« AnteriorContinuar »
would change for.'—'Not to preserve my life from starving, nor to redeem it from a robber, would I pan with this dear piece!' answered Joseph. 'What/ savs Mrs. Tow-wouse, 'I suppose it was given you by some vile trollop, some miss or other; if it had been the present of a virtuous woman, you would not have had such a value for it. My husband is a fool if he parts with the horse without being paid for him.'—' No, no, I can't part with the horse, indeed, till I have the money,' cried Tow-wouse. A resolution highly commended by a lawyer then in the yard, who declared Mr. Tow-wouse might justify the detainer.
As we cannot therefore at present get Mr. Joseph out of the inn, we shall leave him in it, and carry our reader on after parson Adams, who, his mind being perfectly at ease, fell into a contemplation on a passage in iEschylus, which entertained him for three miles together, without suffering him once to reflect on his fellow-traveller.
At length, having spun out his thread, and being now at the summit of a hill, he cast his eyes backwards, and wondered that he could not see any sign of Joseph. As he left him ready to mount the horse, he could not apprehend any mischief had happened, neither could he suspect that he missed his way, it being so broad and plain; the only reason which presented itself to him was, that he had met with an acquaintance, who had prevailed with him to delay some time in discourse.
He therefore resolved to proceed slowly forwards, not doubting but that he should be shortly overtaken; and soon came to a large water, which, filling the whole road, he saw no method of passing unless by wading through, which he accordingly did up to his middle; but was no sooner got to the other side, than he perceived, if he had looked over the hedge, he would have found a footpath capable of conducting him without wetting his shoes.
His surprise at Joseph's not coming up grew now very troublesome: he began to fear he knew not what; and as he determined to move no farther, and, if he did not shortly overtake him, to return back, he wished to find a house of public entertainment where he might dry his clothes, and refresh himself with a pint; but seeing no such (for no other reason than because he did not cast his eves a hundred yards forward), he sat himself down on a stile, and pulled out his ^Eschylus.
A fellow passing presently by, Adams asked him if he could direct him to an alehouse. The fellow, who had just left it, and perceived the house and sign to be within sight, thinking he had jeered him, and being of a morose temper, bade him follow his nose and be d—n'd. Adams told him he was a saucy jackanapes; upon which the fellow turned about angrily; but perceiving Adams clench his fist, he thought proper to go on without taking any farther notice.
A horseman following immediately after, and being asked the same question, answered, ' Friend, there is one ; within a stone's throw; I believe you may see it before you.' Adams, lifting up his eyes, cried, 'I protest, and so there is;' and, thanking his informer, proceeded directly to it
The opinion of two lawyers concerning the same gentleman, with Mr. Adams s inquiry into the religion of his host.
He had just entered the house, had called for his pint, and seated himself, when two horsemen came to the door, and fastening their horses to the rails, alighted. They said there was a violent shower of rain coming on, which they intended to weather there, and went into a litt room by themselves, not perceiving Mr. Adams.
One of these immediately asked the other, 'If he ha 'seen a more comical adventure a great while?' Upo which the other said, 'He -doubted whether, by law, th 1 landlord could justify detaining the horse for his cor 'and hay.' But the former answered, 'Undoubtedly h * can; it is an adjudged case, and I have known it tried.1
Adams, who though he was, as the reader may susped a little inclined to forgetfulness, never wanted more thai a hint to remind him, overhearing their discourse, im mediately suggested to himself that this was his ow; horse, and that he had forgot to pay for him, which, upoi inquiry, he was certified of by the gentlemen; who added that the horse was likely to have more rest than food unless he was paid for.
The poor parson resolved to return presently to the inn though he knew no more than Joseph how to procure hi horse his liberty; he was however prevailed on to staj under covert, till the shower, which was now very violent was over.
The three travellers then sat down together over a mw of good beer; when Adams, who had observed a gentle^ man's house as he passed along the road, inquired ft whom it belonged; one of the horsemen had no soonei mentioned the owner's name, than the other began t< revile him in the most opprobrious terms. The Englisl language scarce affords a single reproachful word, whicl; he did not vent on this occasion. He charged him Ukewise with many particular facts. He said,—He no mor« regarded a field of wheat when he was hunting, than he did the highway; that he had injured several poor farmers by trampling their corn under his horse's heels; and, ii any of them begged him with the utmost submission to refrain, his horsewhip was always ready to do them justice. He said, that he was the greatest tyrant to the neighbours in every other instance, and would not suffer a farmer to keep a gun, though he might justify it by law; and in his own family so cruel a master, that he never kept a servant a twelvemonth. 'In his capacity as a 'justice,' continued he, 'he behaves so partially, that he 'commits or acquits just as he is in the humour, without 'any regard to truth or evidence; the devil may carry 'any one before him for me; I would rather be tried 'before some judges, than be a prosecutor before him: if 'I had an estate in the neighbourhood, I would sell it for 'half the value, rather than live near him.'
Adams shook his head, and said, he was sorry such men were suffered to proceed with impunity, and that riches could set any man above the law. The reviler, a little after, retiring into the yard, the gentleman who had first mentioned his name to Adams began to assure him, that his companion was a prejudiced person. 'It is true,' says he, 'perhaps, that he may have sometimes pursued 'his game over a field of corn, but he hath always made 'the party ample satisfaction: that so far from tyrannising 'over his neighbours, or taking away their guns, he 'himself knew several farmers not qualified, who not only 'kept guns, but killed game with them; that he was the 'best of masters to his servants, and several of them had 'grown old in his service; that he was the best justice of 'peace in the kingdom, and, to his certain knowledge, 'had decided many difficult points, which were referred 'to him, with the greatest equity and the highest wisdom; 'and he verily believed, several persons would give a 'year's purchase more for an estate near him, than 'under the wings of any other great man.' He had just finished his encomium, when his companion returned, and acquainted him the storm was over. Upon which they presently mounted their horses and departed.
vol,, v. I
Adams, who was in the utmost anxiety at those different characters of the same person, asked his host if he knew the gentleman; for he began to imagine they had by mistake been speaking of two several gentlemen. i No, no, master,' answered the host (a shrewd cunning fellow); 'I know the gentleman very well of whom they 'have been speaking, as I do the gentlemen who spoke of 'him. As for riding over other men's corn, to rny 'knowledge he hath not been on horseback these two 'years. I never heard he did any injury of that kind; 'and as to making reparation, he is not so free of his 'money as that comes to neither. Nor did I ever hear of 'his taking away any man's gun; nay, I know several 'who have guns in their houses; but, as for killing game 'with them, no man is stricter; and I believe he would 'ruin any who did. You heard one of the gentlemen 'say, he was the worst master in the world, and the other 'that he is the best; but, for my own part, I know all his 'servants, and never heard from any of them that he was 'either one or the other.'—' Ay! ay!' says Adams; 'and how doth he behave as a justice, pray?'—' Faith, 'friend,' answered the host, 'I question whether he is in 'the commission; the only cause I have heard he hath 'decided a great while was one between those very two 'persons who just went out of this house; and I am sure 'he determined that justly, for I heard the whole matter.' —' Which did he decide it in favour of?' quoth Adams. 'I think I need not answer that question,' cried the host, 'after the different characters you have heard of him. It 'is not my business to contradict gentlemen, while they 'are drinking in my house; but I knew neither of them 'spoke a syllable of truth.'—' God forbid!' said Adams, 'that men should arrive at such a pitch of wickedness to 'belie the character of their neighbour from a little 'private affection, or, what is infinitely worse, a private 'spite. I rather believe we have mistaken them, and