A scene of roasting, very nicely adapted to the present taste and times.
They arrived at the squire's house just as his dinner was ready. A little dispute arose on the account of Fanny, whom the squire, who was a bachelor, was desirous to place at his own table; but she would not consent, nor would Mr Adams permit her to be parted from Joseph; so that she was at length with him consigned over to the kitchen, where the servants were ordered to make him drunk; a favour which was likewise intended for Adams; which design being executed, the squire thought he should easily accomplish what he had when he first saw her intended to perpetrate with Fanny.
It may not be improper, before we proceed farther, to open a little the character of this gentleman, and that of his friends. The master of this house, then, was a man of a very considerable fortune; a bachelor, as we have said, and about forty years of age: he had been educated (if we may use the expression) in the country, and at his own home, under the care of his mother, and a tutor who had orders never to correct him, nor to compel him to learn more than he liked, which it seems was very little, and that only in his childhood; for from the age of fifteen he addicted himself entirely to hunting and other rural amusements, for which his mother took care to equip him with horses, hounds, and all other necessaries; and his tutor, endeavouring to ingratiate himself with his young pupil, who would, he knew, be able handsomely to provide for him, became his companion, not only at these exercises, but likewise over a bottle, which the young squire had a very early relish for. At the age of twenty his mother began to think she had not fulfilled the duty of a parent; she therefore resolved to persuade her son, if possible, to that which she imagined would well supply all that he might have learned at a public school or university—this is what they commonly call travelling; which, with the help of the tutor, who was fixed on to attend him, she easily succeeded in. He made in three years the tour of Europe, as they term it, and returned home well furnished with French clothes, phrases, and servants, with a hearty contempt for his own country; especially what had any savour of the plain spirit and honesty of our ancestors. His mother greatly applauded herself at his return. And now, being master of his own fortune, he soon procured himself a seat in Parliament, and was in the common opinion one of the finest gentlemen of his age: but what distinguished him chiefly was a strange delight which he took in everything which is ridiculous, odious, and absurd in his own species; so that he never chose a companion without one or more of these ingredients, and those who were marked by nature in the most eminent degree with them were most his favourites. If he ever found a man who either had not, or endeavoured to conceal, these imperfections, he took great pleasure in inventing methods of forcing him into absurdities which were not natural to him, or in drawing forth and exposing those that were; for which purpose he was always provided with a set of fellows, whom we have before called curs, and who did, indeed, no great honour to the canine kind; their business was to hunt out and display everything that had any savour of the above-mentioned qualities, and especially in the gravest and best characters; but if they failed in their search, they were to turn even virtue and wisdom themselves into ridicule, for the diversion of their master and feeder. The gentlemen of curlike disposition who were now at his house, and whom he had brought with him from London, were, an old half-pay officer, a player, a dull poet, a quack-doctor, a scraping fiddler, and a lame German dancing-master.
As soon as dinner was served, while Mr Adams was saying grace, the captain conveyed his chair from behind him; so that when he endeavoured to seat himself he fell down on the ground, and this completed joke the first, to the great entertainment of the whole company. The second joke was performed by the poet, who sat next him on the other side, and took an opportunity, while poor Adams was respectfully drinking to the master of the house, to overturn a plate of soup into his breeches; which, with the many apologies he made, and the parson's gentle answers, caused much mirth in the company. Joke the third was served up by one of the waiting-men, who had been ordered to convey a quantity of gin into Mr Adams's ale, which he declaring to be the best liquor he ever drank, but rather too rich of the malt, contributed again to their laughter. Mr Adams, from whom we had most of this relation, could not recollect all the jests of this kind practised on him, which the inoffensive disposition of his own heart made him slow in discovering; and indeed, had it not been for the information which we received from a servant of the family, this part of our history, which we take to be none of the least curious, must have been deplorably imperfect; though we must own it probable that some more jokes were (as they call it) cracked during their dinner; but we have by no means been able to come at the knowledge of them. When dinner was removed, the poet began to repeat some verses, which, he said, were made extempore. The following is a copy of them, procured with the greatest difficulty:—
An extempore Poem on parson Adams.
Did ever mortal such a parson view?
His cassock old, his wig not over-new,
Well might the hounds have him for fox mistaken,
In smell more like to that than rusty bacon[A];
But would it not make any mortal stare
To see this parson taken for a hare?
Could Phoebus err thus grossly, even he
For a good player might have taken thee.
[A] All hounds that will hunt fox or other vermin will hunt a piece of
rusty bacon trailed on the ground.
At which words the bard whipt off the player's wig, and received the approbation of the company, rather perhaps for the dexterity of his hand than his head. The player, instead of retorting the jest on the poet, began to display his talents on the same subject. He repeated many scraps of wit out of plays, reflecting on the whole body of the clergy, which were received with great acclamations by all present. It was now the dancing-master's turn to exhibit his talents; he therefore, addressing himself to Adams in broken English, told him, "He was a man ver well made for de dance, and he suppose by his walk dat he had learn of some great master." He said, "It was ver pretty quality in clergyman to dance;" and concluded with desiring him to dance a minuet, telling him, "his cassock would serve for petticoats; and that he would himself be his partner." At which words, without waiting for an answer, he pulled out his gloves, and the fiddler was preparing his fiddle. The company all offered the dancing-master wagers that the parson out-danced him, which he refused, saying "he believed so too, for he had never seen any man in his life who looked de dance so well as de gentleman:" he then stepped forwards to take Adams by the hand, which the latter hastily withdrew, and, at the same time clenching his fist, advised him not to carry the jest too far, for he would not endure being put upon. The dancing-master no sooner saw the fist than he prudently retired out of its reach, and stood aloof, mimicking Adams, whose eyes were fixed on him, not guessing what he was at, but to avoid his laying hold on him, which he had once attempted. In the meanwhile, the captain, perceiving an opportunity, pinned a cracker or devil to the cassock, and then lighted it with their little smoking-candle. Adams, being a stranger to this sport, and believing he had been blown up in reality, started from his chair, and jumped about the room, to the infinite joy of the beholders, who declared he was the best dancer in the universe. As soon as the devil had done tormenting him, and he had a little recovered his confusion, he returned to the table, standing up in the posture of one who intended to make a speech. They all cried out, "Hear him, hear him;" and he then spoke in the following manner: "Sir, I am sorry to see one to whom Providence hath been so bountiful in bestowing his favours make so ill and ungrateful a return for them; for, though you have not insulted me yourself, it is visible you have delighted in those that do it, nor have once discouraged the many rudenesses which have been shown towards me; indeed, towards yourself, if you rightly understood them; for I am your guest, and by the laws of hospitality entitled to your protection. One gentleman had thought proper to produce some poetry upon me, of which I shall only say, that I had rather be the subject than the composer. He hath pleased to treat me with disrespect as a parson. I apprehend my order is not the subject of scorn, nor that I can become so, unless by being a disgrace to it, which I hope poverty will never be called. Another gentleman, indeed, hath repeated some sentences, where the order itself is mentioned with contempt. He says they are taken from plays. I am sure such plays are a scandal to the government which permits them, and cursed will be the nation where they are represented. How others have treated me I need not observe; they themselves, when they reflect, must allow the behaviour to be as improper to my years as to my cloth. You found me, sir, travelling with two of my parishioners (I omit your hounds falling on me; for I have quite forgiven it, whether it proceeded from the wantonness or negligence of the huntsman): my appearance might very well persuade you that your invitation was an act of charity, though in reality we were well provided; yes, sir, if we had had an hundred miles to travel, we had sufficient to bear our expenses in a noble manner." (At which words he produced the half-guinea which was found in the basket.) "I do not show you this out of ostentation of riches, but to convince you I speak truth. Your seating me at your table was an honour which I did not ambitiously affect. When I was here, I endeavoured to behave towards you with the utmost respect; if I have failed, it was not with design; nor could I, certainly, so far be guilty as to deserve the insults I have suffered. If they were meant, therefore, either to my order or my poverty (and you see I am not very poor), the shame doth not lie at my door, and I heartily pray that the sin may be averted from yours." He thus finished, and received a general clap from the whole company. Then the gentleman of the house told him, "He was sorry for what had happened; that he could not accuse him of any share in it; that the verses were, as himself had well observed, so bad, that he might easily answer them; and for the serpent, it was undoubtedly a very great affront done him by the dancing-master, for which, if he well thrashed him, as he deserved, he should be very much pleased to see it" (in which, probably, he spoke truth). Adams answered, "Whoever had done it, it was not his profession to punish him that way; but for the person whom he had accused, I am a witness," says he, "of his innocence; for I had my eye on him all the while. Whoever he was, God forgive him, and bestow on him a little more sense as well as humanity." The captain answered with a surly look and accent, "That he hoped he did not mean to reflect upon him; d—n him, he had as much imanity as another, and, if any man said he had not, he would convince him of his mistake by cutting his throat." Adams, smiling, said, "He believed he had spoke right by accident." To which the captain returned, "What do you mean by my speaking right? If you was not a parson, I would not take these words; but your gown protects you. If any man who wears a sword had said so much, I had pulled him by the nose before this." Adams replied, "If he attempted any rudeness to his person, he would not find any protection for himself in his gown;" and, clenching his fist, declared "he had thrashed many a stouter man." The gentleman did all he could to encourage this warlike disposition in Adams, and was in hopes to have produced a battle, but he was disappointed; for the captain made no other answer than, "It is very well you are a parson;" and so, drinking off a bumper to old mother Church, ended the dispute.
Then the doctor, who had hitherto been silent, and who was the gravest but most mischievous dog of all, in a very pompous speech highly applauded what Adams had said, and as much discommended the behaviour to him. He proceeded to encomiums on the Church and poverty; and, lastly, recommended forgiveness of what had passed to Adams, who immediately answered, "That everything was forgiven;" and in the warmth of his goodness he filled a bumper of strong beer (a liquor he preferred to wine), and drank a health to the whole company, shaking the captain and the poet heartily by the hand, and addressing himself with great respect to the doctor; who, indeed, had not laughed outwardly at anything that past, as he had a perfect command of his muscles, and could laugh inwardly without betraying the least symptoms in his countenance. The doctor now began a second formal speech, in which he declaimed against all levity of conversation, and what is usually called mirth. He said, "There were amusements fitted for persons of all ages and degrees, from the rattle to the discussing a point of philosophy; and that men discovered themselves in nothing more than in the choice of their amusements; for," says he, "as it must greatly raise our expectation of the future conduct in life of boys whom in their tender years we perceive, instead of taw or balls, or other childish playthings, to chuse, at their leisure hours, to exercise their genius in contentions of wit, learning, and such like; so must it inspire one with equal contempt of a man, if we should discover him playing at taw or other childish play." Adams highly commended the doctor's opinion, and said, "He had often wondered at some passages in ancient authors, where Scipio, Laelius, and other great men were represented to have passed many hours in amusements of the most trifling kind." The doctor replied, "He had by him an old Greek manuscript where a favourite diversion of Socrates was recorded." "Ay!" says the parson eagerly; "I should be most infinitely obliged to you for the favour of perusing it." The doctor promised to send it him, and farther said, "That he believed he could describe it. I think," says he, "as near as I can remember, it was this: there was a throne erected, on one side of which sat a king and on the other a queen, with their guards and attendants ranged on both sides; to them was introduced an ambassador, which part Socrates always used to perform himself; and when he was led up to the footsteps of the throne he addressed himself to the monarchs in some grave speech, full of virtue, and goodness, and morality, and such like. After which, he was seated between the king and queen, and royally entertained. This I think was the chief part. Perhaps I may have forgot some particulars; for it is long since I read it." Adams said, "It was, indeed, a diversion worthy the relaxation of so great a man; and thought something resembling it should be instituted among our great men, instead of cards and other idle pastime, in which, he was informed, they trifled away too much of their lives." He added, "The Christian religion was a nobler subject for these speeches than any Socrates could have invented." The gentleman of the house approved what Mr Adams said, and declared "he was resolved to perform the ceremony this very evening." To which the doctor objected, as no one was prepared with a speech, "unless," said he (turning to Adams with a gravity of countenance which would have deceived a more knowing man), "you have a sermon about you, doctor." "Sir," said Adams, "I never travel without one, for fear of what may happen." He was easily prevailed on by his worthy friend, as he now called the doctor, to undertake the part of the ambassador; so that the gentleman sent immediate orders to have the throne erected, which was performed before they had drank two bottles; and, perhaps, the reader will hereafter have no great reason to admire the nimbleness of the servants. Indeed, to confess the truth, the throne was no more than this: there was a great tub of water provided, on each side of which were placed two stools raised higher than the surface of the tub, and over the whole was laid a blanket; on these stools were placed the king and queen, namely, the master of the house and the captain. And now the ambassador was introduced between the poet and the doctor; who, having read his sermon, to the great entertainment of all present, was led up to his place and seated between their majesties. They immediately rose up, when the blanket, wanting its supports at either end, gave way, and soused Adams over head and ears in the water. The captain made his escape, but, unluckily, the gentleman himself not being as nimble as he ought, Adams caught hold of him before he descended from his throne, and pulled him in with him, to the entire secret satisfaction of all the company. Adams, after ducking the squire twice or thrice, leapt out of the tub, and looked sharp for the doctor, whom he would certainly have conveyed to the same place of honour; but he had wisely withdrawn: he then searched for his crabstick, and having found that, as well as his fellow travellers, he declared he would not stay a moment longer in such a house. He then departed, without taking leave of his host, whom he had exacted a more severe revenge on than he intended; for, as he did not use sufficient care to dry himself in time, he caught a cold by the accident which threw him into a fever that had like to have cost him his life.
Which some readers will think too short and others too long.
Adams, and Joseph, who was no less enraged than his friend at the treatment he met with, went out with their sticks in their hands, and carried off Fanny, notwithstanding the opposition of the servants, who did all, without proceeding to violence, in their power to detain them. They walked as fast as they could, not so much from any apprehension of being pursued as that Mr Adams might, by exercise, prevent any harm from the water. The gentleman, who had given such orders to his servants concerning Fanny that he did not in the least fear her getting away, no sooner heard that she was gone, than he began to rave, and immediately despatched several with orders either to bring her back or never return. The poet, the player, and all but the dancing-master and doctor, went on this errand.
The night was very dark in which our friends began their journey; however, they made such expedition, that they soon arrived at an inn which was at seven miles' distance. Here they unanimously consented to pass the evening, Mr Adams being now as dry as he was before he had set out on his embassy.
This inn, which indeed we might call an ale-house, had not the words, The New Inn, been writ on the sign, afforded them no better provision than bread and cheese and ale; on which, however, they made a very comfortable meal; for hunger is better than a French cook.
They had no sooner supped, than Adams, returning thanks to the Almighty for his food, declared he had eat his homely commons with much greater satisfaction than his splendid dinner; and expressed great contempt for the folly of mankind, who sacrificed their hopes of heaven to the acquisition of vast wealth, since so much comfort was to be found in the humblest state and the lowest provision. "Very true, sir," says a grave man who sat smoaking his pipe by the fire, and who was a traveller as well as himself. "I have often been as much surprized as you are, when I consider the value which mankind in general set on riches, since every day's experience shows us how little is in their power; for what, indeed, truly desirable, can they bestow on us? Can they give beauty to the deformed, strength to the weak, or health to the infirm? Surely if they could we should not see so many ill-favoured faces haunting the assemblies of the great, nor would such numbers of feeble wretches languish in their coaches and palaces. No, not the wealth of a kingdom can purchase any paint to dress pale Ugliness in the bloom of that young maiden, nor any drugs to equip Disease with the vigour of that young man. Do not riches bring us to solicitude instead of rest, envy instead of affection, and danger instead of safety? Can they prolong their own possession, or lengthen his days who enjoys them? So far otherwise, that the sloth, the luxury, the care which attend them, shorten the lives of millions, and bring them with pain and misery to an untimely grave. Where, then, is their value if they can neither embellish nor strengthen our forms, sweeten nor prolong our lives?—Again: Can they adorn the mind more than the body? Do they not rather swell the heart with vanity, puff up the cheeks with pride, shut our ears to every call of virtue, and our bowels to every motive of compassion?" "Give me your hand, brother," said Adams, in a rapture, "for I suppose you are a clergyman."—"No, truly," answered the other (indeed, he was a priest of the Church of Rome; but those who understand our laws will not wonder he was not over-ready to own it).—"Whatever you are," cries Adams, "you have spoken my sentiments: I believe I have preached every syllable of your speech twenty times over; for it hath always appeared to me easier for a cable-rope (which by the way is the true rendering of that word we have translated camel) to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into the kingdom of heaven."—"That, sir," said the other, "will be easily granted you by divines, and is deplorably true; but as the prospect of our good at a distance doth not so forcibly affect us, it might be of some service to mankind to be made thoroughly sensible—which I think they might be with very little serious attention—that even the blessings of this world are not to be purchased with riches; a doctrine, in my opinion, not only metaphysically, but, if I may so say, mathematically demonstrable; and which I have been always so perfectly convinced of that I have a contempt for nothing so much as for gold." Adams now began a long discourse: but as most which he said occurs among many authors who have treated this subject, I shall omit inserting it. During its continuance Joseph and Fanny retired to rest, and the host likewise left the room. When the English parson had concluded, the Romish resumed the discourse, which he continued with great bitterness and invective; and at last ended by desiring Adams to lend him eighteen-pence to pay his reckoning; promising, if he never paid him, he might be assured of his prayers. The good man answered that eighteen-pence would be too little to carry him any very long journey; that he had half a guinea in his pocket, which he would divide with him. He then fell to searching his pockets, but could find no money; for indeed the company with whom he dined had passed one jest upon him which we did not then enumerate, and had picked his pocket of all that treasure which he had so ostentatiously produced.
"Bless me!" cried Adams, "I have certainly lost it; I can never have spent it. Sir, as I am a Christian, I had a whole half-guinea in my pocket this morning, and have not now a single halfpenny of it left. Sure the devil must have taken it from me!"—"Sir," answered the priest, smiling, "you need make no excuses; if you are not willing to lend me the money, I am contented."—"Sir," cries Adams, "if I had the greatest sum in the world—aye, if I had ten pounds about me—I would bestow it all to rescue any Christian from distress. I am more vexed at my loss on your account than my own. Was ever anything so unlucky? Because I have no money in my pocket I shall be suspected to be no Christian."—"I am more unlucky," quoth the other, "if you are as generous as you say; for really a crown would have made me happy, and conveyed me in plenty to the place I am going, which is not above twenty miles off, and where I can arrive by to-morrow night. I assure you I am not accustomed to travel pennyless. I am but just arrived in England; and we were forced by a storm in our passage to throw all we had overboard. I don't suspect but this fellow will take my word for the trifle I owe him; but I hate to appear so mean as to confess myself without a shilling to such people; for these, and indeed too many others, know little difference in their estimation between a beggar and a thief." However, he thought he should deal better with the host that evening than the next morning: he therefore resolved to set out immediately, notwithstanding the darkness; and accordingly, as soon as the host returned, he communicated to him the situation of his affairs; upon which the host, scratching his head, answered, "Why, I do not know, master; if it be so, and you have no money, I must trust, I think, though I had rather always have ready money if I could; but, marry, you look like so honest a gentleman that I don't fear your paying me if it was twenty times as much." The priest made no reply, but, taking leave of him and Adams as fast as he could, not without confusion, and perhaps with some distrust of Adams's sincerity, departed.
He was no sooner gone than the host fell a-shaking his head, and declared, if he had suspected the fellow had no money, he would not have drawn him a single drop of drink, saying he despaired of ever seeing his face again, for that he looked like a confounded rogue.
"Rabbit the fellow," cries he, "I thought, by his talking so much about riches, that he had a hundred pounds at least in his pocket." Adams chid him for his suspicions, which, he said, were not becoming a Christian; and then, without reflecting on his loss, or considering how he himself should depart in the morning, he retired to a very homely bed, as his companions had before; however, health and fatigue gave them a sweeter repose than is often in the power of velvet and down to bestow.
Containing as surprizing and bloody adventures as can be found in this or perhaps any other authentic history.
It was almost morning when Joseph Andrews, whose eyes the thoughts of his dear Fanny had opened, as he lay fondly meditating on that lovely creature, heard a violent knocking at the door over which he lay. He presently jumped out of bed, and, opening the window, was asked if there were no travellers in the house? and presently, by another voice, if two men and a woman had not taken up there their lodging that night? Though he knew not the voices, he began to entertain a suspicion of the truth—for indeed he had received some information from one of the servants of the squire's house of his design—and answered in the negative. One of the servants, who knew the host well, called out to him by his name just as he had opened another window, and asked him the same question; to which he answered in the affirmative. O ho! said another, have we found you? and ordered the host to come down and open his door. Fanny, who was as wakeful as Joseph, no sooner heard all this than she leaped from her bed, and, hastily putting on her gown and petticoats, ran as fast as possible to Joseph's room, who then was almost drest. He immediately let her in, and, embracing her with the most passionate tenderness, bid her fear nothing, for he would die in her defence. "Is that a reason why I should not fear," says she, "when I should lose what is dearer to me than the whole world?" Joseph, then kissing her hand, said, "He could almost thank the occasion which had extorted from her a tenderness she would never indulge him with before." He then ran and waked his bedfellow Adams, who was yet fast asleep, notwithstanding many calls from Joseph; but was no sooner made sensible of their danger than he leaped from his bed, without considering the presence of Fanny, who hastily turned her face from him, and enjoyed a double benefit from the dark, which, as it would have prevented any offence, to an innocence less pure, or a modesty less delicate, so it concealed even those blushes which were raised in her.
Adams had soon put on all his clothes but his breeches, which, in the hurry, he forgot; however, they were pretty well supplied by the length of his other garments; and now, the house-door being opened, the captain, the poet, the player, and three servants came in. The captain told the host that two fellows, who were in his house, had run away with a young woman, and desired to know in which room she lay. The host, who presently believed the story, directed them, and instantly the captain and poet, justling one another, ran up. The poet, who was the nimblest, entering the chamber first, searched the bed, and every other part, but to no purpose; the bird was flown, as the impatient reader, who might otherwise have been in pain for her, was before advertised. They then enquired where the men lay, and were approaching the chamber, when Joseph roared out, in a loud voice, that he would shoot the first man who offered to attack the door. The captain enquired what fire-arms they had; to which the host answered, he believed they had none; nay, he was almost convinced of it, for he had heard one ask the other in the evening what they should have done if they had been overtaken, when they had no arms; to which the other answered, they would have defended themselves with their sticks as long as they were able, and God would assist a just cause. This satisfied the captain, but not the poet, who prudently retreated downstairs, saying, it was his business to record great actions, and not to do them. The captain was no sooner well satisfied that there were no fire-arms than, bidding defiance to gunpowder, and swearing he loved the smell of it, he ordered the servants to follow him, and, marching boldly up, immediately attempted to force the door, which the servants soon helped him to accomplish. When it was opened, they discovered the enemy drawn up three deep; Adams in the front, and Fanny in the rear. The captain told Adams that if they would go all back to the house again they should be civilly treated; but unless they consented he had orders to carry the young lady with him, whom there was great reason to believe they had stolen from her parents; for, notwithstanding her disguise, her air, which she could not conceal, sufficiently discovered her birth to be infinitely superior to theirs. Fanny, bursting into tears, solemnly assured him he was mistaken; that she was a poor helpless foundling, and had no relation in the world which she knew of; and, throwing herself on her knees, begged that he would not attempt to take her from her friends, who, she was convinced, would die before they would lose her; which Adams confirmed with words not far from amounting to an oath. The captain swore he had no leisure to talk, and, bidding them thank themselves for what happened, he ordered the servants to fall on, at the same time endeavouring to pass by Adams, in order to lay hold on Fanny; but the parson, interrupting him, received a blow from one of them, which, without considering whence it came, he returned to the captain, and gave him so dexterous a knock in that part of the stomach which is vulgarly called the pit, that he staggered some paces backwards. The captain, who was not accustomed to this kind of play, and who wisely apprehended the consequence of such another blow, two of them seeming to him equal to a thrust through the body, drew forth his hanger, as Adams approached him, and was levelling a blow at his head, which would probably have silenced the preacher for ever, had not Joseph in that instant lifted up a certain huge stone pot of the chamber with one hand, which six beaus could not have lifted with both, and discharged it, together with the contents, full in the captain's face. The uplifted hanger dropped from his hand, and he fell prostrated on the floor with a lumpish noise, and his halfpence rattled in his pocket; the red liquor which his veins contained, and the white liquor which the pot contained, ran in one stream down his face and his clothes. Nor had Adams quite escaped, some of the water having in its passage shed its honours on his head, and began to trickle down the wrinkles or rather furrows of his cheeks, when one of the servants, snatching a mop out of a pail of water, which had already done its duty in washing the house, pushed it in the parson's face; yet could not he bear him down, for the parson, wresting the mop from the fellow with one hand, with the other brought his enemy as low as the earth, having given him a stroke over that part of the face where, in some men of pleasure, the natural and artificial noses are conjoined.
Hitherto, Fortune seemed to incline the victory on the travellers' side, when, according to her custom, she began to show the fickleness of her disposition; for now the host, entering the field, or rather chamber of battle, flew directly at Joseph, and, darting his head into his stomach (for he was a stout fellow and an expert boxer), almost staggered him: but Joseph, stepping one leg back, did with his left hand so chuck him under the chin that he reeled. The youth was pursuing his blow with his right hand when he received from one of the servants such a stroke with a cudgel on his temples, that it instantly deprived him of sense, and he measured his length on the ground.
Fanny rent the air with her cries, and Adams was coming to the assistance of Joseph; but the two serving-men and the host now fell on him, and soon subdued him, though he fought like a madman, and looked so black with the impressions he had received from the mop, that Don Quixote would certainly have taken him for an inchanted Moor. But now follows the most tragical part; for the captain was risen again, and, seeing Joseph on the floor, and Adams secured, he instantly laid hold on Fanny, and, with the assistance of the poet and player, who, hearing the battle was over, were now come up, dragged her, crying and tearing her hair, from the sight of her Joseph, and, with a perfect deafness to all her entreaties, carried her downstairs by violence, and fastened her on the player's horse; and the captain, mounting his own, and leading that on which this poor miserable wretch was, departed, without any more consideration of her cries than a butcher hath of those of a lamb; for indeed his thoughts were entertained only with the degree of favour which he promised himself from the squire on the success of this adventure.
The servants, who were ordered to secure Adams and Joseph as safe as possible, that the squire might receive no interruption to his design on poor Fanny, immediately, by the poet's advice, tied Adams to one of the bed-posts, as they did Joseph on the other side, as soon as they could bring him to himself; and then, leaving them together, back to back, and desiring the host not to set them at liberty, nor to go near them, till he had further orders, they departed towards their master; but happened to take a different road from that which the captain had fallen into.
A discourse between the poet and the player; of no other use in this history but to divert the reader.
Before we proceed any farther in this tragedy we shall leave Mr Joseph and Mr Adams to themselves, and imitate the wise conductors of the stage, who in the midst of a grave action entertain you with some excellent piece of satire or humour called a dance. Which piece, indeed, is therefore danced, and not spoke, as it is delivered to the audience by persons whose thinking faculty is by most people held to lie in their heels; and to whom, as well as heroes, who think with their hands, Nature hath only given heads for the sake of conformity, and as they are of use in dancing, to hang their hats on.
The poet, addressing the player, proceeded thus, "As I was saying" (for they had been at this discourse all the time of the engagement above-stairs), "the reason you have no good new plays is evident; it is from your discouragement of authors. Gentlemen will not write, sir, they will not write, without the expectation of fame or profit, or perhaps both. Plays are like trees, which will not grow without nourishment; but like mushrooms, they shoot up spontaneously, as it were, in a rich soil. The muses, like vines, may be pruned, but not with a hatchet. The town, like a peevish child, knows not what it desires, and is always best pleased with a rattle. A farce-writer hath indeed some chance for success: but they have lost all taste for the sublime. Though I believe one reason of their depravity is the badness of the actors. If a man writes like an angel, sir, those fellows know not how to give a sentiment utterance."—"Not so fast," says the player: "the modern actors are as good at least as their authors, nay, they come nearer their illustrious predecessors; and I expect a Booth on the stage again, sooner than a Shakespear or an Otway; and indeed I may turn your observation against you, and with truth say, that the reason no authors are encouraged is because we have no good new plays."—"I have not affirmed the contrary," said the poet; "but I am surprized you grow so warm; you cannot imagine yourself interested in this dispute; I hope you have a better opinion of my taste than to apprehend I squinted at yourself. No, sir, if we had six such actors as you, we should soon rival the Bettertons and Sandfords of former times; for, without a compliment to you, I think it impossible for any one to have excelled you in most of your parts. Nay, it is solemn truth, and I have heard many, and all great judges, express as much; and, you will pardon me if I tell you, I think every time I have seen you lately you have constantly acquired some new excellence, like a snowball. You have deceived me in my estimation of perfection, and have outdone what I thought inimitable."—"You are as little interested," answered the player, "in what I have said of other poets; for d—n me if there are not many strokes, ay, whole scenes, in your last tragedy, which at least equal Shakespear. There is a delicacy of sentiment, a dignity of expression in it, which I will own many of our gentlemen did not do adequate justice to. To confess the truth, they are bad enough, and I pity an author who is present at the murder of his works."—"Nay, it is but seldom that it can happen," returned the poet; "the works of most modern authors, like dead-born children, cannot be murdered. It is such wretched half-begotten, half-writ, lifeless, spiritless, low, grovelling stuff, that I almost pity the actor who is obliged to get it by heart, which must be almost as difficult to remember as words in a language you don't understand."—"I am sure," said the player, "if the sentences have little meaning when they are writ, when they are spoken they have less. I know scarce one who ever lays an emphasis right, and much less adapts his action to his character. I have seen a tender lover in an attitude of fighting with his mistress, and a brave hero suing to his enemy with his sword in his hand. I don't care to abuse my profession, but rot me if in my heart I am not inclined to the poet's side."—"It is rather generous in you than just," said the poet; "and, though I hate to speak ill of any person's production—nay, I never do it, nor will—but yet, to do justice to the actors, what could Booth or Betterton have made of such horrible stuff as Fenton's Mariamne, Frowd's Philotas, or Mallet's Eurydice; or those low, dirty, last-dying-speeches, which a fellow in the city of Wapping, your Dillo or Lillo, what was his name, called tragedies?"—"Very well," says the player; "and pray what do you think of such fellows as Quin and Delane, or that face-making puppy young Cibber, that ill-looked dog Macklin, or that saucy slut Mrs Clive? What work would they make with your Shakespears, Otways, and Lees? How would those harmonious lines of the last come from their tongues?—
"'—No more; for I disdain
All pomp when thou art by: far be the noise
Of kings and crowns from us, whose gentle souls
Our kinder fates have steer'd another way.
Free as the forest birds we'll pair together,
Without rememb'ring who our fathers were:
Fly to the arbors, grots, and flow'ry meads;
There in soft murmurs interchange our souls;
Together drink the crystal of the stream,
Or taste the yellow fruit which autumn yields,
And, when the golden evening calls us home,
Wing to our downy nests, and sleep till morn.'
"Or how would this disdain of Otway—
"'Who'd be that foolish sordid thing call'd man?'"
"Hold! hold! hold!" said the poet: "Do repeat that tender speech in the third act of my play which you made such a figure in."—"I would willingly," said the player, "but I have forgot it."—"Ay, you was not quite perfect in it when you played it," cries the poet, "or you would have had such an applause as was never given on the stage; an applause I was extremely concerned for your losing."—"Sure," says the player, "if I remember, that was hissed more than any passage in the whole play."—"Ay, your speaking it was hissed," said the poet.—"My speaking it!" said the player.—"I mean your not speaking it," said the poet. "You was out, and then they hissed."—"They hissed, and then I was out, if I remember," answered the player; "and I must say this for myself, that the whole audience allowed I did your part justice; so don't lay the damnation of your play to my account."—"I don't know what you mean by damnation," replied the poet.—"Why, you know it was acted but one night," cried the player.—"No," said the poet, "you and the whole town were enemies; the pit were all my enemies, fellows that would cut my throat, if the fear of hanging did not restrain them. All taylors, sir, all taylors."—"Why should the taylors be so angry with you?" cries the player. "I suppose you don't employ so many in making your clothes."—"I admit your jest," answered the poet; "but you remember the affair as well as myself; you know there was a party in the pit and upper gallery that would not suffer it to be given out again; though much, ay infinitely, the majority, all the boxes in particular, were desirous of it; nay, most of the ladies swore they never would come to the house till it was acted again. Indeed, I must own their policy was good in not letting it be given out a second time: for the rascals knew if it had gone a second night it would have run fifty; for if ever there was distress in a tragedy—I am not fond of my own performance; but if I should tell you what the best judges said of it—Nor was it entirely owing to my enemies neither that it did not succeed on the stage as well as it hath since among the polite readers; for you can't say it had justice done it by the performers."—"I think," answered the player, "the performers did the distress of it justice; for I am sure we were in distress enough, who were pelted with oranges all the last act: we all imagined it would have been the last act of our lives."
The poet, whose fury was now raised, had just attempted to answer when they were interrupted, and an end put to their discourse, by an accident, which if the reader is impatient to know, he must skip over the next chapter, which is a sort of counterpart to this, and contains some of the best and gravest matters in the whole book, being a discourse between parson Abraham Adams and Mr Joseph Andrews.
Containing the exhortations of parson Adams to his friend in affliction; calculated for the instruction and improvement of the reader.
Joseph no sooner came perfectly to himself than, perceiving his mistress gone, he bewailed her loss with groans which would have pierced any heart but those which are possessed by some people, and are made of a certain composition not unlike flint in its hardness and other properties; for you may strike fire from them, which will dart through the eyes, but they can never distil one drop of water the same way. His own, poor youth! was of a softer composition; and at those words, "O my dear Fanny! O my love! shall I never, never see thee more?" his eyes overflowed with tears, which would have become any but a hero. In a word, his despair was more easy to be conceived than related.
Mr Adams, after many groans, sitting with his back to Joseph, began thus in a sorrowful tone: "You cannot imagine, my good child, that I entirely blame these first agonies of your grief; for, when misfortunes attack us by surprize, it must require infinitely more learning than you are master of to resist them; but it is the business of a man and a Christian to summon Reason as quickly as he can to his aid; and she will presently teach him patience and submission. Be comforted, therefore, child; I say be comforted. It is true, you have lost the prettiest, kindest, loveliest, sweetest young woman, one with whom you might have expected to have lived in happiness, virtue, and innocence; by whom you might have promised yourself many little darlings, who would have been the delight of your youth and the comfort of your age. You have not only lost her, but have reason to fear the utmost violence which lust and power can inflict upon her. Now, indeed, you may easily raise ideas of horror, which might drive you to despair."—"O I shall run mad!" cries Joseph. "O that I could but command my hands to tear my eyes out and my flesh off!"—"If you would use them to such purposes, I am glad you can't," answered Adams. "I have stated your misfortune as strong as I possibly can; but, on the other side, you are to consider you are a Christian, that no accident happens to us without the Divine permission, and that it is the duty of a man, and a Christian, to submit. We did not make ourselves; but the same power which made us rules over us, and we are absolutely at his disposal; he may do with us what he pleases, nor have we any right to complain. A second reason against our complaint is our ignorance; for, as we know not future events, so neither can we tell to what purpose any accident tends; and that which at first threatens us with evil may in the end produce our good. I should indeed have said our ignorance is twofold (but I have not at present time to divide properly), for, as we know not to what purpose any event is ultimately directed, so neither can we affirm from what cause it originally sprung. You are a man, and consequently a sinner; and this may be a punishment to you for your sins: indeed in this sense it may be esteemed as a good, yea, as the greatest good, which satisfies the anger of Heaven, and averts that wrath which cannot continue without our destruction. Thirdly, our impotency of relieving ourselves demonstrates the folly and absurdity of our complaints: for whom do we resist, or against whom do we complain, but a power from whose shafts no armour can guard us, no speed can fly?—a power which leaves us no hope but in submission." "O sir!" cried Joseph, "all this is very true, and very fine, and I could hear you all day if I was not so grieved at heart as now I am."—"Would you take physic," says Adams, "when you are well, and refuse it when you are sick? Is not comfort to be administered to the afflicted, and not to those who rejoice or those who are at ease?" "O! you have not spoken one word of comfort to me yet!" returned Joseph. "No!" cries Adams; "what am I then doing? what can I say to comfort you?" "O tell me," cries Joseph, "that Fanny will escape back to my arms, that they shall again enclose that lovely creature, with all her sweetness, all her untainted innocence about her!" "Why, perhaps you may," cries Adams, "but I can't promise you what's to come. You must, with perfect resignation, wait the event: if she be restored to you again, it is your duty to be thankful, and so it is if she be not. Joseph, if you are wise and truly know your own interest, you will peaceably and quietly submit to all the dispensations of Providence, being thoroughly assured that all the misfortunes, how great soever, which happen to the righteous, happen to them for their own good. Nay, it is not your interest only, but your duty, to abstain from immoderate grief; which if you indulge, you are not worthy the name of a Christian." He spoke these last words with an accent a little severer than usual; upon which Joseph begged him not to be angry, saying, he mistook him if he thought he denied it was his duty, for he had known that long ago. "What signifies knowing your duty, if you do not perform it?" answered Adams. "Your knowledge increases your guilt. O Joseph! I never thought you had this stubbornness in your mind." Joseph replied, "He fancied he misunderstood him; which I assure you," says he, "you do, if you imagine I endeavour to grieve; upon my soul I don't." Adams rebuked him for swearing, and then proceeded to enlarge on the folly of grief, telling him, all the wise men and philosophers, even among the heathens, had written against it, quoting several passages from Seneca, and the Consolation, which, though it was not Cicero's, was, he said, as good almost as any of his works; and concluded all by hinting that immoderate grief in this case might incense that power which alone could restore him his Fanny. This reason, or indeed rather the idea which it raised of the restoration of his mistress, had more effect than all which the parson had said before, and for a moment abated his agonies; but, when his fears sufficiently set before his eyes the danger that poor creature was in, his grief returned again with repeated violence, nor could Adams in the least asswage it; though it may be doubted in his behalf whether Socrates himself could have prevailed any better.
They remained some time in silence, and groans and sighs issued from them both; at length Joseph burst out into the following soliloquy:—
"Yes, I will bear my sorrows like a man,
But I must also feel them as a man.
I cannot but remember such things were,
And were most dear to me."
Adams asked him what stuff that was he repeated? To which he answered, they were some lines he had gotten by heart out of a play. "Ay, there is nothing but heathenism to be learned from plays," replied he. "I never heard of any plays fit for a Christian to read, but Cato and the Conscious Lovers; and, I must own, in the latter there are some things almost solemn enough for a sermon." But we shall now leave them a little, and enquire after the subject of their conversation.
More adventures, which we hope will as much please as surprize the reader.
Neither the facetious dialogue which passed between the poet and the player, nor the grave and truly solemn discourse of Mr Adams, will, we conceive, make the reader sufficient amends for the anxiety which he must have felt on the account of poor Fanny, whom we left in so deplorable a condition. We shall therefore now proceed to the relation of what happened to that beautiful and innocent virgin, after she fell into the wicked hands of the captain.
The man of war, having conveyed his charming prize out of the inn a little before day, made the utmost expedition in his power towards the squire's house, where this delicate creature was to be offered up a sacrifice to the lust of a ravisher. He was not only deaf to all her bewailings and entreaties on the road, but accosted her ears with impurities which, having been never before accustomed to them, she happily for herself very little understood. At last he changed his note, and attempted to soothe and mollify her, by setting forth the splendor and luxury which would be her fortune with a man who would have the inclination, and power too, to give her whatever her utmost wishes could desire; and told her he doubted not but she would soon look kinder on him, as the instrument of her happiness, and despise that pitiful fellow whom her ignorance only could make her fond of. She answered, she knew not whom he meant; she never was fond of any pitiful fellow. "Are you affronted, madam," says he, "at my calling him so? But what better can be said of one in a livery, notwithstanding your fondness for him?" She returned, that she did not understand him, that the man had been her fellow-servant, and she believed was as honest a creature as any alive; but as for fondness for men—"I warrant ye," cries the captain, "we shall find means to persuade you to be fond; and I advise you to yield to gentle ones, for you may be assured that it is not in your power, by any struggles whatever, to preserve your virginity two hours longer. It will be your interest to consent; for the squire will be much kinder to you if he enjoys you willingly than by force." At which words she began to call aloud for assistance (for it was now open day), but, finding none, she lifted her eyes to heaven, and supplicated the Divine assistance to preserve her innocence. The captain told her, if she persisted in her vociferation, he would find a means of stopping her mouth. And now the poor wretch, perceiving no hopes of succour, abandoned herself to despair, and, sighing out the name of Joseph! Joseph! a river of tears ran down her lovely cheeks, and wet the handkerchief which covered her bosom. A horseman now appeared in the road, upon which the captain threatened her violently if she complained; however, the moment they approached each other she begged him with the utmost earnestness to relieve a distressed creature who was in the hands of a ravisher. The fellow stopt at those words, but the captain assured him it was his wife, and that he was carrying her home from her adulterer, which so satisfied the fellow, who was an old one (and perhaps a married one too), that he wished him a good journey, and rode on. He was no sooner past than the captain abused her violently for breaking his commands, and threatened to gagg her, when two more horsemen, armed with pistols, came into the road just before them. She again solicited their assistance, and the captain told the same story as before. Upon which one said to the other, "That's a charming wench, Jack; I wish I had been in the fellow's place, whoever he is." But the other, instead of answering him, cried out, "Zounds, I know her;" and then, turning to her, said, "Sure you are not Fanny Goodwill?"—"Indeed, indeed, I am," she cried—"O John, I know you now-Heaven hath sent you to my assistance, to deliver me from this wicked man, who is carrying me away for his vile purposes—O for God's sake rescue me from him!" A fierce dialogue immediately ensued between the captain and these two men, who, being both armed with pistols, and the chariot which they attended being now arrived, the captain saw both force and stratagem were vain, and endeavoured to make his escape, in which however he could not succeed. The gentleman who rode in the chariot ordered it to stop, and with an air of authority examined into the merits of the cause; of which being advertised by Fanny, whose credit was confirmed by the fellow who knew her, he ordered the captain, who was all bloody from his encounter at the inn, to be conveyed as a prisoner behind the chariot, and very gallantly took Fanny into it; for, to say the truth, this gentleman (who was no other than the celebrated Mr Peter Pounce, and who preceded the Lady Booby only a few miles, by setting out earlier in the morning) was a very gallant person, and loved a pretty girl better than anything besides his own money or the money of other people.
The chariot now proceeded towards the inn, which, as Fanny was informed, lay in their way, and where it arrived at that very time while the poet and player were disputing below-stairs, and Adams and Joseph were discoursing back to back above; just at that period to which we brought them both in the two preceding chapters the chariot stopt at the door, and in an instant Fanny, leaping from it, ran up to her Joseph.—O reader! conceive if thou canst the joy which fired the breasts of these lovers on this meeting; and if thy own heart doth not sympathetically assist thee in this conception, I pity thee sincerely from my own; for let the hard-hearted villain know this, that there is a pleasure in a tender sensation beyond any which he is capable of tasting.
Peter, being informed by Fanny of the presence of Adams, stopt to see him, and receive his homage; for, as Peter was an hypocrite, a sort of people whom Mr Adams never saw through, the one paid that respect to his seeming goodness which the other believed to be paid to his riches; hence Mr Adams was so much his favourite, that he once lent him four pounds thirteen shillings and sixpence to prevent his going to gaol, on no greater security than a bond and judgment, which probably he would have made no use of, though the money had not been (as it was) paid exactly at the time.
It is not perhaps easy to describe the figure of Adams; he had risen in such a hurry, that he had on neither breeches, garters, nor stockings; nor had he taken from his head a red spotted handkerchief, which by night bound his wig, turned inside out, around his head. He had on his torn cassock and his greatcoat; but, as the remainder of his cassock hung down below his greatcoat, so did a small stripe of white, or rather whitish, linen appear below that; to which we may add the several colours which appeared on his face, where a long piss-burnt beard served to retain the liquor of the stone-pot, and that of a blacker hue which distilled from the mop.—This figure, which Fanny had delivered from his captivity, was no sooner spied by Peter than it disordered the composed gravity of his muscles; however, he advised him immediately to make himself clean, nor would accept his homage in that pickle.
The poet and player no sooner saw the captain in captivity than they began to consider of their own safety, of which flight presented itself as the only means; they therefore both of them mounted the poet's horse, and made the most expeditious retreat in their power.
The host, who well knew Mr Pounce and Lady Booby's livery, was not a little surprized at this change of the scene; nor was his confusion much helped by his wife, who was now just risen, and, having heard from him the account of what had passed, comforted him with a decent number of fools and blockheads; asked him why he did not consult her, and told him he would never leave following the nonsensical dictates of his own numskull till she and her family were ruined.
Joseph, being informed of the captain's arrival, and seeing his Fanny now in safety, quitted her a moment, and, running downstairs, went directly to him, and stripping off his coat, challenged him to fight; but the captain refused, saying he did not understand boxing. He then grasped a cudgel in one hand, and, catching the captain by the collar with the other, gave him a most severe drubbing, and ended with telling him he had now had some revenge for what his dear Fanny had suffered.
When Mr Pounce had a little regaled himself with some provision which he had in his chariot, and Mr Adams had put on the best appearance his clothes would allow him, Pounce ordered the captain into his presence, for he said he was guilty of felony, and the next justice of peace should commit him; but the servants (whose appetite for revenge is soon satisfied), being sufficiently contented with the drubbing which Joseph had inflicted on him, and which was indeed of no very moderate kind, had suffered him to go off, which he did, threatening a severe revenge against Joseph, which I have never heard he thought proper to take.
The mistress of the house made her voluntary appearance before Mr Pounce, and with a thousand curtsies told him, "She hoped his honour would pardon her husband, who was a very nonsense man, for the sake of his poor family; that indeed if he could be ruined alone, she should be very willing of it; for because as why, his worship very well knew he deserved it; but she had three poor small children, who were not capable to get their own living; and if her husband was sent to gaol, they must all come to the parish; for she was a poor weak woman, continually a-breeding, and had no time to work for them. She therefore hoped his honour would take it into his worship's consideration, and forgive her husband this time; for she was sure he never intended any harm to man, woman, or child; and if it was not for that block-head of his own, the man in some things was well enough; for she had had three children by him in less than three years, and was almost ready to cry out the fourth time." She would have proceeded in this manner much longer, had not Peter stopt her tongue, by telling her he had nothing to say to her husband nor her neither. So, as Adams and the rest had assured her of forgiveness, she cried and curtsied out of the room.
Mr Pounce was desirous that Fanny should continue her journey with him in the chariot; but she absolutely refused, saying she would ride behind Joseph on a horse which one of Lady Booby's servants had equipped him with. But, alas! when the horse appeared, it was found to be no other than that identical beast which Mr Adams had left behind him at the inn, and which these honest fellows, who knew him, had redeemed. Indeed, whatever horse they had provided for Joseph, they would have prevailed with him to mount none, no, not even to ride before his beloved Fanny, till the parson was supplied; much less would he deprive his friend of the beast which belonged to him, and which he knew the moment he saw, though Adams did not; however, when he was reminded of the affair, and told that they had brought the horse with them which he left behind, he answered—Bless me! and so I did.
Adams was very desirous that Joseph and Fanny should mount this horse, and declared he could very easily walk home. "If I walked alone," says he, "I would wage a shilling that the pedestrian outstripped the equestrian travellers; but, as I intend to take the company of a pipe, peradventure I may be an hour later." One of the servants whispered Joseph to take him at his word, and suffer the old put to walk if he would: this proposal was answered with an angry look and a peremptory refusal by Joseph, who, catching Fanny up in his arms, averred he would rather carry her home in that manner, than take away Mr Adams's horse and permit him to walk on foot.
Perhaps, reader, thou hast seen a contest between two gentlemen, or two ladies, quickly decided, though they have both asserted they would not eat such a nice morsel, and each insisted on the other's accepting it; but in reality both were very desirous to swallow it themselves. Do not therefore conclude hence that this dispute would have come to a speedy decision: for here both parties were heartily in earnest, and it is very probable they would have remained in the inn-yard to this day, had not the good Peter Pounce put a stop to it; for, finding he had no longer hopes of satisfying his old appetite with Fanny, and being desirous of having some one to whom he might communicate his grandeur, he told the parson he would convey him home in his chariot. This favour was by Adams, with many bows and acknowledgments, accepted, though he afterwards said, "he ascended the chariot rather that he might not offend than from any desire of riding in it, for that in his heart he preferred the pedestrian even to the vehicular expedition." All matters being now settled, the chariot, in which rode Adams and Pounce, moved forwards; and Joseph having borrowed a pillion from the host, Fanny had just seated herself thereon, and had laid hold of the girdle which her lover wore for that purpose, when the wise beast, who concluded that one at a time was sufficient, that two to one were odds, &c., discovered much uneasiness at his double load, and began to consider his hinder as his fore legs, moving the direct contrary way to that which is called forwards. Nor could Joseph, with all his horsemanship, persuade him to advance; but, without having any regard to the lovely part of the lovely girl which was on his back, he used such agitations, that, had not one of the men come immediately to her assistance, she had, in plain English, tumbled backwards on the ground. This inconvenience was presently remedied by an exchange of horses; and then Fanny being again placed on her pillion, on a better-natured and somewhat a better-fed beast, the parson's horse, finding he had no longer odds to contend with, agreed to march; and the whole procession set forwards for Booby-hall, where they arrived in a few hours without anything remarkable happening on the road, unless it was a curious dialogue between the parson and the steward: which, to use the language of a late Apologist, a pattern to all biographers, "waits for the reader in the next chapter."
A curious dialogue which passed between Mr Abraham Adams and Mr Peter Pounce, better worth reading than all the works of Colley Cibber and many others.
The chariot had not proceeded far before Mr Adams observed it was a very fine day. "Ay, and a very fine country too," answered Pounce.—"I should think so more," returned Adams, "if I had not lately travelled over the Downs, which I take to exceed this and all other prospects in the universe."—"A fig for prospects!" answered Pounce; "one acre here is worth ten there; and for my own part, I have no delight in the prospect of any land but my own."—"Sir," said Adams, "you can indulge yourself with many fine prospects of that kind."—"I thank God I have a little," replied the other, "with which I am content, and envy no man: I have a little, Mr Adams, with which I do as much good as I can." Adams answered, "That riches without charity were nothing worth; for that they were a blessing only to him who made them a blessing to others."—"You and I," said Peter, "have different notions of charity. I own, as it is generally used, I do not like the word, nor do I think it becomes one of us gentlemen; it is a mean parson-like quality; though I would not infer many parsons have it neither."—"Sir," said Adams, "my definition of charity is, a generous disposition to relieve the distressed."—"There is something in that definition," answered Peter, "which I like well enough; it is, as you say, a disposition, and does not so much consist in the act as in the disposition to do it. But, alas! Mr Adams, who are meant by the distressed? Believe me, the distresses of mankind are mostly imaginary, and it would be rather folly than goodness to relieve them."—"Sure, sir," replied Adams, "hunger and thirst, cold and nakedness, and other distresses which attend the poor, can never be said to be imaginary evils."—"How can any man complain of hunger," said Peter, "in a country where such excellent salads are to be gathered in almost every field? or of thirst, where every river and stream produces such delicious potations? And as for cold and nakedness, they are evils introduced by luxury and custom. A man naturally wants clothes no more than a horse or any other animal; and there are whole nations who go without them; but these are things perhaps which you, who do not know the world"—"You will pardon me, sir," returned Adams; "I have read of the Gymnosophists."—"A plague of your Jehosaphats!" cried Peter; "the greatest fault in our constitution is the provision made for the poor, except that perhaps made for some others. Sir, I have not an estate which doth not contribute almost as much again to the poor as to the land-tax; and I do assure you I expect to come myself to the parish in the end." To which Adams giving a dissenting smile, Peter thus proceeded: "I fancy, Mr Adams, you are one of those who imagine I am a lump of money; for there are many who, I fancy, believe that not only my pockets, but my whole clothes, are lined with bank-bills; but I assure you, you are all mistaken; I am not the man the world esteems me. If I can hold my head above water it is all I can. I have injured myself by purchasing. I have been too liberal of my money. Indeed, I fear my heir will find my affairs in a worse situation than they are reputed to be. Ah! he will have reason to wish I had loved money more and land less. Pray, my good neighbour, where should I have that quantity of riches the world is so liberal to bestow on me? Where could I possibly, without I had stole it, acquire such a treasure?" "Why, truly," says Adams, "I have been always of your opinion; I have wondered as well as yourself with what confidence they could report such things of you, which have to me appeared as mere impossibilities; for you know, sir, and I have often heard you say it, that your wealth is of your own acquisition; and can it be credible that in your short time you should have amassed such a heap of treasure as these people will have you worth? Indeed, had you inherited an estate like Sir Thomas Booby, which had descended in your family for many generations, they might have had a colour for their assertions." "Why, what do they say I am worth?" cries Peter, with a malicious sneer. "Sir," answered Adams, "I have heard some aver you are not worth less than twenty thousand pounds." At which Peter frowned. "Nay, sir," said Adams, "you ask me only the opinion of others; for my own part, I have always denied it, nor did I ever believe you could possibly be worth half that sum." "However, Mr Adams," said he, squeezing him by the hand, "I would not sell them all I am worth for double that sum; and as to what you believe, or they believe, I care not a fig, no not a fart. I am not poor because you think me so, nor because you attempt to undervalue me in the country. I know the envy of mankind very well; but I thank Heaven I am above them. It is true, my wealth is of my own acquisition. I have not an estate, like Sir Thomas Booby, that has descended in my family through many generations; but I know heirs of such estates who are forced to travel about the country like some people in torn cassocks, and might be glad to accept of a pitiful curacy for what I know. Yes, sir, as shabby fellows as yourself, whom no man of my figure, without that vice of good-nature about him, would suffer to ride in a chariot with him." "Sir," said Adams, "I value not your chariot of a rush; and if I had known you had intended to affront me, I would have walked to the world's end on foot ere I would have accepted a place in it. However, sir, I will soon rid you of that inconvenience;" and, so saying, he opened the chariot door, without calling to the coachman, and leapt out into the highway, forgetting to take his hat along with him; which, however, Mr Pounce threw after him with great violence. Joseph and Fanny stopt to bear him company the rest of the way, which was not above a mile.