The History of Tom Jones HTML version

Containing About Six Days.
Chapter 1.
A farewel to the reader.
We are now, reader, arrived at the last stage of our long journey. As we have,
therefore, travelled together through so many pages, let us behave to one
another like fellow-travellers in a stage coach, who have passed several days in
the company of each other; and who, notwithstanding any bickerings or little
animosities which may have occurred on the road, generally make all up at last,
and mount, for the last time, into their vehicle with chearfulness and good
humour; since after this one stage, it may possibly happen to us, as it commonly
happens to them, never to meet more.
As I have here taken up this simile, give me leave to carry it a little farther. I
intend, then, in this last book, to imitate the good company I have mentioned in
their last journey. Now, it is well known that all jokes and raillery are at this time
laid aside; whatever characters any of the passengers have for the jest-sake
personated on the road are now thrown off, and the conversation is usually plain
and serious.
In the same manner, if I have now and then, in the course of this work, indulged
any pleasantry for thy entertainment, I shall here lay it down. The variety of
matter, indeed, which I shall be obliged to cram into this book, will afford no room
for any of those ludicrous observations which I have elsewhere made, and which
may sometimes, perhaps, have prevented thee from taking a nap when it was
beginning to steal upon thee. In this last book thou wilt find nothing (or at most
very little) of that nature. All will be plain narrative only; and, indeed, when thou
hast perused the many great events which this book will produce, thou wilt think
the number of pages contained in it scarce sufficient to tell the story.
And now, my friend, I take this opportunity (as I shall have no other) of heartily
wishing thee well. If I have been an entertaining companion to thee, I promise
thee it is what I have desired. If in anything I have offended, it was really without
any intention. Some things, perhaps, here said, may have hit thee or thy friends;
but I do most solemnly declare they were not pointed at thee or them. I question
not but thou hast been told, among other stories of me, that thou wast to travel
with a very scurrilous fellow; but whoever told thee so did me an injury. No man
detests and despises scurrility more than myself; nor hath any man more reason;
for none hath ever been treated with more; and what is a very severe fate, I have
had some of the abusive writings of those very men fathered upon me, who, in
other of their works, have abused me themselves with the utmost virulence.
All these works, however, I am well convinced, will be dead long before this page
shall offer itself to thy perusal; for however short the period may be of my own
performances, they will most probably outlive their own infirm author, and the
weakly productions of his abusive contemporaries.
Chapter 2.
Containing a very tragical incident.