Page 58. " same superstition with the Bannians in India "
Kneeling man stroking a resting cow in Varanasi, India
Creative Commons AttributionKneeling man stroking a resting cow in Varanasi, India - Credit: Wen-Yan King

Bannian is an archaic term for a member of the vanika in the Indian caste system - a trader or merchant belonging to the business class. The Bannians feature in the book A voyage to Suratt: in the year, 1689 by J Ovington, M.A. Chaplain to His Majesty. Ovington describes the Bannians as humble, innocent and patient, refraining from ‘hot words.’ He notes that they have the greatest respect for all kinds of beasts, especially cows, and consider even the killing of a fly a crime.

The Critical review: or, Annals of literature, Volume III, published in 1804, describes the Bannians as loving everything that breathes, assisting everything that is in pain, abhorring the spilling of blood, and abstaining from food that has enjoyed life. They restrict their diet to milk, butter, cheese, rice and vegetables.  This veneration for all creatures is the 'superstition' Fielding refers to.


Page 60. " In morals he was a professed Platonist, and in religion he inclined to be an Aristotelian "

Plato and Aristotle
GNU Free Documentation LicensePlato and Aristotle - Credit: sailko
Plato was an idealist and rationalist.  He divided reality into two.  On one hand is the ideal, which is permanent, eternal and spiritual. On the other hand is ‘phenomena’ - appearances, things as they seem, associated with matter, time, and space.  Ideals are constant and unchanging while phenomena are illusions which decay and die, and can only ever approximate the ideal.  Ideals are a motivating force, identified with God and perfect goodness. In this two-part reality, the human body is material, mortal, and subject to causation. The soul is ideal, immortal, and has free will.  The soul will always choose to do good, if it recognizes what is good.

Aristotle was a scientist, philosopher and logician.  In Book Eight of his Physics, he describes what he calls the "Unmoved Mover" or "Prime Mover" - the ultimate source, or cause, of motion in the universe, which is itself unmoved. Although the Unmoved Mover is God, it did not create the world, which Aristotle regarded as uncreated and eternal. Aristotle believed that this God was completely unaware of anything external to itself and thinks only of itself.  Worshipping it was thus not terribly useful.

Page 60. " as the lawyer doth his Coke upon Lyttleton "
Sir Thomas de Littleton (c1407-1481)
Public DomainSir Thomas de Littleton (c1407-1481) - Credit: Engraving by Thomas Trotter

Sir Thomas de Littleton (c. 1407-1481) was an English judge and legal writer.  His Treatise on Tenures was the first scholarly work on the English law of property, and specifically rights over land.  The rules governing the law of property had become uniform throughout the land, and a huge amount of case material had been acquired and preserved in the rolls of the various courts. Littleton distilled this great body of knowledge into an accessible form.  The first edition of The Tenures appeared in 1481 or 1482.  It was one of the earliest books printed in London, and the earliest treatise on English law.  Several subsequent editions followed. 

In 1628, Sir Edward Coke published a celebrated commentary on The Tenures.  Coke (1552-1634) was a highly respected English barrister, judge and politician. 

Sire Edward Coke (1552-1634)
Public DomainSire Edward Coke (1552-1634) - Credit: Thomas Athow

There have been about 25 editions of Coke upon Littleton and about 90 editions of The Tenures without Coke’s commentary. The Tenures formed an important part of legal education for almost 350 years, and is still cited in the courts of England and the United States as an authority on the feudal law of real estate.


Page 66. " "Stuff o' th' conscience" or no "

Edwin Booth as Iago in Shakespeare's Othello
Public DomainEdwin Booth as Iago in Shakespeare's Othello - Credit: J. Gurney & Son
In Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Othello, Moor of Venice, Act 1, Scene 2, Iago says:

“Though in the trade of war I have slain men,

Yet do I hold it very stuff o' the conscience

To do no contrived murder: I lack iniquity

Sometimes to do me service: nine or ten times

I had thought to have yerk'd him here under the ribs.”

Page 67. " that gentleman who, in the Harlot's Progress, is seen correcting the ladies in Bridewell "

In the fourth plate of William Hogarth's The Harlot’s Progress, Mary is in Bridewell Prison, beating hemp for the hangman's noose.  The jailer is bossing the women about.  Fielding tells us that Thwackum, Tom’s sadistic tutor, looks just like the nasty jailer. 

The Harlot's Progress, Mary in Bridewell
Public DomainThe Harlot's Progress, Mary in Bridewell - Credit: William Hogarth
Page 74. " Butler, who attributes inspiration to ale "

Frontispiece and titlepage of a 1744 illustrated and annotated edition of Hudibras
Public DomainFrontispiece and titlepage of a 1744 illustrated and annotated edition of Hudibras - Credit: Samuel Butler
Samuel Butler’s poem, Hudibras is directed against religious sectarianism. The poem was very popular in its time. It references many personalities and events of the day. It includes the verse:

Thou that with ale, or viler liquors,

Didst inspire Withers, Pryn, and Vickars,

And force them, though it was in spite

Of nature, and their stars, to write

One of the writers referred to is John Vicars (1580–1652), a schoolmaster and occasional poet, of a very course sort.  Between 1617 and 1641 he produced several grotesque poems, often imitating the titles of contemporary works.


Page 74. " the famous author of Hurlothrumbo "

Line drawing of a guitar fiddle, 15th Century
Public DomainLine drawing of a guitar fiddle, 15th Century - Credit: 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica
Hurlothrumbo is an English nonsense play written by the dancing master Samuel Johnson of Cheshire, and published in 1729. It incorporates both musical and spoken elements.  The play’s author was one of its principal actors, singing, dancing, playing fiddle and walking on stilts. 

Writing in 1855, Frederick Lawrence described the play as “the talk and admiration of the town. A more curious or a more insane production has seldom issued from human pen.” 

Page 74. " the everlasting watchfulness, which Homer hath ascribed to Jove himself "

In ancient Roman myth and religion, Jupiter, or Jove, is the king of the gods, and the god of sky and thunder.  His vigilant watch makes him guardian of public oaths and the guarantor of good faith. 

In Homer’s The Iliad, 800 B.C, Book XX tells of the stirrings of war between the Achaeans and the Trojans:

“Meanwhile Jove from the top of many-delled Olympus, bade Themis gather the gods in council, whereon she went about and called them to the house of Jove… When they reached the house of cloud-compelling Jove, they took their seats in the arcades of polished marble which Vulcan with his consummate skill had made for father Jove...   

Neptune also, lord of the earthquake, obeyed the call of the goddess, and came up out of the sea to join them. There, sitting in the midst of them, he asked what Jove's purpose might be. "Why," said he, "wielder of the lightning, have you called the gods in council? Are you considering some matter that concerns the Trojans and Achaeans- for the blaze of battle is on the point of being kindled between them?"And Jove answered, "You know my purpose, shaker of earth, and wherefore I have called you hither. I take thought for them even in their destruction. For my own part I shall stay here seated on Mt. Olympus and look on in peace, but do you others go about among Trojans and Achaeans, and help either side as you may be severally disposed… Thus spoke Jove and gave the word for war, whereon the gods took their several sides and went into battle.”

Page 74. " bombast and fustian, which Mr Locke's blind man would not have grossly erred in likening to the sound of a trumpet "
John Locke
Public DomainJohn Locke - Credit: US Library of Congress

Molyneux's problem is a thought experiment, concerning immediate perception and blindness.  It was formulated by philosopher William Molyneux, whose wife was born blind, and posed to John Locke Molyneux argued that, if a man born blind relied on touch to tell the differences between shapes such as spheres and cubes, he would not be able to distinguish those objects by sight alone if he could suddenly see, since there would be no immediate link between his tactile experience and his visual understanding.  Locke agreed, in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, that the blind man, at first sight, would not be able with certainty to say which was the globe or the cube on the basis of sight alone, but could name them correctly by his touch. 

Page 75. " King Pyrrhus was at dinner at an alehouse "
Pyrrhus of Epirus
Public DomainPyrrhus of Epirus - Credit: National Archaeological Museum of Naples

King Pyrrhus was a Greek general and statesman of the Hellenistic era.  He ruled as King of Epirus from 297 BC, with financial and military aid from Ptolemy I. By 286 BC he had taken control of kingdom of Macedon, but was driven out 2 years later.  In 280 BC he led the Greek city of Tarentum, in southern Italy, in a war against the Romans.  He entered Italy with an army consisting of 3,000 cavalry, 2,000 archers, 500 slingers, 20,000 infantry and 20 war elephants.  He defeated the Romans in the battle of Heraclea. There were many thousands of deaths on both sides.  The following year he fought the Romans again, and won a victory at the battle of Asculum, but his army was decimated.  This inspired the term Pyrrhic victory, meaning a victory won at a crippling cost.

Page 75. " invoked the goddess Flora "

Flora, 18th Century
Public DomainFlora, 18th Century - Credit: Alexandre Roslin
In Roman mythology, Flora is a goddess of flowers and Spring.  She is one of several fertility goddesses.  Her festival, the Floralia, was held between April 28 and May 3 and symbolized the renewal of the cycle of life, drinking, and flowers. The festival was first instituted in 240 BC.  Flora was married to Favonius, the wind god, and her companion was Hercules. 

She enjoyed a revival in the Renaissance period, and was the subject of paintings and ballets.  Her Greek equivalent is Chloris, although she is a nymph and not a goddess. 

Page 75. " the boisterous limbs of noisy Boreas, and the sharp-pointed nose of bitter-biting Eurus "

Tower of the Winds in Athens, showing  Boreas (left) and Skiron (northwesterly wind)
GNU Free Documentation LicenseTower of the Winds in Athens, showing Boreas (left) and Skiron (northwesterly wind) - Credit: mdoege
Eurus was one of four Anemoi, the Greek wind gods, each of whom was ascribed a direction from which their wind came, and each of whom was associated with a particular season.  They were sometimes represented as gusts of wind, and sometimes as winged men, or horses kept in the stables of the storm god Aeolus.  Boreas was the north wind and bringer of winter air, Notus the south wind and bringer of the storms of late summer and autumn, and Zephyrus the west wind and bringer of light spring and early summer breezes.  Eurus, the east wind, was the only one of the four without a specific season, as the Greek’s recognised three seasons rather than the modern four. 

Page 75. " sweet Zephyrus, rising from thy fragrant bed "
Zephyrus and Chloris
Public DomainZephyrus and Chloris - Credit: William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905)

Zephyrus, or Zephyr, is the Greek god of the west wind.  His is the gentlest of the winds, and is the messenger of spring.  Zephyrus was believed to live in a cave in Thrace.  He gave his sister, Chloris, the domain of flowers, and together they had a son, Carpus (‘fruit’).