from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A young chimney-sweep who climbed chimneys from the inside. Chimney-sweeping by climbing-boys is now prohibited.
Sorry, no etymologies found.
In the villages of the Teme valley, Worcestershire and Herefordshire, "in the old climbing-boy days, chimneys used to be swept on New Year's morning, that one of the right sex should be the first to enter; and the young urchins of the neighbourhood went the round of the houses before daylight singing songs, when one of their number would be admitted into the kitchen 'for good luck all the year.'"
In gratitude for the recovery of her son, Mrs. Montagu entertained every climbing-boy in London at dinner on the anniversary of her son's return, and arranged that they should all have a holiday on that day.
On a certain 1st of May the sweeps arrived to clean Mrs. Montagu's chimneys, and a climbing-boy was sent up to his horrible task.
Avarice is merely a tinker, a dealer in old metal; but ambition is a chimney-sweep of a passion: a mere climbing-boy, who will go through any dirty hole in all Christendom only to get out at the top of the chimney.