The Fortunes of Nigel, by Sir Walter Scott

Chapter 17

Come hither, young one —

Mark me! Thou art now

’Mongst men o’ the sword, that live by reputation

More than by constant income — Single-suited

They are, I grant you; yet each single suit

Maintains, on the rough guess, a thousand followers —

And they be men, who, hazarding their all,

Needful apparel, necessary income,

And human body, and immortal soul,

Do in the very deed but hazard nothing —

So strictly is that ALL bound in reversion;

Clothes to the broker, income to the usurer,

And body to disease, and soul to the foul fiend;

Who laughs to see Soldadoes and Fooladoes,

Play better than himself his game on earth.

The Mohocks.

“Your lordship,” said Reginald Lowestoffe, “must be content to exchange your decent and court-beseeming rapier, which I will retain in safe keeping, for this broadsword, with an hundredweight of rusty iron about the hilt, and to wear these huge-paned slops, instead of your civil and moderate hose. We allow no cloak, for your ruffian always walks in cuerpo; and the tarnished doublet of bald velvet, with its discoloured embroidery, and — I grieve to speak it — a few stains from the blood of the grape, will best suit the garb of a roaring boy. I will leave you to change your suit for an instant, till I can help to truss you.”

Lowestoffe retired, while slowly, and with hesitation, Nigel obeyed his instructions. He felt displeasure and disgust at the scoundrelly disguise which he was under the necessity of assuming; but when he considered the bloody consequences which law attached to his rash act of violence, the easy and indifferent temper of James, the prejudices of his son, the overbearing influence of the Duke of Buckingham, which was sure to be thrown into the scale against him; and, above all, when he reflected that he must now look upon the active, assiduous, and insinuating Lord Dalgarno, as a bitter enemy, reason told him he was in a situation of peril which authorised all honest means, even the most unseemly in outward appearance, to extricate himself from so dangerous a predicament.

While he was changing his dress, and musing on these particulars, his friendly host re-entered the sleeping apartment —“Zounds!” he said, “my lord, it was well you went not straight into that same Alsatia of ours at the time you proposed, for the hawks have stooped upon it. Here is Jem come back with tidings, that he saw a pursuivant there with a privy-council warrant, and half a score of yeomen assistants, armed to the teeth, and the horn which we heard was sounded to call out the posse of the Friars. Indeed, when old Duke Hildebrod saw that the quest was after some one of whom he knew nothing, he permitted, out of courtesy, the man-catcher to search through his dominions, quite certain that they would take little by their motions; for Duke Hildebrod is a most judicious potentate. — Go back, you bastard, and bring us word when all is quiet.”

“And who may Duke Hildebrod be?” said Lord Glenvarloch.

“Nouns! my lord,” said the Templar, “have you lived so long on the town, and never heard of the valiant, and as wise and politic as valiant, Duke Hildebrod, grand protector of the liberties of Alsatia? I thought the man had never whirled a die but was familiar with his fame.”

“Yet I have never heard of him, Master Lowestoffe,” said Lord Glenvarloch; “or, what is the same thing, I have paid no attention to aught that may have passed in conversation respecting him.”

“Why, then,” said Lowestoffe —“but, first, let me have the honour of trussing you. Now, observe, I have left several of the points untied, of set purpose; and if it please you to let a small portion of your shirt be seen betwixt your doublet and the band of your upper stock, it will have so much the more rakish effect, and will attract you respect in Alsatia, where linen is something scarce. Now, I tie some of the points carefully asquint, for your ruffianly gallant never appears too accurately trussed — so.”

“Arrange it as you will, sir,” said Nigel; “but let me hear at least something of the conditions of the unhappy district into which, with other wretches, I am compelled to retreat.”

“Why, my lord,” replied the Templar, “our neighbouring state of Alsatia, which the law calls the Sanctuary of White-friars, has had its mutations and revolutions like greater kingdoms; and, being in some sort a lawless, arbitrary government, it follows, of course, that these have been more frequent than our own better regulated commonwealth of the Templars, that of Gray’s Inn, and other similar associations, have had the fortune to witness. Our traditions and records speak of twenty revolutions within the last twelve years, in which the aforesaid state has repeatedly changed from absolute despotism to republicanism, not forgetting the intermediate stages of oligarchy, limited monarchy, and even gynocracy; for I myself remember Alsatia governed for nearly nine months by an old fish-woman. ‘I hen it fell under the dominion of a broken attorney, who was dethroned by a reformado captain, who, proving tyrannical, was deposed by a hedgeparson, who was succeeded, upon resignation of his power, by Duke Jacob Hildebrod, of that name the first, whom Heaven long preserve.”

“And is this potentate’s government,” said Lord Glenvarloch, forcing himself to take some interest in the conversation, “of a despotic character?”

“Pardon me, my lord,” said the Templar; “this said sovereign is too wise to incur, like many of his predecessors, the odium of wielding so important an authority by his own sole will. He has established a council of state, who regularly meet for their morning’s draught at seven o’clock; convene a second time at eleven for their ante-meridiem, or whet; and, assembling in solemn conclave at the hour of two afternoon, for the purpose of consulting for the good of the commonwealth, are so prodigal of their labour in the service of the state, that they seldom separate before midnight. Into this worthy senate, composed partly of Duke Hildebrod’s predecessors in his high office, whom he has associated with him to prevent the envy attending sovereign and sole authority, I must presently introduce your lordship, that they may admit you to the immunities of the Friars, and assign you a place of residence.”

“Does their authority extend to such regulation?” said Lord Glenvarloch.

“The council account it a main point of their privileges, my lord,” answered Lowestoffe; “and, in fact, it is one of the most powerful means by which they support their authority. For when Duke Ilildebrod and his senate find a topping householder in the Friars becomes discontented and factious, it is but assigning him, for a lodger, some fat bankrupt, or new lesidenter, whose circumstances require refuge, and whose purse can pay for it, and the malecontent becomes as tractable as a lamb. As for the poorer refugees, they let them shift as they can; but the registration of their names in the Duke’s entry-book, and the payment of garnish conforming to their circumstances, is never dispensed with; and the Friars would be a very unsafe residence for the stranger who should dispute these points of jurisdiction.”

“Well, Master Lowestoffe,” said Lord Glenvarloch, “I must be controlled by the circumstances which dictate to me this state of concealment — of course, I am desirous not to betray my name and rank.”

“It will be highly advisable, my lord,” said Lowestoffe; “and is a case thus provided for in the statutes of the republic, or monarchy, or whatsoever you call it. — He who desires that no questions shall be asked him concerning his name, cause of refuge, and the like, may escape the usual interrogations upon payment of double the garnish otherwise belonging to his condition. Complying with this essential stipulation, your lordship may register yourself as King of Bantam if you will, for not a question will be asked of you. — But here comes our scout, with news of peace and tranquillity. Now, I will go with your lordship myself, and present you to the council of Alsatia, with all the influence which I have over them as an office-bearer in the Temple, which is not slight; for they have come halting off upon all occasions when we have taken part against them, and that they well know. The time is propitious, for as the council is now met in Alsatia, so the Temple walks are quiet. Now, my lord, throw your cloak about you, to hide your present exterior. You shall give it to the boy at the foot of the stairs that go down to the Sanctuary; and as the ballad says that Queen Eleanor sunk at Charing Cross and rose at Queenhithe, so you shall sink a nobleman in the Temple Gardens, and rise an Alsatian at Whitefriars.”

They went out accordingly, attended by the little scout, traversed the gardens, descended the stairs, and at the bottom the young Templar exclaimed — “And now let us sing, with Ovid,

‘In nova fert animus mutatas dicere formas —’

Off, off, ye lendings!” he continued, in the same vein. “Via, the curtain that shadowed Borgia! — But how now, my lord?” he continued, when he observed Lord Glenvarloch was really distressed at the degrading change in his situation, “I trust you are not offended at my rattling folly? I would but reconcile you to your present circumstances, and give you the tone of this strange place. Come, cheer up; I trust it will only be your residence for a very few days.”

Nigel was only able to press his hand, and reply in a whisper, “I am sensible of your kindness. I know I must drink the cup which my own folly has filled for me. Pardon me, that, at the first taste, I feel its bitterness.”

Reginald Lowestoffe was bustlingly officious and good-natured; but, used to live a scrambling, rakish course of life himself, he had not the least idea of the extent of Lord Glenvarloch’s mental sufferings, and thought of his temporary concealment as if it were merely the trick of a wanton boy, who plays at hide-and-seek with his tutor. With the appearance of the place, too, he was familiar — but on his companion it produced a deep sensation.

The ancient Sanctuary at Whitefriars lay considerably lower than the elevated terraces and gardens of the Temple, and was therefore generally involved in the damps and fogs arising from the Thames. The brick buildings by which it was occupied, crowded closely on each other, for, in a place so rarely privileged, every foot of ground was valuable; but, erected in many cases by persons whose funds were inadequate to their speculations, the houses were generally insufficient, and exhibited the lamentable signs of having become ruinous while they were yet new. The wailing of children, the scolding of their mothers, the miserable exhibition of ragged linens hung from the windows to dry, spoke the wants and distresses of the wretched inhabitants; while the sounds of complaint were mocked and overwhelmed in the riotous shouts, oaths, profane songs, and boisterous laughter, that issued from the alehouses and taverns, which, as the signs indicated, were equal in number to all the other houses; and, that the full character of the place might be evident, several faded, tinselled and painted females, looked boldly at the strangers from their open lattices, or more modestly seemed busied with the cracked flower-pots, filled with mignonette and rosemary, which were disposed in front of the windows, to the great risk of the passengers.

Semi-reducta Venus,” said the Templar, pointing to one of these nymphs, who seemed afraid of observation, and partly concealed herself behind the casement, as she chirped to a miserable blackbird, the tenant of a wicker prison, which hung outside on the black brick wall. —“I know the face of yonder waistcoateer,” continued the guide; “and I could wager a rose-noble, from the posture she stands in, that she has clean head-gear and a soiled night-rail. — But here come two of the male inhabitants, smoking like moving volcanoes! These are roaring blades, whom Nicotia and Trinidado serve, I dare swear, in lieu of beef and pudding; for be it known to you, my lord, that the king’s counter-blast against the Indian weed will no more pass current in Alsatia than will his writ of capias.”

As he spoke, the two smokers approached; shaggy, uncombed ruffians, whose enormous mustaches were turned back over their ears, and mingled with the wild elf-locks of their hair, much of which was seen under the old beavers which they wore aside upon their heads, while some straggling portion escaped through the rents of the hats aforesaid. Their tarnished plush jerkins, large slops, or trunk-breeches, their broad greasy shoulder-belts, and discoloured scarfs, and, above all, the ostentatious manner in which the one wore a broad-sword and the other an extravagantly long rapier and poniard, marked the true Alsatian bully, then, and for a hundred years afterwards, a well-known character.

“Tour out,” said the one ruffian to the other; “tour the bien mort twiring at the gentry cove!” 15

“I smell a spy,” replied the other, looking at Nigel. “Chalk him across the peepers with your cheery.” 16

“Bing avast, bing avast!” replied his companion; “yon other is rattling Reginald Lowestoffe of the Temple — I know him; he is a good boy, and free of the province.”

So saying, and enveloping themselves in another thick cloud of smoke, they went on without farther greeting.

Grasso in aere!” said the Templar. “You hear what a character the impudent knave gives me; but, so it serves your lordship’s turn, I care not. — And, now, let me ask your lordship what name you will assume, for we are near the ducal palace of Duke Hildebrod.”

“I will be called Grahame,” said Nigel; “it was my mother’s name.”

“Grime,” repeated the Templar, “will suit Alsatia well enough — both a grim and grimy place of refuge.”

“I said Grahame, sir, not Grime,” said Nigel, something shortly, and laying an emphasis on the vowel — for few Scotsmen understand raillery upon the subject of their names.

“I beg pardon, my lord,” answered the undisconcerted punster; “but Graam will suit the circumstance, too — it signifies tribulation in the High Dutch, and your lordship must be considered as a man under trouble.”

Nigel laughed at the pertinacity of the Templar; who, proceeding to point out a sign representing, or believed to represent, a dog attacking a bull, and running at his head, in the true scientific style of onset — “There,” said he, “doth faithful Duke Hildebrod deal forth laws, as well as ale and strong waters, to his faithful Alsatians. Being a determined champion of Paris Garden, he has chosen a sign corresponding to his habits; and he deals in giving drink to the thirsty, that he himself may drink without paying, and receive pay for what is drunken by others. — Let us enter the ever-open gate of this second Axylus.”

As they spoke, they entered the dilapidated tavern, which was, nevertheless, more ample in dimensions, and less ruinous, than many houses in the same evil neighbourhood. Two or three haggard, ragged drawers, ran to and fro, whose looks, like those of owls, seemed only adapted for midnight, when other creatures sleep, and who by day seemed bleared, stupid, and only half awake. Guided by one of these blinking Ganymedes, they entered a room, where the feeble rays of the sun were almost wholly eclipsed by volumes of tobacco-smoke, rolled from the tubes of the company, while out of the cloudy sanctuary arose the old chant of —

“Old Sir Simon the King,

And old Sir Simon the King,

With his malmsey nose,

And his ale-dropped hose,

And sing hey ding-a-ding-ding.”

Duke Hildebrod, who himself condescended to chant this ditty to his loving subjects, was a monstrously fat old man, with only one eye; and a nose which bore evidence to the frequency, strength, and depth of his potations. He wore a murrey-coloured plush jerkin, stained with the overflowings of the tankard, and much the worse for wear, and unbuttoned at bottom for the ease of his enormous paunch. Behind him lay a favourite bull-dog, whose round head and single black glancing eye, as well as the creature’s great corpulence, gave it a burlesque resemblance to its master.

The well-beloved counsellors who surrounded the ducal throne, incensed it with tobacco, pledged its occupier in thick clammy ale, and echoed back his choral songs, were Satraps worthy of such a Soldan. The buff jerkin, broad belt, and long sword of one, showed him to be a Low Country soldier, whose look of scowling importance, and drunken impudence, were designed to sustain his title to call himself a Roving Blade. It seemed to Nigel that he had seen this fellow somewhere or other. A hedge-parson, or buckle-beggar, as that order of priesthood has been irreverently termed, sat on the Duke’s left, and was easily distinguished by his torn band, flapped hat, and the remnants of a rusty cassock. Beside the parson sat a most wretched and meagre-looking old man, with a threadbare hood of coarse kersey upon his head, and buttoned about his neck, while his pinched features, like those of old Daniel, were illuminated by

—“an eye,

Through the last look of dotage still cunning and sly.”

On his left was placed a broken attorney, who, for some malpractices, had been struck from the roll of practitioners, and who had nothing left of his profession, except its roguery. One or two persons of less figure, amongst whom there was one face, which, like that of the soldier, seemed not unknown to Nigel, though he could not recollect where he had seen it, completed the council-board of Jacob Duke Hildebrod.

The strangers had full time to observe all this; for his grace the Duke, whether irresistibly carried on by the full tide of harmony, or whether to impress the strangers with a proper idea of his consequence, chose to sing his ditty to an end before addressing them, though, during the whole time, he closely scrutinized them with his single optic.

When Duke Hildebrod had ended his song, he informed his Peers that a worthy officer of the Temple attended them, and commanded the captain and parson to abandon their easy chairs in behalf of the two strangers, whom he placed on his right and left hand. The worthy representative of the army and the church of Alsatia went to place themselves on a crazy form at the bottom of the table, which, ill calculated to sustain men of such weight, gave way under them, and the man of the sword and man of the gown were rolled over each other on the floor, amidst the exulting shouts of the company. They arose in wrath, contending which should vent his displeasure in the loudest and deepest oaths, a strife in which the parson’s superior acquaintance with theology enabled him greatly to excel the captain, and were at length with difficulty tranquillised by the arrival of the alarmed waiters with more stable chairs, and by a long draught of the cooling tankard. When this commotion was appeased, and the strangers courteously accommodated with flagons, after the fashion of the others present, the Duke drank prosperity to the Temple in the most gracious manner, together with a cup of welcome to Master Reginald Lowestoffe; and, this courtesy having been thankfully accepted, the party honoured prayed permission to call for a gallon of Rhenish, over which he proposed to open his business.

The mention of a liquor so superior to their usual potations had an instant and most favourable effect upon the little senate; and its immediate appearance might be said to secure a favourable reception of Master Lowestoffe’s proposition, which, after a round or two had circulated, he explained to be the admission of his friend Master Nigel Grahame to the benefit of the sanctuary and other immunities of Alsatia, in the character of a grand compounder; for so were those termed who paid a double fee at their matriculation, in order to avoid laying before the senate the peculiar circumstances which compelled them to take refuge there.

The worthy Duke heard the proposition with glee, which glittered in his single eye; and no wonder, as it was a rare occurrence, and of peculiar advantage to his private revenue. Accordingly, he commanded his ducal register to be brought him, a huge book, secured with brass clasps like a merchant’s ledger, and whose leaves, stained with wine, and slabbered with tobacco juice, bore the names probably of as many rogues as are to be found in the Calendar of Newgate.

Nigel was then directed to lay down two nobles as his ransom, and to claim privilege by reciting the following doggerel verses, which were dictated to him by the Duke:—

“Your suppliant, by name

Nigel Grahame,

In fear of mishap

From a shoulder-tap;

And dreading a claw

From the talons of law,

That are sharper than briers:

His freedom to sue,

And rescue by you —

Thorugh weapon and wit,

From warrant and writ,

From bailiff’s hand,

From tipstaff’s wand,

Is come hither to Whitefriars.”

As Duke Hildebrod with a tremulous hand began to make the entry, and had already, with superfluous generosity, spelled Nigel with two g’s instead of one, he was interrupted by the parson. 17 This reverend gentleman had been whispering for a minute or two, not with the captain, but with that other individual, who dwelt imperfectly, as we have already mentioned, in Nigel’s memory, and being, perhaps, still something malecontent on account of the late accident, he now requested to be heard before the registration took place.

“The person,” he said, “who hath now had the assurance to propose himself as a candidate for the privileges and immunities of this honourable society, is, in plain terms, a beggarly Scot, and we have enough of these locusts in London already — if we admit such palmer-worms and caterpillars to the Sanctuary, we shall soon have the whole nation.”

“We are not entitled to inquire,” said Duke Hildebrod, “whether he be Scot, or French, or English; seeing he has honourably laid down his garnish, he is entitled to our protection.”

“Word of denial, most Sovereign Duke,” replied the parson, “I ask him no questions — his speech betrayeth him — he is a Galilean — and his garnish is forfeited for his assurance in coming within this our realm; and I call on you, Sir Duke, to put the laws in force against him!”

The Templar here rose, and was about to interrupt the deliberations of the court, when the Duke gravely assured him that he should be heard in behalf of his friend, so soon as the council had finished their deliberations.

The attorney next rose, and, intimating that he was to speak to the point of law, said —“It was easy to be seen that this gentleman did not come here in any civil case, and that he believed it to be the story they had already heard of concerning a blow given within the verge of the Park — that the Sanctuary would not bear out the offender in such case — and that the queer old Chief would send down a broom which would sweep the streets of Alsatia from the Strand to the Stairs; and it was even policy to think what evil might come to their republic, by sheltering an alien in such circumstances.”

The captain, who had sat impatiently while these opinions were expressed, now sprung on his feet with the vehemence of a cork bouncing from a bottle of brisk beer, and, turning up his mustaches with a martial air, cast a glance of contempt on the lawyer and churchman, while he thus expressed his opinion.

“Most noble Duke Hildebrod! When I hear such base, skeldering, coistril propositions come from the counsellors of your grace, and when I remember the Huffs, the Muns, and the Tityretu’s by whom your grace’s ancestors and predecessors were advised on such occasions, I begin to think the spirit of action is as dead in Alsatia as in my old grannam; and yet who thinks so thinks a lie, since I will find as many roaring boys in the Friars as shall keep the liberties against all the scavengers of Westminster. And, if we should be overborne for a turn, death and darkness! have we not time to send the gentleman off by water, either to Paris Garden or to the bankside? and, if he is a gallant of true breed, will he not make us full amends for all the trouble we have? Let other societies exist by the law, I say that we brisk boys of the Fleet live in spite of it; and thrive best when we are in right opposition to sign and seal, writ and warrant, sergeant and tipstaff, catchpoll, and bum-bailey.”

This speech was followed by a murmur of approbation, and Lowestoffe, striking in before the favourable sound had subsided, reminded the Duke and his council how much the security of their state depended upon the amity of the Templars, who, by closing their gates, could at pleasure shut against the Alsatians the communication betwixt the Friars and the Temple, and that as they conducted themselves on this occasion, so would they secure or lose the benefit of his interest with his own body, which they knew not to be inconsiderable. “And, in respect of my friend being a Scotsman and alien, as has been observed by the reverend divine and learned lawyer, you are to consider,” said Lowestoffe, “for what he is pursued hither — why, for giving the bastinado, not to an Englishman, but to one of his own countrymen. And for my own simple part,” he continued, touching Lord Glenvarloch at the same time, to make him understand he spoke but in jest, “if all the Scots in London were to fight a Welsh main, and kill each other to a man, the survivor would, in my humble opinion, be entitled to our gratitude, as having done a most acceptable service to poor Old England.”

A shout of laughter and applause followed this ingenious apology for the client’s state of alienage; and the Templar followed up his plea with the following pithy proposition:—“I know well,” said he, “it is the custom of the fathers of this old and honourable republic, ripely and well to consider all their proceedings over a proper allowance of liquor; and far be it from me to propose the breach of so laudable a custom, or to pretend that such an affair as the present can be well and constitutionally considered during the discussion of a pitiful gallon of Rhenish. But, as it is the same thing to this honourable conclave whether they drink first and determine afterwards, or whether they determine first and drink afterwards, I propose your grace, with the advice of your wise and potent senators, shall pass your edict, granting to mine honourable friend the immunities of the place, and assigning him a lodging, according to your wise forms, to which he will presently retire, being somewhat spent with this day’s action; whereupon I will presently order you a rundlet of Rhenish, with a corresponding quantity of neats’ tongues and pickled herrings, to make you all as glorious as George-a-Green.”

This overture was received with a general shout of applause, which altogether drowned the voice of the dissidents, if any there were amongst the Alsatian senate who could have resisted a proposal so popular. The words of, kind heart! noble gentleman! generous gallant! flew from mouth to mouth; the inscription of the petitioner’s name in the great book was hastily completed, and the oath administered to him by the worthy Doge. Like the Laws of the Twelve Tables, of the ancient Cambro-Britons, and other primitive nations, it was couched in poetry, and ran as follows:-

“By spigot and barrel,

By bilboe and buff;

Thou art sworn to the quarrel

Of the blades of the huff.

For Whitefriars and its claims

To be champion or martyr,

And to fight for its dames

Like a Knight of the Garter.”

Nigel felt, and indeed exhibited, some disgust at this mummery; but, the Templar reminding him that he was too far advanced to draw back, he repeated the words, or rather assented as they were repeated by Duke Hildebrod, who concluded the ceremony by allowing him the privilege of sanctuary, in the following form of prescriptive doggerel:—

“From the touch of the tip,

From the blight of the warrant,

From the watchmen who skip

On the Harman Beck’s errand;

From the bailiffs cramp speech,

That makes man a thrall,

I charm thee from each,

And I charm thee from all.

Thy freedom’s complete

As a Blade of the Huff,

To be cheated and cheat,

To be cuff’d and to cuff;

To stride, swear, and swagger,

To drink till you stagger,

To stare and to stab,

And to brandish your dagger

In the cause of your drab;

To walk wool-ward in winter,

Drink brandy, and smoke,

And go fresco in summer

For want of a cloak;

To eke out your living

By the wag of your elbow,

By fulham and gourd,

And by baring of bilboe;

To live by your shifts,

And to swear by your honour,

Are the freedom and gifts

Of which I am the donor.”18

This homily being performed, a dispute arose concerning the special residence to be assigned the new brother of the Sanctuary; for, as the Alsatians held it a maxim in their commonwealth, that ass’s milk fattens, there was usually a competition among the inhabitants which should have the managing, as it was termed, of a new member of the society.

The Hector who had spoken so warmly and critically in Nigel’s behalf, stood out now chivalrously in behalf of a certain Blowselinda, or Bonstrops, who had, it seems, a room to hire, once the occasional residence of Slicing Dick of Paddington, who lately suffered at Tyburn, and whose untimely exit had been hitherto mourned by the damsel in solitary widowhood, after the fashion of the turtle-dove.

The captain’s interest was, however, overruled, in behalf of the old gentleman in the kersey hood, who was believed, even at his extreme age, to understand the plucking of a pigeon, as well, or better, than any man in Alsatia.

This venerable personage was an usurer of notoriety, called Trapbois, and had very lately done the state considerable service in advancing a subsidy necessary to secure a fresh importation of liquors to the Duke’s cellars, the wine-merchant at the Vintry being scrupulous to deal with so great a man for any thing but ready money.

When, therefore, the old gentleman arose, and with much coughing, reminded the Duke that he had a poor apartment to let, the claims of all others were set aside, and Nigel was assigned to Trapbois as his guest.

No sooner was this arrangement made, than Lord Glenvarloch expressed to Lowestoffe his impatience to leave this discreditable assembly, and took his leave with a careless haste, which, but for the rundlet of Rhenish wine that entered just as he left the apartment, might have been taken in bad part. The young Templar accompanied his friend to the house of the old usurer, with the road to which he and some other youngsters about the Temple were even but too well acquainted. On the way, he assured Lord Glenvarloch that he was going to the only clean house in Whitefriars; a property which it owed solely to the exertions of the old man’s only daughter, an elderly damsel, ugly enough to frighten sin, yet likely to be wealthy enough to tempt a puritan, so soon as the devil had got her old dad for his due. As Lowestoffe spoke thus, they knocked at the door of the house, and the sour stern countenance of the female by whom it was opened, fully confirmed all that the Templar had said of the hostess. She heard with an ungracious and discontented air the young Templar’s information, that the gentleman, his companion, was to be her father’s lodger, muttered something about the trouble it was likely to occasion, but ended by showing the stranger’s apartment, which was better than could have been augured from the general appearance of the place, and much larger in extent than that which he occupied at Paul’s Wharf, though inferior to it in neatness.

Lowestoffe, having thus seen his friend fairly installed in his new apartment, and having obtained for him a note of the rate at which he could be accommodated with victuals from a neighbouring cook’s shop, now took his leave, offering, at the same time, to send the whole, or any part of Lord Glenvarloch’s baggage, from his former place of residence to his new lodging. Nigel mentioned so few articles, that the Templar could not help observing, that his lordship, it would seem, did not intend to enjoy his new privileges long.

“They are too little suited to my habits and taste, that I should do so,” replied Lord Glenvarloch.

“You may change your opinion to-morrow,” said Lowestoffe; “and so I wish you a good even. To-morrow I will visit you betimes.”

The morning came, but instead of the Templar, it brought only a letter from him. The epistle stated, that Lowestoffe’s visit to Alsatia had drawn down the animadversions of some crabbed old pantaloons among the benchers, and that he judged it wise not to come hither at present, for fear of attracting too much attention to Lord Glenvarloch’s place of residence. He stated, that he had taken measures for the safety of his baggage, and would send him, by a safe hand, his money-casket, and what articles he wanted. Then followed some sage advices, dictated by Lowestoffe’s acquaintance with Alsatia and its manners. He advised him to keep the usurer in the most absolute uncertainty concerning the state of his funds-never to throw a main with the captain, who was in the habit of playing dry-fisted, and paying his losses with three vowels; and, finally, to beware of Duke Hildebrod, who was as sharp, he said, as a needle, though he had no more eyes than are possessed by that necessary implement of female industry.

15Look sharp. See how the girl is coquetting with the strange gallants!

16Slash him over the eyes with your dagger.

17This curious register is still in existence, being in possession of that eminent antiquary, Dr. Dryasdust, who liberally offered the author permission to have the autograph of Duke Hildebrod engraved as an illustration of this passage. Unhappily, being rigorous as Ritson himself in adhering to the very letter of his copy, the worthy Doctor clogged his munificence with the condition that we should adopt the Duke’s orthography, and entitle the work “The Fortunes of Niggle,” with which stipulation we did not think it necessary to comply.

18Of the cant words used in this inauguratory oration, some are obvious in their meaning, others, as Harman Beck (constable), and the like, derive their source from that ancient piece of lexicography, the Slang Dictionary

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/s/scott/walter/nigel/chapter17.html

Last updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 22:29