Pamela: Or Virtue Rewarded

Pamela: Or Virtue Rewarded Summary and Analysis of Pamela’s Journal: The 7th Day of her Happiness through the 14th.


“Wednesday, the Seventh.”

Pamela visits Lady Davers in the morning, and they discuss the trials Pamela experienced before marriage. They then discuss Mr. B.’s character, with Lady Davers enumerating his virtues and faults: she says that “he is noble in his Spirit; hates little dirty Actions; he delights in doing Good: But does not pass over a wilful Fault easily. He is wise, prudent, sober, and magnanimous; and will not tell a Lye, nor disguise his Faults.” Pamela says she anticipates that “it will not be an easy Task to behave unexceptionably to him: For he is very nice and delicate in his Notions.”

Lady Davers asks to see Pamela’s journal, saying that she will love Pamela more if the journal convinces her that the marriage is no more than a suitable reward for Pamela’s virtue. She then inquires into the character of Mr. and Mrs. Andrews, and Pamela tells the story of her brothers’ plunging their parents into debt and Mr. Andrews’s failing as a schoolmaster. Pamela praises her parents’ honest, cheerful poverty and their success in educating their daughter in virtue. Lady Davers professes herself quite won over. Pamela refrains from asking her about Sally Godfrey, though she remains intensely curious.

Lady Davers intends to leave for home the next morning, and Mr. B. intends to leave with Pamela for Bedfordshire.

Wednesday Night.

The neighbors come for supper. Pamela distributes the money Mr. B. gave her for the servants, and Mrs. Jewkes begs Pamela’s forgiveness for her treatment of her.


They arrive at the Bedfordshire estate at noon on Friday. The servants gather to witness the homecoming, and Mr. B. forgives all the servants who applied to Lady Davers. Pamela tours the house and in every room, she thanks God for the way things have turned out. She thanks Mr. Longman for having supplied her with the writing materials that have been so instrumental in securing her happiness. When Mr. B. puts the fate of John Arnold in her hands, she forgives the footman and reinstates him.

Mr. B. arranges with Mr. Longman to have Mr. Andrews manage the estate in Kent. He then bestows on Pamela two hundred guineas for distribution among the servants as favors on the wedding. Mr. Longman expresses his wish that the Squire and his wife will produce an heir within the year. Pamela and Mr. B. meet with the maidservants, doling out guineas, and then with the manservants, though John Arnold is too ashamed to come until they call for him. Mr. B. takes Pamela upstairs and gives her possession of his mother’s dressing room, jewelry, books, and other desirables.

Sunday Night.

Pamela spends Sunday in prayer and meditation. In the evening, she walks with Mr. B. in the garden, which Pamela judges smaller but better cultivated than the garden in Lincolnshire.


Pamela, with help from her husband, selects materials for her new clothes. Mr. B. singles out “a white flower’d with Gold most richly,” which has a bridal feel, and determines that Pamela should make her first public appearance in it on Sunday.

Pamela directs her parents, to whom she has addressed all her journal, to get an account of all their debts so that Mr. B. can discharge them. She also desires a list of the deserving poor in her parents’ neighborhood so that she can bestow alms on them.

Wednesday Evening.

On Tuesday morning, Mr. B. goes riding and returns for dinner with Mr. Martin, Mr. Arthur, Mr. Brooks, and Mr. Chambers. He recounts his visit to Mr. Arthur’s house, during which Mrs. Arthur expressed her eagerness to visit Pamela with all the neighboring ladies. Pamela descends to dinner, and Mr. B. presents her to the company. Mr. Martin makes several cynical jokes about the marital state, and Mr. Brooks congratulates Mr. B. for having found a wife who is “most accomplished . . . as well in her Behaviour and Wit, as in her Person,” to which Mr. B. responds that “her Person made me her Lover; but her Mind made her my Wife.” After dinner, the gentlemen leave, promising to bring their wives to visit Pamela.

Pamela acknowledges a letter from her father in which he agrees to Mr. B.’s plan of establishing him as the manager of the estate in Kent. The debts have turned out to be less steep than Pamela anticipated. Pamela tells her father that should cease all “Slavish Business,” that is, menial labor.


Pamela’s triumphant homecoming in Bedfordshire represents the culmination of her fairy-tale transformation; as Doody observes, the jubilant welcome Pamela receives from the servants who once bade her farewell in sorrow is a reversal right out of the folk-tale tradition. On a more mundane level, this portion of the journal sees Pamela consolidate her new ascendancy over her former colleagues by dispensing monetary favors and interceding for the servants who defected to her during the time of her persecution.

Another significant reversal in Bedfordshire is that of Pamela’s attitude toward fine clothes. Whereas previously she insisted on humble attire and resisted all attempts by Mr. B. to influence her sartorial choices, now she accepts the remnants of his mother’s wardrobe and allows him to select for her numerous rich garments, including a dress made of “white [fabric] flower’d with Gold most richly.” Now that her position with respect to Mr. B. is one of her own choosing and one that she can occupy with dignity, the clothes that once seemed dishonorable can function, no less than her beloved country clothes, as marks of her identity and integrity. She will attend church on Sunday in the white-and-gold dress, finally making the great public appearance as Mrs. B. that she could not make at her wedding due to the Squire’s preference for a private ceremony.

Mr. B.’s handing down of his late mother’s clothing signifies not only a transformation but also an important continuity. The installation of Pamela, who credits Lady B. with having completed her moral formation, in the family seat of Bedfordshire amounts to a renewal of the good Lady’s principles, which her son previously betrayed through his exploitation of his dependents. Mr. B. affirms his re-commitment to those principles when he reinstates the upper servants whom his mother once entrusted to him and whose service after her death seemed to portend continuity in values between her good rule and her son’s household.

The downside of all this pious celebration and restoration of order, from the reader’s point of view, is its effect on Pamela’s writing. Beginning with Pamela’s voluntary return to Lincolnshire, and especially once the crisis of Lady Davers’s opposition has passed, Richardson puts his epistolary medium to a new use. The decline of real stressors in the latter half of the novel means a corresponding decline in Pamela’s psychological turmoil, with the consequence that she writes less in the heat of the moment and makes fewer unwitting self-revelations. The time has passed for such telling perplexities as “I was loth to leave the House. Can you believe it?” and “Why can’t I hate him?” She no longer has any reason to conceal her feelings from herself, so that instead of a window into her semi-articulate inner life, the letter/journal has become primarily an instrument of moral and theological rumination. Her comments on approaching the Bedfordshire house are representative: “When the Chariot enter’d the Court-yard, I was so strongly impress’d with the Favour and Mercies of God Almighty, on remembering how I was sent away the last time I saw this House; the Leave I took; the Dangers I had encounter’d; a poor cast-off Servant Girl; and now returning a joyful Wife, and the Mistress, thro’ his Favour, of the noble House I was turn’d out of; that I was hardly able to support the Joy I felt in my Mind on the Occasion.” The rhetoric suggesting an insupportable crisis of joy fails to impart any real psychological interest; the sentiments, while by no means out of character for Pamela, suffer from their utter propriety unto conventionality, so that Pamela herself, despite the intensity of the emotion she professes, appears relatively bloodless. Lacking the pressure of events, the heroine becomes less distinctly herself.

Perhaps Pamela at this point in the novel is not so much an authentic young woman as a crypto-Richardson, a mouthpiece and exemplar of the author’s moral teachings. The people with whom she interacts from now on will have strangely uniform reactions to her, ringing the changes on Mrs. Jervis’s tribute: “O my excellent Lady! . . . You are still the same good, pious, humble Soul I knew you; and your Marriage has added to your Graces, as I hope it will to your Blessings.” Pamela is indeed “still the same” virtuous young woman; her personality has virtually stagnated, and the repeated assessments of it would be simply tiresome if the point were to analyze her psychology in a realistic way. Richardson seems, however, to have shifted his mode of characterization, and he is now concerned primarily with representing Pamela as a symbol of admirable womanhood. Stylistically, he reflects this shift by employing a high eulogistic strain that makes a strong contrast with the colloquial and naturalistic style that dominated the first half of the novel. In putting the epistolary medium to two such different uses, the spontaneous and personalized on one hand, and the formal and conventional on the other, Richardson shows considerable versatility. Few readers, unfortunately, have been inclined to thank him for it.