Joseph Andrews By Henry Fielding Book I: Chapter 16

"Tom," cries one of the footmen, "there's parson Adams smoaking his pipe in the gallery." — "Yes," says Tom; "I pulled off my hat to him, and the parson spoke to me."

"Is the gentleman a clergyman, then?" says Barnabas (for his cassock had been tied up when he arrived). "Yes, sir," answered the footman; "and one there be but few like." — "Aye," said Barnabas; "if I had known it sooner, I should have desired his company; I would always shew a proper respect for the cloth: but what say you, doctor, shall we adjourn into a room, and invite him to take part of a bowl of punch?"

This proposal was immediately agreed to and executed; and parson Adams accepting the invitation, much civility passed between the two clergymen, who both declared the great honour they had for the cloth. They had not been long together before they entered into a discourse on small tithes, which continued a full hour, without the doctor or exciseman's having one opportunity to offer a word.

It was then proposed to begin a general conversation, and the exciseman opened on foreign affairs; but a word unluckily dropping from one of them introduced a dissertation on the hardships suffered by the inferior clergy; which, after a long duration, concluded with bringing the nine volumes of sermons on the carpet.

Barnabas greatly discouraged poor Adams; he said, "The age was so wicked, that nobody read sermons: would you think it, Mr Adams?" said he, "I once intended to print a volume of sermons myself, and they had the approbation of two or three bishops; but what do you think a bookseller offered me?" — "Twelve guineas perhaps," cried Adams. — "Not twelve pence, I assure you," answered Barnabas: "nay, the dog refused me a Concordance in exchange. At last I offered to give him the printing them, for the sake of dedicating them to that very gentleman who just now drove his own coach into the inn; and, I assure you, he had the impudence to refuse my offer; by which means I lost a good living, that was afterwards given away in exchange for a pointer, to one who — but I will not say anything against the cloth. So you may guess, Mr Adams, what you are to expect; for if sermons would have gone down, I believe — I will not be vain; but to be concise with you, three bishops said they were the best that ever were writ: but indeed there are a pretty moderate number printed already, and not all sold yet." — "Pray, sir," said Adams, "to what do you think the numbers may amount?" — "Sir," answered Barnabas, "a bookseller told me, he believed five thousand volumes at least." — "Five thousand?" quoth the surgeon: "What can they be writ upon? I remember when I was a boy, I used to read one Tillotson's sermons; and, I am sure, if a man practised half so much as is in one of those sermons, he will go to heaven." — "Doctor," cried Barnabas, "you have a prophane way of talking, for which I must reprove you. A man can never have his duty too frequently inculcated into him. And as for Tillotson, to be sure he was a good writer, and said things very well; but comparisons are odious; another man may write as well as he — I believe there are some of my sermons," — and then he applied the candle to his pipe. — "And I believe there are some of my discourses," cries Adams, "which the bishops would not think totally unworthy of being printed; and I have been informed I might procure a very large sum (indeed an immense one) on them." — "I doubt that," answered Barnabas: "however, if you desire to make some money of them, perhaps you may sell them by advertising the manuscript sermons of a clergyman lately deceased, all warranted originals, and never printed. And now I think of it, I should be obliged to you, if there be ever a funeral one among them, to lend it me; for I am this very day to preach a funeral sermon, for which I have not penned a line, though I am to have a double price." — Adams answered, "He had but one, which he feared would not serve his purpose, being sacred to the memory of a magistrate, who had exerted himself very singularly in the preservation of the morality of his neighbours, insomuch that he had neither alehouse nor lewd woman in the parish where he lived." — "No," replied Barnabas, "that will not do quite so well; for the deceased, upon whose virtues I am to harangue, was a little too much addicted to liquor, and publickly kept a mistress. — I believe I must take a common sermon, and trust to my memory to introduce something handsome on him." — "To your invention rather," said the doctor: "your memory will be apter to put you out; for no man living remembers anything good of him."

With such kind of spiritual discourse, they emptied the bowl of punch, paid their reckoning, and separated: Adams and the doctor went up to Joseph, parson Barnabas departed to celebrate the aforesaid deceased, and the exciseman descended into the cellar to gauge the vessels.

Joseph was now ready to sit down to a loin of mutton, and waited for Mr Adams, when he and the doctor came in. The doctor, having felt his pulse and examined his wounds, declared him much better, which he imputed to that sanative soporiferous draught, a medicine "whose virtues," he said, "were never to be sufficiently extolled." And great indeed they must be, if Joseph was so much indebted to them as the doctor imagined; since nothing more than those effluvia which escaped the cork could have contributed to his recovery; for the medicine had stood untouched in the window ever since its arrival.

Joseph passed that day, and the three following, with his friend Adams, in which nothing so remarkable happened as the swift progress of his recovery. As he had an excellent habit of body, his wounds were now almost healed; and his bruises gave him so little uneasiness, that he pressed Mr Adams to let him depart; told him he should never be able to return sufficient thanks for all his favours, but begged that he might no longer delay his journey to London.

Adams, notwithstanding the ignorance, as he conceived it, of Mr Tow-wouse, and the envy (for such he thought it) of Mr Barnabas, had great expectations from his sermons: seeing therefore Joseph in so good a way, he told him he would agree to his setting out the next morning in the stage-coach, that he believed he should have sufficient, after the reckoning paid, to procure him one day's conveyance in it, and afterwards he would be able to get on on foot, or might be favoured with a lift in some neighbour's waggon, especially as there was then to be a fair in the town whither the coach would carry him, to which numbers from his parish resorted — And as to himself, he agreed to proceed to the great city.

They were now walking in the inn-yard, when a fat, fair, short person rode in, and, alighting from his horse, went directly up to Barnabas, who was smoaking his pipe on a bench. The parson and the stranger shook one another very lovingly by the hand, and went into a room together.

The evening now coming on, Joseph retired to his chamber, whither the good Adams accompanied him, and took this opportunity to expatiate on the great mercies God had lately shown him, of which he ought not only to have the deepest inward sense, but likewise to express outward thankfulness for them. They therefore fell both on their knees, and spent a considerable time in prayer and thanksgiving.

They had just finished when Betty came in and told Mr Adams Mr Barnabas desired to speak to him on some business of consequence below-stairs. Joseph desired, if it was likely to detain him long, he would let him know it, that he might go to bed, which Adams promised, and in that case they wished one another good-night.

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

After Adams returns penniless from Pastor Trulliber's, who pays his bills at the inn?