Quotes from The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling

Henry Fielding ·  975 pages

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“No one hath seen beauty in its highest lustre who hath never seen it in distress.”
― Henry Fielding, quote from The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling


“For I hope my Friends will pardon me, when I declare, I know none of them without a Fault; and I should be sorry if I could imagine, I had any Friend who could not see mine. Forgiveness, of this Kind, we give and demand in Turn.”
― Henry Fielding, quote from The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling


“It is much easier to make good men wise, than to make bad men good.”
― Henry Fielding, quote from The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling


“Reader, I think proper, before we proceed any further together, to acquaint thee that I intend to digress, through this whole history, as often as I see occasion, of which I am myself a better judge than any pitiful critic whatever; and here I must desire all those critics to mind their own business, and not to intermeddle with affairs or works which no ways concern them; for till they produce the authority by which they are constituted judges, I shall not plead to their jurisdiction.”
― Henry Fielding, quote from The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling


“And here, I believe, the wit is generally misunderstood. In reality, it lies in desiring another to kiss your a-- for having just before threatened to kick his; for I have observed very accurately, that no one ever desires you to kick that which belongs to himself, nor offers to kiss this part in another.”
― Henry Fielding, quote from The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling



“Men who are ill-natured and quarrelsome when drunk are very worthy persons when sober. For drink in reality doth not reverse nature or create passions in men which did not exist in them before. It takes away the guard of reason and consequently forces us to produce those symptoms which many when sober have art enough to conceal.”
― Henry Fielding, quote from The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling


“There are a set of religious, or rather moral writers, who teach that virtue is the certain road to happiness, and vice to misery, in this world. A very wholesome and comfortable doctrine, and to which we have but one objection, namely, that it is not true.”
― Henry Fielding, quote from The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling


“The worst of men generally have the words rogue and villain most in their mouths, as the lowest of all wretches are the aptest to cry out low in the pit.”
― Henry Fielding, quote from The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling


“To see a Woman you love in Distress; to be unable to relieve her, and at the same Time to reflect that you have brought her into this Situation, is, perhaps, a Curse of which no Imagination can represent the Horrors to those who have not felt it.”
― Henry Fielding, quote from The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling


“An author ought to consider himself, not as a gentleman who gives a private or eleemosynary treat, but rather as one who keeps a public ordinary, at which all persons are welcome for their money.”
― Henry Fielding, quote from The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling



“A good countenance is a letter of recommendation.”
― Henry Fielding, quote from The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling


“How often, when I have told you that all men are false and perjury alike, and grow tired of us as soon as ever they have had their wicked wills of us, how often have you sworn you would never forsake me?”
― Henry Fielding, quote from The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling


“It is not enough that your designs, nay that your actions, are intrinsically good, you must take care they shall appear so.”
― Henry Fielding, quote from The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling


“... a good conscience is never lawless in the worst regulated state, and will provide those laws for itself, which the neglect of legislators hath forgotten to supply.”
― Henry Fielding, quote from The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling


“...a French lieutenant, who had been long enough out of France to forget his own language, but not long enough in England to learn ours, so that he really spoke no language at all.”
― Henry Fielding, quote from The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling



“We would bestow some pains here in minutely describing all the mad pranks which Jones played on this occasion could we be well assured that the reader would take the same pains in perusing them, but as we are apprehensive that after all the labour which we should employ in painting this scene the said reader would be very apt to skip it entirely over, we have saved ourself that trouble. To say the truth, we have from this reason alone often done great violence to the luxuriance of our genius, and have left many excellent descriptions out of our work which would otherwise have been in it.”
― Henry Fielding, quote from The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling


“One of the maxims which the devil, in a late visit upon earth, left to his disciples, is, when once you are got up, to kick the stool from under you. In plain English, when you have made your fortune by the good offices of a friend, you are advised to discard him as soon as you can.”
― Henry Fielding, quote from The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling


“He then bespattered the youth with abundance of that language which passes between country gentleman who embrace opposite sides of the question; with frequent applications to him to salute that part which is generally introduced into all controversies that arise among the lower orders of the English gentry at horse-races, cock-matches, and other public places. Allusions to this part are likewise often made for the sake of jest. And here, I believe, the wit is generally misunderstood. In reality, it lies in desiring another to kiss you a-- for having just before threatened ti kick his; for I have observed very accurately, that no one ever desires you to kick that which belongs to himself, nor offers to kiss this part in another.

It may likewise seem surprizing that in the many thousand kind invitations of this sort, which every one who hath conversed with country gentlemen must have heard, no one, I believe, hath ever seen a single instance where the desire hath been complied with; - a great instance of their want of politeness; for in town nothing can be more common than for the finest gentlemen to perform this ceremony every day to their superiors, without having that favour once requested of them.”
― Henry Fielding, quote from The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling


“To say the Truth, I have often concluded, that the honest Part of Mankind would be much too hard for the knavish, if they could bring themselves to incur the Guilt, or thought it worth their while to take the Trouble.”
― Henry Fielding, quote from The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling


“The great are deceived if they imagine they have appropriated ambition and vanity to themselves. These notable qualities flourish as notably in a country church and churchyard as in the drawing room or in the closet. Schemes have indeed been laid in the vestry, which would hardly disgrace the conclave. Here is a ministry, and here is an opposition. Here are plots and circumventions, parties and factions equal to those which are to be found in courts. Nor are the women here less practiced in the highest feminine arts than their fair superiors in quality and fortune. Here are prudes and coquettes; here are dressing and ogling, falsehood, envy, malice, scandal -- in short everything which is common to the most splendid assembly or politest circle.”
― Henry Fielding, quote from The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling



“The citadel of Jones was now taken by surprise. All those considerations of honour and prudence which our heroe had lately with so much military wisdom placed as guards over the avenues of his heart, ran away from their posts, and the god of love marched in, in triumph.”
― Henry Fielding, quote from The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling


“nothing can be more reasonable, than that slaves and flatterers should exact the same taxes on all below them, which they themselves pay to all above them”
― Henry Fielding, quote from The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling


“Wisdom, in short, whose lessons have been represented as so hard to learn by those who never were at her school, only teaches us to extend a simple maxim universally known and followed even in the lowest life, a little farther than that life carries it. And this is, not to buy at too dear a price. Now, whoever takes this maxim abroad with him into the grand market of the world, and constantly applies it to honours, to riches, to pleasures, and to every other commodity which that market affords, is, I will venture to affirm, a wise man.”
― Henry Fielding, quote from The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling


“I look upon the vulgar observation, 'That the devil often deserts his friends, and leaves them in the lurch,' to be a great abuse on that gentleman's character. Perhaps he may sometimes desert those who are only his cup acquaintance; or who, at most, are but half his; but he generally stands by those who are thoroughly his servants, and helps them off in all extremities, till their bargain expires.”
― Henry Fielding, quote from The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling


“...her patience was, perhaps, tired out; for this is a virtue which is very apt to be fatigued by exercise.”
― Henry Fielding, quote from The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling



“Un amico che tradisce è il più pericoloso dei nemici; e dirò apertamente che tanto la religione quanto la virtù sono state screditate dagli ipocriti che non da quanto hanno potuto dire contro di essi i più beffardi miscredenti; e queste due cose, la religione e la virtù, — stimate, nella loro purezza, le basi su cui si fondano la società civile e le più grandi benedizioni — sono diventate invece corrotte e avvelenate dalla frode, dall’inganno e dall’artificio, i peggiori flagelli, e hanno permesso agli uomini di commettere in loro nome le cose più esecrabili.”
― Henry Fielding, quote from The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling


“Non basta che le tue azioni, o meglio le tue intenzioni siano intrinsecamente buone; devi fare in modo che appaiano tali. S'è bello l'interno, devi provvedere a far bello anche l'esterno. Altrimenti la malignità e l'invidia offuscheranno le tue virtù in modo tale che neanche un uomo intelligente e buono [...] riuscirà a scorgerne l'interna bellezza. Sia questa, miei giovani lettori, la vostra massima costante: nessuno è mai tanto buono da poter trascurare le regole della prudenza; e la virtù stessa non può apparire bella quando non s'adorni esteriormente di correttezza e di decoro.”
― Henry Fielding, quote from The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling


“As this is one of those deep observations which very few readers can be supposed capable of making themselves, I have thought proper to lend them my assistance; but this is a favour rarely to be expected in the course of my work. Indeed, I shall seldom or never so indulge him, unless in such instances as this, where nothing but the inspiration with which we writers are gifted can possibly enable anyone to make the discovery.”
― Henry Fielding, quote from The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling


“Though Jones had formerly believed himself in the very prime of youth and vigor, his first encounter with Lady Bellaston both vexed and puzzled him. For though his own youthful appetites were quickly sated, hers were ravenous and almost beyond his power to satisfy. Her kisses and caresses were a source of inexpressible delight; yet when all was over it was he who collapsed into the most profound slumber. Early the next morning she took him shopping, her manner fresh and cheerful. Jones could not fathom her spritely behavior. And in spite of all his best endeavors, he could scarcely keep his eyes open.”
― Henry Fielding, quote from The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling


About the author

Henry Fielding
Born place: in Sharpham, Somerset, The United Kingdom
Born date April 22, 1707
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