Printer Friendly

Fielding's comic prose epithalamium in Joseph Andrews: A Spensarian imitation.

Henry Knight Miller claims that Fielding's works show 'no interest [...] in Miltonic or Spenserian imitations'. (1) There might be cause to question this statement after contemplating the publication of a comic prose epithalamium at the conclusion of Joseph Andrews, where Fielding appears to have imitated the spirit and structure, though not the verse construct, of Spenser's marriage hymn. In four paragraphs describing the wedding day of Joseph Andrews (nee Wilson) and Fanny Goodwill (nee Andrews) and a single paragraph announcing Fanny's pregnancy, Fielding imitates the epithalamium genre and conveys its dual spirit, the literary and the religious. Fielding introduces into his narrative the benevolent humour of Spenser's Epithalamion and informs his work with the religious timbre of the poem.

What makes these parallels more significant than simple points of comparison is the epithalamic diction that has the prose work echo the verse passages. More so, the echoing characteristic is not merely a repetition but an imaginative reconstruction of the verses by which Fielding absorbs pastoral iconography and reconstitutes it in the novel. Thus, Spenser's bride averts 'her modest eyes' (l. 159) and Fielding's Fanny shows 'extraordinary and unaffected Modesty' (p. 342). Spenser, for example, equates food and love: his bride has 'cheeks lyke apples', 'lips like cherryes charming men to byte', and a 'brest like to a bowl of cream vncrudded' (ll. 173-75), whereas Joseph and Fanny 'pampered their Imaginations with the much more exquisite Repast which the Approach of Night promised them' (p. 343). (2) Spenser concludes all the stanzas of Epithalamion except the last with the humble assertion that his voice is but an echo of the Muses: 'sing | That all the woods may answere and your eccho ring' (ll. 276-77). My argument suggests that even the most tenuous comparison reveals Fielding's echo of Spenser's voice. An apt analogy might be the nature of a symphony. The epithalamium convention offers the panoramic thesis of the symphony, but the articulation of the melody is carried out in moments of infinite variety recalling, repeating, and echoing the basic tones. Both Spenser and Fielding write under the epithalamic convention, but Fielding's indebtedness to Spenser is far more extensive than Henry Knight Miller suggests.

Fielding's prose narrative announces 'the happy Day [...] which was to put Joseph in the possession of all his Wishes' (p. 342). Following the diurnal cycle, events proceed through the wedding day and into the night. Fanny dresses modestly in a shift with 'an Edging of Lace round the Bosom', which Pamela prevailed upon her to wear, that Pamela, Joseph's sister, a simulacrum of herself from the Richardson novel that instigated Fielding's parody. She departs her 'Chamber, blushing, and breathing Sweets', is led to church by her Joseph 'whose Eyes sparkled Fire', and attends nuptials conducted by the 'true Christian Piety of Adams' (p. 342). At the meal, Parson Adams eats voraciously; in contrast, Fanny and Joseph eat sparingly as they anticipate 'the much more exquisite Repast which the Approach of Night promised them' (p. 343). Fanny undresses in her bedroom with the assistance of her mother Gammar Andrews, Joseph's mother Mrs Wilson, and sister Pamela. Joseph shortly thereafter flees to her 'with the utmost Eagerness'. The episode concludes with authorial commentary equating the betrothed couple with the ranks of the nobility whose marriages are celebrated in the classical epithalamia: 'I apprehend Joseph neither envied the noblest Duke, nor Fanny the finest Duchess that Night' (p. 343). The diurnal cycle is completed, the marriage consummated, and the birth of their child imminent (p. 344).

Fielding's respect for the works of Spenser is noted in various of his writings. Tim Vinegar, writing a letter to Capt. Vinegar from Lincoln's Inn on 20 November, published in the Champion, No. 4 (Saturday, 24 November 1739), conjoins 'the great Names of Chaucer, Spencer, Donne, Milton, and Cowley, with those of Mr. Pope, and Mr. Glover, all Natives of London'. (3)

Fielding acknowledges John Hughes's essay on Spenser's poetry in the preface to Hughes's six-volume edition of Spenser's works published in 1715. (4) Hughes claims that Spenser's lavish description appeals to young readers:

He has been the Father of more Poets among us, than any other of our Writers; Poetry being first kindled in the Imagination, which Spenser writes to, more than any one, and the Season of Youth being the most susceptible of the Impression. It will not seem strange therefore that Cowley, as himself tells us, first caught his Flame by reading Spenser; that our great Milton own'd him for his Original, as Mr. Dryden assures us; and that Dryden study'd him, and has bestow'd more frequent Commendations on him, than on any other English poet. (I, xxvii)

Fielding himself introduces a parody of Spenser into the Champion (13 December 1739), where he addresses the issue directly: 'Perhaps there never was such a Dearth of Vice, or Folly, that Satire was in Danger of starving for Want of Food: The Severe are of Opinion 'tis at present, glutted with too great a Variety.' (5) He praises Spenser further in prefatory comments to a parodic five-stanza canto by Gilbert West who had been a colleague of his at Eton:

To quit the [food] Metaphor, I have my eye on a Poem called A Canto of the Fairy Queen, in the manner of Spencer; a Piece that may be almost called a new Species of Satire, equally free from Pedantry and Licence, where the Simplicity of Truth is ornamented with the Pomp of Fable; where good Nature, and good Breeding, interchangeably sweeten Reproof, and afford us both Instruction and Entertainment. [...] The Author's assuming the Person of Spencer, is beside, a happy Expedient to take off that almost universal Displeasure which we feel, when another affects to be wiser than ourselves: And how well it becomes him let the Quotation annex'd witness [...] so well indeed, that, were it not for the superior Harmony of his [West's] Versification, (together with a few modern Images) and the Correctness of his Language, I could, without Difficulty, persuade myself, 'twas really a Fragment of that happy Genius whom I never yet read but with Love and Admiration. (6)

The Houghton Library at Harvard University owns a sequel to Fielding's burlesque play The Tragedy of Tragedies; or, the Life and Death of Tom Thumb the Great (1730), which focuses upon the wedding day of Huncamunca and the diminutive mock-hero Tom Thumb. The text copies Fielding's burlesque style in appending, without authority, a mock epithalamium to Fielding's parody of heroic drama. Although the twenty-four-page octavo is catalogued at the Houghton under Fielding's own name, Hugh Amory has told me that he suspects it is not Fielding's work. Dated 1731, The Battle of the Poets imitates Fielding's style at the height of his career as a dramatist and, if not by Fielding, it nevertheless illustrates contemporary interest in the epithalamic tradition. The following scene is an excerpt from the work:

KING This is the Wedding-day Of Princess Huncamunca and Tom Thumb: Fetch me my Laureat quickly, let him write, On Huncamunca's Marriage with Tom Thumb, Epithalamiums full of Frisk and Fun

FOPPLING FRIBBLE [...] Lightning rivet me in the Embraces of my Muse eternally if I don't--Allons, my Dear, the Subject! the Subject!

NOOD We want an Epithalamium on Tom Thumb's Marriage with the Princess Huncamunca.

FRIB Now, my Dears, as I suppose, the Epithalamium is to be sung, I'll vary the Movement, for the Benefit of the Musick--hold!--hum!--ay--Seated on Joint-stools was the last--Well then! ay, ay, right-- (7)

The song brings out the humorous motifs of the wedding feast and the bedtime ritual common to the epithalamium, which are pronounced in both Spenser and Fielding:

Then round go the Bowls,

To chear our Souls;

Our Pipes we will sunk a,

For the Honour of great Huncamunca;

And as for Tom Thumb,

Say nothing but Mum:

For him we'll be damnable drunk a--

When he peeps in her Eyes,

For to see the Smiles rise,

Well pleas'd with the Pinking,

And Winking,

And Blinking,

All other Maids he'll despise.

When the Day-light is fled,

And they're going to Bed;

When the Princess is smerking,

And Tom pulls off his Jerkin--

Now 'tis decent to leave them there; and for the Chorus of all--

To the tune of, Non e Sivago.

* Sing Smerking,

And Jerkin,

And Jerkin,

And Smerking, &c.

The author of these lines knew full well the sympathetic insights, humorous content, and bawdy potential of the epithalamic formula. George Puttenham in The Arte of English Poesie (1589) tells his reader that Epithalamies were originally 'ballades at the bedding of the bride' and that, divided into three parts, they were sung, first, at the bedding; second, at midnight when the bride and groom were urged on 'to refresh the faint weried bodies and spirits'; finally, the next day when the bride emerged from the bedchamber to show that she had endured and remained alive. At the bedding, the musicians were expected to play loudly to drown out 'the skreeking and outcry of the young damosell feeling the first forces of her stiffe & rigorous young man, she being, as all virgins, tender & weake, and vnexpert in those maner of affaires'. (8) These circumstances are intimated in several cantos in Spenser ('Let no lamenting cryes, nor dolefull teares | Be heard all night within nor yet without' (ll. 334-35)) but ignored in Joseph Andrews, where Fanny's pregnancy at the end of the novel is the only confirmation of the activity and success of the wedding night.

Fielding's subscription to formula, is, of course, subject to the aberrancy of imagination characteristic of the satirist and the comic playwright, whereby allusion becomes the associational matrix for actions transformed by modern epistemology and rhetoric. Fielding's concept of the epic, for example, though seated in Homeric imagery, is not fixed in one authorial voice, nor is it situated alone in classical Greece. In A Journey from This World to the Next (1743), he aligns ancient sources and modern authors:

A CROUD of Spirits now joined us, whom I soon perceived to be the Heroes, who here frequently play their Respects to the several Bards, the Recorders of their Actions. I now saw Achilles and Ulysses addressing themselves to Homer, and Aeneas and Julius Caesar to Virgil: Adam went up to Milton, upon which I whispered Mr. Dryden, that I thought the Devil should have paid his Compliments there, according to his Opinion. Dryden only answered, 'I believe the Devil was in me, when I said so.' Several applied themselves to Shakespeare, amongst whom Henry V. made a very distinguishing Appearance. While my Eyes were fixed on that Monarch, a very small Spirit came up to me, shook me heartily by the Hand, and told me his Name was THOMAS THUMB. (9)

Fielding's inclusion of Milton and Shakespeare in epic literature indicates his devotion to modern transformations of classical and Biblical motifs. His wide-ranging mind elicits an even greater variety in the exposition of wedding days and connubial bliss.

Frank Kermode feels that the author of Tom Thumb was capable of eclecticism and that it would have been conceivable for other classical models to have entered his mind as he wrote Joseph Andrews, including the epithalamium. (10) Paul Alpers finds that Spenser himself, having reached an apogee of the heroic form in The Faerie Queene, withdrew from the pastoral tradition 'between the publication of Books I-III, in 1590, and Books IV-VI, in 1596', to write 'Amoretti, Fowre Hymnes, Epithalamion, and Prothalamion [...] in genres in which he had not written before' representing 'an alternative body of major poetry' for his poetic expression, one that afforded him the opportunity also to deal with 'mythological representations' and 'the experience of love and its relation to love as a cosmic force'. (11) Fielding's knowledge of classical forms is a commonplace; the crux of the matter is his willingness to use the various genres to his advantage in his comic representation of life.

Henry Knight Miller identifies a broad 'genre of advice on contemplated marriage' in the literary canon, including 'the Sixth Satire of Juvenal, the last three books of Rabelais, Ben Jonson's Epicoene, and numerous Spectator papers, [which shade] into the genre of anti-feminist literature'. (12) Among Fielding's contributions to the genre are 'To a Friend on the Choice of a Wife' and an imitation of Juvenal entitled 'Part of Juvenal's Sixth Satire, Modernized in Burlesque Verse'. Fielding's spirit in the poem 'To a Friend' draws mainly from the Juvenalian, though one hears echoes of the Hudibrastic and the Horatian. Fielding can steep his descriptions in sarcasm:

But Prudes, whose Thoughts superior Themes employ,

Scorn the dull Transports of a carnal Joy;

With screw'd-up Face, confess they suffer Raptures,

And marry only to obey the Scriptures.

(l. 209)

The author advocates a virgin for his friend:

Fond of thy Person, may her Bosom glow

With Passions thou hast taught her first to know.

A warm Partaker of the genial Bed,

Thither by Fondness, not by Lewdness led.

(l. 258). (13)

The poem transports the reader from an attack upon insincere love and wanton lovers to a celebration of virtue and sensibility.

Fielding's imitation of the Sixth Satire provides numerous opportunities to assail the insincerity of lovers, as he here maintains his attack on Richardson's Pamela:

But say you, if each private Family

Doth not produce a perfect Pamela;

Must ev'ry Female bear the Blame

Of one low private Strumpet's Shame?

(l. 176). (14)

Pamela has proved deceptive, but others will goad their husbands by adopting foreign airs or expensive habits; some are taught by their mothers to vex their husbands:

Be sure, no Quiet can arrive

To you while her Mamma's alive:

She'll teach her how to cheat her Spouse,

To pick his Pocket, strip his House:

(l. 345)

Fielding follows Juvenal's basic thesis that wealth has corrupted modest behaviour such that no man can expect ought of marriage but scolding, jealous diatribes, and cuckolding. A husband's rival may father his child: 'Chuse you a Wife, whom [...] Fine Rivals! might with Ease enjoy, | And make thee Father of a Boy?' (ll. 119-22). The wedding meal satisfies but one appetite, as the consummation of the marriage satisfies another to produce a child with the strength and skill of James Figg, swordsman and pugilist:

Come then, prepare the Nuptial Feast,

Adorn the Board, invite the Guest;

That Madam may, in Time, be big,

And bring an Heir resembling Fig.

(l. 123)

Fielding draws his diction from classical satire and from Hudibrastic tradition with themes of the wedding day, the nuptial feast, and the bedding that amalgamate only in the epithalamium as an optimistic and positive dialectic, whereas in satire the tone is critical and the purpose corrective.

The epithalamium tradition is characterized by variations of theme and form. Epithalamia of Catullus provided the models for Spenser's work, with celebration of the marriage of gods and heroes on Olympus in Catullus 64, and the marriage of real humans in Catullus 61. These works provided the pattern of diurnal events from the dawn of the wedding day to the following morning. Spenser's originality adapted to the epithalamium the form of the canzone, using a sequence of long stanzas with a short tornata. (15) The tornata, John Bernard states, adds a human element to the 'divine warrant' such that 'in the Epithalamion the poet's gift is his vision of sexual fulfilment as part of God's creative plan'. (16) It is possible, therefore, to consider Fielding's integration of the epithalamic motifs at the end of Joseph Andrews to be another innovative form in a tradition of synthesis and harmony.

Thomas Greene traces the epithalamium from Sappho and shows its use in Homer (Iliad, XVIII), Hesiod (The Shield of Herakles), Theocritus, and the later Latin poets, including Statius, whom Claudian imitated. (17) The genre was revived in the fifteenth century and gained such vogue that it could be satirized by Erasmus in his Colloquia ('Epithalamium Petri Aegidii'). Though neglected by quattrocento Italian poets, the epithalamium grew in France with Du Bellay's poem for the wedding of Marguerite de France, and Ronsard, whose prime model appears to be Theocritus rather than Claudius. Although few English poets before Spenser wrote epithalamia, a distinguished number of seventeenth-century poets published these marriage hymns, including Crashaw, Donne, Dryden, Herrick, Jonson, and Marvell, whose works appear in Fielding's library. Yet a survey of these works shows that Spenser's alone comprises all the characteristics found in Fielding's prose passage. (18)

The epithalamium, according to Greene, is composed of five conventions (pp. 219-21). An examination of them shows that what I consider to be Fielding's comic epithalamium in prose answers the expectations of the genre: They are:

1. The celebration of a wedding, when not fictional, usually belonging to the nobility and upper middle class.

2. Use of classical formulae.

3. Narration in a social context.

4. Reference to a specific day, fictional or real.

5. The 'fictive poet-speaker in a complex and highly stylized role'.

Also, the speaker quite often directly addresses the lover--'you'. The Fielding epithalamium clearly conforms to the primary characteristics of the genre with obvious alterations inherent in the prose narrative method and the style of Fielding's realism: James McPeek lists nineteen rhetorical events characteristic of the epithalamium in Spenser's poem:

1. Appeal to the Muses

2. Awakening of the Muses

3. Approach of Hymen

4. Coming of the Nymphs

5. Awakening of the Bride

6. The Dressing of the Bride and Singing of Her Praise by the Three Handmaids of Venus

7. The Bride Ready to Come Forth

8. Minstrel Music

9. Fescennine Merriment

10. The Coming Forth of the Bride Compared with Phoebe

11. The Wedding in the Temple

12. The Triumphant Return and the Bridal Feast

13. The Apostrophe to the Evening Star

14. The Bedding of the Bride

15. Prayer for the Absence of Evil

16. The Presence of the Winged Loves

17. The Sport of the Lovers

18. Appeal to Juno and Hymen

19. Appeal to the gods (19)

Under Fielding's hand, the wedding day celebrates the marriage of an unheroic race. Joseph's analogy to Priapus notwithstanding, he is presented as a member of the servant class. The discovery late in the novel that he is the true son of the merchant Wilson does not alter Joseph's declaration of love, nor does it grant sanction to his marriage plans, for Parson Adams, in sacrificing his position in Lady Booby's parish by issuing the marriage banns against her wishes, becomes the persona in declaration of Fielding's moral stance.

The marriage episode at the conclusion of the novel, which I have characterized epithalamic, follows the diurnal pattern of the classical models. The day signifies not only the wedding and the triumph of love but also the victory of Abraham Adams and the Church, of morality and family virtue. This view of chastity follows Spenser:

With trembling steps and humble reuerence,

She commeth in, before th'almighties vew:

Of her ye virgins learne obedience,

When so ye come into those holy places,

To humble your proud faces.

(l. 210).

Finally, the fictive narrator, both intrusive and omniscient, enters his own narrative as one of the characters. In this additional role, he becomes an intimate correspondent of Mr Wilson, who personally apprises him of events beyond the wedding day that he could not otherwise know. This unique transformation has the narrator himself enter the story as a character, a common feature of the epithalamium, where the narrator is either the groom or an acquaintance of the bride and groom. Wheeler claims that 'the most interesting feature here is the mimetic-dramatic character of the poem--the manner in which the poet represents himself as taking part in the ceremony [...]. Sometimes he maintains his individuality [...] sometimes he associates himself with the rest of the company [...]. This is the device which more than anything else gives life to the poem'. (20) Elizabeth Mazzolla finds Spenser's Epithalamion 'circular': 'The poet not only summons the muses, townspeople, sun and moon, but employs calendrical rhythms [...] in an effort to shape his wedding day and imitate its perfection.' (21) The eclectic manner of the poet of the epithalamium has close parallels in the wide range of the narrator throughout Joseph Andrews. Thus Fielding's novel, which began as still another parody of Pamela and took on new life as a picaresque narrative, then developed into an intricately staged comedy of manners to resolve mistaken identity and social conflict, concludes at the last with a prose epithalamium. By the power of allusion, Fielding enhances the meaning of his novel by couching the closing passages of Joseph Andrews in a familiar social, religious, and classical context.

Fielding's appreciation of the epithalamium tradition can be demonstrated by a comparison of passages in Spenser's Epithalamion with the prose of Joseph Andrews. Introducing Spenser as a conceivable model for the concluding passages of Joseph Andrews suggests Fielding's close familiarity with the tradition he parodied. Parody is but one of the techniques by which Fielding's prose gives 'moral vision and sense of structure to diverse materials', Bryan Burns explains; his choice of an eclectic fictional form offers licence to proceed with the adventures of Joseph and Fanny 'in freedom'. (22) Because Fielding's technique is parody in this instance, but not burlesque, and humour, not satire, descriptive terms with generic connotations must be handled warily. Always Fielding seeks an aura of sympathy rather than denigration. He couches his work in a unique form as newly modelled text, though conscious always of the palimpsest: Horatian instruction offered in a seductive voice. Battestin is astute in his identification of 'the twin essential bases of his [Fielding's] art: the origins of laughter and the contradictions of human nature'. (23) Battestin celebrates Fielding's narrative spirit: 'The triumph of Joseph Andrews is not owing to [...] strokes of personal ridicule, but rather to its great good humour--the delight Fielding takes in the comedy of humankind' (p. 331). His temperament may be compared to Spenser's in the Epithalamion and the Amoretti.

Descriptions of Fanny as the ideal lady, for example, are reminiscent of the Renaissance canon. Sean Shesgreen reviews the history of the imagistic 'pattern of preferred beauty, which the Renaissance made its own'. (24) The portrayal of female virtues had its beginnings in classical literature and was presented most prominently in western European literature by Petrarch. Shakespeare, Spenser, and Sidney were the English authors known to Fielding who employed this convention. Shesgreen cites verses from Spenser's Amoretti, Sonnet 64, to illustrate epithets echoed in Fielding's works describing the beauty of the female lover: (25)

Her lips did smell lyke vnto Gillyflowers,

her ruddy cheekes lyke vnto Roses red:

her snowy browes lyke budded Bellamoures,

her louely eyes lyke Pincks but newly spred,

Her goodly bosome lyke a Strawberry bed,

her neck lyke to a bounch of Cullambynes:

her brest lyke lillyes, ere theyr leaues be shed,

her nipples lyke yong blossomd Iessemynes:

(l. 5). (26)

Fanny is introduced to the reader with blushing cheeks, a white neck, and moist, red lips. Shesgreen compares Joseph's appearance to the description of Don Alvares, marquess of Monte Major, the nobleman in Madelein de Scudery's Almahide (p. 33).

A first reading of the prose passage engages the audience in a series of dramatic episodes that neatly resolve themselves in a comedy of manners. But a secondary effect of this passage realizes the characteristics of the epithalamic, which describes behaviour realistically without diminishing the virtue of the characters. The benevolence and good humour in Spenser sustains itself in Fielding's work. One is quite aware, for example, of Spenser's playfulness in describing the distraction of the angels during the church service (ll. 229-33). During Joseph and Fanny's marriage, Fielding replaces the angels with Pamela and her husband, who are reprimanded by Parson Adams for their frivolity (p. 342).

Fielding's epithalamic passages are characterized by the total absence of epic machinery, in contrast to the classical epithalamia. Just how deeply the pagan gods were embedded in the poetry is clear from Alan Cameron's commentary on the Latin poet Claudius's full-scale epithalamium celebrating the forthcoming marriage of the Emperor Honorius and Maria, daughter of Stilico, Roman regent: 'The epithalamium, too, is highly charged politically. The propaganda themes are skilfully interwoven into the structure of the poem together with Venus and her band of Cupids and all the other traditional paraphernalia of the genre.' (27) The epithalamia of Sidonius, Dracontius, and Ennodius have the lovers 'brought together by Cupid and Venus, who waltz through the air in dove-drawn chariots pursued by flocks of Nymphs and Amoretti' (Cameron, pp. 194-95).

Fielding's decision to render the passage without classical imagery marks his departure from Spenser only in the omission of the gods, for both authors celebrate the sacrament of marriage and Christian vows. This conflict between those who would employ pagan gods in Christian works and those who would not was a concern of the earliest poets of the epithalamia and their patrons, such as the Christian rulers Honorius and his predecessor Theodosius. Numerous writers were producing texts laden with figures of mythology to which the Christian world would object. Cameron tells us that Paulinus of Nola proved a 'dissentient voice' and 'wrote a truly Christian epithalamium to show that it could be done', presumably omitting the pagan gods. In Fielding, we are conscious of the fact that 'Christian poets soon transferred to Christian matters epithets formerly reserved for things pagan' (Cameron, p. 193).

Fielding's decision to omit mythology from his epithalamium has its rationale in his use of mythological figures elsewhere in the novel. On the occasions when they appear in Joseph Andrews, they appear mainly in an ineffectual, immoral, lascivious, or dishonest context. They are often used in burlesque to contrast the actions of mortal men with those of ancient heroes. To use pagan gods in a moral situation would grant them undeserved stature in the religious rhetoric of the novel. Fielding mocks the imagery of mythology and, therefore, excludes it from the concluding passages of his work: 'Those who have read any Romance or Poetry antient or modern, must have been informed, that Love hath Wings; by which they are not to understand as some young Ladies by mistake have done, that a Lover can fly: the Writers, by this ingenious Allegory, intending to insinuate no more, than that Lovers do not march like Horse-Guards' (p. 49).

Several other situations demonstrate Fielding's parody of the epic machinery. Joseph is likened to Priapus, the god of gardens and fertility, when he is assigned the role of scarecrow in the garden of Lady Booby's estate. Joseph's sexual charisma and male chastity are thereby announced in the opening passages, but his Priapic attractions will cause him considerable misery before the happy conclusion of the novel. On their journey, Parson Adams and Fanny discover Joseph in the inn where they had taken shelter to avoid a thunderstorm. Joseph is heard from another room singing a bawdy song, with its account of the efforts of Zephyrus to seduce the nymph Chloe (pp. 153-54). Parson Adams later engages in an argument with the master of an ale-house who contrasts his pragmatic experience as a sailor with Adams's fantasies and naive dependence upon books. Adams values his classical education: 'I can go farther in an Afternoon than you in a Twelve-Month', he rhapsodizes on his host's travels and imagines him to 'have seen the Pillars of Hercules, [...] heard Scylla, and seen Charybdis; [...] past the very Spot [...] where Daedalus fell into that Sea, his waxen Wings being melted by the Sun; [...] and called at Colchis, to see if there is ever another Golden Fleece' (p. 181). His vicarious experience with mythical figures counts Adams a fool and a dreamer rather than a worldly man, and he suffers the contempt of the host of the ale-house (pp. 181-82). Taken before the justice after her ravisher accuses Fanny and Parson Adams of robbery, the two hear Adams accused of theft by a wit who barely remembers the mnemonics of the Latin rule that teaches the masculine gender of the names of the gods. Adams corrects him: 'Ut sunt Divorum, Mars, Bacchus, Apollo, virorum' (p. 147).

Fielding draws classical allusions into Joseph Andrews with his parody of the Aurora myth: 'That beautiful young Lady, the Morning, now rose from her Bed, and with a Countenance blooming with fresh Youth and Sprightliness, like Miss *-, [*Whoever the Reader pleases,] with soft Dews hanging on her pouting Lips, began to take her early Walk over the eastern Hills; and presently after, that gallant Person the Sun stole softly from His Wife's Chamber to pay his Addresses to her' (p. 225). (28) This racy concatenation of female beauty, attraction, and desire has an echo in Mrs Woffington's epilogue to Fielding's The Wedding Day, which was under revision while he was writing Joseph Andrews (1742) and first produced 17 February 1742/43. (Miscellanies, Vol. 6, p. xliii). The epilogue, allegedly written by a 'friend' but probably by Fielding himself, has Woffington, who held the role of Charlotte, review the part she played:

This Millamour, for aught I could discover,

Was no such dang'rous, forward, pushing Lover:

Upon the Bull I, like Europa, ventur'd

Enter'd his Closet--where he never enter'd;

But left me, after all my Kindness shewn,

In a most barbarous manner, quite alone.

(p. 223)

The sensual themes of lust and begetting are superimposed upon the sentimental theme of reformed love, which is central to Fielding's comedy, in which Young Mutable declares: 'Hum, I take Matrimony to be no Jest' (III. 2), whereas before his reformation and marriage to Clarinda, Millamour (played by David Garrick) responds with the morals of a rake, 'And I take it to be the greatest Jest in Nature' (p. 186). The prologue to The Wedding Day, spoken by Mr Macklin, who played Stedfast, invokes Joseph Andrews and thus acknowledges the juncture of the serious and the comic, the spiritual and the humorous, in the person of Abraham Adams. Macklin addresses the audience:

Ah! thou foolish Follower of the ragged Nine,

You'd better stuck to honest Abram Adams, by half:

He, in spight of Critics, can make your Readers laugh.

(p. 156)

The issue is finding a methodology for combining the serious and the comic without suffering criticism for a disjunction of sensibilities. Murial Williams finds that though 'sentimental attitudes [...] were well established by the time he wrote, [...] the sentimental strain [is] really strong' in only two of Fielding's plays, in The Wedding Day, staged after 'the period of Fielding's career as a dramatist' and The Fathers, produced 'in 1778, almost twenty-five years after Fielding's death'. (29) Though stressing the moral tone of Joseph Andrews and rightly recognizing the sentimental tradition in it ('lovers who acknowledge the physical as well as spiritual nature of love and marriage') Williams does not grant enough to Fielding's comic exposition of human circumstances. It is, instead, the epithalamium that resolves the crux between the serious and the jocular in wedding literature and binds the humour of courting and love-making to the serious business of union, procreation, and generation. Were Fielding to have searched classical paradigms for his purpose, some few genres might have offered the contextual eclecticism, contrapuntal themes, and fugal tones that he makes use of in Joseph Andrews, (30) but none better for an appreciation of the structure of the conclusion of his novel than the epithalamium. J. Paul Hunter is doubtless correct in stating that 'middle eighteenth century' writers were not as dependent upon literary models as one would generally believe, that 'cumulative old accomplishments' and 'homogeneity' 'were gone for Blake and Wordsworth and going for Fielding', (31) but Fielding was not yet done with functional forms when he could make use of them. Contemporary reader-response theory would hold this conceptualization to be an affective approach, according to Wolfgang Iser, whereby 'the relation of the text to the world can only be discerned by way of the schemata which the text bears within itself'; the schemata structures 'the repertoire of social norms and literary conventions which condition the particular 'picture" offered by the work'. (32) I take this to confirm the theory of genres, which apprised readers of Joseph Andrews, who were yet schooled in the classical paradigms that Fielding himself would not let them forget, of his grounding, regardless of the manner in which he burlesqued, parodied, or otherwise altered the familiar forms.

The nomenclature of the gods is of little use, however, in these circumstances, and pedagogy suffers ridicule when it can 'not translate into modern, usable terms' (Hunter, p. 17). With the imagery of the gods employed to the disadvantage of the main characters in unsettling situations, Fielding, by negative example, announces his rationale for the simple diction of the epithalamic passages at the conclusion of Joseph Andrews. His incredulity finds expression later in Tom Jones:

The only supernatural Agents which can in any Manner be allowed to us Moderns are Ghosts; but of these I would advise an Author to be extremely sparing. These are indeed like Arsenic, and other dangerous Drugs in Physic, to be used with the utmost Caution; nor would I advise the Introduction of them at all in those works, or by those Authors to which, or to whom a Horse-Laugh in the Reader, would be any great Prejudice or Mortification. (33)

The description of Fanny earlier in Joseph Andrews partially differs and partially agrees with the figurative portrait of Spenser's bride. Fielding recognizes his heroine's beauty and pictures Fanny being admired by the host, his wife, the maid of the house, and the young guide who 'all conceived they had never seen any thing half so handsome' (p. 152). Fielding describes her bashful aspect, sweetness, and natural gentility, reminding us of Spenser's rhetorical question:

Tell me ye merchants daughters did ye see

So fayre a creature in your towne before?

So sweet, so louely, and so mild as she,

Adornd with beautyes grace and vertues store.

(l. 167)

Spenser has 'So many gazers [...] on her [...] stare' (l. 160). Fielding chooses, however, to demythologize his heroine. He proposes to avoid the fate of Pygmalion and chides those whose infatuation with her beauty would encourage an obsessive love like the passion of Narcissus. Fanny's neck and breasts are whiter than the paint of the Italian artists. She is characterized with the Renaissance virtues of a high forehead, full eye-brows, black eyes (Spenser's bride had sapphire eyes), a Roman nose, and red, moist lips. Like the apples to which Spenser's bride's cheeks are compared, her cheeks are ruddy from the sun's blush. Fanny is plump ('bursting through her tight Stays, especially in the Part which confined her swelling Breasts'), with wide hips (she needed no 'Assistance of a Hoop to extend them'), arms 'redden'd by her Labour', and teeth white but not exactly even (p. 152). Her face is blemished with a pock-mark on her chin, but her dimpled left cheek balances her features. Her chestnut-brown hair is like neither the golden tresses of mythology nor the 'loose yellow locks' of Spenser's bride, though we may rationalize that her straw hat is a substitute for the hair, or if not, a halo symbolic of her angelic nature and her purity. By pointing out the commonplaces of her character, Fielding removes Fanny from perfection ('Quod petis est nusquam' ('What you seek is nowhere')) and renders her as a human being (p. 152); in that manner, she proves herself superior to art. She is real, not a figment of the imagination.

Preparations for the consummation of the marriage show best how Fielding takes profit from Fanny's humble state. Unequivocally, he follows Spenser's lead in praising not the exotic but the natural attributes of the bride. Fielding's knowledge of Spenser provides the detail for this passage. Familiarity with Spenser's poem enriches the description by the power of allusion. Divested of her clothing at the marriage bed, Spenser's bride displays eyes like sapphires, a forehead the colour of ivory, her cheeks like apples, her lips like cherries 'charming men to byte', her breast white like uncurdled cream, and her paps like budding lilies (ll. 173-75). With Spenser as his model, Fielding needs few particulars:

The happy, the blest Moment arrived, when Fanny retired with her Mother, her Mother-in-law, and her Sister. She was soon undrest; for she had no Jewels to deposite in their Caskets, nor fine Laces to fold with the nicest Exactness. Undressing to her was properly discovering, not putting off Ornaments: For as all her Charms were the Gifts of Nature, she could divest herself of none. (p. 343)

This passage anticipates his Champion essay of 24 January 1739-40, published after Joseph Andrews (1739), in which he contrasts the venal and the pure: 'If we strip Vertue and Vice of all their outward Ornaments and Appearances, and view them both naked, and in their pure native Simplicity, we shall, I trust, find Virtue to have in her every Thing that is truely valuable to be a constant Mistress, a faithful Friend, and a pleasant Companion; while Vice will appear a taudry, painted Harlot' (The Champion, p. 213). Fanny, here depicted as natural and pure, imitates the epithalamic bride, a point emphasized in a convoluted way by her undistinguished parents and her betrothal to a former footman who gains a measure of status as the son of a merchant. The subject is not heroic, the heroine is no courtly lady, the events are comic. The wedding evokes the laughter of Pamela and her husband, Lord B, whom Parson Adams must admonish during the ceremony. But nothing of the lower state diminishes Fanny's epithalamic virginity, and the advent of her children only serves to celebrate her fruition as the lilies bud.

How far this description differs from the characterization of other women in the novel may be told by a study of the acquisitive nature of Lady B, the voracity of Mrs Slipslop, the bawdy of Betty, the chambermaid, and the termagant wrath of the innkeeper's wife Mrs Tow-Wouse. Fielding is capable of transforming his women into the tyros of Restoration comedy. The women of the novel deserving sympathy are the obsequious wife of Parson Adams and the mournful Leonora, who, seduced by a rake, makes the fatal error of jilting her love Horatio. (34) The characterization of Fanny comes from a tradition different from Restoration comedy and draws its inspiration from the epithalamium.

Ideas drawn from verses of Spenser's Epithalamion are compressed into a three-page narrative at the conclusion of Joseph Andrews (pp. 342-44). Fielding states in the preface to Joseph Andrews that he has created 'a comic Romance', 'a comic Epic-Poem in Prose' (p. 4). The transmogrification is consummate, for we have the 'comic' instead of the 'heroic', a narrative about common people rather than a study of heroic personages, and a work written in prose rather than verse. Changes are less disproportionate in a prose epithalamium because the distances are not so great; the classic comic remains a fixed characteristic of the epithalamium, but the change is seen in high-born families equated with the low-born and the prosaic narrative taking precedence over the mythic poetic. A comparison of Spenser's Epithalamion and what I consider Fielding's prose epithalamium will confirm the correspondences.

The epithalamic in Joseph Andrews begins with a simple phrase: 'At length the happy Day arrived, which was to put Joseph in the possession of all his Wishes' (p. 342). The passage introduces the narrative from Joseph's perspective, since this novel had begun allegedly as a farce, as the consequence of Fielding's decision to report the career of a virtuous brother to the renowned Pamela Andrews of Richardson's historic novel. Spenser's poem announces the advent of the day's action with the awakening of the birds:

The Ouzell shrills, the Ruddock warbles soft,

So goodly all agree with sweet consent,

To this dayes merriment.

(l. 82)

Blackbirds and robins prove harbingers of the day's bliss. Fielding's reader, conscious of the Spenserian echoes, is not unaware of Joseph's own sweet voice that had seen him fail his role as a human scarecrow in Lady Booby's garden because his voice 'allured' rather than 'terrified' the birds (p. 21).

Spenser describes the bride's appearance:

Loe where she comes along with portly pace,

Lyke Phoebe from her chamber of the East.

Arysing forth to run her mighty race,

Clad all in white, that seemes a virgin best.

(l. 148)

Fielding makes a point of Fanny's chastity at the beginning of the novel (pp. 48-50). He tells us that Fanny and Joseph had grown up as friends and had often embraced:

Her violent Love made her more than passive in his Embraces; and she often pulled him to her Breast with a soft Pressure, which, tho' perhaps it would not have squeezed an Insect to death, caused more Emotion in the Heart of Joseph, than the closest Cornish Hug [wrestling hold] could have done. (p. 49)

Parson Adams had, however, convinced them of the worthiness of chaste behaviour. The manner in which the day breaks as the prelude to the wedding differs markedly from the advent of night when Joseph is invited to Lady Booby's bedroom, where he rebuffs her advances. Fielding tells us that 'the Rake Hesperus had called for his Breeches, and having well rubbed his drowsy Eyes, prepared to dress himself for all Night; by whose Example his Brother Rakes on Earth likewise leave those Beds, in which, they had slept away the Day' (pp. 37-38). Joseph's refusal to submit to Lady Booby and Fanny's observance of Parson Adams's strictures mean that they approach their marriage in innocence. Spenser's bride prepares for her wedding day:

Her modest eyes abashed to behold

So many gazers, as on her do stare,

Vpon the lowly ground affixed are.

(l. 159)

Fanny is a humble woman; she can neither read nor write, nor can she be persuaded to use an amanuensis to write letters to her Joseph on her behalf (p. 49). Spenser's celebration of the bride is a paean of praise that Fanny, herself, can deserve:

Ne dare lift vp her countenance too bold,

But blush to heare her prayses sung so loud,

So farre from being proud.

(l. 162).

Fanny, as does Joseph, comes to her wedding in modest dress:

He arose and drest himself in a neat, but plain Suit of Mr. Booby's, which exactly fitted him; for he refused all Finery; as did Fanny likewise, who could be prevailed on by Pamela to attire herself in nothing richer than a white Dimity Night-Gown. Her Shift indeed, which Pamela presented to her, was of the finest Kind, and had an Edging of Lace round the Bosom; she likewise equipped her with a Pair of fine white Thread Stockings, which were all she would accept; for she wore one of her own short round-ear'd Caps, and over it a little Straw Hat, lined with Cherry-coloured Silk, and tied with a Cherry-coloured Ribbon. (p. 342)

Joseph's dress has only a single analogue in Spenser: 'And ye fresh boyes that tend vpon her groome | Prepare your selues; for he is comming strayt' (ll. 112-13). Spenser's 'beautifullest bride' (l. 105) is adorned in the finest array ascribed to votaries of Venus and dressed by three handmaids of the 'Cyprian Queene' (ll. 103-08), but apart from wrapping the bride's dress in mythic finery and mentioning its virginal whiteness (l. 151), he offers no explicit description of her apparel. He saves his detail for her physical appearance, celebrating sapphire eyes, apple-red cheeks, and cherry lips. The concreteness of the sensual 'cherry' in Spenser is echoed in Fielding's description of Fanny's lips noted above:

Her goodly eyes lyke Saphyres shining bright,

Her forehead yuory white,

Her cheekes lyke apples which the sun hath rudded,

Her lips lyke cherryes charming men to byte,

Her brest like to a bowle of creame vncrudded,

Her paps lyke lyllies budded,

(l. 167)

In the epithalamic prose passage, Fielding seems to have had Spenser's work in mind as the paradigm for his marriage portrait of Fanny:

How, Reader, shall I give thee an adequate Idea of this lovely young Creature! the Bloom of Roses and Lillies might a little illustrate her Complexion, or their Smell her Sweetness: but to comprehend her entirely, conceive Youth, Health, Bloom, Beauty, Neatness, and Innocence in her Bridal-Bed; conceive all these in their utmost Perfection, and you may place the charming Fanny's Picture before your Eyes. (p. 343)

Incremental movements in the epithalamic chorale, from the morning awakening to the bridal bed, find parallel passages in Spenser and Fielding. Spenser's commands prepare for the bride's entrance into church: 'Open the temple gates vnto my loue, | Open them wide that she may enter in' (ll. 204-05). Fielding apprises us of Joseph's Promethean impulse, the gift of imagination and creativity, of expectation and generation, of the lascivious and the lusty, in Fanny's arrival at the altar: '[Fanny] was by Joseph, whose Eyes sparkled Fire, led to Church' (p. 342).

Spenser's Epithalamion makes repeated mention of the altar where, presented as a 'Saynt', the bride is brought to the 'sacred ceremonies' amidst a fugue of 'roring' organ music and the 'hollow throates' of choristers (ll. 218-21). The beauty of the bride and the flush of the moment are distracting even to the angels who momentarily forget their individual assignments to gaze upon her (ll. 229-33). The bride is aware of the attention granted her. She maintains her modesty and focuses upon the spiritual moment: 'not one looke to glaunce awry, | Which may let in a little thought vnsownd' (ll. 236-37), amidst the ceremony at the altar and overwhelmed by instrumental and vocal music.

The circumstances of the marriage ceremony allow Fielding to exploit his powers of parody. He provides a host of substitutions that maintain the integrity of the novel. Yet the nuances of Spenser's comic spirit become the rhetorical matrix of Fielding's humour. Instead of the holy priest of Spenser, Parson Adams performs the wedding ceremony. Instead of the angels being diverted from their tasks, Mr Booby and his wife Pamela use the occasion to engage in frivolity and suffer the scolding of the parson for their violation of the solemnity of the occasion. The action of the angels in Spenser and the misbehaviour of the Boobys add humour to both works. Fielding, however, does nothing that would diminish Fanny's virtue. She imitates Spenser's bride in her 'extraordinary and unaffected Modesty' (p. 342). The prosaic nature of Fielding's narrative mutes its indebtedness to Spenser: 'Mr Adams performed the Ceremony; at which nothing was so remarkable, as the extraordinary and unaffected Modesty of Fanny, unless the true Christian Piety of Adams, who publickly rebuked Mr. Booby and Pamela for laughing in so sacred a Place, and so solemn an Occasion. Our Parson would have done no less to the highest Prince on Earth' (p. 342). Abraham Adams is the paragon of justice, piety, and solemnity. In this ceremony he is able to muster the dignity he had lost when Lady Booby visited his home to prevent the marriage banns. The highest princess in Booby parish (Lady Booby) will remove him from his living, as a consequence of his refusal to obey her orders, but he will not compromise his calling. Thus Fielding uses the circumstances of Spenser's Epithalamion to advance the moral precepts of his narrative.

The connection between food and eroticism is well established in both Spenser and Fielding. This equation is the central motif of the concluding verses of the poem and the prose narrative. Spenser's bride has 'cheekes lyke apples', 'lips lyke cherryes charming men to byte', and a 'brest like to a bowle of creame vncrudded' (ll. 173-75). Joseph laments the loss of Fanny 'with all her Sweetness' (p. 266) after she had been kidnapped by the young squire, and his joy at her recovery is 'a tender Sensation beyond any which he is capable of tasting' (p. 270). Peter Pounce 'with no longer hopes of satisfying his old Appetite with Fanny' chooses to ameliorate a troublesome situation by departing with Parson Adams in a coach. Joseph elects to ride double with Fanny, but a recalcitrant horse throws her; the ride is accomplished with 'a better natured, and somewhat a better fed Beast', this commentary a suggestion of Fanny's portly physiology (p. 273). Whatever one ingests and then must discharge may be equated with food. Words fit that category, for hearing is ingestion and both speech and writing are forms of discharge. Sexuality also involves an exchange whereby kisses and embraces proffered by one lover are received by another. The forces of exchange explicate the erotic origins of writing. The concluding pages of Joseph Andrews, the epithalamic imitation, transform the wedding feast and the consummation of the marriage into an erotic ritual celebrated by orgasmic compression and intensity. Spenser's diction turns the wedding feast into a bacchanal:

Make feast therefore now all this liue long day,

This day for euer to me holy is,

Poure out the wine without restraint or stay,

Poure not by cups, but by the belly full.

(l. 247)

Bacchus is crowned with a coronal and Hymen with wreaths woven from the vineyard (ll. 255-56). After the wedding feast Spenser anticipates generation by recalling the love of Jove and Alcmena with their progeny Hercules (ll. 328-29) and Jove's copulation with Night: 'Or lyke as when he with thy selfe did lie, | And begot Maiesty' (ll. 330-31).

Fielding's description of the wedding feast characteristically echoes Spenser, but the emphasis is upon Joseph and Fanny, not on the banquet. Parson Adams accounts for Bacchanalian excess by filling himself with ale and pudding, demonstrating 'an Appetite surprizing, as well as surpassing every one present' and giving 'a Loose to more Facetiousness than was usual to him' (p. 343). Joseph and Fanny find themselves distracted during the meal: 'They pampered their Imaginations with the much more exquisite Repast which the Approach of Night promised them; the Thoughts of which filled both their Minds, tho' with different Sensations; the one all Desire, while the other had her Wishes tempered with Fears' (p. 343). Spenser understands Joseph's impatience:

Ye sonnes of Venus, play your sports at will,

For greedy pleasure, carelesse of your toyes,

Thinks more vpon her paradise of ioyes,

Then what ye do, albe it good or ill.

(l. 364)

He chooses to assuage Fanny's fears by his allusion to the sources of terror enumerated in Spenser who dispels those old wives' tales:

Let no deluding dreames, nor dreadful sights

Make sudden sad affrights; [...]

Ne let mischiuous witches with theyr charmes

Ne let hob Goblins, names whose sence we see not,

Fray vs with things that be not.

Let not the shriech Oule, nor the Storke be heard:

Nor the night Rauen that still deadly yels,

Nor damned ghosts cald vp with mighty spels.

(ll. 338, 342)

The wedding feast passes slowly for Joseph and Fanny as they anticipate the end of their virginity. The passion aroused in Joseph and Fanny must be answered; the lengthy account of premonitions in Spenser draws out the wedding feast and makes the wait all the more interminable.

Through artistic compression, Spenser advances the lovers from the wedding feast to the marriage bed where they can fulfil expectations: 'All night therefore attend your merry play, | For it will soone be day' (ll. 368-69). The groom's role in the act of procreation, as expressed in his prayer to Cynthia, is an explicit act of volition:

And sith of wemens labours thou hast charge,

And generation goodly dost enlarge,

Encline thy will t'effect our wishfull vow,

And the chast wombe informe with timely seed,

That may our comfort breed.

(l. 383)

Fielding's description allows a transition from the feast to the wedding bed by interjecting the scene mentioned above in which Fanny undresses before her mother, mother-in-law, and sister; as she is stripped of her clothing, the action is one of 'discovering, not putting off Ornaments' (p. 343). Joseph, who had earlier in the day reminded us of Hesperus with his 'Eyes' sparkling 'Fire' (p. 342), at night is characteristically the son of Venus in this epithalamic setting; he joins Fanny with dispatch: 'Joseph no sooner heard she was in Bed, than he fled with the utmost Eagerness to her. A Minute carried him into her Arms, where we shall leave this happy Couple to enjoy the private Rewards of their Constancy; Rewards so great and sweet, that I apprehend Joseph neither envied the noblest Duke, nor Fanny the finest Duchess that Night' (p. 343). Without Spenser's Epithalamion as the antecedent for these episodes in Joseph Andrews, it is possible to enjoy Adams's voraciousness at the wedding feast and the amorousness of the wedding night; but with Spenserian allusions at hand, Fielding's feast becomes a Bacchanal, the wedding night a victory for the race and the nation.

Spenser provides the tropes of sanctity and ecstasy that give respectability to Fielding's reporting of youthful exuberance and freedom, but he is not without his own lascivious tone. His poem offers the voyeuristic pleasures denied Fielding's readers. Kaske shows how another of Spenser's works, the anacreontics, relates to Spenser's marriage hymn: the anacreontics provide 'some sort of bridge from sonnets to epithalamion' through the 'dramatization [of] the discomforts of the lover as fiance; all of them are expressions of sexual frustration which are portrayed as resolved in the Epithalamion'. (35) Spenser has Cynthia, goddess of the moon, peep into the lovers' window: 'Is it not Cinthia, she that neuer sleepes, | But walkes about high heauen al the night?' (ll. 374-75). The groom becomes aware of Cynthia's surveillance. He reminds her of her love for Endymion and pleads with her to nurture his love with his bride:

O fayrest goddesse, do thou not enuy

My loue with me to spy: [...]

The Latmian shephard once vnto thee brought,

His pleasures with thee wrought.

(ll. 376, 380)

Juno, too, is celebrated in the stanza. The rhymes themselves provide the motifs of Spenser's Epithalamion. The end rhymes 'delight' and 'night' combine with 'supply' and 'progeny' to confirm the spirit and designate the consequences of the lovemaking:

And thou glad Genius, in whose gentle hand,

The bridale bowre and geniall bed remaine,

Without blemish or staine,

And the sweet pleasures of theyr loues delight

With secret ayde doest succour and supply,

Till they bring forth the fruitfull progeny,

Send vs the timely fruit of this same night.

(l. 398)

With the interjection of the gods and broad allusions to heroic birth, Spenser elevates the passage from its voyeuristic content to the solemnity of birth. His capstone is the oblique allusion to Zeus, who appeared in a shower of gold to impregnate Danae.

None of the goddesses or gods recruited by Spenser enters into Fielding's work, but Joseph and Fanny have satisfied the expectations of wedlock. Fielding tells us that 'Fanny presides, with most excellent Management in his [Joseph's] Dairy; where, however, she is not at present very able to bustle much, being, as Mr. Wilson informs me in his last Letter, extremely big with her first Child' (p. 344). Fielding's predictive 'first child' is the echo of Spenser's prayer of petition to 'raise a large posterity' (l. 417) with the help of 'blessed Saints for to increase the count' (l. 423). The absence of epic machinery and supernal imagery is the feature of Joseph Andrews that earned its fame as a 'comic Epic-Poem in Prose' in which the trappings of the epic formula have been superseded by realistic plot, human foibles, and prose narrative. Fielding's devotion to Spenser gave him an appreciation of the epithalamium. It seems to me that he chose to employ its characteristics at the ending of Joseph Andrews as a paradigm by which he could celebrate and ennoble, albeit with humour, the marriage of Joseph Andrews Wilson and Fanny Goodwill Andrews. He had begun by choosing to celebrate the male chastity of Joseph Andrews in imitation of his virtuous sister Pamela; his original intent was to parody Samuel Richardson's novel Pamela. By embracing the spirit and comic tone of the epithalamium at the end of the novel, and, specifically what I have concluded to be demarcative features of Spenser's contribution to the genre, Fielding has reconstructed the conclusion of his work not as 'a comic Epic-Poem in Prose', but as a comic epithalamium in prose.

(1) Henry Knight Miller, Essays on Fielding's 'Miscellanies': A Commentary on Volume One (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1961), p. 32.

(2) The Works of Edmund Spenser: A Variorum Edition, ed. by Edwin Greenlaw and others, 11 vols (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1932-57), The Minor Poems, ed. by Charles Grosvenor Osgood and Henry Gibbons Lotspeich, assisted by Dorothy Mason, 2 vols (1943-47), II, 237-52, 458-94; Henry Fielding, Joseph Andrews, ed. by Martin C. Battestin (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press), pp. 3-344. Quotations are taken from these works.

(3) Henry Fielding, The Champion: Containing a Series of Papers, Humorous, Moral, Political, and Critical. To Each of Which is Added, a Proper Index to the Times, 2 vols (London, 1741), I, 29.

(4) The Works of Mr. Edmund Spenser, 6 vols (London: Tonson, 1715), I, xxvi-xxvii.

(5) The Champion, I, 93. Fielding himself observed the tradition of verse imitation, having produced a burlesque of Juvenal's Sixth Satire (Hugh Amory, 'The Evidence of Things Not Seen: Concealed Proofs of Fielding's Juvenal', PBSA, 80 (1986), 15-53).

(6) The Champion, I, 93-94.

(7) The Battle of the Poets; Or, the Contention for the Laurel. As it is now Acting at the New Theatre in the Hay-Market; Introduc'd as an Entire New Act to the Comical Tragedy of Tom Thumb. Written by Scriblerus Tertius (London: Trott and Astley, 1731 [1730]), pp. 8-9. The Houghton card catalogue informs us that the work is 'widely confused with a poem of this title by Thomas Cooke [1703-1765]', a theatrical friend of Fielding's listed as a subscriber to the Miscellanies (1743); see Miller, p. 25.

(8) George Puttenham, The Arte of English Poesie, ed. by Gladys Willcock and Alice Walker (London: Cambridge University Press, 1936); repr. in Edmund Spenser, Epithalamion, ed. by Robert Beum (Columbus, OH: Merrill, 1968), pp. 53-55.

(9) Miscellanies by Henry Fielding, Esq., Vol. 2, ed. by Hugh Amory, with introduction and commentary by Bertrand A. Goldgar, The Wesleyan Edition of the Complete Works of Henry Fielding (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), p. 41, n. 6. Dryden's view was 'that Milton would have been in the first rank of epic poets "if the Devil had not been his Heroe instead of Adam" [...]. Fielding was also doubtless familiar with the essay on Milton in Spectator, No. 297 [9 February 1712], where Addison seeks to answer Dryden's objection'.

(10) Private conversation with me, Houston, TX, 12 March 1996.

(11) Paul Alpers, 'Spenser's Late Pastorals', in Critical Essays on Edmund Spenser, ed. by Mihoko Suzuki (New York: Hall; London, Mexico City, and New Delhi: Prentice Hall, 1996), pp. 247-48.

(12) Miscellanies by Henry Fielding, Esq., Vol. I, ed. by Henry Knight Miller, The Wesleyan Edition of the Complete Works of Henry Fielding (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), p. 42, n. 4.

(13) Miscellanies by Henry Fielding, Esq., Vol. I, pp. 48-50.

(14) 'Part of Juvenal's Sixth Satire, Modernized in Burlesque Verse', in Miscellanies by Henry Fielding, Esq., Vol. I, pp. 84-117. The satire treats the difficulty of a husband's finding a chaste maid to wed and the profound problem of keeping her faithful to him. Henry Knight Miller provides Fielding's note explaining the truncation of the translation at verse 451: 'We shall here close our Translation of this Satire; for as the Remainder is in many Places too obscene for chaste Ears; so, to the Honour of the English Ladies, the Latin is by no Means applicable to them, nor indeed capable of being modernized' (p. 117). Hugh Amory in 'The Evidence of Things Not Seen' tells us that while the Latin text remains intact, Fielding's translation broke 'off in the middle of the poem' along with 'silent castrations throughout the text' (p. 18) attributed to the Rev. William Young, who was Fielding's collaborator on their translation of Aristophanes's Plutus (1742). Among verses omitted were those referring to a 'Panting Stallion in the closet' (p. 26) and the expenses of the nuptial feast (p. 27), which, according to Juvenal, was to provide the husband and wife their 'first and only happy Night?' (l. 291) a satire upon domestic conflict.

(15) 'Epithalamion: Introduction', in Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, The Mutability Cantos, and Selections from the Minor Poetry, ed. by Robert Kellogg and Oliver Steele (New York: Odyssey Press, 1965), p. 467.

(16) John D. Bernard, Ceremonies of Innocence: Pastoralism in the Poetry of Edmund Spenser (Cambridge, New York, and Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 1989), p. 179.

(17) Thomas M. Greene, 'Spenser and the Epithalamic Convention', Comparative Literature, 9 (1957), 215-28 (pp. 216-17); repr. in Edmund Spenser, Epithalamion, ed. by Robert Beum, pp. 37-52.

(18) Robert Hope Case, English Epithalamia (London: Lane; Chicago: McClung, 1896).

(19) James A. S. McPeek, 'The Major Sources of Spenser's "Epithalamion"', JEGP, 35 (1936), 183-213 (p. 212).

(20) A. L. Wheeler, Catullus and the Traditions of Ancient Poetry (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1934), p. 200, quoted in Greene, p. 221.

(21) 'Marrying Medusa: Spenser's Epithalamion and Renaissance Reconstructions of Female Privacy', Genre, 25.2-3 (Summer/Fall, 1992), 193-210 (p. 199). Mazzola acknowledges A. Kent Hieatt, Short Time's Endless Monument: The Symbolism of the Numbers in Edmund Spenser's 'Epithalamion' (New York: Columbia University Press, 1960; repr. Port Washington, NY, and London: Kennikat Press, 1972), passim.

(22) 'The Story-Telling in Joseph Andrews', in Henry Fielding: Justice Observed, ed. by K. G. Simpson (London: Vision Press; New York: Barnes & Noble, 1985), p. 125.

(23) Martin C. Battestin and Ruthe R. Battestin, Henry Fielding: A Life (London and New York: Routledge, 1989), pp. 314-15.

(24) Literary Portraits in the Novels of Henry Fielding (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1972), p. 30.

(25) Shesgreen, p. 32; see also Bill C. West, 'Anti-Petrarchism: A Study of the Reaction against the Courtly Tradition in English Love Poetry from Wyatt to Donne' (unpublished doctoral dissertation, Northwestern University, 1950), and Ruth Kelso, 'Doctrine for the Lady of the Renaissance' (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1956).

(26) The Works of Edmund Spenser: A Variorum Edition, II, 223-24; see also 'Commentary' on Epithalamion, pp. 458-94.

(27) Alan Cameron, Claudian: Poetry and Propaganda at the Court of Honorius (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970), p. 194.

(28) Fielding's suggestion that the Sun left his bed and his consort Perse to pay addresses to Aurora has an incestuous note that comports in Joseph Andrews with only that short span of time in which Joseph is led to believe that Fanny could conceivably be his sister, but the suggestion is little more than bawdy, for neither Joseph in the novel nor Helios in the classical literature is incestuous. Battestin notes three episodes in which the motif of incest appears in Fielding's works: in The Coffee-House Politician (1730), in Juvenal's Sixth Satire (1730, 1743) ('Or what Agrippa gave his Sister, | Incestuous Bribe! for which he kissed her'), and in an oblique reference in Amelia (1751) to Booth's passion for his sister at the time of her death (Henry Fielding: A Life, pp. 24-25). Helios, the father of Aetes and Circe by Perse, does, however, suffer insatiable sexual desire and is destined for numerous unsatisfying liaisons (see Funk & Wagnall's Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legends, ed. by Maria Leach (New York: HarperCollins, 1972, repr. 1984), pp. 488-89). It may not be accidental that this allusion to Dawn and the Sun (pp. 225-29) appears immediately after Mr Wilson, Joseph's true father, has, in Book iii, unburdened himself to Parson Adams about his dissolute life and his good fortune and reformation in his marriage to Harriet Hearty (pp. 185-225). Not until Book IV (pp. 336-37) is the truth told, and the reader discovers that Gaffar Andrews with knowledge of only his two children, Joseph and Pamela, is finally apprised of the truth, that he had fathered, instead, two girls, Fanny and Pamela, but that Fanny, abducted by gypsies while he soldiered in Gibraltar, was displaced by Joseph Wilson, Mr Wilson's missing son. Unaware of Joseph's true parentage, Gammar Andrews had kept the events a secret from her husband all these years for fear that Gaffar would not have loved the boy had he known of the exchange. One may draw many innuendoes from the Aurora passage, among them the pervasive nature of passion, the positive, and lust, the negative, and the inexorable succession of love, procreation, and progeny, which are primary motifs of Joseph Andrews.

(29) Murial Brittain Williams, Marriage: Fielding's Mirror of Morality (University: University of Alabama Press, 1973), pp. 32-35.

(30) For discussion of these ideas, see Henry Knight Miller, Henry Fielding's 'Tom Jones' and the Romance Tradition (Victoria, BC: University of Victoria, 1976), p. 27.

(31) J. Paul Hunter, Occasional Form: Henry Fielding and the Chains of Circumstance (Baltimore, MD, and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1975), p. 17.

(32) The Act of Reading: A Theory of Aesthetic Response (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978), p. 92.

(33) Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling, ed. by Fredson Bowers, with introduction and commentary by Martin C. Battestin, 2 vols, The Wesleyan Edition of the Complete Works of Henry Fielding (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1974), I, 399.

(34) J. F. Burrows and A. J. Hassall, 'Anna Boleyn and the Authenticity of Fielding's Feminine Narratives' Eighteenth-Century Studies, 21 (1988), 427-53. Burrows comments upon the interpolated tales of Betty, the chambermaid, and Leonora.

(35) Carol Kaske, 'Spenser's Amoretti and Epithalamion of 1595: Structure, Genre, and Numerology', ELR, 3 (1978), 271-95 (pp. 277, 280), quoted in M. Thomas Hester, '"If thou regard the same": Spenser's Emblematic Centerfold', ANQ, n.s. 6.4 (1993), 183-89.

COPYRIGHT 1998 Modern Humanities Research Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Rothman, Irving N.
Publication:The Modern Language Review
Date:Jul 1, 1998
Previous Article:The Age of Minerva, vol. 2, Cognitive Discontinuities in Eighteenth-Century Thought: From Body to Mind in Physiology and the Arts.
Next Article:A 'world of shades': mourning, poesis, and community in William Wordsworth's The Vale of Esthwaite.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters