Book 4 Chapter 9 of Tom Jones.

This is part of an ongoing project in which I will record and post one chapter per week of Henry Fielding's Tom Jones over the course of four years.

Here we have a scene of domestic strife. Molly, still injured from the boneshattering brawl from the previous chapter, returns home to find things less-than-hospitable. Not only are her sisters jealous of her new hand-me-down dress, but her mother accuses her of being a whore! And only because she's having a child out of wedlock (it should be pointed out that her mother only narrowly escaped this fate due to a timely wedding).

We get a brief mention of an 18th Century superstar, in the form of John Freke. Check out his Wikipedia page! Not only was he a famed surgeon, but also did experiments on electricity in the 1740s, and he wrote about electricity's "Influence in the Blasts on Human Bodies." I'll let you make of that what you will. He was also a close friend of novelist Samuel Richardson, who was a rival of Henry Fielding's (Fielding's first novella, Shamela, is a parody of Richardson's Pamela). He was even the model for the President of Surgeons in Hogarth's engraving "The Reward of Cruelty," which is a pretty unsettling engraving even by today's standards. This guy was everywhere, and you've probably never heard of him.

AuthorMark Turetsky