After a imposed-break last week, we're back with a double-length post.
Infants, it seems, are pretty dull. Dull enough that in a book calling itself a history of a person, we're going to ignore that person for a while, because he's just lying around in cribs, crying, and soiling clothes (I guess). It makes sense, because we've got to set up problems for him to deal with when he's of age.
The problem in these chapters is represented by a Captain Blifil, his brother, a Doctor who had some strong feelings toward Mr. Allworthy's sister:
The doctor found himself so agreeable to Miss Bridget, that he now began to lament an unfortunate Accident which had happened to him about ten Years before; namely, his Marriage with another Woman, who was not only still alive, but, what was worse, known to be so by Mr. Allworthy.
Therefore, in an act of logic that I don't quite grasp, the Doctor introduces his brother to her for the purposes of marriage.
To deal plainly with the Reader, the Captain, ever since his Arrival, at least from the Moment his Brother had proposed the Match to him, long before he had discovered any flattering Symptoms in Miss Bridget, had been greatly enamoured; that is to say, of Mr. Allworthy's House and Gardens, and of his Lands, Tenements, and Hereditaments; of all which the Captain was so passionately fond, that he would most probably have contracted Marriage with them, had he been obliged to have taken the Witch of Endor into the Bargain.
He's clearly a real keeper, right? He does discover a flattering Symptom or two in Miss Bridget, and she's smitten, too. They get married and soon produce a child—an heir for Mr. Allworthy. I predict this will become a problem for Tom.
By the way, we see him a little bit here—and he's given a name! We learn that he's named Thomas after Mr. Allworthy, who spends time with the tyke daily and defends his affection for the boy against Blifil's antagonism toward Thomas. The child then promptly disappears, and we get some more speculation into his paternity.
The narrator takes a moment to comment on his method. He's not going to get into every detail about Tom Jones' life the same way:
When any extraordinary Scene presents itself (as we trust will often be the Case), we shall spare no Pains nor Paper to open it at large to our Reader; but if whole Years should pass without producing anything worthy his Notice, we shall not be afraid of a Chasm in our History; but shall hasten on to Matters of Consequence, and leave such Periods of Time totally unobserved...
My Reader then is not to be surprised, if, in the Course of this Work, he shall find some Chapters very short, and others altogether as long; some that contain only the Time of a single Day, and others that comprise Years; in a word, if my History sometimes seems to stand still, and sometimes to fly.
Once again, I love the narrator's voice, particularly when the reader is being addressed directly. I'd like a little more to be going on in the book—but Fielding's sentences are rambling and circuitous, I've got to expect his novel will, too. I'm willing to wait for something to happen, but I'll enjoy the book more when it does.