For ten or eleven years, Joseph Andrews was in the service of Sir Thomas Booby, the uncle of Squire Booby, who was married to the virtuous Pamela, Joseph’s sister. When Lord Booby dies, Joseph at first remains in the employ of Lady Booby as her footman. This lady, much older than her twenty-one-year-old servant and apparently little disturbed by her husband’s death, is attracted to the pleasant-mannered, handsome young man. Joseph, however, is as virtuous as his famous sister, and when Lady Booby’s advances become such that even his innocence can no longer overlook their true nature, he is as firm in resisting her as Pamela was in restraining Squire Booby. The lady is insulted and discharges Joseph on the spot, despite the protests of Mrs. Slipslop, her maid, who is herself attracted to the young man.
With very little money and even fewer prospects, Joseph sets out from London to Somersetshire to see his sweetheart, Fanny, for whose sake he holds firm against Lady Booby’s advances. On the first night of his journey, Joseph is attacked by robbers, who steal his money, beat him soundly, and leave him lying naked and half dead in a ditch. A passing coach stops when the passengers hear his cries, and he is taken to a nearby inn.
Joseph is well cared for until the innkeeper’s wife discovers that he is penniless. He is recognized, however, by a visitor at the inn, his old tutor and preceptor, Parson Adams, who is on his way to London to sell a collection of his sermons. He pays Joseph’s bill out of his own meager savings; then, discovering that in his absentmindedness he forgot to bring the sermons with him, he decides to accompany Joseph back to Somersetshire.
They start out, alternately on foot and on the parson’s horse. Fortunately, Mrs. Slipslop overtakes them in a coach on her way to Lady Booby’s country place. She accommodates the parson in the coach while Joseph rides the horse. The inn at which they stop next has an innkeeper who gauges his courtesy according to the appearance of his guests. When he insults Joseph, Parson Adams, despite his clerical cassock, challenges the host, and a fistfight follows that extends to a tussle between the host and Mrs. Slipslop. When the battle finally ends, Parson Adams comes off looking the bloodiest, since in her excitement the host doused him with a pail of hog’s blood.
The journey continues, this time with Joseph in the coach and the parson on foot, for with typical forgetfulness the good man left his horse behind. Nevertheless, because he walks rapidly and the coach moves slowly, he easily outdistances his friends. While he is resting on his journey, he hears a woman shriek. Running to her rescue, he discovers a young woman being cruelly attacked by a burly fellow. The parson belabors the attacker with such violence that he fells him. As a group of fox hunters rides up, the ruffian rises from the ground and accuses Parson Adams and the woman of being conspirators in an attempt to rob him. The parson and the woman are quickly taken prisoners and led off to the sheriff. On the way, the parson discovers that the young woman he aided is Fanny. Having heard of Joseph’s unhappy dismissal...
(The entire section is 1304 words.)