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[A] 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.
[A] In English, sprung from a dunghill.
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[A] 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.
[A] It may seem an absurdity that Tattle should visit, as she actually did, to spread a known scandal: but the reader may reconcile this by supposing, with me, that, notwithstanding what she says, this was her first acquaintance with it.
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.