What happened to them while before the justice. A chapter very full of learning.
Their fellow-travellers were so engaged in the hot dispute concerning the division of the reward for apprehending these innocent people, that they attended very little to their discourse. They were now arrived at the justice's house, and had sent one of his servants in to acquaint his worship that they had taken two robbers and brought them before him. The justice, who was just returned from a fox-chase, and had not yet finished his dinner, ordered them to carry the prisoners into the stable, whither they were attended by all the servants in the house, and all the people in the neighbourhood, who flocked together to see them with as much curiosity as if there was something uncommon to be seen, or that a rogue did not look like other people.
The justice, now being in the height of his mirth and his cups, bethought himself of the prisoners; and, telling his company he believed they should have good sport in their examination, he ordered them into his presence. They had no sooner entered the room than he began to revile them, saying, "That robberies on the highway were now grown so frequent, that people could not sleep safely in their beds, and assured them they both should be made examples of at the ensuing assizes." After he had gone on some time in this manner, he was reminded by his clerk, "That it would be proper to take the depositions of the witnesses against them." Which he bid him do, and he would light his pipe in the meantime. Whilst the clerk was employed in writing down the deposition of the fellow who had pretended to be robbed, the justice employed himself in cracking jests on poor Fanny, in which he was seconded by all the company at table. One asked, "Whether she was to be indicted for a highwayman?" Another whispered in her ear, "If she had not provided herself a great belly, he was at her service." A third said, "He warranted she was a relation of Turpin." To which one of the company, a great wit, shaking his head, and then his sides, answered, "He believed she was nearer related to Turpis;" at which there was an universal laugh. They were proceeding thus with the poor girl, when somebody, smoking the cassock peeping forth from under the greatcoat of Adams, cried out, "What have we here, a parson?" "How, sirrah," says the justice, "do you go robbing in the dress of a clergyman? let me tell you your habit will not entitle you to the benefit of the clergy." "Yes," said the witty fellow, "he will have one benefit of clergy, he will be exalted above the heads of the people;" at which there was a second laugh. And now the witty spark, seeing his jokes take, began to rise in spirits; and, turning to Adams, challenged him to cap verses, and, provoking him by giving the first blow, he repeated —
"Molle meum levibus cord est vilebile telis."
Upon which Adams, with a look full of ineffable contempt, told him, "He deserved scourging for his pronunciation." The witty fellow answered, "What do you deserve, doctor, for not being able to answer the first time? Why, I'll give one, you blockhead, with an S.
"'Si licet, ut fulvum spectatur in ignibus haurum.'
"What, canst not with an M neither? Thou art a pretty fellow for a parson! Why didst not steal some of the parson's Latin as well as his gown?" Another at the table then answered, "If he had, you would have been too hard for him; I remember you at the college a very devil at this sport; I have seen you catch a freshman, for nobody that knew you would engage with you." "I have forgot those things now," cried the wit. "I believe I could have done pretty well formerly. Let's see, what did I end with? — an M again — aye —
"'Mars, Bacchus, Apollo, virorum.'
I could have done it once." "Ah! evil betide you, and so you can now," said the other: "nobody in this country will undertake you." Adams could hold no longer: "Friend," said he, "I have a boy not above eight years old who would instruct thee that the last verse runs thus: —
"'Ut sunt Divorum, Mars, Bacchus, Apollo, virorum.'"
"I'll hold thee a guinea of that," said the wit, throwing the money on the table. "And I'll go your halves," cries the other. "Done," answered Adams; but upon applying to his pocket he was forced to retract, and own he had no money about him; which set them all a-laughing, and confirmed the triumph of his adversary, which was not moderate, any more than the approbation he met with from the whole company, who told Adams he must go a little longer to school before he attempted to attack that gentleman in Latin.
The clerk, having finished the depositions, as well of the fellow himself, as of those who apprehended the prisoners, delivered them to the justice; who, having sworn the several witnesses without reading a syllable, ordered his clerk to make the mittimus.
Adams then said, "He hoped he should not be condemned unheard." "No, no," cries the justice, "you will be asked what you have to say for yourself when you come on your trial: we are not trying you now; I shall only commit you to gaol: if you can prove your innocence at size, you will be found ignoramus, and so no harm done." "Is it no punishment, sir, for an innocent man to lie several months in gaol?" cries Adams: "I beg you would at least hear me before you sign the mittimus." "What signifies all you can say?" says the justice: "is it not here in black and white against you? I must tell you you are a very impertinent fellow to take up so much of my time. So make haste with his mittimus."