The History of Tom Jones
To the Honourable
GEORGE LYTTLETON, ESQ;
One of the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury.
Notwithstanding your constant refusal, when I have asked leave to prefix your
name to this dedication, I must still insist on my right to desire your protection of
To you, Sir, it is owing that this history was ever begun. It was by your desire that
I first thought of such a composition. So many years have since past, that you
may have, perhaps, forgotten this circumstance: but your desires are to me in the
nature of commands; and the impression of them is never to be erased from my
Again, Sir, without your assistance this history had never been completed. Be not
startled at the assertion. I do not intend to draw on you the suspicion of being a
romance writer. I mean no more than that I partly owe to you my existence during
great part of the time which I have employed in composing it: another matter
which it may be necessary to remind you of; since there are certain actions of
which you are apt to be extremely forgetful; but of these I hope I shall always
have a better memory than yourself.
Lastly, It is owing to you that the history appears what it now is. If there be in this
work, as some have been pleased to say, a stronger picture of a truly benevolent
mind than is to be found in any other, who that knows you, and a particular
acquaintance of yours, will doubt whence that benevolence hath been copied?
The world will not, I believe, make me the compliment of thinking I took it from
myself. I care not: this they shall own, that the two persons from whom I have
taken it, that is to say, two of the best and worthiest men in the world, are
strongly and zealously my friends. I might be contented with this, and yet my
vanity will add a third to the number; and him one of the greatest and noblest, not
only in his rank, but in every public and private virtue. But here, whilst my
gratitude for the princely benefactions of the Duke of Bedford bursts from my
heart, you must forgive my reminding you that it was you who first recommended
me to the notice of my benefactor.
And what are your objections to the allowance of the honour which I have
sollicited? Why, you have commended the book so warmly, that you should be
ashamed of reading your name before the dedication. Indeed, sir, if the book
itself doth not make you ashamed of your commendations, nothing that I can
here write will, or ought. I am not to give up my right to your protection and
patronage, because you have commended my book: for though I acknowledge
so many obligations to you, I do not add this to the number; in which friendship, I
am convinced, hath so little share: since that can neither biass your judgment,
nor pervert your integrity. An enemy may at any time obtain your commendation
by only deserving it; and the utmost which the faults of your friends can hope for,
is your silence; or, perhaps, if too severely accused, your gentle palliation.