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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 fore-fathers? 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, Avhich 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 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 surprised every one. While he was in this station, he rode several races for Sir Thomas, and this with such expertness and success, that the neighbouring gentlemen frequently solicited the knight to permit little Joey (for so he was called) to ride their matches. The best gamesters, before they laid their money, always inquired which horse little Joey was to ride; and the bets were rather proportioned by the rider than by the horse himself; especially after he had scornfully refused a considerable bribe to play booty on such an occasion. This extremely raised his character, and so pleased the Lady Booby, that she desired to have him (being now seventeen years of age) for her own footboy. Joey was now preferred from the stable to attend on his lady, to go on her errands, stand behind her chair, wait at her tea-table, and carry her prayerbook 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.
Mb. 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 characteristic: 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 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, surprised 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 sonie'what 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 hy their dress, or fortune; and my lady was a woman of gaiety, who had heen blessed 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.