Joseph Andrews, by Henry Fielding

Chapter 14

An interview between parson Adams and parson Trulliber.

Parson Adams came to the house of parson Trulliber, whom he found stript into his waistcoat, with an apron on, and a pail in his hand, just come from serving his hogs; for Mr Trulliber was a parson on Sundays, but all the other six might more properly be called a farmer. He occupied a small piece of land of his own, besides which he rented a considerable deal more. His wife milked his cows, managed his dairy, and followed the markets with butter and eggs. The hogs fell chiefly to his care, which he carefully waited on at home, and attended to fairs; on which occasion he was liable to many jokes, his own size being, with much ale, rendered little inferior to that of the beasts he sold. He was indeed one of the largest men you should see, and could have acted the part of Sir John Falstaff without stuffing. Add to this that the rotundity of his belly was considerably increased by the shortness of his stature, his shadow ascending very near as far in height, when he lay on his back, as when he stood on his legs. His voice was loud and hoarse, and his accents extremely broad. To complete the whole, he had a stateliness in his gait, when he walked, not unlike that of a goose, only he stalked slower.

Mr Trulliber, being informed that somebody wanted to speak with him, immediately slipt off his apron and clothed himself in an old night-gown, being the dress in which he always saw his company at home. His wife, who informed him of Mr Adams’s arrival, had made a small mistake; for she had told her husband, “She believed there was a man come for some of his hogs.” This supposition made Mr Trulliber hasten with the utmost expedition to attend his guest. He no sooner saw Adams than, not in the least doubting the cause of his errand to be what his wife had imagined, he told him, “He was come in very good time; that he expected a dealer that very afternoon;” and added, “they were all pure and fat, and upwards of twenty score a-piece.” Adams answered, “He believed he did not know him.” “Yes, yes,” cried Trulliber, “I have seen you often at fair; why, we have dealt before now, mun, I warrant you. Yes, yes,” cries he, “I remember thy face very well, but won’t mention a word more till you have seen them, though I have never sold thee a flitch of such bacon as is now in the stye.” Upon which he laid violent hands on Adams, and dragged him into the hog-stye, which was indeed but two steps from his parlour window. They were no sooner arrived there than he cry’d out, “Do but handle them! step in, friend! art welcome to handle them, whether dost buy or no.” At which words, opening the gate, he pushed Adams into the pig-stye, insisting on it that he should handle them before he would talk one word with him.

Adams, whose natural complacence was beyond any artificial, was obliged to comply before he was suffered to explain himself; and, laying hold on one of their tails, the unruly beast gave such a sudden spring, that he threw poor Adams all along in the mire. Trulliber, instead of assisting him to get up, burst into a laughter, and, entering the stye, said to Adams, with some contempt, “Why, dost not know how to handle a hog?” and was going to lay hold of one himself, but Adams, who thought he had carried his complacence far enough, was no sooner on his legs than he escaped out of the reach of the animals, and cried out, “Nihil habeo cum porcis: I am a clergyman, sir, and am not come to buy hogs.” Trulliber answered, “He was sorry for the mistake, but that he must blame his wife,” adding, “she was a fool, and always committed blunders.” He then desired him to walk in and clean himself, that he would only fasten up the stye and follow him. Adams desired leave to dry his greatcoat, wig, and hat by the fire, which Trulliber granted. Mrs Trulliber would have brought him a basin of water to wash his face, but her husband bid her be quiet like a fool as she was, or she would commit more blunders, and then directed Adams to the pump. While Adams was thus employed, Trulliber, conceiving no great respect for the appearance of his guest, fastened the parlour door, and now conducted him into the kitchen, telling him he believed a cup of drink would do him no harm, and whispered his wife to draw a little of the worst ale. After a short silence Adams said, “I fancy, sir, you already perceive me to be a clergyman.” — “Ay, ay,” cries Trulliber, grinning, “I perceive you have some cassock; I will not venture to caale it a whole one.” Adams answered, “It was indeed none of the best, but he had the misfortune to tear it about ten years ago in passing over a stile.” Mrs Trulliber, returning with the drink, told her husband, “She fancied the gentleman was a traveller, and that he would be glad to eat a bit.” Trulliber bid her hold her impertinent tongue, and asked her, “If parsons used to travel without horses?” adding, “he supposed the gentleman had none by his having no boots on.” — “Yes, sir, yes,” says Adams; “I have a horse, but I have left him behind me.” — “I am glad to hear you have one,” says Trulliber; “for I assure you I don’t love to see clergymen on foot; it is not seemly nor suiting the dignity of the cloth.” Here Trulliber made a long oration on the dignity of the cloth (or rather gown) not much worth relating, till his wife had spread the table and set a mess of porridge on it for his breakfast. He then said to Adams, “I don’t know, friend, how you came to caale on me; however, as you are here, if you think proper to eat a morsel, you may.” Adams accepted the invitation, and the two parsons sat down together; Mrs Trulliber waiting behind her husband’s chair, as was, it seems, her custom. Trulliber eat heartily, but scarce put anything in his mouth without finding fault with his wife’s cookery. All which the poor woman bore patiently. Indeed, she was so absolute an admirer of her husband’s greatness and importance, of which she had frequent hints from his own mouth, that she almost carried her adoration to an opinion of his infallibility. To say the truth, the parson had exercised her more ways than one; and the pious woman had so well edified by her husband’s sermons, that she had resolved to receive the bad things of this world together with the good. She had indeed been at first a little contentious; but he had long since got the better; partly by her love for this, partly by her fear of that, partly by her religion, partly by the respect he paid himself, and partly by that which he received from the parish. She had, in short, absolutely submitted, and now worshipped her husband, as Sarah did Abraham, calling him (not lord, but) master. Whilst they were at table her husband gave her a fresh example of his greatness; for, as she had just delivered a cup of ale to Adams, he snatched it out of his hand, and, crying out, “I caal’d vurst,” swallowed down the ale. Adams denied it; it was referred to the wife, who, though her conscience was on the side of Adams, durst not give it against her husband; upon which he said, “No, sir, no; I should not have been so rude to have taken it from you if you had caal’d vurst, but I’d have you know I’m a better man than to suffer the best he in the kingdom to drink before me in my own house when I caale vurst.”

As soon as their breakfast was ended, Adams began in the following manner: “I think, sir, it is high time to inform you of the business of my embassy. I am a traveller, and am passing this way in company with two young people, a lad and a damsel, my parishioners, towards my own cure; we stopt at a house of hospitality in the parish, where they directed me to you as having the cure.” — “Though I am but a curate,” says Trulliber, “I believe I am as warm as the vicar himself, or perhaps the rector of the next parish too; I believe I could buy them both.” — “Sir,” cries Adams, “I rejoice thereat. Now, sir, my business is, that we are by various accidents stript of our money, and are not able to pay our reckoning, being seven shillings. I therefore request you to assist me with the loan of those seven shillings, and also seven shillings more, which, peradventure, I shall return to you; but if not, I am convinced you will joyfully embrace such an opportunity of laying up a treasure in a better place than any this world affords.”

Suppose a stranger, who entered the chambers of a lawyer, being imagined a client, when the lawyer was preparing his palm for the fee, should pull out a writ against him. Suppose an apothecary, at the door of a chariot containing some great doctor of eminent skill, should, instead of directions to a patient, present him with a potion for himself. Suppose a minister should, instead of a good round sum, treat my lord — — or sir — — or esq. —— with a good broomstick. Suppose a civil companion, or a led captain, should, instead of virtue, and honour, and beauty, and parts, and admiration, thunder vice, and infamy, and ugliness, and folly, and contempt, in his patron’s ears. Suppose, when a tradesman first carries in his bill, the man of fashion should pay it; or suppose, if he did so, the tradesman should abate what he had overcharged, on the supposition of waiting. In short — suppose what you will, you never can nor will suppose anything equal to the astonishment which seized on Trulliber, as soon as Adams had ended his speech. A while he rolled his eyes in silence; sometimes surveying Adams, then his wife; then casting them on the ground, then lifting them up to heaven. At last he burst forth in the following accents: “Sir, I believe I know where to lay up my little treasure as well as another. I thank G — if I am not so warm as some, I am content; that is a blessing greater than riches; and he to whom that is given need ask no more. To be content with a little is greater than to possess the world; which a man may possess without being so. Lay up my treasure! what matters where a man’s treasure is whose heart is in the Scriptures? there is the treasure of a Christian.” At these words the water ran from Adams’s eyes; and, catching Trulliber by the hand in a rapture, “Brother,” says he, “heavens bless the accident by which I came to see you! I would have walked many a mile to have communed with you; and, believe me, I will shortly pay you a second visit; but my friends, I fancy, by this time, wonder at my stay; so let me have the money immediately.” Trulliber then put on a stern look, and cried out, “Thou dost not intend to rob me?” At which the wife, bursting into tears, fell on her knees and roared out, “O dear sir! for Heaven’s sake don’t rob my master; we are but poor people.” “Get up, for a fool as thou art, and go about thy business,” said Trulliber; “dost think the man will venture his life? he is a beggar, and no robber.” “Very true, indeed,” answered Adams. “I wish, with all my heart, the tithing-man was here,” cries Trulliber; “I would have thee punished as a vagabond for thy impudence. Fourteen shillings indeed! I won’t give thee a farthing. I believe thou art no more a clergyman than the woman there” (pointing to his wife); “but if thou art, dost deserve to have thy gown stript over thy shoulders for running about the country in such a manner.” “I forgive your suspicions,” says Adams; “but suppose I am not a clergyman, I am nevertheless thy brother; and thou, as a Christian, much more as a clergyman, art obliged to relieve my distress.” “Dost preach to me?” replied Trulliber; “dost pretend to instruct me in my duty?” “Ifacks, a good story,” cries Mrs Trulliber, “to preach to my master.” “Silence, woman,” cries Trulliber. “I would have thee know, friend” (addressing himself to Adams), “I shall not learn my duty from such as thee. I know what charity is, better than to give to vagabonds.” “Besides, if we were inclined, the poor’s rate obliges us to give so much charity,” cries the wife. “Pugh! thou art a fool. Poor’s reate! Hold thy nonsense,” answered Trulliber; and then, turning to Adams, he told him, “he would give him nothing.” “I am sorry,” answered Adams, “that you do know what charity is, since you practise it no better: I must tell you, if you trust to your knowledge for your justification, you will find yourself deceived, though you should add faith to it, without good works.” “Fellow,” cries Trulliber, “dost thou speak against faith in my house? Get out of my doors: I will no longer remain under the same roof with a wretch who speaks wantonly of faith and the Scriptures.” “Name not the Scriptures,” says Adams. “How! not name the Scriptures! Do you disbelieve the Scriptures?” cries Trulliber. “No; but you do,” answered Adams, “if I may reason from your practice; for their commands are so explicit, and their rewards and punishments so immense, that it is impossible a man should stedfastly believe without obeying. Now, there is no command more express, no duty more frequently enjoined, than charity. Whoever, therefore, is void of charity, I make no scruple of pronouncing that he is no Christian.” “I would not advise thee,” says Trulliber, “to say that I am no Christian: I won’t take it of you; for I believe I am as good a man as thyself” (and indeed, though he was now rather too corpulent for athletic exercises, he had, in his youth, been one of the best boxers and cudgel-players in the county). His wife, seeing him clench his fist, interposed, and begged him not to fight, but show himself a true Christian, and take the law of him. As nothing could provoke Adams to strike, but an absolute assault on himself or his friend, he smiled at the angry look and gestures of Trulliber; and, telling him he was sorry to see such men in orders, departed without further ceremony.

Last updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 20:37