The novel's progress: faction, fiction and Fielding.
This paper argues that Henry Fielding impresses Protestant anti-Papist religious anxieties into the service of a consolidation of sexual, national, and class divisions in Tom Jones and his propaganda during the Jacobite invasion of 1745, but in opposite ways in the two works. That Fielding was politically active as a writer is not something that could escape critical notice. By and large, however, such criticism has failed adequately to integrate the journalist and the novelist.(4) Because "the Richardsonian model" has been perceived as the central wellspring of domestic fiction, and because the mostly-male critic s analyzing Fielding as a political journalist represent a separate critical circle from the mostly-female critics exploring the sexuality of the early English novel, Fielding's interrelation of national and sexual politics has gone largely overlooked.(5) Brian McCrea reduces the violence of True Patriot 3 to "a call for enlightened self-interest," while Thomas R. Cleary acknowledges that the essay is "crude, 'scare' propaganda," but argues that "A vision of London ravaged by highlanders was not utterly mad on November 19, 1745," and that "Fielding was seldom moved to such stridency."(6) Whereas McCrea dissolves Fielding's highly charged particulars into a generalized defense of "'stated rules of Property,'" Cleary recognizes them, but declares them an insignificant aberration.(7) Similarly, Cleary's hypothesis of "a politicizing revision of the central books" of Tom Jones, while in itself plausible, even probable, operates again to deprecate the extent to which the novel is already political and thus receptive to such revision.(8) The topical references to the Jacobite rebellion fit into Tom Jones with minimal disruptiveness because they merely make more explicit a political framework already implicit. A discourse of religiously defined nationalism connects Fielding's "cultural politics" and sexuality.(9)
Fielding relocates Addison's economic anti-Papist rationale in an emotive basis by identifying property with the family and the totemic figure of the upper-class virgin; Tom Jones suggests only to suppress an alternative narrative of Papist menace that appears vividly in True Patriot 3 as the negation of domesticity.(10) The identification of Popery with Celtic primitivism, familiar from seventeenth-century tracts justifying English imperialism in Ireland, recurs in Fielding's treatment of the Jacobite rebellion of 1745 in The True Patriot. The first number is divided into two parts, an introduction of the periodical that opens with the stylish flourish that "Fashion is the great Governor of this World," to which a second section adds "Observations on the Present Rebellion."(11) The latter observes that
The Rebellion is at present so seriously the Concern of every sensible Man, who wishes well to the Religion and Liberties of his Country, and the Zeal which all the different Sects of Protestants have discovered on this Occasion, is so hearty and unanimous, that it would be a lost Labour to endeavour at inflaming the Minds of my Countrymen on this Occasion . . . But let us consider of what Persons this rebellious Rabble consists; and we shall find them to be the savage Inhabitants of Wilds and Mountains, who are almost a distinct Body from the rest of their Country. Some Thousands of them are Outlaws, Robbers, and Cut-throats, who live in a constant State of War, or rather Robbery, with the civilized Part of Scotland. The Estates of this Part have been always pillaged by the Thefts of these Ruffians, by whom they are now openly plundered. (p. 113)
As outspokenly confident as any 1660s royal panegyrist, Fielding asserts that his wealthy and imperial England can dismissively characterize dissent on the periphery as "rebellious Rabble." He constructs England as an aristocratic estate to whose august authority "Outlaws, Robbers, and Cut-throats" sneaking about on the outskirts can pose no serious threat. "[T]he civilized Part of Scotland" are "Fellow-Protestants and Fellow-Sufferers with ourselves" (p. 115): Popery is an intrusion from outside of Whig civilization, not a creed but a stigma of savagery. Protestantism requires adhesion to no belief but in the status quo; the second issue asserts that even "Roman Catholics" themselves may be "less bigotted" or enjoy "Possession of Abby Lands, and of Estates in the Funds," and "There is no Man of Sense, Property, Honour, and Humanity, who can possibly hope to see his Religion introduced by a Banditti of Robbers and Cut-throats, who would certainly make his Country a Scene of Blood and Desolation" (pp. 124-25). Catholics must be watched and disarmed, but, so long as they have Sense, which is Property, which is Honour, which is Humanity, extreme measures are unnecessary, since "the Odds are greatly on our Side" (p. 126).
Already a month before beginning publication of The True Patriot, however, Fielding takes a dramatically more serious view of "The Rebellion lately begun in Scotland, under the Banner of a Popish Pretender" in A Serious Address to the People of Great Britain (p. 3). The "truly English Cause" of resisting "a Rabble of Thieves and Outlaws" who "would by their Swords cut their Way into the Wealth of richer Climates" does not require that he "descend to consider particular Interests: I will not remind all those who are possessed of Abbey-Lands or forfeited Estates, or who are interested in the Funds, how much they are concerned to oppose a Torrent which threatens to overwhelm their Fortunes. The Whole is at Stake" (pp. 31,30). Fielding dredges up every cliche of the Whig cause, from "The suspicious Birth of the Pretender" (pp. 3-4) to "Popery and arbitrary Power" (p. 12), in an effort to restore enthusiasm to support for a Hanoverian dynasty that after thirty years in power is difficult to portray heroically. Spanish "Conduct in the Low Countries, in the Reign of Philip II" is summoned yet once more to underline the honor of "a popish Pretender, educated in all the Tenets of Bigotry," who is moreover "the mere Instrument of France" (p. 29). Recycling arguments grown stale before his birth, Fielding is unable to charge them with the old urgency, so that when he returns to "endeavour at inflaming the Minds of my Countrymen" in True Patriot 3, he abandons a shopworn argumentation for a dystopic imagination of the future in case of defeat, a "Dream or Vision" (p. 128).
This lurid fantasy of Papistic Stuart terror begins:
Methought, I was sitting in my Study, meditating for the Good and Entertainment of the Public, with my two little Children (as is my usual Course to suffer them) playing near me; when I heard a very hard Knock at my Door, and immediately [sic] afterwards several ill-looked Rascals burst in upon me, one of whom seized me with great Violence, saying I was his Prisoner, and must go with him. I asked him for what Offense. Have you the Impudence to ask that, said he, when the Words True Patriot lie now before you? I then bid him show me his Warrant. He answered, there it is, pointing to several Men, who were in Highland Dresses, with broad Swords by their Sides. My Children then ran towards me, and bursting into Tears, exprest their Concern for their poor Papa. Upon which one of the Ruffians seized my little Boy, and pulling him from me, dashed him against the Ground; and all immediately hurried me away out of my Room and House, before I could be sensible of the Effects of this Barbarity.
My concern for my poor Children, from whom I had been torn in the above Manner, prevented me from taking much notice of any Objects in the Streets, through which I was dragg'd, with many Insults. Houses burnt down, dead Bodies of Men, Women and Children, strewed every where as we passed, and great Numbers of Highlanders, and Popish Priests in their several Habits, made, however, too forcible an Impression on me to be unobserved. (p. 128)
The gruesome Violence of the Irish massacres imaged by Parliamentary pamphleteers of the 1640s and George Fox's Arraignment of Popery interrupts an abortive narrative of domesticity.(12) Should Popery and the Pretender triumph, England would become a war zone, would become Ireland, would change from the wealthy colonizer of inferior districts and peoples to itself the colonized, the spoil of "great Numbers of Highlanders, and Popish Priests." Fielding's "Vision" extends not only back to the vulnerable England oppressed by Papism of John Foxe's Book of Martyrs, but implicitly forward to the imperial England that is necessary to prevent such horrors. Only an England strong enough to oppress "the savage Inhabitants of Wilds and Mountains" will be free itself of oppression. The author "meditating for the Good and Entertainment of the Public" is the intellectual worker gestating the paradisal Whig future which could be annihilated by "all the Fury which Rage, Zeal, Lust, and wanton Fierceness could inspire into the bloody Hearts of Popish Priests, Bigots, and Barbarians" (p. 133). Popery becomes the inseparable concomitant of not only tyranny, as in the endlessly reiterated seventeenth-century formula, but foreignness and barbarism. The "Chief Justice" of a patently unjust tribunal speaks in "broken English," and the court "proceeded to pass the Sentence usual in Cases of High-Treason, having first made many Eulogiums on the Pope, the Roman Catholic Religion, and the King who was to support both, and be supported by them" (p. 130). As the narrator is led away to execution,
The first Sight which occurred to me as I past through the Streets, (for common Objects totally escape the Observation of a Man in my present Temper of Mind) was a young Lady of Quality, and the greatest Beauty of this Age, in the Hands of two Highlanders, who were struggling with each other for their Booty. The lovely Prize, tho' her Hair was dishevelled and torn, her Eyes swollen shut with Tears, her Face all pale, and some Marks of Blood on that and her Breast, which was all naked and exposed, retained still sufficient Charms to discover herself to me, who have always beheld her with Wonder and Admiration. Indeed it may be questioned whether perfect Beauty loses or acquires Charms by Distress. This Sight was Matter of Entertainment to my Conductors, who, however, hurried me presently from it, as I wish they had also from her Screams, which reached my Ears to a great Distance.
After such a Spectacle as this, the dead Bodies which lay every where in the Streets (for there had been, I was told, a Massacre the Night before) scarce made any Impression; nay, the very Fires in which Protestants were roasting, were, in my Sense, Objects of much less Horror . . . The Executioner then attempted to put the Rope round my Neck, when my little Girl enter'd my Bed-chamber, and put an end to my Dream. (pp. 132-34)
As in D. W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation, the ultimate horror is the rape of civilization, incarnated in a "perfect Beauty" of the master caste, by members of a subject population. As it happens, "perfect Beauty in both Sexes" is a recurring concern in Tom Jones, and the opinion of The True Patriot that "it may be questioned whether perfect Beauty loses or acquires Charms by Distress" finds an echo in the novel.(13) The narrator explains Lord Fellamar's heightened attraction to Sophia when a tumult drives her from the playhouse with the observation that "Beauty never looks more amiable than in Distress" (p. 785). It is this same Lord Fellamar, of course, who, at Lady Bellaston's instigation, later attempts to rape Sophia; her attractiveness in a lesser distress leads to a greater. Sophia, "the finest Creature in the World" (p. 970) in Allworthy's estimate, who asks her cousin, "'Why, why, would you marry an Irishman?'" (p. 601), has much in common with "the greatest Beauty of this Age." If Richardson's Clarissa is an extended rape, Tom Jones plays a fan dance with its forever-endangered hero and heroine who are yet never in a situation where the wittily omniscient narrator is not perfectly in control and able to rescue them. In True Patriot 3, the dreaming narrator is out of control, a prisoner in the hands of pitiless monsters, and equally Fielding himself is out of control, fantasizing a Papist nightmare that negates the perfect order of Whig England. However deliberate the violence of the propaganda, that violence nonetheless ruptures the security of the novelistic narrative of domesticity as much as the Jacobite invasion itself ruptures English "national security." What Tom Jones conceals, True Patriot 3 reveals. It is the screams of Sophia Western, in a sense, that "reached my Ears to a great Distance."
Like Addison's, Fielding's preferred mode is to assume that resistance to his gentlemanly superiority is inconceivable, but when such resistance does arise, in the Jacobite invasion of 1745, his response is brutal, a determination to destroy the enemy without regard to poise and elegance. The military threat of the Highlanders compels the stylish spokesmen for imperium to abandon their pretenses of being above the fray. Where Addison argues financial dangers, however, the superiority of English to French tax systems (Freeholders 18 and 20) and the perils of the Funds, Fielding emblematizes taxes in the fetishized figure of the upper-class endangered virgin, and the Funds in a family history. The protagonist of True Patriot 3 encounters in prison a man there for "stealing a Loaf. . .I rose in the Morning with [pounds]40000," but "At Noon I found a Royal Decree [repudiating the national debt, the Funds] had reduced me to downright Beggary"; the economic aspect of "stealing a Loaf," however, a crime not unique to ruined patricians, is sentimentalized into his domestic distress: "I had a Wife whom I tenderly loved and three blooming Daughters" (p. 131), and he stole to feed them. Fielding's compassion for a petty thief who once possessed "great Affluence and Splendor" (p. 131) contrasts strikingly with his attitude toward lesser felons in An Enquiry into the Causes of the Late Increase of Robbers, in which he notes with bland regret, apropos executions of criminals driven by need, that "This plea of necessity is never admitted in our law; but the reason of that is, says Lord Hale, because it is to [sic] difficult to discover the truth."(14) Fielding's approach to poverty in his Enquiry has some resemblance to Archbishop Tenison's Sermon of Alms, with its reproach of "foolish pity";(15) unless poverty is recent and sudden, like that of the sometime master of 40,000 pounds in True Patriot 3, or the highwayman in Tom Jones, who also tries robbery to relieve his abruptly-ruined family, it is assumed to be the result of laziness and "luxury."
Also in prison - "a large Booth in Smithfield" (p. 128) because Newgate is overcrowded - are "many of the most considerable Persons in this Kingdom," two of whom "were in a very particular Manner reviled by the Highland Guards (for all the Soldiers were in that Dress)": Bishop Hoadly, still a low-church icon thirty years after the Bangorian controversy, and the Archbishop of York, who made a widely reprinted speech to a York county assembly mustering troops against the Pretender, a speech that "emphasized that the jacobite rebellion was part of a larger plan by France and Spain to establish popery in England" (pp. 129, 129n).(16) Hoadly and York have no further role to play; they just put in appearances as emblems of the Hanoverian updating of the loyal "King's spiritual militia" of the previous century, intellectuals domesticated to the present regime, in contrast to the "Man who by his Countenance and Actions exprest the highest Degree of Despair . . . stamped with his Feet, beat his Face, tore his Hair, and uttered the most horrid Execrations" at the place of execution, "a Nonjuror, who had lent considerable Assistance to the Pretender's Cause, out of Principle; and was now lamenting the Consequences which the Success of it had brought on such honest Gentlemen as myself. My Informer added, with a Smile, The Wise Man expected his Majesty would keep his Word with Heretics" (p. 133). The Nonjuror, openly such a quisling as Orwell suspected Swift was more covertly, sees too late the fatal effects of not rallying to the patriotic cause, of persisting in an archaic "Principle" that fails to take into account the diabolic treachery and cruelty of Papists toward "Heretics."(17) In 1745 as in 1715, the irrefutable justification for the Georges remains the Protestant Succession.
Relapsing into seventeenth-century verbal violence in response to a seventeenth-century danger, Fielding's phantasmagoria of wartime imagery in True Patriot 3 contrasts to the studied urbanity of his narratorial voice in Tom Jones, his novel set on the edge of the '45. Tom marches to the war, only to encounter Ensign Northerton's bottle on the way, and Sophia is mistaken for Jenny Cameron, but he needn't go to the front and she possesses infinitely superior virtue to what Honour calls "'a nasty Scotch Wh_re'" (p. 604). More curiously still, in the novel's famously "perfect plot," the entire issue of the invasion simply appears when Tom chances upon some soldiers at "(a Circumstance which we have not thought necessary to communicate before) . . . the very Time when the late Rebellion was at the highest" (p. 368), then vanishes, never to be revived, as the action approaches London, the core of modernizing, mercantile Whig England. Its importance diminishes to a comic interlude without need of introduction or consequence for the subsequent action. The irruption of the Jacobite peril is deliberately minimized in Tom Jones to forestall the possibility of the double and equivalent alternative histories, that Sophia could suffer the fate of her nameless analogue and that any alternative regime could exist to Allworthy's benevolent despotism. The Pretender has no right to rule - "'I believe him to be as much a Protestant as I believe he hath any Right,' says Jones" (p. 439) - but the owner of 40,000 pounds, or of a country estate, has an indefeasible right to his possessions. That those who rose beggars in the morning should remain beggars at noon is only natural, yet what is Tom, like the Pretender, but a beggar until he proves his hereditary right? The Pretender has no right because Tom is the true prince of Whig England, where every Protestant lineage and estate is sacred.
Tom Jones does contain a glimpse of an alternative narrative in the history of the Man of the Hill, a story of Restoration debauchery and ruin that contrasts to Tom harmless frolics and happy ending. The Man of the Hill's account concludes with his participation in the Duke of Monmouth's 1685 rebellion and subsequent exile. He joins Monmouth because "I had been for some Time very seriously affected with the Danger to which the Protestant Religion was so visibly exposed, under a Popish Prince; and thought the Apprehension of it alone sufficient to justify that Insurrection: For no real Security can ever be found against the persecuting Spirit of Popery, when armed with Power, except the depriving it of Power, as woeful Experience presently shewed" (p. 477). Naturally, Tom's reply refers to how, even after the "expelling King James, for the preserving of our Religion and Liberties," there remains "a Party among us mad enough to desire the placing his Family again on the Throne" (p. 477). The Man of the Hill is disgusted with the "monstrous Extravagances" of "Human Nature" (p. 478) because, under Charles II, he experienced what Tom calls "'Love derived from the Stews'" and "'Friendship First produced and nourished at the Gaming-Table!'" (p. 485). Tom Jones is a comedy, in contrast, because its hero is the child of a happier age than the "'Stews'" and "'Gaming-Tables'" of the Stuarts. McKeon is able to assimilate Fielding to a "conservative ideology" held in common with Swift only by stopping his examination short of Tom Jones, where the "extreme skepticism" arguably present in his theatrical works and early satiric novels dissolves, after the fall of Walpole and the Jacobite scare of 1745, into an unproblematized endorsement of "our Religion and Liberties."(18) Only a Partridge (lower-class and therefore foolish and gullible) could believe "'a popish Priest . . . that Prince Charles was as good a Protestant as any in England; and that nothing but Regard to Right made him [the priest] and the rest of the popish Party to be Jacobites'" (p. 439). As Martin Battestin observes, Partridge subscribes to "one of the most preposterous" of "the 'Mysteries' of the Jacobite creed," that, in the words of The Jacobite's Journal for 2 January 1748, "a Popish Prince may be the Defender of a Protestant Church."(19) The hotly argued Whig case under Charles II for the exclusion from the throne of the Duke of York, the future James II, has become a justification of the Georges, and a matter of course. What once needed exposition devolves into "common sense." Tom avers that "Monsters and Prodigies are the proper Arguments to support monstrous and absurd Doctrines. The Cause of King George is the Cause of Liberty and true Religion. In other Words, it is the Cause of Common Sense" (p. 440). Liberty and true religion, the great objects of the struggles of the seventeenth century, become mere common sense, "The Cause of King George," in a deliberate denial of historical complexity.
The Man of the Hill's story introduces a reminder of a worse past, like the nunnery episode of Marvell's "Upon Appleton House," only Fielding's past isn't pre-Reformation but the profligacy of the Restoration and the Popish threat of James II. In Tom Jones as in True Patriot 3, a threat from outside - the Stuart, Catholic, Highlander outside - interrupts the English domestic narrative of the ideological reproduction of gentry dominance, as represented by Tom's inheritance of both the Allworthy and Western estates; where True Patriot 3 represses the domestic narrative in order to highlight its menacers, however, Tom Jones marginalizes the intrusion. The Man of the Hill's story, like Marvell's tale of the nuns, is a digression from the main action; but, whereas Marvell requires a quarter of his poem to deal with the messy history leading to the Commonwealth, Fielding marginalizes history into a tiny sliver of a long novel, and reduces contemporary events into little more than a running joke, an occasion for Tom to show his mettle and Sophia's (virtuous) true Whig princess to be humorously mistaken for the (unchaste) false Jacobite version. Regarding Tom's blank endorsement of "the Cause of common Sense," Peter J. Carlton notes that "Bertolt Brecht remarks somewhere that assertions of naturalness or common sense signal an abandonment of the effort to understand."(20) Fifty years after the Glorious Revolution, and with the '45 defeated in Jacobitism's last hurrah, Fielding no longer needs to make an effort to understand; understanding would itself be dangerous.
True Patriot 3 and Tom Jones are complementary half-narratives portraying respectively the triumphs of Popish darkness and of an Enlightenment that the novel only names as Protestant in moments of contradistinction to Catholicism: one is all but unknown, the other a classic, a great novel, endlessly reprinted and examined. The gap between a short essay and a long novel is wider than that between Milton's Of True Religion and Areopagitica, but the same cultural dynamic is at work that buoys up the work that tells the flattering history we want to hear and sinks the hatreds and prejudices under the masks of liberty or a gentility disguised by what William C. Dowling calls "benevolist ethical theory."(21) The difference in later generations' response is not a mere misreading, however; it has basis within the works themselves. Tom Jones is not, after all, a novel whose greatness must be confined between quotation marks. Even more than Milton's two appeals for Protestants-only toleration, Areopagitica and Of True Religion, Fielding's two stories of Whig England and the lurking devils on its frontiers are quite unlike. True Patriot 3 is not a hundredth the length of Tom Jones; its violence, and the fear that underlies that violence, are vestigial, swiftly hidden remnants of the anxiety, the insularity, of the England that in becoming God's vessel contracted Chaucer's cosmopolitanism into the Grand Tour of Pope's "Europe he saw, and Europe saw him too."(22) In Tom Jones, Fielding is participating in an ongoing construction of a triumphalist narrative of national redemption in which literature is the ensign run up the rigging of the Royal Navy; True Patriot 3 is a flashback, a moment of remembered or invoked terror as Charles Stuart nears London in mid-November, 1745, a relapse into fear that inspires all the greater determination to erect a magnificent edifice for its containment. The atrophy of the narrative of endangerment accompanies the hypertrophy of the narrative of reason and progress. True Patriot 3 tells the alternative account repressed in Tom Jones, a narrative in which history erupting in horror is the sole alternative to timeless and domesticized Whig power. Tom Jones strikes a pose of infinite control, invoking threats only to undercut them, its wise and wisecracking narrator above viewing a "rebellious Rabble" as a serious danger, to minimize the acute alarm of the 1745 Jacobite uprising. The peril horrifically close in True Patriot 3 becomes as idle as the words of a "popish Priest," a tragedy repeated as a farce, so that fear itself may be forgotten.
Annabel Patterson has said of Robert Burns's 1788 "The Fete Champetre" that it "allegorizes . . . the magic circle of idyllic manners and aesthetic pleasure that were supposed to exclude political experience while implicitly supporting a conservative ideology."(23) Her characterization of the ideology as "conservative" suppresses the degree to which it represents a descendent of what only a century earlier was the "progressive" opposition to the Stuarts. This opposition did not characterize itself as progressive, however, in politics or religion: the English revolutionaries of the seventeenth century professed to be restoring in religion a primitive Christianity and in the state its original constitution, both of which had become corrupted by innovations introduced by corrupt prelates and kings. The progressive/conservative dichotomy, what Robert Markley calls the "us versus them" of "reflexive logics of binarism and progress," proves inadequate to contain the complex historical experience of early imperial England, instead reproducing the oppositional structure of the confessional divide itself.(24) Yet Patterson remains correct that the object of the predominant current in eighteenth-century poetry about the land is to reconcile rather than to agitate; it seeks Bolingbroke's "philosophic detachment," which Fabricant rechristens "selective blindness."(25) The end result of the process of exclusion of the political arrives in the personalized landscape of Romanticism in which, as Majorie Levinson says, "history . . . ha[s] no room to surface."(26) Allworthy's Paradise Hall in Tom Jones, a type of the eighteenth-century country house as ideal society, is like other paradises the exclusive franchise of a jealous god: Eden requires a wall and guardian to keep out the unworthy. Absolute bliss inside the paradisal circle requires as complement absolute deprivation outside. Nor need a King or Prince visit, as with Jonson's Penshurst, to ratify the arrangement; ownership is kingship enough.
It is not by coincidence that only by moving from the "literary" to the "non-literary," from novel to propaganda, does the theo-ideological history of a decisive period in the formation of modernity in English society and literature become apparent; literature itself as an ideological system is heir to a methodical forgetting. The canonizing process is one of sanitizing, the erasure of inconvenient aspects of history to consolidate that history from individual and contradictory textual moments into a metanarrative that justifies the system instituting the process. Anti-Catholicism was the lever by which "progress" and "reason," "The Cause of King George," dislodged the premodern world of sacred monarchy and clerical power. In order to present the modern regime as timelessly true, its ideologues have labored to conceal its origins in the preceding, hieratic system of sectarian divisions, instead positing a dichotomy of rational progress and irrational reaction. As reason came to supplement and even overshadow doctrine in Anglican definitions of the Protestant-Catholic divide after the Restoration, so in the eighteenth century "the Protestant cause" itself becomes generalized into "the Cause of common Sense." Hostility to Catholicism acted as a vital and violent mechanism enabling the Enlightenment to erase the ideological legitimacy of the premodern social order. The political heritage of rationalism lies at the center of the cultural myths of democracy; to acknowledge the origins of this rationalism in the sectarian struggles of the seventeenth century would undercut the legitimacy of the modern state.
Ideology is imperfect, exciting opposition to continue its own existence, but by that very excitation compromising its claim to truth value; we know canonical and noncanonical authors alike the better for recognizing what enemies their works contain (in both senses). Observing that Whig pamphleteers of the 1740s associate Jacobitism with "'petticoat government'" and not only "heterosexual promiscuity" but "homoeroticism," Jill Campbell suggests that their "very explicitness . . . challenges certain aspects of Armstrong's and others' formulation of the novel's special ideological function: it suggests that the concealment of these connections is not always a crucial feature of their ideological power."(27) While revealing in comparison to works that completely ignore history, Tom Jones nonetheless takes its "overt interest in national political conflict"(28) in an attempt to minimize the significance of a conflict that was inescapably present in the minds of all its readers when it appeared in February, 1749, less than three years after the final defeat and brutal suppression of the Jacobite rebels. What Tom Jones makes visible to a posterity less conscious of what were current affairs to Fielding is precisely its mechanism of concealment, a mechanism risen from the anonymity of journalism to be preserved in a canonical and literary work. Pamphlets are not novels, but the novel of a journalist becomes touched by his other profession. In order to rebut by ridicule a historical antagonist, Tom Jones crosses into history, into journalism, instead of having the leisure to stay suspended entirely in a timeless and inviolable domesticity. Tom Jones visibly enacts an effacement rendered wholly invisible in Armstrong's ideal domestic type - yet genres consist not of ideals but of discrete works.
Fielding's "Nonjuror, who had lent considerable Assistance to the Pretender's Cause, out of Principle," in True Patriot 3 is, like Orwell's Swift, a quisling, a clerical traitor, because he mistakenly supposes that any mere "Principle" could take precedent over the absolute demands of Protestant Britain. In Fielding's England, after all, if there was a fraud "deliberately contrived, knowingly carried on," to use Marvell's characterization of the Catholic Church - to oppress the poor and the Irish and to discipline wives into the Women's Auxiliary Corps of the Protestant garrison state, whose piety and reason melded into one, like the nation and the state - it was not conducted by a Popery dispossessed two centuries earlier, but by the Tom Allworthies and their propagandists warning of the Popish peril.(29) The monolithic model of the eighteenth century long remained intact because its principal challengers acted on principles alien to the heirs of the Enlightenment. Skepticism about proclaimed ideals, of course, is prudent with respect to any system of belief and governance. The victors in any struggle always prove their cause is just; the beneficiaries of any social arrangement always devise rationalizations for why that arrangement is superior to any possible alternative. If to err is human, so is complacency in ruling classes. All systems of domination incorporate unequal power relations, subsequent injustices, and more or less plausible justifications for those injustices. As Johnson observes, "To charge those favorable representations, which men give of their own minds, with the guilt of hypocritical falsehood, would show more severity than knowledge. The writer commonly believes himself."(30) The realistic novel comes of age by erasing its origins in a process of "favorable representations."
1 Jonathan Clark, "Sovereignty: The British Experience," Times Literary Supplement (November 29, 1991): 15. See Linda Colley, Britons: Forging the Nation 1707-1837 (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1992) for an account of the "rise" of British nationalism at a period coincident with the "rise" of the novel, and Liah Greenfeld, Nationalism: Five Roads to Modernity (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1992) for a more general account of the interconnection between nationalism and the sense of modernity.
2 Fredric Jameson, "Religion and Ideology: A Political Reading of Paradise Lost," in Literature, Politics, and Theory, ed. Francis Barker (London: Methuen, 1986), p. 40.
3 Anthony J. Cascardi, "A Response by Anthony J. Cascardi" (to Timothy J. Reiss, "The Limits of Discursive Idealism," MLQ 54 : 409-13), MLQ 54 (1993): 416. See also Anthony J. Cascardi, The Subject of Modernity (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1993).
4 Thomas Lockwood has related the interplay of narrative and commentary in Tom Jones to that of periodical essays, but the interplay of domestic and partisan politics implicated in the formal intertwining has yet to receive an adequate examination (Thomas Lockwood, "Matter and Reflection in Tom Jones," ELH 45 : 226-35).
5 Contrast, for instance, the major role of Richardson to the few fleeting references to Fielding in Nancy Armstrong, Desire and Domestic Fiction: A Political History of the Novel (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1987).
6 Brian McCrea, Henry Fielding and the Politics of Mid-Eighteenth-Century England (Athens, Georgia: Univ. of Georgia Press, 1981), p. 140; Thomas R. Cleary, Henry Fielding: Political Writer (Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfred Laurier Univ. Press, 1984), p. 214.
7 McCrea, p. 127.
8 Cleary, p. 267.
9 Brean S. Hammond uses the phrase "cultural politics" to attempt to define Fielding as neither "nonpartisan and apolitical" nor simply Whig or Tory, but his concluding vision of Pope and Fielding "united under Allworthy's extensive roof" reproduces the very illusion of Allworthy's all-embracing beneficence that Fielding endeavors to engender ("Politics and Cultural Politics: The Case of Henry Fielding," Eighteenth-Century Life 16 : 77, 91).
10 See Joseph Addison, The Freeholder, ed. James Leheny (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979). The class prejudice, for instance, is unmistakable when Freeholder 3 presents a mock-journal of the march of a cowardly and contemptible lower-class Jacobite rebel, who daydreams of seizing "a noble Country-Seat, which belongs to a Whig" (p. 49), and who records that "Notwithstanding the Magistracy was generally against us, we could discover many Friends among our Spectators; particularly in two or three Balconies, which were filled with several tawdry Females, who are known in that Country by the ancient Name of Harlots" (p. 48).
11 Henry Fielding, The True Patriot and Related Writings, ed. W. B. Coley (Middleton, CT: Wesleyan Univ. Press, 1987), pp. 103, 113. Further references to this work will be made in the text.
12 See George Fox, The Arraignment of Popery: Being A Short Collection, taken out of the Chronicles, and other Books, of the State of the Church in the Primitive Times. Also, The State of the Papists; and how long it was before the Universal Pope and Mass was set up; and the time of bringing in all their Rudiments and Traditions, Beads and Images, Purgatory, Tythes, and Inquisitions. Also, A Relations of their Cruelties they acted after the Pope got up, being worse then the Heathen and Turk: New Rome having proved like Old, Also, What the People of England worshipped before they were Christians. With several other things, which may be profitable for people to read over, wherein they may see the Worship of the Beast and Whore; where all that fear God, may see, read, try, and give judgment by the Spirit of Truth. To which is added, The Blood of the Martyrs is the Seed of the Church (London, 1667). Fox devotes his longest chapter to brief digests of Irish atrocities in the 1641 rebellion, such as, "A Scottish man they strip, and hewed to pieces; ript up his Wifes belly, so that her Child dropt out. Many other Women with Child, they hung up, ript their bellies, and let their Infants fall out; some of the Children they gave to Dogs" (p. 87). Fox's pornographic relish in recounting thumbnail horrors is extraordinary, but Protestant polemics frequently reached their utmost violence when dealing with the Irish rebellion, a logic (not unconnected with subsequent Anglo-Irish relations) which Fielding extends to Scottish Papists.
13 Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling, ed. Martin C. Battestin and Fredson Bowers (Middleton, CT: Wesleyan Univ. Press, 1975), p. 870. Future references to this work will be cited parenthetically.
14 Henry Fielding, An Enquiry into the Causes of the late Increase of Robbers, &c., with Some Proposals for Remedying this Growing Evil, in The Complete Works of Henry Fielding, ed. William Ernest Henley, vol. 13 (New York: Croscup and Sterling, 1902), p. 126. Remarkably for a former playwright, in this work Fielding condemns the "diversions" of "the lowest sort of people," including "a place where every sense and appetite of which it is compounded are fed and delighted; where the eyes are feasted with show, and the ears with music," as well as "all conspiracies for raising wages, limiting hours of work, &c." (pp. 25, 23, 65). The pamphlet seeks "to put a stop to the luxury of the lower people, to force the poor to industry," because "The last and much the most numerous class of poor, are those who are able to work and not willing" (pp. 126, 59).
15 Thomas Tenison, Dr. Tenison's Sermon of Alms, p. 51. Published as a separately paginated appendix to [John Williams] An Apology for the Pulpits: Being in Answer to a Late Book, Intituled, Good Advice to the Pulpits. Together with an Appendix, containing a Defense of Dr. Tenison's Sermon about Alms; in a Letter to the Author of this Apology (London, 1688).
16 Coley suggests that the presence of Hoadly "is nostalgic and probably personal," but it is unnecessary to speculate that Fielding "may have known Hoadly and his two sons Benjamin and John from his own early days in Salisbury" to account for the presence in True Patriot 3's prison of so eminent, if semi-retired, a controversialist (Coley, note to Fielding's The True Patriot and Related Writings, p. 129n).
17 See George Orwell's assertion, in an essay written shortly after the end of World War Two, that "there is a touch of quislingism in his [Swift's antipatriotic] attitude" (George Orwell, "Politics vs. Literature," The Collected Essays, Journalism, and Letters of George Orwell, ed. Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus [New York: Harcourt, Brace, and World, 1968], p. 4.207).
18 Michael McKeon, The Origins of the English Novel, 1600-1740 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1987), pp. 392, 393.
19 Martin C. Battestin, footnote in The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling, p. 1.439n. As he notes, Addison's Freeholder 14 makes the same point about the Old Pretender.
20 Peter J. Carlton, "Tom Jones and the '45 Once Again," Studies in the Novel 20 (1988): 361.
21 William C. Dowling, The Epistolary Moment: The Poetics of the Eighteenth-Century Verse Epistle (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1991), p. 107.
22 Alexander Pope, "The Dunciad," 1.4.294, Poetical Works, ed. Herbert Davis (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1966), p. 566.
23 Annabel Patterson, "Pastoral and Ideology: The Neoclassical Fete Champetre," Huntington Library Quarterly, vol. 48 (1985): 321.
24 Robert Markley, "The Rise of Nothing: Revisionist Historiography and the Narrative Structure of Eighteenth-Century Studies," Genre 23(1990): 80.
25 Carole Fabricant, Swift's Landscape (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1982), p. 192.
26 Marjorie Levinson, Wordsworth's Great Period Poems: Four Essays (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1986), p. 2.
27 Jill Campbell, "Tom Jones, Jacobitism, and Gender: History and Fiction at the Ghosting Hour," Genre 23 (1990): 162, 175, 162.
28 Ibid., p. 163.
29 Andrew Marvell, An Account of the Growth of Popery, and Arbitrary Government in England, in The Complete Works in Verse and Prose of Andrew Marvell M. P., ed. Alexander B. Grosart ([London]: The Fuller Worthies' Library, 1875), p. 4.251. Marvell's characterization of the Catholic Church as a system of intentional deception is a tactic common among seventeenth-century Protestant pamphleteers.
30 Samuel Johnson, "Pope," in Lives of the English Poets, ed. George Birkbeck Hill (1905; New York: Octagon Books, 1967), pp. 3.207-08.
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|Title Annotation:||English writer Henry Fielding|
|Author:||Tumbleson, Raymond D.|
|Publication:||Studies in the Novel|
|Date:||Mar 22, 1995|
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