesome for standing them this beer.
  • The sergeant tells Tom that they are marching against "the rebels." (7.11.8)
  • And now, how about a break from literature for some history?
  • "The rebels" (a.k.a. the Jacobites) are the supporters of James (the son of exiled King James II and VII) and Charles Stuart (the former king's grandson, also known as "Bonnie Prince Charlie"). The Jacobites believe that the Stuart family should be restored to the throne.
  • They are fighting against the supporters of the current king, George II (of the Hanoverian dynasty). Remember how Squire Western calls everyone he hates Hanoverians? That's because Squire Western is also a supporter (in a very low-level and uninvolved way) of the Jacobite cause. Tom Jones was published in 1749, and Bonnie Prince Charlie invaded Scotland from France in 1745. So this is all very recent history to Fielding.
  • These drunken soldiers whom Tom meets are going to fight under the command of the Duke of Cumberland.
  • The Duke of Cumberland was the historical leader of George II's forces in Scotland.
  • He brutally killed a lot of Highlanders for their support of Bonnie Prince Charlie.
  • And he defeated Bonnie Prince Charlie's forces at Culloden in 1746. This history is so complicated, it kind of makes us want to cry a little.
  • To find out more about all of this stuff, check this.
  • Anyway, back to our story. Tom is a supporter of King George II over the rebels.
  • So he jumps in and says he might want to volunteer for their company.
  • Everyone drinks a toast to Tom and the king.
  • Tom brings his luggage with him and starts marching out with his new friends.
  • They arrive at an army camp where the sergeant introduces Tom to his lieutenant.
  • The lieutenant is immediately impressed with the fineness of Tom's clothes and his "remarkable air of dignity" (7.11.16).
  • The lieutenant invites Tom to join him and the officers for dinner.