Study Guide

Tom Jones Book 7, Chapter 12

By Henry Fielding

Book 7, Chapter 12

The Adventure of a Company of Officers

  • The lieutenant has been really unlucky with his career.
  • Everyone respects and likes him.
  • But he has spent the last forty years under the command of a colonel who keeps blocking his promotion. Why?
  • Because the colonel tried to sleep with the lieutenant's wife and she refused him. Oops.
  • She never told her husband of this proposition for fear that he would be angry with her.
  • So the lieutenant has no idea why the colonel won't promote him.
  • He serves with a French lieutenant and two ensigns, Notherton and Adderly.
  • At dinner, Tom says that the troops will no doubt fight "more like Grecians than Trojans" (7.12.7) against the enemy. (In other words, Tom is sure they'll win.)
  • The ensign Notherton, responding to Tom, starts cursing Latin school, and religion.
  • The lieutenant tries to scold the ensign for swearing so much and for cursing priests in particular.
  • Northerton keeps trying to provoke Tom: he mocks Tom's "great learning" (7.12.18).
  • Tom puts him down hard with some fine sarcasm.
  • Notherton silently plans his revenge.
  • When Tom raises his glass to toast Sophia, Notherton says that she "was lain-with by half the young fellows at Bath" (7.12.22). (Bath is a famous English resort town.)
  • Tom insults Notherton and calls him a liar.
  • Notherton throws a bottle at Tom's head.
  • The bottle knocks Tom out; he's bleeding from his head.
  • The lieutenant stops Northerton from escaping the scene of his crime.
  • Northerton protests that he didn't mean any harm; he doesn't even know a woman named Sophia Western. (Idiot.)
  • The lieutenant sends Northerton off into custody.
  • The lieutenant calls in a surgeon for Tom.
  • Tom starts waking up.