To Sir WATKIN PHILLIPS, Bart. at Oxon.
In my two last you had so much of Lismahago, that I suppose you are glad he is gone off the stage for the present.—I must now descend to domestic occurrences.—Love, it seems, is resolved to assert his dominion over all the females of our family.—After having practised upon poor Liddy’s heart, and played strange vagaries with our aunt Mrs Tabitha, he began to run riot in the affections of her woman, Mrs Winifred Jenkins, whom I have had occasion to mention more than once in the course of our memoirs. Nature intended Jenkins for something very different from the character of her mistress; yet custom and habit have effected a wonderful resemblance betwixt them in many particulars. Win, to be sure, is much younger and more agreeable in her person; she is likewise tender-hearted and benevolent, qualities for which her mistress is by no means remarkable, no more than she is for being of a timorous disposition, and much subject to fits of the mother, which are the infirmities of Win’s constitution: but then she seems to have adopted Mrs Tabby’s manner with her cast cloaths.—She dresses and endeavours to look like her mistress, although her own looks are much more engaging.—She enters into her scheme of oeconomy, learns her phrases, repeats her remarks, imitates her stile in scolding the inferior servants, and, finally, subscribes implicitly to her system of devotion.—This, indeed, she found the more agreeable, as it was in a great measure introduced and confirmed by the ministry of Clinker, with whose personal merit she seems to have been struck ever since he exhibited the pattern of his naked skin at Marlborough.
Nevertheless, though Humphry had this double hank upon her inclinations, and exerted all his power to maintain the conquest he had made, he found it impossible to guard it on the side of vanity, where poor Win was as frail as any female in the kingdom. In short, my rascal Dutton professed himself her admirer, and, by dint of his outlandish qualifications, threw his rival Clinker out of the saddle of her heart. Humphry may be compared to an English pudding, composed of good wholesome flour and suet, and Dutton to a syllabub or iced froth, which, though agreeable to the taste, has nothing solid or substantial. The traitor not only dazzled her, with his second-hand finery, but he fawned, and flattered, and cringed—he taught her to take rappee, and presented her with a snuff-box of papier mache—he supplied her with a powder for her teeth—he mended her complexion, and he dressed her hair in the Paris fashion—he undertook to be her French master and her dancing-master, as well as friseur, and thus imperceptibly wound himself into her good graces. Clinker perceived the progress he had made, and repined in secret.—He attempted to open her eyes in the way of exhortation, and finding it produced no effect had recourse to prayer. At Newcastle, while he attended Mrs Tabby to the methodist meeting his rival accompanied Mrs Jenkins to the play. He was dressed in a silk coat, made at Paris for his former master, with a tawdry waistcoat of tarnished brocade; he wore his hair in a great bag with a huge solitaire, and a long sword dangled from his thigh. The lady was all of a flutter with faded lutestring, washed gauze, and ribbons three times refreshed; but she was most remarkable for the frisure of her head, which rose, like a pyramid, seven inches above the scalp, and her face was primed and patched from the chin up to the eyes; nay, the gallant himself had spared neither red nor white in improving the nature of his own complexion. In this attire, they walked together through the high street to the theatre, and as they passed for players ready dressed for acting, they reached it unmolested; but as it was still light when they returned, and by that time the people had got information of their real character and condition, they hissed and hooted all the way, and Mrs Jenkins was all bespattered with dirt, as well as insulted with the opprobrious name of painted Jezabel, so that her fright and mortification threw her into an hysteric fit the moment she came home.
Clinker was so incensed at Dutton, whom he considered as the cause of her disgrace, that he upbraided him severely for having turned the poor woman’s brain. The other affected to treat him with contempt, and mistaking his forbearance for want of courage, threatened to horse-whip him into good manners. Humphry then came to me, humbly begging I would give him leave to chastise my servant for his insolence—‘He has challenged me to fight him at sword’s point (said he); but I might as well challenge him to make a horse-shoe, or a plough iron; for I know no more of the one than he does of the other.—Besides, it doth not become servants to use those weapons, or to claim the privilege of gentlemen to kill one another when they fall out; moreover, I would not have his blood upon my conscience for ten thousand times the profit or satisfaction I should get by his death; but if your honour won’t be angry, I’ll engage to gee ’en a good drubbing, that, may hap, will do ’en service, and I’ll take care it shall do ’en no harm.’ I said, I had no objection to what he proposed, provided he could manage matters so as not to be found the aggressor, in case Dutton should prosecute him for an assault and battery.
Thus licensed, he retired; and that same evening easily provoked his rival to strike the first blow, which Clinker returned with such interest that he was obliged to call for quarter, declaring, at the same time, that he would exact severe and bloody satisfaction the moment we should pass the border, when he could run him through the body without fear of the consequence.—This scene passed in presence of lieutenant Lismahago, who encouraged Clinker to hazard a thrust of cold iron with his antagonist. ‘Cold iron (cried Humphry) I shall never use against the life of any human creature; but I am so far from being afraid of his cold iron, that I shall use nothing in my defence but a good cudgel, which shall always be at his service.’ In the mean time, the fair cause of this contest, Mrs Winifred Jenkins, seemed overwhelmed with affliction, and Mr Clinker acted much on the reserve, though he did not presume to find fault with her conduct.
The dispute between the two rivals was soon brought to a very unexpected issue. Among our fellow-lodgers at Berwick, was a couple from London, bound to Edinburgh, on the voyage of matrimony. The female was the daughter and heiress of a pawnbroker deceased, who had given her guardians the slip, and put herself under the tuition of a tall Hibernian, who had conducted her thus far in quest of a clergyman to unite them in marriage, without the formalities required by the law of England. I know not how the lover had behaved on the road, so as to decline in the favour of his inamorata; but, in all probability, Dutton perceived a coldness on her side, which encouraged him to whisper, it was a pity she should have cast affections upon a taylor, which he affirmed the Irishman to be. This discovery completed her disgust, of which my man taking the advantage, began to recommend himself to her good graces, and the smooth-tongued rascal found no difficulty to insinuate himself into the place of her heart, from which the other had been discarded—Their resolution was immediately taken. In the morning, before day, while poor Teague lay snoring a-bed, his indefatigable rival ordered a post-chaise, and set out with the lady for Coldstream, a few miles up the Tweed, where there was a parson who dealt in this branch of commerce, and there they were noosed, before the Irishman ever dreamt of the matter. But when he got up at six o’clock, and found the bird was flown, he made such a noise as alarmed the whole house. One of the first persons he encountered, was the postilion returned from Coldstream, where he had been witness to the marriage, and over and above an handsome gratuity, had received a bride’s favour, which he now wore in his cap—When the forsaken lover understood they were actually married, and set out for London; and that Dutton had discovered to the lady, that he (the Hibernian) was a taylor, he had like to have run distracted. He tore the ribbon from the fellow’s cap, and beat it about his ears. He swore he would pursue him to the gates of hell, and ordered a post-chaise and four to be got ready as soon as possible; but, recollecting that his finances would not admit of this way of travelling, he was obliged to countermand this order.
For my part, I knew nothing at all of what had happened, till the postilion brought me the keys of my trunk and portmanteau, which he had received from Dutton, who sent me his respects, hoping I would excuse him for his abrupt departure, as it was a step upon which his fortune depended. Before I had time to make my uncle acquainted with this event, the Irishman burst into my chamber, without any introduction, exclaiming,—‘By my soul, your sarvant has robbed me of five thousand pounds, and I’ll have satisfaction, if I should be hanged tomorrow.’—When I asked him who he was, ‘My name (said he) is Master Macloughlin but it should be Leighlin Oneale, for I am come from Tir-Owen the Great; and so I am as good a gentleman as any in Ireland; and that rogue, your sarvant, said I was a taylor, which was as big a lie as if he had called me the pope—I’m a man of fortune, and have spent all I had; and so being in distress, Mr Coshgrave, the fashioner in Shuffolk-street, tuck me out, and made me his own private shecretary: by the same token, I was the last he bailed; for his friends obliged him to tie himself up, that he would bail no more above ten pounds; for why, becaase as how, he could not refuse any body that asked, and therefore in time would have robbed himself of his whole fortune, and, if he had lived long at that rate, must have died bankrupt very soon and so I made my addresses to Miss Skinner, a young lady of five thousand pounds fortune, who agreed to take me for better nor worse; and, to be sure, this day would have put me in possession, if it had not been for that rogue, your sarvant, who came like a tief, and stole away my property, and made her believe I was a taylor; and that she was going to marry the ninth part of a man: but the devil burn my soul, if ever I catch him on the mountains of Tulloghobegly, if I don’t shew him that I’m nine times as good a man as he, or e’er a bug of his country.’
When he had rung out his first alarm, I told him I was sorry he had allowed himself to be so jockied; but it was no business of mine; and that the fellow who robbed him of his bride, had likewise robbed me of my servant—‘Didn’t I tell you then (cried he) that Rogue was his true Christian name.—Oh if I had but one fair trust with him upon the sod, I’d give him lave to brag all the rest of his life.’
My uncle hearing the noise, came in, and being informed of this adventure, began to comfort Mr Oneale for the lady’s elopement; observing that he seemed to have had a lucky escape, that it was better she should elope before, than after marriage—The Hibernian was of a very different opinion. He said, ‘If he had been once married, she might have eloped as soon as she pleased; he would have taken care that she should not have carried her fortune along with her—Ah (said he) she’s a Judas Iscariot, and has betrayed me with a kiss; and, like Judas, she carried the bag, and has not left me money enough to bear my expences back to London; and so I’m come to this pass, and the rogue that was the occasion of it has left you without a sarvant, you may put me in his place; and by Jasus, it is the best thing you can do.’—I begged to be excused, declaring I could put up with any inconvenience, rather than treat as a footman the descendant of Tir-Owen the Great. I advised him to return to his friend, Mr Cosgrave, and take his passage from Newcastle by sea, towards which I made him a small present, and he retired, seemingly resigned to his evil fortune. I have taken upon trial a Scotchman, called Archy M’Alpin, an old soldier, whose last master, a colonel, lately died at Berwick. The fellow is old and withered; but he has been recommended to me for his fidelity, by Mrs Humphreys, a very good sort of a woman, who keeps the inn at Tweedmouth, and is much respected by all the travellers on this road.
Clinker, without doubt, thinks himself happy in the removal of a dangerous rival, and he is too good a Christian, to repine at Dutton’s success. Even Mrs Jenkins will have reason to congratulate herself upon this event, when she cooly reflects upon the matter; for, howsoever she was forced from her poise for a season, by snares laid for her vanity, Humphry is certainly the north-star to which the needle of her affection would have pointed at the long run. At present, the same vanity is exceedingly mortified, upon finding herself abandoned by her new admirer, in favour of another inamorata. She received the news with a violent burst of laughter, which soon brought on a fit of crying; and this gave the finishing blow to the patience of her mistress, which had held out beyond all expectation. She now opened all those floodgates of reprehension, which had been shut so long. She not only reproached her with her levity and indiscretion, but attacked her on the score of religion, declaring roundly that she was in a state of apostacy and reprobation; and finally, threatened to send her a packing at this extremity of the kingdom. All the family interceded for poor Winifred, not even excepting her slighted swain, Mr Clinker, who, on his knees, implored and obtained her pardon.
There was, however, another consideration that gave Mrs Tabitha some disturbance. At Newcastle, the servants had been informed by some wag, that there was nothing to eat in Scotland, but oat-meal and sheep’s-heads; and lieutenant Lismahago being consulted, what he said served rather to confirm than to refute the report. Our aunt being apprised of this circumstance, very gravely advised her brother to provide a sumpter horse with store of hams, tongues, bread, biscuit, and other articles for our subsistence, in the course of our peregrination, and Mr Bramble as gravely replied, that he would take the hint into consideration: but, finding no such provision was made, she now revived the proposal, observing that there was a tolerable market at Berwick, where we might be supplied; and that my man’s horse would serve as a beast of burthen—The ’squire, shrugging his shoulders, eyed her askance with a look of ineffable contempt: and, after some pause, ‘Sister (said he), I can hardly persuade myself you are serious.’ She was so little acquainted with the geography of the island, that she imagined we could not go to Scotland but by sea; and, after we had passed through the town of Berwick, when he told her we were upon Scottish ground, she could hardly believe the assertion—If the truth must be told, the South Britons in general are woefully ignorant in this particular. What, between want of curiosity, and traditional sarcasms, the effect of ancient animosity, the people at the other end of the island know as little of Scotland as of Japan.
If I had never been in Wales, I should have been more struck with the manifest difference in appearance betwixt the peasants and commonalty on different sides of the Tweed. The boors of Northumberland are lusty fellows, fresh complexioned, cleanly, and well cloathed; but the labourers in Scotland are generally lank, lean, hard-featured, sallow, soiled, and shabby, and their little pinched blue caps have a beggarly effect. The cattle are much in the same stile with their drivers, meagre, stunted, and ill equipt. When I talked to my uncle on this subject, he said, ‘Though all the Scottish hinds would not bear to be compared with those of the rich counties of South Britain, they would stand very well in competition with the peasants of France, Italy, and Savoy—not to mention the mountaineers of Wales, and the red-shanks of Ireland.’
We entered Scotland by a frightful moor of sixteen miles, which promises very little for the interior parts of the kingdom; but the prospect mended as we advanced. Passing through Dunbar, which is a neat little town, situated on the sea-side, we lay at a country inn, where our entertainment far exceeded our expectation; but for this we cannot give the Scots credit, as the landlord is a native of England. Yesterday we dined at Haddington, which has been a place of some consideration, but is now gone to decay; and in the evening arrived at this metropolis, of which I can say very little. It is very romantic, from its situation on the declivity of a hill, having a fortified castle at the top, and a royal palace at the bottom. The first thing that strikes the nose of a stranger, shall be nameless; but what first strikes the eye, is the unconscionable height of the houses, which generally rise to five, six, seven, and eight stories, and, in some places (as I am assured), to twelve. This manner of building, attended with numberless inconveniences, must have been originally owing to want of room. Certain it is, the town seems to be full of people: but their looks, their language, and their customs, are so different from ours, that I can hardly believe myself in Great-Britain.
The inn at which we put up (if it may be so called) was so filthy and disagreeable in all respects, that my uncle began to fret, and his gouty symptoms to recur—Recollecting, however, that he had a letter of recommendation to one Mr Mitchelson, a lawyer, he sent it by his servant, with a compliment, importing that we would wait upon him next day in person; but that gentleman visited us immediately, and insisted upon our going to his own house, until he could provide lodgings for our accommodation. We gladly accepted, of his invitation, and repaired to his house, where we were treated with equal elegance and hospitality, to the utter confusion of our aunt, whose prejudices, though beginning to give way, were not yet entirely removed. To-day, by the assistance of our friend, we are settled in convenient lodgings, up four pair of stairs, in the High-street, the fourth story being, in this city, reckoned more genteel than the first. The air is, in all probability, the better; but it requires good lungs to breathe it at this distance above the surface of the earth.—While I do remain above it, whether higher or lower, provided I breathe at all,
I shall ever be, Dear Phillips, yours, J. MELFORD July 18.