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Adam Bede

susceptibility and self-command, of our friend Adam. He was not an average
man. Yet such men as he are reared here and there in every generation of our
peasant artisans--with an inheritance of affections nurtured by a simple family life
of common need and common industry, and an inheritance of faculties trained in
skilful courageous labour: they make their way upwards, rarely as geniuses, most
commonly as painstaking honest men, with the skill and conscience to do well
the tasks that lie before them. Their lives have no discernible echo beyond the
neighbourhood where they dwelt, but you are almost sure to find there some
good piece of road, some building, some application of mineral produce, some
improvement in farming practice, some reform of parish abuses, with which their
names are associated by one or two generations after them. Their employers
were the richer for them, the work of their hands has worn well, and the work of
their brains has guided well the hands of other men. They went about in their
youth in flannel or paper caps, in coats black with coal-dust or streaked with lime
and red paint; in old age their white hairs are seen in a place of honour at church
and at market, and they tell their well-dressed sons and daughters, seated round
the bright hearth on winter evenings, how pleased they were when they first
earned their twopence a-day. Others there are who die poor and never put off the
workman's coal on weekdays. They have not had the art of getting rich, but they
are men of trust, and when they die before the work is all out of them, it is as if
some main screw had got loose in a machine; the master who employed them
says, "Where shall I find their like?"
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