The Adventures of Roderick Random HTML version

Chapter 1
Of my Birth and Education
I was born in the northern part of this united kingdom, in the house of my grand. father,
a gentleman of considerable fortune and influence, who had on many occasions
signalised himself in behalf of his country; and was remarkable for his abilities in the
law, which he exercised with great success in the station of a judge, particularly against
beggars, for whom he had a singular aversion.
My father (his youngest son) falling in love with a poor relation, who lived with the old
gentleman in quality of a housekeeper, espoused her privately; and I was the first fruit of
that marriage. During her pregnancy, a dream discomposed my mother so much that
her husband, tired with her importunity, at last consulted a highland seer, whose
favourable interpretation he would have secured beforehand by a bribe, but found him
incorruptible. She dreamed she was delivered of a tennis-ball, which the devil (who, to
her great surprise, acted the part of a midwife) struck so forcibly with a racket that it
disappeared in an instant; and she was for some time inconsolable for the lost of her
offspring; when, all on a sudden, she beheld it return with equal violence, and enter the
earth, beneath her feet, whence immediately sprang up a goodly tree covered with
blossoms, the scent of which operated so strongly on her nerves that she awoke. The
attentive sage, after some deliberation, assured my parents, that their firstborn would be
a great traveller; that he would undergo many dangers and difficulties, and at last return
to his native land, where he would flourish in happiness and reputation. How truly this
was foretold will appear in the sequel. It was not long before some officious person
informed my grandfather of certain familiarities that passed between his son and
housekeeper which alarmed him so much that, a few days after, he told my father it was
high time for him to think of settling; and that he had provided a match for him, to which
he could in justice have no objections. My father, finding it would be impossible to
conceal his situation much longer, frankly owned what he had done; and excused
himself for not having asked the consent of his father, by saying, he knew it would have.
been to no Purpose; and that, had his inclination been known, my grandfather might
have taken such measures as would have effectually put the gratification of it out of his
power: he added, that no exceptions could be taken to his wife's virtue, birth, beauty,
and good sense, and as for fortune, it was beneath his care. The old gentleman, who
kept all his passions, except one, in excellent order, heard him to an end with great
temper, and then calmly asked, how he proposed to maintain himself and spouse? He
replied, he could be in no danger of wanting while his father's tenderness remained,
which he and his wife should always cultivate with the utmost veneration; and he was
persuaded his allowance would be suitable to the dignity and circumstances of his
family, and to the provision already made for his brothers and sisters, who were happily
settled under his protection. "Your brothers and sisters," said my grandfather, "did not
think it beneath them to consult me in an affair of such importance as matrimony;
neither, I suppose, would you have omitted that piece of duty, had you not some secret