Containing about two days
A wonderful long chapter concerning the marvellous; being much the longest of all our introductory chapters
As we are now entering upon a book in which the course of our history will oblige us to relate some matters of a more strange and surprizing kind than any which have hitherto occurred, it may not be amiss, in the prolegomenous or introductory chapter, to say something of that species of writing which is called the marvellous. To this we shall, as well for the sake of ourselves as of others, endeavour to set some certain bounds, and indeed nothing can be more necessary, as critics17 of different complexions are here apt to run into very different extremes; for while some are, with M. Dacier, ready to allow, that the same thing which is impossible may be yet probable,18 others have so little historic or poetic faith, that they believe nothing to be either possible or probable, the like to which hath not occurred to their own observation.
17 By this word here, and in most other parts of our work, we mean every reader in the world.
18 It is happy for M. Dacier that he was not an Irishman.
First, then, I think it may very reasonably be required of every writer, that he keeps within the bounds of possibility; and still remembers that what it is not possible for man to perform, it is scarce possible for man to believe he did perform. This conviction perhaps gave birth to many stories of the antient heathen deities (for most of them are of poetical original). The poet, being desirous to indulge a wanton and extravagant imagination, took refuge in that power, of the extent of which his readers were no judges, or rather which they imagined to be infinite, and consequently they could not be shocked at any prodigies related of it. This hath been strongly urged in defence of Homer’s miracles; and it is perhaps a defence; not, as Mr. Pope would have it, because Ulysses told a set of foolish lies to the Phaeacians, who were a very dull nation; but because the poet himself wrote to heathens, to whom poetical fables were articles of faith. For my own part, I must confess, so compassionate is my temper, I wish Polypheme had confined himself to his milk diet, and preserved his eye; nor could Ulysses be much more concerned than myself, when his companions were turned into swine by Circe, who showed, I think, afterwards, too much regard for man’s flesh to be supposed capable of converting it into bacon. I wish, likewise, with all my heart, that Homer could have known the rule prescribed by Horace, to introduce supernatural agents as seldom as possible. We should not then have seen his gods coming on trivial errands, and often behaving themselves so as not only to forfeit all title to respect, but to become the objects of scorn and derision. A conduct which must have shocked the credulity of a pious and sagacious heathen; and which could never have been defended, unless by agreeing with a supposition to which I have been sometimes almost inclined, that this most glorious poet, as he certainly was, had an intent to burlesque the superstitious faith of his own age and country.
But I have rested too long on a doctrine which can be of no use to a Christian writer; for as he cannot introduce into his works any of that heavenly host which make a part of his creed, so it is horrid puerility to search the heathen theology for any of those deities who have been long since dethroned from their immortality. Lord Shaftesbury observes, that nothing is more cold than the invocation of a muse by a modern; he might have added, that nothing can be more absurd. A modern may with much more elegance invoke a ballad, as some have thought Homer did, or a mug of ale, with the author of Hudibras; which latter may perhaps have inspired much more poetry, as well as prose, than all the liquors of Hippocrene or Helicon.
The only supernatural agents which can in any manner be allowed to us moderns, are ghosts; but of these I would advise an author to be extremely sparing. These are indeed, like arsenic, and other dangerous drugs in physic, to be used with the utmost caution; nor would I advise the introduction of them at all in those works, or by those authors, to which, or to whom, a horselaugh in the reader would be any great prejudice or mortification.
As for elves and fairies, and other such mummery, I purposely omit the mention of them, as I should be very unwilling to confine within any bounds those surprizing imaginations, for whose vast capacity the limits of human nature are too narrow; whose works are to be considered as a new creation; and who have consequently just right to do what they will with their own.
Man therefore is the highest subject (unless on very extraordinary occasions indeed) which presents itself to the pen of our historian, or of our poet; and, in relating his actions, great care is to be taken that we do not exceed the capacity of the agent we describe.
Nor is possibility alone sufficient to justify us; we must keep likewise within the rules of probability. It is, I think, the opinion of Aristotle; or if not, it is the opinion of some wise man, whose authority will be as weighty when it is as old, “That it is no excuse for a poet who relates what is incredible, that the thing related is really matter of fact.” This may perhaps be allowed true with regard to poetry, but it may be thought impracticable to extend it to the historian; for he is obliged to record matters as he finds them, though they may be of so extraordinary a nature as will require no small degree of historical faith to swallow them. Such was the successless armament of Xerxes described by Herodotus, or the successful expedition of Alexander related by Arrian. Such of later years was the victory of Agincourt obtained by Harry the Fifth, or that of Narva won by Charles the Twelfth of Sweden. All which instances, the more we reflect on them, appear still the more astonishing.
Such facts, however, as they occur in the thread of the story, nay, indeed, as they constitute the essential parts of it, the historian is not only justifiable in recording as they really happened, but indeed would be unpardonable should he omit or alter them. But there are other facts not of such consequence nor so necessary, which, though ever so well attested, may nevertheless be sacrificed to oblivion in complacence to the scepticism of a reader. Such is that memorable story of the ghost of George Villiers, which might with more propriety have been made a present of to Dr. Drelincourt, to have kept the ghost of Mrs. Veale company, at the head of his Discourse upon Death, than have been introduced into so solemn a work as the History of the Rebellion.
To say the truth, if the historian will confine himself to what really happened, and utterly reject any circumstance, which, though never so well attested, he must be well assured is false, he will sometimes fall into the marvellous, but never into the incredible. He will often raise the wonder and surprize of his reader, but never that incredulous hatred mentioned by Horace. It is by falling into fiction, therefore, that we generally offend against this rule, of deserting probability, which the historian seldom, if ever, quits, till he forsakes his character and commences a writer of romance. In this, however, those historians who relate public transactions, have the advantage of us who confine ourselves to scenes of private life. The credit of the former is by common notoriety supported for a long time; and public records, with the concurrent testimony of many authors, bear evidence to their truth in future ages. Thus a Trajan and an Antoninus, a Nero and a Caligula, have all met with the belief of posterity; and no one doubts but that men so very good, and so very bad, were once the masters of mankind.
But we who deal in private character, who search into the most retired recesses, and draw forth examples of virtue and vice from holes and corners of the world, are in a more dangerous situation. As we have no public notoriety, no concurrent testimony, no records to support and corroborate what we deliver, it becomes us to keep within the limits not only of possibility, but of probability too; and this more especially in painting what is greatly good and amiable. Knavery and folly, though never so exorbitant, will more easily meet with assent; for ill nature adds great support and strength to faith.
Thus we may, perhaps, with little danger, relate the history of Fisher; who having long owed his bread to the generosity of Mr. Derby, and having one morning received a considerable bounty from his hands, yet, in order to possess himself of what remained in his friend’s scrutore, concealed himself in a public office of the Temple, through which there was a passage into Mr. Derby’s chambers. Here he overheard Mr. Derby for many hours solacing himself at an entertainment which he that evening gave his friends, and to which Fisher had been invited. During all this time, no tender, no grateful reflections arose to restrain his purpose; but when the poor gentleman had let his company out through the office, Fisher came suddenly from his lurking-place, and walking softly behind his friend into his chamber, discharged a pistol-ball into his head. This may be believed when the bones of Fisher are as rotten as his heart. Nay, perhaps, it will be credited, that the villain went two days afterwards with some young ladies to the play of Hamlet; and with an unaltered countenance heard one of the ladies, who little suspected how near she was to the person, cry out, “Good God! if the man that murdered Mr. Derby was now present!” manifesting in this a more seared and callous conscience than even Nero himself; of whom we are told by Suetonius, “that the consciousness of his guilt, after the death of his mother, became immediately intolerable, and so continued; nor could all the congratulations of the soldiers, of the senate, and the people, allay the horrors of his conscience.”
But now, on the other hand, should I tell my reader, that I had known a man whose penetrating genius had enabled him to raise a large fortune in a way where no beginning was chaulked out to him; that he had done this with the most perfect preservation of his integrity, and not only without the least injustice or injury to any one individual person, but with the highest advantage to trade, and a vast increase of the public revenue; that he had expended one part of the income of this fortune in discovering a taste superior to most, by works where the highest dignity was united with the purest simplicity, and another part in displaying a degree of goodness superior to all men, by acts of charity to objects whose only recommendations were their merits, or their wants; that he was most industrious in searching after merit in distress, most eager to relieve it, and then as careful (perhaps too careful) to conceal what he had done; that his house, his furniture, his gardens, his table, his private hospitality, and his public beneficence, all denoted the mind from which they flowed, and were all intrinsically rich and noble, without tinsel, or external ostentation; that he filled every relation in life with the most adequate virtue; that he was most piously religious to his Creator, most zealously loyal to his sovereign; a most tender husband to his wife, a kind relation, a munificent patron, a warm and firm friend, a knowing and a chearful companion, indulgent to his servants, hospitable to his neighbours, charitable to the poor, and benevolent to all mankind. Should I add to these the epithets of wise, brave, elegant, and indeed every other amiable epithet in our language, I might surely say,
-Quis credet? nemo Hercule! nemo;
Vel duo, vel nemo;
and yet I know a man who is all I have here described. But a single instance (and I really know not such another) is not sufficient to justify us, while we are writing to thousands who never heard of the person, nor of anything like him. Such rarae aves should be remitted to the epitaph writer, or to some poet who may condescend to hitch him in a distich, or to slide him into a rhime with an air of carelessness and neglect, without giving any offence to the reader.
In the last place, the actions should be such as may not only be within the compass of human agency, and which human agents may probably be supposed to do; but they should be likely for the very actors and characters themselves to have performed; for what may be only wonderful and surprizing in one man, may become improbable, or indeed impossible, when related of another.
This last requisite is what the dramatic critics call conversation of character; and it requires a very extraordinary degree of judgment, and a most exact knowledge of human nature.
It is admirably remarked by a most excellent writer, that zeal can no more hurry a man to act in direct opposition to itself, than a rapid stream can carry a boat against its own current. I will venture to say, that for a man to act in direct contradiction to the dictates of his nature, is, if not impossible, as improbable and as miraculous as anything which can well be conceived. Should the best parts of the story of M. Antoninus be ascribed to Nero, or should the worst incidents of Nero’s life be imputed to Antoninus, what would be more shocking to belief than either instance? whereas both these being related of their proper agent, constitute the truly marvellous.
Our modern authors of comedy have fallen almost universally into the error here hinted at; their heroes generally are notorious rogues, and their heroines abandoned jades, during the first four acts; but in the fifth, the former become very worthy gentlemen, and the latter women of virtue and discretion: nor is the writer often so kind as to give himself least trouble to reconcile or account for this monstrous change and incongruity. There is, indeed, no other reason to be assigned for it, than because the play is drawing to a conclusion; as if it was no less natural in a rogue to repent in the last act of a play, than in the last of his life; which we perceive to be generally the case at Tyburn, a place which might indeed close the scene of some comedies with much propriety, as the heroes in these are most commonly eminent for those very talents which not only bring men to the gallows, but enable them to make an heroic figure when they are there.
Within these few restrictions, I think, every writer may be permitted to deal as much in the wonderful as he pleases; nay, if he thus keeps within the rules of credibility, the more he can surprize the reader the more he will engage his attention, and the more he will charm him. As a genius of the highest rank observes in his fifth chapter of the Bathos, “The great art of all poetry is to mix truth with fiction, in order to join the credible with the surprizing.”
For though every good author will confine himself within the bounds of probability, it is by no means necessary that his characters, or his incidents, should be trite, common, or vulgar; such as happen in every street, or in every house, or which may be met with in the home articles of a newspaper. Nor must he be inhibited from showing many persons and things, which may possibly have never fallen within the knowledge of great part of his readers. If the writer strictly observes the rules above mentioned, he hath discharged his part; and is then intitled to some faith from his reader, who is indeed guilty of critical infidelity if he disbelieves him.
For want of a portion of such faith, I remember the character of a young lady of quality, which was condemned on the stage for being unnatural, by the unanimous voice of a very large assembly of clerks and apprentices; though it had the previous suffrages of many ladies of the first rank; one of whom, very eminent for her understanding, declared it was the picture of half the young people of her acquaintance.
In which the landlady pays a visit to Mr. Jones
When Jones had taken leave of his friend the lieutenant, he endeavoured to close his eyes, but all in vain; his spirits were too lively and wakeful to be lulled to sleep. So having amused, or rather tormented, himself with the thoughts of his Sophia till it was open daylight, he called for some tea; upon which occasion my landlady herself vouchsafed to pay him a visit.
This was indeed the first time she had seen him, or at least had taken any notice of him; but as the lieutenant had assured her that he was certainly some young gentleman of fashion, she now determined to show him all the respect in her power; for, to speak truly, this was one of those houses where gentlemen, to use the language of advertisements, meet with civil treatment for their money.
She had no sooner begun to make his tea, than she likewise began to discourse:— “La! sir,” said she, “I think it is great pity that such a pretty young gentleman should under-value himself so, as to go about with these soldier fellows. They call themselves gentlemen, I warrant you; but, as my first husband used to say, they should remember it is we that pay them. And to be sure it is very hard upon us to be obliged to pay them, and to keep ‘um too, as we publicans are. I had twenty of ‘um last night, besides officers: nay, for matter o’ that, I had rather have the soldiers than officers: for nothing is ever good enough for those sparks; and I am sure, if you was to see the bills; la! sir, it is nothing. I have had less trouble, I warrant you, with a good squire’s family, where we take forty or fifty shillings of a night, besides horses. And yet I warrants me, there is narrow a one of those officer fellows but looks upon himself to be as good as arrow a squire of £500 a year. To be sure it doth me good to hear their men run about after ‘um, crying your honour, and your honour. Marry come up with such honour, and an ordinary at a shilling a head. Then there’s such swearing among ‘um, to be sure it frightens me out o’ my wits: I thinks nothing can ever prosper with such wicked people. And here one of ‘um has used you in so barbarous a manner. I thought indeed how well the rest would secure him; they all hang together; for if you had been in danger of death, which I am glad to see you are not, it would have been all as one to such wicked people. They would have let the murderer go. Laud have mercy upon ‘um; I would not have such a sin to answer for, for the whole world. But though you are likely, with the blessing, to recover, there is laa for him yet; and if you will employ lawyer Small, I darest be sworn he’ll make the fellow fly the country for him; though perhaps he’ll have fled the country before; for it is here to-day and gone to-morrow with such chaps. I hope, however, you will learn more wit for the future, and return back to your friends; I warrant they are all miserable for your loss; and if they was but to know what had happened — La, my seeming! I would not for the world they should. Come, come, we know very well what all the matter is; but if one won’t, another will; so pretty a gentleman need never want a lady. I am sure, if I was you, I would see the finest she that ever wore a head hanged, before I would go for a soldier for her. — Nay, don’t blush so” (for indeed he did to a violent degree). “Why, you thought, sir, I knew nothing of the matter, I warrant you, about Madam Sophia.”
“How,” says Jones, starting up, “do you know my Sophia?”
“Do I! ay marry,” cries the landlady; “many’s the time hath she lain in this house.”
“with her aunt, I suppose,” says Jones. “Why, there it is now,” cries the landlady, “Ay, ay, ay, I know the old lady very well. And a sweet young creature is Madam Sophia, that’s the truth on’t.”
“A sweet creature,” cries Jones; “O heavens!”
Angels are painted fair to look like her.
There’s in her all that we believe of heav’n,
Amazing brightness, purity, and truth,
Eternal joy and everlasting love.
“And could I ever have imagined that you had known my Sophia!”
“I wish,” says the landlady, “you knew half so much of her. What would you have given to have sat by her bed-side? What a delicious neck she hath! Her lovely limbs have stretched themselves in that very bed you now lie in.”
“Here!” cries Jones: “hath Sophia ever laid here?”
“Ay, ay, here; there, in that very bed,” says the landlady; “where I wish you had her this moment; and she may wish so too for anything I know to the contrary, for she hath mentioned your name to me.”
“Ha!” cries he; “did she ever mention her poor Jones? You flatter me now: I can never believe so much.”
“Why, then,” answered she, “as I hope to be saved, and may the devil fetch me if I speak a syllable more than the truth, I have heard her mention Mr. Jones; but in a civil and modest way, I confess; yet I could perceive she thought a great deal more than she said.”
“O my dear woman!” cries Jones, “her thoughts of me I shall never be worthy of. Oh, she is all gentleness, kindness, goodness! Why was such a rascal as I born, ever to give her soft bosom a moment’s uneasiness? Why am I cursed? I who would undergo all the plagues and miseries which any daemon ever invented for mankind, to procure her any good; nay, torture itself could not be misery to me, did I but know that she was happy.”
“Why, look you there now,” says the landlady; “I told her you was a constant lovier.”
“But pray, madam, tell me when or where you knew anything of me; for I never was here before, nor do I remember ever to have seen you.”
“Nor is it possible you should,” answered she; “for you was a little thing when I had you in my lap at the squire’s.”
“How, the squire’s?” says Jones: “what, do you know that great and good Mr. Allworthy then?”
“Yes, marry, do says she: “who in the country doth not?”
“The fame of his goodness indeed,” answered Jones, “must have extended farther than this; but heaven only can know him — can know that benevolence which it copied from itself, and sent upon earth as its own pattern. Mankind are as ignorant of such divine goodness, as they are unworthy of it; but none so unworthy of it as myself. I, who was raised by him to such a height; taken in, as you must well know, a poor base-born child, adopted by him, and treated as his own son, to dare by my follies to disoblige him, to draw his vengeance upon me. Yes, I deserve it all; for I will never be so ungrateful as ever to think he hath done an act of injustice by me. No, I deserve to be turned out of doors, as I am. And now, madam,” says he, “I believe you will not blame me for turning soldier, especially with such a fortune as this in my pocket.” At which words he shook a purse, which had but very little in it, and which still appeared to the landlady to have less.
My good landlady was (according to vulgar phrase) struck all of a heap by this relation. She answered coldly, “That to be sure people were the best judges what was most proper for their circumstances. But hark,” says she, “I think I hear somebody call. Coming! coming! the devil’s in all our volk; nobody hath any ears. I must go down-stairs; if you want any more breakfast the maid will come up. Coming!” At which words, without taking any leave, she flung out of the room; for the lower sort of people are very tenacious of respect; and though they are contented to give this gratis to persons of quality, yet they never confer it on those of their own order without taking care to be well paid for their pains.
In which the surgeon makes his second appearance
Before we proceed any farther, that the reader may not be mistaken in imagining the landlady knew more than she did, nor surprized that she knew so much, it may be necessary to inform him that the lieutenant had acquainted her that the name of Sophia had been the occasion of the quarrel; and as for the rest of her knowledge, the sagacious reader will observe how she came by it in the preceding scene. Great curiosity was indeed mixed with her virtues; and she never willingly suffered any one to depart from her house, without enquiring as much as possible into their names, families, and fortunes.
She was no sooner gone than Jones, instead of animadverting on her behaviour, reflected that he was in the same bed which he was informed had held his dear Sophia. This occasioned a thousand fond and tender thoughts, which we would dwell longer upon, did we not consider that such kind of lovers will make a very inconsiderable part of our readers. In this situation the surgeon found him, when he came to dress his wound. The doctor perceiving, upon examination, that his pulse was disordered, and hearing that he had not slept, declared that he was in great danger, for he apprehended a fever was coming on, which he would have prevented by bleeding, but Jones would not submit, declaring he would lose no more blood; “and, doctor,” says he, “if you will be so kind only to dress my head, I have no doubt of being well in a day or two.”
“I wish,” answered the surgeon, “I could assure your being well in a month or two. Well, indeed! No, no, people are not so soon well of such contusions; but, sir, I am not at this time of day to be instructed in my operations by a patient, and I insist on making a revulsion before I dress you.”
Jones persisted obstinately in his refusal, and the doctor at last yielded; telling him at the same time that he would not be answerable for the ill consequence, and hoped he would do him the justice to acknowledge that he had given him a contrary advice; which the patient promised he would.
The doctor retired into the kitchen, where, addressing himself to the landlady, he complained bitterly of the undutiful behaviour of his patient, who would not be blooded, though he was in a fever.
“It is an eating fever then,” says the landlady; “for he hath devoured two swinging buttered toasts this morning for breakfast.”
“Very likely,” says the doctor: “I have known people eat in a fever; and it is very easily accounted for; because the acidity occasioned by the febrile matter may stimulate the nerves of the diaphragm, and thereby occasion a craving which will not be easily distinguishable from a natural appetite; but the aliment will not be corrected, nor assimilated into chyle, and so will corrode the vascular orifices, and thus will aggravate the febrific symptoms. Indeed, I think the gentleman in a very dangerous way, and, if he is not blooded, I am afraid will die.”
“Every man must die some time or other,” answered the good woman; “it is no business of mine. I hope, doctor, you would not have me hold him while you bleed him. But, hark’ee, a word in your ear; I would advise you, before you proceed too far, to take care who is to be your paymaster.”
“Paymaster!” said the doctor, staring; “why, I’ve a gentleman under my hands, have I not?”
“I imagined so as well as you,” said the landlady; “but, as my first husband used to say, everything is not what it looks to be. He is an arrant scrub, I assure you. However, take no notice that I mentioned anything to you of the matter; but I think people in business oft always to let one another know such things.”
“And have I suffered such a fellow as this,” cries the doctor, in a passion, “to instruct me? Shall I hear my practice insulted by one who will not pay me? I am glad I have made this discovery in time. I will see now whether he will be blooded or no.” He then immediately went upstairs, and flinging open the door of the chamber with much violence, awaked poor Jones from a very sound nap, into which he was fallen, and, what was still worse, from a delicious dream concerning Sophia.
“Will you be blooded or no?” cries the doctor, in a rage. “I have told you my resolution already,” answered Jones, “and I wish with all my heart you had taken my answer; for you have awaked me out of the sweetest sleep which I ever had in my life.”
“Ay, ay,” cries the doctor; “many a man hath dozed away his life. Sleep is not always good, no more than food; but remember, I demand of you for the last time, will you be blooded?”
“I answer you for the last time,” said Jones, “I will not.”
“Then I wash my hands of you,” cries the doctor; “and I desire you to pay me for the trouble I have had already. Two journeys at 5s. each, two dressings at 5s. more, and half a crown for phlebotomy.”
“I hope,” said Jones, “you don’t intend to leave me in this condition.”
“Indeed but I shall,” said the other. “Then,” said Jones, “you have used me rascally, and I will not pay you a farthing.”
“Very well,” cries the doctor; “the first loss is the best. What a pox did my landlady mean by sending for me to such vagabonds!” At which words he flung out of the room, and his patient turning himself about soon recovered his sleep; but his dream was unfortunately gone.
In which is introduced one of the pleasantest barbers that was ever recorded in history, the barber of Bagdad, or he in Don Quixote, not excepted
The clock had now struck five when Jones awaked from a nap of seven hours, so much refreshed, and in such perfect health and spirits, that he resolved to get up and dress himself; for which purpose he unlocked his portmanteau, and took out clean linen, and a suit of cloaths; but first he slipt on a frock, and went down into the kitchen to bespeak something that might pacify certain tumults he found rising within his stomach.
Meeting the landlady, he accosted her with great civility, and asked, “What he could have for dinner?”
“For dinner!” says she; “it is an odd time a day to think about dinner. There is nothing drest in the house, and the fire is almost out.”
“Well, says he, “I must have something to eat, and it is almost indifferent to me what; for, to tell you the truth, I was never more hungry in my life.”
“Then,” says she, “I believe there is a piece of cold buttock and carrot, which will fit you.”
“Nothing better,” answered Jones; “but I should be obliged to you, if you would let it be fried.” To which the landlady consented, and said, smiling, “she was glad to see him so well recovered;” for the sweetness of our heroe’s temper was almost irresistible; besides, she was really no ill-humoured woman at the bottom; but she loved money so much, that she hated everything which had the semblance of poverty.
Jones now returned in order to dress himself, while his dinner was preparing, and was, according to his orders, attended by the barber.
This barber, who went by the name of Little Benjamin, was a fellow of great oddity and humour, which had frequently let him into small inconveniencies, such as slaps in the face, kicks in the breech, broken bones, &c. For every one doth not understand a jest; and those who do are often displeased with being themselves the subjects of it. This vice was, however, incurable in him; and though he had often smarted for it, yet if ever he conceived a joke, he was certain to be delivered of it, without the least respect of persons, time, or place.
He had a great many other particularities in his character, which I shall not mention, as the reader will himself very easily perceive them, on his farther acquaintance with this extraordinary person.
Jones being impatient to be drest, for a reason which may be easily imagined, thought the shaver was very tedious in preparing his suds, and begged him to make haste; to which the other answered with much gravity, for he never discomposed his muscles on any account, "Festina lente,19 is a proverb which I learned long before I ever touched a razor.”
“I find, friend, you are a scholar,” replied Jones. “A poor one,” said the barber, "non omnia possumus omnes."—20 “Again!” said Jones; “I fancy you are good at capping verses.”
“Excuse me, sir,” said the barber, "non tanto me dignor honore."21 And then proceeding to his operation, “Sir,” said he, “since I have dealt in suds, I could never discover more than two reasons for shaving; the one is to get a beard, and the other to get rid of one. I conjecture, sir, it may not be long since you shaved from the former of these motives. Upon my word, you have had good success; for one may say of your beard, that it is tondenti gravior."—22 "I conjecture," says Jones, “that thou art a very comical fellow.”
“You mistake me widely, sir,” said the barber: “I am too much addicted to the study of philosophy; hinc illae lacrymae,23 sir; that’s my misfortune. Too much learning hath been my ruin.”
“Indeed,” says Jones, “I confess, friend, you have more learning than generally belongs to your trade; but I can’t see how it can have injured you.”
“Alas! sir,” answered the shaver, “my father disinherited me for it. He was a dancing master; and because I could read before I could dance, he took an aversion to me, and left every farthing among his other children.-Will you please to have your temples — O la! I ask your pardon, I fancy there is hiatus in manuscriptis. I heard you was going to the wars; but I find it was a mistake.” — “Why do you conclude so?” says Jones. “Sure, sir,” answered the barber, “you are too wise a man to carry a broken head thither; for that would be carrying coals to Newcastle.”
19 Make haste slowly.
20 We cannot all of us do everything.
21 I am not worthy of so much honor.
22 Hard to share.
23 Thus these tears.
“Upon my word,” cries Jones, “thou art a very odd fellow, and I like thy humour extremely; I shall be very glad if thou wilt come to me after dinner, and drink a glass with me; I long to be better acquainted with thee.”
“O dear sir!” said the barber, “I can do you twenty times as great a favour, if you will accept of it.”
“What is that, my friend?” cries Jones. “Why, I will drink a bottle with you if you please; for I dearly love good-nature; and as you have found me out to be a comical fellow, so I have no skill in physiognomy, if you are not one of the best-natured gentlemen in the universe.” Jones now walked downstairs neatly drest, and perhaps the fair Adonis was not a lovelier figure; and yet he had no charms for my landlady; for as that good woman did not resemble Venus at all in her person, so neither did she in her taste. Happy had it been for Nanny the chambermaid, if she had seen with the eyes of her mistress, for that poor girl fell so violently in love with Jones in five minutes, that her passion afterwards cost her many a sigh. This Nanny was extremely pretty, and altogether as coy; for she had refused a drawer, and one or two young farmers in the neighbourhood, but the bright eyes of our heroe thawed all her ice in a moment.
When Jones returned to the kitchen, his cloth was not yet laid; nor indeed was there any occasion it should, his dinner remaining in statu quo, as did the fire which was to dress it. This disappointment might have put many a philosophical temper into a passion; but it had no such effect on Jones. He only gave the landlady a gentle rebuke, saying, “Since it was so difficult to get it heated he would eat the beef cold.” But now the good woman, whether moved by compassion, or by shame, or by whatever other motive, I cannot tell, first gave her servants a round scold for disobeying the orders which she had never given, and then bidding the drawer lay a napkin in the Sun, she set about the matter in good earnest, and soon accomplished it.
This Sun, into which Jones was now conducted, was truly named, as lucus a non lucendo24; for it was an apartment into which the sun had scarce ever looked. It was indeed the worst room in the house; and happy was it for Jones that it was so. However, he was now too hungry to find any fault; but having once satisfied his appetite, he ordered the drawer to carry a bottle of wine into a better room, and expressed some resentment at having been shown into a dungeon.
24 A play of words on lucus, a grove, and lucere, to shine: “a grove from not being light”; thus, a non-sequitor.
The drawer having obeyed his commands, he was, after some time, attended by the barber, who would not indeed have suffered him to wait so long for his company had he not been listening in the kitchen to the landlady, who was entertaining a circle that she had gathered round her with the history of poor Jones, part of which she had extracted from his own lips, and the other part was her own ingenious composition; for she said “he was a poor parish boy, taken into the house of Squire Allworthy, where he was bred up as an apprentice, and now turned out of doors for his misdeeds, particularly for making love to his young mistress, and probably for robbing the house; for how else should he come by the little money he hath; and this,” says she, “is your gentleman, forsooth!”
“A servant of Squire Allworthy!” says the barber; “what’s his name?”
“Why he told me his name was Jones,” says she: “perhaps he goes by a wrong name. Nay, and he told me, too, that the squire had maintained him as his own son, thof he had quarrelled with him now.”
“And if his name be Jones, he told you the truth,” said the barber; “for I have relations who live in that country; nay, and some people say he is his son.”
“Why doth he not go by the name of his father?”
“I can’t tell that,” said the barber; “many people’s sons don’t go by the name of their father.”
“Nay,” said the landlady, “if I thought he was a gentleman’s son, thof he was a bye-blow, I should behave to him in another guess manner; for many of these bye-blows come to be great men, and, as my poor first husband used to say, never affront any customer that’s a gentleman.”
A dialogue between Mr. Jones and the barber
This conversation passed partly while Jones was at dinner in his dungeon, and partly while he was expecting the barber in the parlour. And, as soon as it was ended, Mr. Benjamin, as we have said, attended him, and was very kindly desired to sit down. Jones then filling out a glass of wine, drank his health by the appellation of doctissime tonsorum.25 “Ago tibi gratias, domine,” said the barber; and then looking very steadfastly at Jones, he said, with great gravity, and with a seeming surprize, as if he had recollected a face he had seen before, “Sir, may I crave the favour to know if your name is not Jones?” To which the other answered, “That it was.”
“Proh deum atque hominum fidem!” says the barber; “how strangely things come to pass! Mr. Jones, I am your most obedient servant. I find you do not know me, which indeed is no wonder, since you never saw me but once, and then you was very young. Pray, sir, how doth the good Squire Allworthy? how doth ille optimus omnium patronus?”
“I find,” said Jones, “you do indeed know me; but I have not the like happiness of recollecting you.”
“I do not wonder at that,” cries Benjamin; “but I am surprized I did not know you sooner, for you are not in the least altered. And pray, sir, may I, without offence, enquire whither you are travelling this way?”
“Fill the glass, Mr. Barber,” said Jones, “and ask no more questions.”
“Nay, sir,” answered Benjamin, “I would not be troublesome; and I hope you don’t think me a man of an impertinent curiosity, for that is a vice which nobody can lay to my charge; but I ask pardon; for when a gentleman of your figure travels without his servants, we may suppose him to be, as we say, in casu incognito, and perhaps I ought not to have mentioned your name.”
“I own,” says Jones, “I did not expect to have been so well known in this country as I find I am; yet, for particular reasons, I shall be obliged to you if you will not mention my name to any other person till I am gone from hence.”
“Pauca verba,” answered the barber; “and I wish no other here knew you but myself; for some people have tongues; but I promise you I can keep a secret. My enemies will allow me that virtue.”
“And yet that is not the characteristic of your profession, Mr. Barber,” answered Jones. “Alas! sir,” replied Benjamin, “Non si male nunc et olim sic erit. I was not born nor bred a barber, I assure you. I have spent most of my time among gentlemen, and though I say it, I understand something of gentility. And if you had thought me as worthy of your confidence as you have some other people, I should have shown you I could have kept a secret better. I should not have degraded your name in a public kitchen; for indeed, sir, some people have not used you well; for besides making a public proclamation of what you told them of a quarrel between yourself and Squire Allworthy, they added lies of their own, things which I knew to to be lies.”
“You surprize me greatly,” cries Jones. Upon my word, sir,” answered Benjamin, “I tell the truth, and I need not tell you my was the person. I am sure it moved me to hear the story, and I hope it is all false; for I have a great respect for you, I do assure you I have, and have had ever since the good-nature you showed to Black George, which was talked of all over the country, and I received than one letter about it. Indeed, it made you beloved by everybody. You will pardon me, therefore; for it was real concern at what I heard made me ask many questions; for I have no impertinent curiosity about me: but love good-nature and thence became amoris abundantia erga te.”
25 The reader will readily understand most of what the “most learned of barbers” says.
Every profession of friendship easily gains credit with the miserable; it is no wonder therefore, if Jones, who, besides his being miserable, was extremely open-hearted, very readily believed all the professions of Benjamin, and received him into his bosom. The scraps of Latin, some of which Benjamin applied properly enough, though it did not savour of profound literature, seemed yet to indicate something superior to a common barber; and so indeed did his whole behaviour. Jones therefore believed the truth of what he had said, as to his original and education; and at length, after much entreaty, he said, “Since you have heard, my friend, so much of my affairs, and seem so desirous to know the truth, if you will have patience to hear it, I will inform you of the whole.”
“Patience!” cries Benjamin, “that I will, if the chapter was never so long; and I am very much obliged to you for the honour you do me.”
Jones now began, and related the whole history, forgetting only a circumstance or two, namely, everything which passed on that day in which he had fought with Thwackum; and ended with his resolution to go to sea, till the rebellion in the North had made him change his purpose, and had brought him to the place where he then was.
Little Benjamin, who had been all attention, never once interrupted the narrative; but when it was ended he could not help observing, that there must be surely something more invented by his enemies, and told Mr. Allworthy against him, or so good a man would never have dismissed one he had loved so tenderly, in such a manner. To which Jones answered, “He doubted not but such villanous arts had been made use of to destroy him.”
And surely it was scarce possible for any one to have avoided making the same remark with the barber, who had not indeed heard from Jones one single circumstance upon which he was condemned; for his actions were not now placed in those injurious lights in which they had been misrepresented to Allworthy; nor could he mention those many false accusations which had been from time to time preferred against him to Allworthy: for with none of these he was himself acquainted. He had likewise, as we have observed, omitted many material facts in his present relation. Upon the whole, indeed, everything now appeared in such favourable colours to Jones, that malice itself would have found it no easy matter to fix any blame upon him.
Not that Jones desired to conceal or to disguise the truth; nay, he would have been more unwilling to have suffered any censure to fall on Mr. Allworthy for punishing him, than on his own actions for deserving it; but, in reality, so it happened, and so it always will happen; for let a man be never so honest, the account of his own conduct will, in spite of himself, be so very favourable, that his vices will come purified through his lips, and, like foul liquors well strained, will leave all their foulness behind. For though the facts themselves may appear, yet so different will be the motives, circumstances, and consequences, when a man tells his own story, and when his enemy tells it, that we scarce can recognise the facts to be one and the same.
Though the barber had drank down this story with greedy ears, he was not yet satisfied. There was a circumstance behind which his curiosity, cold as it was, most eagerly longed for. Jones had mentioned the fact of his amour, and of his being the rival of Blifil, but had cautiously concealed the name of the young lady. The barber, therefore, after some hesitation, and many hums and hahs, at last begged leave to crave the name of the lady, who appeared to be the principal cause of all this mischief. Jones paused a moment, and then said, “Since I have trusted you with so much, and since, I am afraid, her name is become too publick already on this occasion, I will not conceal it from you. Her name is Sophia Western.”
“Proh deum atque hominum fidem! Squire Western hath a daughter grown a woman!”
“Ay, and such a woman,” cries Jones, “that the world cannot match. No eye ever saw anything so beautiful; but that is her least excellence. Such sense! such goodness! Oh, I could praise her for ever, and yet should omit half her virtues!”
“Mr. Western a daughter grown up!” cries the barber: “I remember the father a boy; well, Tempus edax rerum."26
26 Time, the devourer of all things.
The wine being now at an end, the barber pressed very eagerly to be his bottle; but Jones absolutely refused, saying, “He had already drank more than he ought: and that he now chose to retire to his room, where he wished he could procure himself a book.”
“A book!” cries Benjamin; “what book would you have? Latin or English? I have some curious books in both languages; such as Erasmi Colloquia, Ovid de Tristibus, Gradus ad Parnassum; and in English I have several of the best books, though some of them are a little torn; but I have a great part of Stowe’s Chronicle; the sixth volume of Pope’s Homer; the third volume of the Spectator; the second volume of Echard’s Roman History; the Craftsman; Robinson Crusoe; Thomas a Kempis; and two volumes of Tom Brown’s Works.”
“Those last,” cries Jones, “are books I never saw, so if you please lend me one of those volumes.” The barber assured him he would be highly entertained, for he looked upon the author to have been one of the greatest wits that ever the nation produced. He then stepped to his house, which was hard by, and immediately returned; after which, the barber having received very strict injunctions of secrecy from Jones, and having sworn inviolably to maintain it, they separated; the barber went home, and Jones retired to his chamber.
In which more of the talents of Mr. Benjamin will appear, as well as who this extraordinary person was
In the morning Jones grew a little uneasy at the desertion of his surgeon, as he apprehended some inconvenience, or even danger, might attend the not dressing wound; he enquired therefore of the drawer, what other surgeons were to be met with in that neighbourhood. The drawer told him, there was one not far off; but he had known him often refuse to be concerned after another had been sent for before him; “but, sir,” says he, “if you will take my advice, there is not a man in the kingdom can do your business better than the barber who was with you last night. We look upon him to be one of the ablest men at a cut in all this neighbourhood. For though he hath not been here above three months, he hath done several great cures.”
The drawer was presently dispatched for Little Benjamin, who being acquainted in what capacity he was wanted, prepared himself accordingly, and attended; but with so different an air and aspect from that which he wore when his basin was under his arm, that he could scarce be known to be the same person.
“So, tonsor,” says Jones, “I find you have more trades than one; how came you not to inform me of this last night?” — “A surgeon,” answered Benjamin, with great gravity, “is a profession, not a trade. The reason why I did not acquaint you last night that I professed this art, was, that I then concluded you was under the hands of another gentleman, and I never love to interfere with my brethren in their business. Ars omnibus communis. But now, sir, if you please, I will inspect your head, and when I see into your skull, I will give my opinion of your case.”
Jones had no great faith in this new professor; however, he suffered him to open the bandage and to look at his wound; which as soon as he had done, Benjamin began to groan and shake his head violently. Upon which Jones, in a peevish manner, bid him not play the fool, but tell him in what condition he found him. “Shall I answer you as a surgeon, or a friend?” said Benjamin. “As a friend, and seriously,” said Jones. “Why then, upon my soul,” cries Benjamin, “it would require a great deal of art to keep you from being well after a very few dressings; and it you will suffer me to apply some salve of mine, I will answer for the success.” Jones gave his consent, and the plaister was applied accordingly.
“There, sir,” cries Benjamin: “now I will, if you please, resume my former self; but a man is obliged to keep up some dignity in his countenance whilst he is performing these operations, or the world will not submit to be handled by him. You can’t imagine, sir, of how much consequence a grave aspect is to a grave character. A barber may make you laugh, but a surgeon ought rather to make you cry.”
“Mr. Barber, or Mr. Surgeon, or Mr. Barber-surgeon,” said Jones. “O dear sir!” answered Benjamin, interrupting him, “Infandum, regina, jubes renovare dolorem.27 You recall to my mind that cruel separation of the united fraternities, so much to the prejudice of both bodies, as all separations must be, according to the old adage, Vis unita fortior28 which to be sure there are not wanting some of one or of the other fraternity who are able to construe. What a blow was this to me, who unite both in my own person!”
“Well, by whatever name you please to be called,” continued Jones, “you certainly are one of the oddest, most comical fellows I ever met with, and must have something very surprizing in your story, which you must confess I have a right to hear.”
“I do confess it,” answered Benjamin, “ and will very readily acquaint you with it, when you have sufficient leisure, for I promise you it will require a good deal of time.” Jones told him, he could never be more at leisure than at present. “Well, then,” said Benjamin, “I will obey you; but first I will fasten the door, that none interrupt us.” He did so, and then with a solemn air to Jones, said: “I must begin by telling you, sir, that you yourself have been the greatest enemy I ever had.” Jones was a little startled at this sudden declaration. “I your enemy, sir!” says he, with much and some sternness in his look. “Nay, be not angry,” said Benjamin, “for I promise you I am not. You are perfectly innocent of having intended me any wrong; for you was then an infant: but I shall, I believe, unriddle all this the moment I mention my name. Did you never hear, sir, of one Partridge, who had the honour of being reputed your father, and the misfortune of being ruined by that honour?”
“I have, indeed, heard of that Partridge,” says Jones, “and have always believed myself to be his son.”
“Well, sir,” answered Benjamin, am that Partridge; but I here absolve you from all filial duty, for I do assure you, you are no son of mine.”
“How!” replied Jones, “and is it possible that a false suspicion should have drawn all the ill consequences upon you, with which I am too well acquainted? “It is possible,” cries Benjamin, “for it is so: but though it is natural for men to hate even the innocent causes of their sufferings, yet I am of a different temper. I have loved you ever since I heard of your behaviour to Black George, as I told you; and I am convinced, from this extraordinary meeting, that you are born to make me amends for all I have suffered on that account. Besides, I dreamt, the night before I saw you, that I stumbled over a stool without hurting myself; which plainly showed me something good was towards me: and last night I dreamt again, that I rode behind you on a milk-white mare, which is a very excellent dream, and betokens much good fortune, which I am resolved to pursue unless you have the cruelty to deny me.”
27 A quote of Aeneas'speech to Dido, The Aeneid II, 3: “O queen, you bid me call to mind the unspeakable grief.”
28 Power is strengthened by union.
“I should be very glad, Mr. Partridge,” answered Jones, “to have it in my power to make you amends for your sufferings on my account, though at present I see no likelihood of it; however, I assure you I will deny you nothing which is in my power to grant.”
“It is in your power sure enough,” replied Benjamin; “for I desire nothing more than leave to attend you in this expedition. Nay, I have so entirely set my heart upon it, that if you should refuse me, you will kill both a barber and a surgeon in one breath.”
Jones answered, smiling, that he should be very sorry to be the occasion of so much mischief to the public. He then advanced many prudential reasons, in order to dissuade Benjamin (whom we shall hereafter Partridge) from his purpose; but all were in vain. Partridge relied strongly on his dream of the milk-white mare. “Besides, sir,” says he, “I promise you I have as good an inclination to the cause as any man can possibly have; and go I will, whether you admit me to go in your company or not.”
Jones, who was as much pleased with Partridge as Partridge could be with him, and who had not consulted his own inclination but the good of the other in desiring him to stay behind, when he found his friend so resolute, at last gave his consent; but then recollecting himself, he said, “Perhaps, Mr. Partridge, you think I shall be able to support you, but I really am not;” and then taking out his purse, he told out nine guineas, which he declared were his whole fortune.
Partridge answered, “That his dependence was only on his future favour; for he was thoroughly convinced he would shortly have enough in his power. At present, sir,” said he, “I believe I am rather the richer man of the two; but all I have is at your service, and at your disposal. I insist upon your taking the whole, and I beg only to attend you in the quality of your servant; Nil desperandum est Teucro duce et auspice Teucro29: but to this generous proposal concerning the money, Jones would by no means submit.
29 Let us despair of nothing while Teucer is our leader, and we are under his auspices.
It was resolved to set out the next morning, when a difficulty arose concerning the baggage; for the portmanteau of Mr. Jones was too large to be carried without a horse.
“If I may presume to give my advice,” says Partridge, “this portmanteau, with everything in it, except a few shirts, should be left behind. Those I shall be easily able to carry for you, and the rest of your cloaths will remain very safe locked up in my house.”
This method was no sooner proposed than agreed to; and then the barber departed, in order to prepare everything for his intended expedition.
Containing better reasons than any which have yet appeared for the conduct of Partridge; an apology for the weakness of Jones; and some further anecdotes concerning my landlady
Though Partridge was one of the most superstitious of men, he would hardly perhaps have desired to accompany Jones on his expedition merely from the omens of the joint-stool and white mare, if his prospect had been no better than to have shared the plunder gained in the field of battle. In fact, when Partridge came to ruminate on the relation he had heard from Jones, he could not reconcile to himself that Mr. Allworthy should turn his son (for so he most firmly believed him to be) out of doors, for any reason which he had heard assigned. He concluded, therefore, that the whole was a fiction, and that Jones, of whom he had often from his correspondents heard the wildest character, had in reality run away from his father. It came into his head, therefore, that if he could prevail with the young gentleman to return back to his father, he should by that means render a service to Allworthy, which would obliterate all his former anger; nay, indeed, he conceived that very anger was counterfeited, and that Allworthy had sacrificed him to his own reputation. And this suspicion indeed he well accounted for, from the tender behaviour of that excellent man to the foundling child; from his great severity to Partridge, who, knowing himself to be innocent, could not conceive that any other should think him guilty; lastly, from the allowance which he had privately received long after the annuity had been publickly taken from him, and which he looked upon as a kind of smart-money, or rather by way of atonement for injustice; for it is very uncommon, I believe, for men to ascribe the benefactions they receive to pure charity, when they can possibly impute them to any other motive. If he could by any means therefore persuade the young gentleman to return home, he doubted not but that he should again be received into the favour of Allworthy, and well rewarded for his pains; nay, and should be again restored to his native country; a restoration which Ulysses himself never wished more heartily than poor Partridge.
As for Jones, he was well satisfied with the truth of what the other had asserted, and believed that Partridge had no other inducements but love to him, and zeal for the cause; a blameable want of caution and diffidence in the veracity of others, in which he was highly worthy of censure. To say the truth, there are but two ways by which men become possessed of this excellent quality. The one is from long experience, and the other is from nature; which last, I presume, is of meant by genius, or great natural parts; and it is infinitely the better of the two, not only as we are masters of it much earlier in life, but as it is much more infallible and conclusive; for a man who hath been imposed on by ever so many, may still hope to find others more honest; whereas he who receives certain necessary admonitions from within, that this is impossible, must have very little understanding indeed, if he ever renders himself liable to be once deceived. As Jones had not this gift from nature, he was too young to have gained it by experience; for at the diffident wisdom which is to be acquired this way, we seldom arrive till very late in life; which is perhaps the reason why some old men are apt to despise the understandings of all those who are a little younger than themselves.
Jones spent most part of the day in the company of a new acquaintance. This was no other than the landlord of the house, or rather the husband of the landlady. He had but lately made his descent downstairs, after a long fit of the gout, in which distemper he was generally confined to his room during one half of the year; and during the rest, he walked about the house, smoaked his pipe, and drank his bottle with his friends, without concerning himself in the least with any kind of business. He had been bred, as they call it, a gentleman; that is, bred up to do nothing; and had spent a very small fortune, which he inherited from an industrious farmer his uncle, in horse-racing, and cock-fighting, and married by my landlady for certain which he had long since desisted from answering; for which she hated him heartily. But as he was a surly kind of fellow, so she contented herself with frequently upbraiding him by disadvantageous comparisons with her first husband, whose praise she had in her mouth; and as she was for the most part mistress of the profit, so she was to take upon herself the care and government of the family, and, after a long successless struggle, to suffer her husband to be master of himself.
In the evening, when Jones retired to his room, a small dispute arose between this fond couple concerning him:— “What,” says the wife, “you have been tippling with the gentleman, I see?”
“Yes,” answered the husband, “we have cracked a bottle together, and a very gentlemanlike man he is, and hath a very pretty notion of horse-flesh. Indeed, he is young, and hath not seen much of the for I believe he hath been at very few horse-races.”
“Oho! he is one of your order, is he?” replies the landlady: “he must be a gentleman to be sure, if he is a horse-racer. The devil fetch such gentry! I am sure I wish I had never seen any of them. I have reason to love horse-racers truly!”
“That you have,” says the “for I was one, you know.”
“Yes,” she, “you are a pure one indeed. As my first husband used to say, I may put all the good I have ever got by you in my eyes, and see never the worse.”
“Damn your first husband!” cries he. “Don’t damn a better man than answered the wife: “if he had been you durst not have done it.”
“Then you think,” says he, “I have not so much courage as yourself; for you have damn’d him my in my hearing.”
“If I did,” says she, “I have repented of it many’s the good time and oft. And if he was so good to forgive me a word in haste or so, it doth not become such a one as you to twitter me. He was a husband to me, was; and if ever I did make use of an ill word or so in a passion, I never called him rascal; I should have told a lie, if I had him rascal.” Much more she said, but not in his hearing; for having lighted his pipe, he staggered off as fast as he could. We shall therefore transcribe no more of her speech, as it approached still nearer and nearer to a subject too indelicate to find any place in this history.
Early in the morning Partridge appeared at the bedside of Jones, ready equipped for the journey, with his knapsack at his back. This was his own workmanship; for besides his other trades, he was no indifferent taylor. He had already put up his whole stock of linen in it, consisting of four shirts, to which he now added eight for Mr. Jones; and then packing up the portmanteau, he was departing with it towards his own house, but was stopt in his way by the landlady, who refused to suffer any removals till after the payment of the reckoning.
The landlady was, as we have said, absolute governess in these regions; it was therefore necessary to comply with her rules; so the bill was presently writ out, which amounted to a much larger sum than might have been expected, from the entertainment which Jones had met with. But here we are obliged to disclose some maxims, which publicans hold to be the grand mysteries of their trade. The first is, If they have anything good in their house (which indeed very seldom happens) to produce it only to persons who travel with great equipages. 2dly, To charge the same for the very worst provisions, as if they were the best. And lastly, If any of their guests call but for little, to make them pay a double price for everything they have; so that the amount by the head may be much the same.
The bill being made and discharged, Jones set forward with Partridge, carrying his knapsack; nor did the landlady condescend to wish him a good journey; for this was, it seems, an inn frequented by people of fashion; and I know not whence it is, but all those who get their livelihood by people of fashion, contract as much insolence to the rest of mankind, as if they really belonged to that rank themselves.
Jones arrives at Gloucester, and goes to the Bell; the character of that house, and of a petty-fogger which he there meets with
Mr. Jones and Partridge, or Little Benjamin (which epithet of Little was perhaps given him ironically, he being in reality near six feet high), having left their last quarters in the manner before described, travelled on to Gloucester without meeting any adventure worth relating.
Being arrived here, they chose for their house of entertainment the sign of the Bell, an excellent house indeed, and which I do most seriously recommend to every reader who shall visit this antient city. The master of it is brother to the great preacher Whitefield; but is absolutely untainted with the pernicious principles of Methodism, or of any other heretical sect. He is indeed a very honest plain man, and, in my opinion, not likely to create any disturbance either in church or state. His wife hath, I believe, had much pretension to beauty, and is still a very fine woman. Her person and deportment might have made a shining figure in the politest assemblies; but though she must be conscious of this and many other perfections, she seems perfectly contented with, and resigned to, that state of life to which she is called; and this resignation is entirely owing to the prudence and wisdom of her temper; for she is at present as free from any Methodistical notions as her husband: I say at present; for she freely confesses that her brother’s documents made at first some impression upon her, and that she had put herself to the expense of a long hood, in order to attend the extraordinary emotions of the Spirit; having found, during an experiment of three weeks, no emotions, she says, worth a farthing, she very wisely laid by her hood, and abandoned the sect. To be concise, she is a very friendly good-natured woman; and so industrious to oblige, that the guests must be of very morose disposition who are not extremely well satisfied in her house.
Mrs. Whitefield happened to be in the yard when Jones and his attendant marched in. Her sagacity soon discovered in the air of our heroe something which distinguished him from the vulgar. She ordered her servants, therefore, immediately to show him into a room, and presently afterwards invited him to dinner with herself; which invitation he very thankfully accepted; for indeed much less agreeable company than that of Mrs. Whitefield, and a much worse entertainment than she had provided, would have been welcome after so long fasting and so long a walk.
Besides Mr. Jones and the good governess of the mansion, there sat down at table an attorney of Salisbury, indeed very same who had brought the news of Blifil’s death to Mr. Allworthy, and whose name, which I think we did not before mention, was Dowling: there was likewise present another person, who stiled himself a lawyer, and who lived somewhere near Linlinch, in Somersetshire. This fellow, I say, stiled himself a lawyer, but was indeed a most vile petty-fogger, without sense or knowledge of any kind; one of those who may be termed train-bearers to the law; a sort of supernumeraries in the profession, who are the hackneys of attorneys, and will ride more miles for half-a-crown than a postboy.
During the time of dinner, the Somersetshire lawyer recollected the face of Jones, which he had seen at Mr. Allworthy’s; for he had often visited in that gentleman’s kitchen. He therefore took occasion to enquire after the good family there with that familiarity which would have become an intimate friend or acquaintance of Mr. Allworthy; and indeed he did all in his power to insinuate himself to be such, though he had never had the honour of speaking to any person in that family higher than the butler. Jones answered all his questions with much civility, though he never remembered to have seen the petty-fogger before; and though he concluded, from the outward appearance and behaviour of the man, that he usurped a freedom with his betters, to which he was by no means intitled.
As the conversation of fellows of this kind is of all others the most detestable to men of any sense, the cloth was no sooner removed than Mr. Jones withdrew, and a little barbarously left poor Mrs. Whitefield to do a penance, which I have often heard Mr. Timothy Harris, and other publicans of good taste, lament, as the severest lot annexed to their calling, namely, that of being obliged to keep company with their guests.
Jones had no sooner quitted the room, than the petty-fogger, in a whispering tone, asked Mrs. Whitefield, “If she knew who that fine spark was?” She answered, “She had never seen the gentleman before.”
“The gentleman, indeed!” replied the petty-fogger; “a pretty gentleman, truly! Why, he’s the bastard of a fellow who was hanged for horse-stealing. He was dropt at Squire Allworthy’s door, where one of the servants found him in a box so full of rainwater, that he would certainly have been drowned, had he not been reserved for another fate.”
“Ay, ay, you need not mention it, I protest: we understand what that fate is very well,” cries Dowling, with a most facetious grin. — “Well,” continued the other, “the squire ordered him to be taken in; for he is a timbersome man everybody knows, and was afraid of drawing himself into a scrape; and there the bastard was bred up, and fed, and cloathified all to the world like any gentleman; and there he got one of the servant-maids with child, and persuaded her to swear it to the squire himself; and afterwards he broke the arm of one Mr. Thwackum a clergyman, only because he reprimanded him for following whores; and afterwards he snapt a pistol at Mr. Blifil behind his back; and once, when Squire Allworthy was sick, he got a drum, and beat it all over the house to prevent him from sleeping; and twenty other pranks he hath played, for all which, about four or five days ago, just before I left the country, the squire stripped him stark naked, and turned him out of doors.”
“And very justly too, I protest,” cries Dowling; “I would turn my own son out of doors, if he was guilty of half as much. And pray what is the name of this pretty gentleman?”
“The name o’ un?” answered Petty-fogger; “why, he is called Thomas Jones.”
“Jones!” answered Dowling a little eagerly; “what, Mr. Jones that lived at Mr. Allworthy’s? was that the gentleman that dined with us?”
“The very same,” said the other. “I have heard of the gentleman,” cries Dowling, “often; but I never heard any ill character of him.”
“And I am sure,” says Mrs. Whitefield, “if half what this gentleman hath said be true, Mr. Jones hath the most deceitful countenance I ever saw; for sure his looks promise something very different; and I must say, for the little I have seen of him, he is as civil a well-bred man as you would wish to converse with.”
Petty-fogger calling to mind that he had not been sworn, as he usually was, before he gave his evidence, now bound what he had declared with so many oaths and imprecations that the landlady’s ears were shocked, and she put a stop to his swearing, by assuring him of her belief. Upon which he said, “I hope, madam, you imagine I would scorn to tell such things of any man, unless I knew them to be true. What interest have I in taking away the reputation of a mam who never injured me? I promise you every syllable of what I have said is fact, and the whole country knows it.”
As Mrs. Whitefield had no reason to suspect that the petty-fogger had any motive or temptation to abuse Jones, the reader cannot blame her for believing what he so confidently affirmed with many oaths. She accordingly gave up her skill in physiognomy, and henceforwards conceived so ill an opinion of her guest, that she heartily wished him out of her house.
This dislike was now farther increased by a report which Mr. Whitefield made from the kitchen, where Partridge had informed the company, “that though he carried the knapsack, and contented himself with staying among servants, while Tom Jones (as he called him) was regaling in the parlour, he was not his servant, but only a friend and companion, and as good a gentleman as Mr. Jones himself.”
Dowling sat all this while silent, biting his fingers, making faces, grinning, and looking wonderfully arch; at last he opened his lips, and protested that the gentleman looked like another sort of man. He then called for his bill with the utmost haste, declared he must be at Hereford that evening, lamented his great hurry of business, and wished he could divide himself into twenty pieces, in order to be at once in twenty places.
The petty-fogger now likewise departed, and then Jones desired the favour of Mrs. Whitefield’s company to drink tea with him; but she refused, and with a manner so different from that with which she had received him at dinner, that it a little surprized him. And now he soon perceived her behaviour totally changed; for instead of that natural affability which we have before celebrated, she wore a constrained severity on her countenance, which was so disagreeable to Mr. Jones, that he resolved, however late, to quit the house that evening.
He did indeed account somewhat unfairly for this sudden change; for besides some hard and unjust surmises concerning female fickleness and mutability, he began to suspect that he owed this want of civility to his want of horses; a sort of animals which, as they dirty no sheets, are thought in inns to pay better for their beds than their riders, and are therefore considered as the more desirable company; but Mrs. Whitefield, to do her justice, had a much more liberal way of thinking. She was perfectly well-bred, and could be very civil to a gentleman, though he walked on foot. In reality, she looked on our heroe as a sorry scoundrel, and therefore treated him as such, for which not even Jones himself, had he known as much as the reader, could have blamed her; nay, on the contrary, he must have approved her conduct, and have esteemed her the more for the disrespect shown towards himself. This is indeed a most aggravating circumstance, which attends depriving men unjustly of their reputation; for a man who is conscious of having an ill character, cannot justly be angry with those who neglect and slight him; but ought rather to despise such as affect his conversation, unless where a perfect intimacy must have convinced them that their friend’s character hath been falsely and injuriously aspersed.
This was not, however, the case of Jones; for as he was a perfect stranger to the truth, so he was with good reason offended at the treatment he received. He therefore paid his reckoning and departed, highly against the will of Mr. Partridge, who having remonstrated much against it to no purpose, at last condescended to take up his knapsack and to attend his friend.
Containing several dialogues between Jones and Partridge, concerning love, cold, hunger, and other matters; with the lucky and narrow escape of Partridge, as he was on the very brink of making a fatal discovery to his friend
The shadows began now to descend larger from the high mountains; the feathered creation had betaken themselves to their rest. Now the highest order of mortals were sitting down to their dinners, and the lowest order to their suppers. In a word, the clock struck five just as Mr. Jones took his leave of Gloucester; an hour at which (as it was now mid-winter) the dirty fingers of Night would have drawn her sable curtain over the universe, had not the moon forbid her, who now, with a face broad and as red as those of some jolly mortals, who, like her, turn night into day, began to rise from her bed, where she had slumbered away the day, in order to sit up all night. Jones had not travelled far before he paid his compliments to that beautiful planet, and, turning to his companion, asked him if he had ever beheld so delicious an evening? Partridge making no ready answer to his question, he proceeded to comment on the beauty of the moon, and repeated some passages from Milton, who hath certainly excelled all other poets in his description of the heavenly luminaries. He then told Partridge the story from the Spectator, of two lovers who had agreed to entertain themselves when they were at a great distance from each other, by repairing, at a certain fixed hour, to look at the moon; thus pleasing themselves with the thought that they were both employed in contemplating the same object at the same time. “Those lovers,” added he, “must have had souls truly capable of feeling all the tenderness of the sublimest of all human passions.”
“Very probably,” cries Partridge: “but I envy them more, if they had bodies incapable of feeling cold; for I am almost frozen to death, and am very much afraid I shall lose a piece of my nose before we get to another house of entertainment. Nay, truly, we may well expect some judgment should happen to us for our folly in running away so by night from one of the most excellent inns I ever set my foot into. I am sure I never saw more good things in my life, and the greatest lord in the land cannot live better in his own house than he may there. And to forsake such a house, and go a rambling about the country, the Lord knows whither, per devia rura viarum, I say nothing for my part; but some people might not have charity enough to conclude we were in our sober senses.”
“Fie upon it, Mr. Partridge!” says Jones, “have a better heart; consider you are going to face an enemy; and are you afraid of facing a little cold? I wish, indeed, we had a guide to advise which of these roads we should take.”
“May I be so bold,” says Partridge, “to offer my advice? Interdum stultus opportuna loquitur.”
“Why, which of them,” cries Jones, “would you recommend?”
“Truly neither of them,” answered Partridge. “The only road we can be certain of finding, is the road we came. A good hearty pace will bring us back to Gloucester in an hour; but if we go forward, the Lord Harry knows when we shall arrive at any place; for I see at least fifty miles before me, and no house in all the way.”
“You see, indeed, a very fair prospect,” says Jones, “which receives great additional beauty from the extreme lustre of the moon. However, I will keep the lefthand track, as that seems to lead directly to those hills, which we were informed lie not far from Worcester. And here, if you are inclined to quit me, you may, and return back again; but for my part, I am resolved to go forward.”
“It is unkind in you, sir,” says Partridge, “to suspect me of any such intention. What I have advised hath been as much on your account as on my own: but since you are determined to go on, I am as much determined to follow. I prae sequar te.”
They now travelled some miles without speaking to each other, during which suspense of discourse Jones often sighed, and Benjamin groaned as bitterly, though from a very different reason. At length Jones made a full stop, and turning about, cries, “Who knows, Partridge, but the loveliest creature in the universe may have her eyes now fixed on that very moon which I behold at this instant?”
“Very likely, sir,” answered Partridge; “and if my eyes were fixed on a good surloin of roast beef, the devil might take the moon and her horns into the bargain.”
“Did ever Tramontane make such an answer?” cries Jones. “Prithee, Partridge, wast thou ever susceptible of love in thy life, or hath time worn away all the traces of it from thy memory?”
“Alack-a-day!” cries Partridge, “well would it have been for me if I had never known what love was. Infandum regina jubes renovare dolorem. I am sure I have tasted all the tenderness, and sublimities, and bitternesses of the passion.”
“Was your mistress unkind, then?” says Jones. “Very unkind, indeed, sir,” answered Partridge; “for she married me, and made one of the most confounded wives in the world. However, heaven be praised, she’s gone; and if I believed she was in the moon, according to a book I once read, which teaches that to be the receptacle of departed spirits, I would never look at it for fear of seeing her; but I wish, sir, that the moon was a looking-glass for your sake, and that Miss Sophia Western was now placed before it.”
“My dear Partridge,” cries Jones, “what a thought was there! A thought which I am certain could never have entered into any mind but that of a lover. O Partridge! could I hope once again to see that face; but, alas! all those golden dreams are vanished for ever, and my only refuge from future misery is to forget the object of all my former happiness.”
“And do you really despair of ever seeing Miss Western again?” answered Partridge; “if you will follow my advice I will engage you shall not only see her but have her in your arms.”
“Ha! do not awaken a thought of that nature,” cries Jones: “I have struggled sufficiently to conquer all such wishes already.”
“Nay,” answered Partridge, “if you do not wish to have your mistress in your arms you are a most extraordinary lover indeed.”
“Well, well,” says Jones, “let us avoid this subject; but pray what is your advice?”
“To give it you in the military phrase, then,” says Partridge, “as we are soldiers, ‘To the right about.’ Let us return the way we came; we may yet reach Gloucester to-night, though late; whereas, if we proceed, we are likely, for aught I see, to ramble about for ever without coming either to house or home.”
“I have already told you my resolution is to go on,” answered Jones; “but I would have you go back. I am obliged to you for your company hither; and I beg you to accept a guinea as a small instance of my gratitude. Nay, it would be cruel in me to suffer you to go any farther; for, to deal plainly with you, my chief end and desire is a glorious death in the service of my king and country.”
“As for your money,” replied Partridge, “I beg, sir, you will put it up; I will receive none of you at this time; for at present I am, I believe, the richer man of the two. And as your resolution is to go on, so mine is to follow you if you do. Nay, now my presence appears absolutely necessary to take care of you, since your intentions are so desperate; for I promise you my views are much more prudent; as you are resolved to fall in battle if you can, so I am resolved as firmly to come to no hurt if I can help it. And, indeed, I have the comfort to think there will be but little danger; for a popish priest told me the other day the business would soon be over, and he believed without a battle.”
“A popish priest!” cries Jones, “I have heard is not always to be believed when he speaks in behalf of his religion.”
“Yes, but so far,” answered the other, “from speaking in behalf of his religion, he assured me the Catholicks did not expect to be any gainers by the change; for that Prince Charles was as good a Protestant as any in England; and that nothing but regard to right made him and the rest of the popish party to be Jacobites.”
“I believe him to be as much a Protestant as I believe he hath any right,” says Jones; “and I make no doubt of our success, but not without a battle. So that I am not so sanguine as your friend the popish priest.”
“Nay, to be sure, sir,” answered Partridge, “all the prophecies I have ever read speak of a great deal of blood to be spilt in the quarrel, and the miller with three thumbs, who is now alive, is to hold the horses of three kings, up to his knees in blood. Lord, have mercy upon us all, and send better times!”
“With what stuff and nonsense hast thou filled thy head!” answered Jones: “this too, I suppose, comes from the popish priest. Monsters and prodigies are the proper arguments to support monstrous and absurd doctrines. The cause of King George is the cause of liberty and true religion. In other words, it is the cause of common sense, my boy, and I warrant you will succeed, though Briarius himself was to rise again with his hundred thumbs, and to turn miller.” Partridge made no reply to this. He was, indeed, cast into the utmost confusion by this declaration of Jones. For, to inform the reader of a secret, which he had no proper opportunity of revealing before, Partridge was in truth a Jacobite, and had concluded that Jones was of the same party, and was now proceeding to join the rebels. An opinion which was not without foundation. For the tall, long-sided dame, mentioned by Hudibras — that many-eyed, many-tongued, many-mouthed, many-eared monster of Virgil, had related the story of the quarrel between Jones and the officer, with the usual regard to truth. She had, indeed, changed the name of Sophia into that of the Pretender, and had reported, that drinking his health was the cause for which Jones was knocked down. This Partridge had heard, and most firmly believed. ’Tis no wonder, therefore, that he had thence entertained the above-mentioned opinion of Jones; and which he had almost discovered to him before he found out his own mistake. And at this the reader will be the less inclined to wonder, if he pleases to recollect the doubtful phrase in which Jones first communicated his resolution to Mr. Partridge; and, indeed, had the words been less ambiguous, Partridge might very well have construed them as he did; being persuaded as he was that the whole nation were of the same inclination in their hearts; nor did it stagger him that Jones had travelled in the company of soldiers; for he had the same opinion of the army which he had of the rest of the people.
But however well affected he might be to James or Charles, he was still much more attached to Little Benjamin than to either; for which reason he no sooner discovered the principles of his fellow-traveller than he thought proper to conceal and outwardly give up his own to the man on whom he depended for the making his fortune, since he by no means believed the affairs of Jones to be so desperate as they really were with Mr. Allworthy; for as he had kept a constant correspondence with some of his neighbours since he left that country, he had heard much, indeed more than was true, of the great affection Mr. Allworthy bore this young man, who, as Partridge had been instructed, was to be that gentleman’s heir, and whom, as we have said, he did not in the least doubt to be his son.
He imagined therefore that whatever quarrel was between them, it would be certainly made up at the return of Mr. Jones; an event from which he promised great advantages, if he could take this opportunity of ingratiating himself with that young gentleman; and if he could by any means be instrumental in procuring his return, he doubted not, as we have before said, but it would as highly advance him in the favour of Mr. Allworthy.
We have already observed, that he was a very good-natured fellow, and he hath himself declared the violent attachment he had to the person and character of Jones; but possibly the views which I have just before mentioned, might likewise have some little share in prompting him to undertake this expedition, at least in urging him to continue it, after he had discovered that his master and himself, like some prudent fathers and sons, though they travelled together in great friendship, had embraced opposite parties. I am led into this conjecture, by having remarked, that though love, friendship, esteem, and such like, have very powerful operations in the human mind; interest, however, is an ingredient seldom omitted by wise men, when they would work others to their own purposes. This is indeed a most excellent medicine, and, like Ward’s pill, flies at once to the particular part of the body on which you desire to operate, whether it be the tongue, the hand, or any other member, where it scarce ever fails of immediately producing the desired effect.
In which our travellers meet with a very extraordinary adventure
Just as Jones and his friend came to the end of their dialogue in the preceding chapter, they arrived at the bottom of a very steep hill. Here Jones stopt short, and directing his eyes upwards, stood for a while silent. At length he called to his companion, and said, “Partridge, I wish I was at the top of this hill: it must certainly afford a most charming prospect, especially by this light; for the solemn gloom which the moon casts on all objects, is beyond expression beautiful, especially to an imagination which is desirous of cultivating melancholy ideas.”
“Very probably,” answered Partridge; “but if the top of the hill be properest to produce melancholy thoughts, I suppose the bottom is the likeliest to produce merry ones, and these I take to be much the better of the two. I protest you have made my blood run cold with the very mentioning the top of that mountain; which seems to me to be one of the highest in the world. No, no, if we look for anything, let it be for a place under ground, to screen ourselves from the frost.”
“Do so,” said Jones; “let it be but within hearing of this place, and I will hallow to you at my return back.”
“Surely, sir, you are not mad,” said Partridge. — “Indeed, I am,” answered Jones, “if ascending this hill be madness; but as you complain so much of the cold already, I would have you stay below. I will certainly return to you within an hour.”
“Pardon me, sir,” cries Partridge; “I have determined to follow you wherever you go.” Indeed he was now afraid to stay behind; though he was coward enough in all respects, yet his chief fear was that of ghosts, with which the present time of night, and the wildness of the place, extremely well suited.
At this instant Partridge espied a glimmering light through some trees, which seemed very near to them. He immediately cried out in a rapture, “Oh, sir! Heaven hath at last heard my prayers, and hath brought us a house; perhaps it may be an inn. Let beseech you, sir, if you have any compassion either for me or yourself, do not despise the goodness of Providence, but let us go directly to yon light. Whether it be a public-house or no, I am sure if they be Christians that well there, they will not refuse a little house-room to persons in our miserable condition.” Jones at length yielded to the earnest supplications of Partridge, and both together made directly towards the place whence the light issued.
They soon arrived at the door of this house, or cottage, for it might be called either, without much impropriety. Here Jones knocked several times without receiving any answer from within; at which Partridge, whose head was full of nothing but of ghosts, devils, witches, and such like, began to tremble, crying, “Lord, have mercy upon us! surely the people must be all dead. I can see no light neither now, and yet I am certain I saw a candle burning but a moment before. — Well! I have heard of such things.”
“What hast thou heard of?” said Jones. “The people are either fast asleep, or probably, as this is a lonely place, are afraid to open their door.” He then began to vociferate pretty loudly, and at last an old woman, opening an upper casement, asked, Who they were, and what they wanted? Jones answered, They were travellers who had lost their way, and having seen a light in window, had been led thither in hopes of finding some fire to warm themselves. “Whoever you are,” cries the woman, “you have no business here; nor shall I open the door to any at this time of night.” Partridge, whom the sound of a human voice had recovered from his fright, fell to the most earnest supplications to be admitted for a few minutes to fire, saying, he was almost dead with the cold; to which fear had indeed contributed equally with the frost. He assured her that the gentleman who spoke to her was one of the greatest squires in the country; and made use of every argument, save one, which Jones afterwards effectually added; and this was, the promise of half-a-crown; — a bribe too great to be resisted by such a person, especially as the genteel appearance of Jones, which the light of the moon plainly discovered to her, together with his affable behaviour, had entirely subdued those apprehensions of thieves which she had at first conceived. She agreed, therefore, at last, to let them in; where Partridge, to his infinite joy, found a good fire ready for his reception.
The poor fellow, however, had no sooner warmed himself, than those thoughts which were always uppermost in his mind, began a little to disturb his brain. There was no article of his creed in which he had a stronger faith than he had in witchcraft, nor can the reader conceive a figure more adapted to inspire this idea, than the old woman who now stood before him. She answered exactly to that picture drawn by Otway in his Orphan. Indeed, if this woman had lived in the reign of James the First, her appearance alone would have hanged her, almost without any evidence.
Many circumstances likewise conspired to confirm Partridge in his opinion. Her living, as he then imagined, by herself in so lonely a place; and in a house, the outside of which seemed much too good for her, but its inside was furnished in the most neat and elegant manner. To say the truth, Jones himself was not a little surprized at what he saw; for, besides the extraordinary neatness of the room, it was adorned with a great number of nick-nacks and curiosities, which might have engaged the attention of a virtuoso.
While Jones was admiring these things, and Partridge sat trembling with the firm belief that he was in the house of a witch, the old woman said, “I hope, gentlemen, you will make what haste you can; for I expect my master presently, and I would not for double the money he should find you here.”
“Then you have a master?” cried Jones. “Indeed, you will excuse me, good woman, but I was surprized to see all those fine things in your house.”
“Ah, said she, “if the twentieth part of these things were mine, I should think myself a rich woman. But pray, sir, do not stay much longer, for I look for him in every minute.”
“Why, sure he would not be angry with you,” said Jones, “for doing a common act of charity?”
“Alack-a-day, sir!” said she, “he is a strange man, not at all like other people. He keeps no company with anybody, and seldom walks out but by night, for he doth not care to be seen; and all the country people are as much afraid of meeting him; for his dress is enough to frighten those who are not used to it. They call him, the Man of the Hill (for there he walks by night), and the country people are not, I believe, more afraid of the devil himself. He would be terribly angry if he found you here.”
“Pray, sir,” says Partridge, “don’t let us offend the gentleman; I am ready to walk, and was never warmer in my life. Do pray, sir, let us go. Here are pistols over the chimney: who knows whether they be charged or no, or what he may do with them?”
“Fear nothing, Partridge,” cries Jones; “I will secure thee from danger.”
“Nay, for matter o’ that, he never doth any mischief,” said the woman; “but to be sure it is necessary he should keep some arms for his own safety; for his house hath been beset more than once; and it is not many nights ago that we thought we heard thieves about it: for my own part, I have often wondered that he is not murdered by some villain or other, as he walks out by himself at such hours; but then, as I said, the people are afraid of him; and besides, they think, I suppose, he hath nothing about him worth taking.”
“I should imagine, by this collection of rarities,” cries Jones, “that your master had been a traveller.”
“Yes, sir,” answered she, “he hath been a very great one: there be few gentlemen that know more of all matters than he. I fancy he hath been crost in love, or whatever it is I know not; but I have lived with him above these thirty years, and in all that time he hath hardly spoke to six living people.” She then again solicited their departure, in which she was backed by Partridge; but Jones purposely protracted the time, for his curiosity was greatly raised to see this extraordinary person. Though the old woman, therefore, concluded every one of her answers with desiring him to be gone, and Partridge proceeded so far as to pull him by the sleeve, he still continued to invent new questions, till the old woman, with an affrighted countenance, declared she heard her master’s signal; and at the same instant more than one voice was heard without the door, crying, “Damn your blood, show us your money this instant. Your money, you villain, or we will blow your brains about your ears.”
“O, good heaven!” cries the old woman, “some villains, to be sure, have attacked my master. O la! what shall I do? what shall I do?”
“How!” cries Jones, “how! — Are these pistols loaded?”
“O, good sir, there is nothing in them, indeed. O pray don’t murder us, gentlemen!” (for in reality she now had the same opinion of those within as she had of those without). Jones made her no answer; but snatching an old broad sword which hung in the room, he instantly sallied out, where he found the old gentleman struggling with two ruffians, and begging for mercy. Jones asked no questions, but fell so briskly to work with his broad sword, that the fellows immediately quitted their hold; and without offering to attack our heroe, betook themselves to their heels and made their escape; for he did not attempt to pursue them, being contented with having delivered the old gentleman; and indeed he concluded he had pretty well done their business, for both of them, as they ran off, cried out with bitter oaths that they were dead men.
Jones presently ran to lift up the old gentleman, who had been thrown down in the scuffle, expressing at the same time great concern lest he should have received any harm from the villains. The old man stared a moment at Jones, and then cried, “No, sir, no, I have very little harm, I thank you. Lord have mercy upon me!”
“I see, sir,” said Jones, “you are not free from apprehensions even of those who have had the happiness to be your deliverers; nor can I blame any suspicions which you may have; but indeed you have no real occasion for any; here are none but your friends present. Having mist our way this cold night, we took the liberty of warming ourselves at your fire, whence we were just departing when we heard you call for assistance, which, I must say, Providence alone seems to have sent you.” — “Providence, indeed,” cries the old gentleman, “if it be so.”
“So it is, I assure you,” cries Jones. “Here is your own sword, sir; I have used it in your defence, and I now return it into your hand.” The old man having received the sword, which was stained with the blood of his enemies, looked stedfastly at Jones during some moments, and then with a sigh cried out, “You will pardon me, young gentleman; I was not always of a suspicious temper, nor am I a friend to ingratitude.”
“Be thankful then,” cries Jones, “to that Providence to which you owe your deliverance: as to my part, I have only discharged the common duties of humanity, and what I would have done for any fellow-creature in your situation.”
“Let me look at you a little longer,” cries the old gentleman. “You are a human creature then? Well, perhaps you are. Come pray walk into my little hutt. You have been my deliverer indeed.”
The old woman was distracted between the fears which she had of her master, and for him; and Partridge was, if possible, in a greater fright. The former of these, however, when she heard her master speak kindly to Jones, and perceived what had happened, came again to herself; but Partridge no sooner saw the gentleman, than the strangeness of his dress infused greater terrors into that poor fellow than he had before felt, either from the strange description which he had heard, or from the uproar which had happened at the door.
To say the truth, it was an appearance which might have affected a more constant mind than that of Mr. Partridge. This person was of the tallest size, with a long beard as white as snow. His body was cloathed with the skin of an ass, made something into the form of a coat. He wore likewise boots on his legs, and a cap on his head, both composed of the skin of some other animals.
As soon as the old gentleman came into his house, the old woman began her congratulations on his happy escape from the ruffians. “Yes,” cried he, “I have escaped, indeed, thanks to my preserver.”
“O the blessing on him!” answered she: “he is a good gentleman, I warrant him. I was afraid your worship would have been angry with me for letting him in; and to be certain I should not have done it, had not I seen by the moon-light, that he was a gentleman, and almost frozen to death. And to be certain it must have been some good angel that sent him hither, and tempted me to do it.”
“I am afraid, sir,” said the old gentleman to Jones, “that I have nothing in this house which you can either eat or drink, unless you will accept a dram of brandy; of which I can give you some most excellent, and which I have had by me these thirty years.” Jones declined this offer in a very civil and proper speech, and then the other asked him, “Whither he was travelling when he mist his way?” saying, “I must own myself surprized to see such a person as you appear to be, journeying on foot at this time of night. I suppose, sir, you are a gentleman of these parts; for you do not look like one who is used to travel far without horses?”
“Appearances,” cried Jones, “are often deceitful; men sometimes look what they are not. I assure you I am not of this country; and whither I am travelling, in reality I scarce know myself.”
“Whoever you are, or whithersoever you are going,” answered the old man, “I have obligations to you which I can never return.”
“I once more,” replied Jones, “affirm that you have none; for there can be no merit in having hazarded that in your service on which I set no value; and nothing is so contemptible in my eyes as life.”
“I am sorry, young gentleman,” answered the stranger, “that you have any reason to be so unhappy at your years.”
“Indeed I am, sir,” answered Jones, “the most unhappy of mankind.”
“Perhaps you have had a friend, or a mistress?” replied the other. “How could you,” cries Jones, “mention two words sufficient to drive me to distraction?”
“Either of them are enough to drive any man to distraction,” answered the old man. “I enquire no farther, sir; perhaps my curiosity hath led me too far already.”
“Indeed, sir,” cries Jones, “I cannot censure a passion which I feel at this instant in the highest degree. You will pardon me when I assure you, that everything which I have seen or heard since I first entered this house hath conspired to raise the greatest curiosity in me. Something very extraordinary must have determined you to this course of life, and I have reason to fear your own history is not without misfortunes.”
Here the old gentleman again sighed, and remained silent for some minutes: at last, looking earnestly on Jones, he said, “I have read that a good countenance is a letter of recommendation; if so, none ever can be more strongly recommended than yourself. If I did not feel some yearnings towards you from another consideration, I must be the most ungrateful monster upon earth; and I am really concerned it is no otherwise in my power than by words to convince you of my gratitude.”
Jones, after a moment’s hesitation, answered, “That it was in his power by words to gratify him extremely. I have confest a curiosity,” said he, “sir; need I say how much obliged I should be to you, if you would condescend to gratify it? Will you suffer me therefore to beg, unless any consideration restrains you, that you would be pleased to acquaint me what motives have induced you thus to withdraw from the society of mankind, and to betake yourself to a course of life to which it sufficiently appears you were not born?”
“I scarce think myself at liberty to refuse you anything after what hath happened,” replied the old man. “If you desire therefore to hear the story of an unhappy man, I will relate it to you. Indeed you judge rightly, in thinking there is commonly ordinary in the fortunes of those who fly from society; for however it may seem a paradox, or even a contradiction, certain it is, that great philanthropy chiefly inclines us to avoid and detest mankind; not on account so much of their private and selfish vices, but for those of a relative kind; such as envy, malice, treachery, cruelty, and every other species of malevolence. These are the vices which true philanthropy abhors, and which rather than see and converse with, she avoids society itself. However, without a compliment to you, you do not appear to me one of those whom I should shun or detest; nay, I must say, in what little hath dropt from you, there appears some parity in our fortunes: I hope, however, yours will conclude more successfully.”
Here some compliments passed between our heroe and his host, and then the latter was going to begin his history, when Partridge interrupted him. His apprehensions had now pretty well left him, but some effects of his terrors remained; he therefore reminded the gentleman of that excellent brandy which he had mentioned. This was presently brought, and Partridge swallowed a large bumper.
The gentleman then, without any farther preface, began as you may read in the next chapter.
In which the Man of the Hill begins to relate his history
“I was born in a village of Somersetshire, called Mark, in the year 1657. My father was one of those whom they call gentlemen farmers. He had a little estate of about £300 a year of his own, and rented another estate of near the same value. He was prudent and industrious, and so good a husbandman, that he might have led a very easy and comfortable life, had not an arrant vixen of a wife soured his domestic quiet. But though this circumstance perhaps made him miserable, it did not make him poor; for he confined her almost entirely at home, and rather chose to bear eternal upbraidings in his own house, than to injure his fortune by indulging her in the extravagancies she desired abroad.
“By this Xanthippe” (so was the wife of Socrates called, said Partridge) — “by this Xanthippe he had two sons, of which I was the younger. He designed to give us both good education; but my elder brother, who, unhappily for him, was the favourite of my mother, utterly neglected his learning; insomuch that, after having been five or six years at school with little or no improvement, my father, being told by his master that it would be to no purpose to keep him longer there, at last complied with my mother in taking him home from the hands of that tyrant, as she called his master; though indeed he gave the lad much less correction than his idleness deserved, but much more, it seems, than the young gentleman liked, who constantly complained to his mother of his severe treatment, and she as constantly gave him a hearing.”
“Yes, yes,” cries Partridge, “I have seen such mothers; I have been abused myself by them, and very unjustly; such parents deserve correction as much as their children.”
Jones chid the pedagogue for his interruption, and then the stranger proceeded.
“My brother now, at the age of fifteen, bade adieu to all learning, and to everything else but to his dog and gun; with which latter he became so expert, that, though perhaps you may think it incredible, he could not only hit a standing mark with great certainty, but hath actually shot a crow as it was flying in the air. He was likewise excellent at finding a hare sitting, and was soon reputed one of the best sportsmen in the country; a reputation which both he and his mother enjoyed as much as if he had been thought the finest scholar.
“The situation of my brother made me at first think my lot the harder, in being continued at school: but I soon changed my opinion; for as I advanced pretty fast in learning, my labours became easy, and my exercise so delightful, that holidays were my most unpleasant time; for my mother, who never loved me, now apprehending that I had the greater share of my father’s affection, and finding, or at least thinking, that I was more taken notice of by some gentlemen of learning, and particularly by the parson of the parish, than my brother, she now hated my sight, and made home so disagreeable to me, that what is called by school-boys Black Monday, was to me the whitest in the whole year.
“Having at length gone through the school at Taunton, I was thence removed to Exeter College in Oxford, where I remained four years; at the end of which an accident took me off entirely from my studies; and hence I may truly date the rise of all which happened to me afterwards in life.
“There was at the same college with myself one Sir George Gresham, a young fellow who was intitled to a very considerable fortune, which he was not, by the will of his father, come into full possession of till he arrived the age of twenty-five. However, the liberality of his guardians gave him little cause to regret the abundant caution of his father; for they allowed him five hundred pounds a year while he remained at the university, where he kept his horses and his whore, and lived as wicked and as profligate a life as he could have done had he been never so entirely master of his fortune; for besides the five hundred a year which he received from his guardians, he found means to spend a thousand more. He was above the age of twenty-one, and had no difficulty in gaining what credit he pleased.
“This young fellow, among many other tolerable bad qualities, had one very diabolical. He had a great delight in destroying and ruining the youth of inferior fortune, by drawing them into expenses which they could not afford so well as himself; and the better, and worthier, and soberer any young man was, the greater pleasure and triumph had he in his destruction. Thus acting the character which is recorded of the devil, and going about seeking whom he might devour.
“It was my misfortune to fall into an acquaintance and intimacy with this gentleman. My reputation of diligence in my studies made me a desirable object of his mischievous intention; and my own inclination made it sufficiently easy for him to effect his purpose; for though I had applied myself with much industry to books, in which I took great delight, there were other pleasures in which I was capable of taking much greater; for I was high-mettled, had a violent flow of animal spirits, was a little ambitious, and extremely amorous.
“I had not long contracted an intimacy with Sir George before I became a partaker of all his pleasures; and when I was once entered on that scene, neither my inclination nor my spirit would suffer me to play an under part. I was second to none of the company in any acts of debauchery; nay, I soon distinguished myself so notably in all riots and disorders, that my name generally stood first in the roll of delinquents; and instead of being lamented as the unfortunate pupil of Sir George, I was now accused as the person who had misled and debauched that hopeful young gentleman; for though he was the ringleader and promoter of all the mischief, he was never so considered. I fell at last under the censure of the vice-chancellor, and very narrowly escaped expulsion.
“You will easily believe, sir, that such a life as I am now describing must be incompatible with my further progress in learning; and that in proportion as I addicted myself more and more to loose pleasure, I must grow more and more remiss in application to my studies. This was truly the consequence; but this was not all. My expenses now greatly exceeded not only my former income, but those additions which I extorted from my poor generous father, on pretences of sums being necessary for preparing for my approaching degree of batchelor of arts. These demands, however, grew at last so frequent and exorbitant, that my father by slow degrees opened his ears to the accounts which he received from many quarters of my present behaviour, and which my mother failed not to echo very faithfully and loudly; adding, ‘Ay, this is the fine gentleman, the scholar who doth so much honour to his family, and is to be the making of it. I thought what all this learning would come to. He is to be the ruin of us all, I find, after his elder brother hath been denied necessaries for his sake, to perfect his education forsooth, for which he was to pay us such interest: I thought what the interest would come to,’ with much more of the same kind; but I have, I believe, satisfied you with this taste.
“My father, therefore, began now to return remonstrances instead of money to my demands, which brought my affairs perhaps a little sooner to a crisis; but had he remitted me his whole income, you will imagine it could have sufficed a very short time to support one who kept pace with the expenses of Sir George Gresham.
“It is more than possible that the distress I was now in for money, and the impracticability of going on in this manner, might have restored me at once to my senses and to my studies, had I opened my eyes before I became involved in debts from which I saw no hopes of ever extricating myself. This was indeed the great art of Sir George, and by which he accomplished the ruin of many, whom he afterwards laughed at as fools and coxcombs, for vying, as he called it, with a man of his fortune. To bring this about, he would now and then advance a little money himself, in order to support the credit of the unfortunate youth with other people; till, by means of that very credit, he was irretrievably undone.
“My mind being by these means grown as desperate as my fortune, there was scarce a wickedness which I did not meditate, in order for my relief. Self-murder itself became the subject of my serious deliberation; and I had certainly resolved on it, had not a more shameful, though perhaps less sinful, thought expelled it from my head.” — Here he hesitated a moment, and then cried out, “I protest, so many years have not washed away the shame of this act, and I shall blush while I relate it.” Jones desired him to pass over anything that might give him pain in the relation; but Partridge eagerly cried out, “Oh, pray, sir, let us hear this; I had rather hear this than all the rest; as I hope to be saved, I will never mention a word of it.” Jones was going to rebuke him, but the stranger prevented it by proceeding thus: “I had a chum, a very prudent, frugal young lad, who, though he had no very large allowance, had by his parsimony heaped up upwards of forty guineas, which I knew he kept in his escritore. I took therefore an opportunity of purloining his key from his breeches-pocket, while he was asleep, and thus made myself master of all his riches: after which I again conveyed his key into his pocket, and counterfeiting sleep — though I never once closed my eyes, lay in bed till after he arose and went to prayers — an exercise to which I had long been unaccustomed.
“Timorous thieves, by extreme caution, often subject themselves to discoveries, which those of a bolder kind escape. Thus it happened to me; for had I boldly broke open his escritore, I had, perhaps, escaped even his suspicion; but as it was plain that the person who robbed him had possessed himself of his key, he had no doubt, when he first missed his money, but that his chum was certainly the thief. Now as he was of a fearful disposition, and much my inferior in strength, and I believe in courage, he did not dare to confront me with my guilt, for fear of worse bodily consequences which might happen to him. He repaired therefore immediately to the vice-chancellor, and upon swearing to the robbery, and to the circumstances of it, very easily obtained a warrant against one who had now so bad a character through the whole university.
“Luckily for me, I lay out of the college the next evening; for that day I attended a young lady in a chaise to Witney, where we staid all night, and in our return, the next morning, to Oxford, I met one of my cronies, who acquainted me with sufficient news concerning myself to make me turn my horse another way.”
“Pray, sir, did he mention anything of the warrant?” said Partridge. But Jones begged the gentleman to proceed without regarding any impertinent questions; which he did as follows:—
“Having now abandoned all thoughts of returning to Oxford, the next thing which offered itself was a journey to London. I imparted this intention to my female companion, who at first remonstrated against it; but upon producing my wealth, she immediately consented. We then struck across the country, into the great Cirencester road, and made such haste, that we spent the next evening, save one, in London.
“When you consider the place where I now was, and the company with whom I was, you will, I fancy, conceive that a very short time brought me to an end of that sum of which I had so iniquitously possessed myself.
“I was now reduced to a much higher degree of distress than before: the necessaries of life began to be numbered among my wants; and what made my case still the more grievous was, that my paramour, of whom I was now grown immoderately fond, shared the same distresses with myself. To see a woman you love in distress; to be unable to relieve her, and at the same time to reflect that you have brought her into this situation, is perhaps a curse of which no imagination can represent the horrors to those who have not felt it.”
“I believe it from my soul,” cries Jones, “and I pity you from the bottom of my heart:” he then took two or three disorderly turns about the room, and at last begged pardon, and flung himself into his chair, crying, “I thank Heaven, I have escaped that!”
“This circumstance,” continued the gentleman, “so severely aggravated the horrors of my present situation, that they became absolutely intolerable. I could with less pain endure the raging in my own natural unsatisfied appetites, even hunger or thirst, than I could submit to leave ungratified the most whimsical desires of a woman on whom I so extravagantly doated, that, though I knew she had been the mistress of half my acquaintance, I firmly intended to marry her. But the good creature was unwilling to consent to an action which the world might think so much to my disadvantage. And as, possibly, she compassionated the daily anxieties which she must have perceived me suffer on her account, she resolved to put an end to my distress. She soon, indeed, found means to relieve me from troublesome and perplexed situation; for while I was distracted with various inventions to supply her with pleasures, she very kindly — betrayed me to one of her former lovers at Oxford, by whose care and diligence I was immediately apprehended and committed to gaol.
“Here I first began seriously to reflect on the miscarriages of my former life; on the errors I had been guilty of; on the misfortunes which I had brought on myself; and on the grief which I must have occasioned to one of the best fathers. When I added to all these the perfidy of my mistress, such was the horror of my mind, that life, instead of being longer desirable, grew the object of my abhorrence; and I could have gladly embraced death as my dearest friend, if it had offered itself to my choice unattended by shame.
“The time of the assizes some came, and I was removed by habeas corpus to Oxford, where I expected certain conviction and condemnation; but, to my great surprize, none appeared against me, and I was, at the end the sessions, discharged for want of procecution. In short, my chum had left Oxford, and whether from indolence, or from what other motive I am ignorant, had declined concerning himself any farther in the affair.”
“Perhaps,” cries Partridge, “he did not care to have your blood upon his hands; he was in the right on’t. If any person was to hanged upon my evidence, I should never able to lie alone afterwards, for fear of seeing his ghost.”
“I shall shortly doubt, Partridge,” says Jones, “whether thou art more brave or wise.”
“You may laugh at me, sir, if you please,” answered Partridge; “but if you will hear a very short story which I can tell, and which is most certainly true, perhaps you may change your opinion. In the parish where I was born —” Here Jones would silenced him; but the stranger interceded that he might be permitted to tell his story, and in the meantime promised to recollect the remainder of his own.
Partridge then proceeded thus: “In the parish where I was born, there lived a farmer whose name was Bridle, and he had a son names Francis, a good hopeful young fellow: I was at the grammar-school with him, where I remember he was got into Ovid’s Epistles, and he could construe you three lines together sometimes without looking into a dictionary. Besides all this, he was a very good lad, never missed church o’ Sundays, and was reckoned one of the best psalm-singers in the whole parish. He would indeed now and then take a cup too much, and that was the only fault he had.”
“Well, but come to the ghost,” cries Jones. “Never fear, sir; I shall come to him soon enough,” answered Partridge. “You must know, then, that farmer Bridle lost a mare, a sorrel one, to the best of my remembrance; and so it fell out that this young Francis shortly afterward being at a fair at Hindon, and as I think it was on — I can’t remember the day; and being as he was, what should he happen to meet but a man upon his father’s mare. Frank called out presently, Stop thief; and it being in the middle of the fair, it was impossible, you know, for the man to make his escape. So they apprehended him and carried him before the justice: I remember it was Justice Willoughby, of Noyle, a very worthy good gentleman; and he committed him to prison, and bound Frank in a recognisance, I think they call it — a hard word compounded of re and cognosco; but it differs in its meaning from the use of the simple, as many other compounds do. Well, at last down came my Lord Justice Page to hold the assizes; and so the fellow was had up, Frank was had up for a witness. To be sure, I shall never forget the face of the judge, when he began to ask him what he had to say against the prisoner. He made poor Frank tremble and shake in his shoes. ‘Well you, fellow,’ says my lord, ‘what have you to say? Don’t stand humming and hawing, but speak out.’ But, however, he soon turned altogether as civil to Frank, and began to thunder at the fellow; and when he asked him if he had anything to say for himself, the fellow said, he had found the horse. ‘Ay!’ answered the judge, ‘thou art a lucky fellow: I have travelled the circuit these forty years, and never found a horse in my life: but I’ll tell thee what, friend, thou wast more lucky than thou didst know of; for thou didst not only find a horse, but a halter too, I promise thee.’ To be sure, I shall never forget the word. Upon which everybody fell a laughing, as how could they help it? Nay, and twenty other jests he made, which I can’t remember now. There was something about his skill in horse-flesh which made all the folks laugh. To be certain, the judge must have been a very brave man, as well as a man of much learning. It is indeed charming sport to hear trials upon life and death. One thing I own thought a little hard, that the prisoner’s counsel was not suffered to speak for him, though he desired only to be heard one very short word, my lord would not hearken to him, though he suffered a counsellor to talk against him for above half-an-hour. I thought it hard, I own, that there should be so many of them; my lord, and the court, and the jury, and the counsellors, and the witnesses, all upon one poor man, and he too in chains. Well, the fellow was hanged, as to be sure it could be no otherwise, and poor Frank could never be easy about it. He never was in the dark alone, but fancied he saw the fellow’s spirit.”
“Well, and is this thy story?” cries Jones. “No, no,” answered Partridge. “O Lord have mercy upon me! I am just now coming to the matter; for one night, coming from the alehouse, in a long, narrow, dark lane, there he ran directly up against him; and the spirit was all in white, fell upon Frank; and Frank, who was sturdy lad, fell upon the spirit again, and there they had a tussel together, and poor Frank was dreadfully beat: indeed he made a shift at last crawl home; but what with the beating, and what with the fright, he lay ill above a fortnight; and all this is most certainly true, and the whole parish will bear witness to it.”
The stranger smiled at this story, and Jones burst into a loud fit of laughter; upon which Partridge cried, “Ay, you may laugh, sir; and so did some others, particularly a squire, who is thought to be no better than an atheist; who, forsooth, because there was a calf with a white face found dead in the same lane the next morning, would fain have it that the battle was between Frank and that, as if a calf would set upon a man. Besides, Frank told me he knew it to be a spirit, and could swear to him in any court in Christendom; and he had not drank above a quart or two or such a matter of liquor, at the time. Lud have mercy upon us, and keep us all from dipping our hands in blood, I say!”
“Well, sir,” said Jones to the stranger, “Mr. Partridge hath finished his story, and I hope will give you no future interruption, if you will be so kind to proceed.” He then resumed his narration; but as he hath taken breath for a while, we think proper to give it to our reader, and shall therefore put an end to this chapter.
In which the Man of the Hill continues his history
“I had now regained my liberty,” said the stranger; “but I had lost my reputation; for there is a wide difference between the case of a man who is barely acquitted of a crime in a court of justice, and of him who is acquitted in his own heart, and in the opinion of the people. I was conscious of my guilt, and ashamed to look any one in the face; so resolved to leave Oxford the next morning, before the daylight discovered me to the eyes of any beholders.
“When I had got clear of the city, it first entered into my head to return home to my father, and endeavour to obtain his forgiveness; but as I had no reason to doubt his knowledge of all which had past, and as I was well assured of his great aversion to all acts of dishonesty, I could entertain no hopes of being received by him, especially since I was too certain all the good offices in the power of my mother; nay, had my father’s pardon been as sure, as I conceived his resentment to be, I yet question whether I could have had the assurance to behold him, or whether I could, upon any terms, have submitted to live and converse with those who, I was convinced, knew me to have been guilty of so base an action.
“I hastened therefore back to London, the best retirement of either grief or shame, unless for persons of a very public character; for here you have the advantage of solitude without its disadvantage, since you may be alone and in company at the same time; and while you walk or sit unobserved, noise, hurry, and a constant succession of objects, entertain the mind, and prevent the spirits from preying on themselves, or rather on grief or shame, which are the most unwholesome diet in the world; and on which (though there are many who never taste either but in public) there are some who can feed very plentifully and very fatally when alone.
“But as there is scarce any human good without its concomitant evil, so there are people who find an inconvenience in this unobserving temper of mankind; I mean persons who have no money; for as you are not put out of countenance, so neither are you cloathed or fed by those who do not know you. And a man may be as easily starved in Leadenhall-market as in the deserts of Arabia.
“It was as present my fortune to be destitute of that great evil, as it is apprehended to be by several writers, who I suppose were overburthened with it, namely, money.”
“With submission, sir,” said Partridge, “I do not remember any writers who have called it malorum; but irritamenta malorum. Effodiuntur opes, irritamenta malorum."30 — "Well, sir,” continued the stranger, “whether it be an evil, or only the cause of evil, I was entirely void of it, and at the same time of friends, and, as I thought, of acquaintance; when one evening, as I was passing through the Inner Temple, very hungry, and very miserable, I heard a voice on a sudden hailing me with great familiarity by my Christian name; and upon my turning about, I presently recollected the person who so saluted me to have been my fellow-collegiate; one who had left the university above a year, and long before any of my misfortunes had befallen me. This gentleman, whose name was Watson, shook me heartily by the hand; and expressing great joy at meeting me, proposed our immediately drinking a bottle together. I first declined the proposal, and pretended business, but as he was very earnest and pressing, hunger at last overcame my pride, and I fairly confessed to him I had no money in my pocket; yet not without framing a lie for an excuse, and imputing it to my having changed my breeches that morning. Mr. Watson answered, ‘I thought, Jack, you and I had been too old acquaintance for you to mention such a matter.’ He then took me by the arm, and was pulling me along; but I gave him very little trouble, for my own inclinations pulled me much stronger than he could do.
30 Riches, the incentives to evil, are dug out of the earth.
“We then went into the Friars, which you know is the scene of all mirth and jollity. Here, when we arrived at the tavern, Mr. Watson applied himself to the drawer only, without taking the least notice of the cook; for he had no suspicion but that I had dined long since. However, as the case was really otherwise, I forged another falsehood, and told my companion I had been at the further end of the city on business of consequence, and had snapt up a mutton-chop in haste; so that I was again hungry, and wished he would add a beef-steak to his bottle.”
“Some people,” cries Partridge, “ought to have good memories; or did you find just money enough in your breeches to pay for the mutton-chop?”
“Your observation is right,” answered the stranger, “and I believe such blunders are inseparable from all dealing in untruth. — But to proceed — I began now to feel myself extremely happy. The meat and wine soon revived my spirits to a high pitch, and I enjoyed much pleasure in the conversation of my old acquaintance, the rather as I thought him entirely ignorant of what had happened at the university since his leaving it.
“But he did not suffer me to remain long in this agreeable delusion; for taking a bumper in one hand, and holding me by the other, ‘Here, my boy,’ cries he, ‘here’s wishing you joy of your being so honourably acquitted of that affair laid to your charge. ‘I was thunderstruck with confusion at those words, which Watson observing, proceeded thus: ‘Nay, never be ashamed, man; thou hast been acquitted, and no one now dares call thee guilty; but, prithee, do tell me, who am thy friend — I hope thou didst really rob him? for rat me if it was not a meritorious action to strip such a sneaking, pitiful rascal; and instead of the two hundred guineas, I wish you had taken as many thousand. Come, come, my boy, don’t be shy of confessing to me: you are not now brought before one of the pimps. Damn me if I don’t honour you for it; for, as I hope for salvation, I would have made no manner of scruple of doing the same thing.’
“This declaration a little relieved my abashment; and as wine had now somewhat opened my heart, I very freely acknowledged the robbery, but acquainted him that he had been misinformed as to the sum taken, which was little more than a fifth part of what he had mentioned.
“‘I am sorry for it with all my heart,’ quoth he, ‘and I wish thee better success another time. Though, if you will take my advice, you shall have no occasion to run any such risque. Here,’ said he, taking some dice out of his pocket, ‘here’s the stuff. Here are the implements; here are the little doctors which cure the distempers of the purse. Follow but my counsel, and I will show you a way to empty the pocket of a queer cull without any danger of the nubbing cheat.’”
“Nubbing cheat!” cries Partridge: “pray, sir, what is that?”
“Why that, sir,” says the stranger, “is a cant phrase for the gallows; for as gamesters differ little from highwaymen in their morals, so do they very much resemble them in their language.
“We had now each drank our bottle, when Mr. Watson said, the board was sitting, and that he must attend, earnestly pressing me at the same time to go with him and try my fortune. I answered he knew that was at present out of my power, as I had informed him of the emptiness of my pocket. To say the truth, I doubted not from his many strong expressions of friendship, but that he would offer to lend me a small sum for that purpose, but he answered, ‘Never mind that, man; e’en boldly run a levant’ [Partridge was going to inquire the meaning of that word, but Jones stopped his mouth]: ‘but be circumspect as to the man. I will tip you the proper person, which may be necessary, as you do not know the town, nor can distinguish a rum cull from a queer one.”
“The bill was now brought, when Watson paid his share, and was departing. I reminded him, not without blushing, of my having no money. He answered, ‘That signifies nothing; score it behind the door, or make a bold rush and take no notice. — Or — stay,’ says he; ‘I will go down-stairs first, and then do you take up my money, and score the whole reckoning at the bar, and I will wait for you at the corner.’ I expressed some dislike at this, and hinted my expectations that he would have deposited the whole; but he swore he had not another sixpence in his pocket.
“He then went down, and I was prevailed on to take up the money and follow him, which I did close enough to hear him tell the drawer the reckoning was upon the table. The drawer past by me up-stairs; but I made such haste into the street, that I heard nothing of his disappointment, nor did I mention a syllable at the bar, according to my instructions.
“We now went directly to the gaming-table, where Mr. Watson, to my surprize, pulled out a large sum of money placed it before him, as did many others; all of them, no doubt, considering their own heaps as so many decoy birds, which were to intice and draw over the heaps of their neighbours.
“Here it would be tedious to relate all the freaks which Fortune, or rather the dice, played in this her temple. Mountains of gold were in a few moments reduced to nothing at one part of the table, and rose as suddenly in another. The rich grew in a moment poor, and the poor as suddenly became rich; so that it seemed a philosopher could nowhere have so well instructed his pupils in the contempt of riches, at least he could nowhere have better inculcated the incertainty of their duration.
“For my own part, after having considerably improved my small estate, I at last entirely demolished it. Mr. Watson too, after much variety of luck, rose from the table in some heat, and declared he had lost a cool hundred, and would play no longer. Then coming up to me, he asked me to return with him to the tavern; but I positively refused, saying, I would not bring myself a second time into such a dilemma, and especially as he had lost all his money and was now in my own condition. ‘Pooh!’ says he, ‘I have just borrowed a couple of guineas of a friend, and one of them is at your service.’ He immediately put one of them into my hand, and I no longer resisted his inclination.
“I was at first a little shocked at returning to the same house whence we had departed in so unhandsome a manner; but when the drawer, with very civil address, told us, believed we had forgot to pay our reckoning,’ I became perfectly easy, and very readily gave him a guinea, bid him pay himself, and acquiesced in the unjust charge which had been laid on my memory.
“Mr. Watson now bespoke the most extravagant supper he could well think of; and though he had contented himself with simple claret before, nothing now but the most precious Burgundy would serve his purpose.
“Our company was soon encreased by the addition of several gentlemen from the gaming-table; most of whom, as I afterwards found, came not to the tavern to drink, but in the way of business; for the true gamesters pretended to be ill, and refused their glass, while they plied heartily two young fellows, who were to be afterwards pillaged, as indeed they were without mercy. Of this plunder I had the good fortune to be a sharer, though I was not yet let into the secret.
“There was one remarkable accident attended this tavern play; for the money by degrees totally disappeared; so that though at the beginning the table was half covered with gold, yet before the play ended, which it did not till the next day, being Sunday, at noon, there was scarce a single guinea to be seen on the table; and this was the stranger as every person present, except myself, declared he had lost; and what was become of the money, unless the devil himself carried it away, is difficult to determine.”
“Most certainly he did,” says Partridge, “for evil spirits can carry away anything without being seen, though there were never so many folk in the room; and I should not have been surprized if he had carried away all the company of a set of wicked wretches, who were at play in sermon time. And I could tell you a true story, if I would, where the devil took a man out of bed from another man’s wife, and carried him away through the keyhole of the door. I’ve seen the very house where it was done, and nobody hath lived in it these thirty years.”
Though Jones was a little offended by the impertinence of Partridge, he could not however avoid smiling at his simplicity. The stranger did the same, and then proceeded with his story, as will be seen in the next chapter.
In which the foregoing story is farther continued
“My fellow-collegiate had now entered me in a scene of life. I soon became acquainted with the whole fraternity of sharpers, and was let into their secrets; I mean, into the knowledge of those gross cheats which are proper to impose upon the raw and unexperienced; for there are some tricks of a finer kind, which are known only to a few of the gang, who are at the head of their profession; a degree of honour beyond my expectation; for drink, to which I was immoderately addicted, and the natural warmth of my passions, prevented me from arriving at any great success in an art which requires as much coolness as the most austere school of philosophy.
“Mr. Watson, with whom I now lived in the closest amity, had unluckily the former failing to a very great excess; so that instead of making a fortune by his profession, as some others did, he was alternately rich and poor, and was often obliged to surrender to his cooler friends, over a bottle which they never tasted, that plunder that he had taken from culls at the public table.
“However, we both made a shift to pick up an uncomfortable livelihood; and for two years I continued of the calling; during which time I tasted all the varieties of fortune, sometimes flourishing in affluence, and at others being obliged to struggle with almost incredible difficulties. To-day wallowing in luxury, and to-morrow reduced to the coarsest and most homely fare. My fine clothes being often on my back in the evening, and at the pawn-shop the next morning.
“One night, as I was returning pennyless from the gaming-table, I observed a very great disturbance, and a large mob gathered together in the street. As I was in no danger from pickpockets, I ventured into the croud, where upon enquiry I found that a man had been robbed and very ill used by some ruffians. The wounded man appeared very bloody, and seemed scarce able to support himself on his legs. As I had not therefore been deprived of my humanity by my present life and conversation, though they had left me very little of either honesty or shame, I immediately offered my assistance to the unhappy person, who thankfully accepted it, and, putting himself under my conduct, begged me to convey him to some tavern, where he might send for a surgeon, being, as he said, faint with loss of blood. He seemed indeed highly pleased at finding one who appeared in the dress of a gentleman; for as to all the rest of the company present, their outside was such that he could not wisely place any confidence in them.
“I took the poor man by the arm, and led him to the tavern where we kept our rendezvous, as it happened to be the nearest at hand. A surgeon happening luckily to be in the house, immediately attended, and applied himself to dressing his wounds, which I had the pleasure to hear were not likely to be mortal.
“The surgeon having very expeditiously and dextrously finished his business, began to enquire in what part of the town the wounded man lodged; who answered, ‘That he was come to town that very morning; that his horse was at an inn in Piccadilly, and that he had no other lodging, and very little or no acquaintance in town.’
“This surgeon, whose name I have forgot, though I remember it began with an R, had the first character in his profession, and was serjeant-surgeon to the king. He had moreover many good qualities, and was a very generous good-natured man, and ready to do any service to his fellow-creatures. He offered his patient the use of his chariot to carry him to his inn, and at the same time whispered in his ear, ‘That if he wanted any money, he would furnish him.’
“The poor man was not now capable of returning thanks for this generous offer; for having had his eyes for some time stedfastly on me, he threw himself back in his chair, crying, ‘Oh, my son! my son!’ and then fainted away.
“Many of the people present imagined this accident had happened through his loss of blood; but I, who at the same time began to recollect the features of my father, was now confirmed in my suspicion, and satisfied that it was he himself who appeared before me. I presently ran to him, raised him in my arms, and kissed his cold lips with the utmost eagerness. Here I must draw a curtain over a scene which I cannot describe; for though I did not lose my being, as my father for a while did, my senses were however so overpowered with affright and surprize, that I am a stranger to what passed during some minutes, and indeed till my father had again recovered from his swoon, and I found myself in his arms, both tenderly embracing each other, while the tears trickled a-pace down the cheeks of each of us.
“Most of those present seemed affected by this scene, which we, who might be considered as the actors in it, were desirous of removing from the eyes of all spectators as fast as we could; my father therefore accepted the kind offer of the surgeon’s chariot, and I attended him in it to his inn.
“When we were alone together, he gently upbraided me with having neglected to write to him during so long a time, but entirely omitted the mention of that crime which had occasioned it. He then informed me of my mother’s death, and insisted on my returning home with him, saying, ‘That he had long suffered the greatest anxiety on my account; that he knew not whether he had most feared my death or wished it, since he had so many more dreadful apprehensions for me. At last, he said, a neighbouring gentleman, who had just recovered a son from the same place, informed him where I was; and that to reclaim me from this course of life was the sole cause of his journey to London.’ He thanked Heaven he had succeeded so far as to find me out by means of an accident which had like to have proved fatal to him; and had the pleasure to think he partly owed his preservation to my humanity, with which he profest himself to be more delighted than he should have been with my filial piety, if I had known that the object of all my care was my own father.
“Vice had not so depraved my heart as to excite in it an insensibility of so much paternal affection, though so unworthily bestowed. I presently promised to obey his commands in my return home with him, as soon as he was able to travel, which indeed he was in a very few days, by the assistance of that excellent surgeon who had undertaken his cure.
“The day preceding my father’s journey (before which time I scarce ever left him), I went to take my leave of some of my most intimate acquaintance, particularly of Mr. Watson, who dissuaded me from burying myself, as he called it, out of a simple compliance with the fond desires of a foolish old fellow. Such sollicitations, however, had no effect, and I once more saw my own home. My father now greatly sollicited me to think of marriage; but my inclinations were utterly averse to any such thoughts. I had tasted of love already, and perhaps you know the extravagant excesses of that most tender and most violent passion.” — Here the old gentleman paused, and looked earnestly at Jones; whose countenance, within a minute’s space, displayed the extremities of both red and white. Upon which the old man, without making any observations, renewed his narrative.
“Being now provided with all the necessaries of life, I betook myself once again to study, and that with a more inordinate application than I had ever done formerly. The books which now employed my time solely were those, as well antient as modern, which treat of true philosophy, a word which is by many thought to be the subject only of farce and ridicule. I now read over the works of Aristotle and Plato, with the rest of those inestimable treasures which antient Greece had bequeathed to the world.
“These authors, though they instructed me in no science by which men may promise to themselves to acquire the least riches or worldly power, taught me, however, the art of despising the highest acquisitions of both. They elevate the mind, and steel and harden it against the capricious invasions of fortune. They not only instruct in the knowledge of Wisdom, but confirm men in her habits, and demonstrate plainly, that this must be our guide, if we propose ever to arrive at the greatest worldly happiness, or to defend ourselves, with any tolerable security, against the misery which everywhere surrounds and invests us.
“To this I added another study, compared to which, all the philosophy taught by the wisest heathens is little better than a dream, and is indeed as full of vanity as the silliest jester ever pleased to represent it. This is that Divine wisdom which is alone to be found in the Holy Scriptures; for they impart to us the knowledge and assurance of things much more worthy our attention than all which this world can offer to our acceptance; of things which Heaven itself hath condescended to reveal to us, and to the smallest knowledge of which the highest human wit unassisted could never ascend. I began now to think all the time I had spent with the best heathen writers was little more than labour lost: for, however pleasant and delightful their lessons may be, or however adequate to the right regulation of our conduct with respect to this world only; yet, when compared with the glory revealed in Scripture, their highest documents will appear as trifling, and of as little consequence, as the rules by which children regulate their childish little games and pastime. True it is, that philosophy makes us wiser, but Christianity makes us better men. Philosophy elevates and steels the mind, Christianity softens and sweetens it. The for makes us the objects of human admiration, the latter of Divine love. That insures us a temporal, but this an eternal happiness. — But I am afraid I tire you with my rhapsody.”
“Not at all,” cries Partridge; “Lud forbid we should be tired with good things!”
“I had spent,” continued the stranger, “about four years in the most delightful manner to myself, totally given up to contemplation, and entirely unembarrassed with the affairs of the world, when I lost the best of fathers, and one whom I so entirely loved, that my grief at his loss exceeds all description. I now abandoned my books, and gave myself up for a whole month to the effects of melancholy and despair. Time, however, the best physician of the mind, at length brought me relief.”
“Ay, ay; Tempus edax rerum,” said Partridge. — “I then,” continued the stranger, “betook myself again to my former studies, which I may say perfected my cure, for philosophy and religion may be called the exercises of the mind, and when this is disordered, they are as wholesome as exercise can be to a distempered body. They do indeed produce similar effects with exercise; for they strengthen and confirm the mind, till man becomes, in the noble strain of Horace —
Fortis, et in seipso totus teres atque rotundus,
Externi ne quid valeat per laeve morari;
In quem manca ruit semper Fortuna"31
31 Firm in himself, who on himself relies,
Polish’d and round, who runs his proper course
And breaks misfortunes with superior force. — MR. FRANCIS
Here Jones smiled at some conceit which intruded itself into his imagination; but the stranger, I believe, perceived it not, and proceeded thus:—
“My circumstances were now greatly altered by the death of that best of men; for my brother, who was now become master of the house, differed so widely from me in his inclinations, and our pursuits in life had been so very various, that we were the worst of company to each other: but what made our living together still more disagreeable, was the little harmony which could subsist between the few who resorted to me, and the numerous train of sportsmen who often attended my brother from the field to the table; for such fellows, besides the noise and nonsense with which they persecute the ears of sober men, endeavour always to attack them with affront and contempt. This was so much the case, that neither I myself, nor my friends, could ever sit down to a meal with them without being treated with derision, because we were unacquainted with the phrases of sportsmen. For men of true learning, and almost universal knowledge, always compassionate the ignorance of others; but fellows who excel in some little, low, contemptible art, are always certain to despise those who are unacquainted with that art.
“In short, we soon separated, and I went, by the advice of a physician, to drink the Bath waters; for my violent affliction, added to a sedentary life, had thrown me into a kind of paralytic disorder, for which those waters are accounted an almost certain cure. The second day after my arrival, as I was walking by the river, the sun shone so intensely hot (though it was early in the year), that I retired to the shelter of some willows, and sat down by the river side. Here I had not been seated long before I heard a person on the other side of the willows sighing and bemoaning himself bitterly. On a sudden, having uttered a most impious oath, he cried, ‘I am resolved to bear it no longer,’ directly threw himself into the water. I immediately started, and ran towards the place, calling at the same time as loudly as I could for assistance. An angler happened luckily to be a-fishing a little below though some very high sedge had hid him from my sight. He immediately came up, and both of us together, not without some hazard of our lives, drew the body to the shore. At first we perceived no sign of life remaining; but having held the body up by the heels (for we soon had assistance enough), it discharged a vast quantity of water at the mouth, and at length began to discover some symptoms of breathing, and a little afterwards to move both its hands and its legs.
“An apothecary, who happened to be present among others, advised that the body, which seemed now to have pretty well emptied itself of water, and which began to have many convulsive motions, should be directly taken up, and carried into a warm bed. This was accordingly performed, the apothecary and myself attending.
“As we were going towards an inn, for we knew not the man’s lodgings, luckily a woman met us, who, after some violent screaming, told us that the gentleman lodged at her house.
“When I had seen the man safely deposited there, I left him to the care of the apothecary; who, I suppose, used all the right methods with him, for the next morning I heard he had perfectly recovered his senses.
“I then went to visit him, intending to search out, as well as I could, the cause of his having attempted so desperate an act, and to prevent, as far as I was able, his pursuing such wicked intentions for the future. I was no sooner admitted into his chamber, than we both instantly knew each other; for who should this person be but my good friend Mr. Watson! Here I will not trouble you with what past at our first interview; for I would avoid prolixity as much as possible.”
“Pray let us hear all,” cries Partridge; “I want mightily to know what brought him to Bath.”
“You shall hear everything material,” answered the stranger; and then proceeded to relate what we shall proceed to write, after we have given a short breathing time to both ourselves and the reader.
In which the Man of the Hill concludes his history
“Mr. Watson,” continued the stranger, “very freely acquainted me, that the unhappy situation of his circumstances, occasioned by a tide of ill luck, had in a manner forced him to a resolution of destroying himself.
“I now began to argue very seriously with him, in opposition to this heathenish, or indeed diabolical, principle of the lawfulness of self-murder; and said everything which occurred to me on the subject; but, to my great concern, it seemed to have very little effect on him. He seemed not at all to repent of what he had done, and gave me reason to fear he would soon make a second attempt of the like horrible kind.
“When I had finished my discourse, instead of endeavouring to answer my arguments, he looked me stedfastly in the face, and with a smile said, ‘You are strangely altered, my good friend, since I remember you. I question whether any of our bishops could make a better argument against suicide than you have entertained me with; but unless you can find somebody who will lend me a cool hundred, I must either hang, or drown, or starve, and, in my opinion, the last death is the most terrible of the three.’
“I answered him very gravely that I was indeed altered since I had seen him last. That I had found leisure to look into my follies and to repent of them. I then advised him to pursue the same steps; and at last concluded with an assurance that I myself would lend him a hundred pound, if it would be of any service to his affairs, and he would not put it into the power of a die to deprive him of it.
“Mr. Watson, who seemed almost composed in slumber by the former part of my discourse, was roused by the latter. He seized my hand eagerly, gave me a thousand thanks, and declared I was a friend indeed; adding that he hoped I had a better opinion of him than to imagine he had profited so little by experience, as to put any confidence in those damned dice which had so often deceived him. ‘No, no,’ cries he; ‘let me but once handsomely be set up again, and if ever Fortune makes a broken merchant of me afterwards, I will forgive her.’
“I very well understood the language of setting up, and broken merchant. I therefore said to him, with a very grave face, Mr. Watson, you must endeavour to find out some business or employment, by which you may procure yourself a livelihood; and I promise you, could I see any probability of being repaid hereafter, I would advance a much larger sum than what you have mentioned, to equip you in any fair and honourable calling; but as to gaming, besides the baseness and wickedness of making it a profession, you are really, to my own knowledge, unfit for it, and it will end in your certain ruin.
“‘Why now, that’s strange,’ answered he; neither you, nor any of my friends, would ever allow me to know anything of the matter, and yet I believe I am as good a hand at every game as any of you all; and I heartily wish I was to play with you only for your whole fortune: I should desire no better sport, and I would let you name your game into the bargain: but come, my dear boy, have you the hundred in your pocket?”
“I answered I had only a bill for £50, which I delivered him, and promising to bring him the rest next morning; and after giving him a little more advice, took my leave.
“I was indeed better than my word; for I returned to him that very afternoon. When I entered the room, I found him sitting up in his bed at cards with a notorious gamester. This sight, you will imagine, shocked me not a little; to which I may add the mortification of seeing my bill delivered by him to his antagonist, and thirty guineas only given in exchange for it.
“The other gamester presently quitted the room, and then Watson declared he was ashamed to see me; ‘but,’ says he, ‘I find luck runs so damnably against me, that I will resolve to leave off play for ever. I have thought of the kind proposal you made me ever since, and I promise you there shall be no fault in me, if I do not put it in execution.’
“Though I had no great faith in his promises, I produced him the remainder of the hundred in consequence of my own; for which he gave me a note, which was all I ever expected to see in return for my money.
“We were prevented from any further discourse at present by the arrival of the apothecary; who, with much joy in his countenance, and without even asking his patient how he did, proclaimed there was great news arrived in a letter to himself, which he said would shortly be public, ‘That the Duke of Monmouth was landed in the west with a vast army of Dutch; and that another vast fleet hovered over the coast of Norfolk, and was to make a descent there, in order to favour the duke’s enterprize with a diversion on that side.’
“This apothecary was one of the greatest politicians of his time. He was more delighted with the most paultry packet, than with the best patient, and the highest joy he was capable of, he received from having a piece of news in his possession an hour or two sooner than any other person in town. His advices, however, were seldom authentic; for he would swallow almost anything a truth — a humour which many made use of to impose upon him.
“Thus it happened with what he at present communicated; for it was known within a short time afterwards that the duke was really landed, but that his army consisted only of a few attendants; and as to the diversion in Norfolk, it was entirely false.
“The apothecary staid no longer in the room than while he acquainted us with his news; and then, without saying a syllable to his patient on any other subject, departed to spread his advices all over the town.
“Events of this nature in the public are generally apt to eclipse all private concerns. Our discourse therefore now became entirely political. For my own part, I had been for some time very seriously affected with the danger to which the Protestant religion was so visibly exposed under a Popish prince, and thought the apprehension of it alone sufficient to justify that insurrection; for no real security can ever be found against the persecuting spirit of Popery, when armed with power, except the depriving it of that power, as woeful experience presently showed. You know how King James behaved after getting the better of this attempt; how little he valued either his royal word, or coronation oath, or the liberties and rights of his people. But all had not the sense to foresee this at first; and therefore the Duke of Monmouth was weakly supported; yet all could feel when the evil came upon them; and therefore all united, at last, to drive out that king, against whose exclusion a great party among us had so warmly contended during the reign of his brother, and for whom they now fought with such zeal and affection.”
“What you say,” interrupted Jones, “is very true; and it has often struck me, as the most wonderful thing I ever read of in history, that so soon after this convincing experience which brought our whole nation to join so unanimously in expelling King James, for the preservation of our religion and liberties, there should be a party among us mad enough to desire the placing his family again on the throne.”
“You are not in earnest!” answered the old man; “there can be no such party. As bad an opinion as I have of mankind, I cannot believe them infatuated to such a degree. There may be some hot-headed Papists led by their priests to engage in this desperate cause, and think it a holy war; but that Protestants, that are members of the Church of England, should be such apostates, such felos de se, I cannot believe it; no, no, young man, unacquainted as I am with what has past in the world for these last thirty years, I cannot be so imposed upon as to credit so foolish a tale; but I see you have a mind to sport with my ignorance.”
“Can it be possible,” replied Jones, “that you have lived so much out of the world as not to know that during that time there have been two rebellions in favour of the son of King James, one of which is now actually raging in the very heart of the kingdom.” At these words the old gentleman started up, and in a most solemn tone of voice, conjured Jones by his Maker to tell him if what he said was really true; which the other as solemnly affirming, he walked several turns about the room in a profound silence, then cried, then laughed, and at last fell down on his knees, and blessed God, in a loud thanksgiving prayer, for having delivered him from all society with human nature, which could be capable of such monstrous extravagances. After which, being reminded by Jones that he had broke off his story, he resumed it again in this manner:—
“As mankind, in the days I was speaking of, was not yet arrived at that pitch of madness which I find they are capable of now, and which, to be sure, I have only escaped by living alone, and at a distance from the contagion, there was a considerable rising in favour of Monmouth; and my principles strongly inclining me to take the same part, I determined to join him; and Mr. Watson, from different motives concurring in the same resolution (for the spirit of a gamester will carry a man as far upon such an occasion as the spirit of patriotism), we soon provided ourselves with all necessaries, and went to the duke at Bridgewater.
“The unfortunate event of this enterprize, you are, I conclude, as well acquainted with as myself. I escaped, together with Mr. Watson, from the battle at Sedgemore, in which action I received a slight wound. We rode near forty miles together on the Exeter road, and then abandoning our horses, scrambled as well as we could through the fields and bye-roads, till we arrived at a little wild hut on a common, where a poor old woman took all the care of us she could, and dressed my wound with salve, which quickly healed it.”
“Pray, sir, where was the wound?” says Partridge. The stranger satisfied him it was in his arm, and then continued his narrative. “Here, sir,” said he, “Mr. Watson left me the next morning, in order, as he pretended, to get us some provision from the town of Collumpton; but — can I relate it, or can you believe it? — this Mr. Watson, this friend, this base, barbarous, treacherous villain, betrayed me to a party of horse belonging to King James, and at his return delivered me into their hands.
“The soldiers, being six in number, had now seized me, and were conducting me to Taunton gaol; but neither my present situation, nor the apprehensions of what might happen to me, were half so irksome to my mind as the company of my false friend, who, having surrendered himself, was likewise considered as a prisoner, though he was better treated, as being to make his peace at my expense. He at first endeavoured to excuse his treachery; but when he received nothing but scorn and upbraiding from me, he soon changed his note, abused me as the most atrocious and malicious rebel, and laid all his own guilt to my charge, who, as he declared, had solicited, and even threatened him, to make him take up arms against his gracious as well as lawful sovereign.
“This false evidence (for in reality he had been much the forwarder of the two) stung me to the quick, and raised an indignation scarce conceivable by those who have not felt it. However, fortune at length took pity on me; for as we were got a little beyond Wellington, in a narrow lane, my guards received a false alarm, that near fifty of the enemy were at hand; upon which they shifted for themselves, and left me and my betrayer to do the same. That villain immediately ran from me, and I am glad he did, or I should have certainly endeavoured, though I had no arms, to have executed vengeance on his baseness.
“I was now once more at liberty; and immediately withdrawing from the highway into the fields, I travelled on, scarce knowing which way I went, and making it my chief care to avoid all public roads and all towns — nay, even the most homely houses; for I imagined every human creature whom I saw desirous of betraying me.
“At last, after rambling several days about the country, during which the fields afforded me the same bed and the same food which nature bestows on our savage brothers of the creation, I at length arrived at this place, where the solitude and wildness of the country invited me to fix my abode. The first person with whom I took up my habitation was the mother of this old woman, with whom I remained concealed till the news of the glorious revolution put an end to all my apprehensions of danger, and gave me an opportunity of once more visiting my own home, and of enquiring a little into my affairs, which I soon settled as agreeably to my brother as to myself; having resigned everything to him, for which he paid me the sum of a thousand pounds, and settled on me an annuity for life.
“His behaviour in this last instance, as in all others, was selfish and ungenerous. I could not look on him as my friend, nor indeed did he desire that I should; so I presently took my leave of him, as well as of my other acquaintance; and from that day to this, my history is little better than a blank.”
“And is it possible, sir,” said Jones, “that you can have resided here from that day to this?”
“O no, sir,” answered the gentleman; “I have been a great traveller, and there are few parts of Europe with which I am not acquainted.”
“I have not, sir,” cried Jones, “the assurance to ask it of you now; indeed it would be cruel, after so much breath as you already spent: but you will give me leave to wish for some further opportunity of the excellent observations which a man of your sense and knowledge of the world must made in so long a course of travels.”
“Indeed, young gentleman,” answered the stranger, “I will endeavour to satisfy your curiosity on this head likewise, as far as I am able.” Jones attempted fresh apologies, but was prevented; and while he and Partridge sat with and impatient ears, the stranger proceeded in the next chapter.
A brief history of Europe; and a curious discourse between Mr. Jones and the Man on the Hill
“In Italy the landlords are very silent. France they are more talkative, but yet civil. In Germany and Holland they are generally very impertinent. And as for their honesty, I believe it is pretty equal in all those countries. The laquais a louange are sure to lose no opportunity of cheating you; and as for the postilions, I think they are pretty much alike the world over. These, sir, are the observations on men which I made in my travels; for these were the only men I ever conversed with. My design, when I went abroad, was to divert myself by seeing the wondrous variety of prospects, beasts, birds, fishes, insects, and vegetables, with which God has been please to enrich the several parts of this globe; a which, as it must give great pleasure to a contemplative beholder, so doth it admirably the power, and wisdom, and goodness of the Creator. Indeed, to say the truth, there is but one work in his whole creation that him any dishonour, and with that I have long since avoided bolding any conversation.”
“You will pardon me,” cries Jones; “but I have always imagined that there is in this work you mention as great variety as in all the rest; for, besides the difference of inclination, customs and climates have, I am told, introduced the utmost diversity into human nature.”
“Very little indeed,” answered the other: to “those who travel in order to acquaint themselves with the different manners of men might spare themselves much pains by going to a carnival at Venice; for there they will see at once all which they can discover in the several courts of Europe. The same hypocrisy, the same fraud; in short, the same follies and vices dressed in different habits. In Spain, these are equipped with much gravity; and in Italy, with vast splendor. In France, a knave is dressed like a fop; and in the northern countries, like a sloven. But human nature is everywhere the same, everywhere the object of detestation and scorn.
“As for my own part, I past through all these nations as you perhaps may have done through a croud at a show — jostling to get by them, holding my nose with one hand, and defending my pockets with the other, without speaking a word to any of them, while I was pressing on to see what I wanted to see; which, however entertaining it might be in itself, scarce made me amends for the trouble the company gave me.”
“Did not you find some of the nations among which you travelled less troublesome to you than others?” said Jones. “O yes,” replied the old man: “the Turks were much more tolerable to me than the Christians; for they are men of profound taciturnity, and never disturb a stranger with questions. Now and then indeed they bestow a short curse upon him, or spit in his face as he walks the streets, but then they have done with him; and a man may live an age in their country without hearing a dozen words from them. But of all the people I ever saw, heaven defend me from the French! With their damned prate and civilities and doing the honour of their nation to strangers (as they are pleased to call it), but indeed setting forth their own vanity; they are so troublesome, that I had infinitely rather pass my life with the Hottentots than set my foot in Paris again. They are a nasty people, but their nastiness is mostly without; whereas, in France, and some other nations that I won’t name, it is all within, and makes them stink much more to my reason than that of Hottentots does to my nose.
“Thus, sir, I have ended the history of my life; for as to all that series of years during which I have lived retired here, it affords no variety to entertain you, and may be almost considered as one day. The retirement has been so compleat, that I could hardly have enjoyed a more absolute solitude in the deserts of the Thebais than here in the midst of this populous kingdom. As I have no estate, I am plagued with no tenants or stewards: my annuity is paid me pretty regularly, as indeed it ought to be; for it is much less than what I might have expected in return for what I gave up. Visits I admit none; and the old woman who keeps my house knows that her place entirely depends upon her saving me all the trouble of buying the things that I want, keeping off all sollicitation or business from me, and holding her tongue whenever I am within hearing. As my walks are all by night, I am pretty secure in this wild unfrequented place from meeting any company. Some few persons I have met by chance, and sent them home heartily frighted, as from the oddness of my dress and figure they took me for a ghost or a hobgoblin. But what has happened to-night shows that even here I cannot be safe from the villany of men; for without your assistance I had not only been robbed, but very probably murdered.”
Jones thanked the stranger for the trouble he had taken in relating his story, and then expressed some wonder how he could possibly endure a life of such solitude; “in which,” says he, “you may well complain of the want of variety. Indeed I am astonished how you have filled up, or rather killed, so much of your time.”
“I am not at all surprized,” answered the other, “that to one whose affections and thoughts are fixed on the world my hours should appear to have wanted employment in this place: but there is one single act, for which the whole life of man is infinitely too short: what time can suffice for the contemplation and worship of that glorious, immortal, and eternal Being, among the works of whose stupendous creation not only this globe, but even those numberless luminaries which we may here behold spangling all the sky, though they should many of them be suns lighting different systems of worlds, may possibly appear but as a few atoms opposed to the whole earth which we inhabit? Can a man who by divine meditations is admitted as it were into the conversation of this ineffable, incomprehensible Majesty, think days, or years, or ages, too long for the continuance of so ravishing an honour? Shall the trifling amusements, the palling pleasures, the silly business of the world, roll away our hours too swiftly from us; and shall the pace of time seem sluggish to a mind exercised in studies so high, so important, and so glorious? As no time is sufficient, so no place is proper, for this great concern. On what object can we cast our eyes which may not inspire us with ideas of his power, of his wisdom, and of his goodness? It is not necessary that the rising sun should dart his fiery glories over the eastern horizon; nor that the boisterous winds should rush from their caverns, and shake the lofty forest; nor that the opening clouds should pour their deluges on the plains: it is not necessary, I say, that any of these should proclaim his majesty: there is not an insect, not a vegetable, of so low an order in the creation as not to be honoured with bearing marks of the attributes of its great Creator; marks not only of his power, but of his wisdom and goodness. Man alone, the king of this globe, the last and greatest work of the Supreme Being, below the sun; man alone hath basely dishonoured his own nature; and by dishonesty, cruelty, ingratitude, and treachery, hath called his Maker’s goodness in question, by puzzling us to account how a benevolent being should form so foolish and so vile an animal. Yet this is the being from whose conversation you think, I suppose, that I have been unfortunately restrained, and without whose blessed society, life, in your opinion, must be tedious and insipid.”
“In the former part of what you said,” replied Jones, “I most heartily and readily concur; but I believe, as well as hope, that the abhorrence which you express for mankind in the conclusion, is much too general. Indeed, you here fall into an error, which in my little experience I have observed to be a very common one, by taking the character of mankind from the worst and basest among them; whereas, indeed, as an excellent writer observes, nothing should be esteemed as characteristical of a species, but what is to be found among the best and most perfect individuals of that species. This error, I believe, is generally committed by those who from want of proper caution in the choice of their friends and acquaintance, have suffered injuries from bad and worthless men; two or three instances of which are very unjustly charged on all human nature.”
“I think I had experience enough of it,” answered the other: “my first mistress and my first friend betrayed me in the basest manner, and in matters which threatened to be of the worst of consequences — even to bring me to a shameful death.”
“But you will pardon me,” cries Jones, “if I desire you to reflect who that mistress and who that friend were. What better, my good sir, could be expected in love derived from the stews, or in friendship first produced and nourished at the gaming-table? To take the characters of women from the former instance or of men from the latter, would be as unjust as to assert that air is a nauseous and unwholesome element, because we find it so in a jakes. I have lived but a short time in the world, and yet have known men worthy of the highest friendship, and women of the highest love.”
“Alas! young man,” answered the stranger, “you have lived, you confess, but a very short time in the world: I was somewhat older than you when I was of the same opinion.”
“You might have remained so still,” replies Jones, “if you had not been unfortunate, I will venture to say incautious, in the placing your affections. If there was, indeed, much more wickedness in the world than there is, it would not prove such general assertions against human nature, since much of this arrives by mere accident, and many a man who commits evil is not totally bad and corrupt in his heart. In truth, none seem to have any title to assert human nature to be necessarily and universally evil, but those whose own minds afford them one instance of this natural depravity; which is not, I am convinced, your case.”
“And such,” said the stranger, “will be always the most backward to assert any such thing. Knaves will no more endeavour to persuade us of the baseness of mankind, than a highwayman will inform you that there are thieves on the road. This would, indeed, be a method to put you on your guard, and to defeat their own purposes. For which reason, though knaves, as I remember, are very apt to abuse particular persons, yet they never cast any reflection on human nature in general.” The old gentleman spoke this so warmly, that as Jones despaired of making a convert, and was unwilling to offend, he returned no answer.
The day now began to send forth its first streams of light, when Jones made an apology to the stranger for having staid so long, and perhaps detained him from his rest. The stranger answered, “He never wanted rest less than at present; for that day and night were indifferent seasons to him; and that he commonly made use of the former for the time of his repose and of the latter for his walks and lucubrations. However,” said he, “it is now a most lovely morning, and if you can bear any longer to be without your own rest or food, I will gladly entertain you with the sight of some very fine prospects which I believe you have not yet seen.”
Jones very readily embraced this offer, and they immediately set forward together from the cottage. As for Partridge, he had fallen into a profound repose just as the stranger had finished his story; for his curiosity was satisfied, and the subsequent discourse was not forcible enough in its operation to conjure down the charms of sleep. Jones therefore left him to enjoy his nap; and as the reader may perhaps be at this season glad of the same favour, we will here put an end to the eighth book of our history.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:50