4.10 HENRY FIELDING
Henry Fielding was a strong student of the classics at Eton. This scholarship would later give design to his novels, works he first described as “comic prose epics,” that is, hybrids that openly declared their artfulness. He took the novel genre into new realms as openly serious and a valuable contribution to the English literary tradition. After graduating from Eton, Fielding entered society under the auspices of his cousin Mary Wortley Montagu, to whom he dedicated his first comedy Love in Several Masques (1728). He followed this with numerous other works, including translations, satires, comedies, burlesques (absurd imitations), and farces (broad comedies). His preface to the burlesque The Tragedy of Tragedies: Or, The Life and Death of Tom Thumb the Great (published in 1731) justified his using “lesser” genres like the burlesque. He suggested that his “tragedy” conformed to the tragic dimensions of the epic and exemplified the manner in which tragedies necessarily were written in his unheroic day and age—as comedies and parodies. He thus brought to the drama the shift in genre that Pope brought to poetry with his Rape of the Lock.
Image 4.16 | Henry Fielding
Artist | William Hogarth
Source | Wikimedia Commons
License | Public Domain
Fielding extended this shift to prose in his two parodies of Samuel Richardson’s epistolary novel Pamela: Or, Virtue Rewarded (1740). Fielding’s An Apology for the Life of Mrs. Shamela Andrews (1741) and Joseph Andrews, and of His Friend Mr. Abraham Adams parody Richardson’s work in which a libertine kidnaps a servant in order to “have his way” with her. The titillating situation, and Pamela’s ultimate reward for protecting her virtue (even as she skates between truth-telling and lying to fend off the antagonist Mr. B.), highlighted problematic qualities of the developing novel as genre, such as its depicting wickedness in great detail in order to convert the reader to goodness (as Defoe does in Moll Flanders).
Fielding used his experience as a playwright to carefully design his novels. For example, in Joseph Andrews, he carefully plotted out individual scenes that have clear beginnings, middles, and ends; also, he gave clearly-identifiable speech to individual characters. He developed these strengths further in his comic novel The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling (1749). These works include a range of different characters, from merchants and lawyers to aristocrats, landed gentry, and their servants. Fielding himself appears as a character in these works; in Joseph Andrews, he clearly identifies himself as the creator of fiction—not masquerading as history or fact—in order to reveal Truth. He does so because “It is a trite but true Observation, that Examples work more forcibly on the Mind than Precepts” (Joseph Andrews). He also includes the Reader as a character, characterizing the reader in multiple ways, as serious, uni-ligual, and more (in at least sixteen different ways). By doing so, he identified the novel genre with comprehensiveness, with a comprehensive range of incidents and characters, in order to convey the fullness of his society.
Image 4.18 | Bow Street Plague
Photographer | User “Spudgun67”
Source | Wikimedia Commons
License | CC BY SA 4.0
Fielding came to know his society very well indeed, writing long political essays, taking the bar in 1740, and being appointed as magistrate at Bow Street in 1748 and later as magistrate of Middlesex. His Bow Street Runners were law officers who patrolled the streets, protecting private citizens from thieves and gangs. Through his careful administration, Fielding’s police force would lead to the modern Scotland Yard.
4.10.1 From Joseph Andrews
As it is possible the mere English reader may have a different idea of romance from the author of these little volumes, and may consequently expect a kind of entertainment not to be found, nor which was even intended, in the following pages, it may not be improper to premise a few words concerning this kind of writing, which I do not remember to have seen hitherto attempted in our language.
The EPIC, as well as the DRAMA, is divided into tragedy and comedy. HOMER, who was the father of this species of poetry, gave us a pattern of both these, though that of the latter kind is entirely lost; which Aristotle tells us, bore the same relation to comedy which his Iliad bears to tragedy. And perhaps, that we have no more instances of it among the writers of antiquity, is owing to the loss of this great pattern, which, had it survived, would have found its imitators equally with the other poems of this great original.
And farther, as this poetry may be tragic or comic, I will not scruple to say it may be likewise either in verse or prose: for though it wants one particular, which the critic enumerates in the constituent parts of an epic poem, namely metre; yet, when any kind of writing contains all its other parts, such as fable, action, characters, sentiments, and diction, and is deficient in metre only, it seems, I think, reasonable to refer it to the epic; at least, as no critic hath thought proper to range it under any other head, or to assign it a particular name to itself.
Thus the Telemachus of the archbishop of Cambray appears to me of the epic kind, as well as the Odyssey of Homer; indeed, it is much fairer and more reasonable to give it a name common with that species from which it differs only in a single instance, than to confound it with those which it resembles in no other. Such are those voluminous works, commonly called Romances, namely, Clelia, Cleopatra, Astraea, Cassandra, the Grand Cyrus, and innumerable others, which contain, as I apprehend, very little instruction or entertainment.
Now, a comic romance is a comic epic poem in prose; differing from comedy, as the serious epic from tragedy: its action being more extended and comprehensive; containing a much larger circle of incidents, and introducing a greater variety of characters. It differs from the serious romance in its fable and action, in this; that as in the one these are grave and solemn, so in the other they are light and ridiculous: it differs in its characters by introducing persons of inferior rank, and consequently, of inferior manners, whereas the grave romance sets the highest before us: lastly, in its sentiments and diction; by preserving the ludicrous instead of the sublime. In the diction, I think, burlesque itself may be sometimes admitted; of which many instances will occur in this work, as in the description of the battles, and some other places, not necessary to be pointed out to the classical reader, for whose entertainment those parodies or burlesque imitations are chiefly calculated.
But though we have sometimes admitted this in our diction, we have carefully excluded it from our sentiments and characters; for there it is never properly introduced, unless in writings of the burlesque kind, which this is not intended to be. Indeed, no two species of writing can differ more widely than the comic and the burlesque; for as the latter is ever the exhibition of what is monstrous and unnatural, and where our delight, if we examine it, arises from the surprizing absurdity, as in appropriating the manners of the highest to the lowest, or e converso; so in the former we should ever confine ourselves strictly to nature, from the just imitation of which will flow all the pleasure we can this way convey to a sensible reader. And perhaps there is one reason why a comic writer should of all others be the least excused for deviating from nature, since it may not be always so easy for a serious poet to meet with the great and the admirable; but life everywhere furnishes an accurate observer with the ridiculous.
I have hinted this little concerning burlesque, because I have often heard that name given to performances which have been truly of the comic kind, from the author’s having sometimes admitted it in his diction only; which, as it is the dress of poetry, doth, like the dress of men, establish characters (the one of the whole poem, and the other of the whole man), in vulgar opinion, beyond any of their greater excellences: but surely, a certain drollery in stile, where characters and sentiments are perfectly natural, no more constitutes the burlesque, than an empty pomp and dignity of words, where everything else is mean and low, can entitle any performance to the appellation of the true sublime.
And I apprehend my Lord Shaftesbury’s opinion of mere burlesque agrees with mine, when he asserts, There is no such thing to be found in the writings of the ancients. But perhaps I have less abhorrence than he professes for it; and that, not because I have had some little success on the stage this way, but rather as it contributes more to exquisite mirth and laughter than any other; and these are probably more wholesome physic for the mind, and conduce better to purge away spleen, melancholy, and ill affections, than is generally imagined. Nay, I will appeal to common observation, whether the same companies are not found more full of good-humour and benevolence, after they have been sweetened for two or three hours with entertainments of this kind, than when soured by a tragedy or a grave lecture.
But to illustrate all this by another science, in which, perhaps, we shall see the distinction more clearly and plainly, let us examine the works of a comic history painter, with those performances which the Italians call Caricatura, where we shall find the true excellence of the former to consist in the exactest copying of nature; insomuch that a judicious eye instantly rejects anything outre, any liberty which the painter hath taken with the features of that alma mater; whereas in the Caricatura we allow all licence—its aim is to exhibit monsters, not men; and all distortions and exaggerations whatever are within its proper province.
Now, what Caricatura is in painting, Burlesque is in writing; and in the same manner the comic writer and painter correlate to each other. And here I shall observe, that, as in the former the painter seems to have the advantage; so it is in the latter infinitely on the side of the writer; for the Monstrous is much easier to paint than describe, and the Ridiculous to describe than paint.
And though perhaps this latter species doth not in either science so strongly affect and agitate the muscles as the other; yet it will be owned, I believe, that a more rational and useful pleasure arises to us from it. He who should call the ingenious Hogarth a burlesque painter, would, in my opinion, do him very little honour; for sure it is much easier, much less the subject of admiration, to paint a man with a nose, or any other feature, of a preposterous size, or to expose him in some absurd or monstrous attitude, than to express the affections of men on canvas. It hath been thought a vast commendation of a painter to say his figures seem to breathe; but surely it is a much greater and nobler applause, that they appear to think.
But to return. The Ridiculous only, as I have before said, falls within my province in the present work. Nor will some explanation of this word be thought impertinent by the reader, if he considers how wonderfully it hath been mistaken, even by writers who have professed it: for to what but such a mistake can we attribute the many attempts to ridicule the blackest villanies, and, what is yet worse, the most dreadful calamities? What could exceed the absurdity of an author, who should write the comedy of Nero, with the merry incident of ripping up his mother’s belly? or what would give a greater shock to humanity than an attempt to expose the miseries of poverty and distress to ridicule? And yet the reader will not want much learning to suggest such instances to himself.
Besides, it may seem remarkable, that Aristotle, who is so fond and free of definitions, hath not thought proper to define the Ridiculous. Indeed, where he tells us it is proper to comedy, he hath remarked that villany is not its object: but he hath not, as I remember, positively asserted what is. Nor doth the Abbe Bellegarde, who hath written a treatise on this subject, though he shows us many species of it, once trace it to its fountain.
The only source of the true Ridiculous (as it appears to me) is affectation. But though it arises from one spring only, when we consider the infinite streams into which this one branches, we shall presently cease to admire at the copious field it affords to an observer. Now, affectation proceeds from one of these two causes, vanity or hypocrisy: for as vanity puts us on affecting false characters, in order to purchase applause; so hypocrisy sets us on an endeavour to avoid censure, by concealing our vices under an appearance of their opposite virtues. And though these two causes are often confounded (for there is some difficulty in distinguishing them), yet, as they proceed from very different motives, so they are as clearly distinct in their operations: for indeed, the affectation which arises from vanity is nearer to truth than the other, as it hath not that violent repugnancy of nature to struggle with, which that of the hypocrite hath. It may be likewise noted, that affectation doth not imply an absolute negation of those qualities which are affected; and, therefore, though, when it proceeds from hypocrisy, it be nearly allied to deceit; yet when it comes from vanity only, it partakes of the nature of ostentation: for instance, the affectation of liberality in a vain man differs visibly from the same affectation in the avaricious; for though the vain man is not what he would appear, or hath not the virtue he affects, to the degree he would be thought to have it; yet it sits less awkwardly on him than on the avaricious man, who is the very reverse of what he would seem to be.
From the discovery of this affectation arises the Ridiculous, which always strikes the reader with surprize and pleasure; and that in a higher and stronger degree when the affectation arises from hypocrisy, than when from vanity; for to discover any one to be the exact reverse of what he affects, is more surprizing, and consequently more ridiculous, than to find him a little deficient in the quality he desires the reputation of. I might observe that our Ben Jonson, who of all men understood the Ridiculous the best, hath chiefly used the hypocritical affectation.
Now, from affectation only, the misfortunes and calamities of life, or the imperfections of nature, may become the objects of ridicule. Surely he hath a very ill-framed mind who can look on ugliness, infirmity, or poverty, as ridiculous in themselves: nor do I believe any man living, who meets a dirty fellow riding through the streets in a cart, is struck with an idea of the Ridiculous from it; but if he should see the same figure descend from his coach and six, or bolt from his chair with his hat under his arm, he would then begin to laugh, and with justice. In the same manner, were we to enter a poor house and behold a wretched family shivering with cold and languishing with hunger, it would not incline us to laughter (at least we must have very diabolical natures if it would); but should we discover there a grate, instead of coals, adorned with flowers, empty plate or china dishes on the sideboard, or any other affectation of riches and finery, either on their persons or in their furniture, we might then indeed be excused for ridiculing so fantastical an appearance. Much less are natural imperfections the object of derision; but when ugliness aims at the applause of beauty, or lameness endeavours to display agility, it is then that these unfortunate circumstances, which at first moved our compassion, tend only to raise our mirth.
The poet carries this very far:—
None are for being what they are in fault,
But for not being what they would be thought.
Where if the metre would suffer the word Ridiculous to close the first line, the thought would be rather more proper. Great vices are the proper objects of our detestation, smaller faults, of our pity; but affectation appears to me the only true source of the Ridiculous.
But perhaps it may be objected to me, that I have against my own rules introduced vices, and of a very black kind, into this work. To which I shall answer: first, that it is very difficult to pursue a series of human actions, and keep clear from them. Secondly, that the vices to be found here are rather the accidental consequences of some human frailty or foible, than causes habitually existing in the mind. Thirdly, that they are never set forth as the objects of ridicule, but detestation. Fourthly, that they are never the principal figure at that time on the scene: and, lastly, they never produce the intended evil.
Having thus distinguished Joseph Andrews from the productions of romance writers on the one hand and burlesque writers on the other, and given some few very short hints (for I intended no more) of this species of writing, which I have affirmed to be hitherto unattempted in our language; I shall leave to my good-natured reader to apply my piece to my observations, and will detain him no longer than with a word concerning the characters in this work.
And here I solemnly protest I have no intention to vilify or asperse any one; for though everything is copied from the book of nature, and scarce a character or action produced which I have not taken from my I own observations and experience; yet I have used the utmost care to obscure the persons by such different circumstances, degrees, and colours, that it will be impossible to guess at them with any degree of certainty; and if it ever happens otherwise, it is only where the failure characterized is so minute, that it is a foible only which the party himself may laugh at as well as any other.
As to the character of Adams, as it is the most glaring in the whole, so I conceive it is not to be found in any book now extant. It is designed a character of perfect simplicity; and as the goodness of his heart will recommend him to the good-natured, so I hope it will excuse me to the gentlemen of his cloth; for whom, while they are worthy of their sacred order, no man can possibly have a greater respect. They will therefore excuse me, notwithstanding the low adventures in which he is engaged, that I have made him a clergyman; since no other office could have given him so many opportunities of displaying his worthy inclinations.
Of writing lives in general, and particularly of Pamela; with a word by the bye of Colley Cibber and others.
It is a trite but true observation, that examples work more forcibly on the mind than precepts: and if this be just in what is odious and blameable, it is more strongly so in what is amiable and praiseworthy. Here emulation most effectually operates upon us, and inspires our imitation in an irresistible manner. A good man therefore is a standing lesson to all his acquaintance, and of far greater use in that narrow circle than a good book.
But as it often happens that the best men are but little known, and consequently cannot extend the usefulness of their examples a great way; the writer may be called in aid to spread their history farther, and to present the amiable pictures to those who have not the happiness of knowing the originals; and so, by communicating such valuable patterns to the world, he may perhaps do a more extensive service to mankind than the person whose life originally afforded the pattern.
In this light I have always regarded those biographers who have recorded the actions of great and worthy persons of both sexes. Not to mention those antient writers which of late days are little read, being written in obsolete, and as they are generally thought, unintelligible languages, such as Plutarch, Nepos, and others which I heard of in my youth; our own language affords many of excellent use and instruction, finely calculated to sow the seeds of virtue in youth, and very easy to be comprehended by persons of moderate capacity. Such as the history of John the Great, who, by his brave and heroic actions against men of large and athletic bodies, obtained the glorious appellation of the Giant-killer; that of an Earl of Warwick, whose Christian name was Guy; the lives of Argalus and Parthenia; and above all, the history of those seven worthy personages, the Champions of Christendom. In all these delight is mixed with instruction, and the reader is almost as much improved as entertained.
But I pass by these and many others to mention two books lately published, which represent an admirable pattern of the amiable in either sex. The former of these, which deals in male virtue, was written by the great person himself, who lived the life he hath recorded, and is by many thought to have lived such a life only in order to write it. The other is communicated to us by an historian who borrows his lights, as the common method is, from authentic papers and records. The reader, I believe, already conjectures, I mean the lives of Mr Colley Cibber and of Mrs Pamela Andrews. How artfully doth the former, by insinuating that he escaped being promoted to the highest stations in Church and State, teach us a contempt of worldly grandeur! how strongly doth he inculcate an absolute submission to our superiors! Lastly, how completely doth he arm us against so uneasy, so wretched a passion as the fear of shame! how clearly doth he expose the emptiness and vanity of that phantom, reputation!
What the female readers are taught by the memoirs of Mrs Andrews is so well set forth in the excellent essays or letters prefixed to the second and subsequent editions of that work, that it would be here a needless repetition. The authentic history with which I now present the public is an instance of the great good that book is likely to do, and of the prevalence of example which I have just observed: since it will appear that it was by keeping the excellent pattern of his sister’s virtues before his eyes, that Mr Joseph Andrews was chiefly enabled to preserve his purity in the midst of such great temptations. I shall only add that this character of male chastity, though doubtless as desirable and becoming in one part of the human species as in the other, is almost the only virtue which the great apologist hath not given himself for the sake of giving the example to his readers.
Of Mr Joseph Andrews, his birth, parentage, education, and great endowments; with a word or two concerning ancestors.
Mr Joseph Andrews, the hero of our ensuing history, was esteemed to be the only son of Gaffar and Gammer Andrews, and brother to the illustrious Pamela, whose virtue is at present so famous. As to his ancestors, we have searched with great diligence, but little success; being unable to trace them farther than his great-grandfather, who, as an elderly person in the parish remembers to have heard his father say, was an excellent cudgel-player. Whether he had any ancestors before this, we must leave to the opinion of our curious reader, finding nothing of sufficient certainty to rely on. However, we cannot omit inserting an epitaph which an ingenious friend of ours hath communicated:—
Stay, traveller, for underneath this pew
Lies fast asleep that merry man Andrew:
When the last day’s great sun shall gild the skies,
Then he shall from his tomb get up and rise.
Be merry while thou canst: for surely thou
Shalt shortly be as sad as he is now.
The words are almost out of the stone with antiquity. But it is needless to observe that Andrew here is writ without an s, and is, besides, a Christian name. My friend, moreover, conjectures this to have been the founder of that sect of laughing philosophers since called Merry-andrews.
To waive, therefore, a circumstance which, though mentioned in conformity to the exact rules of biography, is not greatly material, I proceed to things of more consequence. Indeed, it is sufficiently certain that he had as many ancestors as the best man living, and, perhaps, if we look five or six hundred years backwards, might be related to some persons of very great figure at present, whose ancestors within half the last century are buried in as great obscurity. But suppose, for argument’s sake, we should admit that he had no ancestors at all, but had sprung up, according to the modern phrase, out of a dunghill, as the Athenians pretended they themselves did from the earth, would not this autokopros have been justly entitled to all the praise arising from his own virtues? Would it not be hard that a man who hath no ancestors should therefore be rendered incapable of acquiring honour; when we see so many who have no virtues enjoying the honour of their forefathers? At ten years old (by which time his education was advanced to writing and reading) he was bound an apprentice, according to the statute, to Sir Thomas Booby, an uncle of Mr Booby’s by the father’s side. Sir Thomas having then an estate in his own hands, the young Andrews was at first employed in what in the country they call keeping birds. His office was to perform the part the ancients assigned to the god Priapus, which deity the moderns call by the name of Jack o’ Lent; but his voice being so extremely musical, that it rather allured the birds than terrified them, he was soon transplanted from the fields into the dog-kennel, where he was placed under the huntsman, and made what the sportsmen term whipper-in. For this place likewise the sweetness of his voice disqualified him; the dogs preferring the melody of his chiding to all the alluring notes of the huntsman, who soon became so incensed at it, that he desired Sir Thomas to provide otherwise for him, and constantly laid every fault the dogs were at to the account of the poor boy, who was now transplanted to the stable. Here he soon gave proofs of strength and agility beyond his years, and constantly rode the most spirited and vicious horses to water, with an intrepidity which surprized every one. While he was in this station, he rode several races for Sir Thomas, and this with such expertness and success, that the neighbouring gentlemen frequently solicited the knight to permit little Joey (for so he was called) to ride their matches. The best gamesters, before they laid their money, always inquired which horse little Joey was to ride; and the bets were rather proportioned by the rider than by the horse himself; especially after he had scornfully refused a considerable bribe to play booty on such an occasion. This extremely raised his character, and so pleased the Lady Booby, that she desired to have him (being now seventeen years of age) for her own footboy.
Joey was now preferred from the stable to attend on his lady, to go on her errands, stand behind her chair, wait at her tea-table, and carry her prayer-book to church; at which place his voice gave him an opportunity of distinguishing himself by singing psalms: he behaved likewise in every other respect so well at Divine service, that it recommended him to the notice of Mr Abraham Adams, the curate, who took an opportunity one day, as he was drinking a cup of ale in Sir Thomas’s kitchen, to ask the young man several questions concerning religion; with his answers to which he was wonderfully pleased.
Of Mr Abraham Adams the curate, Mrs Slipslop the chambermaid, and others.
Mr Abraham Adams was an excellent scholar. He was a perfect master of the Greek and Latin languages; to which he added a great share of knowledge in the Oriental tongues; and could read and translate French, Italian, and Spanish. He had applied many years to the most severe study, and had treasured up a fund of learning rarely to be met with in a university. He was, besides, a man of good sense, good parts, and good nature; but was at the same time as entirely ignorant of the ways of this world as an infant just entered into it could possibly be. As he had never any intention to deceive, so he never suspected such a design in others. He was generous, friendly, and brave to an excess; but simplicity was his characteristick: he did, no more than Mr Colley Cibber, apprehend any such passions as malice and envy to exist in mankind; which was indeed less remarkable in a country parson than in a gentleman who hath passed his life behind the scenes,—a place which hath been seldom thought the school of innocence, and where a very little observation would have convinced the great apologist that those passions have a real existence in the human mind.
His virtue, and his other qualifications, as they rendered him equal to his office, so they made him an agreeable and valuable companion, and had so much endeared and well recommended him to a bishop, that at the age of fifty he was provided with a handsome income of twenty-three pounds a year; which, however, he could not make any great figure with, because he lived in a dear country, and was a little encumbered with a wife and six children.
It was this gentleman, who having, as I have said, observed the singular devotion of young Andrews, had found means to question him concerning several particulars; as, how many books there were in the New Testament? which were they? how many chapters they contained? and such like: to all which, Mr Adams privately said, he answered much better than Sir Thomas, or two other neighbouring justices of the peace could probably have done.
Mr Adams was wonderfully solicitous to know at what time, and by what opportunity, the youth became acquainted with these matters: Joey told him that he had very early learnt to read and write by the goodness of his father, who, though he had not interest enough to get him into a charity school, because a cousin of his father’s landlord did not vote on the right side for a churchwarden in a borough town, yet had been himself at the expense of sixpence a week for his learning. He told him likewise, that ever since he was in Sir Thomas’s family he had employed all his hours of leisure in reading good books; that he had read the Bible, the Whole Duty of Man, and Thomas a Kempis; and that as often as he could, without being perceived, he had studied a great good book which lay open in the hall window, where he had read, “as how the devil carried away half a church in sermon-time, without hurting one of the congregation; and as how a field of corn ran away down a hill with all the trees upon it, and covered another man’s meadow.” This sufficiently assured Mr Adams that the good book meant could be no other than Baker’s Chronicle.
The curate, surprized to find such instances of industry and application in a young man who had never met with the least encouragement, asked him, If he did not extremely regret the want of a liberal education, and the not having been born of parents who might have indulged his talents and desire of knowledge? To which he answered, “He hoped he had profited somewhat better from the books he had read than to lament his condition in this world. That, for his part, he was perfectly content with the state to which he was called; that he should endeavour to improve his talent, which was all required of him; but not repine at his own lot, nor envy those of his betters.” “Well said, my lad,” replied the curate; “and I wish some who have read many more good books, nay, and some who have written good books themselves, had profited so much by them.”
Adams had no nearer access to Sir Thomas or my lady than through the waiting-gentlewoman; for Sir Thomas was too apt to estimate men merely by their dress or fortune; and my lady was a woman of gaiety, who had been blest with a town education, and never spoke of any of her country neighbours by any other appellation than that of the brutes. They both regarded the curate as a kind of domestic only, belonging to the parson of the parish, who was at this time at variance with the knight; for the parson had for many years lived in a constant state of civil war, or, which is perhaps as bad, of civil law, with Sir Thomas himself and the tenants of his manor. The foundation of this quarrel was a modus, by setting which aside an advantage of several shillings per annum would have accrued to the rector; but he had not yet been able to accomplish his purpose, and had reaped hitherto nothing better from the suits than the pleasure (which he used indeed frequently to say was no small one) of reflecting that he had utterly undone many of the poor tenants, though he had at the same time greatly impoverished himself. Mrs Slipslop, the waiting-gentlewoman, being herself the daughter of a curate, preserved some respect for Adams: she professed great regard for his learning, and would frequently dispute with him on points of theology; but always insisted on a deference to be paid to her understanding, as she had been frequently at London, and knew more of the world than a country parson could pretend to.
She had in these disputes a particular advantage over Adams: for she was a mighty affecter of hard words, which she used in such a manner that the parson, who durst not offend her by calling her words in question, was frequently at some loss to guess her meaning, and would have been much less puzzled by an Arabian manuscript.
Adams therefore took an opportunity one day, after a pretty long discourse with her on the essence (or, as she pleased to term it, the incence) of matter, to mention the case of young Andrews; desiring her to recommend him to her lady as a youth very susceptible of learning, and one whose instruction in Latin he would himself undertake; by which means he might be qualified for a higher station than that of a footman; and added, she knew it was in his master’s power easily to provide for him in a better manner. He therefore desired that the boy might be left behind under his care.
“La! Mr Adams,” said Mrs Slipslop, “do you think my lady will suffer any preambles about any such matter? She is going to London very concisely, and I am confidous would not leave Joey behind her on any account; for he is one of the genteelest young fellows you may see in a summer’s day; and I am confidous she would as soon think of parting with a pair of her grey mares, for she values herself as much on one as the other.” Adams would have interrupted, but she proceeded: “And why is Latin more necessitous for a footman than a gentleman? It is very proper that you clergymen must learn it, because you can’t preach without it: but I have heard gentlemen say in London, that it is fit for nobody else. I am confidous my lady would be angry with me for mentioning it; and I shall draw myself into no such delemy.” At which words her lady’s bell rung, and Mr Adams was forced to retire; nor could he gain a second opportunity with her before their London journey, which happened a few days afterwards. However, Andrews behaved very thankfully and gratefully to him for his intended kindness, which he told him he never would forget, and at the same time received from the good man many admonitions concerning the regulation of his future conduct, and his perseverance in innocence and industry.
What happened after their journey to London.
No sooner was young Andrews arrived at London than he began to scrape an acquaintance with his party-coloured brethren, who endeavoured to make him despise his former course of life. His hair was cut after the newest fashion, and became his chief care; he went abroad with it all the morning in papers, and drest it out in the afternoon. They could not, however, teach him to game, swear, drink, nor any other genteel vice the town abounded with. He applied most of his leisure hours to music, in which he greatly improved himself; and became so perfect a connoisseur in that art, that he led the opinion of all the other footmen at an opera, and they never condemned or applauded a single song contrary to his approbation or dislike. He was a little too forward in riots at the play-houses and assemblies; and when he attended his lady at church (which was but seldom) he behaved with less seeming devotion than formerly: however, if he was outwardly a pretty fellow, his morals remained entirely uncorrupted, though he was at the same time smarter and genteeler than any of the beaus in town, either in or out of livery.
His lady, who had often said of him that Joey was the handsomest and genteelest footman in the kingdom, but that it was pity he wanted spirit, began now to find that fault no longer; on the contrary, she was frequently heard to cry out, “Ay, there is some life in this fellow.” She plainly saw the effects which the town air hath on the soberest constitutions. She would now walk out with him into Hyde Park in a morning, and when tired, which happened almost every minute, would lean on his arm, and converse with him in great familiarity. Whenever she stept out of her coach, she would take him by the hand, and sometimes, for fear of stumbling, press it very hard; she admitted him to deliver messages at her bedside in a morning, leered at him at table, and indulged him in all those innocent freedoms which women of figure may permit without the least sully of their virtue.
But though their virtue remains unsullied, yet now and then some small arrows will glance on the shadow of it, their reputation; and so it fell out to Lady Booby, who happened to be walking arm-in-arm with Joey one morning in Hyde Park, when Lady Tittle and Lady Tattle came accidentally by in their coach. “Bless me,” says Lady Tittle, “can I believe my eyes? Is that Lady Booby?”—“Surely,” says Tattle. “But what makes you surprized?”—“Why, is not that her footman?” replied Tittle. At which Tattle laughed, and cried, “An old business, I assure you: is it possible you should not have heard it? The whole town hath known it this half-year.” The consequence of this interview was a whisper through a hundred visits, which were separately performed by the two ladies the same afternoon, and might have had a mischievous effect, had it not been stopt by two fresh reputations which were published the day afterwards, and engrossed the whole talk of the town.
But, whatever opinion or suspicion the scandalous inclination of defamers might entertain of Lady Booby’s innocent freedoms, it is certain they made no impression on young Andrews, who never offered to encroach beyond the liberties which his lady allowed him,—a behaviour which she imputed to the violent respect he preserved for her, and which served only to heighten a something she began to conceive, and which the next chapter will open a little farther.
The death of Sir Thomas Booby, with the affectionate and mournful behaviour of his widow, and the great purity of Joseph Andrews.
At this time an accident happened which put a stop to those agreeable walks, which probably would have soon puffed up the cheeks of Fame, and caused her to blow her brazen trumpet through the town; and this was no other than the death of Sir Thomas Booby, who, departing this life, left his disconsolate lady confined to her house, as closely as if she herself had been attacked by some violent disease. During the first six days the poor lady admitted none but Mrs. Slipslop, and three female friends, who made a party at cards: but on the seventh she ordered Joey, whom, for a good reason, we shall hereafter call JOSEPH, to bring up her tea-kettle. The lady being in bed, called Joseph to her, bade him sit down, and, having accidentally laid her hand on his, she asked him if he had ever been in love. Joseph answered, with some confusion, it was time enough for one so young as himself to think on such things. “As young as you are,” replied the lady, “I am convinced you are no stranger to that passion. Come, Joey,” says she, “tell me truly, who is the happy girl whose eyes have made a conquest of you?” Joseph returned, that all the women he had ever seen were equally indifferent to him. “Oh then,” said the lady, “you are a general lover. Indeed, you handsome fellows, like handsome women, are very long and difficult in fixing; but yet you shall never persuade me that your heart is so insusceptible of affection; I rather impute what you say to your secrecy, a very commendable quality, and what I am far from being angry with you for. Nothing can be more unworthy in a young man, than to betray any intimacies with the ladies.” “Ladies! madam,” said Joseph, “I am sure I never had the impudence to think of any that deserve that name.” “Don’t pretend to too much modesty,” said she, “for that sometimes may be impertinent: but pray answer me this question. Suppose a lady should happen to like you; suppose she should prefer you to all your sex, and admit you to the same familiarities as you might have hoped for if you had been born her equal, are you certain that no vanity could tempt you to discover her? Answer me honestly, Joseph; have you so much more sense and so much more virtue than you handsome young fellows generally have, who make no scruple of sacrificing our dear reputation to your pride, without considering the great obligation we lay on you by our condescension and confidence? Can you keep a secret, my Joey?” “Madam,” says he, “I hope your ladyship can’t tax me with ever betraying the secrets of the family; and I hope, if you was to turn me away, I might have that character of you.” “I don’t intend to turn you away, Joey,” said she, and sighed; “I am afraid it is not in my power.” She then raised herself a little in her bed, and discovered one of the whitest necks that ever was seen; at which Joseph blushed. “La!” says she, in an affected surprize, “what am I doing? I have trusted myself with a man alone, naked in bed; suppose you should have any wicked intentions upon my honour, how should I defend myself?” Joseph protested that he never had the least evil design against her. “No,” says she, “perhaps you may not call your designs wicked; and perhaps they are not so.”— He swore they were not. “You misunderstand me,” says she; “I mean if they were against my honour, they may not be wicked; but the world calls them so. But then, say you, the world will never know anything of the matter; yet would not that be trusting to your secrecy? Must not my reputation be then in your power? Would you not then be my master?” Joseph begged her ladyship to be comforted; for that he would never imagine the least wicked thing against her, and that he had rather die a thousand deaths than give her any reason to suspect him. “Yes,” said she, “I must have reason to suspect you. Are you not a man? and, without vanity, I may pretend to some charms. But perhaps you may fear I should prosecute you; indeed I hope you do; and yet Heaven knows I should never have the confidence to appear before a court of justice; and you know, Joey, I am of a forgiving temper. Tell me, Joey, don’t you think I should forgive you?”—“Indeed, madam,” says Joseph, “I will never do anything to disoblige your ladyship.”—“How,” says she, “do you think it would not disoblige me then? Do you think I would willingly suffer you?”—“I don’t understand you, madam,” says Joseph.—“Don’t you?” said she, “then you are either a fool, or pretend to be so; I find I was mistaken in you. So get you downstairs, and never let me see your face again; your pretended innocence cannot impose on me.”—“Madam,” said Joseph, “I would not have your ladyship think any evil of me. I have always endeavoured to be a dutiful servant both to you and my master.”—“O thou villain!” answered my lady; “why didst thou mention the name of that dear man, unless to torment me, to bring his precious memory to my mind?” (and then she burst into a fit of tears.) “Get thee from my sight! I shall never endure thee more.” At which words she turned away from him; and Joseph retreated from the room in a most disconsolate condition, and writ that letter which the reader will find in the next chapter.
How Joseph Andrews writ a letter to his sister Pamela.
“To MRS PAMELA ANDREWS, LIVING WITH SQUIRE BOOBY.
“DEAR SISTER,—Since I received your letter of your good lady’s death, we have had a misfortune of the same kind in our family. My worthy master Sir Thomas died about four days ago; and, what is worse, my poor lady is certainly gone distracted. None of the servants expected her to take it so to heart, because they quarrelled almost every day of their lives: but no more of that, because you know, Pamela, I never loved to tell the secrets of my master’s family; but to be sure you must have known they never loved one another; and I have heard her ladyship wish his honour dead above a thousand times; but nobody knows what it is to lose a friend till they have lost him.
“Don’t tell anybody what I write, because I should not care to have folks say I discover what passes in our family; but if it had not been so great a lady, I should have thought she had had a mind to me. Dear Pamela, don’t tell anybody; but she ordered me to sit down by her bedside, when she was naked in bed; and she held my hand, and talked exactly as a lady does to her sweetheart in a stage-play, which I have seen in Covent Garden, while she wanted him to be no better than he should be.
“If madam be mad, I shall not care for staying long in the family; so I heartily wish you could get me a place, either at the squire’s, or some other neighbouring gentleman’s, unless it be true that you are going to be married to parson Williams, as folks talk, and then I should be very willing to be his clerk; for which you know I am qualified, being able to read and to set a psalm.
“I fancy I shall be discharged very soon; and the moment I am, unless I hear from you, I shall return to my old master’s country-seat, if it be only to see parson Adams, who is the best man in the world. London is a bad place, and there is so little good fellowship, that the next-door neighbours don’t know one another. Pray give my service to all friends that inquire for me. So I rest
“Your loving brother,
As soon as Joseph had sealed and directed this letter he walked downstairs, where he met Mrs. Slipslop, with whom we shall take this opportunity to bring the reader a little better acquainted. She was a maiden gentlewoman of about forty-five years of age, who, having made a small slip in her youth, had continued a good maid ever since. She was not at this time remarkably handsome; being very short, and rather too corpulent in body, and somewhat red, with the addition of pimples in the face. Her nose was likewise rather too large, and her eyes too little; nor did she resemble a cow so much in her breath as in two brown globes which she carried before her; one of her legs was also a little shorter than the other, which occasioned her to limp as she walked. This fair creature had long cast the eyes of affection on Joseph, in which she had not met with quite so good success as she probably wished, though, besides the allurements of her native charms, she had given him tea, sweetmeats, wine, and many other delicacies, of which, by keeping the keys, she had the absolute command. Joseph, however, had not returned the least gratitude to all these favours, not even so much as a kiss; though I would not insinuate she was so easily to be satisfied; for surely then he would have been highly blameable. The truth is, she was arrived at an age when she thought she might indulge herself in any liberties with a man, without the danger of bringing a third person into the world to betray them. She imagined that by so long a self-denial she had not only made amends for the small slip of her youth above hinted at, but had likewise laid up a quantity of merit to excuse any future failings. In a word, she resolved to give a loose to her amorous inclinations, and to pay off the debt of pleasure which she found she owed herself, as fast as possible.
With these charms of person, and in this disposition of mind, she encountered poor Joseph at the bottom of the stairs, and asked him if he would drink a glass of something good this morning. Joseph, whose spirits were not a little cast down, very readily and thankfully accepted the offer; and together they went into a closet, where, having delivered him a full glass of ratafia, and desired him to sit down, Mrs. Slipslop thus began:—
“Sure nothing can be a more simple contract in a woman than to place her affections on a boy. If I had ever thought it would have been my fate, I should have wished to die a thousand deaths rather than live to see that day. If we like a man, the lightest hint sophisticates. Whereas a boy proposes upon us to break through all the regulations of modesty, before we can make any oppression upon him.” Joseph, who did not understand a word she said, answered, “Yes, madam.”— “Yes, madam!” replied Mrs. Slipslop with some warmth, “Do you intend to result my passion? Is it not enough, ungrateful as you are, to make no return to all the favours I have done you; but you must treat me with ironing? Barbarous monster! how have I deserved that my passion should be resulted and treated with ironing?” “Madam,” answered Joseph, “I don’t understand your hard words; but I am certain you have no occasion to call me ungrateful, for, so far from intending you any wrong, I have always loved you as well as if you had been my own mother.” “How, sirrah!” says Mrs. Slipslop in a rage; “your own mother? Do you assinuate that I am old enough to be your mother? I don’t know what a stripling may think, but I believe a man would refer me to any green-sickness silly girl whatsomdever: but I ought to despise you rather than be angry with you, for referring the conversation of girls to that of a woman of sense.”—“Madam,” says Joseph, “I am sure I have always valued the honour you did me by your conversation, for I know you are a woman of learning.”—“Yes, but, Joseph,” said she, a little softened by the compliment to her learning, “if you had a value for me, you certainly would have found some method of showing it me; for I am convicted you must see the value I have for you. Yes, Joseph, my eyes, whether I would or no, must have declared a passion I cannot conquer.—Oh! Joseph!”
As when a hungry tigress, who long has traversed the woods in fruitless search, sees within the reach of her claws a lamb, she prepares to leap on her prey; or as a voracious pike, of immense size, surveys through the liquid element a roach or gudgeon, which cannot escape her jaws, opens them wide to swallow the little fish; so did Mrs. Slipslop prepare to lay her violent amorous hands on the poor Joseph, when luckily her mistress’s bell rung, and delivered the intended martyr from her clutches. She was obliged to leave him abruptly, and to defer the execution of her purpose till some other time. We shall therefore return to the Lady Booby, and give our reader some account of her behaviour, after she was left by Joseph in a temper of mind not greatly different from that of the inflamed Slipslop.
Sayings of wise men. A dialogue between the lady and her maid; and a panegyric, or rather satire, on the passion of love, in the sublime style.
It is the observation of some antient sage, whose name I have forgot, that passions operate differently on the human mind, as diseases on the body, in proportion to the strength or weakness, soundness or rottenness, of the one and the other.
We hope, therefore, a judicious reader will give himself some pains to observe, what we have so greatly laboured to describe, the different operations of this passion of love in the gentle and cultivated mind of the Lady Booby, from those which it effected in the less polished and coarser disposition of Mrs Slipslop.
Another philosopher, whose name also at present escapes my memory, hath somewhere said, that resolutions taken in the absence of the beloved object are very apt to vanish in its presence; on both which wise sayings the following chapter may serve as a comment.
No sooner had Joseph left the room in the manner we have before related than the lady, enraged at her disappointment, began to reflect with severity on her conduct. Her love was now changed to disdain, which pride assisted to torment her. She despised herself for the meanness of her passion, and Joseph for its ill success. However, she had now got the better of it in her own opinion, and determined immediately to dismiss the object. After much tossing and turning in her bed, and many soliloquies, which if we had no better matter for our reader we would give him, she at last rung the bell as above mentioned, and was presently attended by Mrs Slipslop, who was not much better pleased with Joseph than the lady herself.
“Slipslop,” said Lady Booby, “when did you see Joseph?” The poor woman was so surprized at the unexpected sound of his name at so critical a time, that she had the greatest difficulty to conceal the confusion she was under from her mistress; whom she answered, nevertheless, with pretty good confidence, though not entirely void of fear of suspicion, that she had not seen him that morning. “I am afraid,” said Lady Booby, “he is a wild young fellow.”—“That he is,” said Slipslop, “and a wicked one too. To my knowledge he games, drinks, swears, and fights eternally; besides, he is horribly indicted to wenching.”—“Ay!” said the lady, “I never heard that of him.”—“O madam!” answered the other, “he is so lewd a rascal, that if your ladyship keeps him much longer, you will not have one virgin in your house except myself. And yet I can’t conceive what the wenches see in him, to be so foolishly fond as they are; in my eyes, he is as ugly a scarecrow as I ever upheld.”—“Nay,” said the lady, “the boy is well enough.”—“La! ma’am,” cries Slipslop, “I think him the ragmaticallest fellow in the family.”—“Sure, Slipslop,” says she, “you are mistaken: but which of the women do you most suspect?”— “Madam,” says Slipslop, “there is Betty the chambermaid, I am almost convicted, is with child by him.”—“Ay!” says the lady, “then pray pay her her wages instantly. I will keep no such sluts in my family. And as for Joseph, you may discard him too.”—“Would your ladyship have him paid off immediately?” cries Slipslop, “for perhaps, when Betty is gone he may mend: and really the boy is a good servant, and a strong healthy luscious boy enough.”—“This morning,” answered the lady with some vehemence. “I wish, madam,” cries Slipslop, “your ladyship would be so good as to try him a little longer.”—“I will not have my commands disputed,” said the lady; “sure you are not fond of him yourself?”—“I, madam!” cries Slipslop, reddening, if not blushing, “I should be sorry to think your ladyship had any reason to respect me of fondness for a fellow; and if it be your pleasure, I shall fulfil it with as much reluctance as possible.”—“As little, I suppose you mean,” said the lady; “and so about it instantly.” Mrs. Slipslop went out, and the lady had scarce taken two turns before she fell to knocking and ringing with great violence. Slipslop, who did not travel post haste, soon returned, and was countermanded as to Joseph, but ordered to send Betty about her business without delay. She went out a second time with much greater alacrity than before; when the lady began immediately to accuse herself of want of resolution, and to apprehend the return of her affection, with its pernicious consequences; she therefore applied herself again to the bell, and re-summoned Mrs. Slipslop into her presence; who again returned, and was told by her mistress that she had considered better of the matter, and was absolutely resolved to turn away Joseph; which she ordered her to do immediately. Slipslop, who knew the violence of her lady’s temper, and would not venture her place for any Adonis or Hercules in the universe, left her a third time; which she had no sooner done, than the little god Cupid, fearing he had not yet done the lady’s business, took a fresh arrow with the sharpest point out of his quiver, and shot it directly into her heart; in other and plainer language, the lady’s passion got the better of her reason. She called back Slipslop once more, and told her she had resolved to see the boy, and examine him herself; therefore bid her send him up. This wavering in her mistress’s temper probably put something into the waiting-gentlewoman’s head not necessary to mention to the sagacious reader.
Lady Booby was going to call her back again, but could not prevail with herself. The next consideration therefore was, how she should behave to Joseph when he came in. She resolved to preserve all the dignity of the woman of fashion to her servant, and to indulge herself in this last view of Joseph (for that she was most certainly resolved it should be) at his own expense, by first insulting and then discarding him.
O Love, what monstrous tricks dost thou play with thy votaries of both sexes! How dost thou deceive them, and make them deceive themselves! Their follies are thy delight! Their sighs make thee laugh, and their pangs are thy merriment!
Not the great Rich, who turns men into monkeys, wheel-barrows, and whatever else best humours his fancy, hath so strangely metamorphosed the human shape; nor the great Cibber, who confounds all number, gender, and breaks through every rule of grammar at his will, hath so distorted the English language as thou dost metamorphose and distort the human senses.
Thou puttest out our eyes, stoppest up our ears, and takest away the power of our nostrils; so that we can neither see the largest object, hear the loudest noise, nor smell the most poignant perfume. Again, when thou pleasest, thou canst make a molehill appear as a mountain, a Jew’s-harp sound like a trumpet, and a daisy smell like a violet. Thou canst make cowardice brave, avarice generous, pride humble, and cruelty tender-hearted. In short, thou turnest the heart of man inside out, as a juggler doth a petticoat, and bringest whatsoever pleaseth thee out from it. If there be any one who doubts all this, let him read the next chapter.
In which, after some very fine writing, the history goes on, and relates the interview between the lady and Joseph; where the latter hath set an example which we despair of seeing followed by his sex in this vicious age.
Now the rake Hesperus had called for his breeches, and, having well rubbed his drowsy eyes, prepared to dress himself for all night; by whose example his brother rakes on earth likewise leave those beds in which they had slept away the day. Now Thetis, the good housewife, began to put on the pot, in order to regale the good man Phoebus after his daily labours were over. In vulgar language, it was in the evening when Joseph attended his lady’s orders.
But as it becomes us to preserve the character of this lady, who is the heroine of our tale; and as we have naturally a wonderful tenderness for that beautiful part of the human species called the fair sex; before we discover too much of her frailty to our reader, it will be proper to give him a lively idea of the vast temptation, which overcame all the efforts of a modest and virtuous mind; and then we humbly hope his good nature will rather pity than condemn the imperfection of human virtue.
Nay, the ladies themselves will, we hope, be induced, by considering the uncommon variety of charms which united in this young man’s person, to bridle their rampant passion for chastity, and be at least as mild as their violent modesty and virtue will permit them, in censuring the conduct of a woman who, perhaps, was in her own disposition as chaste as those pure and sanctified virgins who, after a life innocently spent in the gaieties of the town, begin about fifty to attend twice per diem at the polite churches and chapels, to return thanks for the grace which preserved them formerly amongst beaus from temptations perhaps less powerful than what now attacked the Lady Booby.
Mr Joseph Andrews was now in the one-and-twentieth year of his age. He was of the highest degree of middle stature; his limbs were put together with great elegance, and no less strength; his legs and thighs were formed in the exactest proportion; his shoulders were broad and brawny, but yet his arm hung so easily, that he had all the symptoms of strength without the least clumsiness. His hair was of a nut-brown colour, and was displayed in wanton ringlets down his back; his forehead was high, his eyes dark, and as full of sweetness as of fire; his nose a little inclined to the Roman; his teeth white and even; his lips full, red, and soft; his beard was only rough on his chin and upper lip; but his cheeks, in which his blood glowed, were overspread with a thick down; his countenance had a tenderness joined with a sensibility inexpressible. Add to this the most perfect neatness in his dress, and an air which, to those who have not seen many noblemen, would give an idea of nobility.
Such was the person who now appeared before the lady. She viewed him some time in silence, and twice or thrice before she spake changed her mind as to the manner in which she should begin. At length she said to him, “Joseph, I am sorry to hear such complaints against you: I am told you behave so rudely to the maids, that they cannot do their business in quiet; I mean those who are not wicked enough to hearken to your solicitations. As to others, they may, perhaps, not call you rude; for there are wicked sluts who make one ashamed of one’s own sex, and are as ready to admit any nauseous familiarity as fellows to offer it: nay, there are such in my family, but they shall not stay in it; that impudent trollop who is with child by you is discharged by this time.”
As a person who is struck through the heart with a thunderbolt looks extremely surprised, nay, and perhaps is so too—thus the poor Joseph received the false accusation of his mistress; he blushed and looked confounded, which she misinterpreted to be symptoms of his guilt, and thus went on:—
“Come hither, Joseph: another mistress might discard you for these offences; but I have a compassion for your youth, and if I could be certain you would be no more guilty—Consider, child,” laying her hand carelessly upon his, “you are a handsome young fellow, and might do better; you might make your fortune.” “Madam,” said Joseph, “I do assure your ladyship I don’t know whether any maid in the house is man or woman.” “Oh fie! Joseph,” answered the lady, “don’t commit another crime in denying the truth. I could pardon the first; but I hate a lyar.” “Madam,” cries Joseph, “I hope your ladyship will not be offended at my asserting my innocence; for, by all that is sacred, I have never offered more than kissing.” “Kissing!” said the lady, with great discomposure of countenance, and more redness in her cheeks than anger in her eyes; “do you call that no crime? Kissing, Joseph, is as a prologue to a play. Can I believe a young fellow of your age and complexion will be content with kissing? No, Joseph, there is no woman who grants that but will grant more; and I am deceived greatly in you if you would not put her closely to it. What would you think, Joseph, if I admitted you to kiss me?” Joseph replied he would sooner die than have any such thought. “And yet, Joseph,” returned she, “ladies have admitted their footmen to such familiarities; and footmen, I confess to you, much less deserving them; fellows without half your charms—for such might almost excuse the crime. Tell me therefore, Joseph, if I should admit you to such freedom, what would you think of me?—tell me freely.” “Madam,” said Joseph, “I should think your ladyship condescended a great deal below yourself.” “Pugh!” said she; “that I am to answer to myself: but would not you insist on more? Would you be contented with a kiss? Would not your inclinations be all on fire rather by such a favour?” “Madam,” said Joseph, “if they were, I hope I should be able to controul them, without suffering them to get the better of my virtue.” You have heard, reader, poets talk of the statue of Surprize; you have heard likewise, or else you have heard very little, how Surprize made one of the sons of Croesus speak, though he was dumb. You have seen the faces, in the eighteen-penny gallery, when, through the trap-door, to soft or no music, Mr. Bridgewater, Mr. William Mills, or some other of ghostly appearance, hath ascended, with a face all pale with powder, and a shirt all bloody with ribbons;—but from none of these, nor from Phidias or Praxiteles, if they should return to life—no, not from the inimitable pencil of my friend Hogarth, could you receive such an idea of surprize as would have entered in at your eyes had they beheld the Lady Booby when those last words issued out from the lips of Joseph. “Your virtue!” said the lady, recovering after a silence of two minutes; “I shall never survive it. Your virtue!—intolerable confidence! Have you the assurance to pretend, that when a lady demeans herself to throw aside the rules of decency, in order to honour you with the highest favour in her power, your virtue should resist her inclination? that, when she had conquered her own virtue, she should find an obstruction in yours?” “Madam,” said Joseph, “I can’t see why her having no virtue should be a reason against my having any; or why, because I am a man, or because I am poor, my virtue must be subservient to her pleasures.” “I am out of patience,” cries the lady: “did ever mortal hear of a man’s virtue? Did ever the greatest or the gravest men pretend to any of this kind? Will magistrates who punish lewdness, or parsons who preach against it, make any scruple of committing it? And can a boy, a stripling, have the confidence to talk of his virtue?” “Madam,” says Joseph, “that boy is the brother of Pamela, and would be ashamed that the chastity of his family, which is preserved in her, should be stained in him. If there are such men as your ladyship mentions, I am sorry for it; and I wish they had an opportunity of reading over those letters which my father hath sent me of my sister Pamela’s; nor do I doubt but such an example would amend them.” “You impudent villain!” cries the lady in a rage; “do you insult me with the follies of my relation, who hath exposed himself all over the country upon your sister’s account? a little vixen, whom I have always wondered my late Lady Booby ever kept in her house. Sirrah! get out of my sight, and prepare to set out this night; for I will order you your wages immediately, and you shall be stripped and turned away.” “Madam,” says Joseph, “I am sorry I have offended your ladyship, I am sure I never intended it.” “Yes, sirrah,” cries she, “you have had the vanity to misconstrue the little innocent freedom I took, in order to try whether what I had heard was true. O’ my conscience, you have had the assurance to imagine I was fond of you myself.” Joseph answered, he had only spoke out of tenderness for his virtue; at which words she flew into a violent passion, and refusing to hear more, ordered him instantly to leave the room.
He was no sooner gone than she burst forth into the following exclamation:— “Whither doth this violent passion hurry us? What meannesses do we submit to from its impulse! Wisely we resist its first and least approaches; for it is then only we can assure ourselves the victory. No woman could ever safely say, so far only will I go. Have I not exposed myself to the refusal of my footman? I cannot bear the reflection.” Upon which she applied herself to the bell, and rung it with infinite more violence than was necessary—the faithful Slipslop attending near at hand: to say the truth, she had conceived a suspicion at her last interview with her mistress, and had waited ever since in the antechamber, having carefully applied her ears to the keyhole during the whole time that the preceding conversation passed between Joseph and the lady.
What passed between the lady and Mrs Slipslop; in which we prophesy there are some strokes which every one will not truly comprehend at the first reading.
“Slipslop,” said the lady, “I find too much reason to believe all thou hast told me of this wicked Joseph; I have determined to part with him instantly; so go you to the steward, and bid him pay his wages.” Slipslop, who had preserved hitherto a distance to her lady—rather out of necessity than inclination—and who thought the knowledge of this secret had thrown down all distinction between them, answered her mistress very pertly—“She wished she knew her own mind; and that she was certain she would call her back again before she was got half-way downstairs.” The lady replied, she had taken a resolution, and was resolved to keep it. “I am sorry for it,” cries Slipslop, “and, if I had known you would have punished the poor lad so severely, you should never have heard a particle of the matter. Here’s a fuss indeed about nothing!” “Nothing!” returned my lady; “do you think I will countenance lewdness in my house?” “If you will turn away every footman,” said Slipslop, “that is a lover of the sport, you must soon open the coach door yourself, or get a set of mophrodites to wait upon you; and I am sure I hated the sight of them even singing in an opera.” “Do as I bid you,” says my lady, “and don’t shock my ears with your beastly language.” “Marry-come-up,” cries Slipslop, “people’s ears are sometimes the nicest part about them.”
The lady, who began to admire the new style in which her waiting-gentlewoman delivered herself, and by the conclusion of her speech suspected somewhat of the truth, called her back, and desired to know what she meant by the extraordinary degree of freedom in which she thought proper to indulge her tongue. “Freedom!” says Slipslop; “I don’t know what you call freedom, madam; servants have tongues as well as their mistresses.” “Yes, and saucy ones too,” answered the lady; “but I assure you I shall bear no such impertinence.” “Impertinence! I don’t know that I am impertinent,” says Slipslop. “Yes, indeed you are,” cries my lady, “and, unless you mend your manners, this house is no place for you.” “Manners!” cries Slipslop; “I never was thought to want manners nor modesty neither; and for places, there are more places than one; and I know what I know.” “What do you know, mistress?” answered the lady. “I am not obliged to tell that to everybody,” says Slipslop, “any more than I am obliged to keep it a secret.” “I desire you would provide yourself,” answered the lady. “With all my heart,” replied the waiting-gentlewoman; and so departed in a passion, and slapped the door after her.
The lady too plainly perceived that her waiting-gentlewoman knew more than she would willingly have had her acquainted with; and this she imputed to Joseph’s having discovered to her what passed at the first interview. This, therefore, blew up her rage against him, and confirmed her in a resolution of parting with him.
But the dismissing Mrs Slipslop was a point not so easily to be resolved upon. She had the utmost tenderness for her reputation, as she knew on that depended many of the most valuable blessings of life; particularly cards, making curtsies in public places, and, above all, the pleasure of demolishing the reputations of others, in which innocent amusement she had an extraordinary delight. She therefore determined to submit to any insult from a servant, rather than run a risque of losing the title to so many great privileges.
She therefore sent for her steward, Mr Peter Pounce, and ordered him to pay Joseph his wages, to strip off his livery, and to turn him out of the house that evening.
She then called Slipslop up, and, after refreshing her spirits with a small cordial, which she kept in her corset, she began in the following manner:—
“Slipslop, why will you, who know my passionate temper, attempt to provoke me by your answers? I am convinced you are an honest servant, and should be very unwilling to part with you. I believe, likewise, you have found me an indulgent mistress on many occasions, and have as little reason on your side to desire a change. I can’t help being surprized, therefore, that you will take the surest method to offend me—I mean, repeating my words, which you know I have always detested.”
The prudent waiting-gentlewoman had duly weighed the whole matter, and found, on mature deliberation, that a good place in possession was better than one in expectation. As she found her mistress, therefore, inclined to relent, she thought proper also to put on some small condescension, which was as readily accepted; and so the affair was reconciled, all offences forgiven, and a present of a gown and petticoat made her, as an instance of her lady’s future favour.
She offered once or twice to speak in favour of Joseph; but found her lady’s heart so obdurate, that she prudently dropt all such efforts. She considered there were more footmen in the house, and some as stout fellows, though not quite so handsome, as Joseph; besides, the reader hath already seen her tender advances had not met with the encouragement she might have reasonable expected. She thought she had thrown away a great deal of sack and sweetmeats on an ungrateful rascal; and, being a little inclined to the opinion of that female sect, who hold one lusty young fellow to be nearly as good as another lusty young fellow, she at last gave up Joseph and his cause, and, with a triumph over her passion highly commendable, walked off with her present, and with great tranquillity paid a visit to a stone-bottle, which is of sovereign use to a philosophical temper.
She left not her mistress so easy. The poor lady could not reflect without agony that her dear reputation was in the power of her servants. All her comfort as to Joseph was, that she hoped he did not understand her meaning; at least she could say for herself, she had not plainly expressed anything to him; and as to Mrs Slipslop, she imagines she could bribe her to secrecy.
But what hurt her most was, that in reality she had not so entirely conquered her passion; the little god lay lurking in her heart, though anger and distain so hood-winked her, that she could not see him. She was a thousand times on the very brink of revoking the sentence she had passed against the poor youth. Love became his advocate, and whispered many things in his favour. Honour likewise endeavoured to vindicate his crime, and Pity to mitigate his punishment. On the other side, Pride and Revenge spoke as loudly against him. And thus the poor lady was tortured with perplexity, opposite passions distracting and tearing her mind different ways.
So have I seen, in the hall of Westminster, where Serjeant Bramble hath been retained on the right side, and Serjeant Puzzle on the left, the balance of opinion (so equal were their fees) alternately incline to either scale. Now Bramble throws in an argument, and Puzzle’s scale strikes the beam; again Bramble shares the like fate, overpowered by the weight of Puzzle. Here Bramble hits, there Puzzle strikes; here one has you, there t’other has you; till at last all becomes one scene of confusion in the tortured minds of the hearers; equal wagers are laid on the success, and neither judge nor jury can possibly make anything of the matter; all things are so enveloped by the careful serjeants in doubt and obscurity.
Or, as it happens in the conscience, where honour and honesty pull one way, and a bribe and necessity another.—If it was our present business only to make similes, we could produce many more to this purpose; but a simile (as well as a word) to the wise.—We shall therefore see a little after our hero, for whom the reader is doubtless in some pain.
Joseph writes another letter: his transactions with Mr Peter Pounce, &c., with his departure from Lady Booby.
The disconsolate Joseph would not have had an understanding sufficient for the principal subject of such a book as this, if he had any longer misunderstood the drift of his mistress; and indeed, that he did not discern it sooner, the reader will be pleased to impute to an unwillingness in him to discover what he must condemn in her as a fault. Having therefore quitted her presence, he retired into his own garret, and entered himself into an ejaculation on the numberless calamities which attended beauty, and the misfortune it was to be handsomer than one’s neighbours.
He then sat down, and addressed himself to his sister Pamela in the following words:—
“Dear Sister Pamela,—Hoping you are well, what news have I to tell you! O Pamela! my mistress is fallen in love with me-that is, what great folks call falling in love-she has a mind to ruin me; but I hope I shall have more resolution and more grace than to part with my virtue to any lady upon earth.
“Mr Adams hath often told me, that chastity is as great a virtue in a man as in a woman. He says he never knew any more than his wife, and I shall endeavour to follow his example. Indeed, it is owing entirely to his excellent sermons and advice, together with your letters, that I have been able to resist a temptation, which, he says, no man complies with, but he repents in this world, or is damned for it in the next; and why should I trust to repentance on my deathbed, since I may die in my sleep? What fine things are good advice and good examples! But I am glad she turned me out of the chamber as she did: for I had once almost forgotten every word parson Adams had ever said to me.
“I don’t doubt, dear sister, but you will have grace to preserve your virtue against all trials; and I beg you earnestly to pray I may be enabled to preserve mine; for truly it is very severely attacked by more than one; but I hope I shall copy your example, and that of Joseph my namesake, and maintain my virtue against all temptations.”
Joseph had not finished his letter, when he was summoned downstairs by Mr Peter Pounce, to receive his wages; for, besides that out of eight pounds a year he allowed his father and mother four, he had been obliged, in order to furnish himself with musical instruments, to apply to the generosity of the aforesaid Peter, who, on urgent occasions, used to advance the servants their wages: not before they were due, but before they were payable; that is, perhaps, half a year after they were due; and this at the moderate premium of fifty per cent, or a little more: by which charitable methods, together with lending money to other people, and even to his own master and mistress, the honest man had, from nothing, in a few years amassed a small sum of twenty thousand pounds or thereabouts.
Joseph having received his little remainder of wages, and having stript off his livery, was forced to borrow a frock and breeches of one of the servants (for he was so beloved in the family, that they would all have lent him anything): and, being told by Peter that he must not stay a moment longer in the house than was necessary to pack up his linen, which he easily did in a very narrow compass, he took a melancholy leave of his fellow-servants, and set out at seven in the evening.
He had proceeded the length of two or three streets, before he absolutely determined with himself whether he should leave the town that night, or, procuring a lodging, wait till the morning. At last, the moon shining very bright helped him to come to a resolution of beginning his journey immediately, to which likewise he had some other inducements; which the reader, without being a conjurer, cannot possibly guess, till we have given him those hints which it may be now proper to open.
Of several new matters not expected.
It is an observation sometimes made, that to indicate our idea of a simple fellow, we say, he is easily to be seen through: nor do I believe it a more improper denotation of a simple book. Instead of applying this to any particular performance, we chuse rather to remark the contrary in this history, where the scene opens itself by small degrees; and he is a sagacious reader who can see two chapters before him.
For this reason, we have not hitherto hinted a matter which now seems necessary to be explained; since it may be wondered at, first, that Joseph made such extraordinary haste out of town, which hath been already shewn; and secondly, which will be now shewn, that, instead of proceeding to the habitation of his father and mother, or to his beloved sister Pamela, he chose rather to set out full speed to the Lady Booby’s country-seat, which he had left on his journey to London.
Be it known, then, that in the same parish where this seat stood there lived a young girl whom Joseph (though the best of sons and brothers) longed more impatiently to see than his parents or his sister. She was a poor girl, who had formerly been bred up in Sir John’s family; whence, a little before the journey to London, she had been discarded by Mrs Slipslop, on account of her extraordinary beauty: for I never could find any other reason.
This young creature (who now lived with a farmer in the parish) had been always beloved by Joseph, and returned his affection. She was two years only younger than our hero. They had been acquainted from their infancy, and had conceived a very early liking for each other; which had grown to such a degree of affection, that Mr Adams had with much ado prevented them from marrying, and persuaded them to wait till a few years’ service and thrift had a little improved their experience, and enabled them to live comfortably together.
They followed this good man’s advice, as indeed his word was little less than a law in his parish; for as he had shown his parishioners, by an uniform behaviour of thirty-five years’ duration, that he had their good entirely at heart, so they consulted him on every occasion, and very seldom acted contrary to his opinion.
Nothing can be imagined more tender than was the parting between these two lovers. A thousand sighs heaved the bosom of Joseph, a thousand tears distilled from the lovely eyes of Fanny (for that was her name). Though her modesty would only suffer her to admit his eager kisses, her violent love made her more than passive in his embraces; and she often pulled him to her breast with a soft pressure, which though perhaps it would not have squeezed an insect to death, caused more emotion in the heart of Joseph than the closest Cornish hug could have done.
The reader may perhaps wonder that so fond a pair should, during a twelvemonth’s absence, never converse with one another: indeed, there was but one reason which did or could have prevented them; and this was, that poor Fanny could neither write nor read: nor could she be prevailed upon to transmit the delicacies of her tender and chaste passion by the hands of an amanuensis.
They contented themselves therefore with frequent inquiries after each other’s health, with a mutual confidence in each other’s fidelity, and the prospect of their future happiness.
Having explained these matters to our reader, and, as far as possible, satisfied all his doubts, we return to honest Joseph, whom we left just set out on his travels by the light of the moon.
Those who have read any romance or poetry, antient or modern, must have been informed that love hath wings: by which they are not to understand, as some young ladies by mistake have done, that a lover can fly; the writers, by this ingenious allegory, intending to insinuate no more than that lovers do not march like horse-guards; in short, that they put the best leg foremost; which our lusty youth, who could walk with any man, did so heartily on this occasion, that within four hours he reached a famous house of hospitality well known to the western traveller. It presents you a lion on the sign-post: and the master, who was christened Timotheus, is commonly called plain Tim. Some have conceived that he hath particularly chosen the lion for his sign, as he doth in countenance greatly resemble that magnanimous beast, though his disposition savours more of the sweetness of the lamb. He is a person well received among all sorts of men, being qualified to render himself agreeable to any; as he is well versed in history and politics, hath a smattering in law and divinity, cracks a good jest, and plays wonderfully well on the French horn.
A violent storm of hail forced Joseph to take shelter in this inn, where he remembered Sir Thomas had dined in his way to town. Joseph had no sooner seated himself by the kitchen fire than Timotheus, observing his livery, began to condole the loss of his late master; who was, he said, his very particular and intimate acquaintance, with whom he had cracked many a merry bottle, ay many a dozen, in his time. He then remarked, that all these things were over now, all passed, and just as if they had never been; and concluded with an excellent observation on the certainty of death, which his wife said was indeed very true. A fellow now arrived at the same inn with two horses, one of which he was leading farther down into the country to meet his master; these he put into the stable, and came and took his place by Joseph’s side, who immediately knew him to be the servant of a neighbouring gentleman, who used to visit at their house.
This fellow was likewise forced in by the storm; for he had orders to go twenty miles farther that evening, and luckily on the same road which Joseph himself intended to take. He, therefore, embraced this opportunity of complimenting his friend with his master’s horse (notwithstanding he had received express commands to the contrary), which was readily accepted; and so, after they had drank a loving pot, and the storm was over, they set out together.
Containing many surprizing adventures which Joseph Andrews met with on the road, scarce credible to those who have never travelled in a stage-coach.
Nothing remarkable happened on the road till their arrival at the inn to which the horses were ordered; whither they came about two in the morning. The moon then shone very bright; and Joseph, making his friend a present of a pint of wine, and thanking him for the favour of his horse, notwithstanding all entreaties to the contrary, proceeded on his journey on foot.
He had not gone above two miles, charmed with the hope of shortly seeing his beloved Fanny, when he was met by two fellows in a narrow lane, and ordered to stand and deliver. He readily gave them all the money he had, which was somewhat less than two pounds; and told them he hoped they would be so generous as to return him a few shillings, to defray his charges on his way home.
One of the ruffians answered with an oath, “Yes, we’ll give you something presently: but first strip and be d—n’d to you.”—“Strip,” cried the other, “or I’ll blow your brains to the devil.” Joseph, remembering that he had borrowed his coat and breeches of a friend, and that he should be ashamed of making any excuse for not returning them, replied, he hoped they would not insist on his clothes, which were not worth much, but consider the coldness of the night. “You are cold, are you, you rascal?” said one of the robbers: “I’ll warm you with a vengeance;” and, damning his eyes, snapped a pistol at his head; which he had no sooner done than the other levelled a blow at him with his stick, which Joseph, who was expert at cudgel-playing, caught with his, and returned the favour so successfully on his adversary, that he laid him sprawling at his feet, and at the same instant received a blow from behind, with the butt end of a pistol, from the other villain, which felled him to the ground, and totally deprived him of his senses.
The thief who had been knocked down had now recovered himself; and both together fell to belabouring poor Joseph with their sticks, till they were convinced they had put an end to his miserable being: they then stripped him entirely naked, threw him into a ditch, and departed with their booty.
The poor wretch, who lay motionless a long time, just began to recover his senses as a stage-coach came by. The postillion, hearing a man’s groans, stopt his horses, and told the coachman he was certain there was a dead man lying in the ditch, for he heard him groan. “Go on, sirrah,” says the coachman; “we are confounded late, and have no time to look after dead men.” A lady, who heard what the postillion said, and likewise heard the groan, called eagerly to the coachman to stop and see what was the matter. Upon which he bid the postillion alight, and look into the ditch. He did so, and returned, “that there was a man sitting upright, as naked as ever he was born.”—“O J—sus!” cried the lady; “a naked man! Dear coachman, drive on and leave him.” Upon this the gentlemen got out of the coach; and Joseph begged them to have mercy upon him: for that he had been robbed and almost beaten to death. “Robbed!” cries an old gentleman: “let us make all the haste imaginable, or we shall be robbed too.” A young man who belonged to the law answered, “He wished they had passed by without taking any notice; but that now they might be proved to have been last in his company; if he should die they might be called to some account for his murder. He therefore thought it advisable to save the poor creature’s life, for their own sakes, if possible; at least, if he died, to prevent the jury’s finding that they fled for it. He was therefore of opinion to take the man into the coach, and carry him to the next inn.” The lady insisted, “That he should not come into the coach. That if they lifted him in, she would herself alight: for she had rather stay in that place to all eternity than ride with a naked man.” The coachman objected, “That he could not suffer him to be taken in unless somebody would pay a shilling for his carriage the four miles.” Which the two gentlemen refused to do. But the lawyer, who was afraid of some mischief happening to himself, if the wretch was left behind in that condition, saying no man could be too cautious in these matters, and that he remembered very extraordinary cases in the books, threatened the coachman, and bid him deny taking him up at his peril; for that, if he died, he should be indicted for his murder; and if he lived, and brought an action against him, he would willingly take a brief in it. These words had a sensible effect on the coachman, who was well acquainted with the person who spoke them; and the old gentleman above mentioned, thinking the naked man would afford him frequent opportunities of showing his wit to the lady, offered to join with the company in giving a mug of beer for his fare; till, partly alarmed by the threats of the one, and partly by the promises of the other, and being perhaps a little moved with compassion at the poor creature’s condition, who stood bleeding and shivering with the cold, he at length agreed; and Joseph was now advancing to the coach, where, seeing the lady, who held the sticks of her fan before her eyes, he absolutely refused, miserable as he was, to enter, unless he was furnished with sufficient covering to prevent giving the least offence to decency—so perfectly modest was this young man; such mighty effects had the spotless example of the amiable Pamela, and the excellent sermons of Mr Adams, wrought upon him.
Though there were several greatcoats about the coach, it was not easy to get over this difficulty which Joseph had started. The two gentlemen complained they were cold, and could not spare a rag; the man of wit saying, with a laugh, that charity began at home; and the coachman, who had two greatcoats spread under him, refused to lend either, lest they should be made bloody: the lady’s footman desired to be excused for the same reason, which the lady herself, notwithstanding her abhorrence of a naked man, approved: and it is more than probable poor Joseph, who obstinately adhered to his modest resolution, must have perished, unless the postillion (a lad who hath been since transported for robbing a hen-roost) had voluntarily stript off a greatcoat, his only garment, at the same time swearing a great oath (for which he was rebuked by the passengers), “that he would rather ride in his shirt all his life than suffer a fellow-creature to lie in so miserable a condition.”
Joseph, having put on the greatcoat, was lifted into the coach, which now proceeded on its journey. He declared himself almost dead with the cold, which gave the man of wit an occasion to ask the lady if she could not accommodate him with a dram. She answered, with some resentment, “She wondered at his asking her such a question; but assured him she never tasted any such thing.”
The lawyer was inquiring into the circumstances of the robbery, when the coach stopt, and one of the ruffians, putting a pistol in, demanded their money of the passengers, who readily gave it them; and the lady, in her fright, delivered up a little silver bottle, of about a half-pint size, which the rogue, clapping it to his mouth, and drinking her health, declared, held some of the best Nantes he had ever tasted: this the lady afterwards assured the company was the mistake of her maid, for that she had ordered her to fill the bottle with Hungary-water.
As soon as the fellows were departed, the lawyer, who had, it seems, a case of pistols in the seat of the coach, informed the company, that if it had been daylight, and he could have come at his pistols, he would not have submitted to the robbery: he likewise set forth that he had often met highwaymen when he travelled on horseback, but none ever durst attack him; concluding that, if he had not been more afraid for the lady than for himself, he should not have now parted with his money so easily.
As wit is generally observed to love to reside in empty pockets, so the gentleman whose ingenuity we have above remarked, as soon as he had parted with his money, began to grow wonderfully facetious. He made frequent allusions to Adam and Eve, and said many excellent things on figs and fig-leaves; which perhaps gave more offence to Joseph than to any other in the company.
The lawyer likewise made several very pretty jests without departing from his profession. He said, “If Joseph and the lady were alone, he would be more capable of making a conveyance to her, as his affairs were not fettered with any incumbrance; he’d warrant he soon suffered a recovery by a writ of entry, which was the proper way to create heirs in tail; that, for his own part, he would engage to make so firm a settlement in a coach, that there should be no danger of an ejectment,” with an inundation of the like gibberish, which he continued to vent till the coach arrived at an inn, where one servant-maid only was up, in readiness to attend the coachman, and furnish him with cold meat and a dram. Joseph desired to alight, and that he might have a bed prepared for him, which the maid readily promised to perform; and, being a good-natured wench, and not so squeamish as the lady had been, she clapt a large fagot on the fire, and, furnishing Joseph with a greatcoat belonging to one of the hostlers, desired him to sit down and warm himself whilst she made his bed. The coachman, in the meantime, took an opportunity to call up a surgeon, who lived within a few doors; after which, he reminded his passengers how late they were, and, after they had taken leave of Joseph, hurried them off as fast as he could.
The wench soon got Joseph to bed, and promised to use her interest to borrow him a shirt; but imagining, as she afterwards said, by his being so bloody, that he must be a dead man, she ran with all speed to hasten the surgeon, who was more than half drest, apprehending that the coach had been overturned, and some gentleman or lady hurt. As soon as the wench had informed him at his window that it was a poor foot-passenger who had been stripped of all he had, and almost murdered, he chid her for disturbing him so early, slipped off his clothes again, and very quietly returned to bed and to sleep.
Aurora now began to shew her blooming cheeks over the hills, whilst ten millions of feathered songsters, in jocund chorus, repeated odes a thousand times sweeter than those of our laureat, and sung both the day and the song; when the master of the inn, Mr Tow-wouse, arose, and learning from his maid an account of the robbery, and the situation of his poor naked guest, he shook his head, and cried, “good-lack-a-day!” and then ordered the girl to carry him one of his own shirts.
Mrs Tow-wouse was just awake, and had stretched out her arms in vain to fold her departed husband, when the maid entered the room. “Who’s there? Betty?”— “Yes, madam.”—“Where’s your master?”—“He’s without, madam; he hath sent me for a shirt to lend a poor naked man, who hath been robbed and murdered.”— “Touch one if you dare, you slut,” said Mrs Tow-wouse: “your master is a pretty sort of a man, to take in naked vagabonds, and clothe them with his own clothes. I shall have no such doings. If you offer to touch anything, I’ll throw the chamber-pot at your head. Go, send your master to me.”—“Yes, madam,” answered Betty. As soon as he came in, she thus began: “What the devil do you mean by this, Mr Tow-wouse? Am I to buy shirts to lend to a set of scabby rascals?”—“My dear,” said Mr Tow-wouse, “this is a poor wretch.”—“Yes,” says she, “I know it is a poor wretch; but what the devil have we to do with poor wretches? The law makes us provide for too many already. We shall have thirty or forty poor wretches in red coats shortly.”—“My dear,” cries Tow-wouse, “this man hath been robbed of all he hath.”—“Well then,” said she, “where’s his money to pay his reckoning? Why doth not such a fellow go to an alehouse? I shall send him packing as soon as I am up, I assure you.”—“My dear,” said he, “common charity won’t suffer you to do that.”—“Common charity, a f—t!” says she, “common charity teaches us to provide for ourselves and our families; and I and mine won’t be ruined by your charity, I assure you.”—“Well,” says he, “my dear, do as you will, when you are up; you know I never contradict you.”—“No,” says she; “if the devil was to contradict me, I would make the house too hot to hold him.”
With such like discourses they consumed near half-an-hour, whilst Betty provided a shirt from the hostler, who was one of her sweethearts, and put it on poor Joseph. The surgeon had likewise at last visited him, and washed and drest his wounds, and was now come to acquaint Mr Tow-wouse that his guest was in such extreme danger of his life, that he scarce saw any hopes of his recovery. “Here’s a pretty kettle of fish,” cries Mrs Tow-wouse, “you have brought upon us! We are like to have a funeral at our own expense.” Tow-wouse (who, notwithstanding his charity, would have given his vote as freely as ever he did at an election, that any other house in the kingdom should have quiet possession of his guest) answered, “My dear, I am not to blame; he was brought hither by the stage-coach, and Betty had put him to bed before I was stirring.”—“I’ll Betty her,” says she.—At which, with half her garments on, the other half under her arm, she sallied out in quest of the unfortunate Betty, whilst Tow-wouse and the surgeon went to pay a visit to poor Joseph, and inquire into the circumstances of this melancholy affair.
What happened to Joseph during his sickness at the inn, with the curious discourse between him and Mr Barnabas, the parson of the parish.
As soon as Joseph had communicated a particular history of the robbery, together with a short account of himself, and his intended journey, he asked the surgeon if he apprehended him to be in any danger: to which the surgeon very honestly answered, “He feared he was; for that his pulse was very exalted and feverish, and, if his fever should prove more than symptomatic, it would be impossible to save him.” Joseph, fetching a deep sigh, cried, “Poor Fanny, I would I could have lived to see thee! but God’s will be done.”
The surgeon then advised him, if he had any worldly affairs to settle, that he would do it as soon as possible; for, though he hoped he might recover, yet he thought himself obliged to acquaint him he was in great danger; and if the malign concoction of his humours should cause a suscitation of his fever, he might soon grow delirious and incapable to make his will. Joseph answered, “That it was impossible for any creature in the universe to be in a poorer condition than himself; for since the robbery he had not one thing of any kind whatever which he could call his own.” “I had,” said he, “a poor little piece of gold, which they took away, that would have been a comfort to me in all my afflictions; but surely, Fanny, I want nothing to remind me of thee. I have thy dear image in my heart, and no villain can ever tear it thence.”
Joseph desired paper and pens, to write a letter, but they were refused him; and he was advised to use all his endeavours to compose himself. They then left him; and Mr Tow-wouse sent to a clergyman to come and administer his good offices to the soul of poor Joseph, since the surgeon despaired of making any successful applications to his body.
Mr Barnabas (for that was the clergyman’s name) came as soon as sent for; and, having first drank a dish of tea with the landlady, and afterwards a bowl of punch with the landlord, he walked up to the room where Joseph lay; but, finding him asleep, returned to take the other sneaker; which when he had finished, he again crept softly up to the chamber-door, and, having opened it, heard the sick man talking to himself in the following manner:—
“O most adorable Pamela! most virtuous sister! whose example could alone enable me to withstand all the temptations of riches and beauty, and to preserve my virtue pure and chaste for the arms of my dear Fanny, if it had pleased Heaven that I should ever have come unto them. What riches, or honours, or pleasures, can make us amends for the loss of innocence? Doth not that alone afford us more consolation than all worldly acquisitions? What but innocence and virtue could give any comfort to such a miserable wretch as I am? Yet these can make me prefer this sick and painful bed to all the pleasures I should have found in my lady’s. These can make me face death without fear; and though I love my Fanny more than ever man loved a woman, these can teach me to resign myself to the Divine will without repining. O thou delightful charming creature! if Heaven had indulged thee to my arms, the poorest, humblest state would have been a paradise; I could have lived with thee in the lowest cottage without envying the palaces, the dainties, or the riches of any man breathing. But I must leave thee, leave thee for ever, my dearest angel! I must think of another world; and I heartily pray thou may’st meet comfort in this.”—Barnabas thought he had heard enough, so downstairs he went, and told Tow-wouse he could do his guest no service; for that he was very light-headed, and had uttered nothing but a rhapsody of nonsense all the time he stayed in the room.
The surgeon returned in the afternoon, and found his patient in a higher fever, as he said, than when he left him, though not delirious; for, notwithstanding Mr Barnabas’s opinion, he had not been once out of his senses since his arrival at the inn.
Mr Barnabas was again sent for, and with much difficulty prevailed on to make another visit. As soon as he entered the room he told Joseph “He was come to pray by him, and to prepare him for another world: in the first place, therefore, he hoped he had repented of all his sins.” Joseph answered, “He hoped he had; but there was one thing which he knew not whether he should call a sin; if it was, he feared he should die in the commission of it; and that was, the regret of parting with a young woman whom he loved as tenderly as he did his heart-strings.” Barnabas bad him be assured “that any repining at the Divine will was one of the greatest sins he could commit; that he ought to forget all carnal affections, and think of better things.” Joseph said, “That neither in this world nor the next he could forget his Fanny; and that the thought, however grievous, of parting from her for ever, was not half so tormenting as the fear of what she would suffer when she knew his misfortune.” Barnabas said, “That such fears argued a diffidence and despondence very criminal; that he must divest himself of all human passions, and fix his heart above.” Joseph answered, “That was what he desired to do, and should be obliged to him if he would enable him to accomplish it.” Barnabas replied, “That must be done by grace.” Joseph besought him to discover how he might attain it. Barnabas answered, “By prayer and faith.” He then questioned him concerning his forgiveness of the thieves. Joseph answered, “He feared that was more than he could do; for nothing would give him more pleasure than to hear they were taken.”—“That,” cries Barnabas, “is for the sake of justice.”—“Yes,” said Joseph, “but if I was to meet them again, I am afraid I should attack them, and kill them too, if I could.”—“Doubtless,” answered Barnabas, “it is lawful to kill a thief; but can you say you forgive them as a Christian ought?” Joseph desired to know what that forgiveness was. “That is,” answered Barnabas, “to forgive them as—as—it is to forgive them as—in short, it is to forgive them as a Christian.”—Joseph replied, “He forgave them as much as he could.”—“Well, well,” said Barnabas, “that will do.” He then demanded of him, “If he remembered any more sins unrepented of; and if he did, he desired him to make haste and repent of them as fast as he could, that they might repeat over a few prayers together.” Joseph answered, “He could not recollect any great crimes he had been guilty of, and that those he had committed he was sincerely sorry for.” Barnabas said that was enough, and then proceeded to prayer with all the expedition he was master of, some company then waiting for him below in the parlour, where the ingredients for punch were all in readiness; but no one would squeeze the oranges till he came.
Joseph complained he was dry, and desired a little tea; which Barnabas reported to Mrs Tow-wouse, who answered, “She had just done drinking it, and could not be slopping all day;” but ordered Betty to carry him up some small beer.
Betty obeyed her mistress’s commands; but Joseph, as soon as he had tasted it, said, he feared it would increase his fever, and that he longed very much for tea; to which the good-natured Betty answered, he should have tea, if there was any in the land; she accordingly went and bought him some herself, and attended him with it; where we will leave her and Joseph together for some time, to entertain the reader with other matters.
Being very full of adventures which succeeded each other at the inn.
It was now the dusk of the evening, when a grave person rode into the inn, and, committing his horse to the hostler, went directly into the kitchen, and, having called for a pipe of tobacco, took his place by the fireside, where several other persons were likewise assembled.
The discourse ran altogether on the robbery which was committed the night before, and on the poor wretch who lay above in the dreadful condition in which we have already seen him. Mrs Tow-wouse said, “She wondered what the devil Tom Whipwell meant by bringing such guests to her house, when there were so many alehouses on the road proper for their reception. But she assured him, if he died, the parish should be at the expense of the funeral.” She added, “Nothing would serve the fellow’s turn but tea, she would assure him.” Betty, who was just returned from her charitable office, answered, she believed he was a gentleman, for she never saw a finer skin in her life. “Pox on his skin!” replied Mrs Tow-wouse, “I suppose that is all we are like to have for the reckoning. I desire no such gentlemen should ever call at the Dragon” (which it seems was the sign of the inn).
The gentleman lately arrived discovered a great deal of emotion at the distress of this poor creature, whom he observed to be fallen not into the most compassionate hands. And indeed, if Mrs Tow-wouse had given no utterance to the sweetness of her temper, nature had taken such pains in her countenance, that Hogarth himself never gave more expression to a picture.
Her person was short, thin, and crooked. Her forehead projected in the middle, and thence descended in a declivity to the top of her nose, which was sharp and red, and would have hung over her lips, had not nature turned up the end of it. Her lips were two bits of skin, which, whenever she spoke, she drew together in a purse. Her chin was peaked; and at the upper end of that skin which composed her cheeks, stood two bones, that almost hid a pair of small red eyes. Add to this a voice most wonderfully adapted to the sentiments it was to convey, being both loud and hoarse.
It is not easy to say whether the gentleman had conceived a greater dislike for his landlady or compassion for her unhappy guest. He inquired very earnestly of the surgeon, who was now come into the kitchen, whether he had any hopes of his recovery? He begged him to use all possible means towards it, telling him, “it was the duty of men of all professions to apply their skill gratis for the relief of the poor and necessitous.” The surgeon answered, “He should take proper care; but he defied all the surgeons in London to do him any good.”—“Pray, sir,” said the gentleman, “what are his wounds?”—“Why, do you know anything of wounds?” says the surgeon (winking upon Mrs Tow-wouse).—“Sir, I have a small smattering in surgery,” answered the gentleman.—“A smattering—ho, ho, ho!” said the surgeon; “I believe it is a smattering indeed.”
The company were all attentive, expecting to hear the doctor, who was what they call a dry fellow, expose the gentleman.
He began therefore with an air of triumph: “I suppose, sir, you have travelled?”—“No, really, sir,” said the gentleman.—“Ho! then you have practised in the hospitals perhaps?”—“No, sir.”—“Hum! not that neither? Whence, sir, then, if I may be so bold to inquire, have you got your knowledge in surgery?”—“Sir,” answered the gentleman, “I do not pretend to much; but the little I know I have from books.”—“Books!” cries the doctor. “What, I suppose you have read Galen and Hippocrates!”—“No, sir,” said the gentleman.—“How! you understand surgery,” answers the doctor, “and not read Galen and Hippocrates?”—“Sir,” cries the other, “I believe there are many surgeons who have never read these authors.”—“I believe so too,” says the doctor, “more shame for them; but, thanks to my education, I have them by heart, and very seldom go without them both in my pocket.”—“They are pretty large books,” said the gentleman.—“Aye,” said the doctor, “I believe I know how large they are better than you.” (At which he fell a winking, and the whole company burst into a laugh.)
The doctor pursuing his triumph, asked the gentleman, “If he did not understand physic as well as surgery.” “Rather better,” answered the gentleman.—“Aye, like enough,” cries the doctor, with a wink. “Why, I know a little of physic too.”—“I wish I knew half so much,” said Tow-wouse, “I’d never wear an apron again.”—“Why, I believe, landlord,” cries the doctor, “there are few men, though I say it, within twelve miles of the place, that handle a fever better. Veniente accurrite morbo: that is my method. I suppose, brother, you understand Latin?”—“A little,” says the gentleman.—“Aye, and Greek now, I’ll warrant you: Ton dapomibominos poluflosboio Thalasses. But I have almost forgot these things: I could have repeated Homer by heart once.”—“Ifags! the gentleman has caught a traytor,” says Mrs Tow-wouse; at which they all fell a laughing.
The gentleman, who had not the least affection for joking, very contentedly suffered the doctor to enjoy his victory, which he did with no small satisfaction; and, having sufficiently sounded his depth, told him, “He was thoroughly convinced of his great learning and abilities; and that he would be obliged to him if he would let him know his opinion of his patient’s case above-stairs.”—“Sir,” says the doctor, “his case is that of a dead man—the contusion on his head has perforated the internal membrane of the occiput, and divelicated that radical small minute invisible nerve which coheres to the pericranium; and this was attended with a fever at first symptomatic, then pneumatic; and he is at length grown deliriuus, or delirious, as the vulgar express it.”
He was proceeding in this learned manner, when a mighty noise interrupted him. Some young fellows in the neighbourhood had taken one of the thieves, and were bringing him into the inn. Betty ran upstairs with this news to Joseph, who begged they might search for a little piece of broken gold, which had a ribband tied to it, and which he could swear to amongst all the hoards of the richest men in the universe.
Notwithstanding the fellow’s persisting in his innocence, the mob were very busy in searching him, and presently, among other things, pulled out the piece of gold just mentioned; which Betty no sooner saw than she laid violent hands on it, and conveyed it up to Joseph, who received it with raptures of joy, and, hugging it in his bosom, declared he could now die contented.
Within a few minutes afterwards came in some other fellows, with a bundle which they had found in a ditch, and which was indeed the cloaths which had been stripped off from Joseph, and the other things they had taken from him.
The gentleman no sooner saw the coat than he declared he knew the livery; and, if it had been taken from the poor creature above-stairs, desired he might see him; for that he was very well acquainted with the family to whom that livery belonged.
He was accordingly conducted up by Betty; but what, reader, was the surprize on both sides, when he saw Joseph was the person in bed, and when Joseph discovered the face of his good friend Mr Abraham Adams!
It would be impertinent to insert a discourse which chiefly turned on the relation of matters already well known to the reader; for, as soon as the curate had satisfied Joseph concerning the perfect health of his Fanny, he was on his side very inquisitive into all the particulars which had produced this unfortunate accident.
To return therefore to the kitchen, where a great variety of company were now assembled from all the rooms of the house, as well as the neighbourhood: so much delight do men take in contemplating the countenance of a thief.
Mr Tow-wouse began to rub his hands with pleasure at seeing so large an assembly; who would, he hoped, shortly adjourn into several apartments, in order to discourse over the robbery, and drink a health to all honest men. But Mrs Tow-wouse, whose misfortune it was commonly to see things a little perversely, began to rail at those who brought the fellow into her house; telling her husband, “They were very likely to thrive who kept a house of entertainment for beggars and thieves.”
The mob had now finished their search, and could find nothing about the captive likely to prove any evidence; for as to the cloaths, though the mob were very well satisfied with that proof, yet, as the surgeon observed, they could not convict him, because they were not found in his custody; to which Barnabas agreed, and added that these were bona waviata, and belonged to the lord of the manor.
“How,” says the surgeon, “do you say these goods belong to the lord of the manor?”—“I do,” cried Barnabas.—“Then I deny it,” says the surgeon: “what can the lord of the manor have to do in the case? Will any one attempt to persuade me that what a man finds is not his own?”—“I have heard,” says an old fellow in the corner, “justice Wise-one say, that, if every man had his right, whatever is found belongs to the king of London.”—“That may be true,” says Barnabas, “in some sense; for the law makes a difference between things stolen and things found; for a thing may be stolen that never is found, and a thing may be found that never was stolen: Now, goods that are both stolen and found are waviata; and they belong to the lord of the manor.”—“So the lord of the manor is the receiver of stolen goods,” says the doctor; at which there was an universal laugh, being first begun by himself.
While the prisoner, by persisting in his innocence, had almost (as there was no evidence against him) brought over Barnabas, the surgeon, Tow-wouse, and several others to his side, Betty informed them that they had overlooked a little piece of gold, which she had carried up to the man in bed, and which he offered to swear to amongst a million, aye, amongst ten thousand. This immediately turned the scale against the prisoner, and every one now concluded him guilty. It was resolved, therefore, to keep him secured that night, and early in the morning to carry him before a justice.
Showing how Mrs Tow-wouse was a little mollified; and how officious Mr Barnabas and the surgeon were to prosecute the thief: with a dissertation accounting for their zeal, and that of many other persons not mentioned in this history.
Betty told her mistress she believed the man in bed was a greater man than they took him for; for, besides the extreme whiteness of his skin, and the softness of his hands, she observed a very great familiarity between the gentleman and him; and added, she was certain they were intimate acquaintance, if not relations.
This somewhat abated the severity of Mrs Tow-wouse’s countenance. She said, “God forbid she should not discharge the duty of a Christian, since the poor gentleman was brought to her house. She had a natural antipathy to vagabonds; but could pity the misfortunes of a Christian as soon as another.” Tow-wouse said, “If the traveller be a gentleman, though he hath no money about him now, we shall most likely be paid hereafter; so you may begin to score whenever you will.” Mrs Tow-wouse answered, “Hold your simple tongue, and don’t instruct me in my business. I am sure I am sorry for the gentleman’s misfortune with all my heart; and I hope the villain who hath used him so barbarously will be hanged. Betty, go see what he wants. God forbid he should want anything in my house.”
Barnabas and the surgeon went up to Joseph to satisfy themselves concerning the piece of gold; Joseph was with difficulty prevailed upon to show it them, but would by no entreaties be brought to deliver it out of his own possession. He however attested this to be the same which had been taken from him, and Betty was ready to swear to the finding it on the thief.
The only difficulty that remained was, how to produce this gold before the justice; for as to carrying Joseph himself, it seemed impossible; nor was there any great likelihood of obtaining it from him, for he had fastened it with a ribband to his arm, and solemnly vowed that nothing but irresistible force should ever separate them; in which resolution, Mr Adams, clenching a fist rather less than the knuckle of an ox, declared he would support him.
A dispute arose on this occasion concerning evidence not very necessary to be related here; after which the surgeon dressed Mr Joseph’s head, still persisting in the imminent danger in which his patient lay, but concluding, with a very important look, “That he began to have some hopes; that he should send him a sanative soporiferous draught, and would see him in the morning.” After which Barnabas and he departed, and left Mr Joseph and Mr Adams together.
Adams informed Joseph of the occasion of this journey which he was making to London, namely, to publish three volumes of sermons; being encouraged, as he said, by an advertisement lately set forth by the society of booksellers, who proposed to purchase any copies offered to them, at a price to be settled by two persons; but though he imagined he should get a considerable sum of money on this occasion, which his family were in urgent need of, he protested he would not leave Joseph in his present condition: finally, he told him, “He had nine shillings and threepence halfpenny in his pocket, which he was welcome to use as he pleased.”
This goodness of parson Adams brought tears into Joseph’s eyes; he declared, “He had now a second reason to desire life, that he might show his gratitude to such a friend.” Adams bade him “be cheerful; for that he plainly saw the surgeon, besides his ignorance, desired to make a merit of curing him, though the wounds in his head, he perceived, were by no means dangerous; that he was convinced he had no fever, and doubted not but he would be able to travel in a day or two.”
These words infused a spirit into Joseph; he said, “He found himself very sore from the bruises, but had no reason to think any of his bones injured, or that he had received any harm in his inside, unless that he felt something very odd in his stomach; but he knew not whether that might not arise from not having eaten one morsel for above twenty-four hours.” Being then asked if he had any inclination to eat, he answered in the affirmative. Then parson Adams desired him to “name what he had the greatest fancy for; whether a poached egg, or chicken-broth.” He answered, “He could eat both very well; but that he seemed to have the greatest appetite for a piece of boiled beef and cabbage.”
Adams was pleased with so perfect a confirmation that he had not the least fever, but advised him to a lighter diet for that evening. He accordingly ate either a rabbit or a fowl, I never could with any tolerable certainty discover which; after this he was, by Mrs Tow-wouse’s order, conveyed into a better bed and equipped with one of her husband’s shirts.
In the morning early, Barnabas and the surgeon came to the inn, in order to see the thief conveyed before the justice. They had consumed the whole night in debating what measures they should take to produce the piece of gold in evidence against him; for they were both extremely zealous in the business, though neither of them were in the least interested in the prosecution; neither of them had ever received any private injury from the fellow, nor had either of them ever been suspected of loving the publick well enough to give them a sermon or a dose of physic for nothing.
To help our reader, therefore, as much as possible to account for this zeal, we must inform him that, as this parish was so unfortunate as to have no lawyer in it, there had been a constant contention between the two doctors, spiritual and physical, concerning their abilities in a science, in which, as neither of them professed it, they had equal pretensions to dispute each other’s opinions. These disputes were carried on with great contempt on both sides, and had almost divided the parish; Mr Tow-wouse and one half of the neighbours inclining to the surgeon, and Mrs Tow-wouse with the other half to the parson. The surgeon drew his knowledge from those inestimable fountains, called The Attorney’s Pocket Companion, and Mr Jacob’s Law-Tables; Barnabas trusted entirely to Wood’s Institutes. It happened on this occasion, as was pretty frequently the case, that these two learned men differed about the sufficiency of evidence; the doctor being of opinion that the maid’s oath would convict the prisoner without producing the gold; the parson, é contra, totis viribus. To display their parts, therefore, before the justice and the parish, was the sole motive which we can discover to this zeal which both of them pretended to have for public justice.
O Vanity! how little is thy force acknowledged, or thy operations discerned! How wantonly dost thou deceive mankind under different disguises! Sometimes thou dost wear the face of pity, sometimes of generosity: nay, thou hast the assurance even to put on those glorious ornaments which belong only to heroic virtue. Thou odious, deformed monster! whom priests have railed at, philosophers despised, and poets ridiculed; is there a wretch so abandoned as to own thee for an acquaintance in public?—yet, how few will refuse to enjoy thee in private? nay, thou art the pursuit of most men through their lives. The greatest villainies are daily practised to please thee; nor is the meanest thief below, or the greatest hero above, thy notice. Thy embraces are often the sole aim and sole reward of the private robbery and the plundered province. It is to pamper up thee, thou harlot, that we attempt to withdraw from others what we do not want, or to withhold from them what they do. All our passions are thy slaves. Avarice itself is often no more than thy handmaid, and even Lust thy pimp. The bully Fear, like a coward, flies before thee, and Joy and Grief hide their heads in thy presence.
I know thou wilt think that whilst I abuse thee I court thee, and that thy love hath inspired me to write this sarcastical panegyric on thee; but thou art deceived: I value thee not of a farthing; nor will it give me any pain if thou shouldst prevail on the reader to censure this digression as arrant nonsense; for know, to thy confusion, that I have introduced thee for no other purpose than to lengthen out a short chapter, and so I return to my history.
The escape of the thief. Mr Adams’s disappointment. The arrival of two very extraordinary personages, and the introduction of parson Adams to parson Barnabas.
Barnabas and the surgeon, being returned, as we have said, to the inn, in order to convey the thief before the justice, were greatly concerned to find a small accident had happened, which somewhat disconcerted them; and this was no other than the thief’s escape, who had modestly withdrawn himself by night, declining all ostentation, and not chusing, in imitation of some great men, to distinguish himself at the expense of being pointed at.
When the company had retired the evening before, the thief was detained in a room where the constable, and one of the young fellows who took him, were planted as his guard. About the second watch a general complaint of drought was made, both by the prisoner and his keepers. Among whom it was at last agreed that the constable should remain on duty, and the young fellow call up the tapster; in which disposition the latter apprehended not the least danger, as the constable was well armed, and could besides easily summon him back to his assistance, if the prisoner made the least attempt to gain his liberty.
The young fellow had not long left the room before it came into the constable’s head that the prisoner might leap on him by surprize, and, thereby preventing him of the use of his weapons, especially the long staff in which he chiefly confided, might reduce the success of a struggle to a equal chance. He wisely, therefore, to prevent this inconvenience, slipt out of the room himself, and locked the door, waiting without with his staff in his hand, ready lifted to fell the unhappy prisoner, if by ill fortune he should attempt to break out.
But human life, as hath been discovered by some great man or other (for I would by no means be understood to affect the honour of making any such discovery), very much resembles a game at chess; for as in the latter, while a gamester is too attentive to secure himself very strongly on one side the board, he is apt to leave an unguarded opening on the other; so doth it often happen in life, and so did it happen on this occasion; for whilst the cautious constable with such wonderful sagacity had possessed himself of the door, he most unhappily forgot the window.
The thief, who played on the other side, no sooner perceived this opening than he began to move that way; and, finding the passage easy, he took with him the young fellow’s hat, and without any ceremony stepped into the street and made the best of his way.
The young fellow, returning with a double mug of strong beer, was a little surprized to find the constable at the door; but much more so when, the door being opened, he perceived the prisoner had made his escape, and which way. He threw down the beer, and, without uttering anything to the constable except a hearty curse or two, he nimbly leapt out of the window, and went again in pursuit of his prey, being very unwilling to lose the reward which he had assured himself of.
The constable hath not been discharged of suspicion on this account; it hath been said that, not being concerned in the taking the thief, he could not have been entitled to any part of the reward if he had been convicted; that the thief had several guineas in his pocket; that it was very unlikely he should have been guilty of such an oversight; that his pretence for leaving the room was absurd; that it was his constant maxim, that a wise man never refused money on any conditions; that at every election he always had sold his vote to both parties, &c.
But, notwithstanding these and many other such allegations, I am sufficiently convinced of his innocence; having been positively assured of it by those who received their informations from his own mouth; which, in the opinion of some moderns, is the best and indeed only evidence.
All the family were now up, and with many others assembled in the kitchen, where Mr Tow-wouse was in some tribulation; the surgeon having declared that by law he was liable to be indicted for the thief’s escape, as it was out of his house; he was a little comforted, however, by Mr Barnabas’s opinion, that as the escape was by night the indictment would not lie.
Mrs Tow-wouse delivered herself in the following words: “Sure never was such a fool as my husband; would any other person living have left a man in the custody of such a drunken drowsy blockhead as Tom Suckbribe?” (which was the constable’s name); “and if he could be indicted without any harm to his wife and children, I should be glad of it.” (Then the bell rung in Joseph’s room.) “Why Betty, John, Chamberlain, where the devil are you all? Have you no ears, or no conscience, not to tend the sick better? See what the gentleman wants. Why don’t you go yourself, Mr Tow-wouse? But any one may die for you; you have no more feeling than a deal board. If a man lived a fortnight in your house without spending a penny, you would never put him in mind of it. See whether he drinks tea or coffee for breakfast.” “Yes, my dear,” cried Tow-wouse. She then asked the doctor and Mr Barnabas what morning’s draught they chose, who answered, they had a pot of cyder-and at the fire; which we will leave them merry over, and return to Joseph.
He had rose pretty early this morning; but, though his wounds were far from threatening any danger, he was so sore with the bruises, that it was impossible for him to think of undertaking a journey yet; Mr Adams, therefore, whose stock was visibly decreased with the expenses of supper and breakfast, and which could not survive that day’s scoring, began to consider how it was possible to recruit it. At last he cried, “He had luckily hit on a sure method, and, though it would oblige him to return himself home together with Joseph, it mattered not much.” He then sent for Tow-wouse, and, taking him into another room, told him “he wanted to borrow three guineas, for which he would put ample security into his hands.” Tow-wouse, who expected a watch, or ring, or something of double the value, answered, “He believed he could furnish him.” Upon which Adams, pointing to his saddle-bag, told him, with a face and voice full of solemnity, “that there were in that bag no less than nine volumes of manuscript sermons, as well worth a hundred pounds as a shilling was worth twelve pence, and that he would deposit one of the volumes in his hands by way of pledge; not doubting but that he would have the honesty to return it on his repayment of the money; for otherwise he must be a very great loser, seeing that every volume would at least bring him ten pounds, as he had been informed by a neighbouring clergyman in the country; for,” said he, “as to my own part, having never yet dealt in printing, I do not pretend to ascertain the exact value of such things.”
Tow-wouse, who was a little surprized at the pawn, said (and not without some truth), “That he was no judge of the price of such kind of goods; and as for money, he really was very short.” Adams answered, “Certainly he would not scruple to lend him three guineas on what was undoubtedly worth at least ten.” The landlord replied, “He did not believe he had so much money in the house, and besides, he was to make up a sum. He was very confident the books were of much higher value, and heartily sorry it did not suit him.” He then cried out, “Coming sir!” though nobody called; and ran downstairs without any fear of breaking his neck.
Poor Adams was extremely dejected at this disappointment, nor knew he what further stratagem to try. He immediately applied to his pipe, his constant friend and comfort in his afflictions; and, leaning over the rails, he devoted himself to meditation, assisted by the inspiring fumes of tobacco.
He had on a nightcap drawn over his wig, and a short greatcoat, which half covered his cassock—a dress which, added to something comical enough in his countenance, composed a figure likely to attract the eyes of those who were not over given to observation.
Whilst he was smoaking his pipe in this posture, a coach and six, with a numerous attendance, drove into the inn. There alighted from the coach a young fellow and a brace of pointers, after which another young fellow leapt from the box, and shook the former by the hand; and both, together with the dogs, were instantly conducted by Mr Tow-wouse into an apartment; whither as they passed, they entertained themselves with the following short facetious dialogue:—
“You are a pretty fellow for a coachman, Jack!” says he from the coach; “you had almost overturned us just now.”—“Pox take you!” says the coachman; “if I had only broke your neck, it would have been saving somebody else the trouble; but I should have been sorry for the pointers.”—“Why, you son of a b—,” answered the other, “if nobody could shoot better than you, the pointers would be of no use.”— “D—n me,” says the coachman, “I will shoot with you five guineas a shot.”—“You be hanged,” says the other; “for five guineas you shall shoot at my a—.”—“Done,” says the coachman; “I’ll pepper you better than ever you was peppered by Jenny Bouncer.”—“Pepper your grandmother,” says the other: “Here’s Tow-wouse will let you shoot at him for a shilling a time.”—“I know his honour better,” cries Tow-wouse; “I never saw a surer shot at a partridge. Every man misses now and then; but if I could shoot half as well as his honour, I would desire no better livelihood than I could get by my gun.”—“Pox on you,” said the coachman, “you demolish more game now than your head’s worth. There’s a bitch, Tow-wouse: by G— she never blinked a bird in her life.”—“I have a puppy, not a year old, shall hunt with her for a hundred,” cries the other gentleman.—“Done,” says the coachman: “but you will be pox’d before you make the bett.”—“If you have a mind for a bett,” cries the coachman, “I will match my spotted dog with your white bitch for a hundred, play or pay.”—“Done,” says the other: “and I’ll run Baldface against Slouch with you for another.”—“No,” cries he from the box; “but I’ll venture Miss Jenny against Baldface, or Hannibal either.”—“Go to the devil,” cries he from the coach: “I will make every bett your own way, to be sure! I will match Hannibal with Slouch for a thousand, if you dare; and I say done first.”
They were now arrived; and the reader will be very contented to leave them, and repair to the kitchen; where Barnabas, the surgeon, and an exciseman were smoaking their pipes over some cyder-and; and where the servants, who attended the two noble gentlemen we have just seen alight, were now arrived.
“Tom,” cries one of the footmen, “there’s parson Adams smoaking his pipe in the gallery.”—“Yes,” says Tom; “I pulled off my hat to him, and the parson spoke to me.”
“Is the gentleman a clergyman, then?” says Barnabas (for his cassock had been tied up when he arrived). “Yes, sir,” answered the footman; “and one there be but few like.”—“Aye,” said Barnabas; “if I had known it sooner, I should have desired his company; I would always shew a proper respect for the cloth: but what say you, doctor, shall we adjourn into a room, and invite him to take part of a bowl of punch?”
This proposal was immediately agreed to and executed; and parson Adams accepting the invitation, much civility passed between the two clergymen, who both declared the great honour they had for the cloth. They had not been long together before they entered into a discourse on small tithes, which continued a full hour, without the doctor or exciseman’s having one opportunity to offer a word.
It was then proposed to begin a general conversation, and the exciseman opened on foreign affairs; but a word unluckily dropping from one of them introduced a dissertation on the hardships suffered by the inferior clergy; which, after a long duration, concluded with bringing the nine volumes of sermons on the carpet.
Barnabas greatly discouraged poor Adams; he said, “The age was so wicked, that nobody read sermons: would you think it, Mr Adams?” said he, “I once intended to print a volume of sermons myself, and they had the approbation of two or three bishops; but what do you think a bookseller offered me?”—“Twelve guineas perhaps,” cried Adams.—“Not twelve pence, I assure you,” answered Barnabas: “nay, the dog refused me a Concordance in exchange. At last I offered to give him the printing them, for the sake of dedicating them to that very gentleman who just now drove his own coach into the inn; and, I assure you, he had the impudence to refuse my offer; by which means I lost a good living, that was afterwards given away in exchange for a pointer, to one who—but I will not say anything against the cloth. So you may guess, Mr Adams, what you are to expect; for if sermons would have gone down, I believe—I will not be vain; but to be concise with you, three bishops said they were the best that ever were writ: but indeed there are a pretty moderate number printed already, and not all sold yet.”—“Pray, sir,” said Adams, “to what do you think the numbers may amount?”—“Sir,” answered Barnabas, “a bookseller told me, he believed five thousand volumes at least.”—“Five thousand?” quoth the surgeon: “What can they be writ upon? I remember when I was a boy, I used to read one Tillotson’s sermons; and, I am sure, if a man practised half so much as is in one of those sermons, he will go to heaven.”—“Doctor,” cried Barnabas, “you have a prophane way of talking, for which I must reprove you. A man can never have his duty too frequently inculcated into him. And as for Tillotson, to be sure he was a good writer, and said things very well; but comparisons are odious; another man may write as well as he—I believe there are some of my sermons,”— and then he applied the candle to his pipe.—“And I believe there are some of my discourses,” cries Adams, “which the bishops would not think totally unworthy of being printed; and I have been informed I might procure a very large sum (indeed an immense one) on them.”—“I doubt that,” answered Barnabas: “however, if you desire to make some money of them, perhaps you may sell them by advertising the manuscript sermons of a clergyman lately deceased, all warranted originals, and never printed. And now I think of it, I should be obliged to you, if there be ever a funeral one among them, to lend it me; for I am this very day to preach a funeral sermon, for which I have not penned a line, though I am to have a double price.”—Adams answered, “He had but one, which he feared would not serve his purpose, being sacred to the memory of a magistrate, who had exerted himself very singularly in the preservation of the morality of his neighbours, insomuch that he had neither alehouse nor lewd woman in the parish where he lived.”—“No,” replied Barnabas, “that will not do quite so well; for the deceased, upon whose virtues I am to harangue, was a little too much addicted to liquor, and publickly kept a mistress.—I believe I must take a common sermon, and trust to my memory to introduce something handsome on him.”—“To your invention rather,” said the doctor: “your memory will be apter to put you out; for no man living remembers anything good of him.”
With such kind of spiritual discourse, they emptied the bowl of punch, paid their reckoning, and separated: Adams and the doctor went up to Joseph, parson Barnabas departed to celebrate the aforesaid deceased, and the exciseman descended into the cellar to gauge the vessels.
Joseph was now ready to sit down to a loin of mutton, and waited for Mr Adams, when he and the doctor came in. The doctor, having felt his pulse and examined his wounds, declared him much better, which he imputed to that sanative soporiferous draught, a medicine “whose virtues,” he said, “were never to be sufficiently extolled.” And great indeed they must be, if Joseph was so much indebted to them as the doctor imagined; since nothing more than those effluvia which escaped the cork could have contributed to his recovery; for the medicine had stood untouched in the window ever since its arrival.
Joseph passed that day, and the three following, with his friend Adams, in which nothing so remarkable happened as the swift progress of his recovery. As he had an excellent habit of body, his wounds were now almost healed; and his bruises gave him so little uneasiness, that he pressed Mr Adams to let him depart; told him he should never be able to return sufficient thanks for all his favours, but begged that he might no longer delay his journey to London.
Adams, notwithstanding the ignorance, as he conceived it, of Mr Tow-wouse, and the envy (for such he thought it) of Mr Barnabas, had great expectations from his sermons: seeing therefore Joseph in so good a way, he told him he would agree to his setting out the next morning in the stage-coach, that he believed he should have sufficient, after the reckoning paid, to procure him one day’s conveyance in it, and afterwards he would be able to get on on foot, or might be favoured with a lift in some neighbour’s waggon, especially as there was then to be a fair in the town whither the coach would carry him, to which numbers from his parish resorted— And as to himself, he agreed to proceed to the great city.
They were now walking in the inn-yard, when a fat, fair, short person rode in, and, alighting from his horse, went directly up to Barnabas, who was smoaking his pipe on a bench. The parson and the stranger shook one another very lovingly by the hand, and went into a room together.
The evening now coming on, Joseph retired to his chamber, whither the good Adams accompanied him, and took this opportunity to expatiate on the great mercies God had lately shown him, of which he ought not only to have the deepest inward sense, but likewise to express outward thankfulness for them. They therefore fell both on their knees, and spent a considerable time in prayer and thanksgiving.
They had just finished when Betty came in and told Mr Adams Mr Barnabas desired to speak to him on some business of consequence below-stairs. Joseph desired, if it was likely to detain him long, he would let him know it, that he might go to bed, which Adams promised, and in that case they wished one another good-night.
A pleasant discourse between the two parsons and the bookseller, ‘which was broke off by an unlucky accident happening in the inn, which produced a dialogue between Mrs Tow-wouse and her maid of no gentle kind.
As soon as Adams came into the room, Mr Barnabas introduced him to the stranger, who was, he told him, a bookseller, and would be as likely to deal with him for his sermons as any man whatever. Adams, saluting the stranger, answered Barnabas, that he was very much obliged to him; that nothing could be more convenient, for he had no other business to the great city, and was heartily desirous of returning with the young man, who was just recovered of his misfortune. He then snapt his fingers (as was usual with him), and took two or three turns about the room in an extasy. And to induce the bookseller to be as expeditious as possible, as likewise to offer him a better price for his commodity, he assured them their meeting was extremely lucky to himself; for that he had the most pressing occasion for money at that time, his own being almost spent, and having a friend then in the same inn, who was just recovered from some wounds he had received from robbers, and was in a most indigent condition. “So that nothing,” says he, “could be so opportune for the supplying both our necessities as my making an immediate bargain with you.”
As soon as he had seated himself, the stranger began in these words: “Sir, I do not care absolutely to deny engaging in what my friend Mr Barnabas recommends; but sermons are mere drugs. The trade is so vastly stocked with them, that really, unless they come out with the name of Whitefield or Wesley, or some other such great man, as a bishop, or those sort of people, I don’t care to touch; unless now it was a sermon preached on the 30th of January; or we could say in the title-page, published at the earnest request of the congregation, or the inhabitants; but, truly, for a dry piece of sermons, I had rather be excused; especially as my hands are so full at present. However, sir, as Mr Barnabas mentioned them to me, I will, if you please, take the manuscript with me to town, and send you my opinion of it in a very short time.”
“Oh!” said Adams, “if you desire it, I will read two or three discourses as a specimen.” This Barnabas, who loved sermons no better than a grocer doth figs, immediately objected to, and advised Adams to let the bookseller have his sermons: telling him, “If he gave him a direction, he might be certain of a speedy answer;” adding, he need not scruple trusting them in his possession. “No,” said the bookseller, “if it was a play that had been acted twenty nights together, I believe it would be safe.”
Adams did not at all relish the last expression; he said “he was sorry to hear sermons compared to plays.” “Not by me, I assure you,” cried the bookseller, “though I don’t know whether the licensing act may not shortly bring them to the same footing; but I have formerly known a hundred guineas given for a play.”—“More shame for those who gave it,” cried Barnabas.—“Why so?” said the bookseller, “for they got hundreds by it.”—“But is there no difference between conveying good or ill instructions to mankind?” said Adams: “Would not an honest mind rather lose money by the one, than gain it by the other?”—“If you can find any such, I will not be their hindrance,” answered the bookseller; “but I think those persons who get by preaching sermons are the properest to lose by printing them: for my part, the copy that sells best will be always the best copy in my opinion; I am no enemy to sermons, but because they don’t sell: for I would as soon print one of Whitefield’s as any farce whatever.”
“Whoever prints such heterodox stuff ought to be hanged,” says Barnabas. “Sir,” said he, turning to Adams, “this fellow’s writings (I know not whether you have seen them) are levelled at the clergy. He would reduce us to the example of the primitive ages, forsooth! and would insinuate to the people that a clergyman ought to be always preaching and praying. He pretends to understand the Scripture literally; and would make mankind believe that the poverty and low estate which was recommended to the Church in its infancy, and was only temporary doctrine adapted to her under persecution, was to be preserved in her flourishing and established state. Sir, the principles of Toland, Woolston, and all the freethinkers, are not calculated to do half the mischief, as those professed by this fellow and his followers.”
“Sir,” answered Adams, “if Mr Whitefield had carried his doctrine no farther than you mention, I should have remained, as I once was, his well-wisher. I am, myself, as great an enemy to the luxury and splendour of the clergy as he can be. I do not, more than he, by the flourishing estate of the Church, understand the palaces, equipages, dress, furniture, rich dainties, and vast fortunes, of her ministers. Surely those things, which savour so strongly of this world, become not the servants of one who professed His kingdom was not of it. But when he began to call nonsense and enthusiasm to his aid, and set up the detestable doctrine of faith against good works, I was his friend no longer; for surely that doctrine was coined in hell; and one would think none but the devil himself could have the confidence to preach it. For can anything be more derogatory to the honour of God than for men to imagine that the all-wise Being will hereafter say to the good and virtuous, ‘Notwithstanding the purity of thy life, notwithstanding that constant rule of virtue and goodness in which you walked upon earth, still, as thou didst not believe everything in the true orthodox manner, thy want of faith shall condemn thee?’ Or, on the other side, can any doctrine have a more pernicious influence on society, than a persuasion that it will be a good plea for the villain at the last day—‘Lord, it is true I never obeyed one of thy commandments, yet punish me not, for I believe them all?’”—“I suppose, sir,” said the bookseller, “your sermons are of a different kind.”—“Aye, sir,” said Adams; “the contrary, I thank Heaven, is inculcated in almost every page, or I should belye my own opinion, which hath always been, that a virtuous and good Turk, or heathen, are more acceptable in the sight of their Creator than a vicious and wicked Christian, though his faith was as perfectly orthodox as St Paul’s himself.”—“I wish you success,” says the bookseller, “but must beg to be excused, as my hands are so very full at present; and, indeed, I am afraid you will find a backwardness in the trade to engage in a book which the clergy would be certain to cry down.”—“God forbid,” says Adams, “any books should be propagated which the clergy would cry down; but if you mean by the clergy, some few designing factious men, who have it at heart to establish some favourite schemes at the price of the liberty of mankind, and the very essence of religion, it is not in the power of such persons to decry any book they please; witness that excellent book called, ‘A Plain Account of the Nature and End of the Sacrament;’ a book written (if I may venture on the expression) with the pen of an angel, and calculated to restore the true use of Christianity, and of that sacred institution; for what could tend more to the noble purposes of religion than frequent chearful meetings among the members of a society, in which they should, in the presence of one another, and in the service of the Supreme Being, make promises of being good, friendly, and benevolent to each other? Now, this excellent book was attacked by a party, but unsuccessfully.” At these words Barnabas fell a-ringing with all the violence imaginable; upon which a servant attending, he bid him “bring a bill immediately; for that he was in company, for aught he knew, with the devil himself; and he expected to hear the Alcoran, the Leviathan, or Woolston commended, if he staid a few minutes longer.” Adams desired, “as he was so much moved at his mentioning a book which he did without apprehending any possibility of offence, that he would be so kind to propose any objections he had to it, which he would endeavour to answer.”—“I propose objections!” said Barnabas, “I never read a syllable in any such wicked book; I never saw it in my life, I assure you.”—Adams was going to answer, when a most hideous uproar began in the inn. Mrs Tow-wouse, Mr Tow-wouse, and Betty, all lifting up their voices together; but Mrs Tow-wouse’s voice, like a bass viol in a concert, was clearly and distinctly distinguished among the rest, and was heard to articulate the following sounds:—“O you damn’d villain! is this the return to all the care I have taken of your family? This the reward of my virtue? Is this the manner in which you behave to one who brought you a fortune, and preferred you to so many matches, all your betters? To abuse my bed, my own bed, with my own servant! but I’ll maul the slut, I’ll tear her nasty eyes out! Was ever such a pitiful dog, to take up with such a mean trollop? If she had been a gentlewoman, like myself, it had been some excuse; but a beggarly, saucy, dirty servant-maid. Get you out of my house, you whore.” To which she added another name, which we do not care to stain our paper with. It was a monosyllable beginning with a b—, and indeed was the same as if she had pronounced the words, she-dog. Which term we shall, to avoid offence, use on this occasion, though indeed both the mistress and maid uttered the above-mentioned b—, a word extremely disgustful to females of the lower sort. Betty had borne all hitherto with patience, and had uttered only lamentations; but the last appellation stung her to the quick. “I am a woman as well as yourself,” she roared out, “and no she-dog; and if I have been a little naughty, I am not the first; if I have been no better than I should be,” cries she, sobbing, “that’s no reason you should call me out of my name; my be-betters are wo-rse than me.”—“Huzzy, huzzy,” says Mrs Tow-wouse, “have you the impudence to answer me? Did I not catch you, you saucy”—and then again repeated the terrible word so odious to female ears. “I can’t bear that name,” answered Betty: “if I have been wicked, I am to answer for it myself in the other world; but I have done nothing that’s unnatural; and I will go out of your house this moment, for I will never be called she-dog by any mistress in England.” Mrs Tow-wouse then armed herself with the spit, but was prevented from executing any dreadful purpose by Mr Adams, who confined her arms with the strength of a wrist which Hercules would not have been ashamed of. Mr Tow-wouse, being caught, as our lawyers express it, with the manner, and having no defence to make, very prudently withdrew himself; and Betty committed herself to the protection of the hostler, who, though she could not conceive him pleased with what had happened, was, in her opinion, rather a gentler beast than her mistress.
Mrs Tow-wouse, at the intercession of Mr Adams, and finding the enemy vanished, began to compose herself, and at length recovered the usual serenity of her temper, in which we will leave her, to open to the reader the steps which led to a catastrophe, common enough, and comical enough too perhaps, in modern history, yet often fatal to the repose and well-being of families, and the subject of many tragedies, both in life and on the stage.
The history of Betty the chambermaid, and an account of what occasioned the violent scene in the preceding chapter.
Betty, who was the occasion of all this hurry, had some good qualities. She had good-nature, generosity, and compassion, but unfortunately, her constitution was composed of those warm ingredients which, though the purity of courts or nunneries might have happily controuled them, were by no means able to endure the ticklish situation of a chambermaid at an inn; who is daily liable to the solicitations of lovers of all complexions; to the dangerous addresses of fine gentlemen of the army, who sometimes are obliged to reside with them a whole year together; and, above all, are exposed to the caresses of footmen, stage-coachmen, and drawers; all of whom employ the whole artillery of kissing, flattering, bribing, and every other weapon which is to be found in the whole armoury of love, against them.
Betty, who was but one-and-twenty, had now lived three years in this dangerous situation, during which she had escaped pretty well. An ensign of foot was the first person who made an impression on her heart; he did indeed raise a flame in her which required the care of a surgeon to cool.
While she burnt for him, several others burnt for her. Officers of the army, young gentlemen travelling the western circuit, inoffensive squires, and some of graver character, were set a-fire by her charms!
At length, having perfectly recovered the effects of her first unhappy passion, she seemed to have vowed a state of perpetual chastity. She was long deaf to all the sufferings of her lovers, till one day, at a neighbouring fair, the rhetoric of John the hostler, with a new straw hat and a pint of wine, made a second conquest over her.
She did not, however, feel any of those flames on this occasion which had been the consequence of her former amour; nor, indeed, those other ill effects which prudent young women very justly apprehend from too absolute an indulgence to the pressing endearments of their lovers. This latter, perhaps, was a little owing to her not being entirely constant to John, with whom she permitted Tom Whipwell the stage-coachman, and now and then a handsome young traveller, to share her favours.
Mr Tow-wouse had for some time cast the languishing eyes of affection on this young maiden. He had laid hold on every opportunity of saying tender things to her, squeezing her by the hand, and sometimes kissing her lips; for, as the violence of his passion had considerably abated to Mrs Tow-wouse, so, like water, which is stopt from its usual current in one place, it naturally sought a vent in another. Mrs Tow-wouse is thought to have perceived this abatement, and, probably, it added very little to the natural sweetness of her temper; for though she was as true to her husband as the dial to the sun, she was rather more desirous of being shone on, as being more capable of feeling his warmth.
Ever since Joseph’s arrival, Betty had conceived an extraordinary liking to him, which discovered itself more and more as he grew better and better; till that fatal evening, when, as she was warming his bed, her passion grew to such a height, and so perfectly mastered both her modesty and her reason, that, after many fruitless hints and sly insinuations, she at last threw down the warming-pan, and, embracing him with great eagerness, swore he was the handsomest creature she had ever seen.
Joseph, in great confusion, leapt from her, and told her he was sorry to see a young woman cast off all regard to modesty; but she had gone too far to recede, and grew so very indecent, that Joseph was obliged, contrary to his inclination, to use some violence to her; and, taking her in his arms, he shut her out of the room, and locked the door.
How ought man to rejoice that his chastity is always in his own power; that, if he hath sufficient strength of mind, he hath always a competent strength of body to defend himself, and cannot, like a poor weak woman, be ravished against his will!
Betty was in the most violent agitation at this disappointment. Rage and lust pulled her heart, as with two strings, two different ways; one moment she thought of stabbing Joseph; the next, of taking him in her arms, and devouring him with kisses; but the latter passion was far more prevalent. Then she thought of revenging his refusal on herself; but, whilst she was engaged in this meditation, happily death presented himself to her in so many shapes, of drowning, hanging, poisoning, &c., that her distracted mind could resolve on none. In this perturbation of spirit, it accidentally occurred to her memory that her master’s bed was not made; she therefore went directly to his room, where he happened at that time to be engaged at his bureau. As soon as she saw him, she attempted to retire; but he called her back, and, taking her by the hand, squeezed her so tenderly, at the same time whispering so many soft things into her ears, and then pressed her so closely with his kisses, that the vanquished fair one, whose passions were already raised, and which were not so whimsically capricious that one man only could lay them, though, perhaps, she would have rather preferred that one—the vanquished fair one quietly submitted, I say, to her master’s will, who had just attained the accomplishment of his bliss when Mrs Tow-wouse unexpectedly entered the room, and caused all that confusion which we have before seen, and which it is not necessary, at present, to take any farther notice of; since, without the assistance of a single hint from us, every reader of any speculation or experience, though not married himself, may easily conjecture that it concluded with the discharge of Betty, the submission of Mr Tow-wouse, with some things to be performed on his side by way of gratitude for his wife’s goodness in being reconciled to him, with many hearty promises never to offend any more in the like manner; and, lastly, his quietly and contentedly bearing to be reminded of his transgressions, as a kind of penance, once or twice a day during the residue of his life.
Of Divisions in Authors.
There are certain mysteries or secrets in all trades, from the highest to the lowest, from that of prime-ministering to this of authoring, which are seldom discovered unless to members of the same calling. Among those used by us gentlemen of the latter occupation, I take this of dividing our works into books and chapters to be none of the least considerable. Now, for want of being truly acquainted with this secret, common readers imagine, that by this art of dividing we mean only to swell our works to a much larger bulk than they would otherwise be extended to. These several places therefore in our paper, which are filled with our books and chapters, are understood as so much buckram, stays, and stay-tape in a taylor’s bill, serving only to make up the sum total, commonly found at the bottom of our first page and of his last.
But in reality the case is otherwise, and in this as well as all other instances we consult the advantage of our reader, not our own; and indeed, many notable uses arise to him from this method; for, first, those little spaces between our chapters may be looked upon as an inn or resting-place where he may stop and take a glass or any other refreshment as it pleases him. Nay, our fine readers will, perhaps, be scarce able to travel farther than through one of them in a day. As to those vacant pages which are placed between our books, they are to be regarded as those stages where in long journies the traveller stays some time to repose himself, and consider of what he hath seen in the parts he hath already passed through; a consideration which I take the liberty to recommend a little to the reader; for, however swift his capacity may be, I would not advise him to travel through these pages too fast; for if he doth, he may probably miss the seeing some curious productions of nature, which will be observed by the slower and more accurate reader. A volume without any such places of rest resembles the opening of wilds or seas, which tires the eye and fatigues the spirit when entered upon.
Secondly, what are the contents prefixed to every chapter but so many inscriptions over the gates of inns (to continue the same metaphor), informing the reader what entertainment he is to expect, which if he likes not, he may travel on to the next; for, in biography, as we are not tied down to an exact concatenation equally with other historians, so a chapter or two (for instance, this I am now writing) may be often passed over without any injury to the whole. And in these inscriptions I have been as faithful as possible, not imitating the celebrated Montaigne, who promises you one thing and gives you another; nor some title-page authors, who promise a great deal and produce nothing at all.
There are, besides these more obvious benefits, several others which our readers enjoy from this art of dividing; though perhaps most of them too mysterious to be presently understood by any who are not initiated into the science of authoring. To mention, therefore, but one which is most obvious, it prevents spoiling the beauty of a book by turning down its leaves, a method otherwise necessary to those readers who (though they read with great improvement and advantage) are apt, when they return to their study after half-an-hour’s absence, to forget where they left off.
These divisions have the sanction of great antiquity. Homer not only divided his great work into twenty-four books (in compliment perhaps to the twenty-four letters to which he had very particular obligations), but, according to the opinion of some very sagacious critics, hawked them all separately, delivering only one book at a time (probably by subscription). He was the first inventor of the art which hath so long lain dormant, of publishing by numbers; an art now brought to such perfection, that even dictionaries are divided and exhibited piecemeal to the public; nay, one bookseller hath (to encourage learning and ease the public) contrived to give them a dictionary in this divided manner for only fifteen shillings more than it would have cost entire.
Virgil hath given us his poem in twelve books, an argument of his modesty; for by that, doubtless, he would insinuate that he pretends to no more than half the merit of the Greek; for the same reason, our Milton went originally no farther than ten; till, being puffed up by the praise of his friends, he put himself on the same footing with the Roman poet.
I shall not, however, enter so deep into this matter as some very learned criticks have done; who have with infinite labour and acute discernment discovered what books are proper for embellishment, and what require simplicity only, particularly with regard to similes, which I think are now generally agreed to become any book but the first.
I will dismiss this chapter with the following observation: that it becomes an author generally to divide a book, as it does a butcher to joint his meat, for such assistance is of great help to both the reader and the carver. And now, having indulged myself a little, I will endeavour to indulge the curiosity of my reader, who is no doubt impatient to know what he will find in the subsequent chapters of this book.
A surprizing instance of Mr Adams’s short memory, with the unfortunate consequences which it brought on Joseph.
Mr Adams and Joseph were now ready to depart different ways, when an accident determined the former to return with his friend, which Tow-wouse, Barnabas, and the bookseller had not been able to do. This accident was, that those sermons, which the parson was travelling to London to publish, were, O my good reader! left behind; what he had mistaken for them in the saddlebags being no other than three shirts, a pair of shoes, and some other necessaries, which Mrs Adams, who thought her husband would want shirts more than sermons on his journey, had carefully provided him.
This discovery was now luckily owing to the presence of Joseph at the opening the saddlebags; who, having heard his friend say he carried with him nine volumes of sermons, and not being of that sect of philosophers who can reduce all the matter of the world into a nutshell, seeing there was no room for them in the bags, where the parson had said they were deposited, had the curiosity to cry out, “Bless me, sir, where are your sermons?” The parson answered, “There, there, child; there they are, under my shirts.” Now it happened that he had taken forth his last shirt, and the vehicle remained visibly empty. “Sure, sir,” says Joseph, “there is nothing in the bags.” Upon which Adams, starting, and testifying some surprize, cried, “Hey! fie, fie upon it! they are not here sure enough. Ay, they are certainly left behind.”
Joseph was greatly concerned at the uneasiness which he apprehended his friend must feel from this disappointment; he begged him to pursue his journey, and promised he would himself return with the books to him with the utmost expedition. “No, thank you, child,” answered Adams; “it shall not be so. What would it avail me, to tarry in the great city, unless I had my discourses with me, which are ut ita dicam, the sole cause, the aitia monotate of my peregrination? No, child, as this accident hath happened, I am resolved to return back to my cure, together with you; which indeed my inclination sufficiently leads me to. This disappointment may perhaps be intended for my good.” He concluded with a verse out of Theocritus, which signifies no more than that sometimes it rains, and sometimes the sun shines.
Joseph bowed with obedience and thankfulness for the inclination which the parson expressed of returning with him; and now the bill was called for, which, on examination, amounted within a shilling to the sum Mr Adams had in his pocket. Perhaps the reader may wonder how he was able to produce a sufficient sum for so many days: that he may not be surprized, therefore, it cannot be unnecessary to acquaint him that he had borrowed a guinea of a servant belonging to the coach and six, who had been formerly one of his parishioners, and whose master, the owner of the coach, then lived within three miles of him; for so good was the credit of Mr Adams, that even Mr Peter, the Lady Booby’s steward, would have lent him a guinea with very little security.
Mr Adams discharged the bill, and they were both setting out, having agreed to ride and tie; a method of travelling much used by persons who have but one horse between them, and is thus performed. The two travellers set out together, one on horseback, the other on foot: now, as it generally happens that he on horseback outgoes him on foot, the custom is, that, when he arrives at the distance agreed on, he is to dismount, tie the horse to some gate, tree, post, or other thing, and then proceed on foot; when the other comes up to the horse he unties him, mounts, and gallops on, till, having passed by his fellow-traveller, he likewise arrives at the place of tying. And this is that method of travelling so much in use among our prudent ancestors, who knew that horses had mouths as well as legs, and that they could not use the latter without being at the expense of suffering the beasts themselves to use the former. This was the method in use in those days when, instead of a coach and six, a member of parliament’s lady used to mount a pillion behind her husband; and a grave serjeant at law condescended to amble to Westminster on an easy pad, with his clerk kicking his heels behind him.
Adams was now gone some minutes, having insisted on Joseph’s beginning the journey on horseback, and Joseph had his foot in the stirrup, when the hostler presented him a bill for the horse’s board during his residence at the inn. Joseph said Mr Adams had paid all; but this matter, being referred to Mr Tow-wouse, was by him decided in favour of the hostler, and indeed with truth and justice; for this was a fresh instance of that shortness of memory which did not arise from want of parts, but that continual hurry in which parson Adams was always involved.
Joseph was now reduced to a dilemma which extremely puzzled him. The sum due for horse-meat was twelve shillings (for Adams, who had borrowed the beast of his clerk, had ordered him to be fed as well as they could feed him), and the cash in his pocket amounted to sixpence (for Adams had divided the last shilling with him). Now, though there have been some ingenious persons who have contrived to pay twelve shillings with sixpence, Joseph was not one of them. He had never contracted a debt in his life, and was consequently the less ready at an expedient to extricate himself. Tow-wouse was willing to give him credit till next time, to which Mrs Tow-wouse would probably have consented (for such was Joseph’s beauty, that it had made some impression even on that piece of flint which that good woman wore in her bosom by way of heart). Joseph would have found, therefore, very likely the passage free, had he not, when he honestly discovered the nakedness of his pockets, pulled out that little piece of gold which we have mentioned before. This caused Mrs Tow-wouse’s eyes to water; she told Joseph she did not conceive a man could want money whilst he had gold in his pocket. Joseph answered he had such a value for that little piece of gold, that he would not part with it for a hundred times the riches which the greatest esquire in the county was worth. “A pretty way, indeed,” said Mrs Tow-wouse, “to run in debt, and then refuse to part with your money, because you have a value for it! I never knew any piece of gold of more value than as many shillings as it would change for.”—“Not to preserve my life from starving, nor to redeem it from a robber, would I part with this dear piece!” answered Joseph. “What,” says Mrs Tow-wouse, “I suppose it was given you by some vile trollop, some miss or other; if it had been the present of a virtuous woman, you would not have had such a value for it. My husband is a fool if he parts with the horse without being paid for him.”—“No, no, I can’t part with the horse, indeed, till I have the money,” cried Tow-wouse. A resolution highly commended by a lawyer then in the yard, who declared Mr Tow-wouse might justify the detainer.
As we cannot therefore at present get Mr Joseph out of the inn, we shall leave him in it, and carry our reader on after parson Adams, who, his mind being perfectly at ease, fell into a contemplation on a passage in Aeschylus, which entertained him for three miles together, without suffering him once to reflect on his fellow-traveller.
At length, having spun out his thread, and being now at the summit of a hill, he cast his eyes backwards, and wondered that he could not see any sign of Joseph. As he left him ready to mount the horse, he could not apprehend any mischief had happened, neither could he suspect that he missed his way, it being so broad and plain; the only reason which presented itself to him was, that he had met with an acquaintance who had prevailed with him to delay some time in discourse.
He therefore resolved to proceed slowly forwards, not doubting but that he should be shortly overtaken; and soon came to a large water, which, filling the whole road, he saw no method of passing unless by wading through, which he accordingly did up to his middle; but was no sooner got to the other side than he perceived, if he had looked over the hedge, he would have found a footpath capable of conducting him without wetting his shoes.
His surprize at Joseph’s not coming up grew now very troublesome: he began to fear he knew not what; and as he determined to move no farther, and, if he did not shortly overtake him, to return back, he wished to find a house of public entertainment where he might dry his clothes and refresh himself with a pint; but, seeing no such (for no other reason than because he did not cast his eyes a hundred yards forwards), he sat himself down on a stile, and pulled out his Aeschylus.
A fellow passing presently by, Adams asked him if he could direct him to an alehouse. The fellow, who had just left it, and perceived the house and sign to be within sight, thinking he had jeered him, and being of a morose temper, bade him follow his nose and be d—n’d. Adams told him he was a saucy jackanapes; upon which the fellow turned about angrily; but, perceiving Adams clench his fist, he thought proper to go on without taking any farther notice.
A horseman, following immediately after, and being asked the same question, answered, “Friend, there is one within a stone’s throw; I believe you may see it before you.” Adams, lifting up his eyes, cried, “I protest, and so there is;” and, thanking his informer, proceeded directly to it.
The opinion of two lawyers concerning the same gentleman, with Mr Adams’s inquiry into the religion of his host.
He had just entered the house, and called for his pint, and seated himself, when two horsemen came to the door, and, fastening their horses to the rails, alighted. They said there was a violent shower of rain coming on, which they intended to weather there, and went into a little room by themselves, not perceiving Mr Adams.
One of these immediately asked the other, “If he had seen a more comical adventure a great while?” Upon which the other said, “He doubted whether, by law, the landlord could justify detaining the horse for his corn and hay.” But the former answered, “Undoubtedly he can; it is an adjudged case, and I have known it tried.”
Adams, who, though he was, as the reader may suspect, a little inclined to forgetfulness, never wanted more than a hint to remind him, overhearing their discourse, immediately suggested to himself that this was his own horse, and that he had forgot to pay for him, which, upon inquiry, he was certified of by the gentlemen; who added, that the horse was likely to have more rest than food, unless he was paid for.
The poor parson resolved to return presently to the inn, though he knew no more than Joseph how to procure his horse his liberty; he was, however, prevailed on to stay under covert, till the shower, which was now very violent, was over.
The three travellers then sat down together over a mug of good beer; when Adams, who had observed a gentleman’s house as he passed along the road, inquired to whom it belonged; one of the horsemen had no sooner mentioned the owner’s name, than the other began to revile him in the most opprobrious terms. The English language scarce affords a single reproachful word, which he did not vent on this occasion. He charged him likewise with many particular facts. He said, “He no more regarded a field of wheat when he was hunting, than he did the highway; that he had injured several poor farmers by trampling their corn under his horse’s heels; and if any of them begged him with the utmost submission to refrain, his horsewhip was always ready to do them justice.” He said, “That he was the greatest tyrant to the neighbours in every other instance, and would not suffer a farmer to keep a gun, though he might justify it by law; and in his own family so cruel a master, that he never kept a servant a twelvemonth. In his capacity as a justice,” continued he, “he behaves so partially, that he commits or acquits just as he is in the humour, without any regard to truth or evidence; the devil may carry any one before him for me; I would rather be tried before some judges, than be a prosecutor before him: if I had an estate in the neighbourhood, I would sell it for half the value rather than live near him.”
Adams shook his head, and said, “He was sorry such men were suffered to proceed with impunity, and that riches could set any man above the law.” The reviler, a little after, retiring into the yard, the gentleman who had first mentioned his name to Adams began to assure him “that his companion was a prejudiced person. It is true,” says he, “perhaps, that he may have sometimes pursued his game over a field of corn, but he hath always made the party ample satisfaction: that so far from tyrannising over his neighbours, or taking away their guns, he himself knew several farmers not qualified, who not only kept guns, but killed game with them; that he was the best of masters to his servants, and several of them had grown old in his service; that he was the best justice of peace in the kingdom, and, to his certain knowledge, had decided many difficult points, which were referred to him, with the greatest equity and the highest wisdom; and he verily believed, several persons would give a year’s purchase more for an estate near him, than under the wings of any other great man.” He had just finished his encomium when his companion returned and acquainted him the storm was over. Upon which they presently mounted their horses and departed.
Adams, who was in the utmost anxiety at those different characters of the same person, asked his host if he knew the gentleman: for he began to imagine they had by mistake been speaking of two several gentlemen. “No, no, master,” answered the host (a shrewd, cunning fellow); “I know the gentleman very well of whom they have been speaking, as I do the gentlemen who spoke of him. As for riding over other men’s corn, to my knowledge he hath not been on horseback these two years. I never heard he did any injury of that kind; and as to making reparation, he is not so free of his money as that comes to neither. Nor did I ever hear of his taking away any man’s gun; nay, I know several who have guns in their houses; but as for killing game with them, no man is stricter; and I believe he would ruin any who did. You heard one of the gentlemen say he was the worst master in the world, and the other that he is the best; but for my own part, I know all his servants, and never heard from any of them that he was either one or the other.”—“Aye! aye!” says Adams; “and how doth he behave as a justice, pray?”—“Faith, friend,” answered the host, “I question whether he is in the commission; the only cause I have heard he hath decided a great while, was one between those very two persons who just went out of this house; and I am sure he determined that justly, for I heard the whole matter.”— “Which did He decide it in favour of?” quoth Adams.—“I think I need not answer that question,” cried the host, “after the different characters you have heard of him. It is not my business to contradict gentlemen while they are drinking in my house; but I knew neither of them spoke a syllable of truth.”—“God forbid!” said Adams, “that men should arrive at such a pitch of wickedness to belye the character of their neighbour from a little private affection, or, what is infinitely worse, a private spite. I rather believe we have mistaken them, and they mean two other persons; for there are many houses on the road.”—“Why, prithee, friend,” cries the host, “dost thou pretend never to have told a lye in thy life?”—“Never a malicious one, I am certain,” answered Adams, “nor with a design to injure the reputation of any man living.”—“Pugh! malicious; no, no,” replied the host; “not malicious with a design to hang a man, or bring him into trouble; but surely, out of love to oneself, one must speak better of a friend than an enemy.”—“Out of love to yourself, you should confine yourself to truth,” says Adams, “for by doing otherwise you injure the noblest part of yourself, your immortal soul. I can hardly believe any man such an idiot to risque the loss of that by any trifling gain, and the greatest gain in this world is but dirt in comparison of what shall be revealed hereafter.” Upon which the host, taking up the cup, with a smile, drank a health to hereafter; adding, “He was for something present.”—“Why,” says Adams very gravely, “do not you believe another world?” To which the host answered, “Yes; he was no atheist.”—“And you believe you have an immortal soul?” cries Adams. He answered, “God forbid he should not.”—“And heaven and hell?” said the parson. The host then bid him “not to profane; for those were things not to be mentioned nor thought of but in church.” Adams asked him, “Why he went to church, if what he learned there had no influence on his conduct in life?” “I go to church,” answered the host, “to say my prayers and behave godly.”—“And dost not thou,” cried Adams, “believe what thou hearest at church?”—“Most part of it, master,” returned the host. “And dost not thou then tremble,” cries Adams, “at the thought of eternal punishment?”—“As for that, master,” said he, “I never once thought about it; but what signifies talking about matters so far off? The mug is out, shall I draw another?”
Whilst he was going for that purpose, a stage-coach drove up to the door. The coachman coming into the house was asked by the mistress what passengers he had in his coach? “A parcel of squinny-gut b—s,” says he; “I have a good mind to overturn them; you won’t prevail upon them to drink anything, I assure you.” Adams asked him, “If he had not seen a young man on horseback on the road” (describing Joseph). “Aye,” said the coachman, “a gentlewoman in my coach that is his acquaintance redeemed him and his horse; he would have been here before this time, had not the storm driven him to shelter.” “God bless her!” said Adams, in a rapture; nor could he delay walking out to satisfy himself who this charitable woman was; but what was his surprize when he saw his old acquaintance, Madam Slipslop? Hers indeed was not so great, because she had been informed by Joseph that he was on the road. Very civil were the salutations on both sides; and Mrs Slipslop rebuked the hostess for denying the gentleman to be there when she asked for him; but indeed the poor woman had not erred designedly; for Mrs Slipslop asked for a clergyman, and she had unhappily mistaken Adams for a person travelling to a neighbouring fair with the thimble and button, or some other such operation; for he marched in a swinging great but short white coat with black buttons, a short wig, and a hat which, so far from having a black hatband, had nothing black about it.
Joseph was now come up, and Mrs Slipslop would have had him quit his horse to the parson, and come himself into the coach; but he absolutely refused, saying, he thanked Heaven he was well enough recovered to be very able to ride; and added, he hoped he knew his duty better than to ride in a coach while Mr Adams was on horseback.
Mrs Slipslop would have persisted longer, had not a lady in the coach put a short end to the dispute, by refusing to suffer a fellow in a livery to ride in the same coach with herself; so it was at length agreed that Adams should fill the vacant place in the coach, and Joseph should proceed on horseback.
They had not proceeded far before Mrs Slipslop, addressing herself to the parson, spoke thus:—“There hath been a strange alteration in our family, Mr Adams, since Sir Thomas’s death.” “A strange alteration indeed,” says Adams, “as I gather from some hints which have dropped from Joseph.”—“Aye,” says she, “I could never have believed it; but the longer one lives in the world, the more one sees. So Joseph hath given you hints.” “But of what nature will always remain a perfect secret with me,” cries the parson: “he forced me to promise before he would communicate anything. I am indeed concerned to find her ladyship behave in so unbecoming a manner. I always thought her in the main a good lady, and should never have suspected her of thoughts so unworthy a Christian, and with a young lad her own servant.” “These things are no secrets to me, I assure you,” cries Slipslop, “and I believe they will be none anywhere shortly; for ever since the boy’s departure, she hath behaved more like a mad woman than anything else.” “Truly, I am heartily concerned,” says Adams, “for she was a good sort of a lady. Indeed, I have often wished she had attended a little more constantly at the service, but she hath done a great deal of good in the parish.” “O Mr Adams,” says Slipslop, “people that don’t see all, often know nothing. Many things have been given away in our family, I do assure you, without her knowledge. I have heard you say in the pulpit we ought not to brag; but indeed I can’t avoid saying, if she had kept the keys herself, the poor would have wanted many a cordial which I have let them have. As for my late master, he was as worthy a man as ever lived, and would have done infinite good if he had not been controlled; but he loved a quiet life, Heaven rest his soul! I am confident he is there, and enjoys a quiet life, which some folks would not allow him here.”—Adams answered, “He had never heard this before, and was mistaken if she herself (for he remembered she used to commend her mistress and blame her master) had not formerly been of another opinion.” “I don’t know,” replied she, “what I might once think; but now I am confidous matters are as I tell you; the world will shortly see who hath been deceived; for my part, I say nothing, but that it is wondersome how some people can carry all things with a grave face.”
Thus Mr Adams and she discoursed, till they came opposite to a great house which stood at some distance from the road: a lady in the coach, spying it, cried, “Yonder lives the unfortunate Leonora, if one can justly call a woman unfortunate whom we must own at the same time guilty and the author of her own calamity.” This was abundantly sufficient to awaken the curiosity of Mr Adams, as indeed it did that of the whole company, who jointly solicited the lady to acquaint them with Leonora’s history, since it seemed, by what she had said, to contain something remarkable.
The lady, who was perfectly well-bred, did not require many entreaties, and having only wished their entertainment might make amends for the company’s attention, she began in the following manner.
The history of Leonora, or the unfortunate jilt.
Leonora was the daughter of a gentleman of fortune; she was tall and well-shaped, with a sprightliness in her countenance which often attracts beyond more regular features joined with an insipid air: nor is this kind of beauty less apt to deceive than allure; the good humour which it indicates being often mistaken for good nature, and the vivacity for true understanding.
Leonora, who was now at the age of eighteen, lived with an aunt of hers in a town in the north of England. She was an extreme lover of gaiety, and very rarely missed a ball or any other public assembly; where she had frequent opportunities of satisfying a greedy appetite of vanity, with the preference which was given her by the men to almost every other woman present.
Among many young fellows who were particular in their gallantries towards her, Horatio soon distinguished himself in her eyes beyond all his competitors; she danced with more than ordinary gaiety when he happened to be her partner; neither the fairness of the evening, nor the musick of the nightingale, could lengthen her walk like his company. She affected no longer to understand the civilities of others; whilst she inclined so attentive an ear to every compliment of Horatio, that she often smiled even when it was too delicate for her comprehension.
“Pray, madam,” says Adams, “who was this squire Horatio?”
Horatio, says the lady, was a young gentleman of a good family, bred to the law, and had been some few years called to the degree of a barrister. His face and person were such as the generality allowed handsome; but he had a dignity in his air very rarely to be seen. His temper was of the saturnine complexion, and without the least taint of moroseness. He had wit and humour, with an inclination to satire, which he indulged rather too much.
This gentleman, who had contracted the most violent passion for Leonora, was the last person who perceived the probability of its success. The whole town had made the match for him before he himself had drawn a confidence from her actions sufficient to mention his passion to her; for it was his opinion (and perhaps he was there in the right) that it is highly impolitick to talk seriously of love to a woman before you have made such a progress in her affections, that she herself expects and desires to hear it.
But whatever diffidence the fears of a lover may create, which are apt to magnify every favour conferred on a rival, and to see the little advances towards themselves through the other end of the perspective, it was impossible that Horatio’s passion should so blind his discernment as to prevent his conceiving hopes from the behaviour of Leonora, whose fondness for him was now as visible to an indifferent person in their company as his for her.
“I never knew any of these forward sluts come to good” (says the lady who refused Joseph’s entrance into the coach), “nor shall I wonder at anything she doth in the sequel.”
The lady proceeded in her story thus: It was in the midst of a gay conversation in the walks one evening, when Horatio whispered Leonora, that he was desirous to take a turn or two with her in private, for that he had something to communicate to her of great consequence. “Are you sure it is of consequence?” said she, smiling. “I hope,” answered he, “you will think so too, since the whole future happiness of my life must depend on the event.”
Leonora, who very much suspected what was coming, would have deferred it till another time; but Horatio, who had more than half conquered the difficulty of speaking by the first motion, was so very importunate, that she at last yielded, and, leaving the rest of the company, they turned aside into an unfrequented walk.
They had retired far out of the sight of the company, both maintaining a strict silence. At last Horatio made a full stop, and taking Leonora, who stood pale and trembling, gently by the hand, he fetched a deep sigh, and then, looking on her eyes with all the tenderness imaginable, he cried out in a faltering accent, “O Leonora! is it necessary for me to declare to you on what the future happiness of my life must be founded? Must I say there is something belonging to you which is a bar to my happiness, and which unless you will part with, I must be miserable!”—“What can that be?” replied Leonora. “No wonder,” said he, “you are surprized that I should make an objection to anything which is yours: yet sure you may guess, since it is the only one which the riches of the world, if they were mine, should purchase for me. Oh, it is that which you must part with to bestow all the rest! Can Leonora, or rather will she, doubt longer? Let me then whisper it in her ears—It is your name, madam. It is by parting with that, by your condescension to be for ever mine, which must at once prevent me from being the most miserable, and will render me the happiest of mankind.”
Leonora, covered with blushes, and with as angry a look as she could possibly put on, told him, “That had she suspected what his declaration would have been, he should not have decoyed her from her company, that he had so surprized and frighted her, that she begged him to convey her back as quick as possible;” which he, trembling very near as much as herself, did.
“More fool he,” cried Slipslop; “it is a sign he knew very little of our sect.”— “Truly, madam,” said Adams, “I think you are in the right: I should have insisted to know a piece of her mind, when I had carried matters so far.” But Mrs Grave-airs desired the lady to omit all such fulsome stuff in her story, for that it made her sick.
Well then, madam, to be as concise as possible, said the lady, many weeks had not passed after this interview before Horatio and Leonora were what they call on a good footing together. All ceremonies except the last were now over; the writings were now drawn, and everything was in the utmost forwardness preparative to the putting Horatio in possession of all his wishes. I will, if you please, repeat you a letter from each of them, which I have got by heart, and which will give you no small idea of their passion on both sides.
Mrs Grave-airs objected to hearing these letters; but being put to the vote, it was carried against her by all the rest in the coach; parson Adams contending for it with the utmost vehemence.
HORATIO TO LEONORA.
“How vain, most adorable creature, is the pursuit of pleasure in the absence of an object to which the mind is entirely devoted, unless it have some relation to that object! I was last night condemned to the society of men of wit and learning, which, however agreeable it might have formerly been to me, now only gave me a suspicion that they imputed my absence in conversation to the true cause. For which reason, when your engagements forbid me the ecstatic happiness of seeing you, I am always desirous to be alone; since my sentiments for Leonora are so delicate, that I cannot bear the apprehension of another’s prying into those delightful endearments with which the warm imagination of a lover will sometimes indulge him, and which I suspect my eyes then betray. To fear this discovery of our thoughts may perhaps appear too ridiculous a nicety to minds not susceptible of all the tendernesses of this delicate passion. And surely we shall suspect there are few such, when we consider that it requires every human virtue to exert itself in its full extent; since the beloved, whose happiness it ultimately respects, may give us charming opportunities of being brave in her defence, generous to her wants, compassionate to her afflictions, grateful to her kindness; and in the same manner, of exercising every other virtue, which he who would not do to any degree, and that with the utmost rapture, can never deserve the name of a lover. It is, therefore, with a view to the delicate modesty of your mind that I cultivate it so purely in my own; and it is that which will sufficiently suggest to you the uneasiness I bear from those liberties, which men to whom the world allow politeness will sometimes give themselves on these occasions.
“Can I tell you with what eagerness I expect the arrival of that blest day, when I shall experience the falsehood of a common assertion, that the greatest human happiness consists in hope? A doctrine which no person had ever stronger reason to believe than myself at present, since none ever tasted such bliss as fires my bosom with the thoughts of spending my future days with such a companion, and that every action of my life will have the glorious satisfaction of conducing to your happiness.”
LEONORA TO HORATIO.
“The refinement of your mind has been so evidently proved by every word and action ever since I had the first pleasure of knowing you, that I thought it impossible my good opinion of Horatio could have been heightened to any additional proof of merit. This very thought was my amusement when I received your last letter, which, when I opened, I confess I was surprized to find the delicate sentiments expressed there so far exceeding what I thought could come even from you (although I know all the generous principles human nature is capable of are centred in your breast), that words cannot paint what I feel on the reflection that my happiness shall be the ultimate end of all your actions.
“Oh, Horatio! what a life must that be, where the meanest domestic cares are sweetened by the pleasing consideration that the man on earth who best deserves, and to whom you are most inclined to give your affections, is to reap either profit or pleasure from all you do! In such a case toils must be turned into diversions, and nothing but the unavoidable inconveniences of life can make us remember that we are mortal.
“If the solitary turn of your thoughts, and the desire of keeping them undiscovered, makes even the conversation of men of wit and learning tedious to you, what anxious hours must I spend, who am condemned by custom to the conversation of women, whose natural curiosity leads them to pry into all my thoughts, and whose envy can never suffer Horatio’s heart to be possessed by any one, without forcing them into malicious designs against the person who is so happy as to possess it! But, indeed, if ever envy can possibly have any excuse, or even alleviation, it is in this case, where the good is so great, and it must be equally natural to all to wish it for themselves; nor am I ashamed to own it: and to your merit, Horatio, I am obliged, that prevents my being in that most uneasy of all the situations I can figure in my imagination, of being led by inclination to love the person whom my own judgment forces me to condemn.”
Matters were in so great forwardness between this fond couple, that the day was fixed for their marriage, and was now within a fortnight, when the sessions chanced to be held for that county in a town about twenty miles’ distance from that which is the scene of our story. It seems, it is usual for the young gentlemen of the bar to repair to these sessions, not so much for the sake of profit as to show their parts and learn the law of the justices of peace; for which purpose one of the wisest and gravest of all the justices is appointed speaker, or chairman, as they modestly call it, and he reads them a lecture, and instructs them in the true knowledge of the law.
“You are here guilty of a little mistake,” says Adams, “which, if you please, I will correct: I have attended at one of these quarter-sessions, where I observed the counsel taught the justices, instead of learning anything of them.”
It is not very material, said the lady. Hither repaired Horatio, who, as he hoped by his profession to advance his fortune, which was not at present very large, for the sake of his dear Leonora, he resolved to spare no pains, nor lose any opportunity of improving or advancing himself in it.
The same afternoon in which he left the town, as Leonora stood at her window, a coach and six passed by, which she declared to be the completest, genteelest, prettiest equipage she ever saw; adding these remarkable words, “Oh, I am in love with that equipage!” which, though her friend Florella at that time did not greatly regard, she hath since remembered.
In the evening an assembly was held, which Leonora honoured with her company; but intended to pay her dear Horatio the compliment of refusing to dance in his absence.
Oh, why have not women as good resolution to maintain their vows as they have often good inclinations in making them!
The gentleman who owned the coach and six came to the assembly. His clothes were as remarkably fine as his equipage could be. He soon attracted the eyes of the company; all the smarts, all the silk waistcoats with silver and gold edgings, were eclipsed in an instant.
“Madam,” said Adams, “if it be not impertinent, I should be glad to know how this gentleman was drest.”
Sir, answered the lady, I have been told he had on a cut velvet coat of a cinnamon colour, lined with a pink satten, embroidered all over with gold; his waistcoat, which was cloth of silver, was embroidered with gold likewise. I cannot be particular as to the rest of his dress; but it was all in the French fashion, for Bellarmine (that was his name) was just arrived from Paris.
This fine figure did not more entirely engage the eyes of every lady in the assembly than Leonora did his. He had scarce beheld her, but he stood motionless and fixed as a statue, or at least would have done so if good breeding had permitted him. However, he carried it so far before he had power to correct himself, that every person in the room easily discovered where his admiration was settled. The other ladies began to single out their former partners, all perceiving who would be Bellarmine’s choice; which they however endeavoured, by all possible means, to prevent: many of them saying to Leonora, “O madam! I suppose we shan’t have the pleasure of seeing you dance to-night;” and then crying out, in Bellarmine’s hearing, “Oh! Leonora will not dance, I assure you: her partner is not here.” One maliciously attempted to prevent her, by sending a disagreeable fellow to ask her, that so she might be obliged either to dance with him, or sit down; but this scheme proved abortive.
Leonora saw herself admired by the fine stranger, and envied by every woman present. Her little heart began to flutter within her, and her head was agitated with a convulsive motion: she seemed as if she would speak to several of her acquaintance, but had nothing to say; for, as she would not mention her present triumph, so she could not disengage her thoughts one moment from the contemplation of it. She had never tasted anything like this happiness. She had before known what it was to torment a single woman; but to be hated and secretly cursed by a whole assembly was a joy reserved for this blessed moment. As this vast profusion of ecstasy had confounded her understanding, so there was nothing so foolish as her behaviour: she played a thousand childish tricks, distorted her person into several shapes, and her face into several laughs, without any reason. In a word, her carriage was as absurd as her desires, which were to affect an insensibility of the stranger’s admiration, and at the same time a triumph, from that admiration, over every woman in the room.
In this temper of mind, Bellarmine, having inquired who she was, advanced to her, and with a low bow begged the honour of dancing with her, which she, with as low a curtesy, immediately granted. She danced with him all night, and enjoyed, perhaps, the highest pleasure that she was capable of feeling.
At these words, Adams fetched a deep groan, which frighted the ladies, who told him, “They hoped he was not ill.” He answered, “He groaned only for the folly of Leonora.”
Leonora retired (continued the lady) about six in the morning, but not to rest. She tumbled and tossed in her bed, with very short intervals of sleep, and those entirely filled with dreams of the equipage and fine clothes she had seen, and the balls, operas, and ridottos, which had been the subject of their conversation.
In the afternoon, Bellarmine, in the dear coach and six, came to wait on her. He was indeed charmed with her person, and was, on inquiry, so well pleased with the circumstances of her father (for he himself, notwithstanding all his finery, was not quite so rich as a Croesus or an Attalus).—“Attalus,” says Mr. Adams: “but pray how came you acquainted with these names?” The lady smiled at the question, and proceeded. He was so pleased, I say, that he resolved to make his addresses to her directly. He did so accordingly, and that with so much warmth and briskness, that he quickly baffled her weak repulses, and obliged the lady to refer him to her father, who, she knew, would quickly declare in favour of a coach and six.
Thus what Horatio had by sighs and tears, love and tenderness, been so long obtaining, the French-English Bellarmine with gaiety and gallantry possessed himself of in an instant. In other words, what modesty had employed a full year in raising, impudence demolished in twenty-four hours.
Here Adams groaned a second time; but the ladies, who began to smoke him, took no notice.
From the opening of the assembly till the end of Bellarmine’s visit, Leonora had scarce once thought of Horatio; but he now began, though an unwelcome guest, to enter into her mind. She wished she had seen the charming Bellarmine and his charming equipage before matters had gone so far. “Yet why,” says she, “should I wish to have seen him before; or what signifies it that I have seen him now? Is not Horatio my lover, almost my husband? Is he not as handsome, nay handsomer than Bellarmine? Aye, but Bellarmine is the genteeler, and the finer man; yes, that he must be allowed. Yes, yes, he is that certainly. But did not I, no longer ago than yesterday, love Horatio more than all the world? Aye, but yesterday I had not seen Bellarmine. But doth not Horatio doat on me, and may he not in despair break his heart if I abandon him? Well, and hath not Bellarmine a heart to break too? Yes, but I promised Horatio first; but that was poor Bellarmine’s misfortune; if I had seen him first, I should certainly have preferred him. Did not the dear creature prefer me to every woman in the assembly, when every she was laying out for him? When was it in Horatio’s power to give me such an instance of affection? Can he give me an equipage, or any of those things which Bellarmine will make me mistress of? How vast is the difference between being the wife of a poor counsellor and the wife of one of Bellarmine’s fortune! If I marry Horatio, I shall triumph over no more than one rival; but by marrying Bellarmine, I shall be the envy of all my acquaintance. What happiness! But can I suffer Horatio to die? for he hath sworn he cannot survive my loss: but perhaps he may not die: if he should, can I prevent it? Must I sacrifice myself to him? besides, Bellarmine may be as miserable for me too.” She was thus arguing with herself, when some young ladies called her to the walks, and a little relieved her anxiety for the present.
The next morning Bellarmine breakfasted with her in presence of her aunt, whom he sufficiently informed of his passion for Leonora. He was no sooner withdrawn than the old lady began to advise her niece on this occasion. “You see, child,” says she, “what fortune hath thrown in your way; and I hope you will not withstand your own preferment.” Leonora, sighing, begged her not to mention any such thing, when she knew her engagements to Horatio. “Engagements to a fig!” cried the aunt; “you should thank Heaven on your knees that you have it yet in your power to break them. Will any woman hesitate a moment whether she shall ride in a coach or walk on foot all the days of her life? But Bellarmine drives six, and Horatio not even a pair.”—“Yes, but, madam, what will the world say?” answered Leonora: “will not they condemn me?”—“The world is always on the side of prudence,” cries the aunt, “and would surely condemn you if you sacrificed your interest to any motive whatever. Oh! I know the world very well; and you shew your ignorance, my dear, by your objection. O’ my conscience! the world is wiser. I have lived longer in it than you; and I assure you there is not anything worth our regard besides money; nor did I ever know one person who married from other considerations, who did not afterwards heartily repent it. Besides, if we examine the two men, can you prefer a sneaking fellow, who hath been bred at the university, to a fine gentleman just come from his travels. All the world must allow Bellarmine to be a fine gentleman, positively a fine gentleman, and a handsome man.”—“Perhaps, madam, I should not doubt, if I knew how to be handsomely off with the other.”—“Oh! leave that to me,” says the aunt. “You know your father hath not been acquainted with the affair. Indeed, for my part I thought it might do well enough, not dreaming of such an offer; but I’ll disengage you: leave me to give the fellow an answer. I warrant you shall have no farther trouble.”
Leonora was at length satisfied with her aunt’s reasoning; and Bellarmine supping with her that evening, it was agreed he should the next morning go to her father and propose the match, which she consented should be consummated at his return.
The aunt retired soon after supper; and, the lovers being left together, Bellarmine began in the following manner: “Yes, madam; this coat, I assure you, was made at Paris, and I defy the best English taylor even to imitate it. There is not one of them can cut, madam; they can’t cut. If you observe how this skirt is turned, and this sleeve: a clumsy English rascal can do nothing like it. Pray, how do you like my liveries?” Leonora answered, “She thought them very pretty.”—“All French,” says he, “I assure you, except the greatcoats; I never trust anything more than a greatcoat to an Englishman. You know one must encourage our own people what one can, especially as, before I had a place, I was in the country interest, he, he, he! But for myself, I would see the dirty island at the bottom of the sea, rather than wear a single rag of English work about me: and I am sure, after you have made one tour to Paris, you will be of the same opinion with regard to your own clothes. You can’t conceive what an addition a French dress would be to your beauty; I positively assure you, at the first opera I saw since I came over, I mistook the English ladies for chambermaids, he, he, he!”
With such sort of polite discourse did the gay Bellarmine entertain his beloved Leonora, when the door opened on a sudden, and Horatio entered the room. Here ’tis impossible to express the surprize of Leonora.
“Poor woman!” says Mrs Slipslop, “what a terrible quandary she must be in!”— “Not at all,” says Mrs Grave-airs; “such sluts can never be confounded.”—“She must have then more than Corinthian assurance,” said Adams; “aye, more than Lais herself.”
A long silence, continued the lady, prevailed in the whole company. If the familiar entrance of Horatio struck the greatest astonishment into Bellarmine, the unexpected presence of Bellarmine no less surprized Horatio. At length Leonora, collecting all the spirit she was mistress of, addressed herself to the latter, and pretended to wonder at the reason of so late a visit. “I should indeed,” answered he, “have made some apology for disturbing you at this hour, had not my finding you in company assured me I do not break in upon your repose.” Bellarmine rose from his chair, traversed the room in a minuet step, and hummed an opera tune, while Horatio, advancing to Leonora, asked her in a whisper if that gentleman was not a relation of hers; to which she answered with a smile, or rather sneer, “No, he is no relation of mine yet;” adding, “she could not guess the meaning of his question.” Horatio told her softly, “It did not arise from jealousy.”—“Jealousy! I assure you, it would be very strange in a common acquaintance to give himself any of those airs.” These words a little surprized Horatio; but, before he had time to answer, Bellarmine danced up to the lady and told her, “He feared he interrupted some business between her and the gentleman.”—“I can have no business,” said she, “with the gentleman, nor any other, which need be any secret to you.”
“You’ll pardon me,” said Horatio, “if I desire to know who this gentleman is who is to be entrusted with all our secrets.”—“You’ll know soon enough,” cries Leonora; “but I can’t guess what secrets can ever pass between us of such mighty consequence.”—“No, madam!” cries Horatio; “I am sure you would not have me understand you in earnest.”—“’Tis indifferent to me,” says she, “how you understand me; but I think so unseasonable a visit is difficult to be understood at all, at least when people find one engaged: though one’s servants do not deny one, one may expect a well-bred person should soon take the hint.” “Madam,” said Horatio, “I did not imagine any engagement with a stranger, as it seems this gentleman is, would have made my visit impertinent, or that any such ceremonies were to be preserved between persons in our situation.” “Sure you are in a dream,” says she, “or would persuade me that I am in one. I know no pretensions a common acquaintance can have to lay aside the ceremonies of good breeding.” “Sure,” said he, “I am in a dream; for it is impossible I should be really esteemed a common acquaintance by Leonora, after what has passed between us?” “Passed between us! Do you intend to affront me before this gentleman?” “D—n me, affront the lady,” says Bellarmine, cocking his hat, and strutting up to Horatio: “does any man dare affront this lady before me, d—n me?” “Hark’ee, sir,” says Horatio, “I would advise you to lay aside that fierce air; for I am mightily deceived if this lady has not a violent desire to get your worship a good drubbing.” “Sir,” said Bellarmine, “I have the honour to be her protector; and, d—n me, if I understand your meaning.” “Sir,” answered Horatio, “she is rather your protectress; but give yourself no more airs, for you see I am prepared for you” (shaking his whip at him). “Oh! serviteur tres humble,” says Bellarmine: “Je vous entend parfaitment bien.” At which time the aunt, who had heard of Horatio’s visit, entered the room, and soon satisfied all his doubts. She convinced him that he was never more awake in his life, and that nothing more extraordinary had happened in his three days’ absence than a small alteration in the affections of Leonora; who now burst into tears, and wondered what reason she had given him to use her in so barbarous a manner. Horatio desired Bellarmine to withdraw with him; but the ladies prevented it by laying violent hands on the latter; upon which the former took his leave without any great ceremony, and departed, leaving the lady with his rival to consult for his safety, which Leonora feared her indiscretion might have endangered; but the aunt comforted her with assurances that Horatio would not venture his person against so accomplished a cavalier as Bellarmine, and that, being a lawyer, he would seek revenge in his own way, and the most they had to apprehend from him was an action.
They at length therefore agreed to permit Bellarmine to retire to his lodgings, having first settled all matters relating to the journey which he was to undertake in the morning, and their preparations for the nuptials at his return.
But, alas! as wise men have observed, the seat of valour is not the countenance; and many a grave and plain man will, on a just provocation, betake himself to that mischievous metal, cold iron; while men of a fiercer brow, and sometimes with that emblem of courage, a cockade, will more prudently decline it.
Leonora was waked in the morning, from a visionary coach and six, with the dismal account that Bellarmine was run through the body by Horatio; that he lay languishing at an inn, and the surgeons had declared the wound mortal. She immediately leaped out of the bed, danced about the room in a frantic manner, tore her hair and beat her breast in all the agonies of despair; in which sad condition her aunt, who likewise arose at the news, found her. The good old lady applied her utmost art to comfort her niece. She told her, “While there was life there was hope; but that if he should die her affliction would be of no service to Bellarmine, and would only expose herself, which might, probably, keep her some time without any future offer; that, as matters had happened, her wisest way would be to think no more of Bellarmine, but to endeavour to regain the affections of Horatio.” “Speak not to me,” cried the disconsolate Leonora; “is it not owing to me that poor Bellarmine has lost his life? Have not these cursed charms (at which words she looked steadfastly in the glass) been the ruin of the most charming man of this age? Can I ever bear to contemplate my own face again (with her eyes still fixed on the glass)? Am I not the murderess of the finest gentleman? No other woman in the town could have made any impression on him.” “Never think of things past,” cries the aunt: “think of regaining the affections of Horatio.” “What reason,” said the niece, “have I to hope he would forgive me? No, I have lost him as well as the other, and it was your wicked advice which was the occasion of all; you seduced me, contrary to my inclinations, to abandon poor Horatio (at which words she burst into tears); you prevailed upon me, whether I would or no, to give up my affections for him; had it not been for you, Bellarmine never would have entered into my thoughts; had not his addresses been backed by your persuasions, they never would have made any impression on me; I should have defied all the fortune and equipage in the world; but it was you, it was you, who got the better of my youth and simplicity, and forced me to lose my dear Horatio for ever.”
The aunt was almost borne down with this torrent of words; she, however, rallied all the strength she could, and, drawing her mouth up in a purse, began: “I am not surprized, niece, at this ingratitude. Those who advise young women for their interest, must always expect such a return: I am convinced my brother will thank me for breaking off your match with Horatio, at any rate.”—“That may not be in your power yet,” answered Leonora, “though it is very ungrateful in you to desire or attempt it, after the presents you have received from him.” (For indeed true it is, that many presents, and some pretty valuable ones, had passed from Horatio to the old lady; but as true it is, that Bellarmine, when he breakfasted with her and her niece, had complimented her with a brilliant from his finger, of much greater value than all she had touched of the other.)
The aunt’s gall was on float to reply, when a servant brought a letter into the room, which Leonora, hearing it came from Bellarmine, with great eagerness opened, and read as follows:—
“MOST DIVINE CREATURE,—The wound which I fear you have heard I received from my rival is not like to be so fatal as those shot into my heart which have been fired from your eyes, tout brilliant. Those are the only cannons by which I am to fall; for my surgeon gives me hopes of being soon able to attend your ruelle; till when, unless you would do me an honour which I have scarce the hardiesse to think of, your absence will be the greatest anguish which can be felt by,
“Avec toute le respecte in the world,
“Your most obedient, most absolute Devote,
As soon as Leonora perceived such hopes of Bellarmine’s recovery, and that the gossip Fame had, according to custom, so enlarged his danger, she presently abandoned all further thoughts of Horatio, and was soon reconciled to her aunt, who received her again into favour, with a more Christian forgiveness than we generally meet with. Indeed, it is possible she might be a little alarmed at the hints which her niece had given her concerning the presents. She might apprehend such rumours, should they get abroad, might injure a reputation which, by frequenting church twice a day, and preserving the utmost rigour and strictness in her countenance and behaviour for many years, she had established.
Leonora’s passion returned now for Bellarmine with greater force, after its small relaxation, than ever. She proposed to her aunt to make him a visit in his confinement, which the old lady, with great and commendable prudence, advised her to decline: “For,” says she, “should any accident intervene to prevent your intended match, too forward a behaviour with this lover may injure you in the eyes of others. Every woman, till she is married, ought to consider of, and provide against, the possibility of the affair’s breaking off.” Leonora said, “She should be indifferent to whatever might happen in such a case; for she had now so absolutely placed her affections on this dear man (so she called him), that, if it was her misfortune to lose him, she should for ever abandon all thoughts of mankind.” She, therefore, resolved to visit him, notwithstanding all the prudent advice of her aunt to the contrary, and that very afternoon executed her resolution.
The lady was proceeding in her story, when the coach drove into the inn where the company were to dine, sorely to the dissatisfaction of Mr Adams, whose ears were the most hungry part about him; he being, as the reader may perhaps guess, of an insatiable curiosity, and heartily desirous of hearing the end of this amour, though he professed he could scarce wish success to a lady of so inconstant a disposition.
A dreadful quarrel which happened at the Inn where the company dined, with its bloody consequences to Mr Adams.
As soon as the passengers had alighted from the coach, Mr Adams, as was his custom, made directly to the kitchen, where he found Joseph sitting by the fire, and the hostess anointing his leg; for the horse which Mr Adams had borrowed of his clerk had so violent a propensity to kneeling, that one would have thought it had been his trade, as well as his master’s; nor would he always give any notice of such his intention; he was often found on his knees when the rider least expected it. This foible, however, was of no great inconvenience to the parson, who was accustomed to it; and, as his legs almost touched the ground when he bestrode the beast, had but a little way to fall, and threw himself forward on such occasions with so much dexterity that he never received any mischief; the horse and he frequently rolling many paces’ distance, and afterwards both getting up and meeting as good friends as ever.
Poor Joseph, who had not been used to such kind of cattle, though an excellent horseman, did not so happily disengage himself; but, falling with his leg under the beast, received a violent contusion, to which the good woman was, as we have said, applying a warm hand, with some camphorated spirits, just at the time when the parson entered the kitchen.
He had scarce expressed his concern for Joseph’s misfortune before the host likewise entered. He was by no means of Mr Tow-wouse’s gentle disposition; and was, indeed, perfect master of his house, and everything in it but his guests.
This surly fellow, who always proportioned his respect to the appearance of a traveller, from “God bless your honour,” down to plain “Coming presently,” observing his wife on her knees to a footman, cried out, without considering his circumstances, “What a pox is the woman about? why don’t you mind the company in the coach? Go and ask them what they will have for dinner.” “My dear,” says she, “you know they can have nothing but what is at the fire, which will be ready presently; and really the poor young man’s leg is very much bruised.” At which words she fell to chafing more violently than before: the bell then happening to ring, he damn’d his wife, and bid her go in to the company, and not stand rubbing there all day, for he did not believe the young fellow’s leg was so bad as he pretended; and if it was, within twenty miles he would find a surgeon to cut it off. Upon these words, Adams fetched two strides across the room; and snapping his fingers over his head, muttered aloud, He would excommunicate such a wretch for a farthing, for he believed the devil had more humanity. These words occasioned a dialogue between Adams and the host, in which there were two or three sharp replies, till Joseph bad the latter know how to behave himself to his betters. At which the host (having first strictly surveyed Adams) scornfully repeating the word “betters,” flew into a rage, and, telling Joseph he was as able to walk out of his house as he had been to walk into it, offered to lay violent hands on him; which perceiving, Adams dealt him so sound a compliment over his face with his fist, that the blood immediately gushed out of his nose in a stream. The host, being unwilling to be outdone in courtesy, especially by a person of Adams’s figure, returned the favour with so much gratitude, that the parson’s nostrils began to look a little redder than usual. Upon which he again assailed his antagonist, and with another stroke laid him sprawling on the floor.
The hostess, who was a better wife than so surly a husband deserved, seeing her husband all bloody and stretched along, hastened presently to his assistance, or rather to revenge the blow, which, to all appearance, was the last he would ever receive; when, lo! a pan full of hog’s blood, which unluckily stood on the dresser, presented itself first to her hands. She seized it in her fury, and without any reflection, discharged it into the parson’s face; and with so good an aim, that much the greater part first saluted his countenance, and trickled thence in so large a current down to his beard, and over his garments, that a more horrible spectacle was hardly to be seen, or even imagined. All which was perceived by Mrs Slipslop, who entered the kitchen at that instant. This good gentlewoman, not being of a temper so extremely cool and patient as perhaps was required to ask many questions on this occasion, flew with great impetuosity at the hostess’s cap, which, together with some of her hair, she plucked from her head in a moment, giving her, at the same time, several hearty cuffs in the face; which by frequent practice on the inferior servants, she had learned an excellent knack of delivering with a good grace. Poor Joseph could hardly rise from his chair; the parson was employed in wiping the blood from his eyes, which had entirely blinded him; and the landlord was but just beginning to stir; whilst Mrs Slipslop, holding down the landlady’s face with her left hand, made so dexterous an use of her right, that the poor woman began to roar, in a key which alarmed all the company in the inn.
There happened to be in the inn, at this time, besides the ladies who arrived in the stage-coach, the two gentlemen who were present at Mr Tow-wouse’s when Joseph was detained for his horse’s meat, and whom we have before mentioned to have stopt at the alehouse with Adams. There was likewise a gentleman just returned from his travels to Italy; all whom the horrid outcry of murder presently brought into the kitchen, where the several combatants were found in the postures already described.
It was now no difficulty to put an end to the fray, the conquerors being satisfied with the vengeance they had taken, and the conquered having no appetite to renew the fight. The principal figure, and which engaged the eyes of all, was Adams, who was all over covered with blood, which the whole company concluded to be his own, and consequently imagined him no longer for this world. But the host, who had now recovered from his blow, and was risen from the ground, soon delivered them from this apprehension, by damning his wife for wasting the hog’s puddings, and telling her all would have been very well if she had not intermeddled, like a b—as she was; adding, he was very glad the gentlewoman had paid her, though not half what she deserved. The poor woman had indeed fared much the worst; having, besides the unmerciful cuffs received, lost a quantity of hair, which Mrs Slipslop in triumph held in her left hand.
The traveller, addressing himself to Mrs Grave-airs, desired her not to be frightened; for here had been only a little boxing, which he said, to their disgracia, the English were accustomata to: adding, it must be, however, a sight somewhat strange to him, who was just come from Italy; the Italians not being addicted to the cuffardo but bastonza, says he. He then went up to Adams, and telling him he looked like the ghost of Othello, bid him not shake his gory locks at him, for he could not say he did it. Adams very innocently answered, “Sir, I am far from accusing you.” He then returned to the lady, and cried, “I find the bloody gentleman is uno insipido del nullo senso. Dammato di me, if I have seen such a spectaculo in my way from Viterbo.”
One of the gentlemen having learnt from the host the occasion of this bustle, and being assured by him that Adams had struck the first blow, whispered in his ear, “He’d warrant he would recover.”—“Recover! master,” said the host, smiling: “yes, yes, I am not afraid of dying with a blow or two neither; I am not such a chicken as that.”—“Pugh!” said the gentleman, “I mean you will recover damages in that action which, undoubtedly, you intend to bring, as soon as a writ can be returned from London; for you look like a man of too much spirit and courage to suffer any one to beat you without bringing your action against him: he must be a scandalous fellow indeed who would put up with a drubbing whilst the law is open to revenge it; besides, he hath drawn blood from you, and spoiled your coat; and the jury will give damages for that too. An excellent new coat upon my word; and now not worth a shilling! I don’t care,” continued he, “to intermeddle in these cases; but you have a right to my evidence; and if I am sworn, I must speak the truth. I saw you sprawling on the floor, and blood gushing from your nostrils. You may take your own opinion; but was I in your circumstances, every drop of my blood should convey an ounce of gold into my pocket: remember I don’t advise you to go to law; but if your jury were Christians, they must give swinging damages. That’s all.”—“Master,” cried the host, scratching his head, “I have no stomach to law, I thank you. I have seen enough of that in the parish, where two of my neighbours have been at law about a house, till they have both lawed themselves into a gaol.” At which words he turned about, and began to inquire again after his hog’s puddings; nor would it probably have been a sufficient excuse for his wife, that she spilt them in his defence, had not some awe of the company, especially of the Italian traveller, who was a person of great dignity, withheld his rage.
Whilst one of the above-mentioned gentlemen was employed, as we have seen him, on the behalf of the landlord, the other was no less hearty on the side of Mr Adams, whom he advised to bring his action immediately. He said the assault of the wife was in law the assault of the husband, for they were but one person; and he was liable to pay damages, which he said must be considerable, where so bloody a disposition appeared. Adams answered, If it was true that they were but one person, he had assaulted the wife; for he was sorry to own he had struck the husband the first blow. “I am sorry you own it too,” cries the gentleman; “for it could not possibly appear to the court; for here was no evidence present but the lame man in the chair, whom I suppose to be your friend, and would consequently say nothing but what made for you.”—“How, sir,” says Adams, “do you take me for a villain, who would prosecute revenge in cold blood, and use unjustifiable means to obtain it? If you knew me, and my order, I should think you affronted both.” At the word order, the gentleman stared (for he was too bloody to be of any modern order of knights); and, turning hastily about, said, “Every man knew his own business.”
Matters being now composed, the company retired to their several apartments; the two gentlemen congratulating each other on the success of their good offices in procuring a perfect reconciliation between the contending parties; and the traveller went to his repast, crying, “As the Italian poet says—
‘Je voi very well que tutta e pace,
So send up dinner, good Boniface.’”
The coachman began now to grow importunate with his passengers, whose entrance into the coach was retarded by Miss Grave-airs insisting, against the remonstrance of all the rest, that she would not admit a footman into the coach; for poor Joseph was too lame to mount a horse. A young lady, who was, as it seems, an earl’s grand-daughter, begged it with almost tears in her eyes. Mr Adams prayed, and Mrs Slipslop scolded; but all to no purpose. She said, “She would not demean herself to ride with a footman: that there were waggons on the road: that if the master of the coach desired it, she would pay for two places; but would suffer no such fellow to come in.”—“Madam,” says Slipslop, “I am sure no one can refuse another coming into a stage-coach.”—“I don’t know, madam,” says the lady; “I am not much used to stage-coaches; I seldom travel in them.”—“That may be, madam,” replied Slipslop; “very good people do; and some people’s betters, for aught I know.” Miss Grave-airs said, “Some folks might sometimes give their tongues a liberty, to some people that were their betters, which did not become them; for her part, she was not used to converse with servants.” Slipslop returned, “Some people kept no servants to converse with; for her part, she thanked Heaven she lived in a family where there were a great many, and had more under her own command than any paultry little gentlewoman in the kingdom.” Miss Grave-airs cried, “She believed her mistress would not encourage such sauciness to her betters.”—“My betters,” says Slipslop, “who is my betters, pray?”—“I am your betters,” answered Miss Grave-airs, “and I’ll acquaint your mistress.”—At which Mrs Slipslop laughed aloud, and told her, “Her lady was one of the great gentry; and such little paultry gentlewomen as some folks, who travelled in stagecoaches, would not easily come at her.”
This smart dialogue between some people and some folks was going on at the coach door when a solemn person, riding into the inn, and seeing Miss Grave-airs, immediately accosted her with “Dear child, how do you?” She presently answered, “O papa, I am glad you have overtaken me.”—“So am I,” answered he; “for one of our coaches is just at hand; and, there being room for you in it, you shall go no farther in the stage unless you desire it.”—“How can you imagine I should desire it?” says she; so, bidding Slipslop ride with her fellow, if she pleased, she took her father by the hand, who was just alighted, and walked with him into a room.
Adams instantly asked the coachman, in a whisper, “If he knew who the gentleman was?” The coachman answered, “He was now a gentleman, and kept his horse and man; but times are altered, master,” said be; “I remember when he was no better born than myself.”—“Ay! ay!” says Adams. “My father drove the squire’s coach,” answered he, “when that very man rode postillion; but he is now his steward; and a great gentleman.” Adams then snapped his fingers, and cried, “He thought she was some such trollop.”
Adams made haste to acquaint Mrs Slipslop with this good news, as he imagined it; but it found a reception different from what he expected. The prudent gentlewoman, who despised the anger of Miss Grave-airs whilst she conceived her the daughter of a gentleman of small fortune, now she heard her alliance with the upper servants of a great family in her neighbourhood, began to fear her interest with the mistress. She wished she had not carried the dispute so far, and began to think of endeavouring to reconcile herself to the young lady before she left the inn; when, luckily, the scene at London, which the reader can scarce have forgotten, presented itself to her mind, and comforted her with such assurance, that she no longer apprehended any enemy with her mistress.
Everything being now adjusted, the company entered the coach, which was just on its departure, when one lady recollected she had left her fan, a second her gloves, a third a snuff-box, and a fourth a smelling-bottle behind her; to find all which occasioned some delay and much swearing to the coachman.
As soon as the coach had left the inn, the women all together fell to the character of Miss Grave-airs; whom one of them declared she had suspected to be some low creature, from the beginning of their journey, and another affirmed she had not even the looks of a gentlewoman: a third warranted she was no better than she should be; and, turning to the lady who had related the story in the coach, said, “Did you ever hear, madam, anything so prudish as her remarks? Well, deliver me from the censoriousness of such a prude.” The fourth added, “O madam! all these creatures are censorious; but for my part, I wonder where the wretch was bred; indeed, I must own I have seldom conversed with these mean kind of people, so that it may appear stranger to me; but to refuse the general desire of a whole company had something in it so astonishing, that, for my part, I own I should hardly believe it if my own ears had not been witnesses to it.”—“Yes, and so handsome a young fellow,” cries Slipslop; “the woman must have no compulsion in her: I believe she is more of a Turk than a Christian; I am certain, if she had any Christian woman’s blood in her veins, the sight of such a young fellow must have warmed it. Indeed, there are some wretched, miserable old objects, that turn one’s stomach; I should not wonder if she had refused such a one; I am as nice as herself, and should have cared no more than herself for the company of stinking old fellows; but, hold up thy head, Joseph, thou art none of those; and she who hath not compulsion for thee is a Myhummetman, and I will maintain it.” This conversation made Joseph uneasy as well as the ladies; who, perceiving the spirits which Mrs Slipslop was in (for indeed she was not a cup too low), began to fear the consequence; one of them therefore desired the lady to conclude the story. “Aye, madam,” said Slipslop, “I beg your ladyship to give us that story you commensated in the morning;” which request that well-bred woman immediately complied with.
Conclusion of the unfortunate jilt.
Leonora, having once broke through the bounds which custom and modesty impose on her sex, soon gave an unbridled indulgence to her passion. Her visits to Bellarmine were more constant, as well as longer, than his surgeon’s: in a word, she became absolutely his nurse; made his water-gruel, administered him his medicines; and, notwithstanding the prudent advice of her aunt to the contrary, almost intirely resided in her wounded lover’s apartment.
The ladies of the town began to take her conduct under consideration: it was the chief topic of discourse at their tea-tables, and was very severely censured by the most part; especially by Lindamira, a lady whose discreet and starch carriage, together with a constant attendance at church three times a day, had utterly defeated many malicious attacks on her own reputation; for such was the envy that Lindamira’s virtue had attracted, that, notwithstanding her own strict behaviour and strict enquiry into the lives of others, she had not been able to escape being the mark of some arrows herself, which, however, did her no injury; a blessing, perhaps, owed by her to the clergy, who were her chief male companions, and with two or three of whom she had been barbarously and unjustly calumniated.
“Not so unjustly neither, perhaps,” says Slipslop; “for the clergy are men, as well as other folks.”
The extreme delicacy of Lindamira’s virtue was cruelly hurt by those freedoms which Leonora allowed herself: she said, “It was an affront to her sex; that she did not imagine it consistent with any woman’s honour to speak to the creature, or to be seen in her company; and that, for her part, she should always refuse to dance at an assembly with her, for fear of contamination by taking her by the hand.”
But to return to my story: as soon as Bellarmine was recovered, which was somewhat within a month from his receiving the wound, he set out, according to agreement, for Leonora’s father’s, in order to propose the match, and settle all matters with him touching settlements, and the like.
A little before his arrival the old gentleman had received an intimation of the affair by the following letter, which I can repeat verbatim, and which, they say, was written neither by Leonora nor her aunt, though it was in a woman’s hand. The letter was in these words:—
“SIR,—I am sorry to acquaint you that your daughter, Leonora, hath acted one of the basest as well as most simple parts with a young gentleman to whom she had engaged herself, and whom she hath (pardon the word) jilted for another of inferior fortune, notwithstanding his superior figure. You may take what measures you please on this occasion; I have performed what I thought my duty; as I have, though unknown to you, a very great respect for your family.”
The old gentleman did not give himself the trouble to answer this kind epistle; nor did he take any notice of it, after he had read it, till he saw Bellarmine. He was, to say the truth, one of those fathers who look on children as an unhappy consequence of their youthful pleasures; which, as he would have been delighted not to have had attended them, so was he no less pleased with any opportunity to rid himself of the incumbrance. He passed, in the world’s language, as an exceeding good father; being not only so rapacious as to rob and plunder all mankind to the utmost of his power, but even to deny himself the conveniencies, and almost necessaries, of life; which his neighbours attributed to a desire of raising immense fortunes for his children: but in fact it was not so; he heaped up money for its own sake only, and looked on his children as his rivals, who were to enjoy his beloved mistress when he was incapable of possessing her, and which he would have been much more charmed with the power of carrying along with him; nor had his children any other security of being his heirs than that the law would constitute them such without a will, and that he had not affection enough for any one living to take the trouble of writing one.
To this gentleman came Bellarmine, on the errand I have mentioned. His person, his equipage, his family, and his estate, seemed to the father to make him an advantageous match for his daughter: he therefore very readily accepted his proposals: but when Bellarmine imagined the principal affair concluded, and began to open the incidental matters of fortune, the old gentleman presently changed his countenance, saying, “He resolved never to marry his daughter on a Smithfield match; that whoever had love for her to take her would, when he died, find her share of his fortune in his coffers; but he had seen such examples of undutifulness happen from the too early generosity of parents, that he had made a vow never to part with a shilling whilst he lived.” He commended the saying of Solomon, “He that spareth the rod spoileth the child;” but added, “he might have likewise asserted, That he that spareth the purse saveth the child.” He then ran into a discourse on the extravagance of the youth of the age; whence he launched into a dissertation on horses; and came at length to commend those Bellarmine drove. That fine gentleman, who at another season would have been well enough pleased to dwell a little on that subject, was now very eager to resume the circumstance of fortune. He said, “He had a very high value for the young lady, and would receive her with less than he would any other whatever; but that even his love to her made some regard to worldly matters necessary; for it would be a most distracting sight for him to see her, when he had the honour to be her husband, in less than a coach and six.” The old gentleman answered, “Four will do, four will do;” and then took a turn from horses to extravagance and from extravagance to horses, till he came round to the equipage again; whither he was no sooner arrived than Bellarmine brought him back to the point; but all to no purpose; he made his escape from that subject in a minute; till at last the lover declared, “That in the present situation of his affairs it was impossible for him, though he loved Leonora more than tout le monde, to marry her without any fortune.” To which the father answered, “He was sorry that his daughter must lose so valuable a match; that, if he had an inclination, at present it was not in his power to advance a shilling: that he had had great losses, and been at great expenses on projects; which, though he had great expectation from them, had yet produced him nothing: that he did not know what might happen hereafter, as on the birth of a son, or such accident; but he would make no promise, or enter into any article, for he would not break his vow for all the daughters in the world.”
In short, ladies, to keep you no longer in suspense, Bellarmine, having tried every argument and persuasion which he could invent, and finding them all ineffectual, at length took his leave, but not in order to return to Leonora; he proceeded directly to his own seat, whence, after a few days’ stay, he returned to Paris, to the great delight of the French and the honour of the English nation.
But as soon as he arrived at his home he presently despatched a messenger with the following epistle to Leonora:—
“ADORABLE AND CHARMANTE,—I am sorry to have the honour to tell you I am not the heureux person destined for your divine arms. Your papa hath told me so with a politesse not often seen on this side Paris. You may perhaps guess his manner of refusing me. Ah, mon Dieu! You will certainly believe me, madam, incapable myself of delivering this triste message, which I intend to try the French air to cure the consequences of. A jamais! Coeur! Ange! Au diable! If your papa obliges you to a marriage, I hope we shall see you at Paris; till when, the wind that flows from thence will be the warmest dans le monde, for it will consist almost entirely of my sighs. Adieu, ma princesse! Ah, l’amour!
I shall not attempt, ladies, to describe Leonora’s condition when she received this letter. It is a picture of horror, which I should have as little pleasure in drawing as you in beholding. She immediately left the place where she was the subject of conversation and ridicule, and retired to that house I showed you when I began the story; where she hath ever since led a disconsolate life, and deserves, perhaps, pity for her misfortunes, more than our censure for a behaviour to which the artifices of her aunt very probably contributed, and to which very young women are often rendered too liable by that blameable levity in the education of our sex.
“If I was inclined to pity her,” said a young lady in the coach, “it would be for the loss of Horatio; for I cannot discern any misfortune in her missing such a husband as Bellarmine.”
“Why, I must own,” says Slipslop, “the gentleman was a little false-hearted; but howsumever, it was hard to have two lovers, and get never a husband at all. But pray, madam, what became of Our-asho?”
He remains, said the lady, still unmarried, and hath applied himself so strictly to his business, that he hath raised, I hear, a very considerable fortune. And what is remarkable, they say he never hears the name of Leonora without a sigh, nor hath ever uttered one syllable to charge her with her ill-conduct towards him.
A very short chapter, in which parson Adams went a great way.
The lady, having finished her story, received the thanks of the company; and now Joseph, putting his head out of the coach, cried out, “Never believe me if yonder be not our parson Adams walking along without his horse!”—“On my word, and so he is,” says Slipslop: “and as sure as twopence he hath left him behind at the inn.” Indeed, true it is, the parson had exhibited a fresh instance of his absence of mind; for he was so pleased with having got Joseph into the coach, that he never once thought of the beast in the stable; and, finding his legs as nimble as he desired, he sallied out, brandishing a crabstick, and had kept on before the coach, mending and slackening his pace occasionally, so that he had never been much more or less than a quarter of a mile distant from it.
Mrs Slipslop desired the coachman to overtake him, which he attempted, but in vain; for the faster he drove the faster ran the parson, often crying out, “Aye, aye, catch me if you can;” till at length the coachman swore he would as soon attempt to drive after a greyhound, and, giving the parson two or three hearty curses, he cry’d, “Softly, softly, boys,” to his horses, which the civil beasts immediately obeyed.
But we will be more courteous to our reader than he was to Mrs Slipslop; and, leaving the coach and its company to pursue their journey, we will carry our reader on after parson Adams, who stretched forwards without once looking behind him, till, having left the coach full three miles in his rear, he came to a place where, by keeping the extremest track to the right, it was just barely possible for a human creature to miss his way. This track, however, did he keep, as indeed he had a wonderful capacity at these kinds of bare possibilities, and, travelling in it about three miles over the plain, he arrived at the summit of a hill, whence looking a great way backwards, and perceiving no coach in sight, he sat himself down on the turf, and, pulling out his Aeschylus, determined to wait here for its arrival.
He had not sat long here before a gun going off very near, a little startled him; he looked up and saw a gentleman within a hundred paces taking up a partridge which he had just shot.
Adams stood up and presented a figure to the gentleman which would have moved laughter in many; for his cassock had just again fallen down below his greatcoat, that is to say, it reached his knees, whereas the skirts of his greatcoat descended no lower than half-way down his thighs; but the gentleman’s mirth gave way to his surprize at beholding such a personage in such a place.
Adams, advancing to the gentleman, told him he hoped he had good sport, to which the other answered, “Very little.”—“I see, sir,” says Adams, “you have smote one partridge;” to which the sportsman made no reply, but proceeded to charge his piece.
Whilst the gun was charging, Adams remained in silence, which he at last broke by observing that it was a delightful evening. The gentleman, who had at first sight conceived a very distasteful opinion of the parson, began, on perceiving a book in his hand and smoaking likewise the information of the cassock, to change his thoughts, and made a small advance to conversation on his side by saying, “Sir, I suppose you are not one of these parts?”
Adams immediately told him, “No; that he was a traveller, and invited by the beauty of the evening and the place to repose a little and amuse himself with reading.”—“I may as well repose myself too,” said the sportsman, “for I have been out this whole afternoon, and the devil a bird have I seen till I came hither.”
“Perhaps then the game is not very plenty hereabouts?” cries Adams. “No, sir,” said the gentleman: “the soldiers, who are quartered in the neighbourhood, have killed it all.”—“It is very probable,” cries Adams, “for shooting is their profession.”— “Ay, shooting the game,” answered the other; “but I don’t see they are so forward to shoot our enemies. I don’t like that affair of Carthagena; if I had been there, I believe I should have done other-guess things, d—n me: what’s a man’s life when his country demands it? a man who won’t sacrifice his life for his country deserves to be hanged, d—n me.” Which words he spoke with so violent a gesture, so loud a voice, so strong an accent, and so fierce a countenance, that he might have frightened a captain of trained bands at the head of his company; but Mr Adams was not greatly subject to fear; he told him intrepidly that he very much approved his virtue, but disliked his swearing, and begged him not to addict himself to so bad a custom, without which he said he might fight as bravely as Achilles did. Indeed he was charmed with this discourse; he told the gentleman he would willingly have gone many miles to have met a man of his generous way of thinking; that, if he pleased to sit down, he should be greatly delighted to commune with him; for, though he was a clergyman, he would himself be ready, if thereto called, to lay down his life for his country.
The gentleman sat down, and Adams by him; and then the latter began, as in the following chapter, a discourse which we have placed by itself, as it is not only the most curious in this but perhaps in any other book.
A notable dissertation by Mr Abraham Adams; wherein that gentleman appears in a political light.
“I do assure you, sir” (says he, taking the gentleman by the hand), “I am heartily glad to meet with a man of your kidney; for, though I am a poor parson, I will be bold to say I am an honest man, and would not do an ill thing to be made a bishop; nay, though it hath not fallen in my way to offer so noble a sacrifice, I have not been without opportunities of suffering for the sake of my conscience, I thank Heaven for them; for I have had relations, though I say it, who made some figure in the world; particularly a nephew, who was a shopkeeper and an alderman of a corporation. He was a good lad, and was under my care when a boy; and I believe would do what I bade him to his dying day. Indeed, it looks like extreme vanity in me to affect being a man of such consequence as to have so great an interest in an alderman; but others have thought so too, as manifestly appeared by the rector, whose curate I formerly was, sending for me on the approach of an election, and telling me, if I expected to continue in his cure, that I must bring my nephew to vote for one Colonel Courtly, a gentleman whom I had never heard tidings of till that instant. I told the rector I had no power over my nephew’s vote (God forgive me for such prevarication!); that I supposed he would give it according to his conscience; that I would by no means endeavour to influence him to give it otherwise. He told me it was in vain to equivocate; that he knew I had already spoke to him in favour of esquire Fickle, my neighbour; and, indeed, it was true I had; for it was at a season when the church was in danger, and when all good men expected they knew not what would happen to us all. I then answered boldly, if he thought I had given my promise, he affronted me in proposing any breach of it. Not to be too prolix; I persevered, and so did my nephew, in the esquire’s interest, who was chose chiefly through his means; and so I lost my curacy, Well, sir, but do you think the esquire ever mentioned a word of the church? Ne verbum quidem, ut ita dicam: within two years he got a place, and hath ever since lived in London; where I have been informed (but God forbid I should believe that,) that he never so much as goeth to church. I remained, sir, a considerable time without any cure, and lived a full month on one funeral sermon, which I preached on the indisposition of a clergyman; but this by the bye. At last, when Mr Fickle got his place, Colonel Courtly stood again; and who should make interest for him but Mr Fickle himself! that very identical Mr Fickle, who had formerly told me the colonel was an enemy to both the church and state, had the confidence to sollicit my nephew for him; and the colonel himself offered me to make me chaplain to his regiment, which I refused in favour of Sir Oliver Hearty, who told us he would sacrifice everything to his country; and I believe he would, except his hunting, which he stuck so close to, that in five years together he went but twice up to parliament; and one of those times, I have been told, never was within sight of the House. However, he was a worthy man, and the best friend I ever had; for, by his interest with a bishop, he got me replaced into my curacy, and gave me eight pounds out of his own pocket to buy me a gown and cassock, and furnish my house. He had our interest while he lived, which was not many years. On his death I had fresh applications made to me; for all the world knew the interest I had with my good nephew, who now was a leading man in the corporation; and Sir Thomas Booby, buying the estate which had been Sir Oliver’s, proposed himself a candidate. He was then a young gentleman just come from his travels; and it did me good to hear him discourse on affairs which, for my part, I knew nothing of. If I had been master of a thousand votes he should have had them all. I engaged my nephew in his interest, and he was elected; and a very fine parliament-man he was. They tell me he made speeches of an hour long, and, I have been told, very fine ones; but he could never persuade the parliament to be of his opinion. Non omnia possumus omnes. He promised me a living, poor man! and I believe I should have had it, but an accident happened, which was, that my lady had promised it before, unknown to him. This, indeed, I never heard till afterwards; for my nephew, who died about a month before the incumbent, always told me I might be assured of it. Since that time, Sir Thomas, poor man, had always so much business, that he never could find leisure to see me. I believe it was partly my lady’s fault too, who did not think my dress good enough for the gentry at her table. However, I must do him the justice to say he never was ungrateful; and I have always found his kitchen, and his cellar too, open to me: many a time, after service on a Sunday—for I preach at four churches—have I recruited my spirits with a glass of his ale. Since my nephew’s death, the corporation is in other hands; and I am not a man of that consequence I was formerly. I have now no longer any talents to lay out in the service of my country; and to whom nothing is given, of him can nothing be required. However, on all proper seasons, such as the approach of an election, I throw a suitable dash or two into my sermons; which I have the pleasure to hear is not disagreeable to Sir Thomas and the other honest gentlemen my neighbours, who have all promised me these five years to procure an ordination for a son of mine, who is now near thirty, hath an infinite stock of learning, and is, I thank Heaven, of an unexceptionable life; though, as he was never at an university, the bishop refuses to ordain him. Too much care cannot indeed be taken in admitting any to the sacred office; though I hope he will never act so as to be a disgrace to any order, but will serve his God and his country to the utmost of his power, as I have endeavoured to do before him; nay, and will lay down his life whenever called to that purpose. I am sure I have educated him in those principles; so that I have acquitted my duty, and shall have nothing to answer for on that account. But I do not distrust him, for he is a good boy; and if Providence should throw it in his way to be of as much consequence in a public light as his father once was, I can answer for him he will use his talents as honestly as I have done.”
In which the gentleman discants on bravery and heroic virtue, till an unlucky accident puts an end to the discourse.
The gentleman highly commended Mr Adams for his good resolutions, and told him, “He hoped his son would tread in his steps;” adding, “that if he would not die for his country, he would not be worthy to live in it. I’d make no more of shooting a man that would not die for his country, than—
“Sir,” said he, “I have disinherited a nephew, who is in the army, because he would not exchange his commission and go to the West Indies. I believe the rascal is a coward, though he pretends to be in love forsooth. I would have all such fellows hanged, sir; I would have them hanged.” Adams answered, “That would be too severe; that men did not make themselves; and if fear had too much ascendance in the mind, the man was rather to be pitied than abhorred; that reason and time might teach him to subdue it.” He said, “A man might be a coward at one time, and brave at another. Homer,” says he, “who so well understood and copied Nature, hath taught us this lesson; for Paris fights and Hector runs away. Nay, we have a mighty instance of this in the history of later ages, no longer ago than the 705th year of Rome, when the great Pompey, who had won so many battles and been honoured with so many triumphs, and of whose valour several authors, especially Cicero and Paterculus, have formed such elogiums; this very Pompey left the battle of Pharsalia before he had lost it, and retreated to his tent, where he sat like the most pusillanimous rascal in a fit of despair, and yielded a victory, which was to determine the empire of the world, to Caesar. I am not much travelled in the history of modern times, that is to say, these last thousand years; but those who are can, I make no question, furnish you with parallel instances.” He concluded, therefore, that, had he taken any such hasty resolutions against his nephew, he hoped he would consider better, and retract them. The gentleman answered with great warmth, and talked much of courage and his country, till, perceiving it grew late, he asked Adams, “What place he intended for that night?” He told him, “He waited there for the stage-coach.”—“The stage-coach, sir!” said the gentleman; “they are all passed by long ago. You may see the last yourself almost three miles before us.”—“I protest and so they are,” cries Adams; “then I must make haste and follow them.” The gentleman told him, “he would hardly be able to overtake them; and that, if he did not know his way, he would be in danger of losing himself on the downs, for it would be presently dark; and he might ramble about all night, and perhaps find himself farther from his journey’s end in the morning than he was now.” He advised him, therefore, “to accompany him to his house, which was very little out of his way,” assuring him “that he would find some country fellow in his parish who would conduct him for sixpence to the city where he was going.” Adams accepted this proposal, and on they travelled, the gentleman renewing his discourse on courage, and the infamy of not being ready, at all times, to sacrifice our lives to our country. Night overtook them much about the same time as they arrived near some bushes; whence, on a sudden, they heard the most violent shrieks imaginable in a female voice. Adams offered to snatch the gun out of his companion’s hand. “What are you doing?” said he. “Doing!” said Adams; “I am hastening to the assistance of the poor creature whom some villains are murdering.” “You are not mad enough, I hope,” says the gentleman, trembling: “do you consider this gun is only charged with shot, and that the robbers are most probably furnished with pistols loaded with bullets? This is no business of ours; let us make as much haste as possible out of the way, or we may fall into their hands ourselves.” The shrieks now increasing, Adams made no answer, but snapt his fingers, and, brandishing his crabstick, made directly to the place whence the voice issued; and the man of courage made as much expedition towards his own home, whither he escaped in a very short time without once looking behind him; where we will leave him, to contemplate his own bravery, and to censure the want of it in others, and return to the good Adams, who, on coming up to the place whence the noise proceeded, found a woman struggling with a man, who had thrown her on the ground, and had almost overpowered her. The great abilities of Mr Adams were not necessary to have formed a right judgment of this affair on the first sight. He did not, therefore, want the entreaties of the poor wretch to assist her; but, lifting up his crabstick, he immediately levelled a blow at that part of the ravisher’s head where, according to the opinion of the ancients, the brains of some persons are deposited, and which he had undoubtedly let forth, had not Nature (who, as wise men have observed, equips all creatures with what is most expedient for them) taken a provident care (as she always doth with those she intends for encounters) to make this part of the head three times as thick as those of ordinary men who are designed to exercise talents which are vulgarly called rational, and for whom, as brains are necessary, she is obliged to leave some room for them in the cavity of the skull; whereas, those ingredients being entirely useless to persons of the heroic calling, she hath an opportunity of thickening the bone, so as to make it less subject to any impression, or liable to be cracked or broken: and indeed, in some who are predestined to the command of armies and empires, she is supposed sometimes to make that part perfectly solid.
As a game cock, when engaged in amorous toying with a hen, if perchance he espies another cock at hand, immediately quits his female, and opposes himself to his rival, so did the ravisher, on the information of the crabstick, immediately leap from the woman and hasten to assail the man. He had no weapons but what Nature had furnished him with. However, he clenched his fist, and presently darted it at that part of Adams’s breast where the heart is lodged. Adams staggered at the violence of the blow, when, throwing away his staff, he likewise clenched that fist which we have before commemorated, and would have discharged it full in the breast of his antagonist, had he not dexterously caught it with his left hand, at the same time darting his head (which some modern heroes of the lower class use, like the battering-ram of the ancients, for a weapon of offence; another reason to admire the cunningness of Nature, in composing it of those impenetrable materials); dashing his head, I say, into the stomach of Adams, he tumbled him on his back; and, not having any regard to the laws of heroism, which would have restrained him from any farther attack on his enemy till he was again on his legs, he threw himself upon him, and, laying hold on the ground with his left hand, he with his right belaboured the body of Adams till he was weary, and indeed till he concluded (to use the language of fighting) “that he had done his business;” or, in the language of poetry, “that he had sent him to the shades below;” in plain English, “that he was dead.”
But Adams, who was no chicken, and could bear a drubbing as well as any boxing champion in the universe, lay still only to watch his opportunity; and now, perceiving his antagonist to pant with his labours, he exerted his utmost force at once, and with such success that he overturned him, and became his superior; when, fixing one of his knees in his breast, he cried out in an exulting voice, “It is my turn now;” and, after a few minutes’ constant application, he gave him so dexterous a blow just under his chin that the fellow no longer retained any motion, and Adams began to fear he had struck him once too often; for he often asserted “he should be concerned to have the blood of even the wicked upon him.”
Adams got up and called aloud to the young woman. “Be of good cheer, damsel,” said he, “you are no longer in danger of your ravisher, who, I am terribly afraid, lies dead at my feet; but God forgive me what I have done in defence of innocence!” The poor wretch, who had been some time in recovering strength enough to rise, and had afterwards, during the engagement, stood trembling, being disabled by fear even from running away, hearing her champion was victorious, came up to him, but not without apprehensions even of her deliverer; which, however, she was soon relieved from by his courteous behaviour and gentle words. They were both standing by the body, which lay motionless on the ground, and which Adams wished to see stir much more than the woman did, when he earnestly begged her to tell him “by what misfortune she came, at such a time of night, into so lonely a place.” She acquainted him, “She was travelling towards London, and had accidentally met with the person from whom he had delivered her, who told her he was likewise on his journey to the same place, and would keep her company; an offer which, suspecting no harm, she had accepted; that he told her they were at a small distance from an inn where she might take up her lodging that evening, and he would show her a nearer way to it than by following the road; that if she had suspected him (which she did not, he spoke so kindly to her), being alone on these downs in the dark, she had no human means to avoid him; that, therefore, she put her whole trust in Providence, and walked on, expecting every moment to arrive at the inn; when on a sudden, being come to those bushes, he desired her to stop, and after some rude kisses, which she resisted, and some entreaties, which she rejected, he laid violent hands on her, and was attempting to execute his wicked will, when, she thanked G—, he timely came up and prevented him.” Adams encouraged her for saying she had put her whole trust in Providence, and told her, “He doubted not but Providence had sent him to her deliverance, as a reward for that trust. He wished indeed he had not deprived the wicked wretch of life, but G—’s will be done;” said, “He hoped the goodness of his intention would excuse him in the next world, and he trusted in her evidence to acquit him in this.” He was then silent, and began to consider with himself whether it would be properer to make his escape, or to deliver himself into the hands of justice; which meditation ended as the reader will see in the next chapter.
Giving an account of the strange catastrophe of the preceding adventure, which drew poor Adams into fresh calamities; and who the woman was who owed the preservation of her chastity to his victorious arm.
The silence of Adams, added to the darkness of the night and loneliness of the place, struck dreadful apprehension into the poor woman’s mind; she began to fear as great an enemy in her deliverer as he had delivered her from; and as she had not light enough to discover the age of Adams, and the benevolence visible in his countenance, she suspected he had used her as some very honest men have used their country; and had rescued her out of the hands of one rifler in order to rifle her himself. Such were the suspicions she drew from his silence; but indeed they were ill-grounded. He stood over his vanquished enemy, wisely weighing in his mind the objections which might be made to either of the two methods of proceeding mentioned in the last chapter, his judgment sometimes inclining to the one, and sometimes to the other; for both seemed to him so equally advisable and so equally dangerous, that probably he would have ended his days, at least two or three of them, on that very spot, before he had taken any resolution; at length he lifted up his eyes, and spied a light at a distance, to which he instantly addressed himself with Heus tu, traveller, heus tu! He presently heard several voices, and perceived the light approaching toward him. The persons who attended the light began some to laugh, others to sing, and others to hollow, at which the woman testified some fear (for she had concealed her suspicions of the parson himself); but Adams said, “Be of good cheer, damsel, and repose thy trust in the same Providence which hath hitherto protected thee, and never will forsake the innocent.” These people, who now approached, were no other, reader, than a set of young fellows, who came to these bushes in pursuit of a diversion which they call bird-batting. This, if you are ignorant of it (as perhaps if thou hast never travelled beyond Kensington, Islington, Hackney, or the Borough, thou mayst be), I will inform thee, is performed by holding a large clap-net before a lanthorn, and at the same time beating the bushes; for the birds, when they are disturbed from their places of rest, or roost, immediately make to the light, and so are inticed within the net. Adams immediately told them what happened, and desired them to hold the lanthorn to the face of the man on the ground, for he feared he had smote him fatally. But indeed his fears were frivolous; for the fellow, though he had been stunned by the last blow he received, had long since recovered his senses, and, finding himself quit of Adams, had listened attentively to the discourse between him and the young woman; for whose departure he had patiently waited, that he might likewise withdraw himself, having no longer hopes of succeeding in his desires, which were moreover almost as well cooled by Mr Adams as they could have been by the young woman herself had he obtained his utmost wish. This fellow, who had a readiness at improving any accident, thought he might now play a better part than that of a dead man; and, accordingly, the moment the candle was held to his face he leapt up, and, laying hold on Adams, cried out, “No, villain, I am not dead, though you and your wicked whore might well think me so, after the barbarous cruelties you have exercised on me. Gentlemen,” said he, “you are luckily come to the assistance of a poor traveller, who would otherwise have been robbed and murdered by this vile man and woman, who led me hither out of my way from the high-road, and both falling on me have used me as you see.” Adams was going to answer, when one of the young fellows cried, “D—n them, let’s carry them both before the justice.” The poor woman began to tremble, and Adams lifted up his voice, but in vain. Three or four of them laid hands on him; and one holding the lanthorn to his face, they all agreed he had the most villainous countenance they ever beheld; and an attorney’s clerk, who was of the company, declared he was sure he had remembered him at the bar. As to the woman, her hair was dishevelled in the struggle, and her nose had bled; so that they could not perceive whether she was handsome or ugly, but they said her fright plainly discovered her guilt. And searching her pockets, as they did those of Adams, for money, which the fellow said he had lost, they found in her pocket a purse with some gold in it, which abundantly convinced them, especially as the fellow offered to swear to it. Mr Adams was found to have no more than one halfpenny about him. This the clerk said “was a great presumption that he was an old offender, by cunningly giving all the booty to the woman.” To which all the rest readily assented.
This accident promising them better sport than what they had proposed, they quitted their intention of catching birds, and unanimously resolved to proceed to the justice with the offenders. Being informed what a desperate fellow Adams was, they tied his hands behind him; and, having hid their nets among the bushes, and the lanthorn being carried before them, they placed the two prisoners in their front, and then began their march; Adams not only submitting patiently to his own fate, but comforting and encouraging his companion under her sufferings.
Whilst they were on their way the clerk informed the rest that this adventure would prove a very beneficial one; for that they would all be entitled to their proportions of £80 for apprehending the robbers. This occasioned a contention concerning the parts which they had severally borne in taking them; one insisting he ought to have the greatest share, for he had first laid his hands on Adams; another claiming a superior part for having first held the lanthorn to the man’s face on the ground, by which, he said, “the whole was discovered.” The clerk claimed four-fifths of the reward for having proposed to search the prisoners, and likewise the carrying them before the justice: he said, “Indeed, in strict justice, he ought to have the whole.” These claims, however, they at last consented to refer to a future decision, but seemed all to agree that the clerk was entitled to a moiety. They then debated what money should be allotted to the young fellow who had been employed only in holding the nets. He very modestly said, “That he did not apprehend any large proportion would fall to his share, but hoped they would allow him something; he desired them to consider that they had assigned their nets to his care, which prevented him from being as forward as any in laying hold of the robbers” (for so those innocent people were called); “that if he had not occupied the nets, some other must;” concluding, however, “that he should be contented with the smallest share imaginable, and should think that rather their bounty than his merit.” But they were all unanimous in excluding him from any part whatever, the clerk particularly swearing, “If they gave him a shilling they might do what they pleased with the rest; for he would not concern himself with the affair.” This contention was so hot, and so totally engaged the attention of all the parties, that a dexterous nimble thief, had he been in Mr Adams’s situation, would have taken care to have given the justice no trouble that evening. Indeed, it required not the art of a Sheppard to escape, especially as the darkness of the night would have so much befriended him; but Adams trusted rather to his innocence than his heels, and, without thinking of flight, which was easy, or resistance (which was impossible, as there were six lusty young fellows, besides the villain himself, present), he walked with perfect resignation the way they thought proper to conduct him.
Adams frequently vented himself in ejaculations during their journey; at last, poor Joseph Andrews occurring to his mind, he could not refrain sighing forth his name, which being heard by his companion in affliction, she cried with some vehemence, “Sure I should know that voice; you cannot certainly, sir, be Mr Abraham Adams?”—“Indeed, damsel,” says he, “that is my name; there is something also in your voice which persuades me I have heard it before.”—“La! sir,” says she, “don’t you remember poor Fanny?”—“How, Fanny!” answered Adams: “indeed I very well remember you; what can have brought you hither?”—“I have told you, sir,” replied she, “I was travelling towards London; but I thought you mentioned Joseph Andrews; pray what is become of him?”—“I left him, child, this afternoon,” said Adams, “in the stage-coach, in his way towards our parish, whither he is going to see you.”—“To see me! La, sir,” answered Fanny, “sure you jeer me; what should he be going to see me for?”—“Can you ask that?” replied Adams. “I hope, Fanny, you are not inconstant; I assure you he deserves much better of you.”—“La! Mr Adams,” said she, “what is Mr Joseph to me? I am sure I never had anything to say to him, but as one fellow-servant might to another.”—“I am sorry to hear this,” said Adams; “a virtuous passion for a young man is what no woman need be ashamed of. You either do not tell me truth, or you are false to a very worthy man.” Adams then told her what had happened at the inn, to which she listened very attentively; and a sigh often escaped from her, notwithstanding her utmost endeavours to the contrary; nor could she prevent herself from asking a thousand questions, which would have assured any one but Adams, who never saw farther into people than they desired to let him, of the truth of a passion she endeavoured to conceal. Indeed, the fact was, that this poor girl, having heard of Joseph’s misfortune, by some of the servants belonging to the coach which we have formerly mentioned to have stopt at the inn while the poor youth was confined to his bed, that instant abandoned the cow she was milking, and, taking with her a little bundle of clothes under her arm, and all the money she was worth in her own purse, without consulting any one, immediately set forward in pursuit of one whom, notwithstanding her shyness to the parson, she loved with inexpressible violence, though with the purest and most delicate passion. This shyness, therefore, as we trust it will recommend her character to all our female readers, and not greatly surprize such of our males as are well acquainted with the younger part of the other sex, we shall not give ourselves any trouble to vindicate.
What happened to them while before the justice. A chapter very full of learning.
Their fellow-travellers were so engaged in the hot dispute concerning the division of the reward for apprehending these innocent people, that they attended very little to their discourse. They were now arrived at the justice’s house, and had sent one of his servants in to acquaint his worship that they had taken two robbers and brought them before him. The justice, who was just returned from a fox-chase, and had not yet finished his dinner, ordered them to carry the prisoners into the stable, whither they were attended by all the servants in the house, and all the people in the neighbourhood, who flocked together to see them with as much curiosity as if there was something uncommon to be seen, or that a rogue did not look like other people.
The justice, now being in the height of his mirth and his cups, bethought himself of the prisoners; and, telling his company he believed they should have good sport in their examination, he ordered them into his presence. They had no sooner entered the room than he began to revile them, saying, “That robberies on the highway were now grown so frequent, that people could not sleep safely in their beds, and assured them they both should be made examples of at the ensuing assizes.” After he had gone on some time in this manner, he was reminded by his clerk, “That it would be proper to take the depositions of the witnesses against them.” Which he bid him do, and he would light his pipe in the meantime. Whilst the clerk was employed in writing down the deposition of the fellow who had pretended to be robbed, the justice employed himself in cracking jests on poor Fanny, in which he was seconded by all the company at table. One asked, “Whether she was to be indicted for a highwayman?” Another whispered in her ear, “If she had not provided herself a great belly, he was at her service.” A third said, “He warranted she was a relation of Turpin.” To which one of the company, a great wit, shaking his head, and then his sides, answered, “He believed she was nearer related to Turpis;” at which there was an universal laugh. They were proceeding thus with the poor girl, when somebody, smoking the cassock peeping forth from under the greatcoat of Adams, cried out, “What have we here, a parson?” “How, sirrah,” says the justice, “do you go robbing in the dress of a clergyman? let me tell you your habit will not entitle you to the benefit of the clergy.” “Yes,” said the witty fellow, “he will have one benefit of clergy, he will be exalted above the heads of the people;” at which there was a second laugh. And now the witty spark, seeing his jokes take, began to rise in spirits; and, turning to Adams, challenged him to cap verses, and, provoking him by giving the first blow, he repeated—
“Molle meum levibus cord est vilebile telis.”
Upon which Adams, with a look full of ineffable contempt, told him, “He deserved scourging for his pronunciation.” The witty fellow answered, “What do you deserve, doctor, for not being able to answer the first time? Why, I’ll give one, you blockhead, with an S.
“’Si licet, ut fulvum spectatur in ignibus haurum.’
“What, canst not with an M neither? Thou art a pretty fellow for a parson! Why didst not steal some of the parson’s Latin as well as his gown?” Another at the table then answered, “If he had, you would have been too hard for him; I remember you at the college a very devil at this sport; I have seen you catch a freshman, for nobody that knew you would engage with you.” “I have forgot those things now,” cried the wit. “I believe I could have done pretty well formerly. Let’s see, what did I end with?—an M again—aye—
“’Mars, Bacchus, Apollo, virorum.’
I could have done it once.” “Ah! evil betide you, and so you can now,” said the other: “nobody in this country will undertake you.” Adams could hold no longer: “Friend,” said he, “I have a boy not above eight years old who would instruct thee that the last verse runs thus:—
“’Ut sunt Divorum, Mars, Bacchus, Apollo, virorum.’”
“I’ll hold thee a guinea of that,” said the wit, throwing the money on the table. “And I’ll go your halves,” cries the other. “Done,” answered Adams; but upon applying to his pocket he was forced to retract, and own he had no money about him; which set them all a-laughing, and confirmed the triumph of his adversary, which was not moderate, any more than the approbation he met with from the whole company, who told Adams he must go a little longer to school before he attempted to attack that gentleman in Latin.
The clerk, having finished the depositions, as well of the fellow himself, as of those who apprehended the prisoners, delivered them to the justice; who, having sworn the several witnesses without reading a syllable, ordered his clerk to make the mittimus.
Adams then said, “He hoped he should not be condemned unheard.” “No, no,” cries the justice, “you will be asked what you have to say for yourself when you come on your trial: we are not trying you now; I shall only commit you to gaol: if you can prove your innocence at size, you will be found ignoramus, and so no harm done.” “Is it no punishment, sir, for an innocent man to lie several months in gaol?” cries Adams: “I beg you would at least hear me before you sign the mittimus.” “What signifies all you can say?” says the justice: “is it not here in black and white against you? I must tell you you are a very impertinent fellow to take up so much of my time. So make haste with his mittimus.”
The clerk now acquainted the justice that among other suspicious things, as a penknife, &c., found in Adams’s pocket, they had discovered a book written, as he apprehended, in cyphers; for no one could read a word in it. “Ay,” says the justice, “the fellow may be more than a common robber, he may be in a plot against the Government. Produce the book.” Upon which the poor manuscript of Aeschylus, which Adams had transcribed with his own hand, was brought forth; and the justice, looking at it, shook his head, and, turning to the prisoner, asked the meaning of those cyphers. “Cyphers?” answered Adams, “it is a manuscript of Aeschylus.” “Who? who?” said the justice. Adams repeated, “Aeschylus.” “That is an outlandish name,” cried the clerk. “A fictitious name rather, I believe,” said the justice. One of the company declared it looked very much like Greek. “Greek?” said the justice; “why, ’tis all writing.” “No,” says the other, “I don’t positively say it is so; for it is a very long time since I have seen any Greek.” “There’s one,” says he, turning to the parson of the parish, who was present, “will tell us immediately.” The parson, taking up the book, and putting on his spectacles and gravity together, muttered some words to himself, and then pronounced aloud—“Ay, indeed, it is a Greek manuscript; a very fine piece of antiquity. I make no doubt but it was stolen from the same clergyman from whom the rogue took the cassock.” “What did the rascal mean by his Aeschylus?” says the justice. “Pooh!” answered the doctor, with a contemptuous grin, “do you think that fellow knows anything of this book? Aeschylus! ho! ho! I see now what it is—a manuscript of one of the fathers. I know a nobleman who would give a great deal of money for such a piece of antiquity. Ay, ay, question and answer. The beginning is the catechism in Greek. Ay, ay, Pollaki toi: What’s your name?”—“Ay, what’s your name?” says the justice to Adams; who answered, “It is Aeschylus, and I will maintain it.”—“Oh! it is,” says the justice: “make Mr Aeschylus his mittimus. I will teach you to banter me with a false name.”
One of the company, having looked steadfastly at Adams, asked him, “If he did not know Lady Booby?” Upon which Adams, presently calling him to mind, answered in a rapture, “O squire! are you there? I believe you will inform his worship I am innocent.”—“I can indeed say,” replied the squire, “that I am very much surprized to see you in this situation:” and then, addressing himself to the justice, he said, “Sir, I assure you Mr Adams is a clergyman, as he appears, and a gentleman of a very good character. I wish you would enquire a little farther into this affair; for I am convinced of his innocence.”—“Nay,” says the justice, “if he is a gentleman, and you are sure he is innocent, I don’t desire to commit him, not I: I will commit the woman by herself, and take your bail for the gentleman: look into the book, clerk, and see how it is to take bail—come—and make the mittimus for the woman as fast as you can.”—“Sir,” cries Adams, “I assure you she is as innocent as myself.”— “Perhaps,” said the squire, “there may be some mistake! pray let us hear Mr Adams’s relation.”—“With all my heart,” answered the justice; “and give the gentleman a glass to wet his whistle before he begins. I know how to behave myself to gentlemen as well as another. Nobody can say I have committed a gentleman since I have been in the commission.” Adams then began the narrative, in which, though he was very prolix, he was uninterrupted, unless by several hums and hahs of the justice, and his desire to repeat those parts which seemed to him most material. When he had finished, the justice, who, on what the squire had said, believed every syllable of his story on his bare affirmation, notwithstanding the depositions on oath to the contrary, began to let loose several rogues and rascals against the witness, whom he ordered to stand forth, but in vain; the said witness, long since finding what turn matters were likely to take, had privily withdrawn, without attending the issue. The justice now flew into a violent passion, and was hardly prevailed with not to commit the innocent fellows who had been imposed on as well as himself. He swore, “They had best find out the fellow who was guilty of perjury, and bring him before him within two days, or he would bind them all over to their good behaviour.” They all promised to use their best endeavours to that purpose, and were dismissed. Then the justice insisted that Mr Adams should sit down and take a glass with him; and the parson of the parish delivered him back the manuscript without saying a word; nor would Adams, who plainly discerned his ignorance, expose it. As for Fanny, she was, at her own request, recommended to the care of a maid-servant of the house, who helped her to new dress and clean herself.
The company in the parlour had not been long seated before they were alarmed with a horrible uproar from without, where the persons who had apprehended Adams and Fanny had been regaling, according to the custom of the house, with the justice’s strong beer. These were all fallen together by the ears, and were cuffing each other without any mercy. The justice himself sallied out, and with the dignity of his presence soon put an end to the fray. On his return into the parlour, he reported, “That the occasion of the quarrel was no other than a dispute to whom, if Adams had been convicted, the greater share of the reward for apprehending him had belonged.” All the company laughed at this, except Adams, who, taking his pipe from his mouth, fetched a deep groan, and said, “He was concerned to see so litigious a temper in men. That he remembered a story something like it in one of the parishes where his cure lay:—There was,” continued he, “a competition between three young fellows for the place of the clerk, which I disposed of, to the best of my abilities, according to merit; that is, I gave it to him who had the happiest knack at setting a psalm. The clerk was no sooner established in his place than a contention began between the two disappointed candidates concerning their excellence; each contending on whom, had they two been the only competitors, my election would have fallen. This dispute frequently disturbed the congregation, and introduced a discord into the psalmody, till I was forced to silence them both. But, alas! the litigious spirit could not be stifled; and, being no longer able to vent itself in singing, it now broke forth in fighting. It produced many battles (for they were very near a match), and I believe would have ended fatally, had not the death of the clerk given me an opportunity to promote one of them to his place; which presently put an end to the dispute, and entirely reconciled the contending parties.” Adams then proceeded to make some philosophical observations on the folly of growing warm in disputes in which neither party is interested. He then applied himself vigorously to smoaking; and a long silence ensued, which was at length broke by the justice, who began to sing forth his own praises, and to value himself exceedingly on his nice discernment in the cause which had lately been before him. He was quickly interrupted by Mr Adams, between whom and his worship a dispute now arose, whether he ought not, in strictness of law, to have committed him, the said Adams; in which the latter maintained he ought to have been committed, and the justice as vehemently held he ought not. This had most probably produced a quarrel (for both were very violent and positive in their opinions), had not Fanny accidentally heard that a young fellow was going from the justice’s house to the very inn where the stage-coach in which Joseph was, put up. Upon this news, she immediately sent for the parson out of the parlour. Adams, when he found her resolute to go (though she would not own the reason, but pretended she could not bear to see the faces of those who had suspected her of such a crime), was as fully determined to go with her; he accordingly took leave of the justice and company: and so ended a dispute in which the law seemed shamefully to intend to set a magistrate and a divine together by the ears.
A very delightful adventure, as well to the persons concerned as to the good-natured reader.
Adams, Fanny, and the guide, set out together about one in the morning, the moon being then just risen. They had not gone above a mile before a most violent storm of rain obliged them to take shelter in an inn, or rather alehouse, where Adams immediately procured himself a good fire, a toast and ale, and a pipe, and began to smoke with great content, utterly forgetting everything that had happened.
Fanny sat likewise down by the fire; but was much more impatient at the storm. She presently engaged the eyes of the host, his wife, the maid of the house, and the young fellow who was their guide; they all conceived they had never seen anything half so handsome; and indeed, reader, if thou art of an amorous hue, I advise thee to skip over the next paragraph; which, to render our history perfect, we are obliged to set down, humbly hoping that we may escape the fate of Pygmalion; for if it should happen to us, or to thee, to be struck with this picture, we should be perhaps in as helpless a condition as Narcissus, and might say to ourselves, Quod petis est nusquam. Or, if the finest features in it should set Lady ——’s image before our eyes, we should be still in as bad a situation, and might say to our desires, Coelum ipsum petimus stultitia.
Fanny was now in the nineteenth year of her age; she was tall and delicately shaped; but not one of those slender young women who seem rather intended to hang up in the hall of an anatomist than for any other purpose. On the contrary, she was so plump that she seemed bursting through her tight stays, especially in the part which confined her swelling breasts. Nor did her hips want the assistance of a hoop to extend them. The exact shape of her arms denoted the form of those limbs which she concealed; and though they were a little reddened by her labour, yet, if her sleeve slipped above her elbow, or her handkerchief discovered any part of her neck, a whiteness appeared which the finest Italian paint would be unable to reach. Her hair was of a chesnut brown, and nature had been extremely lavish to her of it, which she had cut, and on Sundays used to curl down her neck, in the modern fashion. Her forehead was high, her eyebrows arched, and rather full than otherwise. Her eyes black and sparkling; her nose just inclining to the Roman; her lips red and moist, and her underlip, according to the opinion of the ladies, too pouting. Her teeth were white, but not exactly even. The small-pox had left one only mark on her chin, which was so large, it might have been mistaken for a dimple, had not her left cheek produced one so near a neighbour to it, that the former served only for a foil to the latter. Her complexion was fair, a little injured by the sun, but overspread with such a bloom that the finest ladies would have exchanged all their white for it: add to these a countenance in which, though she was extremely bashful, a sensibility appeared almost incredible; and a sweetness, whenever she smiled, beyond either imitation or description. To conclude all, she had a natural gentility, superior to the acquisition of art, and which surprized all who beheld her.
This lovely creature was sitting by the fire with Adams, when her attention was suddenly engaged by a voice from an inner room, which sung the following song:—
Say, Chloe, where must the swain stray
Who is by thy beauties undone?
To wash their remembrance away,
To what distant Lethe must run?
The wretch who is sentenced to die
May escape, and leave justice behind;
From his country perhaps he may fly,
But oh! can he fly from his mind?
O rapture! unthought of before,
To be thus of Chloe possess’d;
Nor she, nor no tyrant’s hard power,
Her image can tear from my breast.
But felt not Narcissus more joy,
With his eyes he beheld his loved charms?
Yet what he beheld the fond boy
More eagerly wish’d in his arms.
How can it thy dear image be
Which fills thus my bosom with woe?
Can aught bear resemblance to thee
Which grief and not joy can bestow?
This counterfeit snatch from my heart,
Ye pow’rs, tho’ with torment I rave,
Tho’ mortal will prove the fell smart:
I then shall find rest in my grave.
Ah, see the dear nymph o’er the plain
Come smiling and tripping along!
A thousand Loves dance in her train,
The Graces around her all throng.
To meet her soft Zephyrus flies,
And wafts all the sweets from the flowers,
Ah, rogue I whilst he kisses her eyes,
More sweets from her breath he devours.
My soul, whilst I gaze, is on fire:
But her looks were so tender and kind,
My hope almost reach’d my desire,
And left lame despair far behind.
Transported with madness, I flew,
And eagerly seized on my bliss;
Her bosom but half she withdrew,
But half she refused my fond kiss.
Advances like these made me bold;
I whisper’d her—Love, we’re alone.—
The rest let immortals unfold;
No language can tell but their own.
Ah, Chloe, expiring, I cried,
How long I thy cruelty bore!
Ah, Strephon, she blushing replied,
You ne’er was so pressing before.
Adams had been ruminating all this time on a passage in Aeschylus, without attending in the least to the voice, though one of the most melodious that ever was heard, when, casting his eyes on Fanny, he cried out, “Bless us, you look extremely pale!”—“Pale! Mr Adams,” says she; “O Jesus!” and fell backwards in her chair. Adams jumped up, flung his Aeschylus into the fire, and fell a-roaring to the people of the house for help. He soon summoned every one into the room, and the songster among the rest; but, O reader! when this nightingale, who was no other than Joseph Andrews himself, saw his beloved Fanny in the situation we have described her, canst thou conceive the agitations of his mind? If thou canst not, waive that meditation to behold his happiness, when, clasping her in his arms, he found life and blood returning into her cheeks: when he saw her open her beloved eyes, and heard her with the softest accent whisper, “Are you Joseph Andrews?”—“Art thou my Fanny?” he answered eagerly: and, pulling her to his heart, he imprinted numberless kisses on her lips, without considering who were present.
If prudes are offended at the lusciousness of this picture, they may take their eyes off from it, and survey parson Adams dancing about the room in a rapture of joy. Some philosophers may perhaps doubt whether he was not the happiest of the three: for the goodness of his heart enjoyed the blessings which were exulting in the breasts of both the other two, together with his own. But we shall leave such disquisitions, as too deep for us, to those who are building some favourite hypothesis, which they will refuse no metaphysical rubbish to erect and support: for our part, we give it clearly on the side of Joseph, whose happiness was not only greater than the parson’s, but of longer duration: for as soon as the first tumults of Adams’s rapture were over he cast his eyes towards the fire, where Aeschylus lay expiring; and immediately rescued the poor remains, to wit, the sheepskin covering, of his dear friend, which was the work of his own hands, and had been his inseparable companion for upwards of thirty years.
Fanny had no sooner perfectly recovered herself than she began to restrain the impetuosity of her transports; and, reflecting on what she had done and suffered in the presence of so many, she was immediately covered with confusion; and, pushing Joseph gently from her, she begged him to be quiet, nor would admit of either kiss or embrace any longer. Then, seeing Mrs Slipslop, she curtsied, and offered to advance to her; but that high woman would not return her curtsies; but, casting her eyes another way, immediately withdrew into another room, muttering, as she went, she wondered who the creature was.
A dissertation concerning high people and low people, with Mrs Slipslop’s departure in no very good temper of mind, and the evil plight in which she left Adams and his company.
It will doubtless seem extremely odd to many readers, that Mrs Slipslop, who had lived several years in the same house with Fanny, should, in a short separation, utterly forget her. And indeed the truth is, that she remembered her very well. As we would not willingly, therefore, that anything should appear unnatural in this our history, we will endeavour to explain the reasons of her conduct; nor do we doubt being able to satisfy the most curious reader that Mrs Slipslop did not in the least deviate from the common road in this behaviour; and, indeed, had she done otherwise, she must have descended below herself, and would have very justly been liable to censure.
Be it known then, that the human species are divided into two sorts of people, to wit, high people and low people. As by high people I would not be understood to mean persons literally born higher in their dimensions than the rest of the species, nor metaphorically those of exalted characters or abilities; so by low people I cannot be construed to intend the reverse. High people signify no other than people of fashion, and low people those of no fashion. Now, this word fashion hath by long use lost its original meaning, from which at present it gives us a very different idea; for I am deceived if by persons of fashion we do not generally include a conception of birth and accomplishments superior to the herd of mankind; whereas, in reality, nothing more was originally meant by a person of fashion than a person who drest himself in the fashion of the times; and the word really and truly signifies no more at this day. Now, the world being thus divided into people of fashion and people of no fashion, a fierce contention arose between them; nor would those of one party, to avoid suspicion, be seen publicly to speak to those of the other, though they often held a very good correspondence in private. In this contention it is difficult to say which party succeeded; for, whilst the people of fashion seized several places to their own use, such as courts, assemblies, operas, balls, &c., the people of no fashion, besides one royal place, called his Majesty’s Bear-garden, have been in constant possession of all hops, fairs, revels, &c. Two places have been agreed to be divided between them, namely, the church and the playhouse, where they segregate themselves from each other in a remarkable manner; for, as the people of fashion exalt themselves at church over the heads of the people of no fashion, so in the playhouse they abase themselves in the same degree under their feet. This distinction I have never met with any one able to account for: it is sufficient that, so far from looking on each other as brethren in the Christian language, they seem scarce to regard each other as of the same species. This, the terms “strange persons, people one does not know, the creature, wretches, beasts, brutes,” and many other appellations evidently demonstrate; which Mrs Slipslop, having often heard her mistress use, thought she had also a right to use in her turn; and perhaps she was not mistaken; for these two parties, especially those bordering nearly on each other, to wit, the lowest of the high, and the highest of the low, often change their parties according to place and time; for those who are people of fashion in one place are often people of no fashion in another. And with regard to time, it may not be unpleasant to survey the picture of dependance like a kind of ladder; as, for instance; early in the morning arises the postillion, or some other boy, which great families, no more than great ships, are without, and falls to brushing the clothes and cleaning the shoes of John the footman; who, being drest himself, applies his hands to the same labours for Mr Second-hand, the squire’s gentleman; the gentleman in the like manner, a little later in the day, attends the squire; the squire is no sooner equipped than he attends the levee of my lord; which is no sooner over than my lord himself is seen at the levee of the favourite, who, after the hour of homage is at an end, appears himself to pay homage to the levee of his sovereign. Nor is there, perhaps, in this whole ladder of dependance, any one step at a greater distance from the other than the first from the second; so that to a philosopher the question might only seem, whether you would chuse to be a great man at six in the morning, or at two in the afternoon. And yet there are scarce two of these who do not think the least familiarity with the persons below them a condescension, and, if they were to go one step farther, a degradation.
And now, reader, I hope thou wilt pardon this long digression, which seemed to me necessary to vindicate the great character of Mrs Slipslop from what low people, who have never seen high people, might think an absurdity; but we who know them must have daily found very high persons know us in one place and not in another, to-day and not to-morrow; all which it is difficult to account for otherwise than I have here endeavoured; and perhaps, if the gods, according to the opinion of some, made men only to laugh at them, there is no part of our behaviour which answers the end of our creation better than this.
But to return to our history: Adams, who knew no more of this than the cat which sat on the table, imagining Mrs Slipslop’s memory had been much worse than it really was, followed her into the next room, crying out, “Madam Slipslop, here is one of your old acquaintance; do but see what a fine woman she is grown since she left Lady Booby’s service.”—“I think I reflect something of her,” answered she, with great dignity, “but I can’t remember all the inferior servants in our family.” She then proceeded to satisfy Adams’s curiosity, by telling him, “When she arrived at the inn, she found a chaise ready for her; that, her lady being expected very shortly in the country, she was obliged to make the utmost haste; and, in commensuration of Joseph’s lameness, she had taken him with her;” and lastly, “that the excessive virulence of the storm had driven them into the house where he found them.” After which, she acquainted Adams with his having left his horse, and exprest some wonder at his having strayed so far out of his way, and at meeting him, as she said, “in the company of that wench, who she feared was no better than she should be.”
The horse was no sooner put into Adams’s head but he was immediately driven out by this reflection on the character of Fanny. He protested, “He believed there was not a chaster damsel in the universe. I heartily wish, I heartily wish,” cried he (snapping his fingers), “that all her betters were as good.” He then proceeded to inform her of the accident of their meeting; but when he came to mention the circumstance of delivering her from the rape, she said, “She thought him properer for the army than the clergy; that it did not become a clergyman to lay violent hands on any one; that he should have rather prayed that she might be strengthened.” Adams said, “He was very far from being ashamed of what he had done:” she replied, “Want of shame was not the currycuristic of a clergyman.” This dialogue might have probably grown warmer, had not Joseph opportunely entered the room, to ask leave of Madam Slipslop to introduce Fanny: but she positively refused to admit any such trollops, and told him, “She would have been burnt before she would have suffered him to get into a chaise with her, if she had once respected him of having his sluts waylaid on the road for him;” adding, “that Mr Adams acted a very pretty part, and she did not doubt but to see him a bishop.” He made the best bow he could, and cried out, “I thank you, madam, for that right-reverend appellation, which I shall take all honest means to deserve.”—“Very honest means,” returned she, with a sneer, “to bring people together.” At these words Adams took two or three strides across the room, when the coachman came to inform Mrs Slipslop, “That the storm was over, and the moon shone very bright.” She then sent for Joseph, who was sitting without with his Fanny, and would have had him gone with her; but he peremptorily refused to leave Fanny behind, which threw the good woman into a violent rage. She said, “She would inform her lady what doings were carrying on, and did not doubt but she would rid the parish of all such people;” and concluded a long speech, full of bitterness and very hard words, with some reflections on the clergy not decent to repeat; at last, finding Joseph unmoveable, she flung herself into the chaise, casting a look at Fanny as she went, not unlike that which Cleopatra gives Octavia in the play. To say the truth, she was most disagreeably disappointed by the presence of Fanny: she had, from her first seeing Joseph at the inn, conceived hopes of something which might have been accomplished at an alehouse as well as a palace. Indeed, it is probable Mr Adams had rescued more than Fanny from the clanger of a rape that evening.
When the chaise had carried off the enraged Slipslop, Adams, Joseph, and Fanny assembled over the fire, where they had a great deal of innocent chat, pretty enough; but, as possibly it would not be very entertaining to the reader, we shall hasten to the morning; only observing that none of them went to bed that night. Adams, when he had smoaked three pipes, took a comfortable nap in a great chair, and left the lovers, whose eyes were too well employed to permit any desire of shutting them, to enjoy by themselves, during some hours, an happiness which none of my readers who have never been in love are capable of the least conception of, though we had as many tongues as Homer desired, to describe it with, and which all true lovers will represent to their own minds without the least assistance from us.
Let it suffice then to say, that Fanny, after a thousand entreaties, at last gave up her whole soul to Joseph; and, almost fainting in his arms, with a sigh infinitely softer and sweeter too than any Arabian breeze, she whispered to his lips, which were then close to hers, “O Joseph, you have won me: I will be yours for ever.” Joseph, having thanked her on his knees, and embraced her with an eagerness which she now almost returned, leapt up in a rapture, and awakened the parson, earnestly begging him “that he would that instant join their hands together.” Adams rebuked him for his request, and told him “He would by no means consent to anything contrary to the forms of the Church; that he had no licence, nor indeed would he advise him to obtain one; that the Church had prescribed a form—namely, the publication of banns—with which all good Christians ought to comply, and to the omission of which he attributed the many miseries which befell great folks in marriage;” concluding, “As many as are joined together otherwise than G—’s word doth allow are not joined together by G—, neither is their matrimony lawful.” Fanny agreed with the parson, saying to Joseph, with a blush, “She assured him she would not consent to any such thing, and that she wondered at his offering it.” In which resolution she was comforted and commended by Adams; and Joseph was obliged to wait patiently till after the third publication of the banns, which, however, he obtained the consent of Fanny, in the presence of Adams, to put in at their arrival.
The sun had been now risen some hours, when Joseph, finding his leg urprisingly recovered, proposed to walk forwards; but when they were all ready to set out, an accident a little retarded them. This was no other than the reckoning, which amounted to seven shillings; no great sum if we consider the immense quantity of ale which Mr Adams poured in. Indeed, they had no objection to the reasonableness of the bill, but many to the probability of paying it; for the fellow who had taken poor Fanny’s purse had unluckily forgot to return it. So that the account stood thus:—
They stood silent some few minutes, staring at each other, when Adams whipt out on his toes, and asked the hostess, “If there was no clergyman in that parish?” She answered, “There was.”—“Is he wealthy?” replied he; to which she likewise answered in the affirmative. Adams then snapping his fingers returned overjoyed to his companions, crying out, “Heureka, Heureka;” which not being understood, he told them in plain English, “They need give themselves no trouble, for he had a brother in the parish who would defray the reckoning, and that he would just step to his house and fetch the money, and return to them instantly.”
4.10.2 Reading and Review Questions
Joseph Andrews includes a range of characters, from the aristocracy to their servants. How, if at all, does Fielding use the servant class to criticize the upper classes? Is Fielding aiming for a change in the social order, do you think? Why, or why not?
Why does Fielding address the reader directly? What’s the effect of his doing so, do you think?
A number of innocent victims are shown spontaneous malice and wicked behavior in this work. Why? What’s Fielding’s purpose, do you think?
What purpose does the character of the Peddler serve, do you think? What’s the relation of the Peddler to other characters, and to humanity in general?
Coincidence plays a large role in the plot and action of Joseph Andrews. Why, do you think? How much, if any, reason and logic does Fielding expect his readers to apply to understanding the plot?