MISS Wildman having opened herſelf ſo much to her maid reſpecting me, and which, he conceiving could ſaid only with a view of my hearing it again, I took an opportunity one morning, when ſhe came into Charlotte's room, to requeſt her private ear for five minutes. [Page 6] With great and amiable good-nature, ſhe ſent her maid into her room to adjuſt her toilet, when I addreſſed her in the following manner. ‘If it be not an act of the higheſt preſumption, Madam, for one in my humble ſtation in life, to declare an attachment to a young lady of your rank and fortune; if it be not an offence againſt propriety and duty, to ſolicit your attention to any tale of mine; I would venture to repreſent to you, that thought you ſee me here as your father's valet, I am a gentleman both by birth and education, and am not a great way removed from a very [Page 7] conſiderable landed property. There is an eſtate of four thouſand pounds a year, in the family, and my hopes of one day inheriting it, are not wild and romantic. I mention this only to induce your favourable hearing.’—‘Mr. Gabriel,’ ſaid ſhe, interrupting me, ‘from the time I firſt ſaw you, I was convinced, that, though wearing a livery, you had been bred to better expectations;—but as you have been the preſerver of my honour, and have riſked your life in my defence, whether ſervant or maſter, you are equally entitled to my regard and gratitude.’—‘Talk not of gratitude! my dear [Page 8] Miſs Wildman,’ exclaimed I; for her ſweet condeſcenſion gave me greater confidence, ‘talk not of gratitude; what I did, was a duty due from my ſex to yours, and if it merits your ſimple thanks, I am over-paid. My humble character in life will not ſuffer me to make advances, but ſhould fortune, at any future period, put us nearer on an equality, may I hope for ſomething more than your regard?’—‘I am of too ſelfiſh a nature,’ returns Miſs Wildman, ‘not to acknowledge, that were I miſtreſs of worlds, you have deſerved them all. I have a heart, it is [Page 9] true, to give again, but what is my poor heart without my hand? That is at my father's diſpoſal; was it at my command, I would enter further into the ſubject.’ ‘A thouſand bleſſings on you, my dear Miſs Wildman, for this generous declaration,’ cried I in rapture, taking her hand, which ſhe readily gave me, ‘let me extort but one declaration more, and, poor as I am, I ſhall be the happieſt of men.’ ‘Your good ſenſe, Mr. Gabriel,’ returned ſhe, ‘will, I am perſuaded, prevent your urging me to ſay any thing I ought not to ſay: what I am miſtreſs of, you may [Page 10] command; what I have not to give, you cannot expect.’ ‘I have too high a veneration for you, my dear Miſs Wildman,’ replied I, ſtill holding her by the hand, ‘to urge the leaſt impropriety: you have frankly confeſſed your heart is ſtill at liberty, but not your hand; I aſk not your hand at preſent, but ſolicit only your heart, and that you will give me a chance, by time, of poſſeſſing the former; at leaſt, that you will promiſe me not to beſtow the one, where you cannot yield the other.’ This ſhe ſolemnly promiſed; "her heart," ſhe ſaid, ‘I had won, and it was [Page 11] mine; ſhe had only to lament that ſhe could not give her hand as readily.’ Charlotte that inſtant entering the room, ſhe left me, but ſaid ſhe would take the firſt opportunity of ſeeing me again
SHE kept her word the next morning, and brought me an enamelled ring, of no great value in deed, otherwiſe than as a proof of having re-conſidered the matter, and thus ratifying her determination. "Take, my dear Gabriel," ſays ſhe, ‘this ring, as a pledge of my ſincerity, that while you are living, as I have thought proper to [Page 12] preſent you my heart, no man elſe ſhall have my hand.—’ ‘I take it, my dear Miſs Wildman,’ returned I, preſſing it with her hand to my lips, ‘as the beſt gift below, Heaven has to give; and if I prove unworthy of the gift, may I never know bliſs hereafter. I call you the moſt generous of women, as the difference of my ſituation in life from your's, puts me at too great a diſtance to have any expectations.’ ‘ Situation, my dear Gabriel,’ replied ſhe, ‘is an idle term. On the footing of nature, we are all equal, and if there are any circumſtances in the eye of the world, that raiſe one [Page 13] perſon above another, or diſtinguiſh individuals, it is a greater ſhare of moral virtue, or of mental or corporal endowments, given us by Providence and improved by art. You have to boaſt of theſe, and of courſe, are far before half the gentlemen I have the honour to know. In alliances for life, to ſecure a competency, without which happineſs is merely ideal, it may be neceſſary to conſult intereſt and pay ſome regard to fortune; but where there is ſufficient property on one ſide to enſure that competency, to look for it on the other, is mercenary and covetous. My [Page 14] father is able to give me a fortune, adequate to my utmoſt wiſhes; and whenever the time ſhall come, that I am in poſſeſſion of that, or you be in a ſituation not to want it, you ſhall command my hand, as you do now my heart. ’
THUS, in an endearing enjoyment of a reciprocity of affection, through the confidence of Charlotte, and the convenience of her room, did many days glide ſmoothly on. But after I had been in the family about ſix weeks; with a kind of terror in her countenance, Miſs Wildman brought me the following [Page 15] letter, which ſhe had received from Lord B.
Thou moſt cruel of women,
I have been long at loſs to account for your indifference, but the cauſe I am now acquainted with, that of having a rival among your father's ſervants. I have too much pride to acquaint Mr. Wildman with the fact, but I ſhall watch the ſcoundrel's motions and remove him from you."
Your injured B—.
I SMILED at the threat and requeſted her to make herſelf eaſy under it, for as fear was no part of my compoſition, I [Page 16] ſhould be always upon my guard; but, if at any time, I was betrayed, by any of my fellow-ſervants, and prevented a night from ſleeping at home, ſhe ſhould hear immediately from me. She aſſured me, her alarm was not very great upon the occaſion, as ſhe conceived the letter to be a menace only; her greateſt unhappineſs was, that if any information had been given to him, through a ſuſpicion of the ſervants, it might reach her father's ears, through the ſame channel, and occaſion a great deal of unhappineſs; for though no man was more warm in his friendſhips, no one was more violent in his reſentments. Should ſuch a thing take place, I [Page 17] told her, whether I was in the houſe, or out of it, ſhe had my conſent to diſown it, and if I was called upon, I would do the ſame.
THE alarm, however, cauſed me many an unquiet moment. I had too good an opinion of Charlotte to think ſhe would betray me, and I was not conſcious it was known to any other part of the family. Lord B. might poſſibly have heard that I was taken into the houſe, and his jealouſy might lead him to form a thouſand conceptions, and he might fix on this, in order to mortify Miſs Wildman's pride. However, from the tenor of the letter and from what [Page 18] I heard at Mrs. Duplex's, I was determined to be prepared for any violent attack, and therefore never went out afterwards, but with a tuck cane and a brace of piſtols loaded.
THE third day after Miſs Wildman had ſhewn me Lord B's letter, I was going out in the evening about ſix o'clock, in the month of October, and it was then juſt at the cloſe of day; I had on a blue ſurtout-coat with a red cape, and plain hat with gilt button and loop; and ſcarce had the porter opened the outer door, but I heard a voice ſay, ‘That's he.’ At this, I rather drew back, and a man in a chairman's [Page 19] coat, ran up the ſteps towards me, and, with a tuck in his hand, made an attempt to ſeize me; I ſtruck him upon the arm with my cane, and with my foot thruſt him down off the ſteps; at that inſtant I ſaw two men more making up to me, armed with bludgeons, one had nearly reached me, on which I took out one of my piſtols and fired it, and as, I believe, killed him on the ſpot. I then turned round, in order to take ſhelter within the houſe, and found that the porter tried all he could to ſhut the door againſt me; I overpowered him, however, with ſtrength, forced my way in, bolted the door upon my enemy, and with the but end of my [Page 20] piſtol, laid the porter flat upon the floor. All this took place in leſs time than I have been telling it. Finding myſelf ſo far ſafe, I ran backwards towards the ſtables, pulled off my ſurtout coat that I might not be known, tore the button and loop from my hat, and made my eſcape into the Meuſe, in which our ſtables ſtood. As ſoon as I found myſelf at liberty, I puſhed away to a neighbouring ſtand of coaches, got into one and bid the coachman drive me towards St. Giles's church. When I was out of the reach of any purſuit, I began to conſider what was proper to be done. Perfectly convinced from the porter's endeavouring [Page 21] to ſhut me out, that he muſt be a party concerned, I determined to write to my maſter, and beg him to ſtand my friend and leaſt a warrant ſhould be iſſued to apprehend me, to get off, the next morning, to ſome diſtance from London. When I was near the end of Oxford Road, I ordered the coachman to ſet me down, walked on about half a mile, went into a tavern and wrote a letter, of which the following is a copy:
I WILL not preface this letter with its cauſe; er'e this, you are too well acquainted with it, I am ſafe at preſent [Page 22] from any fear of danger or of being apprehended. From a declaration of Lord B's at Mrs. Duplex's, ſince I had the honour of being uſeful to Miſs Wildman, that he would take an opportunity to be revenged of me, and from ſome other circumſtances, I have reaſon to believe, that he way-laid me at your door; for, on my going out, a fellow, in a chairman's coat, with a tuck in his hand, endeavoured to lay hold of me. I beat his arm down with my cane, and with my foot thruſt him from the ſteps; at this inſtant two more fellows with bludgeons endeavoured to lay violent hands on me, the foremoſt I fired at and poſſibly may [Page 23] have killed, for I ſaw him fall. Attempting to return into the houſe, John, your porter, did all he could to prevent it, by forcing the door againſt me; I ſucceeded, however, contrary to his wiſhes, and from a conviction that he muſt, from ſuch conduct, have been privy to the deſign againſt me, I knocked the ſcoundrel down with my piſtol. If he lived to riſe again, you will probably, by having him before a magiſtrate, come at the bottom of this dark affair; I truſt you will do it, not only in juſtice to yourſelf and the world; but to your unfortunate, but reſpectful humble ſervant,
I thought of writing to Miſs Wildman, according to my promiſe; but, dropped it, leſt my letter ſhould have been intercepted by her father; and as I knew ſhe would be made acquainted with my ſituation from what I had written to him. I walked into the Strand with this letter and thence diſpatched a chairman with it to Berkley Square. This done, I found my mind at eaſe, went into a coffee-houſe, got me ſome refreſhment [Page 25] reconnoitred the depth of my purſe, which contained rather better than three guineas, and went out, about ten o'clock, in queſt of a lodging; which, in order to elude all ſearch, I determined ſhould be in one of thoſe houſes, in the narrow part of St. Giles's, where vagrants are taken in at two-pence a night. I ſoon found out ſuch a lodging, and that my dreſs might create no ſuſpicion, I turned my coat wrong ſide outwards, looſened the knees of my breeches, ſlouched my hat, rolled myſelf in the kennel, and affected to be in liquor. It anſwered all the purpoſes I wiſhed, and I was ſhewn up to a bed, without [Page 26] ſheets, where ſome poor wretch was already lain and faſt ſleep. I was no ſooner in the room, than the man, who ſhewed me up-ſtairs, aſked me for two-pence for my lodging, locked the door upon me, and told me, when I roſe and choſe to be let out, to ring the bell. He left me no candle, and all the light I had was from a lamp on the ſtair-caſe, that gave light within the room, by a little window over the door. I could not find out by that light what kind of a perſon my bed-fellow was, but I examined his cloaths, and, by the beſt conjecture I could make, ſuppoſed him to be a labouring man. His breeches were leather, but exceedingly [Page 27] greaſy, and neither ſtrings nor buckles at the knees; his waiſtcoat had been ſcarlet, but it had but one flap and four buttons, and his coat was originally what is called a thickſet, but out at the elbows; his hat round, but grown brown with age, and his ſtockings blue worſted, but full of darns; they were, however, tolerably well mended and pretty clean. I tried on the coat and waiſtcoat and found they fitted me well enough. The reader will perhaps wonder at all this; but, when I tell him my deſign, he will wonder no longer. My plan was to riſe before he waked and change cloaths with him, that I might get into the country, in ſuch [Page 28] diſguiſe without fear of interruption. As I was not much diſpoſed for ſleep, I ſurveyed my room, and found the furniture conſiſted of a broken chair or two, a table with three legs, an old ſtove in the fire-place, with a ſhovel and poker chained to the chimney, perhaps, leſt a lodger ſhould be pleaſed to make free with them; and leſt we ſhould carry away the blankets was the reaſon, I preſume, of our being locked in. Bad as the bed was, I laid me down upon it, but could not get a wink of ſleep; therefore, when I heard the watchman cry four, my companion being ſtill ſnoring, I dreſſed myſelf in his cloaths, except his ſhoes, and inſtead [Page 29] of four pence half penny and a little tobacco which I found in his pocket, I left the poor devil half a crown, and flattered myſelf he would not be unhappy at the change; for though diſtreſſed at my own ſituation, I could not but feel for his. I next cut my hair ſhort in the poll, with a knife, I had in my pocket, and pulled it over my forehead; and could I have ſeen myſelf, I have no doubt but I ſhould have ſtarted at my own figure. When completely dreſſed, I rung the bell, and was let out, the chamberlain turning the key upon the man I had left aſleep. The fellow ſaid nothing to me, nor I to him, and I walked off as compoſed, as if I had nothing to trouble me.
[Page 30] It being rather a cold morning, I walked haſtily towards Hyde-Park corner, without any thing about me of value, except, my piſtols, my cane, my buckles, my ring, my ſhirt and my pocket handkerchief, and about three pounds in money. I was preſently overtaken by the Exeter coach, and got up into the baſket.
IT being very cold upon the road, I found the want of a great coat much, and at the inn where the coach breakfaſted, I got luckily equipped with one. On my ſaying in the kitchen I felt the weather cold, and would gladly give my ſhoe buckles, which were ſilver and faſhionable; in exchange for a great coat, a gentleman's [Page 32] ſervant by the fire-ſide, embraced the propoſal, ſaid, ‘he had a good livery coat to diſpoſe of, blue with a white cape, which he thought would fit me, and if I liked it, he would ſwap with me.’ He fetched down the coat from above, being a lodger in the houſe, the bargain was immediately ſtruck, and he gave me the coat and his metal buckles in exchange for mine: I put it on an inſtantly forgot my ſituation; ſo much happineſs does a little degree of comfort create. The only thing I noticed worth remarking at this houſe was, that ſome of the coach gentry had found fault with the tea, and deſired freſh might [Page 33] be brought; but the girl put the fame into a freſh canniſter, and carried it in again, at which they were pleaſed. On my ſmiling at this, ſhe told me, ‘ſhe often did ſo, for travellers ſeldom knew good tea from bad, or good wine from bad; that they found fault frequently for the ſake of finding fault, and thought by calling about them to give themſelves conſequence; that ſhe had lived long enough in an inn to know their trim; and always turned the tables upon them; and if at any time they diſliked the tea or the wine, ſhe carried in the ſame again in a freſh canniſter, or changed [Page 34] the other for a freſh bottle of the ſame wine, and it was immediately praiſed with a 'This is ſomething like!' Why had not you brought us this before?’ The ridiculouſneſs of ſuch conduct will be better diſplayed by the following anecdote, to which I was a witneſs, at a place of entertainment in the neighbourhood of London. ‘Three or four military gentlemen, who affected to be judges of wine, had called for a bottle of Liſbon. The firſt who taſted it, ſaid, it was pricked, and aſked the opinion of the reſt. One who boaſted in a ſuperior knowledge of wines, ſaid 'let me taſte it,' and having taken half a [Page 35] glaſs, worked it about in his mouth and ſpit it out on the floor, with a 'pricked!' Zounds, 'tis ſour. In ſhort, they all agreed it was d-mned bad, and not fit to be drank. The waiter was called, and, aſſerting it to be Liſbon and ſuch as no gentleman had ever diſliked, he was ordered to ſend his maſter; the waiter having told his maſter the complaint, the maſter aſſured the gentlemen that it was good Liſbon, that he gave the beſt price for his wines, and was ſorry they diſapproved of it. 'Zounds, fellow,' ſays one, 'do you ſuppoſe we have neither taſte nor judgment?' [Page 36] Taſte it yourſelf.' The maſter taſted it—told the gentlemen, he was ſorry for the accident—it was a miſtake of the waiter, who had brought them Old Hock inſtead of Liſbon, but he would change it for them immediately. They looked round upon each other with a ridiculous ſurpriſe at their own ignorance, and replied, 'Hock is it?—Well, if it be Hock, you may leave it;' and were thus contented to pay ſeven ſhillings, for what they would not give half a crown for before.’—But, to purſue the thread of my ſtory.
[Page 37] AT the end of the firſt day's journey, I quitted the coach, and determined to travel on foot. Having loaded my piſtols, in order to ſecure the little money I had, I, the next day, broke out of the high road, to croſs a part of the New Foreſt in Hampſhire, as undetermined as when I firſt ſet out which way to proceed; and I had ſcarce walked a mile from the town where I lay, but I was accoſted by two men in tattered garments, having clubbed ſticks in their hands, with ‘Which way are you going, my boy?’ My beard was of four days growth, and I looked as rough, and as uncouth as either of them. I told them ‘I [Page 38] was a ſtranger to the country, and hardly knew which way I was going.’ "Come then," ſays one of them ‘let's ſee what you are made of; turn out your pockets.’ On this I threw open my great coat and took one of my piſtols in my hand, and they ſtarted back; not expecting, I apprehend, to find me armed. "Harkee, my friends," ſays I, preſenting the piſtol at them ‘I am one of the deſperate ones, and have more need of protection than to be rifled. I am flying from the world, and if you can point out to me any haunt in this foreſt, where I can be concealed for ſome time, you will render. [Page 39] yourſelves of uſe to me and you may poſſibly find your account in it; but if you act treacherouſly and attempt to deceive me, I will, by the L—d, lodge the contents of theſe piſtols within you.’ ‘Will you be one of us?’ ſay he, who accoſted me firſt. ‘What are you?’ relied I. ‘We are, returned he, part of a company who dwell in this foreſt, and lead a very eaſy, undiſturbed life—we are ſworn friends to each other, and live by marauding.’ ‘That is to ſay,’ retorted I, ‘you are a gang of raſcals.’ But, checking myſelf for the aſperity of the term; for there are raſcals in [Page 40] every walk of life, from the firſt miniſter of ſtate to the beggar in St. Giles's, and to upbraid them with their conduct, is but to wage war with mankind; (beſides, its the polite only, and the witty that can bear raillery.) "Come," ſaid I, ‘my lads, I don't mean to affront you. You may be as great in your way, as the beſt of men are in theirs; you, perhaps, act but as the reſt of the world; that is, do no right, take no wrong, keep what you get, and get what you can; plunder thoſe only who have not heart to give, live an independent life upon the fat of the land, and [Page 41] kill your own mutton.’ ‘Come, lead on, I'll ſee your company.’—‘But, we muſt know,’ ſays one of them, ‘what likelihood there is of your continuing with us; and that you will not betray us?’ ‘My poverty,’ replied I, ‘is the beſt ſecurity for my not quitting an eaſy independent life, and as I ſhall be but one, among many, if I prove treacherous, piſtol me.’ ‘Agreed,’—ſaid they, ‘give us your hand;’ ‘and d-mn me, ’ ſays one of theſe fellows to the other, ‘if our ruler wont be glad to have him among us!’ with that he pulled out of his pocket a ſmall bottle of gin, and aſked me ‘if I would have a ſup.’ I drank with them as a [Page 42] ratification of the covenant between us, and then followed them. They informed me, that their company conſiſted of ſeventeen ſtout men, between twenty years of age and fifty, and that it was of many years ſtanding; that ſometimes they have been more in number, ſometimes leſs, as now and then one of them died, and now and then would one of them fall into the hands of juſtice, and they loſt him; that they were well known throughout the whole foreſt, and were conſidered by the inhabiants as a neceſſary evil; as, for one lawleſs crime they committed, they prevented many. Not putting the greateſt confidence in theſe my new [Page 43] friends, I made them rather walk before me, telling them, ‘that as we became better acquainted, I, probably, ſhould not be ſo miſtruſtful.’ They took what I ſaid in good part; and told me, ‘they thought we ſhould reach their place of rendezvous by the hour of meeting, which was eleven o'clock.’ They led me through many intricate and by-paths, and I obſerved, that though we paſſed ſeveral foreſters, none took any more notice of us, than merely looking back upon us after we had paſſed them. One perſon we met, indeed, ſtopped and told us, his hen-rooſt had been robbed the night before, and [Page 44] aſked the man, whoſe name was Nim, whether he had heard any thing of it; he aſſured him, he had not; for, I found, on converſing with them, that they ſuffered no plunder in the place, if they could help it, but what they committed themſelves. "As for ourſelves," ſays Nim, ‘we act with generoſity, and never take, but from thoſe who can afford to loſe.’ I obſerved to them, ‘it would be happy for this country, if all men could boaſt the ſame; for it was the misfortune of the wretched ever to be the prey of the rapacious.’ "By G-d, Nim," ſays Trig; for that was the name of the other honourable [Page 45] ſcoundrel, I had been pleaſed to take by the hand; ‘this ſeems to be a good fellow, he muſt be our ruler next year;’ (and to this mark of their approbation I made a bow of acknowledgement.) They told me, ‘that one of the company was annually choſen ruler by a majority of the reſt.’
As we travelled on, they were very deſirous of knowing my hiſtory, and what led me to withdraw myſelf from the world; ſuch adventurous parts of my ſtory, as I thought would raiſe me in their opinion, I made them acquainted with, under a feigned name; but [Page 46] every other circumſtance I carefully concealed. When I had ended my own ſtory, I begged to know theirs.
NIM told me, he had been rider to a notorious ſmuggler, in the county of Suſſex, who amaſſed a conſiderable ſum of money by leaguing with the Cuſtom-houſe officers; for, ſays he, though theſe men are appointed by government to look after and guard the revenue, they are the greateſt villains in the world. They betray their truſt, and ſerve themſelves at the expence of the ſtate.—"But herein," returned I, ‘they do no more than other great men of the age are [Page 47] accuſtomed to.’—"True," continued he, ‘I don't at all blame them. Every man for himſelf, and God for us all.’ On my deſiring to know ſome of the methods he purſued, Nim gave me the following account.
‘SMUGGLERS fin it their intereſt to bring ſuch articles into this country as bear a heavy duty.’ ‘Tobacco-ſtalks, for example,’ ſays he, ‘are a fine article of commerce in this way. The firſt coſt of a ton weight of theſe ſtalks at Dunkirk, is not more than about forty ſhillings, and the duty being near forty-eight [Page 48] pounds, they wil ſell to he Spaniſh cutters in London, who convert them into ſnuff, for fifty pounds a ton. Here then is a fine profit; if we can diſpoſe of them for forty pounds, admit the firſt coſt and expences amount to five pounds, the ſmuggler gains thirty-five pounds. Now this thirty-five pounds enables him to bribe the Cuſtom-houſe officers in the neighbourhood where they are landed; they are made up in half hundred bags for the convenience of carriage by the coaches and machines, and the officers will paſs forty of theſe packages, that is, a ton weight, for forty ſhillings.’—If [Page 49] the importer wiſhes to ſmuggle in a larger quantity of ſtalks at a time, than one or two tons, and carry them to any conſiderable diſtance from their landing, he ſometimes gets an officer to ſeize them, and mark them with the broad R; and if, under this falſe ſeizure, the goods reach the deſtined place unobſerved, the officer has ſo much percent; if they are noticed, in their way, by any other officer, not in the confederacy, they are carried to the Cuſtomhouſe, and the officer gives to the ſmuggling importer that moiety of their value, that falls to his lot for ſeizing them.—So that, admitting a ton weight of ſuch tobacco ſtalks, [Page 50] at the Cuſtom-houſe ſale, ſhall fetch no more than forty pounds; twenty of this is the property of the ſeizer, and being by him tranſferred to the ſmuggler, he gets twenty pounds for what coſt him perhaps leſs than five. Was this diſcovered, the officer would loſe his place; but what is his place (thirty-five or forty pounds a year, which a man can earn at day-labour) in competition with the ſums they hazard ſuch a place for? 'Tis the ſame with tea and other articles; —brandy is ſmuggled in ſmall tubs of four or five gallons each, and tea in oilſkin bags of fifty-ſix pounds weight per bag. Twenty, thirty, [Page 51] or forty of theſe tubs or bags, are ſtrung together by cords, with ſtones fixed to them in order to ſink them—thus prepared, the ſmuggler runs this boat up into a creek or river, and having noticed the place, by land and other marks, throws the goods overboard, where they lie concealed from ſight, and ready to be grappled up again, at a more convenient time.
I HAVE been at this word often, and was thought as complete a ſmuggler as any in the country. Many a time have I left Dunkirk in an open boat of three or four tons [Page 52] burthen, and been off the Eſſex, Kent, or Suſſex coaſts, in the middle of a dark night, waiting for ſignals from the ſhore, to give notice for landing; but this has been when we choſe to ſave the money to tidewaiters and Cuſtom-houſe officers. —I followed this way of life a long time, but being afterwards out-lawed, I offered myſelf to the ſociety to which I now belong, who ſubſiſt, in a great meaſure, by warring againſt the ſmugglers, and as I was thought acquainted with their practices, and of courſe a good acquiſition, they accepted my ſervices, and I have been in the brotherhood theſe four years.
[Page 53] ON my inquiring what he meant by being rider to a ſmuggler, he told me, that a body of daring, reſolute men, were appointed by the importers to tranſport the articles they landed, from one town to another; that they rode in troops from ſixty to one hundred in number, bidding defiance to all law and oppoſition; that they conveyed their tea and brandy with them openly in the face of day, each horſe carrying his rider and three hundred pounds weight; that for this hazardous enterprize they were paid one guinea a week each, and ſeven ſhillings a day travelling expences; and that it was no wonder the revenue [Page 54] ſuffered ſo much as two millions of pounds annually, when ſmuggling had arrived to ſuch a pitch, as that ſhips of force carrying twenty guns, were employed to bring merchandize from Flanders, and ſuch bodies of men were hired to covey it from place to place, when on ſhore.
As we were now ſo near the place of rendezvous, Trig had not time to let me into his hiſtory, but promiſed it at a future opportunity. A very ſhort time brought us up with the company, having travelled as I conceived, about ſeven miles from the high road. They ſeemed to be [Page 55] all met, and ſuch a ſet of banditti I had never ſeen aſſembled before. They were ſeated on the ground, in a ring, within a glade in the thickeſt part of the foreſt, and as a circular trench was dug out within this ring, to let down their legs as they ſat, the ground before them ſerved them for a table, which was raiſed above the level of their ſeats by the earth thrown out of the trench: before each man were placed his wallet and his weapons of defence, among which I diſeovered a carbine or two, two or three pair of ruſty piſtols, a few old cutlaſſes, and each man had a bludgeon beſides. On my arrival at this place, my companions [Page 56] introduced me to the ruler, as one that wiſhed to be of the company; whoſe honour and attachment (for theſe were their own words) they could venture to anſwer for. "Gentlemen, ſays I," addreſſing myſelf to the body, ‘you ſee here before you, a man, who, though young in life, has ſeen enough of the world to be ſick of it; and who will be happy to find a retreat among you. I am a ſtranger to fear, and equal to any thing conſiſtent with prudence. I preſume you are governed by ſome laws of your own, and you will find me a ſtrict obſerver of them. What [Page 57] the majority of this company dare propoſe, I think I dare undertake; and if conducted with ſpirit, will almoſt anſwer for the event.’ This ſpeech ſeemed to meet with general applauſe, and I took my ſeat at the board among the reſt. On enquiry I found they were a parcel of villains that deſerved a halter, and as I paſſed by a fictitious name, and did not boaſt of greater virtue than the reſt, I was conſidered in no better light.
As ſoon as I was ſeated, the ruler, who did not want for ſenſe, addreſſed me in the following terms. ‘You have been introduced here by [Page 58] our noble and worthy friends, Nim and Trig, and I truſt you are not inſenſible of the dignity of a ſeat among us.—Whatever opinion you may entertain of this company, I venture to aſſert that we are all honourable men:— Men above any abject meanneſs. Like the nobles and rulers of the land, we live, indeed, by plunder, but it is the plunder of the villain, and ſuch as are enemies to the community we belong to. Is it not juſt to take from the oppreſſor, and make him refund the wages of peculation? Does not the ſtate benefit by forfeits and eſcheats, by ſines and confiſcations? [Page 59] And if it be lawful to take from a villain his property in any caſe, it is equally lawful to do it in all caſes; for neceſſity cannot juſtify a bad act. The lower a ſcoundrel is kept, the leſs power he has of doing harm; if, therefore, we confine our plunder and depredations to the griping, the uſurious and the lawleſs; far from acting wrong, we are doing what is right. We live here, my friend, ſecluded from a wicked world, happy in a well regulated ſociety; protectors of the diſtreſſed, and a terror only to the man of rapacity and the ſmuggler. If we now and then break in upon the equitable [Page 60] doctrine of mine and thine, it ariſes only from an error in judgment, of falſe information; as it frequently happens at the boards of cuſtom and exciſe, where they too frequently authorize oppreſſion upon fimilar pleas of excuſe. Often has a Cuſtom-houſe officer ſeized a man's property, that has paid the legal duties, merely becauſe the time of the permit, by which he is allowed to remove it, has expired a few hours: and what is this better than robbing on the highway? At the worſt, we act but in conformity with the reſt of the world, where the longeſt arm ever puts in a claim for [Page 61] the largeſt ſhare. It is the cuſtom of ſtate rulers to enrich themſelves at the expence of the community, and to ſtick at nothing that will add either to their pleaſure or convenience; but I diſclaim ſuch conduct. I enjoy no privilegus but in common-with the reſt, except that of leading them on occaſionally in deſperate adventures; and, as to excluſive benefits, I have none; nor do I wiſh for any. The plunder I acquire is ever ſhared among the company; more happy in having acquired it, than in any diviſion that may fall to my ſhare.—In ſhort, my friend, whilſt you think [Page 62] proper to continue with us, you will partake equally in every thing we poſſeſs, and if you now and then get ſome hard blows, you will have the ſtatisfaction of ſuffering in a noble cauſe.’
I AM almoſt aſhamed to own it, but I continued in this ſociety near two years, and gave ſuch univerſal ſatisfaction, that in three months after my joining it, I was unanimouſly choſen their ruler; and I perſuade myſelf from ſome [Page 63] falutary regulations I propoſed and carried, that I placed the company on a more reſpectable footing than it had ever been before. We acted ſometimes in a body, and ſometimes by detachments, and ſo ſcoured the whole foreſt, as to keep it tolerably honeſt. We were at conſtant war with the ſmugglers, robbed them whenever we had an opportunity, and in ſo doing became uſeful members to the ſtate. It was a rule of mine, and which I believe was invariably attended to, never to commit any depredations but on ſuſpected people, on the griping and avaritious, and ſuch perſons as ſtudied to be troubleſome to us. If we had [Page 64] notice of any robbery committed within the foreſt, we never reſted till we had ferreted the villain out, or given him into the hands of juſtice; ſo that we had often preſents for ſuch ſervices; and if we were at any time charged with picking up a bag of tea, an anchor of brandy, a ſtraggling ſheep, or a wild turkey, that might have been the property of a ſmuggler, a griping farmer, or the like, it was generally winked at, and thought no more than what they deſerved to loſe. A preſent from any of the inhabitants of a toothleſs ſheep, an old ſow, a keg of gin or beer, or a caſt ſuit of cloaths, was ſure to be rewarded [Page 65] with protection for ſome months afterwards; ſo that in fact, we had the whole foreſt under contribution. We lived almoſt in the open air: we had, indeed, two or three mud cabins in one part of the foreſt; but, in the ſummer, we ſtept chiefly under hay ſtacks, dry banks, cart-lodges, and ſuch other ſhelter; and in winter, the farmers, upon aſking leave, would, through fear, ſuffer us to ſleep a night or two in their empty out-houſes or barns, and very often give us refreſhment in the morning. Before I joined the party, I believe they would occaſionally take a purſe upon a byeroad, (witneſs the attempt that was made upon me,) and would ſometimes [Page 66] ſtretch to other enormities; but there was no money collected during my time, except, perhaps, in the way of deceit, ſuch as feigning diſtreſs and exciting the compaſſion of travelling ſtrangers; nor, do I believe that any of the party proceeded to lengths, that would have amounted to more than a petty larceny.
OUR captain or ruler being the cleverſt and beſt informed fellow of the whole gang, and having a genteel carriage, I was deſirous of knowing his hiſtory; and one day when the party was upon the ſcout, and we two left alone, at my requeſt, he gave me the following account of himſelf.
Who my mother was, I cannot ſay, but the perſon who called himſelf my father, was a ſheriff's officer, who got pretty ſnugly into life, by plundering the wretched, and preying upon the oppreſſed. When I was at an age to remember any thing concerning him, he had a woman lived with him who paſſed for my mother-in-law; but it is a doubt with me, whether every they were married. However, be that as it may, they lived together as man and wife. The common public room of our houſe, was a miſerable dungeon, under ground, calculated to convey an idea of horror, [Page 69] that men who had lived tolerably in the world, and who on an action for debt, were unfortunate enough to fall into his hands, might loath the very ſight of the place, and be glad to give him five ſhillings a week to be admitted into a better room. We had one upſtairs, that would contain twenty perſsons, and it was generally full at five ſhillings a head; this with half a guinea a week, for half a bed, and two ſhillings and ſixpence a day from each, for a wretched breakfaſt and a worſe dinner, put a conſiderable deal of money into my father's pocket: but this was not the only mode [Page 70] he had of gaining money. Sheriff's officers give ſecurity always for their truſt, ſo that if they ſerve a writ, and let the priſoner go at large, after he is once arreſted, they are liable to pay the debt: 'tis on this account they will make fifty excuſes rather than ſerve a writ in the preſence of the attorney or the plaintiff; but when there is no prying eye upon their conduct, they will often, on receiving a preſent of a guinea or two, ſuffer their priſoners to go and look for their bail themſelves; and ſhould they, when at liberty, not keep their word, and attend the officer at [Page 71] the time appointed, he will tell the paintiff or his attorney, that he never was able to meet with the defendant. In this ſchool, the receptacle of a variety of wretchedneſs, was I brought up till I was nineteen years old, and if I was born with any natural feelings, they were here quite eradicated. I was taught to load an unhappy wretch with additional miſery, and rob him of every little degree of comfort he might poſſeſs, in order to make him pine for relief, which relief was never afforded but at an exorbitant price. We had a licence for ſelling wine; but that wine was ſo [Page 72] poor and ſo ſour, that it required ſomething ſtronger always to qualify it; and, if a priſoner wiſhed to ſend out for brandy or ſtrong beer, we always exacted as much for fetching it, as the liquor was worth. I ſhould have continued with my father, he deſigning me to be one of his followers, but my mother-in-law led me ſuch a weary life, that one day when my father was out, I opened his bureau, made free with about twenty pounds of his ill-gotten wealth, and decamped; and of courſe, never durſt ſee his face again.
[Page 73] ‘I HAD ſenſe enough, with theſe twenty pounds to equip myſelf with neceſſary cloaths, and by an application to a regiſter-office, got me a place; a character for which, coſt me no leſs than a guinea. As a Sheriff's officer has always bail at hand, to give ſecurity to an action, at a price proportionable to the debt the priſoner is arreſted for, ſo theſe keepers of regiſter-offices, have always a houſe-keeper or two ready to give a character to thoſe who want one, and are enabled to purchaſe it. The price of a written character is a crown; that of a verbal one, by one of theſe [Page 74] friends, a guinea. It was a guinea, however, well laid out, and I did not grudge it. It procured me a place at a tea-dealer's in Bond-ſtreet, to open and ſhut up ſhop, carray out parcels, and do other things. My maſter, from dealing with women of faſhion, had acquired a ſmoothneſs of tongue ſufficient to deceive the devil, and he found it of great uſe to him. If any woman came to his ſhop in a coach, or on foot with a ſervant behind her, whether titled or not, ſhe was always a lady, and during her ſtay, the word ladyſhip was ſeldom out of his mouth. He [Page 75] would ſtand all day dreſſed at his ſhop door, when he had no cuſtomers within, and bow to every carriage that paſſed; and whilſt he was at dinner, he expected me to be dreſſed, and to bow for him.’ ‘Why didn't you bow to that coach,’ ‘ſaid he to me, one day warmly? I told him it was empty,’—‘what's that to the purpoſe you blockhead,’ returns he? ‘Always bow to a coronet full or empty.’ ‘And he profited by this plan; for he had a world of buſineſs, and was ſuppoſed to be a monied man. I was in the ſhop one day, when a lady accuſtomed to [Page 74] [...] [Page 75] [...] [Page 76] drink twenty ſhilling tea, came in and aſked to ſee ſome of his beſt Hyſon. He ſhewed her a canniſter at eighteen ſhillings a pound. She took it to the light, ſmelt it, taſted it, rubbed it in the palm of her hand, ſmelt it again, and enquired if he had no better; he aſſured her ladyſhip, there was no better to be bounght, and perhaps he ſpoke the truth; for all tea-dealers mix their teas, as wine merchants adulterate their wine and ſpirits. They make Hyſon of all prices, from ten ſhillings to eighteen, by mixing it with what is called Bloom, or common green; then [Page 77] again they dye it and ſcent it; a few drops of Bergamot, &c. thrown into a pound of Souchong, is ſold for Cowſlip, or a tea of a ſuperior nature; and as I generally had a hand in theſe adulterations, I can take upon me to ſay, I believe the tea my maſter ſhewed this lady, was as genuine as any ſhe could have met with. But, it would not do;’ ‘Better,’ ‘ſays ſhe,’ ‘Mr. Congo, is certainly to be bought, for I drink better every day, though 'tis true I give more money for it. If you have no better, I am ſorry for the trouble I have given you.’ ‘On her leaving the ſhop, he replied,’ ‘ [Page 78] if your ladyſhip does not object to price, I have a peculiar kind at thirty-ſix ſhillings a pound, which I defy the whole town to equal.’ ‘Thirty-ſix ſhillings!’ ‘exclaimed ſhe, returning,’ ‘I never heard of ſuch a price,—it muſt be a curioſity!—Pray let me ſee it.’ ‘He then reached down another canniſter of the ſame tea, and ſhe, examining it with ſome attention, cries,’ ‘this to be ſure is conſiderably better; but the price amazes me.—Why did'nt you ſhew me this at firſt? Weigh me out two pounds, and if I like it, I will ſend for more.’ ‘Thus did this fanciful woman [Page 79] pay thirty-ſix ſhillings a pound for tea, which ſhe might have had for eighteen. But 'tis the way with theſe ladies; not knowing the value or price of commodities, they are taken in by almoſt every tradeſman they deal with. So that with all the parade of prying, looking over, examining, enquiring, cheapening, and ſo on, they will give fifty per cent more than other people. Knowing nothing beyond the line of life they are in, they rate the goodneſs of every thing by its price, and conceive a lowpriced article to be nought but traſh. Goods within their knowledge, [Page 80] they will go far a-foot to purchaſe. City traders unuſed to deal with ſuch perſons, will not often take advantage of their ignorance. They will not aſk fifteen ſhillings for a purſe at a coach door, which they will ſell for half the money to a cuſtomer on foot. There are ſome ladies ſhrewd enough to know this; and yet theſe, inſtead of going in their own carriage, will pay four ſhillings for a hackney coach, to ſave two-pence a yard on a dozen yards of ribband. In a word, they owe all this to their pride, their vanity and parade; they will go a ſhopping as they [Page 81] call it, morning after morning, tumble over a great variety of goods, give a great deal of trouble, and not buy; and often when they do buy, they will not pay for years. Were perſons of fortune to act conſiſtently, they would ſoon find their account in it; but whilſt they go on as they do, they muſt not be ſurpriſed at any thing they meet with.’[Page 82]
‘THERE is not the leaſt doubt of it,’ returns he; ‘three fourths of the white wine drank in this kingdom, are compoſitions put together here, and made palatable by a liquor they call flavour; and as to Port, what is generally drank, is a mixture of malt-ſpirits, red wine and turnip-juice *;—for [Page 83] the whole kingdom of Portugal could not furniſh half the quantity here conſumed. But to return,’ ſays he, ‘to my ſtory.’
I SHOULD have continued with Mr. Congo longer, but I happened one day, to let the cat out of the bag, by telling my maſter, inadvertently before the exciſeman, who happened to be in the ſhop, that a bag of tea which he had ſtowed away in the cellar, was burſt, and a good deal of the tea ſhed. For there is not a teadealer in town or country, but what ſmuggles more or leſs. They are to conceal no exciſeable [Page 84] goods from the inſpection of the exciſeman, and this idle expreſſion of mine, not only coſt him a ſilencing fee of twenty guineas to ſteer clear of the Exchequer, but it loſt me my place.
I APPLIED again to a regiſter-office, and was next in the ſervice of Mr. Porcelain, a chinaman in St. James's Street. This maſter, like my laſt, had little to do but with women of faſhion, and gave me an opportunity of ſeeing a little more of their folly. He had originally been a Welch drover, was a man of low cunning, and where he picked up his knowledge [Page 85] in china, I know not, but he was reckoned, a connoiſſeur, and became the ſtandard of taſte in this branch of trade. Poſſeſſed of the moſt beautiful and valuable collection in town, his ſhop was the morning ſaunter of thoſeladies whoſe fancy took that turn. His mode of keeping up this collection, was by culling the china cloſets of women of quality in a very artful and deſigning way. His plan was to find out what ladies had the beſt collection, and whenever they came to his ſhop, he gave them to underſtand, that he took china in exchange, and poſſibly they might have a few odd [Page 86] articles, of little value to them, but which when aſſorted with other pieces, which he might find amongſt his lumber, might be worth ſomething. This generally procured him acceſs to the cloſet: beſides, there are few collectors of china, but (like collectors of natural curioſities) are fond of diſplaying their collections before thoſe who are eſteemed virtuoſos.
‘HE was one day in lady Betty Soft's cloſet, when a pair of old vaſes of uncommon beauty ſtruck him. But, he was ſilent. She ſhewed him every thing in turn; [Page 87] and aſked his opinion of it. He did not fail to praiſe moſt things of little value, and depreciate many of intrinſic worth; but declared he had not ſeen upon the whole a more valuable collection any where, and that her Ladyſhip, ſhewed herſelf a woman of uncommon taſte. There was nothing, he ſaid, throughout the cloſet, that arraigned that taſte, but thoſe vulgar vaſes in the corner, which he would adviſe her ladyſhip to put upon the mantlepiece in her nurſery.’ ‘Nurſery,’ ſays ſhe, ‘Mr. Porcelain? they will ſoon be of no value there, and they coſt me a great [Page 88] deal of money.’ ‘Then your ladyſhip was impoſed on, returned he.’ ‘ You had better take them then,’ replied lady Betty, ‘with theſe odd articles we have picked out.’ ‘They were of little worth’ he ſaid, ‘by themſelves but along with other things, he would allow her ladyſhip ſomething for them. He accordingly took them away with him; and was no ſooner gone, than her ladyſhip's maid was rung for, and made acquainted with the buſineſs of the morning.’ ‘Porcelain, the china-man,’ ſays ſhe, ‘has been here, and thoſe vaſes, which you and others have ſo much admired, I find are trumpery [Page 89] things.’ ‘Who told your ladyſhip ſo?’ replies the maid. ‘Porcelain himſelf;’ returns ſhe, ‘he declared they were the moſt paltry things in nature, and a diſgrace to my cloſet; and he has taken them away.’ ‘Taken them away!’ exclaims Bridget, ‘ſure, my lady, you would not ſuffer yourſelf to be cheated in that ſtyle; he has under-valued them merely to get them into his own clutches, and will ſell them as great rarities.’—‘Aye!’ ſays lady Betty, ‘then ſend Thomas after him immediately, and let him bring them back.’ ‘Thomas was inſtantly diſpatched, but Porcelain, on his reaching home ordered [Page 90] me to carry them up to the top of the houſe; and on being told the man's errand,’ ‘cried out, how very unfortunate! I had no ſooner brought them and ſet them down upon my counter, but a gentleman, who came in at that inſtand, aſked the price of that ordinary pair of vaſes, and I have ſold them to him for a ſong.’ ‘Run, Will,’ ſays he, to me, ‘down that ſtreet, you may poſſibly overtake him—in a ſcarlet gold-laced waiſtcoat—he has not been out of the ſhop five minutes.’ ‘I ſet off as he ordered me—but the vaſes were irrecoverable. And three months afterwards, with ſome additional [Page 91] painted ornaments to diſguiſe them, they added to his ſtock of china, and were rated as antiques.’‘ON my ſmiling at the idea of his painting it a-freſh, he told me, it was a practice with him. He had been known to ſell a whole ſervice of white china painted and varniſhed over, for that which is burnt in, and when a dinner has been ſerved up in it, the ſteam of the diſhes has obliterated the painting, and all the figures have vaniſhed.’
[Page 92] ‘He uſed to ſurvey his cuſtomers from head to foot, and aſk a price according to their appearance.’ ‘What ſhall I give you,’ ſays a lady, one day, to him ‘for that ſet of Dreſden china?’ ‘It was Chelſea, but as ſhe took it for Dreſden, he aſked a Dreſden price, (twenty guineas) and it was purchaſed. In a few weeks afterwards, her friends infomed her it was Chelſea.’ She accordingly flew to him ‘and wondered how he could preſume, to ſell her that ſet of Chelſea china for Dreſden.’ ‘I never ſold it for Dreſden,’ returns he; ‘your ladyſhip aſked me, what I would have for that ſet of [Page 93] Dreſden china. I thought you had been a judge of china by your buying it up ſo. Had it been Dreſden, it ſhould not have gone for forty pieces. But, if your ladyſhip diſlikes it, you are welcome to change it for any thing elſe.’ ‘Diſappointed, ſhe looked round and fixed upon a couple of jars worth about ten pounds, which he valued at thirty; but, to make her ladyſhip amends, he would only take of her five guineas, beſides the breakfaſt ſet. The bargain was ſtruck, the jars put into the coach, and her ladyſhip no ſooner from the door, than he turned round to me, hugging [Page 94] himſelf in his adroitneſs, with a 'By G-d, one of the jars is cracked.'’
‘THIS puts me in mind of a ſtory, I have ſome where met with. A cane-ſeller in London, ſold a gentleman a cane for five guineas, and to a ſecond, the ſame kind of cane for ten, telling him it was a unique, and there was not ſuch another in the kingdom; theſe two happiening to meet, and the laſt upon an examination of the two canes, conceiving himſelf impoſed on, went to the perſon of whom he bought it, and rated him upon the ſubject; but he had ſufficient [Page 95] addreſs to reconcile his cuſtomer to the purchaſe; who implicitly believed what the ſeller told him.’ ‘It is a great miſfortune, Sir,’ ſays he, ‘that you are unacquainted with the great value of that cane. I have been looking out for you every day, expecting you would have called to have thanked me for letting you into ſo good a purchaſe on ſuch eaſy terms.’ ‘I have examined the two canes,’ replied the gentleman, ‘and ſee no difference.’ ‘ Difference! exclaimed the ſeller,’—‘all the difference in the world—the one I ſold for five guineas, is merely jam-bee; [Page 94] [...] [Page 95] [...] [Page 96] whereas your's is a jam-beau. ’
‘SUCH a man was my ſecond maſter; and you may ſuppoſe, that under the roof of two ſuch artful inſtructors, I muſt certainly have improved. I learned a good deal before I left home; but acquired a further degree of knowledge under Mr. Congo and Mr. Porcelain. I fell in ſo much with my maſter's natural diſpoſition, that he began to like me; but an accident here alſo deprived me of my place. Our ſhop was ſeldom kept open after five [Page 97] o'clock, ſo that I had a good deal of time upon my hands;—ſome of my evenings I, uſed to ſpend at a ſpouting club in the neighbourhood; where, though a very bad ſpeaker, I got ſuch a rage for declamation, that I was always repeating ſome paſſages or other, whenever I, had opportunity. When I ſpent my evenings at home, I uſed to entertain the maids with my theatrical abilities. One of theſe, Suſan, a ſimple country wench, was mightily taken with my ſpeeches. I have ranted away Hotſpur, till ſhe has, with her mouth open, been as ſtiff, and as motionleſs as a ſtatue. But one [Page 98] evening, when I was in ſpirits, I gave them a few paſſages out of Alexander the Great, and I had worked myſelf up to ſuch a pitch, in the ſcene with Clytus, that when I was to kill him, in a paroxiſm of rage, I kicked down the table, forgetting that my maſter was overhead. This made ſuch a clatter, that the bell was rung, and, Suſan went up, ſcarce recovered from that frigidity of horror, my murderous tongue at firſt had thrown her into.’ ‘What's all that d—mned racked below?’ ſays my maſter— ‘Nothing, Sir,’ ſays ſhe, ‘but Alexander has juſt killed Clyphus.’ ‘If he goes on in this [Page 99] way,’ returns my maſter, ‘I ſhall have him in one of his fits, dealing death among the china, and do me twenty pounds worth of miſchief.’—‘Upon this I was diſcharged.’
HE replied, ‘from what he could learn from his acquaintance who were in the ſervice of others, that tradeſmen, ſhow their [Page 100] worſt goods and oldeſt patterns firſt, particularly ſilk-mercers, linen and woollen-drapers, haberdaſhers, and the like; that they have particular lights in their ſhops to give them a falſe appearance; that they pretend to examine the goods narrowly, to make the buyer ſuppoſe they would not deceive him, aſk more than the thing is worth to allow for abating, crib a little in the quantity or meaſure, and then reach their ſcales to weight the money they receive. In ſhort, that there is not a trade or profeſſion but what has its myſteries and arts of defrauding; that men open their ſhops, ſet out their goods every morning to impoſe [Page 101] upon their cuſtomers, and chearfully ſhut them up again at night, after having cheated all the day, like the woman who after talking all the ſcandal ſhe can, wipes her mouth and ſays ſhe has done no harm.’
‘SINCE then,’ continued he, ‘as whatever is, is right, and theſe men with whom I had lived were doing ſo well in the world by a little artifice and fineſſe, I was unhappy I could not ſtrike out into ſome way of life myſelf that would raiſe me above the ſituation of a ſervant. However, thought I, as there is a tide in the fortune of [Page 102] all men, I will wait with patience. Something may turn up unexpectedly.’
‘I PRESENTLY,’ continued he, ‘got another place, which was to wait upon a young gentleman, who lived upon an allowance from his father. The old man, was a widower, had been very low bred, but was fortunately in the poſſeſſion of a good eſtate, which he ſquandered away in a very [Page 104] extraordinary manner. He was immoderately fond of farming, and fancied he had a talent, which few men poſſeſſed, that of improving land to the higheſt degree of luxuriancy. He was of opinion, that, of all men, he who made two blades of graſs grow, where only one grew before, was the moſt uſeful in ſociety. Under this idea, he took farms in moſt parts of the kingdom, though he had not ſufficient to ſtock them; he neither ploughed nor ſowed, but laid down all the land he could in graſs, and what he could not lay down properly, he ſuffered nature to lay down for him with [Page 105] ſcutch graſs, thiſtles and docks. Though he was a ſenſible and ſhrewd man in other reſpects, he was a madman in farming, and would almoſt deprive himſelf of neceſſaries, to lay it out upon land, which yielded him little or no return. The fineſt crops of graſs and clover he has ſuffered to rot on the ground; under a notion of feeding the land. Nay, he has been known to ſow his graſs lands with carrot and turnip ſeed, and on being aſked his reaſon for it;’ replied, ‘graſs land could not be too full of ſeeds.’ ‘He has filled a barn with potatoes, waſhed and piled away at a great expence, [Page 106] and ſuffered them to ſtand there and grow through the thatch. I mention all this, to convince you there could be no harm in robbing ſuch a man, for the ſake of his ſon, whom he had brought up a gentleman, and whom, whilſt poſſeſſing a large fortune, he would ſcarce allow ſufficient to exiſt on. I really pitied my young maſter, who was an only child, from my heart, and uſed to plead his cauſe with the old gentleman often, but could ſeldom extort any thing from him. However, one day, when I had been about a year in the family, I contrived to get a little of his caſh: [Page 107] he had juſt received a debt of four hundred pounds, and was coming into the room where I and my maſter were.—I gave my maſter the wink and he left us; and the old gentleman, having the bag in his hand, ſhut to the door; but did not ſee that I was in the room.’ ‘This is a ſtrange age we live in,’ ſaid he to himſelf, ‘I know not what to make of it. Never was there a greater fondneſs for money, nor ſo much difficulty in getting one's own. Debts now-a-days, are like children, begot with pleaſure, but brought forth with pain; however I have no need to complain, having juſt received four hundred [Page 108] pounds, that has been owing to me two years, and it will go a great way towards ſtocking Littlecot farm.—So, Mr. Raſcal,’ continues he, ſeeing me and hurrying the bag into his coat-pocket!—‘Raſcal, Sir!’ returns I, ‘I am ſure I dont deſerve that name.’ ‘Yes, raſcal,’ ſays he, ‘you are the ruin of my ſon. You may tell him I am very angry with him.’ ‘With my maſter, Sir?’ replies I, ‘Indeed, you are not the only one who complains of him; his conduct is grown ſo abominable of late, that it drives me beyond all patience.’ ‘Indeed!’ ſays the old man, ‘why, I thought you and he [Page 109] were perfectly agreed.’ ‘Me, Sir?’ returns I, affecting unhappineſs at his ſon's conduct, ‘far from it; I preach to him too much, for that; I am ſure, I am always putting him in mind of the duty he owes to you and to himſelf. Why, we are every moment at daggers drawing.—He can't bear I ſhould tell him how ill he behaves to you.’ ‘And do you quarrel with him for this?’ ſays he, ‘That I do, and pretty handſomely too,’ returned I. ‘I have been under a great miſtake then,’ ſays he, ‘for I always underſtood that you encouraged him in his extravagance and diſobedience.’ ‘Ah, [Page 110] Sir,’ exclaimed I, ‘ſee how innocence is often ſlandered and oppreſſed! Sir, if I may be believed, was you to pay me for being his governor, I could not ſay more to him than I do, to make him behave more ſoberly and diſcreetly;’ ‘Sir,’ ſays I to him very often, ‘in the name of goodneſs, don't be carried away thus with every wind that blows, obſerve a more prudent carriage, and conſider the worthy gentleman your father, who is depriving himſelf of neceſſaries to ſave and get money for you.’ ‘The old man ſeemed to chuckle at this, and coming up to me, I made an attempt to pick his [Page 111] pocket of the bag; but not ſucceeding, I went on.’— ‘And no longer break his poor heart with your behaviour, but take up and live as he does with reputation and honour.’ ‘Here I made another attempt and ſucceeded.’ ‘Why, that was well ſaid,’ replied the old gentleman. ‘And what anſwer does he make?’ ‘Anſwer?’ ſays I, ‘A pack of ſtuff that almoſt makes me mad; not, but to ſay the truth, he retains in his heart the ſeeds of honour and virtue, you have there ſown. But, alas, his reaſon has no longer any power over him! However, Sir, I hope I ſhall be able to bring him over at laſt.’ ‘ [Page 112] Do ſo, my good lad,’ ‘returns the old man, altering his voice to a ſofter tone than when he called me raſcal,’ ‘Do, and you will find me your friend.—When you ſee him next—be ſure you ſay as many fine things of me as you can?’ ‘Let me alone, Sir,’ ſays I, ‘for that; I'll do the buſineſs, never fear.’ ‘At this he was going to quit the room; but returned as recollecting himſelf, with,’ ‘Lord, lord, how forgetful I am! I proteſt I was going away, without ſo much as thanking you for your good ſervices. Stay.—I'll give thee ſomething to remember me, and began [Page 113] to feel for his bag: frighted out of my wits, leſt he ſhould miſs it, I caught hold of his hand, with Not a farthing, Sir. He, on the contrary, ſeeming determined to gratify men,’ cried out, ‘I inſiſt upon it; but I would not quit my hold; and declared he ſhould not, ſaying I was not one of thoſe ſelfiſh perſons who act only from intereſt.’ ‘I know that,’ ſays he, ‘but ſtill’—‘carrying his hand towards his pocket; but as I had not quitted him, I pulled it rather forcibly the other way and addreſſed him warmly, with’ ‘I muſt deſire, Sir, you will deſiſt; I am a man of honour and any farther offers of this [Page 114] nature will affront me.’ ‘At this he gave it up,’ ‘but ſuppoſe,’ ſays he, ‘you was to carry my ſon a little preſent, perhaps, that may lead him to think you his friend?’ ‘By no means, Sir,’ returned I, ‘ſtill frightened leſt he ſhould miſs his bag.’ ‘Keep your money. It will look too much like a bribe.—If I ſee occaſion, I can but aſk you.’ ‘Well then,’ ſays he, ‘be it ſo.’—‘But be ſure ply him well, and leave no ſtone unturned to bring him over, and I ſhall ever value you,’ ‘At this he left the room, and me almoſt out of breath for fear. As ſoon as he was gone, I took fifty [Page 115] guineas out of the bag for myſelf, for I think I deſerved it, and carried the reſt to my young maſter, telling him how I got it. He ſeemed very thankful and gave me ten pieces for my cleverneſs; for, ſaid he, he was ſure it was no ſin to take it from him, as it would otherwiſe have been thrown away upon a barren ſoil.’
‘A few hours after, whilſt my young maſter and I were together, the old gentleman joined us, and ſeemed to be in a very ſurly mood. What are you two laying your heads together about? —No good I warrant you.’ ‘ [Page 116] And I hope, no harm Sir,’ ſays his ſon. ‘That's more,’ returns he, ‘than I know.’ ‘I'm ſorry, ſays I, to ſee you ſo much out of humour, Sir.’ ‘Peace, raſcal,’ cries he, ‘or I'll lay my cane over you.— Sorrow's but poor comfort to a man that's loſt his purſe.’ ‘Have you really loſt it?’ ‘Says my young maſter;’ ‘yes blockhead,’ returns his father, ‘I have really loſt it. —Have you found it?’ ‘I wiſh I had,’ ſays the ſon. ‘The devil doubts you,’ returns the father. ‘If you had, I ſhould never ſee it again’ ‘Had it fallen into my maſter's hands,’ ſays I, ‘I'll be anſwerable it would have been returned [Page 117] untouched.’ ‘Yes, yes,’ replies he, ‘rogues are always ready to anſwer for one another. I wiſh you would anſwer for yourſelf; it was whilſt I was liſtening to you, ſcoundrel, or ſoon after, that I loſt it; it was picked out of my coat-pocket, or I muſt have pulled it out with my handkerchief.’ ‘Pulled it out with your handkerchief moſt likely Sir,’ returned I: ‘what kind of purſe was it?’ ‘That I ſuppoſe,’ ſays he, ‘you would be glad to know; no, no; I have no other mark to claim it by.’ ‘On my telling him it might fall in my way to recover it for him, if he [Page 118] would deſcribe it to me, he ſeemed to liſten to me, and deſired his ſon to leave us together. As ſoon as he was gone, he began to addreſs me in ſofter terms, and ſaid, his baſtard's extravagant courſe of life, often put him out of humour, and led him to ſay things he did not wiſh to ſay.’ ‘Upon the whole,’ ſays he, ‘my good fellow, I have ſecretly conſidered you as a faithful honeſt lad; and would a few hours ago, have given you a ſmall teſtimony of my good opinion, but your confounded ſcruples, would not ſuffer me. I beg I may do it now.’ ‘At this he gave me a [Page 119] couple of guineas,’ ‘and, if you can,’ ſays he, ‘by any means recover my money for me, I'll be a friend to you as long as I live.’ ‘You are ſenſible, Sir,’ replied I, ‘if it is poſſible to be recovered, it cannot be done without great trouble and ſome expence. What reward are you willing to give the finder?’ ‘Hah? Reward?’ ‘ſays he, ſtarting at the very idea,— ſuppoſe you offer a few guineas,— you may go as far as five. ’—‘I aſked him what was the ſum he loſt.’ ‘Four hundred pounds,’ ‘ſays he. And can you think cried I, of offering ſo ſmall a reward? That would undo us quite, the meanneſs of the offer [Page 120] would prevent its being returned, in order to puniſh you.—Five, indeed, in hand, as a part of fifty more, if returned—nothing like generoſity in theſe caſes. Was it not a canvas bag: at the word’ ‘ canvas, he ſeemed tranſported, I thought he would have kiſſed me.’ ‘Yes, a canvas bag, I ſee, my dear fellow,’ ſays he, ‘you do know ſomething of it.’ ‘I told him, that I did hear ſuch a bag was found by a pooriſh man, but little imagined it was his; ſo probably if this man could be found, what with perſuaſions, threats, promiſes, and good words, it might be recovered.’ ‘Nothing more likely,’ ſays [Page 121] he,—‘Do then, my good lad, ſet about it immediately, for no time ſhould be loſt.’—‘But, Sir,’ ‘returned I, the ſearch of this man wil be attended with ſome expence, and you know, Sir, I am not in a ſituation to give you credit.’ ‘Upon which he gave me three guineas.’ ‘Three guineas!’ exclaimed I, ‘what is three guineas? I can't think of looking mean in this affair, purely for your ſake,’ ‘this drew from him two pieces more; then’ ‘Sir, there's drink-money, that got another guinea,—meſſengers to one place—this a guinea more —diſpatches to another—Bribes [Page 122] to one—huſh-money to another.’ ‘S'death, ſays the old man,’ ‘who gave me more and more for every purpoſe;’ ‘I'll give no more unleſs its brought me:’ ‘but, Sir, ſays I, you forget the five pieces as a reward in hand.’ ‘Zounds,’ ‘ſays he, at this rate, you'll pick my pocket of every guinea I have.’—‘Well, having got about twenty guineas from him, I promiſed him to do my beſt; but on my leaving him, he directed me to count the money and ſee the gold was all weight, and that none of it was changed.’
[Page 123] I ASKED him if he returned the bag of money. ‘Not a ſhilling,’ ſays he. ‘The fifty I took, I had too many uſes for, and the remainder, which I gave my young maſter, I believe, did not continue with him long enough even to know how much he had. He never counted his money; he judged of the quantity only by the time if laſted.’
WITH this fifty pounds I determined to ſet up for myſelf, accordingly I quitted my place, and hearing of an orphan young lady of ſeventeen years of age, who was heireſs to a fortune of ſix thouſand a year, one thouſand of which ſhe enjoyed durher minority, and who lived with [Page 125] an aunt at the weſt end of the town; I determined to make a bold puſh, and try if I could not carry her; with this view I equipped myſelf with a ſuit or two of genteel cloaths, and paſſed for a gentleman. Having found out the houſe where ſhe lived, I frequently walked under the window, with the hopes of ſeeing her, and, at laſt I ſaw one whom I took to be her, and ſhe was as pretty, as ſhe was rich. My next ſtep was, if poſſible, to get acceſs to her. For this purpoſe, I went to a public-houſe in the neighbourhood, addreſſed myſelf to a chairman I there found, and [Page 126] made many enquiries reſpecting the family, particularly where they viſited, and where they reſided in the country: all this I learnt; this done, I contrived to get to the ear of ſome of the ſervants, which I likewiſe effected. The chairman to whom I firſt applied, told me, that the footman and coachman uſed that houſe, and were generally there in an evening between tea-time and ſupper. At this hour I went, and was introduced to them. I took the footman apart, gave him to underſtand I was a gentleman and a man of family and fortune; that accident had thrown me into [Page 127] the way of his young miſtreſs and I wiſhed to be better acquainted with her; and if he would aſſiſt me in ſo doing, I would endeavour to be his friend, and as an earneſt of that friendſhip I tipped him half a guinea: he promiſed me all the aſſiſtance in his power, and told me, that both ſhe and her aunt were to be at the play the next day, having a couple of box tickets for a benefit. This intelligence was every thing I could wiſh. I was at the theatre the ſame night, procured admiſſion into the ſame box, and had the happineſs to be particularly noticed by her; for I ſet cloſe by [Page 128] her ſide. When the play was over, I handed her to her carriage, and politely took my leave. The day following, I found out the footman again, and made enquiries reſpecting the lady's maid. He aſſured me, ſhe was an open-hearted girl, and did not doubt, but ſhe would favour my views. I wiſhed very much to ſee her; and he promiſed to aſk her to give me a meeting. An opportunity ſoon occurred for that purpoſe; the footman brought me word the next day, that his young miſtreſs and her aunt, went out an airing every morning about twelve, and that if I would go to the houſe in their abſence, he had made [Page 129] their porter acquainted with my wiſhes, and he would let Miſs's maid know when I was there. I took the firſt opportunity of going, and ſaw the coach drive from the door. A tete-a-tete ſoon took place between me and the maid, whom I made alſo my friend by a preſent of five guineas. She promiſed to plead my cauſe with her young miſtreſs, and did it effectually. An interview was appointed, and I was to meet her in Kenſington Gardens. On the day fixed, ſhe promiſed to be there with her maid, who, on my coming up, retired. I had now an opportunity of preſſing my ſuit, and I did it with as much warmth, as if [Page 130] I had been really in love. I told her a thouſand lies ſo paſſionately, that the poor little credulous thing believed them all, and at parting promiſed to meet me again the firſt opportunity. The ice being now broken, through the means of this ſervant, we carried on a correſpondence for near a month, when I was given to underſtand, that the family was retiring to their ſeat in Hampſhire."
THIS buſineſs was expenſive, but thinking myſelf ſure of my prize, I obtained goods upon credit, and pawned them as ſoon as [Page 131] delivered; by this means, I was enabled to keep up appearances. I followed Miſs into the country, where under a pretence of taking a walk, I had frequent opportunities of being with her, unnoticed by her aunt. The ſervants I took care to keep in my intereſt. She agreed at laſt to give me her hand, and it was propoſed that we ſhould ſet off for Scotland, and that her maid ſhould accompany us. Having thus brought things to a criſis; and finding ſhe was poſſeſſed of ſome very valuable diamonds, I adviſed her by all means to take thoſe with her, as ſhe could not [Page 132] think of returning home, and it was impoſſible to make a proper appearance without them: ſhe acquieſced with this propoſal, and the day was fixed for her elopement; but as the devil would have it, and accident happened that overthrew all I had been about.
‘THERE being at the houſe I was at, an evening club, where the neighbours uſed to meet, ſmoke their pipes and fettle the affairs of adminiſtration; having been admitted among them, I paſſed my time rather agreeably than otherwiſe. One of the party was an [Page 133] elderly tradeſman, lately married to a ſmart young woman, whom I had once or twice ſeen, and was much taken with; but he was ſo much under petticoat government, that ſhe uſed to fetch him home at night at a regular hour. He had been often rallied on this head, and was ſo greatly aſhamed of it, that, under a promiſe not to ſtay longer than eleven, ſhe agreed to go to bed before him. Like other babblers, who often lay open their own affairs unaſked, and frequently to their prejudice; he gave us to underſtand, ſhe was too jealous to ſuffer the maid to fit up for [Page 134] him, and that as the door would not unlock on the outſide, it was left upon the latch. On being aſked whether ſhe left a light.’ ‘A light?’ Says he, ‘no.—Our houſe is not ſo large, but I can find my way up into my room without a light; we lay but on the one pair of ſtairs, over the ſhop.’ ‘I was determined he ſhould one day pay dear for this communication, and concerted it with the reſt of the company, to keep him from home beyond his uſual hour, to ſee whether his wife would come the next night to fetch him. Accordingly, in the courſe of converſation, talking [Page 135] of the uxoriouſneſs of huſbands, I put my gentleman upon the metal, and offered to lay him a bet of two guineas, that he durſt not ſtay out that night till half after twelve. From an opinion that his wife would be aſleep, and not know the hour of his return, he took the bet, and when the clock ſtruck eleven, was exceeding good company. About twenty minutes after, I took a French leave, went over to his houſe, lifted the latch, and without much difficulty, found my way into the chamber over the ſhop. All was quiet, and the fair one aſleep. Having undreſſed [Page 136] myſelf at the ſtair head without the door, I ſtole into the room, and the reader may ſuppoſe I was not long before I was between the ſheets. I had but little time, and was determined to make the beſt uſe of it. She ſoon waked and ſpoke to me, but found me not diſpoſed to anſwer. However, whether ſhe was able in the dark, to diſtinguiſh between her huſband and me, or any way diſcovered the cheat, I know not; but this I know, ſhe was as kind to me as I could wiſh.—When I found her compoſed, I began to retire, but ſhe ſoon miſſed me from the [Page 137] bed, and hearing me fumbling at the door, and I not anſwering her when ſhe ſpoke, ſuſpecting I ſuppoſe, ſome trick had been played her, ſhe roſe with great anger, ſeized me by the arm before I could get away, alarmed the houſe, and I was unfortunately diſcovered. I was however, ſuffered to dreſs myſelf and return to my quarters.’
THIS affair made a great noiſe in the village, and preſently reached the manſion. The young lady I was to accompany to Scotland, took offence at my conduct; and I could never get to ſee her again. [Page 138] Other reaſons might co-operate againſt me, but I could not learn what they were. I wrote one or two letters to her, but all to no purpoſe. The family preſently left the country, and I heard of her no more: it was a fortunate event for her, but a d—n'd unlucky one for me.
The injured huſband determined to proſecute me for violating the honour of hs wife; but the lawyers could not well adviſe him how to proceed. Some propoſed indicting me capitally for Burglary; lifting a latch and entering [Page 139] a dwelling houſe by night, if done with a felonious intent, being a ſpecies of that crime; but as the wife was conſenting to the act it could not be felony, of courſe, not burglary. The ſame argument prevented its being deemed a rape. Others were for indicting me for grand larcency or ſtealing privately from the perſon; but what did I ſteal? Nothing but her conſent. This not being any thing that could in fact be carried away, the idea of proceeding on that ſtatute fell to the ground. Actions of treſpaſs, ſeduction, &c. were then propoſed; [Page 140] but the whole centered at laſt in a proſecution for crim. con.
BUT this being more than I could ſtand, I thought it better to decamp; and wiſhing, as you did, to hide myſelf for a while, I made a propoſal to this company to join them, and they admitted me among them.
IN this ſavage ſtate, though I could boaſt of few indulgencies, the life I led was orderly, and free from embarraſſments. There was a ſtrict diſcipline kept up among us, and a dread of being impeached [Page 141] kept the unruly in awe; for had an information been laid by any individual of the gang againſt his comrades, the neighbouring magiſtrates would never have noticed it; whereas an impeachment by the whole gang of any individual, would have been ſufficient to have called out a warrant againſt him; ſo much was our company conſidered as a neceſſary evil. At our general meetings, each of us, by turns, was the cook for the day, till the laſt year of my time, when we took in three young women among us, one of whom, by the general voice, as ruler, was to be ſacred to me, and the other two were in common among us all. [Page 142] They all proved pregnant before I quitted the company, and though I did not continue long enough to ſee how they got over the difficulty, I underſtood they meant either to drop their baſtards in ſome diſtant pariſh, lay them at the doors of ſome gentlemen's houſes, or ſwear them to perſons that had been their common diſturbers. However, as I doubted the fidelity of my lady, I was not very uneaſy about what became of her burthen. An event happened that determined me to quit the connexion, and when it took place I left my right in her to my ſucceſſor.
[Page 143] INFORMATION had been given us, that in a part of the foreſt, concealed under ground, a body of ſmugglers had ſtowed a conſiderable quantity of brandy and other things; we found it out, and the booty conſiſted of 300 anchors of brandy, 200 half anchors of gin, and 25 bags of tea, containing 50 lb. each. This being lodged at a neighbouring cuſtom houſe, it was condemned and ſolf, and our part of the money amounted to 540 l. which, ſhared among eighteen was 30l. a man: thinking I ſhould never meet with a better opportunity of equipping myſelf for a more reſpectable employ, when in poſſeſſion of the caſh, I took [Page 144] a French leave of my companions, and never have heard any thing of them ſince.
It was in the ſummer time when I quitted the foreſt, and the firſt place I retired to was Lymington, where I ſtaid long enough to get myſelf new dreſſed. It is almoſt inconceivable to think how I laboured to reconcile my paſt conduct with what is equitable and right. I have often thought, that it is with diffioulty that men who have been brought up religiouſly, and with liberal notions, fall away from an honeſt courſe of life; I felt myſelf hurt at that I was juſt emerged [Page 145] from, and endeavoured to convince myſelf, that I was not ſo bad, as the world may ſuppoſe me, from the account I have here given. I began with reflecting, that fear had driven me from one ſociety, and that like a hunted animal I took ſhelter in the firſt place that offered: that I no ſooner became a member of the company I have deſcribed, but I laboured to reclaim them, and flatter myſelf that I in a great meaſure ſucceeded; from villains of the firſt denomination, I reduced them to ſcoundrels of the ſecond, made them rather ſerviceable to the community than otherwiſe, and had they followed the example I pointed out by [Page 146] my own conduct, they might have ſeparated and become honeſt men: I conſidered that unlike bad ſtateſmen, bad citizens of every claſs, who are a ſcourge to all men, we only were a ſcourge to the obnoxious; and that if the neceſſities of a ſtate can authorize and render eqitable the general plunder of our enemy, both by ſea and land, we did no more, though in a narrower ſcale; we plundered only the enemies of the Cuſtoms, of the fair dealer, and of ſociety. In a word, if I acted wrong, or an unequitable part in life, I took the firſt opportunity to relinquiſh it, and I [Page 147] wiſh every one could lay their hand upon their heart and ſay the ſame.
I will finiſh this chapter with a ſtriking anecdote on the ſubject. A merchant of London was ſtopped on the highway by a man whom he ſoon diſcovered to have been once his ſervant. Inſtead of delivering his purſe as he was ordered, he began to reaſon with the robber. ‘Good God, Thomas, could I have ſuppoſed that you woudl have taken to this courſe of life; you whom I always imagined ſtrictly honeſt?’—‘Come, come, ſir,’ replied the highwayman, ‘ [Page 148] bad an I am, I'm as honeſt as you. Have not you employed your whole thoughts, time and fortune in fitting and ſending out privateers to plunder the French, and other countries: and what is this but robbing on the high way?’—‘As different,’ ſays the merchant, ‘as Light and day, for we have declared war againſt the French.’ ‘If that be all the diſtinction,’ retorts the robber; ‘I have declared war againſt all mankind.—Therefore give me your money, or by God I'll blow your brains out.’—The only difference between you and me, ſaid a pirate to Alexander the Great, [Page 149] who upbraided him with piracy, is, that I commit hoſtilities with a ſingle ſhips, you with a whole fleet.
IN this great length of time, it may naturally be expected, that I ſhould have thought ſomething of Miſs Wildman, and have been anxious to have known the determination of the jury, reſpecting the death of the man I ſhot, if I really had killed him; but, as in the courſe of the laſt chapter, I was unwilling [Page 151] to interrupt my narrative, I will tell the reader now, that ſcarce a day paſſed, but ſhe was uppermoſt in my thoughts; her ring had never been off my finger, and I often kiſſed it with fervency, with the pleaſing remembrance of the donor, and the animated huopes of calling her, one day, mine. Being out of the way of all information, and never having ſeen a newſpaper, I was totally in the dark reſpecting the tranfaction that occaſioned my flight. In no public-houſe could I find papers ſo far back, and I was afraid to make any enquiry. Being now, however, in the world again, I though proper to write to her, to [Page 152] let her knwo I was alive. The following is a copy of what I wrote.
MY DEAR MISS WILDMAN,
I am ſtill in the land of the living, in good health, and in as good ſpiritis, as ſo long an abſence from you will admit of; your ring, that pledge of your conſtancy, has never been off my finger; of courſe, you have never been out of my mind. A fear of embarraſſments, in conſequence of the event, on the evening of the day I laſt ſaw you, drove me from London, and indeed has ſo far driven me from the world, that I am totally, ignorant of its reſult; [Page 153] and of courſe, it keeps me ſtill at a diſtance from you. I would be more particular in this letter, was I ſure it would fall into no other hands but yours; but, till I am convinced of this, expect nothing from me, but an aſſurance of the continuance of that affection, I have ſo many times profeſſed.
The invincible and invariable attachment of your G—Berkley-ſquare, London.
[Page 154] I WENT over to Southampton purpoſely to put this letter into the poſt; and a fortnight after, when I had reaſon to expect an anſwer, I ſent frequently to Saliſbury to enquire for any letter ſo addreſſed, and was every time diſappointed; ſo that I concluded, it muſt either have been intercepted, or that ſhe had proved unfaithful; the laſt I was unwilling to ſuppoſe, but till I had an opportunity of making ſome enquiries, I gave up the idea of writing again.
HAVING dreſſed myſelf anew, and my hair being grown to its uſual length; I called myſelf Henry [Page 155] Savage, alluding to the life I had lately led, and was ready again for any employ I could procure. On my informing the taylor who made my cloaths, that I wiſhed for a place; he told me, that Dr. Bolus, a phyſician at Saliſbury, wanted a ſervant, and that he thought I ſhould ſuit him. I accordingly, with the taylor's recommendation, applied to this gentleman, and was taken into his family as a footman. This maſter of mine, this ſon of Eſculapius, had not been regularly bred as a phyſician, but ſerved his time as an apothecary in the north of England. Having, however, failed as a diſpenſer of drugs, and [Page 156] finding an opening in this city, by the death of Dr. Kill'em, who had practiced here thirty years; he writes down to a friend at Glaſgow, with a remittance of twenty guineas; and a diploma, for deſtroying mankind ſecundum artem was immediately diſpatched by the ſtage coach. With this faculty of poiſoning his Majeſty's liege ſubjects, he ſets up for a phyſician at Saliſbury, and endeavoured to acquire practice, not by any medical abilities, but by art and fineſſed. All this I gathered before I had been with him a fortnight. He was a little man, about fifty years of age; wore a pair of ſquare-toed ſhoes, his ſtockings rolled [Page 157] over his knees, a full trimmed coat with long ſkirts, and a full bottomed wig that reached to his rump; ſo different was he accoutred from the phyſicians of the preſent age, that you would ſuppoſe him to have riſen from the tombs. In ſhort, he was no body, for he was all wig and ſkirts, and in fact ſuch a piece of affectation, that I wondered any one employed him. But, he had withal a great deal of worldly cunning: and, in a communicative mood, one day told me, phyſic was a farce, and that it was aſtoniſhing the people were ſo taken in by it; that nature always did beſt when left to herſelf, and that a patient [Page 158] muſt be very ad indeed, to be in danger of dying, except when a phyſician is called in; that there are but three or four principal medicines in the whole materia medica of any real efficacy, and whoſe virtue almoſt every old woman is acquainted with; that a good tongue is of more uſe to a man in this profeſſion, than all the learning of the hoſpitals; that illneſs, in general, ſo affect the ſpirits, that a ſick perſon may be almoſt perſuaded to any thing, and that if a man knows but the art of concealing his ignorance, he may paſs for one of the firſt rate abilities. ‘Often have I given in fevers,’ ſays he, ‘too ſtrong [Page 159] a cathartic potion for the conſtitution of my patient, ſo as to excoriate his bowels and make him void blood; and having afterwards brought him round again by emollients, he has attributed his cure to ſuch ſupernatural avoidance, when in fact it has gone near to kill him; and from the ſame reaſoning, I often dread, that when I treat a diſorder right, where it fails of ſucceſs, I may be cenſured for my conduct; for, as when I have acted wrong, an ignorant patient has ſuppoſed it right; I may be conceived to have proceeded ill, [Page 160] when in fact I have done the beſt.’
‘WHAT all the world ſays muſt be true,’ is an old proverb, and the general opinion of practitioners in phyſic concurring in this point, is a corroboration of the fact. The following circumſtance did not a little ſtrengthen me in this conceit. Having been ſent to a neighbouring apothecary for a medicine that had been ordered; the maſter, who had left his boy in the ſhop to make it up, coming out of a back room, and going behind the counter to ſee if it was finiſhed, flew in a violent paſſion, and gave the boy a box on the ear, [Page 161] with ‘you young raſcal, I knew this would be the caſe;’ then addreſſing himſelf to me: ‘I told the ſcoundrel to make up a vomit, and he has made up a purge: ’ and on my obſerving, that had the one been ſent and adminiſtered inſtead of the other, the conſequences might have been fatal;—he anſwered coolly, ‘oh, no, not ſo much for that,—the woman it's for, was to have been purged in the morning, and whether ſhe is purged to night and vomited tomorrow; or vomited to night and purged to-morrow, is very immaterial;—I am only angry [Page 162] that the blockhead ſhould not have followed my directions.’
THE reader may wonder how I came to be ſo great a favourite, as to be let into the ſecrets of this profeſſion; but he muſt know that my maſter had penetration enough to diſcern, in a very little time, that I had received a much better education than himſelf, and that I might be of great uſe to him: with this view, he took me into his confidence, and one day aſked me, if I thought I could compile him a treatiſe on nervous fevers? I told him, that my medical knowledge was but little; but, that if he would [Page 163] put into my hands two or three books upon the ſubject, I was very ſure, that by twiſting them and blending them together, I could, as apothecaries do their drugs, make up a new compoſition, ſo different from the original materials, that it ſhould neither have the colour, the taſte, or the conſiſtency of either, and yet ſhould poſſeſs the inherent properties of them all.—I did this for him, he put his own name to it and publiſhed it; and I have the vanity to think, that he acquired no ſmall degree of reputation from it.
[Page 164] I wore a livery notwithſtanding; for, as he could not afford to keep more than one man ſervant, and as a livery was a neceſſary appendage to a phyſician, I was obliged to wear that livery. Many a one of this profeſſion has found it neceſſary to keep a chariot, who could not afford a joint of meat at his table. An equipage implies wealth; wealth is the conſequence of extenſive practice, and extenſive practice muſt denote great medical knowledge; therefore, according to the rules of logic, an equipage denotes great medical knowledge and is, of courſe, an eſſential appendage to the character of a phyſician.
[Page 165] ANOTHER artifice my maſter made uſe of to give him conſequence in the town, was to be a member of the evening clubs, and my inſtructions were, before he had been twenty minutes at any one of them, to ſend for him out, with, ‘ſuch a lady is taken ſuddenly ill, and he muſt make all the haſte he can to be with her.’ He would apologize to his company for leaving them, explaining the neceſſity, and from this club he would go to another, where in twenty minutes more, I would call him away with a ſimilar tale, and he would then go to a third and ſo on; and as I took care to want him for ſome perſon [Page 166] of conſequence; it did him much credit in the opinion of his acquaintance, and helped him on conſiderably in his practice. Many a time have I run into church panting for breath, during the middle of ſervice, upon the ſame errand; and brought him from his knees in his moſt fervent devotions.
MY maſter found it neceſſary alſo to play into the hands of the apothecaries; they are always like the attornies to the counſellors, very good friends to the phyſicians. They have it in their power frequently to recommend whom they pleaſe, and when they have brought a patient [Page 167] pretty near to death's door, they are willing to transfer the honour of killing him to a more able practioner; they will then adviſe a phyſician to be called in, and in this caſe, generally recommend thoſe, who ſtudy moſt the intereſt of the apothecary. 'Tis on this account, a phyſician preſcribes freely and profuſely, and drenches the poor patient ſo immoderately, as if he meant to waſh away the evil ſpirit by a deluge of mixtures: ſo again, inſtead of ordering an emulſion, for example, in a pint bottle and two ſpoonfuls to be taken every three hours, for which at moſt the apothecary can charge but two ſhillings, [Page 168] the doctor orders the ſame quantity in draughts, which will make eight, and at one ſhilling each will pay the apothecary eight ſhillings inſtead of two.
BY theſe and ſuch like means, in a very few months, he had more buſineſs then he could attend to, and propoſed to me to viſit his poorer patients, for which I ſhould have half the fees. It will readily be ſuppoſed that I accepted the offer, and with the idea of ſtudying under him, and calling in his aſſiſtance if neceſſary, I had a great deal of employ. I learned his method of practice, which was moſtly to attend to nature, and [Page 169] aſſiſt her where it could be done. If a patient was inclined to ſweat, we ſweated him; if to purge, we purged him; if to vomit, we vomited him, and ſo on; and if, by encreaſing theſe evacuations too much, we ſometimes ſent one out of the world; yet, upon the whole, we ſaved a great many; and for thoſe whom we unfortunately loſt, we always found a friend on our ſide; for there is ſeldom a perſon dies that is ſo illbeloved, but there is ſome one belonging to him, that rejoices at his death, and is obliged to the phyſician for ſending him out of a troubleſome world: beſides, it is a phyſician's [Page 170] beſt comfort, that the dead cannot proſecute.
I HAD a ſuit of cloaths made up for the purpoſe, which I occaſionally put on; at other times, I appeared in livery; but, as my medical dreſs made a great alteration in my appearance, the deception was never diſcovered; eſpecially as I took care to put on a formal voice, with my formal dreſs.
NOTWITHSTANDING that thus I put a great deal of money in my pocket, I muſt own I had now and then my moments of remorſe: I was hurling [Page 171] about me firebrands, arrows and death; and on my intimating my ſcruples one day to my maſter, he rallied me out of them, with the following reaſoning. "Phyſicians," ſays he ‘have been long held as uſeful members to ſociety, and if he who deſtroys but five men in a community, does leſs injury to the ſtate, than he who deſtroys ten; then, he who deſtroys but five, is the moſt praiſe-worthy of the two: now, as it is univerſally allowed that phyſicians do take away more lives than they ſave, and we ſave more than we take away, it follows that we are the better men, and the more uſeful [Page 172] members of the ſtate.’ Though this argument would have admitted of debate, yet as few care to reaſon againſt their own intereſt, I ſubmitted to my maſter's ſuperior judgment, and continued my practice for a conſiderable time.
I WAS always very particular as to the ſtate of thoſe patients I attended; and, if I could do not good, I was as careful, as I could be, to do no harm. Though I knew little of pulſes, like other phyſicans, I went through all the parade, counted each ſtroke with attention, and generally quitted the wriſt with a ſignificant nod of ſelf-approbation. Sick [Page 173] perſons are generally frightened and ſeek for advice, when advice is not neceſſary; ſuch I would amuſe with a gilded pill made up of only common dough, or a ſaline draught, which, if they did no good, would do no harm; they would at leaſt leave the diſorder to itſelf, and give the patient a chance of recovery; whereas others will by medicines throw back their patients, in order to lengthen their attendance and encreaſe their fees: and I take merit to myſelf in this mode of practice, and am bold to ſay, was it more general, there would be a great decreaſe in the burials of this kingdom.
[Page 174] IT is allowed by ſenſible and diſpaſſionate men, that the modern practice of phyſic is a farce—a far greater number are deſtroyed by it than ſaved. ‘I thought, doctor, you was out of town,’ ſaid a man to his phyſician, ‘by the decreaſe of deaths in the laſt week's bills of mortality.’ Who enjoy a better ſtate of health in general, than the poor, who cannot fee a phyſician, or make it worth the apothecary's while to keep them long in hand? And could a fair compariſon be made, between the number of poor and rich that annually pay the debt of nature, it would certainly be found, that [Page 175] length of life is three to one in favour of the poor; notwithſtanding the labour; the hardſhips, and the riſks they are expoſed to. Temperance is their phyſician, and exerciſe their nurſe; and with an extra length of life, they enjoy whilſt they live, a greater degree of health.
HOWEVER Dr. Cadogan's doctrine may be exploded, I dare aſſert (and I ſpeak it from experience and obſervation) that intemperance deſtroys more than the ſword, even in time of war. I mean intemperance in eating rather than in drinking. We arraign the conduct of [Page 176] thoſe who drink to exceſs, and perhaps, becauſe we ſee its ill effects, whilſt we take little or no notice of thoſe who eat to a like exceſs; whereas in fact the glutton is a more ſordid wretch than the drunkard; and though intemperance in eating is not attended with that outward unſeemlineſs which accompanies exceſs of drinking, yet, the former incapacitates the man as much for buſineſs and devotion, as the latter. Conviviality, chearfulneſs, ſpirits, cordial warmth, may be excuſes for drinking more than ordinary, and if it intoxicates for a time, it corrects many diſorders brought on from accident, inattention to [Page 177] diet and other things, ſuch as flatulencies, crudities, &c. whereas immoderate eating, is attended with inactivity, heavineſs, ſtupor, and lethargy; not to mention the variety of diſorders it gives birth to, when we little expect it. Medical men, frequently preſcrible wine and cordials, which is exceſs drinking, asd reſtoratives; but, I believe, no one ever thought of adviſing a patient to over eat himſelf. In ſhort, gluttony is equally a ſin with drunkneſs; yet though there are more gluttons than drunkards, we ſeldom heart of man's being cenſured for the former.
[Page 178] Feaſting is now become a ſtudy, and through the whole proceſs, we proceed methodically and with attention. It having been found that when the ſpirits are up, we generally eat moſt *; care is taken to keep the ſpirits up, by [Page 179] company, by wine, by muſic; and when by theſe ſtimulants, we have almoſt eaten ourſelves into a ferver; coffee is introduced by way of ſedative or quieter of the ſyſtem. Soon after tea is brought forward, and leſt the tea ſhould prey upon the nerves of the unſtrung, we have a rectifier for this. Maraſchino or ſome other ſtrong cordial is handed round, and thus the ill effect of ſome things we eat is qualified or corrected by others. But to reſume my narrative.
WOULD men determine with themſelves to be as cautious in eating as they are in drinking; that is, [Page 180] riſe from table before they are to full, their intellects would be clear, their bodies active, and they would enjoy much better health than they do. Were we to eat only half the quantity we are accuſtomed to, in a few years, remedies for the gout, cachexy, inflammation, and the long train of diſorders arſing from indigeſtion, would be baniſhed from our diſpenſaries, and men would live longer by ten or fifteen years. It is almoſt incredible to think, how little will ſatisfy us. Lewis Cornaro, the Spaniard, lived one hundred and twenty years, and for the laſt ſixty years of his life, an egg ſerved him for three meals: but he drank a pint of ſmall wine every [Page 181] day. This man, from abftemiouſneſs in eating, was as active at ninety, as the generality of men are at forty. In ſhort, riſe from table with an appetite; never eat a thing that diſagrees with you, or cauſes heartburn; drink moderately, exerciſe freely; riſe early, and go to bed early, and you may ‘give phyſic to the dogs.’
WHILST I was in this town I fortunately met with a file of newſpapers, three or four years back, and ſearching for the occurrences of the time, when I had lived with Mr. Wildman, I diſcovered this paragraph. ‘The day before yeſterday the following accident happened [Page 182] in Berkley Square. Some villains diſguiſed as chairmen, armed with deadly weapons, having, at the inſtance of a man of faſhion, waylaid a gentleman's valet, with a view either of kindnapping him, or putting him to death, were fired at by the perſon they attempted to ſeize, and one of them was killed on the ſpot; the jury ſat upon the body and bought in their verdict, ſe deſendendo; or, that the perſon was killed in the ſelf-defence. The gentleman's porter was ſuppoſed to be a party concerned, and was committed to Tothilfields priſon.’ This gave me a ſatisfaction [Page 183] I knew not how to expreſs; it relieved me from any danger I might dread from the event, and determined me to reſume the name I had taken up on leaving my native place; but, as I was known in my great wig at Saliſbury, by the name of Dr. Savage, I thought proper to go by that name, whilſt I there continued. Many an enquiry did I make at the Poſt-Office, in hopes of one day receiving an anſwer from Miſs Wildman; but all to no purpoſe; and as I met with no one that knew any thing of the family, I was ſtill in a ſtate of ſuſpence.
[Page 184] WHILST I was in the ſervice of Dr. Bolus, which was upwards of two years, I became acquainted with the manager of a ſtrolling company, and from the account of the pleaſant way of life they led, and the encouragement I met with from this man to join them, I was induced to try my abilities upon the ſtage; and I was the more readily drawn into this attempt, from an unwillingneſs to commit any more murder.
INDEED, the following circumſtance turned the laugh ſo much againſt me, that I determined from that hour to quit the profeſſion. [Page 185] A gentleman in the neighbourhood, on having a ignorant ſervant, throught proper to give him the following directions. ‘It is an unpleaſant thing,’ ſays, he, ‘to be always directing. Every ſervant ſhould anticipate his maſter's wants, and not ſuffer him to call for things that he knows are neceſſary. If he is to ſhave, he ſhould not only bring the razors and the baſon, but the towel, the ſoap, and all the et-caeteras; if laying the cloth, he ſhould not forget the plates, the knives, the ſpoons, and all the decoraments of the table; if waiting at table, he ſhould know with what muſtard [Page 186] is eaten, with what, oil; with what, vinegar, pepper, and ſo on, and not ſuffer it to be aſked for, but hand it round in time. In ſhort, in whatever he is employed, he ſhould always remember and prepare the conſequences. ’ The ſervant liſtened with attention, and promiſed to obey his orders. This fellow had not been long in the houſe, before his maſter was taken ill, and he was ſent to call me to attend him. Remembering the directions he had received, he not only fetched me, but alſo the apothecary, the nurſe, the undertaker, and the grave-digger; and on his maſter's aſking the [Page 187] reaſon of it, replied, ‘The apothecary, Sir, is the conſequence of the phyſician, at leaſt, ſuch a phyſician as Dr. Savage; the nurſe, of the apothecary; the undertaker, of the nurſe; and the grave-digger is the natural conſequence of the whole; and as you enjoined me never to forget, but prepare the conſequences, I have brought them all.’—This ſtory got abroad, very much to our diſadvantage, and as the profeſſion I followed, was a ſervice of lying and deception, I hated myſelf on account of it.
[Page 188] THE conduct of the college of phyſicians, hath as much hurt the credit of the profeſſion as any thing in life; becauſe, they are authorized by an act of parliament to diſcountenance any pretenders to phyſic, and admit none to practiſe, but ſuch as have been regularly bred, and of courſe are ſuppoſed able to paſs a good examination, they take the liberty to call upon all thoſe who are not members of our two Engliſh univerſities, to take out a licence for the practice of phyſic. The expence of this licence is about eighty pounds, and the qualification required is a ſufficiency of medical knowledge, aſcertained by the candidate's [Page 189] paſſing an examination. No enquiry is made into the profeſſional abilities of thoſe who have taken a degree at Oxford or Cambridge, though of all blockheads theſe places turn out the moſt in number; but their enquiries ſeem directed againſt the ſtudents of the Dutch and Scotch ſeminaries, as if Leyden and Edinburgh had not given birth to as many able men, as Oxford and Cambridge. The inſtitution is a good one, but may be abuſed; the health of the people ought to be the principal object of the ſociety, and not their own intereſt; but when it is known that the late Dr. Rock of famous memory was a licentiate [Page 190] of the College of Phyſicians, it will be thought of little conſequence from whom the application comes, ſo that the eighty pounds are brought to diſcharge the fees. It may be. Dr. Rock or Dr. Laſt * A very learned friend of mine, a phyſician, whoſe medical abilities do honour to the profeſſion, but bred at Leyden, having been ſome time ſince called on by the College to take out a licence, on pain of being forbidden to act, ſpurned the very idea of purchaſing ſuch a licence, and ſent the College [Page 191] word, that he was willing to ſubmit to any examination they pleaſed to impoſe, and the more rigorous it was, the more agreeable it would be to him; and that if they did not find upon enquiry, that he had more medical knowledge than half the College put together, then he would ſubmit to their mandate, not to practiſe; but as to paying for their licence, (which he was not ambitious to receive), either eighty pounds or eighty pence, he would do neither; convinced, that the legiſlature, in inveſting them with that authority, meant only to protect the health of the people, and not fill the pockets of individuals. [Page 192] This ſpirited declaration had its effect; they dared not to call him forth to ſuch an examination, and I believe he ſtands alone, a practiſing phyſician in London, unlicenced by the College.
THAT they are a uſeleſs body of men combined, I apprehend is univerſally allowed; the following fact will bear me out in the aſſertion. A gentleman who had the honour to be phyſician to the late King, calling accidentally on a city friend, and enquiring after the family, was told, the miſtreſs of the houſe was juſt brought to bed of a dead child. Having but an indifferent opinion [Page 173] of men-midwives, to which the family was partial, he begged the father of the child to let him ſee the infant, and from what he ſaw, he was deſirous of ſeeing the ſurgeon that laid her, being convinced it had been deſtroyed in the birth. The man-midwife was ſent for, and on being privately aſked, how he came to commit ſo horrid a deed; his anſwer was, ‘He did at it the earneſt requeſt of the father.’ This piece of intelligence the Doctor communicated to a female friend, a midwife who attended the royal family, and who, in hopes of checking ſuch acts in future, commiſſioned him, to repreſent this ſtory, among others equally atrocious, to [Page 174] the college of phyſicians, and to offer the ſum of one thouſand pounds to that ſociety, in order to found a courſe of lectures on midwifery, to be annually read to female practitioners, provided they would patroniſe it: but, the college refuſed it; and, for this inattention to the lives and health of the public at large, they were ſeverely handled by the ſame phyſician, in a pamphlet, he ſoon after publiſhed, entitled, A petition of the unborn babes of England, to the cenſors of the college of phyſicians.
FROM all theſe circumſtances ſo prejudical to the character of the medical profeſſion, and from the [Page 175] deſpicable opinion I entertained of it, I was determined to withdraw myſelf from it; to throw off my great wig and live in future by the inſide of my head. I did not, however, acquaint my maſter with my reaſons, but left him under a pretence of bettering my ſituation.
THE company I was to join was not the beſt equipped in the world; the manager had met with misfortunes. In removing from Wincheſter to Saliſbury, the waggon conveying his wardrobe, ſcenery, &c. took fire from the dryneſs of the axle-trees, and deſtroyed his whole property. * and ſince this [Page 177] diſaſter, he had not been able to refit as before. He has come over to Saliſbury for a piece of water, a clound or two, and a few odd things, and was upon his return to Wincheſter when he engaged me. He would have had me have made my appearance in tragedy; but, as farce was my forte, and as a player generally acquits himſelf beſt, in a part to which he has been accuſtomed, I determined to come out in the Mock Doctor, and as the character I had played of Dr. Savage, had furniſhed me with a dreſs, and his wardrobe was ſmall, he the more readily conſented. I ſoon made myſelf maſter of the part, and wiſhed only for an opporunity of ſhewing him [Page 178] what I could do. But the time was not come; for, though we had got to Wincheſter, which was to be our ſcene of action, the company had not met.
IN the interim we had a great deal to do; we had not only our theatre to get ready, and ſundry matters belonging to it to prepare, but we had an application to make to the mayor for leave to perform; and as he was a ſtrange kind of man, our manager requeſted I would wait upon him for the purpoſe. He was an oilman by trade, as big round as one of his butts, had been exceedingly low bred, and was very proud of his office. When I entered [Page 179] his ſhop, he was ſerving a woman with a penny-worth of pickles, and was wriſt-deep in the jar. On my telling him, ‘I waited on him as mayor of the town;’—he put his dirty hand to my mouth, with a ‘Hold friend, not a word till I'm in the Juſtice-room;’ ſo ſaying, having taken the money for his pickles, and wiped his hand on a filthy apron he had before him, he waddled into a back room, and deſired me to follow him. When we were got into this place, which was ſomething like a counting-houſe, I began afreſh: ‘I have taken the liberty, Sir,’—but he again interrupted me with, ‘Why friend, you're in a plaguy hurry. [Page 180] —Let me get into my great chair firſt.’—I begged his worſhip's pardon, ſubmitted to etiquette, and when he was fairly enthroned, I told him my buſineſs; that I was one of a company of players, juſt arrived at Wincheſter, and that as I underſtood he was mayor of the Corporation, I waited on him, to requeſt his leave to perform. "Hark'ee, young man," ſays he, in a bellowing voice, ‘though we civil Magiſtrates are mortal enemies to any thing that looks like an armed force; I'd rather dye'ſee, ſee a parcel of ſoldiers come into the town, than a parcel of playmen, to pick our pockets, and corrupt our wives and [Page 181] daughters,’—at the mention of theſe laſt words, his wife, who had been liſtening at the door, bolted into the room, and ‘aſked what buſineſs he was upon, that occaſioned him to mention her.’ His worſhip immediately ſoftened: his tone, and replied, ‘Nothing, my dear, that concerns your; it is only a parcel of playmen that want to play their rig in the town, and I wont' let 'em.’ ‘Not let 'em, Mr. Girkin!’ retorts ſhe, ‘and what's the matter you won't let 'em? If you want to be poplar you will let 'em, and there's nothing like being poplar, while one keeps ſhop’ But, ‘do you know, [Page 182] my dear,’ returns his worſhip, ‘what a world o'harm theſe player-volks does? ’ ‘A f—t of the harm,’ ſays ſhe, ‘what's that to us?—It will keep families up late, and we ſhall ſell more candles, and oil on that account.’ ‘Why, —aye, to be ſure,’ replies the mayor, ‘the is ſomething in that.’—‘What's the hour, Mr. Playerman, you mean to ſhow away?’—About half after ſix, I told him, and end about half after ten. "No," ſays he, ‘that's too ſoon, ſhops are ſcarce ſhut by that time; make it ſeven and you ſhall have my conſent; for the buſineſs of the day muſt be over, before I can ſuffer any may-games [Page 183] to take place.’ I told his worſhip we would obey his directions; and turning round to thank Mrs. Girkin for her ſeaſonable interference; ſhe gently ſlapped me on the ſhoulder, wiſhed us ſucceſs, and told me, if we played Alexander the Great the firſt night, ſhe would certainly be there, for ſhe loved Alexander to her life—he was ſuch a proper man. As I was going out at the door, his worſhip bawled out,— ‘Remember we ſell oil and candles.’
HAVING obtained permiſſion to open our houſe, our next buſineſs was to find one to open; for ſince our manager's misfortune, a freſh [Page 184] company had taken poſſeſſion of the town, and though theſe were playing at Southampton, it was not clear that we could have the uſe of their theatre. On enquiry we found it as we expected, and had another place to prepare. This buſineſs delayed us ſome time, but it gave me an opportunity of learning a part or two to begin with, Alexander the Great exceeding the ſtrength of our forces; for, when we muſtered them on paper, we could not make a greater number, men, women, and children, than fifteen. It was ſettled, therefore, that the firſt piece got up ſhould be Othello, or the Moor of Venice, and that I ſhould take the part of the [Page 185] Moor. Having a tolerable good memory, I became perfect in it ſooner than I expected, and our company dropped into town from different parts pretty nearly together. But our principal heroine had not made her appearance yet. Our manager told me, ſhe belonged to a company in Buckinghamſhire, and that he had ſome difficulty to engage her; however, he had happily ſucceeded and ſhe would be his chief ſtrength; for ſhe was a very pretty woman and a good player both in tragedy and comedy, and had a very ſweet pipe. She was to be my Deſdemona.
[Page 186] WE ſoon procured a tolerable room and ſufficiently large. It had been a carpenter's workſhop, and was quickly fitted up for our purpoſe. As this lady ſent us word that ſhe could not join us till the week after we had propoſed to open, we determined to commence without her, of courſe I had only to play in the after-piece, and had time to get up two or three more parts. As I was a new performer, it was propoſed by our manager, that on the nights I and this new woman performed, the profits of the houſe ſhould be divided into three parts, of which each of us ſhould have one. This was a ſpur to my induſtry, and I was deſirous to get up as many [Page 187] characters as I could. Among the reſt were Romeo, Hamlet, Marplot, Archer, Benedict, and Bobadil.
THE entertainments given out for the firſt night were, the Journey to London, and the Mock Doctor; and though we deſigned to begin at ſeven, in compliment to the mayor, the houſe did not fill till near eight; and ſuch was our miſfortune, that we were obliged to ſtudy his worſhip's intereſt more than we intended, for we could not begin till the houſe was pretty nearly full, and ſufficient money was taken at the door, to releaſe our wardrobe from pawn. This circumſtance I was not made acquainted with, till the [Page 188] houſe was opened. However, good luck ſtood our friend, we took eleven pounds preſently, and that did the buſineſs. The cloaths were brought in, and as our heads and legs were ready dreſſed, we had only to ſlip on the remainder. I was not in that predicament myſelf, being dreſſed in the character of Dr. Savage; yet I felt for the embarraſſment of my friend the manager, and rejoiced with him at his delivery.
THE firſt night went off pretty well, no accident happening, but a piece of candle falling into the buſhy part of Sir Francis's wig, which ſet fire to it; and Miſs Jenny being almoſt [Page 189] preſſed to death by Count Baſſet, who was beat down flat upon her, by the fall of a houſe, owing to the careleſſneſs of one of the ſcene-ſhifters. The conſequences, however, were no way fatal. The fire in Sir Francis's wig was ſoon extinguiſhed, by my lady's wrapping up his head in her wet handkerchief; for having a cold, her noſe had run profuſely: and Miſs Jenny gave us to underſtand, that there was no harm done to her, for as ſhe lay on her back, the count's weight was not more than ſhe could very well bear. It created a laugh in the houſe, and the audience departed in good humour.
[Page 190] It may be expected I ſhould ſay ſomething of myſelf, but modeſtry enjoins me to ſay no more, than, Dr. Savage being only a mock-doctor, I was equally at home both in one part and the other. Whether it was owing to me or the other performers, I will not pretend to determine; but the farce was ſo much liked, that we played nothing elſe for ſix ſucceſſive nights, and the houſe was always full. It held ſeventeen pounds, and as the expences were eleven, the manager put ſix in his pocket; but, not conſidering me yet as part of his eſtabliſhment, out of theſe ſix he gave me one, and as we performed three times a week, I thought it a great deal of money.
[Page 191] FINDING we were likely to ſucceed, we enlarged our theatre, and made it hold twenty-ſeven pounds; and we added an additional fiddle to our band, which before conſiſted only of two violins and a violincello; for we had it in contemplation to perform comic operas. Two of our company, indeed, could not ſing, but we had a plan to make up the deficiency. Whenever they had a ſong to ſing, they were to ſtand pretty near the ſide ſcenes, and a perſon without was to ſing it for them: we, by a ſimilar contrivance, performed the Beggar's Opera, and the manager found me exceedingly uſeful, as I could cut down a play to any number of characters. Now, [Page 192] there being more characters in this piece, than our ſmall company could fill, I cut out all the whores and rogues but two of each ſort, being perſuaded, that in theſe wicked and expenſive times, two rogues were enough to corrupt any man, and two whores ſufficient to ruin him.
THE week following our new heroine joined us, and never was I more amazed in my life; for who ſhould this young lady be, but Miſs Biddy Slaſh'em, the daughter of Dr. Slaſh'em of Highgate, where I was firſt received on my journey towards London. It was on a Saturday evening that ſhe arrived, an evening that we did not perform, and the [Page 193] manager, myſelf, and two or three of the principals, were regaling over a bowl of punch at a public houſe. The manager was called out, in order to introduce her, and on her entering the room, the inſtant ſhe ſaw me, ſhe flew into my arms with rapture, and the next moment, as in a paroxiſm of rage, ſhe caught hold of my ears, and ſhook me, till I was obliged to bawl out for relief; then again, ſhe almoſt ſmothered me with careſſes, and next burſt into a flood of tears. It is natural to conceive, that this inequality of conduct, this conflict of paſſions, this mixture of love and anger, muſt have been myſterious to all preſent but to me. I was conſcious [Page 194] I had not treated her well, in omitting to correſpond with her, and that for reaſons the reader will by-and-by know. However, ſhe ſoon recovered herſelf, apologiſed to the company for her behaviour, ſaid, I was the oldeſt acquaintance ſhe had, and that her tranſports in ſeeing me, where ſhe ſo little expected it, had totally confuſed her.
DIFFERENCES being adjuſted, and matters of ceremony ſettled, our topics became general, rolled upon the ſtate of the company, the ſucceſs we had met with, and our plan of operations in future; and towards the cloſe of the evening, the manager conceiving, as old acquaintance, [Page 195] we might wiſh to be left, together; when the bowl was out, he propoſed retiring, and left us to ourſelves.
WE were no ſooner alone, but ſhe burſt into tears again, upbraided me with my cruel conduct, declared how much ſhe loved me, and ſaid ſhe had ſuffered greatly on my account. I begged ſhe would ſuſpend her opinion of my conduct, till ſhe had heard my ſtory, which I would relate to her the firſt opportunity; but that is was too long, and too intereſting, to enter into, at ſo late an hour in the evening. I aſked her, if ſhe was provided with a lodging, ſhe replied, ſhe was, and hoped I [Page 196] would breakfaſt with her in the morning; which having promiſed to do, I conducted her home, and lift her.
THE next morning I waited on Miſs Slaſh'em at her lodgings, and found her neatly and elegantly dreſſed to receive me; ſhe was grown tall and ſlender, and had a fire in her eye that I never obſerved before. I could not help telling her, that I thought ſhe was grown very handſome, and that I was ſorry to ſee her in no better [Page 198] ſituation than myſelf, reduced for bread, to join a ſtrolling company of players. She in return told me, that her meeting with me, compenſated for the rubs that ſhe had met with, and they were not a few. She reminded me of having promiſed to recount my ſtory, and I told it as faithfully as I have laid it before my readers, excepting my attachment, with the vows I had made to Miſs Wildman, and an untruth or two I was obliged to tell, of having twice written to her an receiving no anſwer.
WHEN I came to that part of my ſtory, reſpecting the accident at Mr. Wildman's door, ſhe corroborated [Page 199] the paragraph I had read in the newſpapers, and told me ſhe had ſo far enquired, as to find, that the coroner's inqueſt had acquitted me, and that the porter, though committed to priſon, as I did not appear againſt him, was diſcharged at the following ſeſſions.
‘YOU muſt remember, my dear fellow, the critical ſituation you left me in: I concealed it as long [Page 200] as I could; but not hearing from you, and having no friend to apply to, I was under a neceſſity of diſcovering it to my mother, and making a friend of her.’ ‘Huſſey,’ ſays ſhe, ‘this comes of your hanging about the men.’ ‘And though ſhe rated me roundly for my miſconduct, as I applied to her feelings, as a woman and my mother, ſhe wiſhed, if poſſible, to keep it ſecret from my father; but that was impracticable; he had too keen an eye, not to ſee a viſible alteration in my perſon, and knew too much of the world, as he called it, to be hum-bugg'd. In ſhort, it was known to him, three [Page 201] months before I lay in, and no poor devil, between father and mother, lived a more wretched life; upbraidings without number and all ſorts of unkind treatment. In ſhort, your cruel uſage, added to theirs, ſo diſtreſſed me, that I was worn to a ſhadow; and had they not relaxed in their ſeverity, near the time of my lying in, I believe I ſhould have died. Indeed, I ſo frequently told them ſo, that they began to believe it: they on this conſideration were leſs ſevere to me at the laſt, and I made ſhift to live through the trying time, having brought into the world a ſtill-born boy.— There appearing now to be no [Page 202] living witneſs of my ſhame, and my father not likely to be at any further expence, after I was recovered, he began to ſoften his brow, and to reconcile the matter to himſelf; but never could be brought to look upon me again with that pleaſure and ſatisfaction he had formerly done. In ſhort, the life I then led, determined me to quit it, whenever I had an opportunity, and this opportunity ſoon offered; for having a ſtrolling company in the village, which I heard were removing, I wrote a note to the manager, who was a ſingle man, and whom I had ſeen, to this effect.’
A DAMSEL in diſtreſs ſtands in need of protection; ſhe fancies, ſhe has abilities for the ſtage, or for any thing; if you are inclined to try them, and have ſpirit enough to bring a ladder and carry her off ſecretly, you will find her at the one pair of ſtairs window of the red houſe, oppoſite the lamp poſt, No. 119, on the road to London, on Friday morning next, between three and four o'clock.
FOR, as you know my mother uſed to take the keys of the outer doors up into her room, I had no other way of eſcaping. I [Page 204] prepared every thing for my elopement, put up my cloaths in a bundle, and on the appointed morning, being juſt break of day, I ſtole down to the window; and though I doubted of ſeeing the perſon I waited for, I no ſooner opened the ſhutter, than I found my Ranger with a ladder ready, and with all the vivacity and ſpirit I could wiſh. He handed me out, and we got clear off. It was a fine morning, and we walked away for Hampſtead, where he had provided me a retreat, having thrown the ladder over a hedge by the road ſide. Here he kept mè a week, and lived with me till his company removed to [Page 205] St. Albans and we then followed.
YOUR good ſenſe, my dear Gabriel, will forgive me this raſh act. Could I have had your protection, I would have preferred it to that of all the men in the world; but as you had deſerted me, and my life was wretched, from a perſuaſion that it could not be more ſo, I ventured upon the change. It was a bold enterprize, as I was then ſcarce nineteen. Mr. Rider, for that was my friend's name, was a tolerable good player, took a great deal of pains with me, and made me capable of earning my living [Page 206] before I had been three months with him; I came out at firſt, in very triſling parts; but, before we left St. Albans, I had played Juliet, Deſdemona, and two or three other capital characters, and acquitted myſelf ſo well, that I began to think of ſtanding upon my own bottom.
I HAD not been a great while at St. Albans, before my father found me out, and wrote to me. After condemning my conduct, and ſome few chidings, on that account, he proceeded to tell me, that if I would quit the way of life I was in, return home, and be uſeful about the houſe, that [Page 207] both he and my mother would receive me kindly:—but I returned him for anſwer, that I was making great proficiency in the profeſſion I had taken up, and had the vanity to think, that, in a little time, I ſhould be at the top of it. I thanked him for his offer, but I would rather continue as I was; particularly as I could not be more diſgraced than I had been, and as his circumſtances were not ſo great, but he could diſpenſe with a uſeleſs perſon about him. After this letter, he left me to myſelf, and I never was importuned again upon the ſubject.—I have written to my mother once or twice [Page 208] ſince, not to aſk any aſſiſtance, but merely to enquire after her and my father; but, as I never could obtain an anſwer, I wrote no more. All I know is, that, on enquiry from a perſon who was lately in the neighbourhood, I find that they are both well, and that his ſchool has very much encreaſed.
I CONTINUED with Mr. Rider, upwards of three quarters of a year, when a circumſtance happened that occaſioned our ſeparation. Whilſt I was at St. Albans, a linen-draper's apprentice, a good-humoured lad, took a liking to me, and was ever behind [Page 209] the ſcenes, induſtriouſly attentive to pleaſe me; and as he was a generous youth, though without money, and would frequently preſent me with a muſlin handkerchief or two, half a dozen pocket handkerchiefs, an apron and other neceſſary articles, I found it my intereſt to keep in with him.—
‘NOT I, indeed,’ continued ſhe, ‘that was no part of my concern: I ſuppoſe he paid his maſter for them.—They were acceptable to me, and I took them, [Page 210] and, when we removed to Hertford, this young man one Sunday, came over to ſee me, at a time when Mr. Rider was from home, and not being able toget him away, ſo ſoon as I wiſhed, Mr. Rider returned, and entered the room unexpectedly at the moment the poor boy was ſqueezing my hand in raptures. Mr. Rider grew jealous from this hour, and was ſeldom after in a good-humour. I told him, therefore, frankly, that I would continue no longer with him, but leave him and his company to themſelves; I accordingly applied to the manager of the Buckingham theatre, and as he [Page 211] wanted a woman in my caſt of parts, I immediately joined his company, at a ſalary of four and twenty ſhillings a week; and he, being a muſical man, taught me to ſing; ſo that I am now a general player. Tragedy, comedy, opera, farce-nothing comes amiſs miſs to me.’
‘WITH ſome little interruption,’ returned ſhe, ‘I have. I went on pretty ſmoothly for the firſt year; when an old quaker at Buckingham, who had more of the ſinner in him than the ſaint, and was [Page 212] reputed to be very rich, invited himſelf to drink tea wich me at my lodgings; I received him and he made me a formal propoſal of taking me to live with him, with a’ ‘Verily friend Slaſh'em, thou haſt a leering eye and a bewitching form, that ſtirreth my whole frame: I have been, ſince I ſaw thee, in ſuch an eternal figet, that I never ſhall be again compoſed, till thou condeſcendeth to make me happy.’ ‘I gave him to underſtand, that, in the profeſſion I was in, I earned a great deal of money; that if he took me out of it, I ſhould be a conſiderable loſer, for that I might find an unwillingneſs to return, and that, of [Page 213] courſe, I could not think of changing my ſituation, unleſs he would ſettle fifty pounds a year upon me, which he conſented to, and I went home in a few days after to his houſe;—you will ſcarce credit the aſſertion; but, it is nevertheleſs true, that quakers, notwithſtanding their outward formality and ſtiffneſs, are as wanton as boys, and put on their formality only with their cloaths. Mr. Broadbrim, the gentleman I lived with, was about ſixty years of age, and very much reſpected among the brotherhood. I was dreſſed like one of them, and paſſed for his houſe-keeper, and might have continued long [Page 214] with him, had not the friends began to ſmoke him, as they called it, and found out who I was.’ ‘Truly friend Broadbrim,’ ‘ſaid an old acquaintance to him one day, and which I overheard from the next room,’ ‘thy houſekeeper ſavoureth too much of the fleſh, and betrayeth an impurity that becometh not thy age and outward ſanctity.’ ‘Ebenezer,’ ſaid Mr. Broadbrim to him, ‘Let not thy tongue out-run thy diſcretion. Fleſh is ſometimes neceſſary to cheer the ſpirits and comfort the outward man. I can diſcover by thy eyes, that thou alſo haſt thy wanton moments, and that though thy fleſh be weak, thy ſpirit is [Page 215] willing.’—‘It was not always he could get off ſo well; in ſhort, he was ſo laughed at by the young men, and jeered by the old, that he could not hold up againſt their ridicule, and having been threatened with an expulſion from the ſociety, which he dreaded more than any thing, he told me, one day, unwilling as he was, he muſt part with me, but that the fifty pounds a year, I was welcome to keep; and if I did not expoſe him, he would be a friend to me whilſt he lived. I accordingly quitted him and returned to the way of life I was in before; joining the Buckingham company again, at my [Page 216] former ſalary; but, as my own miſtreſs, with the addition of fifty pounds a year regularly paid every half year. Our manager dying ſoon after, the company broke up and I am engaged here as you find me.’
I TOOK the liberty to aſk her ſome queſtions reſpecting the quakers; ſhe replied, ‘that, indeed, ſhe did not know a great deal of them, having never converſed with any one of them till ſhe became acquainted with Mr. Broadbrim; but that he had an univerſal acquaintance among the fraternity, and they were frequently at his houſe; that as far as ſhe could judge, they were [Page 217] the greateſt diſſemblers in life, and that ſhe believed though they profeſſed more candour and more ſincerity than the reſt of the world, they at the ſame time had leſs of it; that ſhe knew it was a cuſtom among them to have falſe bills of parcels to ſhew to their cuſtomers, by which they aſcertained their profit to be very ſmall, when, in fact, it was very large, and under a pretence of dealing for diſcount only, that diſcount was twenty-five or thirty per cent. I know the Birmingham manufacturers allow a diſcount of twenty-five per cent. upon their bills, for ready money, and if a retailer gets no more, he [Page 218] gets a great deal too much.’ But, as my opinion of Miſs Slaſh'em's judgment was but indifferent, I ceaſed making any further enquiries.
SHE would fian have urged me to live in the ſame apartment with her; but, I excuſed myſelf, under the declaration of being the moſt inconſtant fellow alive, and the moſt unſettled; that it was uncertain whether I continued in the profeſſion I was in, one month or twelve; but that whilſt I did, and that we were within reach of each other, I would ſee her, when ſhe pleaſed, and where ſhe pleaſed; and ſhould always think myſelf happy [Page 219] when I had it in my power to be of uſe to her.
IT may appear ſtrange that one upon the town as I was, ſhould decline Biddy Slaſh'em's propoſal, whoſe purſe as well as perſon would have been at my command; but, the truth is, I hated a ſettled connexion. I will be honeſt enough to own, that I frequently yielded to the bent of human nature, and if I had occaſionally a child or two ſworn to me unjuſtly, I compromiſed the matter with the pariſh where it was born on, the beſt terms I could, which ſeldom exceeded ten pounds and a treat to the Overſeers of the poor. That [Page 220] ten pounds will not bring a child up till it is able to get its living, we all know; but, theſe guardians of the infant poor, are charitable enough to remove it from a ſinful world, as ſoon as poſſible. At an entertainment I gave upon one of theſe occaſions, the church-warden intimated, when half-drunk, that ten pounds was a good price for a baſtard child, as wrapping it up a night or two in a wet blanket, ſeldom failed of ſending it to Heaven preſently.