READ STUDY GUIDE: Book XII
CONTAINING THE SAME INDIVIDUAL TIME WITH THE FORMER.
Showing what is to be deemed plagiarism in a modern author, and what is to be considered as lawful prize.
The learned reader must have observed that in the course of this mighty work, I have often translated passages out of the best antient authors, without quoting the original, or without taking the least notice of the book from whence they were borrowed.
This conduct in writing is placed in a very proper light by the ingenious Abbe Bannier, in his preface to his Mythology, a work of great erudition and of equal judgment. "It will be easy," says he, "for the reader to observe that I have frequently had greater regard to him than to my own reputation: for an author certainly pays him a considerable compliment, when, for his sake, he suppresses learned quotations that come in his way, and which would have cost him but the bare trouble of transcribing."
To fill up a work with these scraps may, indeed, be considered as a downright cheat on the learned world, who are by such means imposed upon to buy a second time, in fragments and by retail, what they have already in gross, if not in their memories, upon their shelves; and it is still more cruel upon the illiterate, who are drawn in to pay for what is of no manner of use to them. A writer who intermixes great quantity of Greek and Latin with his works, deals by the ladies and fine gentlemen in the same paultry manner with which they are treated by the auctioneers, who often endeavour so to confound and mix up their lots, that, in order to purchase the commodity you want, you are obliged at the same time to purchase that which will do you no service.
And yet, as there is no conduct so fair and disinterested but that it may be misunderstood by ignorance, and misrepresented by malice, I have been sometimes tempted to preserve my own reputation at the expense of my reader, and to transcribe the original, or at least to quote chapter and verse, whenever I have made use either of the thought or expression of another. I am, indeed, in some doubt that I have often suffered by the contrary method; and that, by suppressing the original author's name, I have been rather suspected of plagiarism than reputed to act from the amiable motive assigned by that justly celebrated Frenchman.
Now, to obviate all such imputations for the future, I do here confess and justify the fact. The antients may be considered as a rich common, where every person who hath the smallest tenement in Parnassus hath a free right to fatten his muse. Or, to place it in a clearer light, we moderns are to the antients what the poor are to the rich. By the poor here I mean that large and venerable body which, in English, we call the mob. Now, whoever hath had the honour to be admitted to any degree of intimacy with this mob, must well know that it is one of their established maxims to plunder and pillage their rich neighbours without any reluctance; and that this is held to be neither sin nor shame among them. And so constantly do they abide and act by this maxim, that, in every parish almost in the kingdom, there is a kind of confederacy ever carrying on against a certain person of opulence called the squire, whose property is considered as free-booty by all his poor neighbours; who, as they conclude that there is no manner of guilt in such depredations, look upon it as a point of honour and moral obligation to conceal, and to preserve each other from punishment on all such occasions.
In like manner are the antients, such as Homer, Virgil, Horace, Cicero, and the rest, to be esteemed among us writers, as so many wealthy squires, from whom we, the poor of Parnassus, claim an immemorial custom of taking whatever we can come at. This liberty I demand, and this I am as ready to allow again to my poor neighbours in their turn. All I profess, and all I require of my brethren, is to maintain the same strict honesty among ourselves which the mob show to one another. To steal from one another is indeed highly criminal and indecent; for this may be strictly stiled defrauding the poor (sometimes perhaps those who are poorer than ourselves), or, to set it under the most opprobrious colours, robbing the spittal.
Since, therefore, upon the strictest examination, my own conscience cannot lay any such pitiful theft to my charge, I am contented to plead guilty to the former accusation; nor shall I ever scruple to take to myself any passage which I shall find in an antient author to my purpose, without setting down the name of the author from whence it was taken. Nay, I absolutely claim a property in all such sentiments the moment they are transcribed into my writings, and I expect all readers henceforwards to regard them as purely and entirely my own. This claim, however, I desire to be allowed me only on condition that I preserve strict honesty towards my poor brethren, from whom, if ever I borrow any of that little of which they are possessed, I shall never fail to put their mark upon it, that it may be at all times ready to be restored to the right owner.
The omission of this was highly blameable in one Mr Moore, who, having formerly borrowed some lines of Pope and company, took the liberty to transcribe six of them into his play of the Rival Modes. Mr Pope, however, very luckily found them in the said play, and, laying violent hands on his own property, transferred it back again into his own works; and, for a further punishment, imprisoned the said Moore in the loathsome dungeon of the Dunciad, where his unhappy memory now remains, and eternally will remain, as a proper punishment for such his unjust dealings in the poetical trade.
In which, though the squire doth not find his daughter, something is found which puts an end to his pursuit.
The history now returns to the inn at Upton, whence we shall first trace the footsteps of Squire Western; for, as he will soon arrive at an end of his journey, we shall have then full leisure to attend our heroe.
The reader may be pleased to remember that the said squire departed from the inn in great fury, and in that fury he pursued his daughter. The hostler having informed him that she had crossed the Severn, he likewise past that river with his equipage, and rode full speed, vowing the utmost vengeance against poor Sophia, if he should but overtake her.
He had not gone far before he arrived at a crossway. Here he called a short council of war, in which, after hearing different opinions, he at last gave the direction of his pursuit to fortune, and struck directly into the Worcester road.
In this road he proceeded about two miles, when he began to bemoan himself most bitterly, frequently crying out, "What pity is it! Sure never was so unlucky a dog as myself!" And then burst forth a volley of oaths and execrations.
The parson attempted to administer comfort to him on this occasion. "Sorrow not, sir," says he, "like those without hope. Howbeit we have not yet been able to overtake young madam, we may account it some good fortune that we have hitherto traced her course aright. Peradventure she will soon be fatigated with her journey, and will tarry in some inn, in order to renovate her corporeal functions; and in that case, in all moral certainty, you will very briefly be _compos voti_."
"Pogh! d—n the slut!" answered the squire, "I am lamenting the loss of so fine a morning for hunting. It is confounded hard to lose one of the best scenting days, in all appearance, which hath been this season, and especially after so long a frost."
Whether Fortune, who now and then shows some compassion in her wantonest tricks, might not take pity of the squire; and, as she had determined not to let him overtake his daughter, might not resolve to make him amends some other way, I will not assert; but he had hardly uttered the words just before commemorated, and two or three oaths at their heels, when a pack of hounds began to open their melodious throats at a small distance from them, which the squire's horse and his rider both perceiving, both immediately pricked up their ears, and the squire, crying, "She's gone, she's gone! Damn me if she is not gone!" instantly clapped spurs to the beast, who little needed it, having indeed the same inclination with his master; and now the whole company, crossing into a corn-field, rode directly towards the hounds, with much hallowing and whooping, while the poor parson, blessing himself, brought up the rear.
Thus fable reports that the fair Grimalkin, whom Venus, at the desire of a passionate lover, converted from a cat into a fine woman, no sooner perceived a mouse than, mindful of her former sport, and still retaining her pristine nature, she leaped from the bed of her husband to pursue the little animal.
What are we to understand by this? Not that the bride was displeased with the embraces of her amorous bridegroom; for, though some have remarked that cats are subject to ingratitude, yet women and cats too will be pleased and purr on certain occasions. The truth is, as the sagacious Sir Roger L'Estrange observes, in his deep reflections, that, "if we shut Nature out at the door, she will come in at the window; and that puss, though a madam, will be a mouser still." In the same manner we are not to arraign the squire of any want of love for his daughter; for in reality he had a great deal; we are only to consider that he was a squire and a sportsman, and then we may apply the fable to him, and the judicious reflections likewise.
The hounds ran very hard, as it is called, and the squire pursued over hedge and ditch, with all his usual vociferation and alacrity, and with all his usual pleasure; nor did the thoughts of Sophia ever once intrude themselves to allay the satisfaction he enjoyed in the chace, which, he said, was one of the finest he ever saw, and which he swore was very well worth going fifty miles for. As the squire forgot his daughter, the servants, we may easily believe, forgot their mistress; and the parson, after having expressed much astonishment, in Latin, to himself, at length likewise abandoned all farther thoughts of the young lady, and, jogging on at a distance behind, began to meditate a portion of doctrine for the ensuing Sunday.
The squire who owned the hounds was highly pleased with the arrival of his brother squire and sportsman; for all men approve merit in their own way, and no man was more expert in the field than Mr Western, nor did any other better know how to encourage the dogs with his voice, and to animate the hunt with his holla.
Sportsmen, in the warmth of a chace, are too much engaged to attend to any manner of ceremony, nay, even to the offices of humanity: for, if any of them meet with an accident by tumbling into a ditch, or into a river, the rest pass on regardless, and generally leave him to his fate: during this time, therefore, the two squires, though often close to each other, interchanged not a single word. The master of the hunt, however, often saw and approved the great judgment of the stranger in drawing the dogs when they were at a fault, and hence conceived a very high opinion of his understanding, as the number of his attendants inspired no small reverence to his quality. As soon, therefore, as the sport was ended by the death of the little animal which had occasioned it, the two squires met, and in all squire-like greeting saluted each other.
The conversation was entertaining enough, and what we may perhaps relate in an appendix, or on some other occasion; but as it nowise concerns this history, we cannot prevail on ourselves to give it a place here. It concluded with a second chace, and that with an invitation to dinner. This being accepted, was followed by a hearty bout of drinking, which ended in as hearty a nap on the part of Squire Western.
Our squire was by no means a match either for his host, or for parson Supple, at his cups that evening; for which the violent fatigue of mind as well as body that he had undergone, may very well account, without the least derogation from his honour. He was indeed, according to the vulgar phrase, whistle drunk; for before he had swallowed the third bottle, he became so entirely overpowered that though he was not carried off to bed till long after, the parson considered him as absent, and having acquainted the other squire with all relating to Sophia, he obtained his promise of seconding those arguments which he intended to urge the next morning for Mr Western's return.
No sooner, therefore, had the good squire shaken off his evening, and began to call for his morning draught, and to summon his horses in order to renew his pursuit, than Mr Supple began his dissuasives, which the host so strongly seconded, that they at length prevailed, and Mr Western agreed to return home; being principally moved by one argument, viz., that he knew not which way to go, and might probably be riding farther from his daughter instead of towards her. He then took leave of his brother sportsman, and expressing great joy that the frost was broken (which might perhaps be no small motive to his hastening home), set forwards, or rather backwards, for Somersetshire; but not before he had first despatched part of his retinue in quest of his daughter, after whom he likewise sent a volley of the most bitter execrations which he could invent.
At length we are once more come to our heroe; and, to say truth, we have been obliged to part with him so long, that, considering the condition in which we left him, I apprehend many of our readers have concluded we intended to abandon him for ever; he being at present in that situation in which prudent people usually desist from enquiring any farther after their friends, lest they should be shocked by hearing such friends had hanged themselves.
But, in reality, if we have not all the virtues, I will boldly say, neither have we all the vices of a prudent character; and though it is not easy to conceive circumstances much more miserable than those of poor Jones at present, we shall return to him, and attend upon him with the same diligence as if he was wantoning in the brightest beams of fortune.
Mr Jones, then, and his companion Partridge, left the inn a few minutes after the departure of Squire Western, and pursued the same road on foot, for the hostler told them that no horses were by any means to be at that time procured at Upton. On they marched with heavy hearts; for though their disquiet proceeded from very different reasons, yet displeased they were both; and if Jones sighed bitterly, Partridge grunted altogether as sadly at every step.
When they came to the cross-roads where the squire had stopt to take counsel, Jones stopt likewise, and turning to Partridge, asked his opinion which track they should pursue. "Ah, sir," answered Partridge, "I wish your honour would follow my advice." "Why should I not?" replied Jones; "for it is now indifferent to me whither I go, or what becomes of me." "My advice, then," said Partridge, "is, that you immediately face about and return home; for who that hath such a home to return to as your honour, would travel thus about the country like a vagabond? I ask pardon, _sed vox ea sola reperta est_."
"Alas!" cries Jones, "I have no home to return to;—but if my friend, my father, would receive me, could I bear the country from which Sophia is flown? Cruel Sophia! Cruel! No; let me blame myself!—No; let me blame thee. D—nation seize thee—fool—blockhead! thou hast undone me, and I will tear thy soul from thy body."—At which words he laid violent hands on the collar of poor Partridge, and shook him more heartily than an ague-fit, or his own fears had ever done before.
Partridge fell trembling on his knees, and begged for mercy, vowing he had meant no harm—when Jones, after staring wildly on him for a moment, quitted his hold, and discharged a rage on himself, that, had it fallen on the other, would certainly have put an end to his being, which indeed the very apprehension of it had almost effected.
We would bestow some pains here in minutely describing all the mad pranks which Jones played on this occasion, could we be well assured that the reader would take the same pains in perusing them; but as we are apprehensive that, after all the labour which we should employ in painting this scene, the said reader would be very apt to skip it entirely over, we have saved ourselves that trouble. To say the truth, we have, from this reason alone, often done great violence to the luxuriance of our genius, and have left many excellent descriptions out of our work, which would otherwise have been in it. And this suspicion, to be honest, arises, as is generally the case, from our own wicked heart; for we have, ourselves, been very often most horridly given to jumping, as we have run through the pages of voluminous historians.
Suffice it then simply to say, that Jones, after having played the part of a madman for many minutes, came, by degrees, to himself; which no sooner happened, than, turning to Partridge, he very earnestly begged his pardon for the attack he had made on him in the violence of his passion; but concluded, by desiring him never to mention his return again; for he was resolved never to see that country any more.
Partridge easily forgave, and faithfully promised to obey the injunction now laid upon him. And then Jones very briskly cried out, "Since it is absolutely impossible for me to pursue any farther the steps of my angel—I will pursue those of glory. Come on, my brave lad, now for the army:—it is a glorious cause, and I would willingly sacrifice my life in it, even though it was worth my preserving." And so saying, he immediately struck into the different road from that which the squire had taken, and, by mere chance, pursued the very same through which Sophia had before passed.
Our travellers now marched a full mile, without speaking a syllable to each other, though Jones, indeed, muttered many things to himself. As to Partridge, he was profoundly silent; for he was not, perhaps, perfectly recovered from his former fright; besides, he had apprehensions of provoking his friend to a second fit of wrath, especially as he now began to entertain a conceit, which may not, perhaps, create any great wonder in the reader. In short, he began now to suspect that Jones was absolutely out of his senses.
At length, Jones, being weary of soliloquy, addressed himself to his companion, and blamed him for his taciturnity; for which the poor man very honestly accounted, from his fear of giving offence. And now this fear being pretty well removed, by the most absolute promises of indemnity, Partridge again took the bridle from his tongue; which, perhaps, rejoiced no less at regaining its liberty, than a young colt, when the bridle is slipt from his neck, and he is turned loose into the pastures.
As Partridge was inhibited from that topic which would have first suggested itself, he fell upon that which was next uppermost in his mind, namely, the Man of the Hill. "Certainly, sir," says he, "that could never be a man, who dresses himself and lives after such a strange manner, and so unlike other folks. Besides, his diet, as the old woman told me, is chiefly upon herbs, which is a fitter food for a horse than a Christian: nay, landlord at Upton says that the neighbours thereabouts have very fearful notions about him. It runs strangely in my head that it must have been some spirit, who, perhaps, might be sent to forewarn us: and who knows but all that matter which he told us, of his going to fight, and of his being taken prisoner, and of the great danger he was in of being hanged, might be intended as a warning to us, considering what we are going about? besides, I dreamt of nothing all last night but of fighting; and methought the blood ran out of my nose, as liquor out of a tap. Indeed, sir, _infandum, regina, jubes renovare dolorem_."
"Thy story, Partridge," answered Jones, "is almost as ill applied as thy Latin. Nothing can be more likely to happen than death to men who go into battle. Perhaps we shall both fall in it—and what then?" "What then?" replied Partridge; "why then there is an end of us, is there not? when I am gone, all is over with me. What matters the cause to me, or who gets the victory, if I am killed? I shall never enjoy any advantage from it. What are all the ringing of bells, and bonfires, to one that is six foot under ground? there will be an end of poor Partridge." "And an end of poor Partridge," cries Jones, "there must be, one time or other. If you love Latin, I will repeat you some fine lines out of Horace, which would inspire courage into a coward.
|'_Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori|
|Mors et fugacem persequitur virum|
|Nec parcit imbellis juventae|
|Poplitibus, timidoque tergo._'"|
"I wish you would construe them," cries Partridge; "for Horace is a hard author, and I cannot understand as you repeat them."
"I will repeat you a bad imitation, or rather paraphrase, of my own," said Jones; "for I am but an indifferent poet:
'Who would not die in his dear country's cause? Since, if base fear his dastard step withdraws, From death he cannot fly:—One common grave Receives, at last, the coward and the brave.'"
"That's very certain," cries Partridge. "Ay, sure, _Mors omnibus communis:_ but there is a great difference between dying in one's bed a great many years hence, like a good Christian, with all our friends crying about us, and being shot to-day or to-morrow, like a mad dog; or, perhaps, hacked in twenty pieces with the sword, and that too before we have repented of all our sins. O Lord, have mercy upon us! to be sure the soldiers are a wicked kind of people. I never loved to have anything to do with them. I could hardly bring myself ever to look upon them as Christians. There is nothing but cursing and swearing among them. I wish your honour would repent: I heartily wish you would repent before it is too late; and not think of going among them.—Evil communication corrupts good manners. That is my principal reason. For as for that matter, I am no more afraid than another man, not I; as to matter of that. I know all human flesh must die; but yet a man may live many years, for all that. Why, I am a middle-aged man now, and yet I may live a great number of years. I have read of several who have lived to be above a hundred, and some a great deal above a hundred. Not that I hope, I mean that I promise myself, to live to any such age as that, neither.—But if it be only to eighty or ninety. Heaven be praised, that is a great ways off yet; and I am not afraid of dying then, no more than another man; but, surely, to tempt death before a man's time is come seems to me downright wickedness and presumption. Besides, if it was to do any good indeed; but, let the cause be what it will, what mighty matter of good can two people do? and, for my part, I understand nothing of it. I never fired off a gun above ten times in my life; and then it was not charged with bullets. And for the sword, I never learned to fence, and know nothing of the matter. And then there are those cannons, which certainly it must be thought the highest presumption to go in the way of; and nobody but a madman—I ask pardon; upon my soul I meant no harm; I beg I may not throw your honour into another passion."
"Be under no apprehension, Partridge," cries Jones; "I am now so well convinced of thy cowardice, that thou couldst not provoke me on any account." "Your honour," answered he, "may call me coward, or anything else you please. If loving to sleep in a whole skin makes a man a coward, _non immunes ab illis malis sumus_. I never read in my grammar that a man can't be a good man without fighting. _Vir bonus est quis? Qui consulta patrum, qui leges juraque servat_. Not a word of fighting; and I am sure the scripture is so much against it, that a man shall never persuade me he is a good Christian while he sheds Christian blood."
The adventure of a beggar-man.
Just as Partridge had uttered that good and pious doctrine, with which the last chapter concluded, they arrived at another cross-way, when a lame fellow in rags asked them for alms; upon which Partridge gave him a severe rebuke, saying, "Every parish ought to keep their own poor." Jones then fell a-laughing, and asked Partridge, "if he was not ashamed, with so much charity in his mouth, to have no charity in his heart. Your religion," says he, "serves you only for an excuse for your faults, but is no incentive to your virtue. Can any man who is really a Christian abstain from relieving one of his brethren in such a miserable condition?" And at the same time, putting his hand in his pocket, he gave the poor object a shilling.
"Master," cries the fellow, after thanking him, "I have a curious thing here in my pocket, which I found about two miles off, if your worship will please to buy it. I should not venture to pull it out to every one; but, as you are so good a gentleman, and so kind to the poor, you won't suspect a man of being a thief only because he is poor." He then pulled out a little gilt pocket-book, and delivered it into the hands of Jones.
Jones presently opened it, and (guess, reader, what he felt) saw in the first page the words Sophia Western, written by her own fair hand. He no sooner read the name than he prest it close to his lips; nor could he avoid falling into some very frantic raptures, notwithstanding his company; but, perhaps, these very raptures made him forget he was not alone.
While Jones was kissing and mumbling the book, as if he had an excellent brown buttered crust in his mouth or as if he had really been a book-worm, or an author who had nothing to eat but his own works, a piece of paper fell from its leaves to the ground, which Partridge took up, and delivered to Jones, who presently perceived it to be a bank-bill. It was, indeed, the very bill which Western had given his daughter the night before her departure; and a Jew would have jumped to purchase it at five shillings less than L100.
The eyes of Partridge sparkled at this news, which Jones now proclaimed aloud; and so did (though with somewhat a different aspect) those of the poor fellow who had found the book; and who (I hope from a principle of honesty) had never opened it: but we should not deal honestly by the reader if we omitted to inform him of a circumstance which may be here a little material, viz. that the fellow could not read.
Jones, who had felt nothing but pure joy and transport from the finding the book, was affected with a mixture of concern at this new discovery; for his imagination instantly suggested to him that the owner of the bill might possibly want it before he should be able to convey it to her. He then acquainted the finder that he knew the lady to whom the book belonged, and would endeavour to find her out as soon as possible, and return it her.
The pocket-book was a late present from Mrs Western to her niece; it had cost five-and-twenty shillings, having been bought of a celebrated toyman; but the real value of the silver which it contained in its clasp was about eighteen-pence; and that price the said toyman, as it was altogether as good as when it first issued from his shop, would now have given for it. A prudent person would, however, have taken proper advantage of the ignorance of this fellow, and would not have offered more than a shilling, or perhaps sixpence, for it; nay, some perhaps would have given nothing, and left the fellow to his action of trover, which some learned serjeants may doubt whether he could, under these circumstances, have maintained.
Jones, on the contrary, whose character was on the outside of generosity, and may perhaps not very unjustly have been suspected of extravagance, without any hesitation gave a guinea in exchange for the book. The poor man, who had not for a long time before been possessed of so much treasure, gave Mr Jones a thousand thanks, and discovered little less of transport in his muscles than Jones had before shown when he had first read the name of Sophia Western.
The fellow very readily agreed to attend our travellers to the place where he had found the pocket-book. Together, therefore, they proceeded directly thither; but not so fast as Mr Jones desired; for his guide unfortunately happened to be lame, and could not possibly travel faster than a mile an hour. As this place, therefore, was at above three miles' distance, though the fellow had said otherwise, the reader need not be acquainted how long they were in walking it.
Jones opened the book a hundred times during their walk, kissed it as often, talked much to himself, and very little to his companions. At all which the guide exprest some signs of astonishment to Partridge; who more than once shook his head, and cryed, Poor gentleman! _orandum est ut sit mens sana in corpore sano._
At length they arrived at the very spot where Sophia unhappily dropt the pocket-book, and where the fellow had as happily found it. Here Jones offered to take leave of his guide, and to improve his pace; but the fellow, in whom that violent surprize and joy which the first receipt of the guinea had occasioned was now considerably abated, and who had now had sufficient time to recollect himself, put on a discontented look, and, scratching his head, said, "He hoped his worship would give him something more. Your worship," said he, "will, I hope, take it into your consideration that if I had not been honest I might have kept the whole." And, indeed, this the reader must confess to have been true. "If the paper there," said he, "be worth L100, I am sure the finding it deserves more than a guinea. Besides, suppose your worship should never see the lady, nor give it her—and, though your worship looks and talks very much like a gentleman, yet I have only your worship's bare word; and, certainly, if the right owner ben't to be found, it all belongs to the first finder. I hope your worship will consider of all these matters: I am but a poor man, and therefore don't desire to have all; but it is but reasonable I should have my share. Your worship looks like a good man, and, I hope, will consider my honesty; for I might have kept every farthing, and nobody ever the wiser." "I promise thee, upon my honour," cries Jones, "that I know the right owner, and will restore it her." "Nay, your worship," answered the fellow, "may do as you please as to that; if you will but give me my share, that is, one-half of the money, your honour may keep the rest yourself if you please;" and concluded with swearing, by a very vehement oath, "that he would never mention a syllable of it to any man living."
"Lookee, friend," cries Jones, "the right owner shall certainly have again all that she lost; and as for any farther gratuity, I really cannot give it you at present; but let me know your name, and where you live, and it is more than possible you may hereafter have further reason to rejoice at this morning's adventure."
"I don't know what you mean by venture," cries the fellow; "it seems I must venture whether you will return the lady her money or no; but I hope your worship will consider—" "Come, come," said Partridge, "tell his honour your name, and where you may be found; I warrant you will never repent having put the money into his hands." The fellow, seeing no hopes of recovering the possession of the pocket-book, at last complied in giving in his name and place of abode, which Jones writ upon a piece of paper with the pencil of Sophia; and then, placing the paper in the same page where she had writ her name, he cried out, "There, friend, you are the happiest man alive; I have joined your name to that of an angel." "I don't know anything about angels," answered the fellow; "but I wish you would give me a little more money, or else return me the pocket-book." Partridge now waxed wrath: he called the poor cripple by several vile and opprobrious names, and was absolutely proceeding to beat him, but Jones would not suffer any such thing: and now, telling the fellow he would certainly find some opportunity of serving him, Mr Jones departed as fast as his heels would carry him; and Partridge, into whom the thoughts of the hundred pound had infused new spirits, followed his leader; while the man, who was obliged to stay behind, fell to cursing them both, as well as his parents; "for had they," says he, "sent me to charity-school to learn to write and read and cast accounts, I should have known the value of these matters as well as other people."
Containing more adventures which Mr Jones and his companion met on the road.
Our travellers now walked so fast, that they had very little time or breath for conversation; Jones meditating all the way on Sophia, and Partridge on the bank-bill, which, though it gave him some pleasure, caused him at the same time to repine at fortune, which, in all his walks, had never given him such an opportunity of showing his honesty. They had proceeded above three miles, when Partridge, being unable any longer to keep up with Jones, called to him, and begged him a little to slacken his pace: with this he was the more ready to comply, as he had for some time lost the footsteps of the horses, which the thaw had enabled him to trace for several miles, and he was now upon a wide common, where were several roads.
He here therefore stopt to consider which of these roads he should pursue; when on a sudden they heard the noise of a drum, that seemed at no great distance. This sound presently alarmed the fears of Partridge, and he cried out, "Lord have mercy upon us all; they are certainly a coming!" "Who is coming?" cries Jones; for fear had long since given place to softer ideas in his mind; and since his adventure with the lame man, he had been totally intent on pursuing Sophia, without entertaining one thought of an enemy. "Who?" cries Partridge, "why, the rebels: but why should I call them rebels? they may be very honest gentlemen, for anything I know to the contrary. The devil take him that affronts them, I say; I am sure, if they have nothing to say to me, I will have nothing to say to them, but in a civil way. For Heaven's sake, sir, don't affront them if they should come, and perhaps they may do us no harm; but would it not be the wiser way to creep into some of yonder bushes, till they are gone by? What can two unarmed men do perhaps against fifty thousand? Certainly nobody but a madman; I hope your honour is not offended; but certainly no man who hath _mens sana in corpore sano_——" Here Jones interrupted this torrent of eloquence, which fear had inspired, saying, "That by the drum he perceived they were near some town." He then made directly towards the place whence the noise proceeded, bidding Partridge "take courage, for that he would lead him into no danger;" and adding, "it was impossible the rebels should be so near."
Partridge was a little comforted with this last assurance; and though he would more gladly have gone the contrary way, he followed his leader, his heart beating time, but not after the manner of heroes, to the music of the drum, which ceased not till they had traversed the common, and were come into a narrow lane.
And now Partridge, who kept even pace with Jones, discovered something painted flying in the air, a very few yards before him, which fancying to be the colours of the enemy, he fell a bellowing, "Oh Lord, sir, here they are; there is the crown and coffin. Oh Lord! I never saw anything so terrible; and we are within gun-shot of them already."
Jones no sooner looked up, than he plainly perceived what it was which Partridge had thus mistaken. "Partridge," says he, "I fancy you will be able to engage this whole army yourself; for by the colours I guess what the drum was which we heard before, and which beats up for recruits to a puppet-show."
"A puppet-show!" answered Partridge, with most eager transport. "And is it really no more than that? I love a puppet-show of all the pastimes upon earth. Do, good sir, let us tarry and see it. Besides, I am quite famished to death; for it is now almost dark, and I have not eat a morsel since three o'clock in the morning."
They now arrived at an inn, or indeed an ale-house, where Jones was prevailed upon to stop, the rather as he had no longer any assurance of being in the road he desired. They walked both directly into the kitchen, where Jones began to enquire if no ladies had passed that way in the morning, and Partridge as eagerly examined into the state of their provisions; and indeed his enquiry met with the better success; for Jones could not hear news of Sophia; but Partridge, to his great satisfaction, found good reason to expect very shortly the agreeable sight of an excellent smoaking dish of eggs and bacon.
In strong and healthy constitutions love hath a very different effect from what it causes in the puny part of the species. In the latter it generally destroys all that appetite which tends towards the conservation of the individual; but in the former, though it often induces forgetfulness, and a neglect of food, as well as of everything else; yet place a good piece of well-powdered buttock before a hungry lover, and he seldom fails very handsomely to play his part. Thus it happened in the present case; for though Jones perhaps wanted a prompter, and might have travelled much farther, had he been alone, with an empty stomach; yet no sooner did he sit down to the bacon and eggs, than he fell to as heartily and voraciously as Partridge himself.
Before our travellers had finished their dinner, night came on, and as the moon was now past the full, it was extremely dark. Partridge therefore prevailed on Jones to stay and see the puppet-show, which was just going to begin, and to which they were very eagerly invited by the master of the said show, who declared that his figures were the finest which the world had ever produced, and that they had given great satisfaction to all the quality in every town in England.
The puppet-show was performed with great regularity and decency. It was called the fine and serious part of the Provoked Husband; and it was indeed a very grave and solemn entertainment, without any low wit or humour, or jests; or, to do it no more than justice, without anything which could provoke a laugh. The audience were all highly pleased. A grave matron told the master she would bring her two daughters the next night, as he did not show any stuff; and an attorney's clerk and an exciseman both declared, that the characters of Lord and Lady Townley were well preserved, and highly in nature. Partridge likewise concurred with this opinion.
The master was so highly elated with these encomiums, that he could not refrain from adding some more of his own. He said, "The present age was not improved in anything so much as in their puppet-shows; which, by throwing out Punch and his wife Joan, and such idle trumpery, were at last brought to be a rational entertainment. I remember," said he, "when I first took to the business, there was a great deal of low stuff that did very well to make folks laugh; but was never calculated to improve the morals of young people, which certainly ought to be principally aimed at in every puppet-show: for why may not good and instructive lessons be conveyed this way, as well as any other? My figures are as big as the life, and they represent the life in every particular; and I question not but people rise from my little drama as much improved as they do from the great." "I would by no means degrade the ingenuity of your profession," answered Jones, "but I should have been glad to have seen my old acquaintance master Punch, for all that; and so far from improving, I think, by leaving out him and his merry wife Joan, you have spoiled your puppet-show."
The dancer of wires conceived an immediate and high contempt for Jones, from these words. And with much disdain in his countenance, he replied, "Very probably, sir, that may be your opinion; but I have the satisfaction to know the best judges differ from you, and it is impossible to please every taste. I confess, indeed, some of the quality at Bath, two or three years ago, wanted mightily to bring Punch again upon the stage. I believe I lost some money for not agreeing to it; but let others do as they will; a little matter shall never bribe me to degrade my own profession, nor will I ever willingly consent to the spoiling the decency and regularity of my stage, by introducing any such low stuff upon it."
"Right, friend," cries the clerk, "you are very right. Always avoid what is low. There are several of my acquaintance in London, who are resolved to drive everything which is low from the stage." "Nothing can be more proper," cries the exciseman, pulling his pipe from his mouth. "I remember," added he, "(for I then lived with my lord) I was in the footman's gallery, the night when this play of the Provoked Husband was acted first. There was a great deal of low stuff in it about a country gentleman come up to town to stand for parliament-man; and there they brought a parcel of his servants upon the stage, his coachman I remember particularly; but the gentlemen in our gallery could not bear anything so low, and they damned it. I observe, friend, you have left all that matter out, and you are to be commended for it."
"Nay, gentlemen," cries Jones, "I can never maintain my opinion against so many; indeed, if the generality of his audience dislike him, the learned gentleman who conducts the show might have done very right in dismissing Punch from his service."
The master of the show then began a second harangue, and said much of the great force of example, and how much the inferior part of mankind would be deterred from vice, by observing how odious it was in their superiors; when he was unluckily interrupted by an incident, which, though perhaps we might have omitted it at another time, we cannot help relating at present, but not in this chapter.
From which it may be inferred that the best things are liable to be misunderstood and misinterpreted.
A violent uproar now arose in the entry, where my landlady was well cuffing her maid both with her fist and tongue. She had indeed missed the wench from her employment, and, after a little search, had found her on the puppet-show stage in company with the Merry Andrew, and in a situation not very proper to be described.
Though Grace (for that was her name) had forfeited all title to modesty; yet had she not impudence enough to deny a fact in which she was actually surprized; she, therefore, took another turn, and attempted to mitigate the offence. "Why do you beat me in this manner, mistress?" cries the wench. "If you don't like my doings, you may turn me away. If I am a w—e" (for the other had liberally bestowed that appellation on her), "my betters are so as well as I. What was the fine lady in the puppet-show just now? I suppose she did not lie all night out from her husband for nothing."
The landlady now burst into the kitchen, and fell foul on both her husband and the poor puppet-mover. "Here, husband," says she, "you see the consequence of harbouring these people in your house. If one doth draw a little drink the more for them, one is hardly made amends for the litter they make; and then to have one's house made a bawdy-house of by such lousy vermin. In short, I desire you would be gone to-morrow morning; for I will tolerate no more such doings. It is only the way to teach our servants idleness and nonsense; for to be sure nothing better can be learned by such idle shows as these. I remember when puppet-shows were made of good scripture stories, as Jephthah's Rash Vow, and such good things, and when wicked people were carried away by the devil. There was some sense in those matters; but as the parson told us last Sunday, nobody believes in the devil now-a-days; and here you bring about a parcel of puppets drest up like lords and ladies, only to turn the heads of poor country wenches; and when their heads are once turned topsy-turvy, no wonder everything else is so."
Virgil, I think, tells us, that when the mob are assembled in a riotous and tumultuous manner, and all sorts of missile weapons fly about, if a man of gravity and authority appears amongst them, the tumult is presently appeased, and the mob, which when collected into one body, may be well compared to an ass, erect their long ears at the grave man's discourse.
On the contrary, when a set of grave men and philosophers are disputing; when wisdom herself may in a manner be considered as present, and administering arguments to the disputants; should a tumult arise among the mob, or should one scold, who is herself equal in noise to a mighty mob, appear among the said philosophers; their disputes cease in a moment, wisdom no longer performs her ministerial office, and the attention of every one is immediately attracted by the scold alone.
Thus the uproar aforesaid, and the arrival of the landlady, silenced the master of the puppet-show, and put a speedy and final end to that grave and solemn harangue, of which we have given the reader a sufficient taste already. Nothing indeed could have happened so very inopportune as this accident; the most wanton malice of fortune could not have contrived such another stratagem to confound the poor fellow, while he was so triumphantly descanting on the good morals inculcated by his exhibitions. His mouth was now as effectually stopt, as that of quack must be, if, in the midst of a declamation on the great virtues of his pills and powders, the corpse of one of his martyrs should be brought forth, and deposited before the stage, as a testimony of his skill.
Instead, therefore, of answering my landlady, the puppet-show man ran out to punish his Merry Andrew; and now the moon beginning to put forth her silver light, as the poets call it (though she looked at that time more like a piece of copper), Jones called for his reckoning, and ordered Partridge, whom my landlady had just awaked from a profound nap, to prepare for his journey; but Partridge, having lately carried two points, as my reader hath seen before, was emboldened to attempt a third, which was to prevail with Jones to take up a lodging that evening in the house where he then was. He introduced this with an affected surprize at the intention which Mr Jones declared of removing; and, after urging many excellent arguments against it, he at last insisted strongly that it could be to no manner of purpose whatever; for that, unless Jones knew which way the lady was gone, every step he took might very possibly lead him the farther from her; "for you find, sir," said he, "by all the people in the house, that she is not gone this way. How much better, therefore, would it be to stay till the morning, when we may expect to meet with somebody to enquire of?"
This last argument had indeed some effect on Jones, and while he was weighing it the landlord threw all the rhetoric of which he was master into the same scale. "Sure, sir," said he, "your servant gives you most excellent advice; for who would travel by night at this time of the year?" He then began in the usual stile to trumpet forth the excellent accommodation which his house afforded; and my landlady likewise opened on the occasion——But, not to detain the reader with what is common to every host and hostess, it is sufficient to tell him Jones was at last prevailed on to stay and refresh himself with a few hours' rest, which indeed he very much wanted; for he had hardly shut his eyes since he had left the inn where the accident of the broken head had happened.
As soon as Jones had taken a resolution to proceed no farther that night, he presently retired to rest, with his two bedfellows, the pocket-book and the muff; but Partridge, who at several times had refreshed himself with several naps, was more inclined to eating than to sleeping, and more to drinking than to either.
And now the storm which Grace had raised being at an end, and my landlady being again reconciled to the puppet-man, who on his side forgave the indecent reflections which the good woman in her passion had cast on his performances, a face of perfect peace and tranquillity reigned in the kitchen; where sat assembled round the fire the landlord and landlady of the house, the master of the puppet-show, the attorney's clerk, the exciseman, and the ingenious Mr Partridge; in which company past the agreeable conversation which will be found in the next chapter.
Containing a remark or two of our own and many more of the good company assembled in the kitchen.
Though the pride of Partridge did not submit to acknowledge himself a servant, yet he condescended in most particulars to imitate the manners of that rank. One instance of this was, his greatly magnifying the fortune of his companion, as he called Jones: such is a general custom with all servants among strangers, as none of them would willingly be thought the attendant on a beggar: for, the higher the situation of the master is, the higher consequently is that of the man in his own opinion; the truth of which observation appears from the behaviour of all the footmen of the nobility.
But, though title and fortune communicate a splendor all around them, and the footmen of men of quality and of estate think themselves entitled to a part of that respect which is paid to the quality and estate of their masters, it is clearly otherwise with regard to virtue and understanding. These advantages are strictly personal, and swallow themselves all the respect which is paid to them. To say the truth, this is so very little, that they cannot well afford to let any others partake with them. As these therefore reflect no honour on the domestic, so neither is he at all dishonoured by the most deplorable want of both in his master. Indeed it is otherwise in the want of what is called virtue in a mistress, the consequence of which we have before seen: for in this dishonour there is a kind of contagion, which, like that of poverty, communicates itself to all who approach it.
Now for these reasons we are not to wonder that servants (I mean among the men only) should have so great regard for the reputation of the wealth of their masters, and little or none at all for their character in other points, and that, though they would be ashamed to be the footman of a beggar, they are not so to attend upon a rogue or a blockhead; and do consequently make no scruple to spread the fame of the iniquities and follies of their said masters as far as possible, and this often with great humour and merriment. In reality, a footman is often a wit as well as a beau, at the expence of the gentleman whose livery he wears.
After Partridge, therefore, had enlarged greatly on the vast fortune to which Mr Jones was heir, he very freely communicated an apprehension, which he had begun to conceive the day before, and for which, as we hinted at that very time, the behaviour of Jones seemed to have furnished a sufficient foundation. In short, he was now pretty well confirmed in an opinion that his master was out of his wits, with which opinion he very bluntly acquainted the good company round the fire.
With this sentiment the puppet-show man immediately coincided. "I own," said he, "the gentleman surprized me very much, when he talked so absurdly about puppet-shows. It is indeed hardly to be conceived that any man in his senses should be so much mistaken; what you say now accounts very well for all his monstrous notions. Poor gentleman! I am heartily concerned for him; indeed he hath a strange wildness about his eyes, which I took notice of before, though I did not mention it."
The landlord agreed with this last assertion, and likewise claimed the sagacity of having observed it. "And certainly," added he, "it must be so; for no one but a madman would have thought of leaving so good a house to ramble about the country at that time of night."
The exciseman, pulling his pipe from his mouth, said, "He thought the gentleman looked and talked a little wildly;" and then turning to Partridge, "if he be a madman," says he, "he should not be suffered to travel thus about the country; for possibly he may do some mischief. It is a pity he was not secured and sent home to his relations."
Now some conceits of this kind were likewise lurking in the mind of Partridge; for, as he was now persuaded that Jones had run away from Mr Allworthy, he promised himself the highest rewards if he could by any means convey him back. But fear of Jones, of whose fierceness and strength he had seen, and indeed felt, some instances, had however represented any such scheme as impossible to be executed, and had discouraged him from applying himself to form any regular plan for the purpose. But no sooner did he hear the sentiments of the exciseman than he embraced that opportunity of declaring his own, and expressed a hearty wish that such a matter could be brought about.
"Could be brought about!" says the exciseman: "why, there is nothing easier."
"Ah! sir," answered Partridge, "you don't know what a devil of a fellow he is. He can take me up with one hand, and throw me out at window; and he would, too, if he did but imagine—"
"Pogh!" says the exciseman, "I believe I am as good a man as he. Besides, here are five of us."
"I don't know what five," cries the landlady, "my husband shall have nothing to do in it. Nor shall any violent hands be laid upon anybody in my house. The young gentleman is as pretty a young gentleman as ever I saw in my life, and I believe he is no more mad than any of us. What do you tell of his having a wild look with his eyes? they are the prettiest eyes I ever saw, and he hath the prettiest look with them; and a very modest civil young man he is. I am sure I have bepitied him heartily ever since the gentleman there in the corner told us he was crost in love. Certainly that is enough to make any man, especially such a sweet young gentleman as he is, to look a little otherwise than he did before. Lady, indeed! what the devil would the lady have better than such a handsome man with a great estate? I suppose she is one of your quality folks, one of your Townly ladies that we saw last night in the puppet-show, who don't know what they would be at."
The attorney's clerk likewise declared he would have no concern in the business without the advice of counsel. "Suppose," says he, "an action of false imprisonment should be brought against us, what defence could we make? Who knows what may be sufficient evidence of madness to a jury? But I only speak upon my own account; for it don't look well for a lawyer to be concerned in these matters, unless it be as a lawyer. Juries are always less favourable to us than to other people. I don't therefore dissuade you, Mr Thomson (to the exciseman), nor the gentleman, nor anybody else."
The exciseman shook his head at this speech, and the puppet-show man said, "Madness was sometimes a difficult matter for a jury to decide: for I remember," says he, "I was once present at a tryal of madness, where twenty witnesses swore that the person was as mad as a March hare; and twenty others, that he was as much in his senses as any man in England.—And indeed it was the opinion of most people, that it was only a trick of his relations to rob the poor man of his right."
"Very likely!" cries the landlady. "I myself knew a poor gentleman who was kept in a mad-house all his life by his family, and they enjoyed his estate, but it did them no good; for though the law gave it them, it was the right of another."
"Pogh!" cries the clerk, with great contempt, "who hath any right but what the law gives them? If the law gave me the best estate in the country, I should never trouble myself much who had the right."
"If it be so," says Partridge, "_Felix quem faciunt aliena pericula cautum."_
My landlord, who had been called out by the arrival of a horseman at the gate, now returned into the kitchen, and with an affrighted countenance cried out, "What do you think, gentlemen? The rebels have given the duke the slip, and are got almost to London. It is certainly true, for a man on horseback just now told me so."
"I am glad of it with all my heart," cries Partridge; "then there will be no fighting in these parts."
"I am glad," cries the clerk, "for a better reason; for I would always have right take place."
"Ay, but," answered the landlord, "I have heard some people say this man hath no right."
"I will prove the contrary in a moment," cries the clerk: "if my father dies seized of a right; do you mind me, seized of a right, I say; doth not that right descend to his son; and doth not one right descend as well as another?"
"But how can he have any right to make us papishes?" says the landlord.
"Never fear that," cries Partridge. "As to the matter of right, the gentleman there hath proved it as clear as the sun; and as to the matter of religion, it is quite out of the case. The papists themselves don't expect any such thing. A popish priest, whom I know very well, and who is a very honest man, told me upon his word and honour they had no such design."
"And another priest, of my acquaintance," said the landlady, "hath told me the same thing; but my husband is always so afraid of papishes. I know a great many papishes that are very honest sort of people, and spend their money very freely; and it is always a maxim with me, that one man's money is as good as another's."
"Very true, mistress," said the puppet-show man, "I don't care what religion comes; provided the Presbyterians are not uppermost; for they are enemies to puppet-shows."
"And so you would sacrifice your religion to your interest," cries the exciseman; "and are desirous to see popery brought in, are you?"
"Not I, truly," answered the other; "I hate popery as much as any man; but yet it is a comfort to one, that one should be able to live under it, which I could not do among Presbyterians. To be sure, every man values his livelihood first; that must be granted; and I warrant, if you would confess the truth, you are more afraid of losing your place than anything else; but never fear, friend, there will be an excise under another government as well as under this."
"Why, certainly," replied the exciseman, "I should be a very ill man if I did not honour the king, whose bread I eat. That is no more than natural, as a man may say: for what signifies it to me that there would be an excise-office under another government, since my friends would be out, and I could expect no better than to follow them? No, no, friend, I shall never be bubbled out of my religion in hopes only of keeping my place under another government; for I should certainly be no better, and very probably might be worse."
"Why, that is what I say," cries the landlord, "whenever folks say who knows what may happen! Odsooks! should not I be a blockhead to lend my money to I know not who, because mayhap he may return it again? I am sure it is safe in my own bureau, and there I will keep it."
The attorney's clerk had taken a great fancy to the sagacity of Partridge. Whether this proceeded from the great discernment which the former had into men, as well as things, or whether it arose from the sympathy between their minds; for they were both truly Jacobites in principle; they now shook hands heartily, and drank bumpers of strong beer to healths which we think proper to bury in oblivion.
These healths were afterwards pledged by all present, and even by my landlord himself, though reluctantly; but he could not withstand the menaces of the clerk, who swore he would never set his foot within his house again, if he refused. The bumpers which were swallowed on this occasion soon put an end to the conversation. Here, therefore, we will put an end to the chapter.
In which fortune seems to have been in a better humour with Jones than we have hitherto seen her.
As there is no wholesomer, so perhaps there are few stronger, sleeping potions than fatigue. Of this Jones might be said to have taken a very large dose, and it operated very forcibly upon him. He had already slept nine hours, and might perhaps have slept longer, had he not been awakened by a most violent noise at his chamber-door, where the sound of many heavy blows was accompanied with many exclamations of murder. Jones presently leapt from his bed, where he found the master of the puppet-show belabouring the back and ribs of his poor Merry-Andrew, without either mercy or moderation.
Jones instantly interposed on behalf of the suffering party, and pinned the insulting conqueror up to the wall: for the puppet-show man was no more able to contend with Jones than the poor party-coloured jester had been to contend with this puppet-man.
But though the Merry-Andrew was a little fellow, and not very strong, he had nevertheless some choler about him. He therefore no sooner found himself delivered from the enemy, than he began to attack him with the only weapon at which he was his equal. From this he first discharged a volley of general abusive words, and thence proceeded to some particular accusations—"D—n your bl—d, you rascal," says he, "I have not only supported you (for to me you owe all the money you get), but I have saved you from the gallows. Did you not want to rob the lady of her fine riding-habit, no longer ago than yesterday, in the back-lane here? Can you deny that you wished to have her alone in a wood to strip her—to strip one of the prettiest ladies that ever was seen in the world? and here you have fallen upon me, and have almost murdered me, for doing no harm to a girl as willing as myself, only because she likes me better than you."
Jones no sooner heard this than he quitted the master, laying on him at the same time the most violent injunctions of forbearance from any further insult on the Merry-Andrew; and then taking the poor wretch with him into his own apartment, he soon learned tidings of his Sophia, whom the fellow, as he was attending his master with his drum the day before, had seen pass by. He easily prevailed with the lad to show him the exact place, and then having summoned Partridge, he departed with the utmost expedition.
It was almost eight of the clock before all matters could be got ready for his departure: for Partridge was not in any haste, nor could the reckoning be presently adjusted; and when both these were settled and over, Jones would not quit the place before he had perfectly reconciled all differences between the master and the man.
When this was happily accomplished, he set forwards, and was by the trusty Merry-Andrew conducted to the spot by which Sophia had past; and then having handsomely rewarded his conductor, he again pushed on with the utmost eagerness, being highly delighted with the extraordinary manner in which he received his intelligence. Of this Partridge was no sooner acquainted, than he, with great earnestness, began to prophesy, and assured Jones that he would certainly have good success in the end: for, he said, "two such accidents could never have happened to direct him after his mistress, if Providence had not designed to bring them together at last." And this was the first time that Jones lent any attention to the superstitious doctrines of his companion.
They had not gone above two miles when a violent storm of rain overtook them; and, as they happened to be at the same time in sight of an ale-house, Partridge, with much earnest entreaty, prevailed with Jones to enter, and weather the storm. Hunger is an enemy (if indeed it may be called one) which partakes more of the English than of the French disposition; for, though you subdue this never so often, it will always rally again in time; and so it did with Partridge, who was no sooner arrived within the kitchen, than he began to ask the same questions which he had asked the night before. The consequence of this was an excellent cold chine being produced upon the table, upon which not only Partridge, but Jones himself, made a very hearty breakfast, though the latter began to grow again uneasy, as the people of the house could give him no fresh information concerning Sophia.
Their meal being over, Jones was again preparing to sally, notwithstanding the violence of the storm still continued; but Partridge begged heartily for another mug; and at last casting his eyes on a lad at the fire, who had entered into the kitchen, and who at that instant was looking as earnestly at him, he turned suddenly to Jones, and cried, "Master, give me your hand, a single mug shan't serve the turn this bout. Why, here's more news of Madam Sophia come to town. The boy there standing by the fire is the very lad that rode before her. I can swear to my own plaister on his face."—"Heavens bless you, sir," cries the boy, "it is your own plaister sure enough; I shall have always reason to remember your goodness; for it hath almost cured me."
At these words Jones started from his chair, and, bidding the boy follow him immediately, departed from the kitchen into a private apartment; for, so delicate was he with regard to Sophia, that he never willingly mentioned her name in the presence of many people; and, though he had, as it were, from the overflowings of his heart, given Sophia as a toast among the officers, where he thought it was impossible she should be known; yet, even there, the reader may remember how difficultly he was prevailed upon to mention her surname.
Hard therefore was it, and perhaps, in the opinion of many sagacious readers, very absurd and monstrous, that he should principally owe his present misfortune to the supposed want of that delicacy with which he so abounded; for, in reality, Sophia was much more offended at the freedoms which she thought (and not without good reason) he had taken with her name and character, than at any freedoms, in which, under his present circumstances, he had indulged himself with the person of another woman; and to say truth, I believe Honour could never have prevailed on her to leave Upton without her seeing Jones, had it not been for those two strong instances of a levity in his behaviour, so void of respect, and indeed so highly inconsistent with any degree of love and tenderness in great and delicate minds.
But so matters fell out, and so I must relate them; and if any reader is shocked at their appearing unnatural, I cannot help it. I must remind such persons that I am not writing a system, but a history, and I am not obliged to reconcile every matter to the received notions concerning truth and nature. But if this was never so easy to do, perhaps it might be more prudent in me to avoid it. For instance, as the fact at present before us now stands, without any comment of mine upon it, though it may at first sight offend some readers, yet, upon more mature consideration, it must please all; for wise and good men may consider what happened to Jones at Upton as a just punishment for his wickedness with regard to women, of which it was indeed the immediate consequence; and silly and bad persons may comfort themselves in their vices by flattering their own hearts that the characters of men are rather owing to accident than to virtue. Now, perhaps the reflections which we should be here inclined to draw would alike contradict both these conclusions, and would show that these incidents contribute only to confirm the great, useful, and uncommon doctrine, which it is the purpose of this whole work to inculcate, and which we must not fill up our pages by frequently repeating, as an ordinary parson fills his sermon by repeating his text at the end of every paragraph.
We are contented that it must appear, however unhappily Sophia had erred in her opinion of Jones, she had sufficient reason for her opinion; since, I believe, every other young lady would, in her situation, have erred in the same manner. Nay, had she followed her lover at this very time, and had entered this very alehouse the moment he was departed from it, she would have found the landlord as well acquainted with her name and person as the wench at Upton had appeared to be. For while Jones was examining his boy in whispers in an inner room, Partridge, who had no such delicacy in his disposition, was in the kitchen very openly catechising the other guide who had attended Mrs Fitzpatrick; by which means the landlord, whose ears were open on all such occasions, became perfectly well acquainted with the tumble of Sophia from her horse, &c., with the mistake concerning Jenny Cameron, with the many consequences of the punch, and, in short, with almost everything which had happened at the inn whence we despatched our ladies in a coach-and-six when we last took our leaves of them.
Containing little more than a few odd observations.
Jones had been absent a full half-hour, when he returned into the kitchen in a hurry, desiring the landlord to let him know that instant what was to pay. And now the concern which Partridge felt at being obliged to quit the warm chimney-corner, and a cup of excellent liquor, was somewhat compensated by hearing that he was to proceed no farther on foot, for Jones, by golden arguments, had prevailed with the boy to attend him back to the inn whither he had before conducted Sophia; but to this however the lad consented, upon condition that the other guide would wait for him at the alehouse; because, as the landlord at Upton was an intimate acquaintance of the landlord at Gloucester, it might some time or other come to the ears of the latter that his horses had been let to more than one person; and so the boy might be brought to account for money which he wisely intended to put in his own pocket.
We were obliged to mention this circumstance, trifling as it may seem, since it retarded Mr Jones a considerable time in his setting out; for the honesty of this latter boy was somewhat high—that is, somewhat high-priced, and would indeed have cost Jones very dear, had not Partridge, who, as we have said, was a very cunning fellow, artfully thrown in half-a-crown to be spent at that very alehouse, while the boy was waiting for his companion. This half-crown the landlord no sooner got scent of, than he opened after it with such vehement and persuasive outcry, that the boy was soon overcome, and consented to take half-a-crown more for his stay. Here we cannot help observing, that as there is so much of policy in the lowest life, great men often overvalue themselves on those refinements in imposture, in which they are frequently excelled by some of the lowest of the human species.
The horses being now produced, Jones directly leapt into the side-saddle, on which his dear Sophia had rid. The lad, indeed, very civilly offered him the use of his; but he chose the side-saddle, probably because it was softer. Partridge, however, though full as effeminate as Jones, could not bear the thoughts of degrading his manhood; he therefore accepted the boy's offer: and now, Jones being mounted on the side-saddle of his Sophia, the boy on that of Mrs Honour, and Partridge bestriding the third horse, they set forwards on their journey, and within four hours arrived at the inn where the reader hath already spent so much time. Partridge was in very high spirits during the whole way, and often mentioned to Jones the many good omens of his future success which had lately befriended him; and which the reader, without being the least superstitious, must allow to have been particularly fortunate. Partridge was moreover better pleased with the present pursuit of his companion than he had been with his pursuit of glory; and from these very omens, which assured the pedagogue of success, he likewise first acquired a clear idea of the amour between Jones and Sophia; to which he had before given very little attention, as he had originally taken a wrong scent concerning the reasons of Jones's departure; and as to what happened at Upton, he was too much frightened just before and after his leaving that place to draw any other conclusions from thence than that poor Jones was a downright madman: a conceit which was not at all disagreeable to the opinion he before had of his extraordinary wildness, of which, he thought, his behaviour on their quitting Gloucester so well justified all the accounts he had formerly received. He was now, however, pretty well satisfied with his present expedition, and henceforth began to conceive much worthier sentiments of his friend's understanding.
The clock had just struck three when they arrived, and Jones immediately bespoke post-horses; but unluckily there was not a horse to be procured in the whole place; which the reader will not wonder at when he considers the hurry in which the whole nation, and especially this part of it, was at this time engaged, when expresses were passing and repassing every hour of the day and night.
Jones endeavoured all he could to prevail with his former guide to escorte him to Coventry; but he was inexorable. While he was arguing with the boy in the inn-yard, a person came up to him, and saluting him by his name, enquired how all the good family did in Somersetshire; and now Jones casting his eyes upon this person, presently discovered him to be Mr Dowling, the lawyer, with whom he had dined at Gloucester, and with much courtesy returned the salutation.
Dowling very earnestly pressed Mr Jones to go no further that night; and backed his solicitations with many unanswerable arguments, such as, that it was almost dark, that the roads were very dirty, and that he would be able to travel much better by day-light, with many others equally good, some of which Jones had probably suggested to himself before; but as they were then ineffectual, so they were still: and he continued resolute in his design, even though he should be obliged to set out on foot.
When the good attorney found he could not prevail on Jones to stay, he as strenuously applied himself to persuade the guide to accompany him. He urged many motives to induce him to undertake this short journey, and at last concluded with saying, "Do you think the gentleman won't very well reward you for your trouble?"
Two to one are odds at every other thing as well as at foot-ball. But the advantage which this united force hath in persuasion or entreaty must have been visible to a curious observer; for he must have often seen, that when a father, a master, a wife, or any other person in authority, have stoutly adhered to a denial against all the reasons which a single man could produce, they have afterwards yielded to the repetition of the same sentiments by a second or third person, who hath undertaken the cause, without attempting to advance anything new in its behalf. And hence, perhaps, proceeds the phrase of seconding an argument or a motion, and the great consequence this is of in all assemblies of public debate. Hence, likewise, probably it is, that in our courts of law we often hear a learned gentleman (generally a serjeant) repeating for an hour together what another learned gentleman, who spoke just before him, had been saying.
Instead of accounting for this, we shall proceed in our usual manner to exemplify it in the conduct of the lad above mentioned, who submitted to the persuasions of Mr Dowling, and promised once more to admit Jones into his side-saddle; but insisted on first giving the poor creatures a good bait, saying, they had travelled a great way, and been rid very hard. Indeed this caution of the boy was needless; for Jones, notwithstanding his hurry and impatience, would have ordered this of himself; for he by no means agreed with the opinion of those who consider animals as mere machines, and when they bury their spurs in the belly of their horse, imagine the spur and the horse to have an equal capacity of feeling pain.
While the beasts were eating their corn, or rather were supposed to eat it (for, as the boy was taking care of himself in the kitchen, the ostler took great care that his corn should not be consumed in the stable), Mr Jones, at the earnest desire of Mr Dowling, accompanied that gentleman into his room, where they sat down together over a bottle of wine.
In which Mr Jones and Mr Dowling drink a bottle together.
Mr Dowling, pouring out a glass of wine, named the health of the good Squire Allworthy; adding, "If you please, sir, we will likewise remember his nephew and heir, the young squire: Come, sir, here's Mr Blifil to you, a very pretty young gentleman; and who, I dare swear, will hereafter make a very considerable figure in his country. I have a borough for him myself in my eye."
"Sir," answered Jones, "I am convinced you don't intend to affront me, so I shall not resent it; but I promise you, you have joined two persons very improperly together; for one is the glory of the human species, and the other is a rascal who dishonours the name of man."
Dowling stared at this. He said, "He thought both the gentlemen had a very unexceptionable character. As for Squire Allworthy himself," says he, "I never had the happiness to see him; but all the world talks of his goodness. And, indeed, as to the young gentleman, I never saw him but once, when I carried him the news of the loss of his mother; and then I was so hurried, and drove, and tore with the multiplicity of business, that I had hardly time to converse with him; but he looked so like a very honest gentleman, and behaved himself so prettily, that I protest I never was more delighted with any gentleman since I was born."
"I don't wonder," answered Jones, "that he should impose upon you in so short an acquaintance; for he hath the cunning of the devil himself, and you may live with him many years, without discovering him. I was bred up with him from my infancy, and we were hardly ever asunder; but it is very lately only that I have discovered half the villany which is in him. I own I never greatly liked him. I thought he wanted that generosity of spirit, which is the sure foundation of all that is great and noble in human nature. I saw a selfishness in him long ago which I despised; but it is lately, very lately, that I have found him capable of the basest and blackest designs; for, indeed, I have at last found out, that he hath taken an advantage of the openness of my own temper, and hath concerted the deepest project, by a long train of wicked artifice, to work my ruin, which at last he hath effected."
"Ay! ay!" cries Dowling; "I protest, then, it is a pity such a person should inherit the great estate of your uncle Allworthy."
"Alas, sir," cries Jones, "you do me an honour to which I have no title. It is true, indeed, his goodness once allowed me the liberty of calling him by a much nearer name; but as this was only a voluntary act of goodness, I can complain of no injustice when he thinks proper to deprive me of this honour; since the loss cannot be more unmerited than the gift originally was. I assure you, sir, I am no relation of Mr Allworthy; and if the world, who are incapable of setting a true value on his virtue, should think, in his behaviour to me, he hath dealt hardly by a relation, they do an injustice to the best of men: for I—but I ask your pardon, I shall trouble you with no particulars relating to myself; only as you seemed to think me a relation of Mr Allworthy, I thought proper to set you right in a matter that might draw some censures upon him, which I promise you I would rather lose my life than give occasion to."
"I protest, sir," cried Dowling, "you talk very much like a man of honour; but instead of giving me any trouble, I protest it would give me great pleasure to know how you came to be thought a relation of Mr Allworthy's, if you are not. Your horses won't be ready this half-hour, and as you have sufficient opportunity, I wish you would tell me how all that happened; for I protest it seems very surprizing that you should pass for a relation of a gentleman, without being so."
Jones, who in the compliance of his disposition (though not in his prudence) a little resembled his lovely Sophia, was easily prevailed on to satisfy Mr Dowling's curiosity, by relating the history of his birth and education, which he did, like Othello.
———Even from his boyish years, To th' very moment he was bad to tell:
the which to hear, Dowling, like Desdemona, did seriously incline;
|He swore 'twas strange, 'twas passing strange;|
|'Twas pitiful, 'twas wonderous pitiful.|
Mr Dowling was indeed very greatly affected with this relation; for he had not divested himself of humanity by being an attorney. Indeed, nothing is more unjust than to carry our prejudices against a profession into private life, and to borrow our idea of a man from our opinion of his calling. Habit, it is true, lessens the horror of those actions which the profession makes necessary, and consequently habitual; but in all other instances, Nature works in men of all professions alike; nay, perhaps, even more strongly with those who give her, as it were, a holiday, when they are following their ordinary business. A butcher, I make no doubt, would feel compunction at the slaughter of a fine horse; and though a surgeon can feel no pain in cutting off a limb, I have known him compassionate a man in a fit of the gout. The common hangman, who hath stretched the necks of hundreds, is known to have trembled at his first operation on a head: and the very professors of human blood-shedding, who, in their trade of war, butcher thousands, not only of their fellow-professors, but often of women and children, without remorse; even these, I say, in times of peace, when drums and trumpets are laid aside, often lay aside all their ferocity, and become very gentle members of civil society. In the same manner an attorney may feel all the miseries and distresses of his fellow-creatures, provided he happens not to be concerned against them.
Jones, as the reader knows, was yet unacquainted with the very black colours in which he had been represented to Mr Allworthy; and as to other matters, he did not shew them in the most disadvantageous light; for though he was unwilling to cast any blame on his former friend and patron; yet he was not very desirous of heaping too much upon himself. Dowling therefore observed, and not without reason, that very ill offices must have been done him by somebody: "For certainly," cries he, "the squire would never have disinherited you only for a few faults, which any young gentleman might have committed. Indeed, I cannot properly say disinherited: for to be sure by law you cannot claim as heir. That's certain; that nobody need go to counsel for. Yet when a gentleman had in a manner adopted you thus as his own son, you might reasonably have expected some very considerable part, if not the whole; nay, if you had expected the whole, I should not have blamed you: for certainly all men are for getting as much as they can, and they are not to be blamed on that account."
"Indeed you wrong me," said Jones; "I should have been contented with very little: I never had any view upon Mr Allworthy's fortune; nay, I believe I may truly say, I never once considered what he could or might give me. This I solemnly declare, if he had done a prejudice to his nephew in my favour, I would have undone it again. I had rather enjoy my own mind than the fortune of another man. What is the poor pride arising from a magnificent house, a numerous equipage, a splendid table, and from all the other advantages or appearances of fortune, compared to the warm, solid content, the swelling satisfaction, the thrilling transports, and the exulting triumphs, which a good mind enjoys, in the contemplation of a generous, virtuous, noble, benevolent action? I envy not Blifil in the prospect of his wealth; nor shall I envy him in the possession of it. I would not think myself a rascal half an hour, to exchange situations. I believe, indeed, Mr Blifil suspected me of the views you mention; and I suppose these suspicions, as they arose from the baseness of his own heart, so they occasioned his baseness to me. But, I thank Heaven, I know, I feel—I feel my innocence, my friend; and I would not part with that feeling for the world. For as long as I know I have never done, nor even designed, an injury to any being whatever,
|_Pone me pigris ubi nulla campis|
|Arbor aestiva recreatur aura,|
|Quod latus mundi nebulae, malusque|
|Pone sub curru nimium propinqui|
|Solis in terra dominibus negata;|
|Dulce ridentem Lalagen amabo,|
|[*] Place me where never summer breeze|
|Unbinds the glebe, or warms the trees:|
|Where ever-lowering clouds appear,|
|And angry Jove deforms th' inclement year.|
|Place me beneath the burning ray,|
|Where rolls the rapid car of day;|
|Love and the nymph shall charm my toils,|
|The nymph who sweetly speaks, and sweetly smiles.|
He then filled a bumper of wine, and drunk it off to the health of his dear Lalage; and, filling Dowling's glass likewise up to the brim, insisted on his pledging him. "Why, then, here's Miss Lalage's health with all my heart," cries Dowling. "I have heard her toasted often, I protest, though I never saw her; but they say she's extremely handsome."
Though the Latin was not the only part of this speech which Dowling did not perfectly understand; yet there was somewhat in it that made a very strong impression upon him. And though he endeavoured by winking, nodding, sneering, and grinning, to hide the impression from Jones (for we are as often ashamed of thinking right as of thinking wrong), it is certain he secretly approved as much of his sentiments as he understood, and really felt a very strong impulse of compassion for him. But we may possibly take some other opportunity of commenting upon this, especially if we should happen to meet Mr Dowling any more in the course of our history. At present we are obliged to take our leave of that gentleman a little abruptly, in imitation of Mr Jones; who was no sooner informed, by Partridge, that his horses were ready, than he deposited his reckoning, wished his companion a good night, mounted, and set forward towards Coventry, though the night was dark, and it just then began to rain very hard.
The disasters which befel Jones on his departure for Coventry; with the sage remarks of Partridge.
No road can be plainer than that from the place where they now were to Coventry; and though neither Jones, nor Partridge, nor the guide, had ever travelled it before, it would have been almost impossible to have missed their way, had it not been for the two reasons mentioned in the conclusion of the last chapter.
These two circumstances, however, happening both unfortunately to intervene, our travellers deviated into a much less frequented track; and after riding full six miles, instead of arriving at the stately spires of Coventry, they found themselves still in a very dirty lane, where they saw no symptoms of approaching the suburbs of a large city.
Jones now declared that they must certainly have lost their way; but this the guide insisted upon was impossible; a word which, in common conversation, is often used to signify not only improbable, but often what is really very likely, and, sometimes, what hath certainly happened; an hyperbolical violence like that which is so frequently offered to the words infinite and eternal; by the former of which it is usual to express a distance of half a yard, and by the latter, a duration of five minutes. And thus it is as usual to assert the impossibility of losing what is already actually lost. This was, in fact, the case at present; for, notwithstanding all the confident assertions of the lad to the contrary, it is certain they were no more in the right road to Coventry, than the fraudulent, griping, cruel, canting miser is in the right road to heaven.
It is not, perhaps, easy for a reader, who hath never been in those circumstances, to imagine the horror with which darkness, rain, and wind, fill persons who have lost their way in the night; and who, consequently, have not the pleasant prospect of warm fires, dry cloaths, and other refreshments, to support their minds in struggling with the inclemencies of the weather. A very imperfect idea of this horror will, however, serve sufficiently to account for the conceits which now filled the head of Partridge, and which we shall presently be obliged to open.
Jones grew more and more positive that they were out of their road; and the boy himself at last acknowledged he believed they were not in the right road to Coventry; though he affirmed, at the same time, it was impossible they should have mist the way. But Partridge was of a different opinion. He said, "When they first set out he imagined some mischief or other would happen.—Did not you observe, sir," said he to Jones, "that old woman who stood at the door just as you was taking horse? I wish you had given her a small matter, with all my heart; for she said then you might repent it; and at that very instant it began to rain, and the wind hath continued rising ever since. Whatever some people may think, I am very certain it is in the power of witches to raise the wind whenever they please. I have seen it happen very often in my time: and if ever I saw a witch in all my life, that old woman was certainly one. I thought so to myself at that very time; and if I had had any halfpence in my pocket, I would have given her some; for to be sure it is always good to be charitable to those sort of people, for fear what may happen; and many a person hath lost his cattle by saving a halfpenny."
Jones, though he was horridly vexed at the delay which this mistake was likely to occasion in his journey, could not help smiling at the superstition of his friend, whom an accident now greatly confirmed in his opinion. This was a tumble from his horse; by which, however, he received no other injury than what the dirt conferred on his cloaths.
Partridge had no sooner recovered his legs, than he appealed to his fall, as conclusive evidence of all he had asserted; but Jones finding he was unhurt, answered with a smile: "This witch of yours, Partridge, is a most ungrateful jade, and doth not, I find, distinguish her friends from others in her resentment. If the old lady had been angry with me for neglecting her, I don't see why she should tumble you from your horse, after all the respect you have expressed for her."
"It is ill jesting," cries Partridge, "with people who have power to do these things; for they are often very malicious. I remember a farrier, who provoked one of them, by asking her when the time she had bargained with the devil for would be out; and within three months from that very day one of his best cows was drowned. Nor was she satisfied with that; for a little time afterwards he lost a barrel of best-drink: for the old witch pulled out the spigot, and let it run all over the cellar, the very first evening he had tapped it to make merry with some of his neighbours. In short, nothing ever thrived with him afterwards; for she worried the poor man so, that he took to drinking; and in a year or two his stock was seized, and he and his family are now come to the parish."
The guide, and perhaps his horse too, were both so attentive to this discourse, that, either through want of care, or by the malice of the witch, they were now both sprawling in the dirt.
Partridge entirely imputed this fall, as he had done his own, to the same cause. He told Mr Jones, "It would certainly be his turn next; and earnestly entreated him to return back, and find out the old woman, and pacify her. We shall very soon," added he, "reach the inn; for though we have seemed to go forward, I am very certain we are in the identical place in which we were an hour ago; and I dare swear, if it was daylight, we might now see the inn we set out from."
Instead of returning any answer to this sage advice, Jones was entirely attentive to what had happened to the boy, who received no other hurt than what had before befallen Partridge, and which his cloaths very easily bore, as they had been for many years inured to the like. He soon regained his side-saddle, and by the hearty curses and blows which he bestowed on his horse, quickly satisfied Mr Jones that no harm was done.
Relates that Mr Jones continued his journey, contrary to the advice of Partridge, with what happened on that occasion.
They now discovered a light at some distance, to the great pleasure of Jones, and to the no small terror of Partridge, who firmly believed himself to be bewitched, and that this light was a Jack-with-a-lantern, or somewhat more mischievous.
But how were these fears increased, when, as they approached nearer to this light (or lights as they now appeared), they heard a confused sound of human voices; of singing, laughing, and hallowing, together with a strange noise that seemed to proceed from some instruments; but could hardly be allowed the name of music! indeed, to favour a little the opinion of Partridge, it might very well be called music bewitched.
It is impossible to conceive a much greater degree of horror than what now seized on Partridge; the contagion of which had reached the post-boy, who had been very attentive to many things that the other had uttered. He now, therefore, joined in petitioning Jones to return; saying he firmly believed what Partridge had just before said, that though the horses seemed to go on, they had not moved a step forwards during at least the last half-hour.
Jones could not help smiling in the midst of his vexation, at the fears of these poor fellows. "Either we advance," says he, "towards the lights, or the lights have advanced towards us; for we are now at a very little distance from them; but how can either of you be afraid of a set of people who appear only to be merry-making?"
"Merry-making, sir!" cries Partridge; "who could be merry-making at this time of night, and in such a place, and such weather? They can be nothing but ghosts or witches, or some evil spirits or other, that's certain."
"Let them be what they will," cries Jones, "I am resolved to go up to them, and enquire the way to Coventry. All witches, Partridge, are not such ill-natured hags as that we had the misfortune to meet with last."
"O Lord, sir," cries Partridge, "there is no knowing what humour they will be in; to be sure it is always best to be civil to them; but what if we should meet with something worse than witches, with evil spirits themselves?——Pray, sir, be advised; pray, sir, do. If you had read so many terrible accounts as I have of these matters, you would not be so fool-hardy.——The Lord knows whither we have got already, or whither we are going; for sure such darkness was never seen upon earth, and I question whether it can be darker in the other world."
Jones put forwards as fast as he could, notwithstanding all these hints and cautions, and poor Partridge was obliged to follow; for though he hardly dared to advance, he dared still less to stay behind by himself.
At length they arrived at the place whence the lights and different noises had issued. This Jones perceived to be no other than a barn, where a great number of men and women were assembled, and diverting themselves with much apparent jollity.
Jones no sooner appeared before the great doors of the barn, which were open, than a masculine and very rough voice from within demanded, who was there?—To which Jones gently answered, a friend; and immediately asked the road to Coventry.
"If you are a friend," cries another of the men in the barn, "you had better alight till the storm is over" (for indeed it was now more violent than ever;) "you are very welcome to put up your horse; for there is sufficient room for him at the end of the barn."
"You are very obliging," returned Jones; "and I will accept your offer for a few minutes, whilst the rain continues; and here are two more who will be glad of the same favour." This was accorded with more good-will than it was accepted: for Partridge would rather have submitted to the utmost inclemency of the weather than have trusted to the clemency of those whom he took for hobgoblins; and the poor post-boy was now infected with the same apprehensions; but they were both obliged to follow the example of Jones; the one because he durst not leave his horse, and the other because he feared nothing so much as being left by himself.
Had this history been writ in the days of superstition, I should have had too much compassion for the reader to have left him so long in suspense, whether Beelzebub or Satan was about actually to appear in person, with all his hellish retinue; but as these doctrines are at present very unfortunate, and have but few, if any believers, I have not been much aware of conveying any such terrors. To say truth, the whole furniture of the infernal regions hath long been appropriated by the managers of playhouses, who seem lately to have laid them by as rubbish, capable only of affecting the upper gallery; a place in which few of our readers ever sit.
However, though we do not suspect raising any great terror on this occasion, we have reason to fear some other apprehensions may here arise in our reader, into which we would not willingly betray him; I mean that we are going to take a voyage into fairy-land, and introduce a set of beings into our history, which scarce any one was ever childish enough to believe, though many have been foolish enough to spend their time in writing and reading their adventures.
To prevent, therefore, any such suspicions, so prejudicial to the credit of an historian, who professes to draw his materials from nature only, we shall now proceed to acquaint the reader who these people were, whose sudden appearance had struck such terrors into Partridge, had more than half frightened the post-boy, and had a little surprized even Mr Jones himself.
The people then assembled in this barn were no other than a company of Egyptians, or, as they are vulgarly called, gypsies, and they were now celebrating the wedding of one of their society.
It is impossible to conceive a happier set of people than appeared here to be met together. The utmost mirth, indeed, shewed itself in every countenance; nor was their ball totally void of all order and decorum. Perhaps it had more than a country assembly is sometimes conducted with: for these people are subject to a formal government and laws of their own, and all pay obedience to one great magistrate, whom they call their king.
Greater plenty, likewise, was nowhere to be seen than what flourished in this barn. Here was indeed no nicety nor elegance, nor did the keen appetite of the guests require any. Here was good store of bacon, fowls, and mutton, to which every one present provided better sauce himself than the best and dearest French cook can prepare.
Aeneas is not described under more consternation in the temple of Juno,
_Dum stupet obtutuque haeret defixus in uno_,
than was our heroe at what he saw in this barn. While he was looking everywhere round him with astonishment, a venerable person approached him with many friendly salutations, rather of too hearty a kind to be called courtly. This was no other than the king of the gypsies himself. He was very little distinguished in dress from his subjects, nor had he any regalia of majesty to support his dignity; and yet there seemed (as Mr Jones said) to be somewhat in his air which denoted authority, and inspired the beholders with an idea of awe and respect; though all this was perhaps imaginary in Jones; and the truth may be, that such ideas are incident to power, and almost inseparable from it.
There was somewhat in the open countenance and courteous behaviour of Jones which, being accompanied with much comeliness of person, greatly recommended him at first sight to every beholder. These were, perhaps, a little heightened in the present instance, by that profound respect which he paid to the king of the gypsies, the moment he was acquainted with his dignity, and which was the sweeter to his gypseian majesty, as he was not used to receive such homage from any but his own subjects.
The king ordered a table to be spread with the choicest of their provisions for his accommodation; and, having placed himself at his right hand, his majesty began to discourse with our heroe in the following manner:—
"Me doubt not, sir, but you have often seen some of my people, who are what you call de parties detache: for dey go about everywhere; but me fancy you imagine not we be so considrable body as we be; and may be you will be surprize more when you hear de gypsy be as orderly and well govern people as any upon face of de earth.
"Me have honour, as me say, to be deir king, and no monarch can do boast of more dutiful subject, ne no more affectionate. How far me deserve deir good-will, me no say; but dis me can say, dat me never design anyting but to do dem good. Me sall no do boast of dat neider: for what can me do oderwise dan consider of de good of dose poor people who go about all day to give me always de best of what dey get. Dey love and honour me darefore, because me do love and take care of dem; dat is all, me know no oder reason.
"About a tousand or two tousand year ago, me cannot tell to a year or two, as can neider write nor read, dere was a great what you call—a volution among de gypsy; for dere was de lord gypsy in dose days; and dese lord did quarrel vid one anoder about de place; but de king of de gypsy did demolish dem all, and made all his subject equal vid each oder; and since dat time dey have agree very well; for dey no tink of being king, and may be it be better for dem as dey be; for me assure you it be ver troublesome ting to be king, and always to do justice; me have often wish to be de private gypsy when me have been forced to punish my dear friend and relation; for dough we never put to death, our punishments be ver severe. Dey make de gypsy ashamed of demselves, and dat be ver terrible punishment; me ave scarce ever known de gypsy so punish do harm any more."
The king then proceeded to express some wonder that there was no such punishment as shame in other governments. Upon which Jones assured him to the contrary; for that there were many crimes for which shame was inflicted by the English laws, and that it was indeed one consequence of all punishment. "Dat be ver strange," said the king; "for me know and hears good deal of your people, dough me no live among dem; and me have often hear dat sham is de consequence and de cause too of many of your rewards. Are your rewards and punishments den de same ting?"
While his majesty was thus discoursing with Jones, a sudden uproar arose in the barn, and as it seems upon this occasion:—the courtesy of these people had by degrees removed all the apprehensions of Partridge, and he was prevailed upon not only to stuff himself with their food, but to taste some of their liquors, which by degrees entirely expelled all fear from his composition, and in its stead introduced much more agreeable sensations.
A young female gypsy, more remarkable for her wit than her beauty, had decoyed the honest fellow aside, pretending to tell his fortune. Now, when they were alone together in a remote part of the barn, whether it proceeded from the strong liquor, which is never so apt to inflame inordinate desire as after moderate fatigue; or whether the fair gypsy herself threw aside the delicacy and decency of her sex, and tempted the youth Partridge with express solicitations; but they were discovered in a very improper manner by the husband of the gypsy, who, from jealousy it seems, had kept a watchful eye over his wife, and had dogged her to the place, where he found her in the arms of her gallant.
To the great confusion of Jones, Partridge was now hurried before the king; who heard the accusation, and likewise the culprit's defence, which was indeed very trifling; for the poor fellow was confounded by the plain evidence which appeared against him, and had very little to say for himself. His majesty, then turning towards Jones, said, "Sir, you have hear what dey say; what punishment do you tink your man deserve?"
Jones answered, "He was sorry for what had happened, and that Partridge should make the husband all the amends in his power: he said, he had very little money about him at that time;" and, putting his hand into his pocket, offered the fellow a guinea. To which he immediately answered, "He hoped his honour would not think of giving him less than five."
This sum, after some altercation, was reduced to two; and Jones, having stipulated for the full forgiveness of both Partridge and the wife, was going to pay the money; when his majesty, restraining his hand, turned to the witness and asked him, "At what time he had discovered the criminals?" To which he answered, "That he had been desired by the husband to watch the motions of his wife from her first speaking to the stranger, and that he had never lost sight of her afterwards till the crime had been committed." The king then asked, "if the husband was with him all that time in his lurking-place?" To which he answered in the affirmative. His Egyptian majesty then addressed himself to the husband as follows: "Me be sorry to see any gypsy dat have no more honour dan to sell de honour of his wife for money. If you had de love for your wife, you would have prevented dis matter, and not endeavour to make her de whore dat you might discover her. Me do order dat you have no money given you, for you deserve punishment, not reward; me do order derefore, dat you be de infamous gypsy, and do wear pair of horns upon your forehead for one month, and dat your wife be called de whore, and pointed at all dat time; for you be de infamous gypsy, but she be no less de infamous whore."
The gypsies immediately proceeded to execute the sentence, and left Jones and Partridge alone with his majesty.
Jones greatly applauded the justice of the sentence: upon which the king, turning to him, said, "Me believe you be surprize: for me suppose you have ver bad opinion of my people; me suppose you tink us all de tieves."
"I must confess, sir," said Jones, "I have not heard so favourable an account of them as they seem to deserve."
"Me vil tell you," said the king, "how the difference is between you and us. My people rob your people, and your people rob one anoder."
Jones afterwards proceeded very gravely to sing forth the happiness of those subjects who live under such a magistrate.
Indeed their happiness appears to have been so compleat, that we are aware lest some advocate for arbitrary power should hereafter quote the case of those people, as an instance of the great advantages which attend that government above all others.
And here we will make a concession, which would not perhaps have been expected from us, that no limited form of government is capable of rising to the same degree of perfection, or of producing the same benefits to society, with this. Mankind have never been so happy, as when the greatest part of the then known world was under the dominion of a single master; and this state of their felicity continued during the reigns of five successive princes.[*] This was the true aera of the golden age, and the only golden age which ever had any existence, unless in the warm imaginations of the poets, from the expulsion from Eden down to this day.
[*] Nerva, Trajan, Adrian, and the two Antonini.
In reality, I know but of one solid objection to absolute monarchy. The only defect in which excellent constitution seems to be, the difficulty of finding any man adequate to the office of an absolute monarch: for this indispensably requires three qualities very difficult, as it appears from history, to be found in princely natures: first, a sufficient quantity of moderation in the prince, to be contented with all the power which is possible for him to have. 2ndly, Enough of wisdom to know his own happiness. And, 3rdly, Goodness sufficient to support the happiness of others, when not only compatible with, but instrumental to his own.
Now if an absolute monarch, with all these great and rare qualifications, should be allowed capable of conferring the greatest good on society; it must be surely granted, on the contrary, that absolute power, vested in the hands of one who is deficient in them all, is likely to be attended with no less a degree of evil.
In short, our own religion furnishes us with adequate ideas of the blessing, as well as curse, which may attend absolute power. The pictures of heaven and of hell will place a very lively image of both before our eyes; for though the prince of the latter can have no power but what he originally derives from the omnipotent Sovereign in the former, yet it plainly appears from Scripture that absolute power in his infernal dominions is granted to their diabolical ruler. This is indeed the only absolute power which can by Scripture be derived from heaven. If, therefore, the several tyrannies upon earth can prove any title to a Divine authority, it must be derived from this original grant to the prince of darkness; and these subordinate deputations must consequently come immediately from him whose stamp they so expressly bear.
To conclude, as the examples of all ages shew us that mankind in general desire power only to do harm, and, when they obtain it, use it for no other purpose; it is not consonant with even the least degree of prudence to hazard an alteration, where our hopes are poorly kept in countenance by only two or three exceptions out of a thousand instances to alarm our fears. In this case it will be much wiser to submit to a few inconveniencies arising from the dispassionate deafness of laws, than to remedy them by applying to the passionate open ears of a tyrant.
Nor can the example of the gypsies, though possibly they may have long been happy under this form of government, be here urged; since we must remember the very material respect in which they differ from all other people, and to which perhaps this their happiness is entirely owing, namely, that they have no false honours among them, and that they look on shame as the most grievous punishment in the world.
A dialogue between Jones and Partridge.
The honest lovers of liberty will, we doubt not, pardon that long digression into which we were led at the close of the last chapter, to prevent our history from being applied to the use of the most pernicious doctrine which priestcraft had ever the wickedness or the impudence to preach.
We will now proceed with Mr Jones, who, when the storm was over, took leave of his Egyptian majesty, after many thanks for his courteous behaviour and kind entertainment, and set out for Coventry; to which place (for it was still dark) a gypsy was ordered to conduct him.
Jones having, by reason of his deviation, travelled eleven miles instead of six, and most of those through very execrable roads, where no expedition could have been made in quest of a midwife, did not arrive at Coventry till near twelve. Nor could he possibly get again into the saddle till past two; for post-horses were now not easy to get; nor were the hostler or post-boy in half so great a hurry as himself, but chose rather to imitate the tranquil disposition of Partridge; who, being denied the nourishment of sleep, took all opportunities to supply its place with every other kind of nourishment, and was never better pleased than when he arrived at an inn, nor ever more dissatisfied than when he was again forced to leave it.
Jones now travelled post; we will follow him, therefore, according to our custom, and to the rules of Longinus, in the same manner. From Coventry he arrived at Daventry, from Daventry at Stratford, and from Stratford at Dunstable, whither he came the next day a little after noon, and within a few hours after Sophia had left it; and though he was obliged to stay here longer than he wished, while a smith, with great deliberation, shoed the post-horse he was to ride, he doubted not but to overtake his Sophia before she should set out from St Albans; at which place he concluded, and very reasonably, that his lordship would stop and dine.
And had he been right in this conjecture, he most probably would have overtaken his angel at the aforesaid place; but unluckily my lord had appointed a dinner to be prepared for him at his own house in London, and, in order to enable him to reach that place in proper time, he had ordered a relay of horses to meet him at St Albans. When Jones therefore arrived there, he was informed that the coach-and-six had set out two hours before.
If fresh post-horses had been now ready, as they were not, it seemed so apparently impossible to overtake the coach before it reached London, that Partridge thought he had now a proper opportunity to remind his friend of a matter which he seemed entirely to have forgotten; what this was the reader will guess, when we inform him that Jones had eat nothing more than one poached egg since he had left the alehouse where he had first met the guide returning from Sophia; for with the gypsies he had feasted only his understanding.
The landlord so entirely agreed with the opinion of Mr Partridge, that he no sooner heard the latter desire his friend to stay and dine, than he very readily put in his word, and retracting his promise before given of furnishing the horses immediately, he assured Mr Jones he would lose no time in bespeaking a dinner, which, he said, could be got ready sooner than it was possible to get the horses up from grass, and to prepare them for their journey by a feed of corn.
Jones was at length prevailed on, chiefly by the latter argument of the landlord; and now a joint of mutton was put down to the fire. While this was preparing, Partridge, being admitted into the same apartment with his friend or master, began to harangue in the following manner.
"Certainly, sir, if ever man deserved a young lady, you deserve young Madam Western; for what a vast quantity of love must a man have, to be able to live upon it without any other food, as you do? I am positive I have eat thirty times as much within these last twenty-four hours as your honour, and yet I am almost famished; for nothing makes a man so hungry as travelling, especially in this cold raw weather. And yet I can't tell how it is, but your honour is seemingly in perfect good health, and you never looked better nor fresher in your life. It must be certainly love that you live upon."
"And a very rich diet too, Partridge," answered Jones. "But did not fortune send me an excellent dainty yesterday? Dost thou imagine I cannot live more than twenty-four hours on this dear pocket-book?"
"Undoubtedly," cries Partridge, "there is enough in that pocket-book to purchase many a good meal. Fortune sent it to your honour very opportunely for present use, as your honour's money must be almost out by this time."
"What do you mean?" answered Jones; "I hope you don't imagine that I should be dishonest enough, even if it belonged to any other person, besides Miss Western——"
"Dishonest!" replied Partridge, "heaven forbid I should wrong your honour so much! but where's the dishonesty in borrowing a little for present spending, since you will be so well able to pay the lady hereafter? No, indeed, I would have your honour pay it again, as soon as it is convenient, by all means; but where can be the harm in making use of it now you want it? Indeed, if it belonged to a poor body, it would be another thing; but so great a lady, to be sure, can never want it, especially now as she is along with a lord, who, it can't be doubted, will let her have whatever she hath need of. Besides, if she should want a little, she can't want the whole, therefore I would give her a little; but I would be hanged before I mentioned the having found it at first, and before I got some money of my own; for London, I have heard, is the very worst of places to be in without money. Indeed, if I had not known to whom it belonged, I might have thought it was the devil's money, and have been afraid to use it; but as you know otherwise, and came honestly by it, it would be an affront to fortune to part with it all again, at the very time when you want it most; you can hardly expect she should ever do you such another good turn; for _fortuna nunquam perpetuo est bona_. You will do as you please, notwithstanding all I say; but for my part, I would be hanged before I mentioned a word of the matter."
"By what I can see, Partridge," cries Jones, "hanging is a matter _non longe alienum a Scaevolae studiis_." "You should say _alienus_," says Partridge,—"I remember the passage; it is an example under _communis, alienus, immunis, variis casibus serviunt_." "If you do remember it," cries Jones, "I find you don't understand it; but I tell thee, friend, in plain English, that he who finds another's property, and wilfully detains it from the known owner, deserves, _in foro conscientiae_, to be hanged, no less than if he had stolen it. And as for this very identical bill, which is the property of my angel, and was once in her dear possession, I will not deliver it into any hands but her own, upon any consideration whatever, no, though I was as hungry as thou art, and had no other means to satisfy my craving appetite; this I hope to do before I sleep; but if it should happen otherwise, I charge thee, if thou would'st not incur my displeasure for ever, not to shock me any more by the bare mention of such detestable baseness."
"I should not have mentioned it now," cries Partridge, "if it had appeared so to me; for I'm sure I scorn any wickedness as much as another; but perhaps you know better; and yet I might have imagined that I should not have lived so many years, and have taught school so long, without being able to distinguish between _fas et nefas_; but it seems we are all to live and learn. I remember my old schoolmaster, who was a prodigious great scholar, used often to say, _Polly matete cry town is my daskalon_. The English of which, he told us, was, That a child may sometimes teach his grandmother to suck eggs. I have lived to a fine purpose, truly, if I am to be taught my grammar at this time of day. Perhaps, young gentleman, you may change your opinion, if you live to my years: for I remember I thought myself as wise when I was a stripling of one or two and twenty as I am now. I am sure I always taught _alienus_, and my master read it so before me."
There were not many instances in which Partridge could provoke Jones, nor were there many in which Partridge himself could have been hurried out of his respect. Unluckily, however, they had both hit on one of these. We have already seen Partridge could not bear to have his learning attacked, nor could Jones bear some passage or other in the foregoing speech. And now, looking upon his companion with a contemptuous and disdainful air (a thing not usual with him), he cried, "Partridge, I see thou art a conceited old fool, and I wish thou art not likewise an old rogue. Indeed, if I was as well convinced of the latter as I am of the former, thou should'st travel no farther in my company."
The sage pedagogue was contented with the vent which he had already given to his indignation; and, as the vulgar phrase is, immediately drew in his horns. He said, he was sorry he had uttered anything which might give offence, for that he had never intended it; but _Nemo omnibus horis sapit_.
As Jones had the vices of a warm disposition, he was entirely free from those of a cold one; and if his friends must have confest his temper to have been a little too easily ruffled, his enemies must at the same time have confest, that it as soon subsided; nor did it at all resemble the sea, whose swelling is more violent and dangerous after a storm is over than while the storm itself subsists. He instantly accepted the submission of Partridge, shook him by the hand, and with the most benign aspect imaginable, said twenty kind things, and at the same time very severely condemned himself, though not half so severely as he will most probably be condemned by many of our good readers.
Partridge was now highly comforted, as his fears of having offended were at once abolished, and his pride completely satisfied by Jones having owned himself in the wrong, which submission he instantly applied to what had principally nettled him, and repeated in a muttering voice, "To be sure, sir, your knowledge may be superior to mine in some things; but as to the grammar, I think I may challenge any man living. I think, at least, I have that at my finger's end."
If anything could add to the satisfaction which the poor man now enjoyed, he received this addition by the arrival of an excellent shoulder of mutton, that at this instant came smoaking to the table. On which, having both plentifully feasted, they again mounted their horses, and set forward for London.
What happened to Mr Jones in his journey from St Albans.
They were got about two miles beyond Barnet, and it was now the dusk of the evening, when a genteel-looking man, but upon a very shabby horse, rode up to Jones, and asked him whether he was going to London; to which Jones answered in the affirmative. The gentleman replied, "I should be obliged to you, sir, if you will accept of my company; for it is very late, and I am a stranger to the road." Jones readily complied with the request; and on they travelled together, holding that sort of discourse which is usual on such occasions.
Of this, indeed, robbery was the principal topic: upon which subject the stranger expressed great apprehensions; but Jones declared he had very little to lose, and consequently as little to fear. Here Partridge could not forbear putting in his word. "Your honour," said he, "may think it a little, but I am sure, if I had a hundred-pound bank-note in my pocket, as you have, I should be very sorry to lose it; but, for my part, I never was less afraid in my life; for we are four of us, and if we all stand by one another, the best man in England can't rob us. Suppose he should have a pistol, he can kill but one of us, and a man can die but once.—That's my comfort, a man can die but once."
Besides the reliance on superior numbers, a kind of valour which hath raised a certain nation among the moderns to a high pitch of glory, there was another reason for the extraordinary courage which Partridge now discovered; for he had at present as much of that quality as was in the power of liquor to bestow.
Our company were now arrived within a mile of Highgate, when the stranger turned short upon Jones, and pulling out a pistol, demanded that little bank-note which Partridge had mentioned.
Jones was at first somewhat shocked at this unexpected demand; however, he presently recollected himself, and told the highwayman, all the money he had in his pocket was entirely at his service; and so saying, he pulled out upwards of three guineas, and offered to deliver it; but the other answered with an oath, That would not do. Jones answered coolly, he was very sorry for it, and returned the money into his pocket.
The highwayman then threatened, if he did not deliver the bank-note that moment, he must shoot him; holding his pistol at the same time very near to his breast. Jones instantly caught hold of the fellow's hand, which trembled so that he could scarce hold the pistol in it, and turned the muzzle from him. A struggle then ensued, in which the former wrested the pistol from the hand of his antagonist, and both came from their horses on the ground together, the highwayman upon his back, and the victorious Jones upon him.
The poor fellow now began to implore mercy of the conqueror: for, to say the truth, he was in strength by no means a match for Jones. "Indeed, sir," says he, "I could have had no intention to shoot you; for you will find the pistol was not loaded. This is the first robbery I ever attempted, and I have been driven by distress to this."
At this instant, at about a hundred and fifty yards' distance, lay another person on the ground, roaring for mercy in a much louder voice than the highwayman. This was no other than Partridge himself, who, endeavouring to make his escape from the engagement, had been thrown from his horse, and lay flat on his face, not daring to look up, and expecting every minute to be shot.
In this posture he lay, till the guide, who was no otherwise concerned than for his horses, having secured the stumbling beast, came up to him, and told him his master had got the better of the highwayman.
Partridge leapt up at this news, and ran back to the place where Jones stood with his sword drawn in his hand to guard the poor fellow; which Partridge no sooner saw than he cried out, "Kill the villain, sir, run him through the body, kill him this instant!"
Luckily, however, for the poor wretch, he had fallen into more merciful hands; for Jones having examined the pistol, and found it to be really unloaded, began to believe all the man had told him, before Partridge came up: namely, that he was a novice in the trade, and that he had been driven to it by the distress he mentioned, the greatest indeed imaginable, that of five hungry children, and a wife lying in of the sixth, in the utmost want and misery. The truth of all which the highwayman most vehemently asserted, and offered to convince Mr Jones of it, if he would take the trouble to go to his house, which was not above two miles off; saying, "That he desired no favour, but upon condition of proving all he had all alledged."
Jones at first pretended that he would take the fellow at his word, and go with him, declaring that his fate should depend entirely on the truth of his story. Upon this the poor fellow immediately expressed so much alacrity, that Jones was perfectly satisfied with his veracity, and began now to entertain sentiments of compassion for him. He returned the fellow his empty pistol, advised him to think of honester means of relieving his distress, and gave him a couple of guineas for the immediate support of his wife and his family; adding, "he wished he had more for his sake, for the hundred pound that had been mentioned was not his own."
Our readers will probably be divided in their opinions concerning this action; some may applaud it perhaps as an act of extraordinary humanity, while those of a more saturnine temper will consider it as a want of regard to that justice which every man owes his country. Partridge certainly saw it in that light; for he testified much dissatisfaction on the occasion, quoted an old proverb, and said, he should not wonder if the rogue attacked them again before they reached London.
The highwayman was full of expressions of thankfulness and gratitude. He actually dropt tears, or pretended so to do. He vowed he would immediately return home, and would never afterwards commit such a transgression: whether he kept his word or no, perhaps may appear hereafter.
Our travellers having remounted their horses, arrived in town without encountering any new mishap. On the road much pleasant discourse passed between Jones and Partridge, on the subject of their last adventure: in which Jones exprest a great compassion for those highwaymen who are, by unavoidable distress, driven, as it were, to such illegal courses, as generally bring them to a shameful death: "I mean," said he, "those only whose highest guilt extends no farther than to robbery, and who are never guilty of cruelty nor insult to any person, which is a circumstance that, I must say, to the honour of our country, distinguishes the robbers of England from those of all other nations; for murder is, amongst those, almost inseparably incident to robbery."
"No doubt," answered Partridge, "it is better to take away one's money than one's life; and yet it is very hard upon honest men, that they can't travel about their business without being in danger of these villains. And to be sure it would be better that all rogues were hanged out of the way, than that one honest man should suffer. For my own part, indeed, I should not care to have the blood of any of them on my own hands; but it is very proper for the law to hang them all. What right hath any man to take sixpence from me, unless I give it him? Is there any honesty in such a man?"
"No, surely," cries Jones, "no more than there is in him who takes the horses out of another man's stable, or who applies to his own use the money which he finds, when he knows the right owner."
These hints stopt the mouth of Partridge; nor did he open it again till Jones, having thrown some sarcastical jokes on his cowardice, he offered to excuse himself on the inequality of fire-arms, saying, "A thousand naked men are nothing to one pistol; for though it is true it will kill but one at a single discharge, yet who can tell but that one may be himself?"