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Thread: Interpretation of a Passage in Fielding´s Shamela

  1. #1
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    Interpretation of a Passage in Fielding´s Shamela

    Being a non-native speaker, I don´t grasp the meaning of the last sentence in this passage from Henry Fielding´s "Shamela" from 1741:

    I have read over the History of Shamela, as it appears in those authentick Copies you favour'd me with, and am very much ashamed of the Character, which I was hastily prevailed on to give that Book. I am equally angry with the pert Jade herself, and with the Author of her Life: For I scarce know yet to whom I chiefly owe an Imposition, which hath been so general, that if Numbers could defend me from Shame, I should have no Reason to apprehend it.

    What is meant by "numbers", and what does the last subset "I should have no reason to apprehend it" mean within the context?

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    It's a call back to one of the first letters where Parson Tickletext praises Pamela in hyperbolic terms, which was intended as a satire on the moralizing middle class reverends that promoted Richardson's text. In this final letter he makes the excuse that the popularity of Pamela gives him excuse not to feel shame for his misguided faith in her purity now that the history of Shamela has made it clear that Pamela is in fact, as the parson puts it, a "hussy."
    "If the national mental illness of the United States is megalomania, that of Canada is paranoid schizophrenia."
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