Pamela: Or Virtue Rewarded

Pamela: Or Virtue Rewarded Summary and Analysis of Pamela’s Journal: The 6th Day of her Happiness (Twice).


Tuesday Morning.

Mr. B. still has not returned, but Pamela receives a note from him directing her to go to Sir Simon’s, where Mr. B. will join her later in the day. Before Pamela can get away, however, Lady Davers arrives and asks Mrs. Jewkes whether Pamela has been “whor’d yet.” Lady Davers demands to see Pamela, who tries to come up with some pretext for avoiding her. Unfortunately, Lady Davers’s waiting-maid, Beck, discovers Pamela upstairs, so Pamela reluctantly descends to the parlor. Lady Davers, believing Pamela to be unmarried, treats her like a tart, and her hormonal nephew, Jackey, follows suit. Pamela attempts to extricate herself from the encounter, but Lady Davers blocks her way out of the room. In the course of condemning Pamela, Lady Davers refers to “the Number of Fools [Mr. B.] has ruin’d,” piquing Pamela’s curiosity. To test Pamela’s claims of sexual innocence, Lady Davers offers first to take Pamela into her own household, then to return her to her parents, both of which proposals Pamela declines.

Mrs. Jewkes brings dinner and lays three place settings, provoking Lady Davers. The lady then pulls off Pamela’s gloves and, seeing her wedding ring, ridicules her fantasy of having married Mr. B. Lady Davers and Jackey sit down to dinner, goading Pamela with wretched puns. Lady Davers demands that Pamela wait on them, but Pamela refuses, indicating obliquely that to do so would be beneath her new station. After some further ridicule and backtalk, Lady Davers tells Pamela that she is “not the first in the List of his credulous Harlots.”

Lady Davers demands a straight answer to the question whether Pamela considers herself married to Mr. B., and when Pamela declines to give it, Lady Davers attempts to box her on the ear. Mrs. Jewkes intervenes and starts to escort Pamela out of the room, but Jackey blocks the door. Pamela, frightened of Jackey’s sword, flies to the arms of Lady Davers, who takes pity on her and begins to speak to her more reasonably. Soon, however, when Pamela declares herself “as much marry’d as your Ladyship,” Lady Davers becomes aggressive again. Pamela speaks through the window to Mrs. Jewkes, dispatching her to send the chariot to Mr. B. to apprise him of the situation. When Lady Davers demands that Pamela confess to being a fallen woman, Pamela notices that she could easily jump out the window and make a run for it, and when Lady Davers’s back is turned, she does so. Colbrand is on hand to defend Pamela from Lady Davers’s servants, and they run to the chariot, in which Robin drives them to Sir Simon’s residence.

Upon her arrival, Pamela finds that Mr. B. is angry with her for her lateness, but he immediately relents when she reveals who prevented her coming. Pamela relates the whole experience to the assembled company, who listen attentively. Then they sit down to whist, and the playing cards inspire Mr. B. to discourse on political philosophy and the responsibilities of the landed gentry. Over supper, Pamela resumes the tale of her encounter with Lady Davers, at the conclusion of which Mr. B. offers an analysis of his sister’s character, acknowledging the combative temperament he shares with her but crediting her with good qualities as well. After supper, there is a dance, and Sir Simon tells more dirty jokes when Pamela is his partner. Pamela and Mr. B. return home, where Mrs. Jewkes recounts her negotiations with Lady Davers over the sleeping arrangements. Pamela thanks the housekeeper for her help during the ordeal.

“Tuesday Morning, the Sixth of [her] Happiness.”

(Note: Either Pamela or Richardson has lost track of the days, as Tuesday, the sixth day of her married life, has already come and gone. Modern editions generally do not correct the error, as the correction produces further inconsistencies.)

Lady Davers demands entry into the newlyweds’ bedroom before they have risen. Mr. B. lets them in, in order to show that he is not ashamed of his wife. Pamela hides under the blankets and Mr. B., once having proved his point, forcibly removes Lady Davers to her own room. Pamela, thoroughly rattled, is reluctant to join Mr. B. and his sister for breakfast. The Squire exempts her, and they go on to discuss how Pamela ought to conduct herself around Lady Davers. Pamela is inclined to prostrate herself before the lady and beg her indulgence, but Mr. B. rejects this plan as unworthy groveling.

Later, Mr. B. visits Pamela in her closet and asks her to come down to dinner. She is again reluctant, and while they are discussing Lady Davers’s behavior, the lady herself appears and makes a scene, complaining that she is being “shunn’d and avoided” by her own brother. Mr. B. makes a stand for his right to choose his wife without reference to his family’s social aspirations. Lady Davers makes a dark reference to Mr. B.’s “Italian Duel,” prompting Mr. B. to order her out of the house, crying, “I renounce you, and all Relation to you.” Pamela intercedes with Mr. B. on Lady Davers’s behalf and then begs forgiveness of Lady Davers. The lady resents Pamela’s presumption and compels Mr. B. to explain all the circumstances of the wedding, which explanation causes her to fear that the connection is legitimate. The argument descends into insults and professions of dudgeon over insults, until Pamela intervenes and asks Mr. B. not to antagonize his sister. Lady Davers walks off, declaring her intention to leave the house and never see its owner again.

Mr. B. and Pamela go down to dinner, and Mr. B. invites Lady Davers to dine before she leaves. She relents at first but balks when she discovers Pamela at the table. Jackey interposes with an appeal to common civility, and Lady Davers gradually cooperates, though she continues to register complaints. As the meal proceeds, fellow-feeling inevitably increases. Lady Davers recovers her appetite by degrees, and at the end of the meal, Mr. B. invites her to accompany them to Bedfordshire. They argue about seating arrangements for traveling there, and Pamela excuses herself from the room. As she is withdrawing, however, Lady Davers says to her, “Thou’lt hold him, as long as any body can, I see that!—Poor Sally Godfrey never had half the Interest in him, I’ll assure you!” Mr. B. becomes suddenly angry and detains Pamela. He acknowledges that Lady Davers has now leveled two charges at him, and he addresses each in turn. Regarding the accusation that he is a dueler, he explains that he once fought an Italian nobleman who arranged for the assassination of Mr. B.’s friend and that the nobleman died a month later of a fever, which was perhaps connected to the superficial wounds he had sustained in the confrontation with Mr. B. Regarding his association with Sally Godfrey, he recalls a young woman he met during his college years, whose social-climbing mother put her irresponsibly in Mr. B.’s way, to what effect he does not specify. Mr. B. then dismisses Pamela, saying that he would have made these confessions in due time without Lady Davers’s forcing him into it.

Lady Davers, seized with remorse, detains Pamela because she intends to perform an act of contrition. Mr. B., however, will not stay for it and stalks off into the garden in a rage. Lady Davers embraces Pamela, weeping, and grants that Pamela is “very good in the main,” though she continues to wish that Pamela had not married Mr. B. Together the women go into the garden to seek him. There, Mr. B. repulses both his sister and his wife. He declares that he never wants to see Lady Davers again, and he rebukes Pamela savagely for having approached him during his fit of temper. The two women strive to calm him, with Lady Davers apologizing for her remark about Sally Godfrey. Finally, Mr. B. forgives both of them and declares them “the two dearest Creatures I have in the World.”

Later, Mr. B. and Lady Davers sup with the neighbors, leaving Pamela alone for the evening. She spends her time writing and chatting with Mrs. Jewkes and Lady Davers’s waiting-maid. Mr. B. and Lady Davers return, and the lady reveals that the neighbors’ praises of Pamela have done much to soften her opinion toward her brother’s wife. She wishes Pamela joy of her marriage, and Jackey apologizes for his previous behavior. They all discuss the afternoon blow-up, with Mr. B. acknowledging the quickness of his temper. For future reference, he explains that it will always be counterproductive for Pamela to oppose him while he is angry.

Mr. B. then discourses on the faults of temper to which the upper classes are prone. They are spoiled in childhood and thereby become insolent and perverse. When two members of this class marry each other, neither has learned how to yield to the other, and misery is usually the result. Pamela, not having been born into the upper class, will naturally be able to perform the crucial yielding function in this marriage. He goes on to describe further qualities of the desirable wife, including but not limited to the ability to “draw a kind Veil over [his] Faults” and to make him “morally sure, that she preferr’d [him] to all Men.” When Pamela returns to her closet, she draws up a list of the rules she has derived from “this awful lecture.” To several of the rules she supplies commentary, the tone of which is apparent in the following example: “19. Few marry’d Persons behave as he likes!—Let me ponder this with Awe and Improvement.” From resentment, however, Pamela passes again to inquisitiveness, as she acknowledges that the case of Sally Godfrey “has given me a Curiosity that is not quite so pretty in me.”


In this portion of the journal, Pamela confronts two formidable challenges: social snobbery, which Lady Davers exemplifies, and the gradually emerging truth about Mr. B.’s dissolute past. Pamela will not have achieved complete fulfillment until she has consolidated her new social role and come to terms with the good and the bad about the man she has married.

During the episode of her browbeating at the hands of Lady Davers, Pamela finds herself in a familiar situation: captivity. Nor is her involuntary detention the only feature this encounter shares with Pamela’s long Lincolnshire nightmare. As Donovan observes, “The scene [with Lady Davers] is, in fact, a sort of epitome of the novel, at least insofar as it contains all the essential ingredients: the same arbitrary limitation of Pamela’s freedom of choice, the same (ludicrous) threats of violence, the same fundamental opposition of wills, and the same kinds of skills displayed in Pamela’s successful defense.” Those skills are social in nature; the relentlessly oppositional tone of the encounter can tend to obscure the degree to which Pamela, who does get her shots in and could with justification burn all bridges with her adversary, in fact acts the part of successful diplomatist.

Pamela’s strategy is to behave more like a lady than does Lady Davers, who is to the manner born. Due to Lady Davers’s belief that Pamela is a tart and a mistress, however, Pamela’s assumption of refinement carries with it the risk of appearing trashy. Thus, she adorns herself with the trimmings of genteel femininity -- gloves and a fan -- only to have Lady Davers tauntingly pull off one of the gloves and reveal what she seizes on as the most egregious mark of pretension, Pamela’s wedding ring (or her pretend wedding ring, as Lady Davers would have it). Pamela meant to keep the ring under wraps, of course, because she and Mr. B. have not yet formally announced their marriage. Lady Davers, noticing Pamela’s reluctance to declare herself married to Mr. B., forces the issue by asking Pamela to pour a glass of wine for her; this seemingly normal request involves a menial task, the performance of which would be degrading to the position Pamela now holds. Her refusal invites Lady Davers to ask point-blank whether Pamela considers herself married, and at this point Pamela can no longer justify ducking the question. Lady Davers outmaneuvers Pamela in this round, as far as the strategic manipulation of social niceties is concerned; overall, however, Pamela bests her opponent simply by acting more civilized (admittedly, not a high bar to clear), and her reward will be Lady Davers’s readiness to accept her as an ally the next day. Such reconciliation has been Pamela’s ultimate goal all along. Mrs. Jewkes has encouraged her to “put on an Air as Mistress of the House” and steamroll the new sister-in-law; Pamela, however, knows that she must strive to win over Lady Davers, lest she gain a reputation as a usurper and an arriviste.

One may question, however, whether Pamela surrenders too much of her dignity and verve in order to ingratiate herself with her new family. In the second entry for Tuesday, her recurrent impulse to abase herself before Lady Davers looks bad, and her deference to Mr. B.’s opinion that such a course of action would degrade her may, paradoxically, look worse. Later, the Squire’s lecture on the conduct he desires in a wife brings to the fore the issue of how much deference the spouses owe each other: as the list of rules that she derives from this disquisition makes clear, Pamela must now adopt her husband’s guidelines in dinner dress, time of rising, entertainment of guests, and so on. Rule 23, “That a Woman gives her Husband Reason to think she prefers him before all Men,” seems particularly nervy, given what Pamela has just learned about Mr. B.’s own wandering preferences. His serving her with a set of terms inevitably recalls the “naughty Articles” by which he sought to make her his consenting mistress, and Pamela’s marginal notes recall her written refusal of the earlier contract. The difference is that her defiance now is strictly private; she has no legal existence apart from her husband, and she must keep her back talk to herself.

The new articles are not all bad, however. Rule 21, “That Love before Marriage is absolutely necessary,” at least indicates Mr. B.’s intention of being a benevolent autocrat. Rule 48, “That a Husband who expects all this, is to be incapable of returning Insult for Obligation, or Evil for Good; and ought not to abridge her of any Privilege of her Sex,” suggests a certain principle of reciprocity, even if the requirement of unconditional complaisance still binds the wife and not the husband. The sexism of Mr. B.’s guidelines, while significant, should not be exaggerated: he married Pamela in full knowledge of her ability to mix obedience with pluck, and while her current station will require her to demonstrate more of the former than the latter, what he desires is restraint, not repression. As Christianity preaches both meekness and revolution, Mr. B.’s ideal marriage would be a state of dynamic balance.