Title: The History of John Bull
Author: John Arbuthnot
Author of introduction, etc.: Henry Morley
Release date: May 1, 2001 [eBook #2643]
Most recently updated: January 30, 2013
Credits: Produced by Les Bowler, and David Widger
CHAPTER XVI. How the guardians of the deceased Mrs. Bull's three daughters came to John, and what advice they gave him; wherein is briefly treated the characters of the three daughters. Also John Bull's answer to the three guardians.*
This is the book which fixed the name and character of John Bull on the English people. Though in one part of the story he is thin and long nosed, as a result of trouble, generally he is suggested to us as "ruddy and plump, with a pair of cheeks like a trumpeter," an honest tradesman, simple and straightforward, easily cheated; but when he takes his affairs into his own hands, acting with good plain sense, knowing very well what he wants done, and doing it.
The book was begun in the year 1712, and published in four successive groups of chapters that dealt playfully, from the Tory point of view, with public affairs leading up to the Peace of Utrecht. The Peace urged and made by the Tories was in these light papers recommended to the public. The last touches in the parable refer to the beginning of the year 1713, when the Duke of Ormond separated his troops from those of the Allies and went to receive Dunkirk as the stipulated condition of cessation of arms. After the withdrawal of the British troops, Prince Eugene was defeated by Marshal Villars at Denain, and other reverses followed. The Peace of Utrecht was signed on the 31st of March.
Some chapters in this book deal in like manner, from the point of view of a good-natured Tory of Queen Anne's time, with the feuds of the day between Church and Dissent. Other chapters unite with this topic a playful account of another chief political event of the time—the negotiation leading to the Act of Union between England and Scotland, which received the Royal Assent on the 6th of March, 1707; John Bull then consented to receive his "Sister Peg" into his house. The Church, of course, is John Bull's mother; his first wife is a Whig Parliament, his second wife a Tory Parliament, which first met in November, 1710.
This "History of John Bull" began with the first of its four parts entitled "Law is a Bottomless Pit, exemplified in the case of Lord Strutt, John Bull, Nicholas Frog, and Lewis Baboon, who spent all they had in a Law-suit." For Law put War—the War of the Spanish Succession; for lawyers, soldiers; for sessions, campaigns; for verdicts, battles won; for Humphry Hocus the attorney, Marlborough the general; for law expenses, war expenses; and for aim of the whole, to aid the Tory policy of peace with France. A second part followed, entitled "John Bull in his Senses;" the third part was called "John Bull still in his Senses;" and the fourth part, "Lewis Baboon turned Honest, and John Bull Politician." The four parts were afterwards arranged into two, as they are here reprinted, and published together as "The History of John Bull," with a few notes by the author which sufficiently explain its drift.
The author was John Arbuthnot, a physician, familiar friend of Pope and Swift, whom Pope addressed as
"Friend to my life, which did not you prolong, The world had wanted many an idle song;"
and of whom Swift said, that "he has more wit than we all have, and his humanity is equal to his wit." "If there were a dozen Arbuthnots in the world," said Swift, "I would burn 'Gulliver's Travels.'"
Arbuthnot was of Swift's age, born in 1667, son of a Scotch Episcopal clergyman, who lost his living at the Revolution. His sons—all trained in High Church principles—left Scotland to seek their fortunes; John came to London and taught mathematics. He took his degree of Doctor of Medicine at St. Andrews in 1696; found use for mathematics in his studies of medicine; became a Fellow of the Royal Society; and being by chance at Epsom when Queen Anne's husband was taken ill, prescribed for him so successfully that he was made in 1705 Physician Extraordinary, and upon the occurrence of a vacancy in 1709 Physician in Ordinary, to the Queen. Swift calls him her favourite physician. In 1710 he was admitted Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. That was Arbuthnot's position in 1712-13 when, at the age of forty-five, he wrote this "History of John Bull." He was personal friend of the Ministers whose policy he supported, and especially of Harley, Earl of Oxford, the Sir Roger of the History.
After Queen Anne's death, and the coming of the Whigs to power, Arbuthnot lost his office at Court. But he was the friend and physician of all the wits; himself without literary ambition, allowing friends to make what alterations they pleased in pieces that he wrote, or his children to make kites of them. A couple of years before his death he suffered deeply from the loss of the elder of his two sons. He was himself afflicted then with stone, and retired to Hampstead to die. "A recovery," he wrote to Swift, "is in my case and in my age impossible; the kindest wish of my friends is euthanasia." He died in 1735.
When I was first called to the office of historiographer to John Bull, he expressed himself to this purpose:—"Sir Humphrey Polesworth,* I know you are a plain dealer; it is for that reason I have chosen you for this important trust; speak the truth and spare not." That I might fulfil those his honourable intentions, I obtained leave to repair to, and attend him in his most secret retirements; and I put the journals of all transactions into a strong box, to be opened at a fitting occasion, after the manner of the historiographers of some eastern monarchs: this I thought was the safest way; though I declare I was never afraid to be chopped** by my master for telling of truth. It is from those journals that my memoirs are compiled: therefore let not posterity a thousand years hence look for truth in the voluminous annals of pedants, who are entirely ignorant of the secret springs of great actions; if they do, let me tell them they will be nebused.***
* A Member of Parliament, eminent for a certain cant in his conversation, of which there is a good deal in this book. ** A cant word of Sir Humphrey's. *** Another cant word, signifying deceived.
With incredible pains have I endeavoured to copy the several beauties of the ancient and modern historians; the impartial temper of Herodotus, the gravity, austerity, and strict morals of Thucydides, the extensive knowledge of Xenophon, the sublimity and grandeur of Titus Livius; and to avoid the careless style of Polybius, I have borrowed considerable ornaments from Dionysius Halicarnasseus, and Diodorus Siculus. The specious gilding of Tacitus I have endeavoured to shun. Mariana, Davila, and Fra. Paulo, are those amongst the moderns whom I thought most worthy of imitation; but I cannot be so disingenuous, as not to own the infinite obligations I have to the "Pilgrim's Progress" of John Bunyan, and the "Tenter Belly" of the Reverend Joseph Hall.
From such encouragement and helps, it is easy to guess to what a degree of perfection I might have brought this great work, had it not been nipped in the bud by some illiterate people in both Houses of Parliament, who envying the great figure I was to make in future ages, under pretence of raising money for the war,* have padlocked all those very pens that were to celebrate the actions of their heroes, by silencing at once the whole university of Grub Street. I am persuaded that nothing but the prospect of an approaching peace could have encouraged them to make so bold a step. But suffer me, in the name of the rest of the matriculates of that famous university, to ask them some plain questions: Do they think that peace will bring along with it the golden age? Will there be never a dying speech of a traitor? Are Cethegus and Catiline turned so tame, that there will be no opportunity to cry about the streets, "A Dangerous Plot?" Will peace bring such plenty that no gentleman will have occasion to go upon the highway, or break into a house? I am sorry that the world should be so much imposed upon by the dreams of a false prophet, as to imagine the Millennium is at hand. O Grub Street! thou fruitful nursery of towering geniuses! How do I lament thy downfall? Thy ruin could never be meditated by any who meant well to English liberty. No modern lyceum will ever equal thy glory: whether in soft pastorals thou didst sing the flames of pampered apprentices and coy cook maids; or mournful ditties of departing lovers; or if to Maeonian strains thou raisedst thy voice, to record the stratagems, the arduous exploits, and the nocturnal scalade of needy heroes, the terror of your peaceful citizens, describing the powerful Betty or the artful Picklock, or the secret caverns and grottoes of Vulcan sweating at his forge, and stamping the queen's image on viler metals which he retails for beef and pots of ale; or if thou wert content in simple narrative, to relate the cruel acts of implacable revenge, or the complaint of ravished virgins blushing to tell their adventures before the listening crowd of city damsels, whilst in thy faithful history thou intermingledst the gravest counsels and the purest morals. Nor less acute and piercing wert thou in thy search and pompous descriptions of the works of nature; whether in proper and emphatic terms thou didst paint the blazing comet's fiery tail, the stupendous force of dreadful thunder and earthquakes, and the unrelenting inundations. Sometimes, with Machiavelian sagacity, thou unravelledst intrigues of state, and the traitorous conspiracies of rebels, giving wise counsel to monarchs. How didst thou move our terror and our pity with thy passionate scenes between Jack Catch and the heroes of the Old Bailey? How didst thou describe their intrepid march up Holborn Hill? Nor didst thou shine less in thy theological capacity, when thou gavest ghostly counsels to dying felons, and didst record the guilty pangs of Sabbath breakers. How will the noble arts of John Overton's** painting and sculpture now languish? where rich invention, proper expression, correct design, divine attitudes, and artful contrast, heightened with the beauties of Clar. Obscur., embellished thy celebrated pieces, to the delight and astonishment of the judicious multitude! Adieu, persuasive eloquence! the quaint metaphor, the poignant irony, the proper epithet, and the lively simile, are fled for ever! Instead of these, we shall have, I know not what! The illiterate will tell the rest with pleasure.
* Act restraining the liberty of the press, etc. ** The engraver of the cuts before the Grub Street papers.
I hope the reader will excuse this digression, due by way of condolence to my worthy brethren of Grub Street, for the approaching barbarity that is likely to overspread all its regions by this oppressive and exorbitant tax. It has been my good fortune to receive my education there; and so long as I preserved some figure and rank amongst the learned of that society, I scorned to take my degree either at Utrecht or Leyden, though I was offered it gratis by the professors in those universities.
And now that posterity may not be ignorant in what age so excellent a history was written (which would otherwise, no doubt, be the subject of its inquiries), I think it proper to inform the learned of future times, that it was compiled when Louis XIV. was King of France, and Philip his grandson of Spain; when England and Holland, in conjunction with the Emperor and the Allies, entered into a war against these two princes, which lasted ten years, under the management of the Duke of Marlborough, and was put to a conclusion by the Treaty of Utrecht, under the ministry of the Earl of Oxford, in the year 1713.
Many at that time did imagine the history of John Bull, and the personages mentioned in it, to be allegorical, which the author would never own. Notwithstanding, to indulge the reader's fancy and curiosity, I have printed at the bottom of the page the supposed allusions of the most obscure parts of the story.
I need not tell you of the great quarrels that have happened in our neighbourhood since the death of the late Lord Strutt;* how the parson** and a cunning attorney got him to settle his estate upon his cousin Philip Baboon, to the great disappointment of his cousin Esquire South. Some stick not to say that the parson and the attorney forged a will; for which they were well paid by the family of the Baboons. Let that be as it will, it is matter of fact that the honour and estate have continued ever since in the person of Philip Baboon.
* Late King of Spain. ** Cardinal Portocarero.
You know that the Lord Strutts have for many years been possessed of a very great landed estate, well conditioned, wooded, watered, with coal, salt, tin, copper, iron, etc., all within themselves; that it has been the misfortune of that family to be the property of their stewards, tradesmen, and inferior servants, which has brought great incumbrances upon them; at the same time, their not abating of their expensive way of living has forced them to mortgage their best manors. It is credibly reported that the butcher's and baker's bill of a Lord Strutt that lived two hundred years ago are not yet paid.
When Philip Baboon came first to the possession of the Lord Strutt's estate, his tradesmen,* as is usual upon such occasions, waited upon him to wish him joy and bespeak his custom. The two chief were John Bull,** the clothier, and Nic. Frog,*** the linendraper. They told him that the Bulls and Frogs had served the Lord Strutts with draperyware for many years; that they were honest and fair dealers; that their bills had never been questioned; that the Lord Strutts lived generously, and never used to dirty their fingers with pen, ink, and counters; that his lordship might depend upon their honesty that they would use him as kindly as they had done his predecessors. The young lord seemed to take all in good part, and dismissed them with a deal of seeming content, assuring them he did not intend to change any of the honourable maxims of his predecessors.
* The first letters of congratulation from King William and the States of Holland upon King Philip's accession to the crown of Spain. ** The English. *** The Dutch.
It happened unfortunately for the peace of our neighbourhood that this young lord had an old cunning rogue, or, as the Scots call it, a false loon of a grandfather, that one might justly call a Jack-of-all-Trades.* Sometimes you would see him behind his counter selling broadcloth, sometimes measuring linen; next day he would be dealing in merceryware. High heads, ribbons, gloves, fans, and lace he understood to a nicety. Charles Mather could not bubble a young beau better with a toy; nay, he would descend even to the selling of tape, garters, and shoe-buckles. When shop was shut up he would go about the neighbourhood and earn half-a-crown by teaching the young men and maids to dance. By these methods he had acquired immense riches, which he used to squander* away at back-sword, quarter-staff, and cudgel-play, in which he took great pleasure, and challenged all the country. You will say it is no wonder if Bull and Frog should be jealous of this fellow. "It is not impossible," says Frog to Bull, "but this old rogue will take the management of the young lord's business into his hands; besides, the rascal has good ware, and will serve him as cheap as anybody. In that case, I leave you to judge what must become of us and our families; we must starve, or turn journeyman to old Lewis Baboon. Therefore, neighbour, I hold it advisable that we write to young Lord Strutt to know the bottom of this matter."
* The character and trade of the French nation. ** The King's disposition to war.
My Lord,—I suppose your lordship knows that the Bulls and the Frogs have served the Lord Strutts with all sorts of draperyware time out of mind. And whereas we are jealous, not without reason, that your lordship intends henceforth to buy of your grandsire old Lewis Baboon, this is to inform your lordship that this proceeding does not suit with the circumstances of our families, who have lived and made a good figure in the world by the generosity of the Lord Strutts. Therefore we think fit to acquaint your lordship that you must find sufficient security to us, our heirs, and assigns that you will not employ Lewis Baboon, or else we will take our remedy at law, clap an action upon you of 20,000 pounds for old debts, seize and distrain your goods and chattels, which, considering your lordship's circumstances, will plunge you into difficulties, from which it will not be easy to extricate yourself. Therefore we hope, when your lordship has better considered on it, you will comply with the desire of
Your loving friends,
JOHN BULL, NIC. FROG.
Some of Bull's friends advised him to take gentler methods with the young lord, but John naturally loved rough play. It is impossible to express the surprise of the Lord Strutt upon the receipt of this letter. He was not flush in ready either to go to law or clear old debts, neither could he find good bail. He offered to bring matters to a friendly accommodation, and promised, upon his word of honour, that he would not change his drapers; but all to no purpose, for Bull and Frog saw clearly that old Lewis would have the cheating of him.
All endeavours of accommodation between Lord Strutt and his drapers proved vain. Jealousies increased, and, indeed, it was rumoured abroad that Lord Strutt had bespoke his new liveries of old Lewis Baboon. This coming to Mrs. Bull's ears, when John Bull came home, he found all his family in an uproar. Mrs. Bull, you must know, was very apt to be choleric. "You sot," says she, "you loiter about alehouses and taverns, spend your time at billiards, ninepins, or puppet-shows, or flaunt about the streets in your new gilt chariot, never minding me nor your numerous family. Don't you hear how Lord Strutt has bespoke his liveries at Lewis Baboon's shop? Don't you see how that old fox steals away your customers, and turns you out of your business every day, and you sit like an idle drone, with your hands in your pockets? Fie upon it. Up man, rouse thyself; I'll sell to my shift before I'll be so used by that knave."* You must think Mrs. Bull had been pretty well tuned up by Frog, who chimed in with her learned harangue. No further delay now, but to counsel learned in the law they go, who unanimously assured them both of justice and infallible success of their lawsuit.
* The sentiments and addresses of the Parliament at that time.
I told you before that old Lewis Baboon was a sort of a Jack-of-all-trades, which made the rest of the tradesmen jealous, as well as Bull and Frog; they hearing of the quarrel, were glad of an opportunity of joining against old Lewis Baboon, provided that Bull and Frog would bear the charges of the suit. Even lying Ned, the chimney-sweeper of Savoy, and Tom, the Portugal dustman, put in their claims, and the cause was put into the hands of Humphry Hocus, the attorney.
A declaration was drawn up to show "That Bull and Frog had undoubted right by prescription to be drapers to the Lord Strutts; that there were several old contracts to that purpose; that Lewis Baboon had taken up the trade of clothier and draper without serving his time or purchasing his freedom; that he sold goods that were not marketable without the stamp; that he himself was more fit for a bully than a tradesman, and went about through all the country fairs challenging people to fight prizes, wrestling and cudgel play, and abundance more to this purpose."
* Characters of the English and Dutch, and the General Duke of Marlborough.
For the better understanding the following history the reader ought to know that Bull, in the main, was an honest, plain-dealing fellow, choleric, bold, and of a very unconstant temper; he dreaded not old Lewis either at back-sword, single falchion, or cudgel-play; but then he was very apt to quarrel with his best friends, especially if they pretended to govern him. If you flattered him you might lead him like a child. John's temper depended very much upon the air; his spirits rose and fell with the weather-glass. John was quick and understood his business very well, but no man alive was more careless in looking into his accounts, or more cheated by partners, apprentices, and servants. This was occasioned by his being a boon companion, loving his bottle and his diversion; for, to say truth, no man kept a better house than John, nor spent his money more generously. By plain and fair dealing John had acquired some plums, and might have kept them, had it not been for his unhappy lawsuit.
Nic. Frog was a cunning, sly fellow, quite the reverse of John in many particulars; covetous, frugal, minded domestic affairs, would pinch his belly to save his pocket, never lost a farthing by careless servants or bad debtors. He did not care much for any sort of diversion, except tricks of high German artists and legerdemain. No man exceeded Nic. in these; yet it must be owned that Nic. was a fair dealer, and in that way acquired immense riches.
Hocus was an old cunning attorney, and though this was the first considerable suit that ever he was engaged in he showed himself superior in address to most of his profession. He kept always good clerks, he loved money, was smooth-tongued, gave good words, and seldom lost his temper. He was not worse than an infidel, for he provided plentifully for his family, but he loved himself better than them all. The neighbours reported that he was henpecked, which was impossible, by such a mild-spirited woman as his wife was.
* The success of the war.
Law is a bottomless pit; it is a cormorant, a harpy, that devours everything. John Bull was flattered by the lawyers that his suit would not last above a year or two at most; that before that time he would be in quiet possession of his business; yet ten long years did Hocus steer his cause through all the meanders of the law and all the courts. No skill, no address was wanting, and, to say truth, John did not starve the cause; there wanted not yellowboys to fee counsel, hire witnesses, and bribe juries. Lord Strutt was generally cast, never had one verdict in his favour, and John was promised that the next, and the next, would be the final determination; but, alas! that final determination and happy conclusion was like an enchanted island; the nearer John came to it the further it went from him. New trials upon new points still arose, new doubts, new matters to be cleared; in short, lawyers seldom part with so good a cause till they have got the oyster and their clients the shell. John's ready money, book debts, bonds, mortgages, all went into the lawyers' pockets. Then John began to borrow money upon Bank Stock and East India Bonds. Now and then a farm went to pot. At last it was thought a good expedient to set up Esquire South's title to prove the will forged and dispossess Philip Lord Strutt at once. Here again was a new field for the lawyers, and the cause grew more intricate than ever. John grew madder and madder; wherever he met any of Lord Strutt's servants he tore off their clothes. Now and then you would see them come home naked, without shoes, stockings, and linen. As for old Lewis Baboon, he was reduced to his last shift, though he had as many as any other. His children were reduced from rich silks to doily stuffs, his servants in rags and barefooted; instead of good victuals they now lived upon neck beef and bullock's liver. In short, nobody got much by the matter but the men of law.
It is wisely observed by a great philosopher that habit is a second nature. This was verified in the case of John Bull, who, from an honest and plain tradesman, had got such a haunt about the Courts of Justice, and such a jargon of law words, that he concluded himself as able a lawyer as any that pleaded at the bar or sat on the bench. He was overheard one day talking to himself after this manner: "How capriciously does fate or chance dispose of mankind. How seldom is that business allotted to a man for which he is fitted by Nature. It is plain I was intended for a man of law. How did my guardians mistake my genius in placing me, like a mean slave, behind a counter? Bless me! what immense estates these fellows raise by the law. Besides, it is the profession of a gentleman. What a pleasure it is to be victorious in a cause: to swagger at the bar. What a fool am I to drudge any more in this woollen trade. For a lawyer I was born, and a lawyer I will be; one is never too old to learn."* All this while John had conned over such a catalogue of hard words as were enough to conjure up the devil; these he used to babble indifferently in all companies, especially at coffee houses, so that his neighbour tradesmen began to shun his company as a man that was cracked. Instead of the affairs of Blackwell Hall and price of broadcloth, wool, and baizes, he talks of nothing but actions upon the case, returns, capias, alias capias, demurrers, venire facias, replevins, supersedeases, certioraries, writs of error, actions of trover and conversion, trespasses, precipes, and dedimus. This was matter of jest to the learned in law; however Hocus and the rest of the tribe encouraged John in his fancy, assuring him that he had a great genius for law; that they questioned not but in time he might raise money enough by it to reimburse him of all his charges; that if he studied he would undoubtedly arrive to the dignity of a Lord Chief Justice. As for the advice of honest friends and neighbours John despised it; he looked upon them as fellows of a low genius, poor grovelling mechanics. John reckoned it more honour to have got one favourable verdict than to have sold a bale of broadcloth. As for Nic. Frog, to say the truth, he was more prudent; for though he followed his lawsuit closely he neglected not his ordinary business, but was both in court and in his shop at the proper hours.
* The manners and sentiments of the nation at that time.
John had not run on a madding so long had it not been for an extravagant wife, whom Hocus perceiving John to be fond of, was resolved to win over to his side. It is a true saying, that the last man of the parish that knows of his cuckoldom is himself. It was observed by all the neighbourhood that Hocus had dealings with John's wife that were not so much for his honour; but this was perceived by John a little too late: she was a luxurious jade, loved splendid equipages, plays, treats and balls, differing very much from the sober manners of her ancestors, and by no means fit for a tradesman's wife. Hocus fed her extravagancy (what was still more shameful) with John's own money. Everybody said that Hocus had a month's mind to her; be that as it will, it is matter of fact, that upon all occasions she ran out extravagantly on the praise of Hocus. When John used to be finding fault with his bills, she used to reproach him as ungrateful to his greatest benefactor; one that had taken so much pains in his lawsuit, and retrieved his family from the oppression of old Lewis Baboon. A good swinging sum of John's readiest cash went towards building of Hocus's country house.** This affair between Hocus and Mrs. Bull was now so open, that all the world was scandalised at it; John was not so clod-pated, but at last he took the hint. The parson of the parish preaching one day with more zeal than sense against adultery, Mrs. Bull told her husband that he was a very uncivil fellow to use such coarse language before people of condition;*** that Hocus was of the same mind, and that they would join to have him turned out of his living for using personal reflections. How do you mean, says John, by personal reflections? I hope in God, wife, he did not reflect upon you? "No, thank God, my reputation is too well established in the world to receive any hurt from such a foul-mouthed scoundrel as he; his doctrine tends only to make husbands tyrants, and wives slaves; must we be shut up, and husbands left to their liberty? Very pretty indeed! a wife must never go abroad with a Platonic to see a play or a ball; she must never stir without her husband; nor walk in Spring Garden with a cousin. I do say, husband, and I will stand by it, that without the innocent freedoms of life, matrimony would be a most intolerable state; and that a wife's virtue ought to be the result of her own reason, and not of her husband's government: for my part, I would scorn a husband that would be jealous, if he saw a fellow with me." All this while John's blood boiled in his veins: he was now confirmed in all his suspicions; the hardest names, were the best words that John gave her. Things went from better to worse, till Mrs. Bull aimed a knife at John, though John threw a bottle at her head very brutally indeed: and after this there was nothing but confusion; bottles, glasses, spoons, plates, knives, forks, and dishes, flew about like dust; the result of which was, that Mrs. Bull received a bruise in her right side of which she died half a year after. The bruise imposthumated, and afterwards turned to a stinking ulcer, which made everybody shy to come near her, yet she wanted not the help of many able physicians, who attended very diligently, and did what men of skill could do; but all to no purpose, for her condition was now quite desperate, all regular physicians and her nearest relations having given her over.****
* The opinion at that time of the General's tampering with the Parliament. ** Blenheim Palace. *** The story of Dr. Sacheverel, and the resentment of the House of Commons. **** The opinion of the Tories about that House of Commons.
There is nothing so impossible in Nature but mountebanks will undertake; nothing so incredible but they will affirm: Mrs. Bull's condition was looked upon as desperate by all the men of art; but there were those that bragged they had an infallible ointment and plaister, which being applied to the sore, would cure it in a few days; at the same time they would give her a pill that would purge off all her bad humours, sweeten her blood, and rectify her disturbed imagination. In spite of all applications the patient grew worse every day; she stunk so, nobody durst come within a stone's throw of her, except those quacks who attended her close, and apprehended no danger. If one asked them how Mrs. Bull did? Better and better, said they; the parts heal, and her constitution mends: if she submits to our government she will be abroad in a little time. Nay, it is reported that they wrote to her friends in the country that she should dance a jig next October in Westminster Hall, and that her illness had been chiefly owing to bad physicians. At last, one of them was sent for in great haste, his patient grew worse and worse: when he came, he affirmed that it was a gross mistake, and that she was never in a fairer way. Bring hither the salve, says he, and give her a plentiful draught of my cordial. As he was applying his ointments, and administering the cordial, the patient gave up the ghost, to the great confusion of the quack, and the great joy of Bull and his friends. The quack flung away out of the house in great disorder, and swore there was foul play, for he was sure his medicines were infallible. Mrs. Bull having died without any signs of repentance or devotion, the clergy would hardly allow her a Christian burial. The relations had once resolved to sue John for the murder, but considering better of it, and that such a trial would rip up old sores, and discover things not so much to the reputation of the deceased, they dropped their design. She left no will, only there was found in her strong box the following words written on a scrip of paper—"My curse on John Bull, and all my posterity, if ever they come to any composition with the Lord Strutt."
She left him three daughters, whose names were Polemia, Discordia, and Usuria.**
* Endeavours and hopes of some people to hinder the dissolution of that Parliament. ** War, faction, and usury.
John quickly got the better of his grief, and, seeing that neither his constitution nor the affairs of his family, could permit him to live in an unmarried state, he resolved to get him another wife; a cousin of his last wife's was proposed, but John would have no more of the breed. In short, he wedded a sober country gentlewoman, of a good family and a plentiful fortune, the reverse of the other in her temper; not but that she loved money, for she was saving, and applied her fortune to pay John's clamorous debts, that the unfrugal method of his last wife, and this ruinous lawsuit, had brought him into. One day, as she had got her husband in a good humour, she talked to him after the following manner:—"My dear, since I have been your wife, I have observed great abuses and disorders in your family: your servants are mutinous and quarrelsome, and cheat you most abominably; your cookmaid is in a combination with your butcher, poulterer, and fishmonger; your butler purloins your liquor, and the brewer sells you hogwash; your baker cheats both in weight and in tale; even your milkwoman and your nursery-maid have a fellow feeling; your tailor, instead of shreds, cabbages whole yards of cloth; besides, leaving such long scores, and not going to market with ready money forces us to take bad ware of the tradesmen at their own price. You have not posted your books these ten years. How is it possible for a man of business to keep his affairs even in the world at this rate? Pray God this Hocus be honest; would to God you would look over his bills, and see how matters stand between Frog and you. Prodigious sums are spent in this lawsuit, and more must be borrowed of scriveners and usurers at heavy interest. Besides, my dear, let me beg of you to lay aside that wild project of leaving your business to turn lawyer, for which, let me tell you, Nature never designed you. Believe me, these rogues do but flatter, that they may pick your pocket; observe what a parcel of hungry ragged fellows live by your cause; to be sure they will never make an end of it. I foresee this haunt you have got about the courts will one day or another bring your family to beggary. Consider, my dear, how indecent it is to abandon your shop and follow pettifoggers; the habit is so strong upon you, that there is hardly a plea between two country esquires, about a barren acre upon a common, but you draw yourself in as bail, surety, or solicitor." John heard her all this while with patience, till she pricked his maggot, and touched him in the tender point. Then he broke out into a violent passion: "What, I not fit for a lawyer? let me tell you, my clod-pated relations spoiled the greatest genius in the world when they bred me a mechanic. Lord Strutt, and his old rogue of a grandsire, have found to their cost that I can manage a lawsuit as well as another." "I don't deny what you say," replied Mrs. Bull, "nor do I call in question your parts; but, I say, it does not suit with your circumstances; you and your predecessors have lived in good reputation among your neighbours by this same clothing-trade, and it were madness to leave it off. Besides, there are few that know all the tricks and cheats of these lawyers. Does not your own experience teach you how they have drawn you on from one term to another, and how you have danced the round of all the courts, still flattering you with a final issue; and, for aught I can see, your cause is not a bit clearer than it was seven years ago." "I will be hanged," says John, "if I accept of any composition from Strutt or his grandfather; I'll rather wheel about the streets an engine to grind knives and scissors. However, I'll take your advice, and look over my accounts."
* A new Parliament: the aversion of a Tory House of Commons to war.
* Looking over the accounts.
When John first brought out the bills, the surprise of all the family was unexpressible at the prodigious dimensions of them; they would have measured with the best bale of cloth in John's shop. Fees to judges, puny judges, clerks, prothonotaries, philisers, chirographers, under-clerks, proclamators, counsel, witnesses, jurymen, marshals, tipstaffs, criers, porters; for enrollings, exemplifications, bails, vouchers, returns, caveats, examinations, filings of words, entries, declarations, replications, recordats, nolle prosequies, certioraries, mittimuses, demurrers, special verdicts, informations, scire facias, supersedeas, habeas corpus, coach-hire, treating of witnesses, etc. "Verily," says John, "there are a prodigious number of learned words in this law; what a pretty science it is!" "Ay but, husband, you have paid for every syllable and letter of these fine words. Bless me, what immense sums are at the bottom of the account!" John spent several weeks in looking over his bills, and, by comparing and stating his accounts, he discovered that, besides the extravagance of every article, he had been egregiously cheated; that he had paid for counsel that were never fee'd, for writs that were never drawn, for dinners that were never dressed, and journeys that were never made; in short, that the tradesmen, lawyers, and Frog had agreed to throw the burden of the lawsuit upon his shoulders.
Well might the learned Daniel Burgess say, "That a lawsuit is a suit for life. He that sows his grain upon marble will have many a hungry belly before harvest." This John felt by woeful experience. John's cause was a good milch cow, and many a man subsisted his family out of it. However, John began to think it high time to look about him. He had a cousin in the country, one Sir Roger Bold, whose predecessors had been bred up to the law, and knew as much of it as anybody; but having left off the profession for some time, they took great pleasure in compounding lawsuits among their neighbours, for which they were the aversion of the gentlemen of the long robe, and at perpetual war with all the country attorneys. John put his cause in Sir Roger's hands, desiring him to make the best of it. The news had no sooner reached the ears of the lawyers, but they were all in an uproar. They brought all the rest of the tradesmen upon John.** Squire South swore he was betrayed, that he would starve before he compounded; Frog said he was highly wronged; even lying Ned the chimney-sweeper and Tom the dustman complained that their interest was sacrificed; the lawyers, solicitors, Hocus and his clerks, were all up in arms at the news of the composition: they abused him and his wife most shamefully. "You silly, awkward, ill-bred country sow," quoth one, "have you no more manners than to rail at Hocus that has saved that clod-pated numskulled ninny-hammer of yours from ruin, and all his family? It is well known how he has rose early and sat up late to make him easy, when he was sotting at every alehouse in town. I knew his last wife: she was a woman of breeding, good humour, and complaisance—knew how to live in the world. As for you, you look like a puppet moved by clockwork; your clothes hang upon you as they were upon tenter-hooks; and you come into a room as you were going to steal away a pint pot. Get you gone in the country, to look after your mother's poultry, to milk the cows, churn the butter, and dress up nosegays for a holiday, and not meddle with matters which you know no more of than the sign-post before your door. It is well known that Hocus has an established reputation; he never swore an oath, nor told a lie, in all his life; he is grateful to his benefactors, faithful to his friends, liberal to his dependents, and dutiful to his superiors; he values not your money more than the dust under his feet, but he hates to be abused. Once for all, Mrs. Minx, leave off talking of Hocus, or I will pull out these saucer-eyes of yours, and make that redstreak country face look as raw as an ox-cheek upon a butcher's-stall; remember, I say, that there are pillories and ducking-stools."*** With this away they flung, leaving Mrs. Bull no time to reply. No stone was left unturned to frighten John from his composition. Sometimes they spread reports at coffee-houses that John and his wife were run mad; that they intended to give up house, and make over all their estate to Lewis Baboon; that John had been often heard talking to himself, and seen in the streets without shoes or stockings; that he did nothing from morning till night but beat his servants, after having been the best master alive. As for his wife, she was a mere natural. Sometimes John's house was beset with a whole regiment of attornies' clerks, bailiffs, and bailiffs' followers, and other small retainers of the law, who threw stones at his windows, and dirt at himself as he went along the street. When John complained of want of ready-money to carry on his suit, they advised him to pawn his plate and jewels, and that Mrs. Bull should sell her linen and wearing clothes.
* Talk of peace, and the struggle of the party against it. ** The endeavours made use of to stop the Treaty of Peace. *** Reflections upon the House of Commons as ignorant, who know nothing of business.
being a full Answer to the Doctor's Sermon against Adultery.*
* The Tories' representation of the speeches at Sacheverel's trial.
John found daily fresh proofs of the infidelity and bad designs of his deceased wife; amongst other things, one day looking over his cabinet, he found the following paper:—
"It is evident that matrimony is founded upon an original contract, whereby the wife makes over the right she has by the law of Nature in favour of the husband, by which he acquires the property of all her posterity. But, then, the obligation is mutual; and where the contract is broken on one side it ceases to bind on the other. Where there is a right there must be a power to maintain it and to punish the offending party. This power I affirm to be that original right, or rather that indispensable duty lodged in all wives in the cases above mentioned. No wife is bound by any law to which herself has not consented. All economical government is lodged originally in the husband and wife, the executive part being in the husband; both have their privileges secured to them by law and reason; but will any man infer from the husband being invested with the executive power, that the wife is deprived of her share, and that she has no remedy left but preces and lacrymae, or an appeal to a supreme court of judicature? No less frivolous are the arrangements that are drawn from the general appellations and terms of husband and wife. A husband denotes several different sorts of magistracy, according to the usages and customs of different climates and countries. In some eastern nations it signifies a tyrant, with the absolute power of life and death. In Turkey it denotes an arbitrary governor, with power of perpetual imprisonment; in Italy it gives the husband the power of poison and padlocks; in the countries of England, France, and Holland, it has a quite different meaning, implying a free and equal government, securing to the wife in certain cases the liberty of change, and the property of pin-money and separate maintenance. So that the arguments drawn from the terms of husband and wife are fallacious, and by no means fit to support a tyrannical doctrine, as that of absolute unlimited chastity and conjugal fidelity.
"The general exhortations to fidelity in wives are meant only for rules in ordinary cases, but they naturally suppose three conditions of ability, justice, and fidelity in the husband; such an unlimited, unconditioned fidelity in the wife could never be supposed by reasonable men. It seems a reflection upon the Church to charge her with doctrines that countenance oppression.
"This doctrine of the original right of change is congruous to the law of Nature, which is superior to all human laws, and for that I dare appeal to all wives: It is much to the honour of our English wives that they have never given up that fundamental point, and that though in former ages they were muffled up in darkness and superstition, yet that notion seemed engraven on their minds, and the impression so strong that nothing could impair it.
"To assert the illegality of change, upon any pretence whatsoever, were to cast odious colours upon the married state, to blacken the necessary means of perpetuating families—such laws can never be supposed to have been designed to defeat the very end of matrimony. I call them necessary means, for in many cases what other means are left? Such a doctrine wounds the honour of families, unsettles the titles to kingdoms, honours, and estates; for if the actions from which such settlements spring were illegal, all that is built upon them must be so too; but the last is absurd, therefore the first must be so likewise. What is the cause that Europe groans at present under the heavy load of a cruel and expensive war, but the tyrannical custom of a certain nation, and the scrupulous nicety of a silly queen in not exercising this indispensable duty, whereby the kingdom might have had an heir, and a controverted succession might have been avoided. These are the effects of the narrow maxims of your clergy, 'That one must not do evil that good may come of it.'
"The assertors of this indefeasible right, and jus divinum of matrimony, do all in their hearts favour the pretenders to married women; for if the true legal foundation of the married state be once sapped, and instead thereof tyrannical maxims introduced, what must follow but elopements instead of secret and peaceable change?
"From all that has been said, one may clearly perceive the absurdity of the doctrine of this seditious, discontented, hot-headed, ungifted, unedifying preacher, asserting 'that the grand security of the matrimonial state, and the pillar upon which it stands, is founded upon the wife's belief of an absolute unconditional fidelity to the husband;' by which bold assertion he strikes at the root, digs the foundation, and removes the basis upon which the happiness of a married state is built. As for his personal reflections, I would gladly know who are those 'wanton wives' he speaks of? who are those ladies of high stations that he so boldly traduces in his sermon? It is pretty plain who these aspersions are aimed at, for which he deserves the pillory, or something worse.
"In confirmation of this doctrine of the indispensable duty of change, I could bring the example of the wisest wives in all ages, who by these means have preserved their husband's families from ruin and oblivion by want of posterity; but what has been said is a sufficient ground for punishing this pragmatical parson."
*Those who were for and against the doctrine of nonresistance.
The doctrine of unlimited fidelity in wives was universally espoused by all husbands, who went about the country and made the wives sign papers signifying their utter detestation and abhorrence of Mrs. Bull's wicked doctrine of the indispensable duty of change. Some yielded, others refused to part with their native liberty, which gave rise to two great parties amongst the wives, the Devotos and the Hitts. Though, it must be owned, the distinction was more nominal than real; for the Devotos would abuse freedoms sometimes, and those who were distinguished by the name of Hitts were often very honest. At the same time there was an ingenious treatise came out with the title of "Good Advice to Husbands," in which they are counselled not to trust too much to their wives owning the doctrine of unlimited conjugal fidelity, and so to neglect a due watchfulness over the manners of their wives; that the greatest security to husbands was a good usage of their wives and keeping them from temptation, many husbands having been sufferers by their trusting too much to general professions, as was exemplified in the case of a foolish and negligent husband, who, trusting to the efficacy of this principle, was undone by his wife's elopement from him.
* A Tory nobleman who, by his influence upon the House of Commons, endeavoured to stop the Treaty.
The lawyers, as their last effort to put off the composition, sent Don Diego to John. Don Diego was a very worthy gentleman, a friend to John, his mother, and present wife, and, therefore, supposed to have some influence over her. He had been ill used himself by John's lawyers, but because of some animosity to Sir Roger was against the composition. The conference between him and Mrs. Bull was word for word as follows:—
DON DIEGO.—Is it possible, cousin Bull, that you can forget the honourable maxims of the family you are come of, and break your word with three of the honestest, best-meaning persons in the world—Esquires South, Frog, and Hocus—that have sacrificed their interests to yours? It is base to take advantage of their simplicity and credulity, and leave them in the lurch at last.
MRS. BULL—I am sure they have left my family in a bad condition, we have hardly money to go to market; and nobody will take our words for sixpence. A very fine spark this Esquire South! My husband took him in, a dirty boy. It was the business of half the servants to attend him.* The rogue did bawl and make such a noise: sometimes he fell in the fire and burnt his face, sometimes broke his shins clambering over the benches, and always came in so dirty, as if he had been dragged through the kennel at a boarding-school. He lost his money at chuck-farthing, shuffle-cap, and all-fours; sold his books, pawned his linen, which we were always forced to redeem. Then the whole generation of him are so in love with bagpipes and puppet-shows! I wish you knew what my husband has paid at the pastry-cook's and confectioner's for Naples biscuits, tarts, custards, and sweetmeats. All this while my husband considered him as a gentleman of a good family that had fallen into decay, gave him good education, and has settled him in a good creditable way of living—having procured him, by his interest, one of the best places of the country. And what return, think you, does this fine gentleman make us? he will hardly give me or my husband a good word, or a civil expression. Instead of Sir and Madam (which, though I say it, is our due), he calls us "goody" and "gaffer" such-a-one; says he did us a great deal of honour to board with us; huffs and dings at such a rate, because we will not spend the little we have left to get him the title and estate of Lord Strutt; and then forsooth, we shall have the honour to be his woollen-drapers.** Besides, Esquire South will be Esquire South still; fickle, proud, and ungrateful. If he behaves himself so when he depends on us for his daily bread, can any man say what he will do when he is got above the world?
* Something relating to the manners of a great prince, superstition, love of operas, shows, etc. ** Something relating to forms and titles.
D. DIEGO.—And would you lose the honour of so noble and generous an undertaking? Would you rather accept this scandalous composition, and trust that old rogue, Lewis Baboon?
MRS. BULL.—Look you, Friend Diego, if we law it on till Lewis turns honest, I am afraid our credit will run low at Blackwell Hall. I wish every man had his own; but I still say, that Lord Strutt's money shines as bright and chinks as well as Esquire South's. I don't know any other hold that we tradesmen have of these great folks but their interest: buy dear and sell cheap, and I warrant ye you will keep your customer. The worst is, that Lord Strutt's servants have got such a haunt about that old rogue's shop, that it will cost us many a firkin of strong beer to bring them back again; and the longer they are in a bad road, the harder it will be to get them out of it.
D. DIEGO.—But poor Frog, what has he done! On my conscience, if there be an honest, sincere man in the world, it is that Frog.
MRS. BULL.—I think I need not tell you how much Frog has been obliged to our family from his childhood; he carries his head high now, but he had never been the man he is without our help.* Ever since the commencement of this lawsuit, it has been the business of Hocus, in sharing out expenses, to plead for Frog. "Poor Frog," says he, "is in hard circumstances, he has a numerous family, and lives from hand to mouth; his children don't eat a bit of good victuals from one year's end to the other, but live upon salt herring, sour curd, and borecole. He does his utmost, poor fellow, to keep things even in the world, and has exerted himself beyond his ability in this lawsuit; but he really has not wherewithal to go on. What signifies this hundred pounds? place it upon your side of the account; it is a great deal to poor Frog, and a trifle to you." This has been Hocus's constant language, and I am sure he has had obligations enough to us to have acted another part.
* Complaints of the House of Commons of the unequal burden of the war.
D. DIEGO.—No doubt Hocus meant all this for the best, but he is a tender-hearted, charitable man; Frog is indeed in hard circumstances.
MRS. BULL—Hard circumstances! I swear this is provoking to the last degree. All the time of the lawsuit, as fast as I have mortgaged, Frog has purchased: from a plain tradesman, with a shop, warehouse, and a country hut with a dirty fish-pond at the end of it, he is now grown a very rich country gentleman, with a noble landed estate, noble palaces, manors, parks, gardens, and farms, finer than any we were ever master of.* Is it not strange, when my husband disbursed great sums every term, Frog should be purchasing some new farm or manor? so that if this lawsuit lasts, he will be far the richest man in his country. What is worse than all this, he steals away my customers every day; twelve of the richest and the best have left my shop by his persuasion, and whom, to my certain knowledge, he has under bonds never to return again: judge you if this be neighbourly dealing.
* The Dutch acquisitions in Flanders.
D. DIEGO—Frog is indeed pretty close in his dealings, but very honest: you are so touchy, and take things so hotly, I am sure there must be some mistake in this.
MRS. BULL—A plaguy one indeed! You know, and have often told me of it, how Hocus and those rogues kept my husband, John Bull, drunk for five years together with punch and strong waters: I am sure he never went one night sober to bed, till they got him to sign the strangest deed that ever you saw in your life. The methods they took to manage him I'll tell you another time; at present I'll read only the writing.
Articles of Agreement betwixt JOHN BULL, Clothier, and NICHOLAS FROG, Linen-draper.*
* The sentiments of the House of Commons, and their representation of the Barrier Treaty.
I. That for maintaining the ancient good correspondence and friendship between the said parties, I, Nicholas Frog, do solemnly engage and promise to keep peace in John Bull's family; that neither his wife, children, nor servants, give him any trouble, disturbance, or molestation whatsoever, but to oblige them all to do their duty quietly in their respective stations. And whereas the said John Bull, from the assured confidence that he has in my friendship, has appointed me executor of his last will and testament, and guardian to his children, I do undertake for me, my heirs and assigns, to see the same duly executed and performed, and that it shall be unalterable in all its parts by John Bull, or anybody else: for that purpose it shall be lawful and allowable for me to enter his house at any hour of the day or night, to break open bars, bolts, and doors, chests of drawers, and strong boxes, in order to secure the peace of my friend John Bull's family, and to see his will duly executed.
II. In consideration of which kind neighbourly office of Nicholas Frog, in that he has been pleased to accept of the aforesaid trust, I, John Bull, having duly considered that my friend, Nicholas Frog, at this time lives in a marshy soil and unwholesome air, infested with fogs and damps, destructive of the health of himself, wife, and children, do bind and oblige me, my heirs and assigns, to purchase for the said Nicholas Frog, with the best and readiest of my cash, bonds, mortgages, goods and chattels, a landed estate, with parks, gardens, palaces, rivers, fields, and outlets, consisting of as large extent as the said Nicholas Frog shall think fit. And whereas the said Nicholas Frog is at present hemmed in too close by the grounds of Lewis Baboon, master of the science of defence, I, the said John Bull, do oblige myself with the readiest of my cash, to purchase and enclose the said grounds, for as many fields and acres as the said Nicholas shall think fit; to the intent that the said Nicholas may have free egress and regress, without let or molestation, suitable to the demands of himself and family.
III. Furthermore, the said John Bull obliges himself to make the country neighbours of Nicholas Frog allot a certain part of yearly rents, to pay for the repairs of the said landed estate, to the intent that his good friend, Nicholas Frog, may be eased of all charges.
IV. And whereas the said Nicholas Frog did contract with the deceased Lord Strutt about certain liberties, privileges, and immunities, formerly in the possession of the said John Bull, I, the said John Bull, do freely by these presents, renounce, quit, and make over to the said Nicholas, the liberties, privileges, and immunities contracted for, in as full a manner, as if they never had belonged to me.
V. The said John Bull obliges himself, his heirs and assigns, not to sell one rag of broad or coarse cloth to any gentleman within the neighbourhood of the said Nicholas, except in such quantities and such rates as the said Nicholas shall think fit.
Signed and sealed,
JOHN BULL, NIC. FROG.
The reading of this paper put Mrs. Bull in such a passion that she fell downright into a fit, and they were forced to give her a good quantity of the spirit of hartshorn before she recovered.
D. DIEGO—Why in such a passion, cousin? considering your circumstances at that time, I don't think this such an unreasonable contract. You see Frog, for all this, is religiously true to his bargain; he scorns to hearken to any composition without your privacy.
MRS. BULL.—You know the contrary.* Read that letter.
[Reads the superscription.] For Lewis Baboon, Master of the Noble Science of Defence.
"SIR.—I understand that you are at this time treating with my friend John Bull, about restoring the Lord Strutt's custom, and besides allowing him certain privileges of parks and fish-ponds; I wonder how you that are a man that knows the world, can talk with that simple fellow. He has been my bubble these twenty years, and to my certain knowledge, understands no more of his own affairs than a child in swaddling clothes. I know he has got a sort of a pragmatical silly jade of a wife, that pretends to take him out of my hands; but you and she both will find yourselves mistaken; I'll find those that shall manage her; and for him, he dares as well be hanged as make one step in his affairs without my consent. If you will give me what you promised him, I will make all things easy, and stop the deeds of ejectment against Lord Strutt: if you will not, take what follows. I shall have a good action against you, for pretending to rob me of my bubble. Take this warning from
"Your loving friend,
* Secret negotiations of the Dutch at that time.
I am told, cousin Diego, you are one of those that have undertaken to manage me, and that you have said you will carry a green bag yourself, rather than we shall make an end of our lawsuit: I'll teach them and you too to manage.
D. DIEGO.—For God's sake, madam, why so choleric? I say this letter is some forgery; it never entered into the head of that honest man, Nic. Frog, to do any such thing.
MRS. BULL.—I can't abide you. You have been railing these twenty years at Squire South, Frog, and Hocus, calling them rogues and pickpockets, and now they are turned the honestest fellows in the world. What is the meaning of all this?
D. DIEGO.—Pray tell me how you came to employ this Sir Roger in your affairs, and not think of your old friend Diego?
MRS. BULL.—So, so, there it pinches. To tell you truth, I have employed Sir Roger in several weighty affairs, and have found him trusty and honest, and the poor man always scorned to take a farthing of me. I have abundance that profess great zeal, but they are damnable greedy of the pence. My husband and I are now in such circumstances, that we must be served upon cheaper terms than we have been.
D. DIEGO.—Well, cousin, I find I can do no good with you; I am sorry that you will ruin yourself by trusting this Sir Roger.
* Concerns of the party, and speeches for carrying on the war, etc. Sentiments of the Tories and House of Commons against continuing the war for setting King Charles upon the throne of Spain.
I told you in a former chapter that Mrs. Bull, before she departed this life, had blessed John with three daughters. I need not here repeat their names, neither would I willingly use any scandalous reflections upon young ladies, whose reputations ought to be very tenderly handled; but the characters of these were so well known in the neighbourhood, that it is doing them no injury to make a short description of them.
The eldest* was a termagant, imperious, prodigal, lewd, profligate wench, as ever breathed; she used to rantipole about the house, pinch the children, kick the servants, and torture the cats and the dogs; she would rob her father's strong box, for money to give the young fellows that she was fond of. She had a noble air, and something great in her mien, but such a noisome infectious breath, as threw all the servants that dressed her into consumptions; if she smelt to the freshest nosegay, it would shrivel and wither as it had been blighted: she used to come home in her cups, and break the china, and the looking-glasses; and was of such an irregular temper, and so entirely given up to her passion, that you might argue as well with the North wind, as with her ladyship: so expensive, that the income of three dukedoms was not enough to supply her extravagance. Hocus loved her best, believing her to be his own, got upon the body of Mrs. Bull.
The second daughter,* born a year after her sister, was a peevish, froward, ill-conditioned creature as ever was, ugly as the devil, lean, haggard, pale, with saucer eyes, a sharp nose, and hunched backed; but active, sprightly, and diligent about her affairs. Her ill complexion was occasioned by her bad diet, which was coffee** morning, noon, and night. She never rested quietly a-bed, but used to disturb the whole family with shrieking out in her dreams, and plague them next day with interpreting them, for she took them all for gospel; she would cry out "Murder!" and disturb the whole neighbourhood; and when John came running downstairs to inquire what the matter was, nothing forsooth, only her maid had stuck a pin wrong in her gown; she turned away one servant for putting too much oil in her salad, and another for putting too little salt in her water-gruel; but such as by flattery had procured her esteem, she would indulge in the greatest crime. Her father had two coachmen; when one was in the coach-box, if the coach swung but the least to one side, she used to shriek so loud, that all the street concluded she was overturned; but though the other was eternally drunk, and had overturned the whole family, she was very angry with her father for turning him away. Then she used to carry tales and stories from one to another, till she had set the whole neighbourhood together by the ears; and this was the only diversion she took pleasure in. She never went abroad, but she brought home such a bundle of monstrous lies, as would have amazed any mortal, but such as know her: of a whale that had swallowed a fleet of ships; of the lions being let out of the Tower, to destroy the Protestant religion; of the Pope's being seen in a brandy-shop at Wapping; and a prodigious strong man that was going to shove down the cupola of St. Paul's; of three millions of five pound pieces that Squire South had found under an old wall; of blazing stars, flying dragons, and abundance of such stuff. All the servants in the family made high court to her, for she domineered there, and turned out and in whom she pleased; only there was an old grudge between her and Sir Roger, whom she mortally hated and used to hire fellows to squirt kennel water upon him as he passed along the streets; so that he was forced constantly to wear a surtout of oiled cloth, by which means he came home pretty clean, except where the surtout was a little scanty.
* Discordia. ** Coffee-house tattle.
As for the third* she was a thief and a common mercenary. She had no respect of persons: a prince or a porter was all one, according as they paid; yea, she would leave the finest gentleman in the world to go to an ugly fellow for sixpence more. In the practice of her profession she had amassed vast magazines of all sorts of things: she had above five hundred suits of fine clothes, and yet went abroad like a cinder wench. She robbed and starved all the servants, so that nobody could live near her.
So much for John's three daughters, which you will say were rarities to be fond of. Yet Nature will shew itself. Nobody could blame their relations for taking care of them, and therefore it was that Hocus, with two other of the guardians, thought it their duty to take care of the interest of the three girls and give John their best advice before he compounded the lawsuit.
HOCUS.—What makes you so shy of late, my good friend? There's nobody loves you better than I, nor has taken more pains in your affairs. As I hope to be saved I would do anything to serve you; I would crawl upon all fours to serve you; I have spent my health and paternal estate in your service. I have, indeed, a small pittance left, with which I might retire, and with as good a conscience as any man; but the thoughts of this disgraceful composition so touches me to the quick that I cannot sleep. After I had brought the cause to the last stroke, that one verdict more had quite ruined old Lewis and Lord Strutt, and put you in the quiet possession of everything—then to compound! I cannot bear it. This cause was my favourite; I had set my heart upon it; it is like an only child; I cannot endure it should miscarry. For God's sake consider only to what a dismal condition old Lewis is brought. He is at an end of all his cash; his attorneys have hardly one trick left; they are at an end of all their chicane; besides, he has both his law and his daily bread now upon trust. Hold out only one term longer, and I'll warrant you before the next we shall have him in the Fleet. I'll bring him to the pillory; his ears shall pay for his perjuries. For the love of God don't compound. Let me be damned if you have a friend in the world that loves you better than I. There is nobody can say I am covetous or that I have any interests to pursue but yours.
SECOND GUARDIAN.—There is nothing so plain as that this Lewis has a design to ruin all his neighbouring tradesmen, and at this time he has such a prodigious income by his trade of all kinds, that, if there is not some stop put to his exorbitant riches, he will monopolise everything; nobody will be able to sell a yard of drapery or mercery ware but himself. I then hold it advisable that you continue the lawsuit and burst him at once. My concern for the three poor motherless children obliges me to give you this advice; for their estates, poor girls, depend upon the success of this cause.
THIRD GUARDIAN.—I own this Writ of Ejectment has cost dear, but then consider it is a jewel well worth the purchasing at the price of all you have. None but Mr. Bull's declared enemies can say he has any other security for his clothing trade but the ejectment of Lord Strutt. The only question, then, that remains to be decided is: who shall stand the expenses of the suit? To which the answer is as plain: who but he that is to have the advantage of the sentence? When Esquire South has got possession of his title and honour is not John Bull to be his clothier? Who, then, but John ought to put in possession? Ask but any indifferent gentleman, Who ought to bear his charges at law? and he will readily answer, His tradesmen. I do therefore affirm, and I will go to death with it, that, being his clothier, you ought to put him in quiet possession of his estate, and with the same generous spirit you have begun it complete the good work. If you persist in the bad measures you are now in, what must become of the three poor orphans! My heart bleeds for the poor girls.
JOHN BULL.—You are all very eloquent persons, but give me leave to tell you you express a great deal more concern for the three girls than for me. I think my interest ought to be considered in the first place. As for you, Hocus, I can't but say you have managed my lawsuit with great address and much to my honour, and, though I say it, you have been well paid for it. Why must the burden be taken off Frog's back and laid upon my shoulders? He can drive about his own parks and fields in his gilt chariot, when I have been forced to mortgage my estate; his note will go farther than my bond. Is it not matter of fact, that from the richest tradesman in all the country, I am reduced to beg and borrow from scriveners and usurers that suck the heart, blood, and guts out of me, and what is all this for! Did you like Frog's countenance better than mine? Was not I your old friend and relation? Have I not presented you nobly? Have I not clad your whole family? Have you not had a hundred yards at a time of the finest cloth in my shop? Why must the rest of the tradesmen be not only indemnified from charges, but forbid to go on with their own business, and what is more their concern than mine? As to holding out this term I appeal to your own conscience, has not that been your constant discourse these six years, "One term more and old Lewis goes to pot?" If thou art so fond of my cause be generous for once, and lend me a brace of thousands. Ah, Hocus! Hocus! I know thee: not a sous to save me from jail, I trow. Look ye, gentlemen, I have lived with credit in the world, and it grieves my heart never to stir out of my doors but to be pulled by the sleeve by some rascally dun or other. "Sir, remember my bill. There's a small concern of a thousand pounds; I hope you think on't, sir." And to have these usurers transact my debts at coffee-houses and ale-houses, as if I were going to break up shop. Lord! that ever the rich, the generous John Bull, clothier, the envy of all his neighbours, should be brought to compound his debts for five shillings in the pound, and to have his name in an advertisement for a statute of bankrupt. The thought of it makes me mad. I have read somewhere in the Apocrypha, "That one should not consult with a woman touching her of whom she is jealous; nor with a merchant concerning exchange; nor with a buyer, of selling; nor with an unmerciful man, of kindness, etc." I could have added one thing more: nor with an attorney about compounding a lawsuit. The ejectment of Lord Strutt will never do. The evidence is crimp: the witnesses swear backwards and forwards, and contradict themselves; and his tenants stick by him. One tells me that I must carry on my suit, because Lewis is poor; another, because he is still too rich: whom shall I believe? I am sure of one thing, that a penny in the purse is the best friend John can have at last, and who can say that this will be the last suit I shall be engaged in? Besides, if this ejectment were practicable is it reasonable that, when Esquire South is losing his money to sharpers and pickpockets, going about the country with fiddlers and buffoons, and squandering his income with hawks and dogs, I should lay out the fruits of my honest industry in a lawsuit for him, only upon the hopes of being his clothier? And when the cause is over I shall not have the benefit of my project for want of money to go to market. Look ye, gentlemen, John Bull is but a plain man, but John Bull knows when he is ill used. I know the infirmity of our family: we are apt to play the boon-companion and throw away our money in our cups. But it was an unfair thing in you, gentlemen, to take advantage of my weakness, to keep a parcel of roaring bullies about me day and night, with huzzas and hunting horns, and ringing the changes on butcher's cleavers; never let me cool, and make me set my hand to papers when I could hardly hold my pen. There will come a day of reckoning for all that proceeding. In the meantime, gentlemen, I beg you will let me into my affairs a little, and that you would not grudge me the small remainder of a very great estate.
* Complaints of the deficiencies of the House of Austria, Prince Eugene's journey and message.
The arguments used by Hocus and the rest of the guardians had hitherto proved insufficient. John and his wife could not be persuaded to bear the expense of Esquire South's lawsuit. They thought it reasonable that, since he was to have the honour and advantage, he should bear the greatest share of the charges, and retrench what he lost to sharpers and spent upon country dances and puppet plays to apply it to that use. This was not very grateful to the esquire; therefore, as the last experiment, he was resolved to send Signior Benenato, master of his foxhounds, to Mrs. Bull to try what good he could do with her. This Signior Benenato had all the qualities of a fine gentleman that were set to charm a lady's heart, and if any person in the world could have persuaded her it was he. But such was her unshaken fidelity to her husband, and the constant purpose of her mind to pursue his interest, that the most refined arts of gallantry that were practised could not seduce her heart. The necklaces, diamond crosses, and rich bracelets that were offered she rejected with the utmost scorn and disdain. The music and serenades that were given her sounded more ungratefully in her ears than the noise of a screech owl. However, she received Esquire South's letter by the hands of Signior Benenato with that respect which became his quality. The copy of the letter is as follows, in which you will observe he changes a little his usual style:—
MADAM,—The Writ of Ejectment against Philip Baboon (pretended Lord Strutt) is just ready to pass. There want but a few necessary forms and a verdict or two more to put me in the quiet possession of my honour and estate. I question not but that, according to your wonted generosity and goodness, you will give it the finishing stroke: an honour that I would grudge anybody but yourself. In order to ease you of some part of the charges, I promise to furnish pen, ink, and paper, provided you pay for the stamps. Besides, I have ordered my stewards to pay out of the readiest and best of my rents five pounds ten shillings a year till my suit is finished. I wish you health and happiness, being with due respect,
Madam, your assured friend,
What answer Mrs. Bull returned to this letter you shall know in my second part, only they were at a pretty good distance in their proposals; for as Esquire South only offered to be at the charges of pen, ink, and paper, Mrs. Bull refused any more than to lend her barge* to carry his counsel to Westminster Hall.
* Sending the English Fleet to convoy the forces to Barcelona.
The world is much indebted to the famous Sir Humphry Polesworth for his ingenious and impartial account of John Bull's lawsuit. Yet there is just cause of complaint against him, in that he relates it only by parcels, and won't give us the whole work. This forces me, who am only the publisher, to bespeak the assistance of his friends and acquaintance to engage him to lay aside that stingey humour and gratify the curiosity of the public at once. He pleads in excuse that they are only private memoirs, wrote for his own use in a loose style to serve as a help to his ordinary conversation. I represented to him the good reception the first part had met with; that, though calculated only for the meridian of Grub Street, it was yet taken notice of by the better sort; that the world was now sufficiently acquainted with John Bull, and interested itself in his concerns. He answered with a smile, that he had, indeed, some trifling things to impart that concerned John Bull's relations and domestic affairs. If these would satisfy me he gave me free leave to make use of them, because they would serve to make the history of the lawsuit more intelligible. When I had looked over the manuscript I found likewise some further account of the composition, which, perhaps, may not be unacceptable to such as have read the former part.
* The Church of England.
John had a mother whom he loved and honoured extremely, a discreet, grave, sober, good-conditioned, cleanly old gentlewoman as ever lived. She was none of your cross-grained, termagant, scolding jades that one had as good be hanged as live in the house with, such as are always censuring the conduct and telling scandalous stories of their neighbours, extolling their own good qualities and undervaluing those of others. On the contrary, she was of a meek spirit, and, as she was strictly virtuous herself, so she always put the best construction upon the words and actions of her neighbours, except where they were irreconcileable to the rules of honesty and decency. She was neither one of your precise prudes, nor one of your fantastical old belles that dress themselves like girls of fifteen; as she neither wore a ruff, forehead-cloth, nor high-crowned hat, so she had laid aside feathers, flowers, and crimpt ribbons in her head-dress, furbelow-scarfs, and hooped-petticoats. She scorned to patch and paint, yet she loved to keep her hands and her face clean. Though she wore no flaunting laced ruffles, she would not keep herself in a constant sweat with greasy flannel. Though her hair was not stuck with jewels, she was not ashamed of a diamond cross; she was not, like some ladies, hung about with toys and trinkets, tweezer-cases, pocket-glasses, and essence-bottles; she used only a gold watch and an almanack to mark the hours and the holy days.
Her furniture was neat and genteel, well fancied with a bon gout. As she affected not the grandeur of a state with a canopy, she thought there was no offence in an elbow-chair. She had laid aside your carving, gilding, and Japan work as being too apt to gather dirt. But she never could be prevailed upon to part with plain wainscot and clean hangings. There are some ladies that affect to smell a stink in everything; they are always highly perfumed, and continually burning frankincense in their rooms. She was above such affectation, yet she never would lay aside the use of brooms and scrubbing-brushes, and scrupled not to lay her linen in fresh lavender.
She was no less genteel in her behaviour, well-bred, without affectation; in the due mean between one of your affected, curtseying pieces of formality and your romps that have no regard to the common rules of civility. There are some ladies that affect a mighty regard for their relations. "We must not eat to-day, for my uncle Tom, or my cousin Betty, died this time ten years. Let's have a ball to-night, it is my neighbour Such-a-one's birthday." She looked upon all this as grimace, yet she constantly observed her husband's birthday, her wedding-day, and some few more.
Though she was a truly good woman, and had a sincere motherly love for her son John, yet there wanted not those who endeavoured to create a misunderstanding between them, and they had so far prevailed with him once that he turned her out of doors, to his great sorrow, as he found afterwards, for his affairs went on at sixes and sevens.
She was no less judicious in the turn of her conversation and choice of her studies, in which she far exceeded all her sex. Your rakes that hate the company of all sober, grave gentlewomen would bear hers, and she would, by her handsome manner of proceeding, sooner reclaim than some that were more sour and reserved. She was a zealous preacher up of conjugal fidelity in wives, and by no means a friend to the new-fangled doctrine of the indispensable duty of change. Though she advanced her opinions with a becoming assurance, yet she never ushered them in as some positive creatures will do, with dogmatical assertions. "This is infallible; I cannot be mistaken; none but a rogue can deny it." It has been observed that such people are oftener in the wrong than anybody.
Though she had a thousand good qualities, she was not without her faults, amongst which one might, perhaps, reckon too great lenity to her servants, to whom she always gave good counsel, but often too gentle correction. I thought I could not say less of John Bull's mother, because she bears a part in the following transactions.
* The nation and Church of Scotland.
John had a sister, a poor girl that had been starved at nurse. Anybody would have guessed Miss to have been bred up under the influence of a cruel stepdame, and John to be the fondling of a tender mother. John looked ruddy and plump, with a pair of cheeks like a trumpeter; Miss looked pale and wan, as if she had the green sickness; and no wonder, for John was the darling: he had all the good bits, was crammed with good pullet, chicken, pig, goose, and capon; while Miss had only a little oatmeal and water, or a dry crust without butter. John had his golden pippins, peaches, and nectarines; poor Miss, a crab-apple, sloe, or a blackberry. Master lay in the best apartment, with his bedchamber towards the south sun. Miss lodged in a garret exposed to the north wind, which shrivelled her countenance. However, this usage, though it stunted the girl in her growth, gave her a hardy constitution; she had life and spirit in abundance, and knew when she was ill-used. Now and then she would seize upon John's commons, snatch a leg of a pullet, or a bit of good beef, for which they were sure to go to fisticuffs. Master was indeed too strong for her, but Miss would not yield in the least point; but even when Master had got her down, she would scratch and bite like a tiger; when he gave her a cuff on the ear, she would prick him with her knitting-needle. John brought a great chain one day to tie her to the bedpost, for which affront Miss aimed a penknife at his heart. In short, these quarrels grew up to rooted aversions; they gave one another nicknames, though the girl was a tight clever wench as any was, and through her pale looks you might discern spirit and vivacity, which made her not, indeed, a perfect beauty, but something that was agreeable. It was barbarous in parents not to take notice of these early quarrels, and make them live better together, such domestic feuds proving afterwards the occasion of misfortunes to them both. Peg had, indeed, some odd humours* and comical antipathy, for which John would jeer her. "What think you of my sister Peg," says he, "that faints at the sound of an organ, and yet will dance and frisk at the noise of a bagpipe?" "What's that to you?" quoth Peg. "Everybody's to choose their own music." Then Peg had taken a fancy not to say her Paternoster, which made people imagine strange things of her. Of the three brothers that have made such a clutter in the world—Lord Peter, Martin, and Jack—Jack had of late been her inclinations. Lord Peter she detested, nor did Martin stand much better in her good graces; but Jack had found the way to her heart. I have often admired what charms she discovered in that awkward booby, till I talked with a person that was acquainted with the intrigue, who gave me the following account of it.
* Love of Presbytery.
* Character of the Presbyterians.
In the first place, Jack was a very young fellow, by much the youngest of the three brothers, and people, indeed, wondered how such a young upstart jackanapes should grow so pert and saucy, and take so much upon him.
Jack bragged of greater abilities than other men. He was well gifted, as he pretended: I need not tell you what secret influence that has upon the ladies.
Jack had a most scandalous tongue, and persuaded Peg that all mankind, besides himself, were plagued by that scarlet-faced woman, Signiora Bubonia.* "As for his brother, Lord Peter, the tokens were evident on him—blotches and scabs. His brother Martin, though he was not quite so bad, had some nocturnal pains, which his friends pretended were only scorbutical; but he was sure it proceeded from a worse cause." By such malicious insinuations he had possessed the lady that he was the only man in the world of a sound, pure, and untainted constitution, though there were some that stuck not to say that Signiora Bubonia and Jack railed at one another only the better to hide an intrigue, and that Jack had been found with Signiora under his cloak, carrying her home on a dark stormy night.
* The Woman of Babylon, or the Pope.
Jack was a prodigious ogler; he would ogle you the outside of his eye inward, and the white upward.
Jack gave himself out for a man of a great estate in the Fortunate Islands, of which the sole property was vested in his person. By this trick he cheated abundance of poor people of small sums, pretending to make over plantations in the said islands; but when the poor wretches came there with Jack's grant, they were beat, mocked, and turned out of doors.
I told you that Peg was whimsical, and loved anything that was particular. In that way Jack was her man, for he neither thought, spoke, dressed, nor acted like other mortals. He was for your bold strokes. He railed at fops, though he was himself the most affected in the world; instead of the common fashion, he would visit his mistress in a mourning-cloak, band, short cuffs, and a peaked beard. He invented a way of coming into a room backwards, which he said showed more humility and less affectation. Where other people stood, he sat; where they sat, he stood; when he went to Court, he used to kick away the state, and sit down by his prince cheek by jowl. "Confound these states," says he, "they are a modern invention." When he spoke to his prince, he always turned his back upon him. If he was advised to fast for his health, he would eat roast beef; if he was allowed a more plentiful diet, then he would be sure that day to live upon water-gruel; he would cry at a wedding, laugh and make jests at a funeral.
He was no less singular in his opinions. You would have burst your sides to hear him talk of politics. "All government," says he, "is founded upon the right distribution of punishments: decent executions keep the world in awe; for that reason, the majority of mankind ought to be hanged every year. For example, I suppose the magistrate ought to pass an irreversible sentence upon all blue-eyed children from the cradle; but that there may be some show of justice in this proceeding, these children ought to be trained up by masters, appointed for that purpose, to all sorts of villany, that they may deserve their fate, and the execution of them may serve as an object of terror to the rest of mankind."* As to the giving of pardons, he had this singular method:** that when these wretches had the rope about their necks, it should be inquired who believed they should be hanged, and who not? The first were to be pardoned, the last hanged outright. Such as were once pardoned were never to be hanged afterwards for any crime whatsoever. He had such skill in physiognomy, that he would pronounce peremptorily upon a man's face. "That fellow," says he, "do what he will, can't avoid hanging; he has a hanging look." By the same art he would prognosticate a principality to a scoundrel.
* Absolute predestination and reprobation. ** Saving Faith: a belief that one shall certainly be saved.
He was no less particular in the choice of his studies; they were generally bent towards exploded chimeras*—the perpetuum mobile, the circular shot, philosopher's stone, silent gunpowder, making chains for fleas, nets for flies, and instruments to unravel cobwebs and split hairs.
* The learning of the Presbyterians.
Thus, I think, I have given a distinct account of the methods he practised upon Peg. Her brother would now and then ask her, "What dost thou see in that pragmatical coxcomb to make thee so in love with him? He is a fit match for a tailor's or a shoemaker's daughter, but not for you that are a gentlewoman?" "Fancy is free," quoth Peg; "I'll take my own way, do you take yours. I do not care for your flaunting beaus, that gang with their breasts open, and their sarks over their waistcoats, that accost me with set speeches out of Sidney's 'Arcadia' or the 'Academy of Compliments.' Jack is a sober, grave young man; though he has none of your studied harangues, his meaning is sincere. He has a great regard to his father's will, and he that shows himself a good son will make a good husband. Besides, I know he has the original deed of conveyance to the Fortunate Islands; the others are counterfeits." There is nothing so obstinate as a young lady in her amours; the more you cross her, the worse she is.
* The Treaty of Union. Reason of it: the Succession not being settled in Scotland. Fears for the Presbyterian Church Government, and of being burdened with the English National Debts.
John Bull, otherwise a good-natured man, was very hard-hearted to his sister Peg, chiefly from an aversion he had conceived in his infancy. While he flourished, kept a warm house, and drove a plentiful trade, poor Peg was forced to go hawking and peddling about the streets selling knives, scissors, and shoe-buckles; now and then carried a basket of fish to the market; sewed, spun, and knit for a livelihood, till her fingers' ends were sore; and when she could not get bread for her family, she was forced to hire them out at journey-work to her neighbours. Yet in these her poor circumstances she still preserved the air and mien of a gentlewoman—a certain decent pride that extorted respect from the haughtiest of her neighbours. When she came in to any full assembly, she would not yield the pas to the best of them. If one asked her, "Are not you related to John Bull?" "Yes," says she, "he has the honour to be my brother." So Peg's affairs went till all the relations cried out shame upon John for his barbarous usage of his own flesh and blood; that it was an easy matter for him to put her in a creditable way of living, not only without hurt, but with advantage to himself, seeing she was an industrious person, and might be serviceable to him in his way of business. "Hang her, jade," quoth John, "I can't endure her as long as she keeps that rascal Jack's company." They told him the way to reclaim her was to take her into his house; that by conversation the childish humours of their younger days might be worn out. These arguments were enforced by a certain incident. It happened that John was at that time about making his will* and entailing his estate, the very same in which Nic. Frog is named executor. Now, his sister Peg's name being in the entail, he could not make a thorough settlement without her consent. There was, indeed, a malicious story went about as if John's last wife had fallen in love with Jack as he was eating custard on horseback;** that she persuaded John to take his sister into the house the better to drive on the intrigue with Jack, concluding he would follow his mistress Peg. All I can infer from this story is that when one has got a bad character in the world people will report and believe anything of them, true or false. But to return to my story. When Peg received John's message she huffed and stormed: "My brother John," quoth she, "is grown wondrous kind-hearted all of a sudden, but I meikle doubt whether it be not mair for their own conveniency than for my good; he draws up his writs and his deeds, forsooth, and I must set my hand to them, unsight, unseen. I like the young man he has settled upon well enough, but I think I ought to have a valuable consideration for my consent. He wants my poor little farm because it makes a nook in his park-wall. Ye may e'en tell him he has mair than he makes good use of; he gangs up and down drinking, roaring, and quarrelling, through all the country markets, making foolish bargains in his cups, which he repents when he is sober; like a thriftless wretch, spending the goods and gear that his forefathers won with the sweat of their brows: light come, light go, he cares not a farthing. But why should I stand surety for his contracts? The little I have is free, and I can call it my awn—hame's hame, let it be never so hamely. I ken him well enough, he could never abide me, and when he has his ends he'll e'en use me as he did before. I'm sure I shall be treated like a poor drudge—I shall be set to tend the bairns, darn the hose, and mend the linen. Then there's no living with that old carline his mother; she rails at Jack, and Jack's an honester man than any of her kin: I shall be plagued with her spells and her Paternosters, and silly old world ceremonies; I mun never pare my nails on a Friday, nor begin a journey on Childermas Day; and I mun stand beeking and binging as I gang out and into the hall. Tell him he may e'en gang his get; I'll have nothing to do with him; I'll stay like the poor country mouse, in my awn habitation." So Peg talked; but for all that, by the interposition of good friends, and by many a bonny thing that was sent, and many more that were promised Peg, the matter was concluded, and Peg taken into the house upon certain articles:*** one of which was that she might have the freedom of Jack's conversation, and might take him for better and for worse if she pleased: provided always he did not come into the house at unseasonable hours and disturb the rest of the old woman, John's mother.
* The Act of Succession. ** A Presbyterian Lord Mayor. *** The Act of Toleration.
*Quarrels about some of the Articles of Union, particularly the peerage.
It is an old observation that the quarrels of relations are harder to reconcile than any other; injuries from friends fret and gall more, and the memory of them is not so easily obliterated. This is cunningly represented by one of your old sages called Aesop, in the story of the bird that was grieved extremely at being wounded with an arrow feathered with his own wing; as also of the oak that let many a heavy groan when he was cleft with a wedge of his own timber.
There was no man in the world less subject to rancour than John Bull, considering how often his good nature has been abused; yet I don't know but he was too apt to hearken to tattling people that carry tales between him and his sister Peg, on purpose to sow jealousies and set them together by the ears. They say that there were some hardships put upon Peg which had been better let alone; but it was the business of good people to restrain the injuries on one side and moderate the resentments on the other—a good friend acts both parts, the one without the other will not do.
The purchase-money of Peg's farm was ill paid;* then Peg loved a little good liquor, and the servants shut up the wine-cellar; but for that Peg found a trick, for she made a false key.** Peg's servants complained that they were debarred from all manner of business, and never suffered to touch the least thing within the house; if they offered to come into the warehouse, then straight went the yard slap over their noddle; if they ventured into the counting-room a fellow would throw an ink-bottle at their head; if they came into the best apartment to set anything there in order, they were saluted with a broom; if they meddled with anything in the kitchen it was odds but the cook laid them over the pate with a ladle; one that would have got into the stables was met by two rascals, who fell to work with him with a brush and a curry-comb; some climbing up into the coachbox, were told that one of their companions had been there before that could not drive, then slap went the long whip about their ears.
* The equivalent not paid. ** Run wine.
On the other hand, it was complained that Peg's servants were always asking for drink-money; that they had more than their share of the Christmas-box.* To say the truth, Peg's lads bustled pretty hard for that, for when they were endeavouring to lock it up they got in their great fists and pulled out handfuls of halfcrowns, shillings, and sixpences. Others in the scramble picked up guineas and broad-pieces. But there happened a worse thing than all this: it was complained that Peg's servants had great stomachs, and brought so many of their friends and acquaintance to the table that John's family was like to be eaten out of house and home. Instead of regulating this matter as it ought to be, Peg's young men were thrust away from the table; then there was the devil and all to do—spoons, plates, and dishes flew about the room like mad, and Sir Roger, who was now Majordomo, had enough to do to quiet them. Peg said this was contrary to agreement, whereby she was in all things to be treated like a child of the family. Then she called upon those that had made her such fair promises, and undertook for her brother John's good behaviour; but, alas! to her cost she found that they were the first and readiest to do her the injury. John at last agreed to this regulation: that Peg's footmen might sit with his book-keeper, journeymen, and apprentices, and Peg's better sort of servants might sit with his footmen if they pleased.**
* Endeavoured to get their share of places. ** Articles of Union, whereby they could make a Scot's commoner, but not a lord a peer.
Then they began to order plum-porridge and minced pies for Peg's dinner. Peg told them she had an aversion to that sort of food; that upon forcing down a mess of it some years ago it threw her into a fit till she brought it up again. Some alleged it was nothing but humour, that the same mess should be served up again for supper, and breakfast next morning; others would have made use of a horn, but the wiser sort bid let her alone, and she might take to it of her own accord.
* The history of the Partition Treaty; suspicions at that time that the French King intended to take the whole, and that he revealed the secret to the Court of Spain.
MRS. BULL.—Though our affairs, honey, are in a bad condition, I have a better opinion of them since you seemed to be convinced of the ill course you have been in, and are resolved to submit to proper remedies. But when I consider your immense debts, your foolish bargains, and the general disorder of your business, I have a curiosity to know what fate or chance has brought you into this condition.
JOHN BULL.—I wish you would talk of some other subject, the thoughts of it makes me mad; our family must have their run.
MRS. BULL.—But such a strange thing as this never happened to any of your family before: they have had lawsuits, but, though they spent the income, they never mortgaged the stock. Sure, you must have some of the Norman or the Norfolk blood in you. Prithee, give me some account of these matters.
JOHN BULL.—Who could help it? There lives not such a fellow by bread as that old Lewis Baboon: he is the most cheating, contentious rogue upon the face of the earth. You must know, one day, as Nic. Frog and I were over a bottle making up an old quarrel, the old fellow would needs have us drink a bottle of his champagne, and so one after another, till my friend Nic. and I, not being used to such heady stuff, got very drunk. Lewis all the while, either by the strength of his brain or flinching his glass, kept himself sober as a judge. "My worthy friends," quoth Lewis, "henceforth let us live neighbourly; I am as peaceable and quiet as a lamb of my own temper, but it has been my misfortune to live among quarrelsome neighbours. There is but one thing can make us fall out, and that is the inheritance of Lord Strutt's estate: I am content, for peace' sake, to waive my right, and submit to any expedient to prevent a lawsuit; I think an equal division* will be the fairest way." "Well moved, Old Lewis," quoth Frog, "and I hope my friend John here will not be refractory." At the same time he clapped me on the back, and slabbered me all over from cheek to cheek with his great tongue. "Do as you please, gentlemen," quoth I, "'tis all one to John Bull." We agreed to part that night, and next morning to meet at the corner of Lord Strutt's park wall, with our surveying instruments, which accordingly we did. Old Lewis carried a chain and a semicircle; Nic., paper, rulers, and a lead pencil; and I followed at some distance with a long pole. We began first with surveying the meadow grounds, afterwards we measured the cornfields, close by close; then we proceeded to the woodlands, the copper and tin mines.** All this while Nic. laid down everything exactly upon paper, calculated the acres and roods to a great nicety. When we had finished the land, we were going to break into the house and gardens, to take an inventory of his plate, pictures, and other furniture.
* The Partition Treaty. ** The West Indies.
MRS. BULL.—What said Lord Strutt to all this?
JOHN BULL.—As we had almost finished our concern, we were accosted by some of Lord Strutt's servants. "Heyday! what's here? what a devil's the meaning of all these trangrams and gimcracks, gentlemen? What in the name of wonder, are you going about, jumping over my master's hedges, and running your lines cross his grounds? If you are at any field pastime, you might have asked leave: my master is a civil well-bred person as any is."
MRS. BULL.—What could you answer to this?
JOHN BULL.—Why, truly, my neighbour Frog and I were still hot-headed; we told him his master was an old doting puppy, that minded nothing of his own business; that we were surveying his estate, and settling it for him, since he would not do it himself. Upon this there happened a quarrel, but we being stronger than they, sent them away with a flea in their ear. They went home and told their master. "My lord," say they, "there are three odd sort of fellows going about your grounds with the strangest machines that ever we beheld in our life: I suppose they are going to rob your orchard, fell your trees, or drive away your cattle. They told us strange things of settling your estate—one is a lusty old fellow in a black wig, with a black beard, without teeth; there's another, thick squat fellow, in trunk hose; the third is a little, long-nosed, thin man (I was then lean, being just come out of a fit of sickness)—I suppose it is fit to send after them, lest they carry something away?"
MRS. BULL.—I fancy this put the old fellow in a rare tweague.
JOHN BULL.—Weak as he was, he called for his long Toledo, swore and bounced about the room: "'Sdeath! what am I come to, to be affronted so by my tradesmen? I know the rascals: my barber, clothier, and linen-draper dispose of my estate! Bring hither my blunderbuss; I'll warrant ye you shall see daylight through them. Scoundrels! dogs! the scum of the earth! Frog, that was my father's kitchen-boy, he pretend to meddle with my estate—with my will! Ah, poor Strutt! what are thou come to at last? Thou hast lived too long in the world, to see thy age and infirmity so despised! How will the ghosts of my noble ancestors receive these tidings?—they cannot, they must not sleep quietly in their graves." In short, the old gentleman was carried off in a fainting fit, and after bleeding in both arms hardly recovered.
MRS. BULL.—Really this was a very extraordinary way of proceeding! I long to hear the rest of it.
JOHN BULL.—After we had come back to the tavern, and taken t'other bottle of champagne, we quarrelled a little about the division of the estate. Lewis hauled and pulled the map on one side and Frog and I on t'other, till we had like to have tore the parchment to pieces. At last Lewis pulled out a pair of great tailor's shears and clipt a corner for himself, which he said was a manor that lay convenient for him, and left Frog and me the rest to dispose of as we pleased. We were overjoyed to think Lewis was contented with so little, not smelling what was at the bottom of the plot. There happened, indeed, an incident that gave us some disturbance. A cunning fellow, one of my servants, two days after, peeping through the keyhole, observed that old Lewis had stole away our part of the map, and saw him fiddling and turning the map from one corner to the other, trying to join the two pieces together again. He was muttering something to himself, which he did not well hear, only these words, "'Tis great pity! 'tis great pity!" My servant added that he believed this had some ill meaning. I told him he was a coxcomb, always pretending to be wiser than his companions. Lewis and I are good friends, he's an honest fellow, and I daresay will stand to his bargain. The sequel of the story proved this fellow's suspicion to be too well grounded; for Lewis revealed our whole secret to the deceased Lord Strutt, who in reward for his treachery, and revenge to Frog and me, settled his whole estate upon the present Philip Baboon. Then we understood what he meant by piecing the map together.
MRS. BULL.—And were you surprised at this? Had not Lord Strutt reason to be angry? Would you have been contented to have been so used yourself?
JOHN BULL.—Why, truly, wife, it was not easily reconciled to the common methods; but then it was the fashion to do such things. I have read of your golden age, your silver age, etc.; one might justly call this the age of the lawyers. There was hardly a man of substance in all the country but had a counterfeit that pretended to his estate.* As the philosophers say that there is a duplicate of every terrestrial animal at sea, so it was in this age of the lawyers: there were at least two of everything; nay, o' my conscience, I think there were three Esquire Hackums** at one time. In short, it was usual for a parcel of fellows to meet and dispose of the whole estates in the country. "This lies convenient for me, Tom. Thou wouldst do more good with that, Dick, than the old fellow that has it." So to law they went with the true owners: the lawyers got well by it; everybody else was undone. It was a common thing for an honest man when he came home at night to find another fellow domineering in his family, hectoring his servants, and calling for supper. In every house you might observe two Sosias quarrelling who was master. For my own part, I am still afraid of the same treatment: that I should find somebody behind my counter selling my broad-cloth.
* Several Pretenders at that time. ** Kings of England.
MRS. BULL.—There is a sort of fellows they call banterers and bamboozlers that play such tricks, but it seems these fellows were in earnest.
JOHN BULL.—I begin to think that justice is a better rule than conveniency, for all some people make so slight on it.
* Some attempts to destroy the public credit at that time. Manners of the Earl of Oxford.
As John Bull and his wife were talking together they were surprised with a sudden knocking at the door. "Those wicked scriveners and lawyers, no doubt," quoth John; and so it was, some asking for the money he owed, and others warning to prepare for the approaching term. "What a cursed life do I lead!" quoth John; "debt is like deadly sin. For God's sake, Sir Roger, get me rid of the fellows." "I'll warrant you," quoth Sir Roger; "leave them to me." And, indeed, it was pleasant enough to observe Sir Roger's method with these importunate duns. His sincere friendship for John Bull made him submit to many things for his service which he would have scorned to have done for himself. Sometimes he would stand at the door with his long staff to keep off the duns, until John got out at the back door. When the lawyers and tradesmen brought extravagant bills Sir Roger used to bargain beforehand for leave to cut off a quarter of a yard in any part of the bill he pleased; he wore a pair of scissors in his pocket for this purpose, and would snip it off so nicely as you cannot imagine. Like a true goldsmith he kept all your holidays; there was not one wanting in his calendar; when ready money was scarce, he would set them a-telling a thousand pounds in sixpences, groats, and threepenny-pieces. It would have done your heart good to have seen him charge through an army of lawyers, attorneys, clerks, and tradesmen; sometimes with sword in hand, at other times nuzzling like an eel in the mud. When a fellow stuck like a bur, that there was no shaking him off, he used to be mighty inquisitive about the health of his uncles and aunts in the country; he could call them all by their names, for he knew everybody, and could talk to them in their own way. The extremely impertinent he would send away to see some strange sight, as the Dragon of Hockley the Hole, or bid him call the 30th of next February. Now and then you would see him in the kitchen, weighing the beef and butter, paying ready money, that the maids might not run a tick at the market, and the butchers, by bribing of them, sell damaged and light meat.* Another time he would slip into the cellar and gauge the casks. In his leisure minutes he was posting his books and gathering in his debts. Such frugal methods were necessary where money was so scarce and duns so numerous. All this while John kept his credit, could show his head both at 'Change and Westminster Hall; no man protested his bill nor refused his bond; only the sharpers and the scriveners, the lawyers and other clerks pelted Sir Roger as he went along. The squirters were at it with their kennel water, for they were mad for the loss of their bubble, and that they could not get him to mortgage the manor of Bullock's Hatch. Sir Roger shook his ears and nuzzled along, well satisfied within himself that he was doing a charitable work in rescuing an honest man from the claws of harpies and bloodsuckers. Mrs. Bull did all that an affectionate wife, and a good housewife, could do; yet the boundaries of virtues are indivisible lines. It is impossible to march up close to the frontiers of frugality without entering the territories of parsimony. Your good housewives are apt to look into the minutest things; therefore some blamed Mrs. Bull for new heel-pieceing of her shoes, grudging a quarter of a pound of soap and sand to scour the rooms**; but, especially, that she would not allow her maids and apprentices the benefit of "John Bunyan," the "London Apprentices," or the "Seven Champions," in the black letter.***
* Some regulations as to the purveyance in the Queen's family. ** Too great savings in the House of Commons. *** Restraining the liberty of the Press by Act of Parliament.
MRS. BULL.—It is a most sad life we lead, my dear, to be so teazed, paying interest for old debts, and still contracting new ones. However, I don't blame you for vindicating your honour and chastising old Lewis. To curb the insolent, protect the oppressed, recover one's own, and defend what one has, are good effects of the law. The only thing I want to know is how you came to make an end of your money before you finished your suit.
JOHN BULL.—I was told by the learned in the law that my suit stood upon three firm pillars: more money for more law, more law for more money, and no composition. More money for more law was plain to a demonstration, for who can go to law without money? and it was plain that any man that has money may have law for it. The third was as evident as the other two; for what composition could be made with a rogue that never kept a word he said?
MRS. BULL.—I think you are most likely to get out of this labyrinth by the second door, by want of ready money to purchase this precious commodity. But you seem not only to have bought too much of it, but have paid too dear for what you bought, else how was it possible to run so much in debt when at this very time the yearly income of what is mortgaged to those usurers would discharge Hocus's bills, and give you your bellyfull of law for all your life, without running one sixpence in debt? You have been bred up to business; I suppose you can cypher; I wonder you never used your pen and ink.
JOHN BULL.—Now you urge me too far; prithee, dear wife, hold thy tongue. Suppose a young heir, heedless, raw, and inexperienced, full of spirit and vigour, with a favourite passion, in the hands of money scriveners. Such fellows are like your wire-drawing mills: if they get hold of a man's finger they will pull in his whole body at last, till they squeeze the heart, blood, and guts out of him. When I wanted money, half a dozen of these fellows were always waiting in my ante-chamber with their securities ready drawn.* I was tempted with the ready, some farm or other went to pot. I received with one hand, and paid it away with the other to lawyers that, like so many hell hounds, were ready to devour me. Then the rogues would plead poverty and scarcity of money, which always ended in receiving ninety for the hundred. After they had got possession of my best rents they were able to supply me with my own money. But, what was worse, when I looked into the securities there was no clause of redemption.
* Methods of preying upon the necessities of the Government.
MRS. BULL.—No clause of redemption, say you? That's hard.
JOHN BULL.—No great matter. For I cannot pay them. They had got a worse trick than that. The same man bought and sold to himself, paid the money, and gave the acquittance; the same man was butcher and grazier, brewer and butler, cook and poulterer. There is something still worse than all this. There came twenty bills upon me at once, which I had given money to discharge. I was like to be pulled to pieces by brewer, butcher, and baker; even my herb-woman dunned me as I went along the streets. Thanks to my friend Sir Roger, else I must have gone to jail. When I asked the meaning of this, I was told the money went to the lawyers. "Counsel won't tick, sir." Hocus was urging; my book-keeper sat sotting all day, playing at Put and All-fours. In short, by griping usurers, devouring lawyers, and negligent servants I am brought to this pass.
MRS. BULL.—This was hard usage. But methinks the least reflection might have retrieved you.
JOHN BULL.—'Tis true; yet consider my circumstances—my honour was engaged, and I did not know how to get out. Besides, I was for five years often drunk, always muddled; they carried me from tavern to tavern, to ale-houses and brandy-shops, and brought me acquainted with such strange dogs. "There goes the prettiest fellow in the world," says one, "for managing a jury: make him yours. There's another can pick you up witnesses. Serjeant such-a-one has a silver tongue at the bar."* I believe, in time I should have retained every single person within the Inns of Court. The night after a trial I treated the lawyers, their wives, and daughters, with fiddles, hautboys, drums, and trumpets. I was always hot-headed. Then they placed me in the middle, the attorneys and their clerks dancing about me, whooping and holloing, "Long live John Bull, the glory and support of the law!"
* Hiring still more troops.
MRS. BULL.—Really, husband, you went through a very notable course.
JOHN BULL.—One of the things that first alarmed me was that they showed a spite against my poor old mother.* "Lord," quoth I, "what makes you so jealous of a poor, old, innocent gentlewoman, that minds only her prayers and her Practice of Piety? She never meddles in any of your concerns." "Fob," say they, "to see a handsome, brisk, genteel young fellow so much governed by a doting old woman! Do you consider she keeps you out of a good jointure? She has the best of your estate settled upon her for a rent-charge. Hang her, old thief! turn her out of doors, seize her lands, and let her go to law if she dares." "Soft and fair, gentlemen," quoth I; "my mother's my mother, our family are not of an unnatural temper. Though I don't take all her advice, I won't seize her jointure; long may she enjoy it, good woman; I don't grudge it her. She allows me now and then a brace of hundreds for my lawsuit; that's pretty fair." About this time the old gentlewoman fell ill of an odd sort of a distemper.**
* Railing against the Church. ** Carelessness in forms and discipline.
It began with a coldness and numbness in her limbs, which by degrees affected the nerves (I think the physicians call them), seized the brain, and at last ended in a lethargy. It betrayed itself at first in a sort of indifference and carelessness in all her actions, coldness to her best friends, and an aversion to stir or go about the common offices of life. She, that was the cleanliest creature in the world, never shrank now if you set a close-stool under her nose. She that would sometimes rattle off her servants pretty sharply, now if she saw them drink, or heard them talk profanely, never took any notice of it. Instead of her usual charities to deserving persons, she threw away her money upon roaring, swearing bullies and beggars, that went about the streets.* "What is the matter with the old gentlewoman?" said everybody; "she never used to do in this manner." At last the distemper grew more violent, and threw her downright into raving fits, in which she shrieked out so loud that she disturbed the whole neighbourhood.** In her fits she called upon one Sir William.*** "Oh! Sir William, thou hast betrayed me, killed me, stabbed me! See, see! Clum with his bloody knife! Seize him! seize him! stop him! Behold the fury with her hissing snakes! Where's my son John? Is he well, is he well? Poor man! I pity him!" And abundance more of such strange stuff, that nobody could make anything of.
* Disposing of some preferments to libertine and unprincipled persons. ** The too violent clamour about the danger of the Church. *** Sir William, a cant name of Sir Humphry's for Lord Treasurer Godolphin.
I knew little of the matter; for when I inquired about her health, the answer was that she was in a good moderate way. Physicians were sent for in haste. Sir Roger, with great difficulty, brought Ratcliff; Garth came upon the first message. There were several others called in, but, as usual upon such occasions, they differed strangely at the consultation. At last they divided into two parties; one sided with Garth, the other with Ratcliff.* Dr. Garth said, "This case seems to me to be plainly hysterical; the old woman is whimsical; it is a common thing for your old women to be so; I'll pawn my life, blisters, with the steel diet, will recover her." Others suggested strong purging and letting of blood, because she was plethoric. Some went so far as to say the old woman was mad, and nothing would be better than a little corporal correction. Ratcliff said, "Gentlemen, you are mistaken in this case; it is plainly an acute distemper, and she cannot hold out three days unless she is supported with strong cordials." I came into the room with a good deal of concern, and asked them what they thought of my mother? "In no manner of danger, I vow to God," quoth Garth; "the old woman is hysterical, fanciful, sir, I vow to God." "I tell you, sir," says Ratcliff, "she cannot live three days to an end, unless there is some very effectual course taken with her; she has a malignant fever." Then "fool," "puppy," and "blockhead," were the best words they gave. I could hardly restrain them from throwing the ink-bottles at one another's heads. I forgot to tell you that one party of the physicians desired I would take my sister Peg into the house to nurse her, but the old gentlewoman would not hear of that. At last one physician asked if the lady had ever been used to take laudanum? Her maid answered, not that she knew; but, indeed, there was a High German liveryman of hers, one Van Ptschirnsooker,** that gave her a sort of a quack powder. The physician desired to see it. "Nay," says he, "there is opium in this, I am sure."
* Garth, the Low Church party. Ratcliff, High Church party. ** Van Ptschirnsooker, a bishop at that time, a great dealer in politics and physic.
MRS. BULL.—I hope you examined a little into this matter?
JOHN BULL.—I did, indeed, and discovered a great mystery of iniquity. The witnesses made oath that they had heard some of the liverymen* frequently railing at their mistress. They said she was a troublesome fiddle-faddle old woman, and so ceremonious that there was no bearing of her. They were so plagued with bowing and cringing as they went in and out of the room that their backs ached. She used to scold at one for his dirty shoes, at another for his greasy hair and not combing his head. Then she was so passionate and fiery in her temper that there was no living with her. She wanted something to sweeten her blood. That they never had a quiet night's rest for getting up in the morning to early Sacraments. They wished they could find some way or another to keep the old woman quiet in her bed. Such discourses were often overheard among the liverymen, while the said Van Ptschirnsooker had undertook this matter. A maid made affidavit "That she had seen the said Van Ptschirnsooker, one of the liverymen, frequently making up of medicines and administering them to all the neighbours; that she saw him one morning make up the powder which her mistress took; that she had the curiosity to ask him whence he had the ingredients. 'They come,' says he, 'from several parts of de world. Dis I have from Geneva, dat from Rome, this white powder from Amsterdam, and the red from Edinburgh, but the chief ingredient of all comes from Turkey." It was likewise proved that the said Van Ptschirnsooker had been frequently seen at the "Rose" with Jack, who was known to bear an inveterate spite to his mistress. That he brought a certain powder to his mistress which the examinant believes to be the same, and spoke the following words:—"Madam, here is grand secret van de world, my sweetening powder; it does temperate de humour, dispel the windt, and cure de vapour; it lulleth and quieteth the animal spirits, procuring rest and pleasant dreams. It is de infallible receipt for de scurvy, all heats in de bloodt, and breaking out upon de skin. It is de true bloodstancher, stopping all fluxes of de blood. If you do take dis, you will never ail anyding; it will cure you of all diseases." And abundance more to this purpose, which the examinant does not remember.
* The clergy.
John Bull was interrupted in his story by a porter, that brought him a letter from Nicholas Frog, which is as follows.
[John Bull reads.]
FRIEND JOHN,—What schellum is it that makes thee jealous of thy old friend Nicholas? Hast thou forgot how some years ago he took thee out of the sponging-house?** ['Tis true, my friend Nic. did so, and I thank him; but he made me pay a swinging reckoning.] Thou beginnest now to repent thy bargain that thou wast so fond of; and, if thou durst, would forswear thy own hand and seal. Thou sayest that thou hast purchased me too great an estate already, when, at the same time, thou knowest I have only a mortgage. 'Tis true I have possession, and the tenants own me for master; but has not Esquire South the equity of redemption? [No doubt, and will redeem it very speedily; poor Nic. has only possession—eleven points of the law.] As for the turnpikes*** I have set up, they are for other people, not for my friend John. I have ordered my servant constantly to attend, to let thy carriages through without paying anything; only I hope thou wilt not come too heavy laden to spoil my ways. Certainly I have just cause of offence against thee, my friend, for supposing it possible that thou and I should ever quarrel. What houndsfoot is it that puts these whims in thy head? Ten thousand last of devils haul me, if I don't love thee as I love my life. [No question, as the Devil loves holy-water!] Does not thy own hand and seal oblige thee to purchase for me till I say it is enough? Are not these words plain? I say it is not enough. Dost thou think thy friend Nicholas Frog made a child's bargain? Mark the words of thy contract, tota pecunia (with all thy money). [Very well! I have purchased with my own money, my children's and my grandchildren's money—is not that enough? Well, tota pecunia let it be, for at present I have none at all; he would not have me purchase with other people's money, sure? Since tota pecunia is the bargain, I think it is plain—no more money, no more purchase.] And whatever the world may say, Nicholas Frog is but a poor man in comparison of the rich, the opulent John Bull, great clothier of the world. I have had many losses, six of my best sheep were drowned, and the water has come into my cellar, and spoiled a pipe of my best brandy. It would be a more friendly act in thee to carry a brief about the country to repair the losses of thy poor friend. Is it not evident to all the world that I am still hemmed in by Lewis Baboon? Is he not just upon my borders? [And so he will be if I purchase a thousand acres more, unless he gets somebody betwixt them.] I tell thee, friend John, thou hast flatterers that persuade thee that thou art a man of business; do not believe them. If thou wouldst still leave thy affairs in my hands, thou shouldst see how handsomely I would deal by thee. That ever thou shouldst be dazzled with the enchanted islands and mountains of gold that old Lewis promises thee! 'Dswounds! why dost thou not lay out thy money to purchase a place at court of honest Israel? I tell thee, thou must not so much as think of a composition. [Not think of a composition; that's hard indeed; I can't help thinking of it, if I would.] Thou complainest of want of money—let thy wife and daughters burn the gold lace of their petticoats; sell thy fat cattle; retrench but a sirloin of beef and a peck-loaf in a week from thy gormandising. [Retrench my beef—a dog! Retrench my beef; then it is plain the rascal has an ill design upon me—he would starve me.] Mortgage thy manor of Bullock's Hatch, or pawn thy crop for ten years. [A rogue! part with my country-seat, my patrimony, all that I have left in the world; I'll see him hanged first.] Why hast thou changed thy attorney? Can any man manage thy cause better for thee? [Very pleasant! because a man has a good attorney, he must never make an end of his law-suit.] Ah, John! John! I wish thou knewest thine own mind. Thou art as fickle as the wind. I tell thee, thou hadst better let this composition alone, or leave it to thy
* A letter from the States-General. ** Alluding to the Rebellion. *** The Dutch prohibition of trade.
* The Treaty of Utrecht: the difficulty to get them to meet. When met, the Dutch would not speak their sentiments, nor the French deliver in their proposals. The House of Austria talked very high.
Frog had given his word that he would meet the above-mentioned company at the "Salutation," to talk of this agreement. Though he durst not directly break his appointment, he made many a shuffling excuse: one time he pretended to be seized with the gout in his right knee; then he got a great cold, that had struck him deaf of one ear; afterwards two of his coach-horses fell sick, and he durst not go by water, for fear of catching an ague. John would take no excuse, but hurried him away. "Come, Nic.," says he, "let's go and hear at least what this old fellow has to propose; I hope there's no hurt in that." "Be it so," quoth Nic.; "but if I catch any harm, woe be to you; my wife and children will curse you as long as they live." When they were come to the "Salutation," John concluded all was sure then, and that he should be troubled no more with law affairs. He thought everybody as plain and sincere as he was. "Well, neighbours," quoth he, "let's now make an end of all matters, and live peaceably together for the time to come. If everybody is as well inclined as I, we shall quickly come to the upshot of our affair." And so, pointing to Frog to say something, to the great surprise of all the company, Frog was seized with a dead palsy in the tongue. John began to ask him some plain questions, and whooped and hallooed in his ear: "Let's come to the point. Nic., who wouldst thou have to be Lord Strutt? Wouldst thou have Philip Baboon?" Nic. shook his head, and said nothing. "Wilt thou, then, have Esquire South to be Lord Strutt?" Nic. shook his head a second time. "Then who the devil wilt thou have? Say something or another." Nic. opened his mouth and pointed to his tongue, and cried, "A, a, a, a!" which was as much as to say he could not speak.
JOHN BULL.—"Shall I serve Philip Baboon with broadcloth, and accept of the composition that he offers, with the liberty of his parks and fishponds?" Then Nic. roared like a bull, "O, o, o, o!"
JOHN BULL.—"If thou wilt not let me have them, wilt thou take them thyself?" Then Nic. grinned, cackled, and laughed, till he was like to kill himself, and seemed to be so pleased that he fell a frisking and dancing about the room.
JOHN BULL.—"Shall I leave all this matter to thy management, Nic., and go about my business?" Then Nic. got up a glass and drank to John, shaking him by the hand till he had like to have shook his shoulder out of joint.
JOHN BULL.—"I understand thee, Nic.; but I shall make thee speak before I go." Then Nic. put his finger in his cheek and made it cry "buck!" which was as much as to say, "I care not a farthing for thee."
JOHN BULL.—"I have done, Nic.; if thou wilt not speak, I'll make my own terms with old Lewis here."
John, perceiving that Frog would not speak, turns to old Lewis: "Since we cannot make this obstinate fellow speak, Lewis, pray condescend a little to his humour, and set down thy meaning upon paper, that he may answer it in another scrap."
"I am infinitely sorry," quoth Lewis, "that it happens so unfortunately; for, playing a little at cudgels t'other day, a fellow has given me such a rap over the right arm that I am quite lame. I have lost the use of my forefinger and my thumb, so that I cannot hold my pen."
JOHN BULL.—"That's all one; let me write for you."
LEWIS.—"But I have a misfortune that I cannot read anybody's hand but my own."
JOHN BULL.—"Try what you can do with your left hand."
LEWIS.—"That's impossible; it will make such a scrawl that it will not be legible."
As they were talking of this matter, in came Esquire South, all dressed up in feathers and ribbons, stark staring mad, brandishing his sword, as if he would have cut off their heads, crying "Room, room, boys, for the grand esquire of the world! the flower of esquires! What! covered in my presence? I'll crush your souls, and crack you like lice!" With that he had like to have struck John Bull's hat into the fire; but John, who was pretty strong-fisted, gave him such a squeeze as made his eyes water. He went on still in his mad pranks: "When I am lord of the universe, the sun shall prostrate and adore me! Thou, Frog, shalt be my bailiff; Lewis my tailor; and thou, John Bull, shalt be my fool!"
All this while Frog laughed in his sleeve, gave the esquire the other noggan of brandy, and clapped him on the back, which made him ten times madder.
Poor John stood in amaze, talking thus to himself: "Well, John, thou art got into rare company! One has a dumb devil, the other a mad devil, and the third a spirit of infirmity. An honest man has a fine time on it amongst such rogues. What art thou asking of them after all? Some mighty boon one would think! only to sit quietly at thy own fireside. What have I to do with such fellows? John Bull, after all his losses and crosses, can live better without them than they can without him. Would I lived a thousand leagues off them! but the devil's in it; John Bull is in, and John Bull must get out as well as he can."
As he was talking to himself, he observed Frog and old Lewis edging towards one another to whisper,* so that John was forced to sit with his arms akimbo, to keep them asunder.
* Some attempts of secret negotiation between the French and the Dutch.
Some people advised John to bleed Frog under the tongue, or take away his bread-and-butter, which would certainly make him speak; to give Esquire South hellebore; as for Lewis, some were for emollient poultices, others for opening his arm with an incision knife.
* The four following chapters contain the history of passing the Bill against Occasional Conformity, and of the Whigs agreeing to it.
The attentive reader cannot have forgot that the story of Van Ptschirnsooker's powder was interrupted by a message from Frog. I have a natural compassion for curiosity, being much troubled with the distemper myself; therefore to gratify that uneasy itching sensation in my reader, I have procured the following account of that matter.
Van Ptschirnsooker came off (as rogues usually do upon such occasions) by peaching his partner; and being extremely forward to bring him to the gallows, Jack* was accused as the contriver of all the roguery. And, indeed, it happened unfortunately for the poor fellow, that he was known to bear a most inveterate spite against the old gentlewoman; and, consequently, that never any ill accident happened to her but he was suspected to be at the bottom of it. If she pricked her finger, Jack, to be sure, laid the pin in the way; if some noise in the street disturbed her rest, who could it be but Jack in some of his nocturnal rambles? If a servant ran away, Jack had debauched him. Every idle tittle-tattle that went about, Jack was always suspected for the author of it. However, all was nothing to this last affair of the temperating, moderating powder.
* All the misfortunes of the Church charged upon the Puritan party.
The hue and cry went after Jack to apprehend him dead or alive, wherever he could be found. The constables looked out for him in all his usual haunts; but to no purpose. Where d'ye think they found him at last? Even smoking his pipe, very quietly, at his brother Martin's; from whence he was carried with a vast mob at his heels, before the worshipful Mr. Justice Overdo. Several of his neighbours made oath,* that of late, the prisoner had been observed to lead a very dissolute life, renouncing even his usual hypocrisy and pretences to sobriety; that he frequented taverns and eating-houses, and had been often guilty of drunkenness and gluttony at my Lord Mayor's table; that he had been seen in the company of lewd women; that he had transferred his usual care of the engrossed copy of his father's will to bank bills, orders for tallies, and debentures:** these he now affirmed, with more literal truth, to be meat, drink, and cloth, the philosopher's stone, and the universal medicine;*** that he was so far from showing his customary reverence to the will, that he kept company with those that called his father a cheating rogue, and his will a forgery; that he not only sat quietly and heard his father railed at, but often chimed in with the discourse, and hugged the authors as his bosom friends;**** that instead of asking for blows at the corners of the streets, he now bestowed them as plentifully as he begged them before.*** In short, that he was grown a mere rake; and had nothing left in him of old Jack except his spite to John Bull's mother.
* The manners of the Dissenters changed from their former strictness. ** Dealing much in stock-jobbing. *** "Tale of a Tub." **** Herding with deists and atheists.
Another witness made oath, that Jack had been overheard bragging of a trick* he had found out to manage the "old formal jade," as he used to call her. "Hang this numb-skull of mine," quoth he, "that I could not light on it sooner. As long as I go in this ragged tattered coat, I am so well known, that I am hunted away from the old woman's door by every barking cur about the house; they bid me defiance. There's no doing mischief as an open enemy; I must find some way or other of getting within doors, and then I shall have better opportunities of playing my pranks, besides the benefit of good keeping."
* Getting into places and Church preferments by occasional conformity.
Two witnesses swore* that several years ago, there came to their mistress's door a young fellow in a tattered coat, that went by the name of Timothy Trim, whom they did in their conscience believe to be the very prisoner, resembling him in shape, stature, and the features of his countenance. That the said Timothy Trim being taken into the family, clapped their mistress's livery over his own tattered coat; that the said Timothy was extremely officious about their mistress's person, endeavouring by flattery and tale-bearing to set her against the rest of the servants: nobody was so ready to fetch anything that was wanted, to reach what was dropped. That he used to shove and elbow his fellow-servants to get near his mistress, especially when money was a paying or receiving—then he was never out of the way; that he was extremely diligent about everybody's business but his own. That the said Timothy, while he was in the family, used to be playing roguish tricks; when his mistress's back was turned, he would loll out his tongue, make mouths, and laugh at her, walking behind her like Harlequin, ridiculing her motions and gestures; but if his mistress looked about, he put on a grave, demure countenance, as if he had been in a fit of devotion; that he used often to trip up-stairs so smoothly that you could not hear him tread, and put all things out of order; that he would pinch the children and servants, when he met them in the dark, so hard, that he left the print of his forefingers and his thumb in black and blue, and then slink into a corner, as if nobody had done it. Out of the same malicious design he used to lay chairs and joint-stools in their way, that they might break their noses by falling over them. The more young and inexperienced he used to teach to talk saucily, and call names. During his stay in the family there was much plate missing; being caught with a couple of silver spoons in his pocket, with their handles wrenched off, he said he was only going to carry them to the goldsmiths to be mended: that the said Timothy was hated by all the honest servants, for his ill-conditioned, splenetic tricks, but especially for his slanderous tongue; traducing them to their mistress as drunkards and thieves: that the said Timothy, by lying stories, used to set all the family together by the ears, taking delight to make them fight and quarrel; **particularly one day sitting at table, he spoke words to this effect: "I am of opinion," quoth he, "that little short fellows, such as we are, have better hearts, and could beat the tall fellows; I wish it came to a fair trial; I believe these long fellows, as sightly as they are, should find their jackets well thwacked."
* Betraying the interests of the Church when got into preferments. ** The original of the distinction in the names of Low Churchmen and High Churchmen.
A parcel of tall fellows, who thought themselves affronted by the discourse, took up the quarrel, and to it they went, the tall men and the low men, which continues still a faction in the family, to the great disorder of our mistress's affairs. The said Timothy carried this frolic so far, that he proposed to his mistress that she should entertain no servant that was above four feet seven inches high, and for that purpose had prepared a gauge, by which they were to be measured. The good old gentlewoman was not so simple as to go into his projects—she began to smell a rat. "This Trim," quoth she, "is an odd sort of a fellow; methinks he makes a strange figure with that ragged, tattered coat appearing under his livery; can't he go spruce and clean, like the rest of the servants? The fellow has a roguish leer with him which I don't like by any means; besides, he has such a twang in his discourse, and an ungraceful way of speaking through the nose, that one can hardly understand him; I wish the fellow be not tainted with some bad disease." The witnesses further made oath, that the said Timothy lay out a-nights, and went abroad often at unseasonable hours; and it was credibly reported he did business in another family: that he pretended to have a squeamish stomach, and could not eat at table with the rest of the servants, though this was but a pretence to provide some nice bit for himself; that he refused to dine upon salt fish, only to have an opportunity to eat a calf's head (his favourite dish) in private; that for all his tender stomach, when he was got by himself, he could devour capons, turkeys, and sirloins of beef, like a cormorant.
Two other witnesses gave the following evidence: That in his officious attendance upon his mistress, he had tried to slip a powder into her drink, and that he was once caught endeavouring to stifle her with a pillow as she was asleep; that he and Ptschirnsooker were often in close conference, and that they used to drink together at the "Rose," where it seems he was well enough known by his true name of Jack.
The prisoner had little to say in his defence; he endeavoured to prove himself alibi, so that the trial turned upon this single question, whether the said Timothy Trim and Jack were the same person; which was proved by such plain tokens, and particularly by a mole under the left pap, that there was no withstanding the evidence; therefore the worshipful Mr. Justice committed him, in order to his trial.
Jack hitherto had passed in the world for a poor, simple, well-meaning, half-witted, crack-brained fellow. People were strangely surprised to find him in such a roguery—that he should disguise himself under a false name, hire himself out for a servant to an old gentlewoman, only for an opportunity to poison her. They said that it was more generous to profess open enmity than under a profound dissimulation to be guilty of such a scandalous breach of trust, and of the sacred rights of hospitality; in short, the action was universally condemned by his best friends. They told him in plain terms that this was come as a judgment upon him for his loose life, his gluttony, drunkenness, and avarice; for laying aside his father's will in an old mouldy trunk, and turning stock-jobber, newsmonger, and busybody, meddling with other people's affairs, shaking off his old serious friends, and keeping company with buffoons and pickpockets, his father's sworn enemies; that he had best throw himself upon the mercy of the court, repent, and change his manners. To say truth, Jack heard these discourses with some compunction; however, he resolved to try what his new acquaintance would do for him. They sent Habakkuk Slyboots,* who delivered him the following message, as the peremptory commands of his trusty companions:—
* Habakkuk Slyboots, a certain great man who persuaded the Dissenters to consent to the Bill against Occasional Conformity as being for their interest.
HABAKKUK.—Dear Jack, I am sorry for thy misfortune: matters have not been carried on with due secrecy; however, we must make the best of a bad bargain. Thou art in the utmost jeopardy, that's certain; hang, draw, and quarter, are the gentlest things they talk of. However, thy faithful friends, ever watchful for thy security, bid me tell thee that they have one infallible expedient left to save thy life. Thou must know we have got into some understanding with the enemy by the means of Don Diego;* he assures us there is no mercy for thee, and that there is only one way left to escape. It is, indeed, somewhat out of the common road; however, be assured it is the result of most mature deliberation.
* A noble Tory lord.
JACK.—Prithee tell me quickly, for my heart is sunk down in the very bottom of my belly.
HAB.—It is the unanimous opinion of your friends that you make as if you hanged yourself;* they will give it out that you are quite dead, and convey your body out of prison in a bier; and John Bull, being busied with his lawsuit, will not inquire further into the matter.
* Consent to the Bill against Occasional Conformity.
JACK.—How d'ye mean, make as if I hanged myself?
HAB.—Nay, you must really hang yourself up in a true genuine rope, that there may appear no trick in it, and leave the rest to your friends.
JACK.—Truly this is a matter of some concern, and my friends, I hope, won't take it ill if I inquire a little into the means by which they intend to deliver me. A rope and a noose are no jesting matters!
HAB.—Why so mistrustful? hast thou ever found us false to thee? I tell thee there is one ready to cut thee down.
JACK.—May I presume to ask who it is that is entrusted with so important an office?
HAB.—Is there no end of thy hows and thy whys? That's a secret.
JACK.—A secret, perhaps, that I may be safely trusted with, for I am not like to tell it again. I tell you plainly it is no strange thing for a man before he hangs himself up to inquire who is to cut him down.
HAB.—Thou suspicious creature! if thou must needs know it, I tell thee it is Sir Roger;* he has been in tears ever since thy misfortune. Don Diego and we have laid it so that he is to be in the next room, and before the rope is well about thy neck, rest satisfied he will break in and cut thee down. Fear not, old boy; we'll do it, I'll warrant thee.
* It was given out that the Earl of Oxford would oppose the occasional Bill, and so lose his credit with the Tories; and the Dissenters did believe he would not suffer it to pass.
JACK.—So I must hang myself up upon hopes that Sir Roger will cut me down, and all this upon the credit of Don Diego. A fine stratagem, indeed, to save my life, that depends upon hanging, Don Diego, and Sir Roger!
HAB.—I tell thee there is a mystery in all this, my friend, a piece of profound policy; if thou knew what good this will do to the common cause, thy heart would leap for joy. I am sure thou wouldst not delay the experiment one moment.
JACK.—This is to the tune of "All for the better." What's your cause to me when I am hanged?
HAB.—Refractory mortal! if thou wilt not trust thy friends, take what follows. Know assuredly, before next full moon, that thou wilt be hung up in chains, or thy quarters perching upon the most conspicuous places of the kingdom. Nay, I don't believe they will be contented with hanging; they talk of impaling, or breaking on the wheel, and thou choosest that before a gentle suspending of thyself for one minute. Hanging is not so painful a thing as thou imaginest. I have spoken with several that have undergone it; they all agree it is no manner of uneasiness. Be sure thou take good notice of the symptoms; the relation will be curious. It is but a kick or two with thy heels, and a wry mouth or so: Sir Roger will be with thee in the twinkling of an eye.
JACK.—But what if Sir Roger should not come; will my friends be there to succour me?
HAB.—Doubt it not; I will provide everything against to-morrow morning: do thou keep thy own secret—say nothing. I tell thee it is absolutely necessary for the common good that thou shouldst go through this operation.
Jack was a professed enemy to implicit faith, and yet I dare say it was never more strongly exerted nor more basely abused than upon this occasion. He was now, with his old friends, in the state of a poor disbanded officer after a peace, or rather a wounded soldier after a battle; like an old favourite of a cunning Minister after the job is over, or a decayed beauty to a cloyed lover in quest of new game, or like a hundred such things that one sees every day. There were new intrigues, new views, new projects, on foot. Jack's life was the purchase of Diego's friendship; much good may it do them. The interest of Hocus and Sir William Crawley which was now more at heart, made this operation upon poor Jack absolutely necessary. You may easily guess that his rest that night was but small, and much disturbed; however, the remaining part of his time he did not employ (as his custom was formerly) in prayer, meditation, or singing a double verse of a Psalm, but amused himself with disposing of his bank stock. Many a doubt, many a qualm, overspread his clouded imagination: "Must I then," quoth he, "hang up my own personal, natural, individual self with these two hands! Durus Sermo! What if I should be cut down, as my friends tell me? There is something infamous in the very attempt; the world will conclude I had a guilty conscience. Is it possible that good man, Sir Roger, can have so much pity upon an unfortunate scoundrel that has persecuted him so many years? No, it cannot be; I don't love favours that pass through Don Diego's hands. On the other side, my blood chills about my heart at the thought of these rogues with their bloody hands pulling out my very entrails. Hang it, for once I'll trust my friends." So Jack resolved; but he had done more wisely to have put himself upon the trial of his country, and made his defence in form; many things happen between the cup and the lip—witnesses might have been bribed, juries managed, or prosecution stopped. But so it was, Jack for this time had a sufficient stock of implicit faith, which led him to his ruin, as the sequel of the story shows.
And now the fatal day was come in which he was to try this hanging experiment. His friends did not fail him at the appointed hour to see it put in practice. Habakkuk brought him a smooth, strong, tough rope, made of many a ply of wholesome Scandinavian hemp, compactly twisted together, with a noose that slipped as glib as a birdcatcher's gin. Jack shrank and grew pale at first sight of it; he handled it, he measured it, stretched it, fixed it against the iron bar of the window to try its strength, but no familiarity could reconcile him to it. He found fault with the length, the thickness, and the twist; nay, the very colour did not please him. "Will nothing less than hanging serve?" quoth Jack. "Won't my enemies take bail for my good behaviour? Will they accept of a fine, or be satisfied with the pillory and imprisonment, a good round whipping, or burning in the cheek?"
HAB.—Nothing but your blood will appease their rage; make haste, else we shall be discovered. There's nothing like surprising the rogues. How they will be disappointed when they hear that thou hast prevented their revenge and hanged thine own self.
JACK.—That's true; but what if I should do it in effigies? Is there never an old pope or pretender to hang up in my stead? We are not so unlike but it may pass.
HAB.—That can never be put upon Sir Roger.
JACK.—Are you sure he is in the next room? Have you provided a very sharp knife, in case of the worst?
HAB.—Dost take me for a common liar? Be satisfied, no damage can happen to your person; your friends will take care of that.
JACK.—Mayn't I quilt my rope? It galls my neck strangely: besides, I don't like this running knot. It holds too tight; I may be stifled all of a sudden.
HAB.—Thou hast so many ifs and ands! prithee despatch; it might have been over before this time.
JACK.—But now I think on't, I would fain settle some affairs, for fear of the worst: have a little patience.
HAB.—There's no having patience, thou art such a faintling, silly creature.
JACK.—O thou most detestable, abominable Passive Obedience! did I ever imagine I should become thy votary, in so pregnant an instance? How will my brother Martin laugh at this story, to see himself outdone in his own calling! He has taken the doctrine, and left me the practice.
No sooner had he uttered these words, but, like a man of true courage, he tied the fatal cord to the beam, fitted the noose, and mounted upon the bottom of a tub, the inside of which he had often graced in his prosperous days. This footstool Habakkuk kicked away, and left poor Jack swinging like the pendulum of Paul's clock. The fatal noose performed its office, and with most strict ligature squeezed the blood into his face till it assumed a purple dye. While the poor man heaved from the very bottom of his belly for breath, Habakkuk walked with great deliberation into both the upper and lower room, to acquaint his friends, who received the news with great temper, and with jeers and scoffs instead of pity. "Jack has hanged himself!" quoth they; "let us go and see how the poor rogue swings." Then they called Sir Roger. "Sir Roger," quoth Habakkuk, "Jack has hanged himself; make haste and cut him down." Sir Roger turned first one ear and then the other, not understanding what he said.
HAB.—I tell you Jack has hanged himself up.
SIR ROGER.—Who's hanged?
SIR ROGER.—I thought this had not been hanging day.
HAB.—But the poor fellow has hanged himself.
SIR ROGER.—Then let him hang. I don't wonder at it; the fellow has been mad these twenty years.
With this he slunk away.
Then Jack's friends began to hunch and push one another: "Why don't you go and cut the poor fellow down?" "Why don't you?" "And why don't you?" "Not I," quoth one. "Not I," quoth another. "Not I," quoth a third; "he may hang till doomsday before I relieve him!" Nay, it is credibly reported that they were so far from succouring their poor friend in this his dismal circumstance, that Ptschirnsooker and several of his companions went in and pulled him by the legs, and thumped him on the breast. Then they began to rail at him for the very thing which they had advised and justified before, viz., his getting into the old gentlewoman's family, and putting on her livery. The keeper who performed the last office coming up, found Jack swinging, with no life in him. He took down the body gently and laid it on a bulk, and brought out the rope to the company. "This, gentlemen, is the rope that hanged Jack; what must be done with it?" Upon which they ordered it to be laid among the curiosities of Gresham College; and it is called Jack's rope to this very day. However, Jack, after all, had some small tokens of life in him, but lies, at this time, past hopes of a total recovery, with his head hanging on one shoulder, without speech or motion. The coroner's inquest, supposing him to be dead, brought him in non compos.
DON DIEGO.—I hope, sir, this day's proceeding will convince you of the sincerity of your old friend Diego, and the treachery of Sir Roger.
JOHN BULL.—What's the matter now?
DON DIEGO.—You have been endeavouring, for several years, to have justice done upon that rogue Jack, but, what through the remissness of constables, justices, and packed juries, he has always found the means to escape.
JOHN BULL.—What then?
DON DIEGO.—Consider, then, who is your best friend: he that would have brought him to condign punishment, or he that has saved him? By my persuasion Jack had hanged himself, if Sir Roger had not cut him down.
JOHN BULL.—Who told you that Sir Roger has done so?
DON DIEGO.—You seem to receive me coldly: methinks my services deserve a better return.
JOHN BULL.—Since you value yourself upon hanging this poor scoundrel, I tell you, when I have any more hanging work, I'll send for thee: I have some better employment for Sir Roger. In the meantime, I desire the poor fellow may be looked after. When he first came out of the north country into my family, under the pretended name of Timothy Trim, the fellow seemed to mind his loom and his spinning-wheel, till somebody turned his head; then he grew so pragmatical, that he took upon him the government of my whole family: I could never order anything, within or without doors, but he must be always giving his counsel, forsooth: nevertheless, tell him I will forgive what is past; and if he would mind his business for the future, and not meddle out of his own sphere, he will find that John Bull is not of a cruel disposition.
DON DIEGO.—Yet all your skilful physicians say that nothing can recover your mother but a piece of Jack's liver boiled in her soup.
JOHN BULL.—Those are quacks. My mother abhors such cannibals' food. She is in perfect health at present. I would have given many a good pound to have had her so well some time ago.* There are indeed two or three troublesome old nurses that, because they believe I am tender-hearted, will never let me have a quiet night's rest with knocking me up: "Oh, sir, your mother is taken extremely ill; she is fallen into a fainting fit; she has a great emptiness, wants sustenance." This is only to recommend themselves for their great care. John Bull, as simple as he is, understands a little of a pulse.
* New clamours about the danger of the Church.
* At the Congress of Utrecht.
Where I think I left John Bull, sitting between Nic. Frog and Lewis Baboon, with his arms akimbo, in great concern to keep Lewis and Nic. asunder. As watchful as he was, Nic. found the means now and then to steal a whisper, and by a cleanly conveyance under the table to slip a short note into Lewis's hand, which Lewis as slyly put into John's pocket, with a pinch or a jog to warn him what he was about. John had the curiosity to retire into a corner to peruse those billets doux* of Nic.'s, wherein he found that Nic. had used great freedoms both with his interest and reputation. One contained these words: "Dear Lewis, thou seest clearly that this blockhead can never bring his matters to bear. Let thee and me talk to-night by ourselves at the 'Rose,' and I'll give thee satisfaction." Another was thus expressed: "Friend Lewis, has thy sense quite forsaken thee to make Bull such offers? Hold fast, part with nothing, and I will give thee a better bargain, I'll warrant thee!"
* Some offers of the Dutch at that time, in order to get the negotiation into their hands.
In some of his billets he told Lewis "That John Bull was under his guardianship; that the best part of his servants were at his command; that he could have John gagged and bound whenever he pleased by the people of his own family." In all these epistles, blockhead, dunce, ass, coxcomb, were the best epithets he gave poor John. In others he threatened,* "That he, Esquire South, and the rest of the tradesmen, would lay Lewis down upon his back and beat out his teeth if he did not retire immediately and break up the Meeting."
* Threatening that the allies would carry on the war without the help of the English.
I fancy I need not tell my reader that John often changed colour as he read, and that his fingers itched to give Nic. a good slap on the chops, but he wisely moderated his choleric temper. *"I saved this fellow," quoth he, "from the gallows when he ran away from his last master, because I thought he was harshly treated; but the rogue was no sooner safe under my protection than he began to lie, pilfer, and steal like the devil. When I first set him up in a warm house he had hardly put up his sign when he began to debauch my best customers from me. *Then it was his constant practice to rob my fish-ponds, not only to feed his family, but to trade with the fishmongers. I connived at the fellow till he began to tell me that they were his as much as mine. In my manor of *Eastcheap, because it lay at some distance from my constant inspection, he broke down my fences, robbed my orchards, and beat my servants."
* Complaints against the Dutch for encroachment in trade, fishery, East Indies, etc. The war with the Dutch on these accounts.
"When I used to reprimand him for his tricks he would talk saucily, lie, and brazen it out as if he had done nothing amiss. 'Will nothing cure thee of thy pranks, Nic.?' quoth I; 'I shall be forced some time or other to chastise thee.' The rogue got up his cane and threatened me, and was well thwacked for his pains. But I think his behaviour at this time worst of all; after I have almost drowned myself to keep his head above water, he would leave me sticking in the mud, trusting to his goodness to help me out. After I have beggared myself with his troublesome lawsuit, with a plague to him! he takes it in mighty dudgeon because I have brought him here to end matters amicably, and because I won't let him make me over by deed and indenture as his lawful cully, which to my certain knowledge he has attempted several times. But, after all, canst thou gather grapes from thorns? Nic. does not pretend to be a gentleman; he is a tradesman, a self-seeking wretch. But how camest thou to hear all this, John? The reason is plain; thou conferrest the benefits and he receives them; the first produces love, and the last ingratitude. Ah Nic., Nic., thou art a damned dog, that's certain; thou knowest too well that I will take care of thee, else thou wouldst not use me thus. I won't give thee up, it is true; but as true as it is, thou shalt not sell me, according to thy laudable custom." While John was deep in this soliloquy Nic. broke out into the following protestation:—
"Gentlemen,—I believe everybody here present will allow me to be a very just and disinterested person. My friend John Bull here is very angry with me, forsooth, because I won't agree to his foolish bargains. Now I declare to all mankind I should be ready to sacrifice my own concerns to his quiet, but the care of his interest, and that of the honest tradesmen* that are embarked with us, keeps me from entering into this composition. What shall become of those poor creatures? The thoughts of their impending ruin disturb my night's rest; therefore I desire they may speak for themselves. If they are willing to give up this affair, I sha'n't make two words of it."
* The Allies.
John Bull begged him to lay aside that immoderate concern for him, and withal put him in mind that the interest of those tradesmen had not sat quite so heavy upon him some years ago on a like occasion. Nic. answered little to that, but immediately pulled out a boatswain's whistle. Upon the first whiff the tradesmen came jumping into the room, and began to surround Lewis like so many yelping curs about a great boar; or, to use a modester simile, like duns at a great lord's levee the morning he goes into the country. One pulled him by his sleeve, another by the skirt, a third hallooed in the ear. They began to ask him for all that had been taken from their forefathers by stealth, fraud, force, or lawful purchase. Some asked for manors, others for acres that lay convenient for them; that he would pull down his fences, level his ditches. All agreed in one common demand that he should be purged, sweated, vomited, and starved, till he came to a sizeable bulk like that of his neighbours. One modestly asked him leave to call him brother. Nic. Frog demanded two things—to be his porter and his fishmonger, to keep the keys of his gates and furnish the kitchen. John's sister Peg only desired that he would let his servants sing psalms a-Sundays. Some descended even to the asking of old clothes, shoes and boots, broken bottles, tobacco-pipes, and ends of candles.
"Monsieur Bull," quoth Lewis, "you seem to be a man of some breeding; for God's sake use your interest with these Messieurs, that they would speak but one at once; for if one had a hundred pair of hands, and as many tongues, he cannot satisfy them all at this rate." John begged they might proceed with some method; then they stopped all of a sudden and would not say a word. "If this be your play," quoth John, "that we may not be like a Quaker's dumb meeting, let us begin some diversion; what d'ye think of rouly-pouly or a country dance? What if we should have a match at football? I am sure we shall never end matters at this rate."
NIC. FROG.—With all my heart; I love exact dealing. And let Hocus audit; he knows how the money was disbursed.
JOHN BULL.—I am not much for that at present; we'll settle it between ourselves. Fair and square, Nic., keeps friends together. There have been laid out in this lawsuit, at one time, 36,000 pounds and 40,000 crowns. In some cases I, in others you, bear the greatest proportion.
NIC FROG.—Right; I pay three-fifths of the greatest number, and you pay two-thirds of the lesser number. I think this is fair and square, as you call it.
JOHN BULL.—Well, go on.
NIC FROG.—Two-thirds of 36,000 pounds are 24,000 pounds for your share, and there remains 12,000 for mine. Again, of the 40,000 crowns I pay 24,000, which is three-fifths, and you pay only 16,000, which is two-fifths; 24,000 crowns make 6,000 pounds, and 16,000 crowns make 4,000 pounds; 12,000 and 16,000 make 18,000, 24,000 and 4,000 make 28,000. So there are 18,000 pounds to my share of the expenses, and 28,000 to yours.
After Nic. had bamboozled John awhile about the 18,000 and the 28,000, John called for counters; but what with sleight of hand, and taking from his own score and adding to John's, Nic. brought the balance always on his own side.
JOHN BULL.—Nay, good friend Nic., though I am not quite so nimble in the fingers, I understand ciphering as well as you. I will produce you my accounts one by one, fairly writ out of my own books; and here I begin with the first. You must excuse me if I don't pronounce the law terms right.
For the expenses ordinary of the suits, fees to judges, puisne judges, lawyers innumerable of all sorts:—
Of extraordinaries, as follows per account.. To Esquire South's account for post terminums.. To ditto for non est factums.. To ditto for noli prosequis, discontinuance, and retraxit.. For writs of error.. Suits of conditions unperformed.. To Hocus for dedimus protestatem.. To ditto for a capias ad computandum.. To Frog's new tenants per account to Hocus, for audita querelas.. On the said account for writs of ejectment and distringas.. To Esquire South's quota for a return of a non est invent and nulla habet bona.. To —— for a pardon in forma pauperis.. To Jack for a melius inquirendum upon a felo-de-se.. To coach-hire.. For treats to juries and witnesses..
John having read over his articles, with the respective sums, brought in Frog debtor to him upon the balance, 3,382 pounds 12 shillings.
Then Nic. Frog pulled his bill out of his pocket, and began to read.
Nicholas Frog's Account.
Remains to be deducted out of the former Account.
Paid by Nic. Frog for his share of the ordinary expenses of the suit .. To Hocus for entries of a rege inconsulto.. To John Bull's nephew for a venire facias, the money not yet all laid out.. The coach-hire for my wife and family, and the carriage of my goods during the time of this lawsuit.. For the extraordinary expenses of feeding my family during this lawsuit.. To Major Ab... To Major Will...
And summing all up, found due upon the balance by John Bull to Nic. Frog, 9 pounds 4 shillings and 6 pence.
JOHN BULL.—As for your venire facias, I have paid you for one already; in the other I believe you will be nonsuited. I'll take care of my nephew myself. Your coach-hire and family charges are most unreasonable deductions; at that rate, I can bring in any man in the world my debtor. But who the devil are those two majors that consume all my money? I find they always run away with the balance in all accounts.
NIC. FROG.—Two very honest gentlemen, I assure you, that have done me some service. To tell you plainly, Major Ab. denotes thy greater ability, and Major Will. thy greater willingness to carry on this lawsuit. It was but reasonable thou shouldst pay both for thy power and thy positiveness.
JOHN BULL.—I believe I shall have those two honest majors' discount on my side in a little time.
NIC. FROG.—Why all this higgling with thy friend about such a paltry sum? Does this become the generosity of the noble and rich John Bull? I wonder thou art not ashamed. Oh, Hocus! Hocus! where art thou? It used to go another-guess manner in thy time. When a poor man has almost undone himself for thy sake, thou art for fleecing him, and fleecing him. Is that thy conscience, John?
JOHN BULL.—Very pleasant, indeed! It is well known thou retainest thy lawyers by the year, so a fresh lawsuit adds but little to thy expenses; they are thy customers;* I hardly ever sell them a farthing's-worth of anything. Nay, thou hast set up an eating-house, where the whole tribe of them spend all they can rap or run. If it were well reckoned, I believe thou gettest more of my money than thou spendest of thy own. However, if thou wilt needs plead poverty, own at least that thy accounts are false.
* The money spent in Holland and Flanders.
NIC. FROG.—No, marry won't I; I refer myself to these honest gentlemen—let them judge between us. Let Esquire South speak his mind, whether my accounts are not right, and whether we ought not to go on with our lawsuit.
JOHN BULL.—Consult the butchers about keeping of Lent. Dost think that John Bull will be tried by piepowders? I tell you, once for all, John Bull knows where his shoe pinches. None of your esquires shall give him the law as long as he wears this trusty weapon by his side, or has an inch of broadcloth in his shop.
NIC. FROG.—Why, there it is: you will be both judge and party. I am sorry thou discoverest so much of thy headstrong humour before these strange gentlemen; I have often told thee it would prove thy ruin some time or other. Let it never be said that the famous John Bull has departed in despite of Court.
JOHN BULL.—And will it not reflect as much on thy character, Nic., to turn barretter in thy old days—a stirrer-up of quarrels amongst thy neighbours? I tell thee, Nic., some time or other thou wilt repent this.
But John saw clearly he should have nothing but wrangling, and that he should have as little success in settling his accounts as ending the composition. "Since they will needs overload my shoulders," quoth John, "I shall throw down the burden with a squash amongst them, take it up who dares. A man has a fine time of it amongst a combination of sharpers that vouch for one another's honesty. John, look to thyself; old Lewis makes reasonable offers. When thou hast spent the small pittance that is left, thou wilt make a glorious figure when thou art brought to live upon Nic. Frog and Esquire South's generosity and gratitude. If they use thee thus when they want thee, what will they do when thou wantest them? I say again, John, look to thyself."
John wisely stifled his resentments, and told the company that in a little time he should give them law, or something better.
ALL.—*Law! law! sir, by all means. What is twenty-two poor years towards the finishing a lawsuit? For the love of God, more law, sir!
* Clamours for continuing the war.
JOHN BULL.—Prepare your demands how many years more of law you want, that I may order my affairs accordingly. In the meanwhile, farewell.
Nic. Frog, who thought of nothing but carrying John to the market, and there disposing of him as his own proper goods, was mad to find that John thought himself now of age to look after his own affairs. He resolved to traverse this new project, and to make him uneasy in his own family. He had corrupted or deluded most of his servants into the most extravagant conceits in the world: that their master was run mad, and wore a dagger in one pocket and poison in the other; that he had sold his wife and children to Lewis, disinherited his heir, and was going to settle his estate upon a parish-boy; that if they did not look after their master, he would do some very mischievous thing. When John came home, he found a more surprising scene than any he had yet met with, and that you will say was somewhat extraordinary.
* Clamours about the danger of the succession.
He called his cook-maid Betty to bespeak his dinner. Betty told him "That she begged his pardon, she could not dress dinner till she knew what he intended to do with his will." "Why, Betty," quoth John, "thou art not run mad, art thou? My will at present is to have dinner." "That may be," quoth Betty, "but my conscience won't allow me to dress it till I know whether you intend to do righteous things by your heir." "I am sorry for that, Betty," quoth John; "I must find somebody else, then." Then he called John the barber. "Before I begin," quoth John, "I hope your honour won't be offended if I ask you whether you intend to alter your will? If you won't give me a positive answer your beard may grow down to your middle for me." "'Igad, so it shall," quoth Bull, "for I will never trust my throat in such a mad fellow's hands. Where's Dick the butler?" "Look ye," quoth Dick, "I am very willing to serve you in my calling, d'you see, but there are strange reports, and plain-dealing is best, d'ye see. I must be satisfied if you intend to leave all to your nephew and if Nic. Frog is still your executor, d'ye see. If you will not satisfy me as to these points you may drink with the ducks." "And so I will," quoth John, "rather than keep a butler that loves my heir better than myself." Hob the shoemaker, and Pricket the tailor, told him they would most willingly serve him in their several stations if he would promise them never to talk with Lewis Baboon, and let Nicholas Frog, linen-draper, manage his concerns; that they could neither make shoes nor clothes to any that were not in good correspondence with their worthy friend Nicholas.
JOHN BULL.—Call Andrew, my journeyman. How goes affairs, Andrew? I hope the devil has not taken possession of thy body too.
ANDREW.—No, sir; I only desire to know what you would do if you were dead?
JOHN BULL.—Just as other dead folks do, Andrew. [Aside.] This is amazing!
ANDREW.—I mean if your nephew shall inherit your estate.
JOHN BULL.—That depends upon himself. I shall do nothing to hinder him.
ANDREW.—But will you make it sure?
JOHN BULL.—Thou meanest that I should put him in possession, for I can make it no surer without that. He has all the law can give him.
ANDREW.—Indeed, possession, as you say, would make it much surer. They say it is eleven points of the law.
John began now to think that they were all enchanted. He inquired about the age of the moon, if Nic. had not given them some intoxicating potion, or if old Mother Jenisa was still alive? "No, o' my faith," quoth Harry, "I believe there is no potion in the case but a little aurum potabile. You will have more of this by-and-by." He had scarce spoken the word when another friend of John's accosted him after the following manner:—
"Since those worthy persons, who are as much concerned for your safety as I am, have employed me as their orator, I desire to know whether you will have it by way of syllogism, enthymem, dilemma, or sorites?"
John now began to be diverted with their extravagance.
JOHN BULL.—Let's have a sorites by all means, though they are all new to me.
FRIEND.—It is evident to all that are versed in history that there were two sisters that played false two thousand years ago. Therefore it plainly follows that it is not lawful for John Bull to have any manner of intercourse with Lewis Baboon. If it is not lawful for John Bull to have any manner of intercourse (correspondence, if you will, that is much the same thing) then, a fortiori, it is much more unlawful for the said John to make over his wife and children to the said Lewis. If his wife and children are not to be made over, he is not to wear a dagger and ratsbane in his pockets. If he wears a dagger and ratsbane, it must be to do mischief to himself or somebody else. If he intends to do mischief, he ought to be under guardians, and there is none so fit as myself and some other worthy persons who have a commission for that purpose from Nic. Frog, the executor of his will and testament.
JOHN BULL.—And this is your sorites, you say?
With that he snatched a good tough oaken cudgel, and began to brandish it. Then happy was the man that was first at the door. Crowding to get out, they tumbled down-stairs. And it is credibly reported some of them dropped very valuable things in the hurry, which were picked up by others of the family.
"That any of these rogues," quoth John, "should imagine I am not as much concerned as they about having my affairs in a settled condition, or that I would wrong my heir for I know not what! Well, Nic., I really cannot but applaud thy diligence. I must own this is really a pretty sort of a trick, but it sha'n't do thy business, for all that."
* Private negotiations about Dunkirk.
I think it is but ingenuous to acquaint the reader that this chapter was not wrote by Sir Humphrey himself, but by another very able pen of the university of Grub Street.
John had, by some good instructions given him by Sir Roger, got the better of his choleric temper, and wrought himself up to a great steadiness of mind to pursue his own interest through all impediments that were thrown in the way. He began to leave off some of his old acquaintance, his roaring and bullying about the streets. He put on a serious air, knit his brows, and, for the time, had made a very considerable progress in politics, considering that he had been kept a stranger to his own affairs. However, he could not help discovering some remains of his nature when he happened to meet with a football or a match at cricket, for which Sir Roger was sure to take him to task. John was walking about his room with folded arms and a most thoughtful countenance. His servant brought him word that one Lewis Baboon below wanted to speak with him. John had got an impression that Lewis was so deadly cunning a man that he was afraid to venture himself alone with him. At last he took heart of grace. "Let him come up," quoth he; "it is but sticking to my point, and he can never over-reach me."
LEWIS BABOON.—Monsieur Bull, I will frankly acknowledge that my behaviour to my neighbours has been somewhat uncivil, and I believe you will readily grant me that I have met with usage accordingly. I was fond of back-sword and cudgel-play from my youth, and I now bear in my body many a black and blue gash and scar, God knows. I had as good a warehouse and as fair possessions as any of my neighbours, though I say it. But a contentious temper, flattering servants, and unfortunate stars have brought me into circumstances that are not unknown to you. These my misfortunes are heightened by domestic calamities. That I need not relate. I am a poor old battered fellow, and I would willingly end my days in peace. But, alas! I see but small hopes of that, for every new circumstance affords an argument to my enemies to pursue their revenge. Formerly I was to be banged because I was too strong, and now because I am too weak to resist; I am to be brought down when too rich, and oppressed when too poor. Nic. Frog has used me like a scoundrel. You are a gentleman, and I freely put myself in your hands to dispose of me as you think fit.
JOHN BULL.—Look you, Master Baboon, as to your usage of your neighbours, you had best not dwell too much upon that chapter. Let it suffice at present that you have been met with. You have been rolling a great stone up-hill all your life, and at last it has come tumbling down till it is like to crush you to pieces. Plain-dealing is best. If you have any particular mark, Mr. Baboon, whereby one may know when you fib and when you speak truth, you had best tell it me, that one may proceed accordingly. But since at present I know of none such, it is better that you should trust me than that I should trust you.
LEWIS BABOON.—I know of no particular mark of veracity amongst us tradesmen but interest; and it is manifestly mine not to deceive you at this time. You may safely trust me, I can assure you.
JOHN BULL.—The trust I give is, in short, this: I must have something in hand before I make the bargain, and the rest before it is concluded.
LEWIS BABOON.—To show you I deal fairly, name your something.
JOHN BULL.—I need not tell thee, old boy; thou canst guess.
LEWIS BABOON.—Ecclesdown Castle,* I'll warrant you, because it has been formerly in your family. Say no more; you shall have it.
JOHN BULL.—I shall have it to my own self?
LEWIS BABOON.—To thine own self.
JOHN BULL.—Every wall, gate, room, and inch of Ecclesdown Castle, you say?
LEWIS BABOON.—Just so.
JOHN BULL.—Every single stone of Ecclesdown Castle, to my own self, speedily?
LEWIS BABOON.—When you please; what needs more words?
JOHN BULL.—But tell me, old boy, hast thou laid aside all thy equivocals and mentals in this case?
LEWIS BABOON.—There's nothing like matter of fact; seeing is believing.
JOHN BULL.—Now thou talkest to the purpose; let us shake hands, old boy. Let me ask thee one question more; what hast thou to do to meddle with the affairs of my family? to dispose of my estate, old boy?
LEWIS BABOON.—Just as much as you have to do with the affairs of Lord Strutt.
JOHN BULL.—Ay, but my trade, my very being was concerned in that.
LEWIS BABOON.—And my interest was concerned in the other. But let us drop both our pretences; for I believe it is a moot point, whether I am more likely to make a Master Bull, or you a Lord Strutt.
JOHN BULL.—Agreed, old boy; but then I must have security that I shall carry my broadcloth to market, old boy.
LEWIS BABOON.—That you shall: Ecclesdown Castle! Ecclesdown! Remember that. Why wouldst thou not take it when it was offered thee some years ago?
JOHN BULL.—I would not take it, because they told me thou wouldst not give it me.
LEWIS BABOON.—How could Monsieur Bull be so grossly abused by downright nonsense? they that advised you to refuse, must have believed I intended to give, else why would they not make the experiment? But I can tell you more of that matter than perhaps you know at present.
JOHN BULL.—But what say'st thou as to the Esquire, Nic. Frog, and the rest of the tradesmen? I must take care of them.
LEWIS BABOON.—Thou hast but small obligations to Nic. to my certain knowledge: he has not used me like a gentleman.
JOHN BULL.—Nic. indeed is not very nice in your punctilios of ceremony; he is clownish, as a man may say: belching and calling of names have been allowed him time out of mind, by prescription: but, however, we are engaged in one common cause, and I must look after him.
LEWIS BABOON.—All matters that relate to him, and the rest of the plaintiff's in this lawsuit, I will refer to your justice.
Nic. perceived now that his Cully had eloped, that John intended henceforth to deal without a broker; but he was resolved to leave no stone unturned to cover his bubble. Amongst other artifices he wrote a most obliging letter, which he sent him printed in a fair character.
"DEAR FRIEND,—When I consider the late ill-usage I have met with from you, I was reflecting what it was that could provoke you to it, but upon a narrow inspection into my conduct, I can find nothing to reproach myself with but too partial a concern for your interest. You no sooner set this composition afoot but I was ready to comply, and prevented your very wishes; and the affair might have been ended before now, had it not been for the greater concerns of Esquire South and the other poor creatures embarked in the same common cause, whose safety touches me to the quick. You seemed a little jealous that I had dealt unfairly with you in money-matters, till it appeared by your own accounts that there was something due to me upon the balance. Having nothing to answer to so plain a demonstration, you began to complain as if I had been familiar with your reputation; when it is well known not only I, but the meanest servants in my family, talk of you with the utmost respect. I have always, as far as in me lies, exhorted your servants and tenants to be dutiful; not that I any way meddle in your domestic affairs, which were very unbecoming for me to do. If some of your servants express their great concern for you in a manner that is not so very polite, you ought to impute it to their extraordinary zeal, which deserves a reward rather than a reproof. You cannot reproach me for want of success at the 'Salutation,' since I am not master of the passions and interests of other folks. I have beggared myself with this lawsuit, undertaken merely in complaisance to you; and if you would have had but a little patience, I had still greater things in reserve, that I intended to have done for you. I hope what I have said will prevail with you to lay aside your unreasonable jealousies, and that we may have no more meetings at the 'Salutation,' spending our time and money to no purpose. My concern for your welfare and prosperity almost makes me mad. You may be assured I will continue to be
"Friend and Servant,
* Substance of the States letter.
John received this with a good deal of sang-froid; "Transeat," quoth John, "cum caeteris erroribus." He was now at his ease; he saw he could now make a very good bargain for himself, and a very safe one for other folks. "My shirt," quoth he, "is near me, but my skin is nearer. Whilst I take care of the welfare of other folks, nobody can blame me to apply a little balsam to my own sores. It's a pretty thing, after all, for a man to do his own business; a man has such a tender concern for himself, there's nothing like it. This is somewhat better, I trow, than for John Bull to be standing in the market, like a great dray-horse, with Frog's paws upon his head. What will you give me for this beast? Serviteur Nic. Frog, though John Bull has not read your Aristotles, Platos, and Machiavels, he can see as far into a mill-stone as another." With that John began to chuckle and laugh till he was like to have burst his sides.
* Negotiations between the Emperor and the Dutch for continuing the war, and getting the property of Flanders.
John thought every minute a year till he got into Ecclesdown Castle; he repairs to the "Salutation" with a design to break the matter gently to his partners. Before he entered he overheard Nic. and the Esquire in a very pleasant conference.
ESQUIRE SOUTH.—Oh, the ingratitude and injustice of mankind! That John Bull, whom I have honoured with my friendship and protection so long, should flinch at last, and pretend that he can disburse no more money for me! that the family of the Souths, by his sneaking temper, should be kept out of their own!
NIC. FROG.—An't like your worship, I am in amaze at it; I think the rogue should be compelled to his duty.
ESQUIRE SOUTH.—That he should prefer his scandalous pelf, the dust and dregs of the earth, to the prosperity and grandeur of my family!
NIC. FROG.—Nay, he is mistaken there, too; for he would quickly lick himself whole again by his vails. It's strange he should prefer Philip Baboon's custom to Esquire South's.
ESQUIRE SOUTH.—As you say, that my clothier, that is to get so much by the purchase, should refuse to put me in possession; did you ever know any man's tradesman serve him so before?
NIC. FROG.—No, indeed, an't please your worship, it is a very unusual proceeding; and I would not have been guilty of it for the world. If your honour had not a great stock of moderation and patience, you would not bear it so well as you do.
ESQUIRE SOUTH.—It is most intolerable, that's certain, Nic., and I will be revenged.
NIC. FROG.—Methinks it is strange that Philip Baboon's tenants do not all take your honour's part, considering how good and gentle a master you are.
ESQUIRE SOUTH.—True, Nic., but few are sensible of merit in this world. It is a great comfort to have so faithful a friend as thyself in so critical a juncture.
NIC. FROG.—If all the world should forsake you, be assured Nic. Frog never will; let us stick to our point, and we'll manage Bull, I'll warrant ye.
ESQUIRE SOUTH.—Let me kiss thee, dear Nic.; I have found one honest man among a thousand at last.
NIC. FROG.—If it were possible, your honour has it in your power to wed me still closer to your interest.
ESQUIRE SOUTH.—Tell me quickly, dear Nic.
NIC. FROG.—You know I am your tenant; the difference between my lease and an inheritance is such a trifle as I am sure you will not grudge your poor friend. That will be an encouragement to go on; besides, it will make Bull as mad as the devil: you and I shall be able to manage him then to some purpose.
ESQUIRE SOUTH.—Say no more; it shall be done, Nic., to thy heart's content.
John all this while was listening to this comical dialogue, and laughed heartily in his sleeve at the pride and simplicity of the Esquire, and the sly roguery of his friend Nic. Then of a sudden bolting into the room, he began to tell them that he believed he had brought Lewis to reasonable terms, if they would please to hear them.
Then they all bawled out aloud, "No composition: long live Esquire South and the Law!" As John was going to proceed, some roared, some stamped with their feet, others stopped their ears with their fingers.
"Nay, gentlemen," quoth John, "if you will but stop proceeding for a while, you shall judge yourselves whether Lewis's proposals* are reasonable."
* Proposals for cessation of arms and delivery of Dunkirk.
ALL.—Very fine, indeed; stop proceeding, and so lose a term.
JOHN BULL.—Not so neither; we have something by way of advance: he will put us in possession of his Manor and Castle of Ecclesdown.
NIC. FROG.—What dost talk of us? thou meanest thyself.
JOHN BULL.—When Frog took possession of anything, it was always said to be for us, and why may not John Bull be us as well as Nic. Frog was us? I hope John Bull is no more confined to singularity than Nic. Frog; or, take it so, the constant doctrine that thou hast preached up for many years was that thou and I are one; and why must we be supposed two in this case, that were always one before? It's impossible that thou and I can fall out, Nic.; we must trust one another. I have trusted thee with a great many things—prithee trust me with this one trifle.
NIC. FROG.—That principle is true in the main, but there is some speciality in this case that makes it highly inconvenient for us both.
JOHN BULL.—Those are your jealousies, that the common enemies sow between us: how often hast thou warned me of those rogues, Nic., that would make us mistrustful of one another!
NIC. FROG.—This Ecclesdown Castle is only a bone of contention.
JOHN BULL.—It depends upon you to make it so; for my part, I am as peaceable as a lamb.
NIC. FROG.—But do you consider the unwholesomeness of the air and soil, the expenses of reparations and servants? I would scorn to accept of such a quagmire.
JOHN BULL.—You are a great man, Nic., but in my circumstances I must be e'en content to take it as it is.
NIC. FROG.—And you are really so silly as to believe the old cheating rogue will give it you?
JOHN BULL.—I believe nothing but matter of fact; I stand and fall by that. I am resolved to put him to it.
NIC. FROG.—And so relinquish the hopefullest cause in the world: a claim that will certainly in the end make thy fortune for ever.
JOHN BULL.—Wilt thou purchase it, Nic.? thou shalt have a lumping pennyworth; nay, rather than we should differ, I'll give thee something to take it off my hands.
NIC. FROG.—If thou wouldst but moderate that hasty, impatient temper of thine, thou shouldst quickly see a better thing than all that. What shouldst thou think to find old Lewis turned out of his paternal estates and mansion-house of Claypool?* Would not that do thy heart good, to see thy old friend, Nic. Frog, Lord of Claypool? Then thou and thy wife and children should walk in my gardens, buy toys, drink lemonade, and now and then we should have a country dance.
* Claypool, Paris—Lutetia.
JOHN BULL.—I love to be plain: I'd as lief see myself in Ecclesdown Castle as thee in Claypool. I tell you again, Lewis gives this as a pledge of his sincerity; if you won't stop proceeding to hear him, I will.
* Attempts to hinder the cessation, and taking possession of Dunkirk.
When Nic. could not dissuade John by argument, he tried to move his pity; he pretended to be sick and like to die; that he should leave his wife and children in a starving condition, if John did abandon him; that he was hardly able to crawl about the room, far less capable to look after such a troublesome business as this lawsuit, and therefore begged that his good friend would not leave him. When he saw that John was still inexorable, he pulled out a case-knife, with which he used to snicker-snee, and threatened to cut his own throat. Thrice he aimed the knife to his windpipe with a most determined threatening air. "What signifies life," quoth he, "in this languishing condition? It will be some pleasure that my friends will revenge my death upon this barbarous man that has been the cause of it." All this while John looked sedate and calm, neither offering in the least to snatch the knife, nor stop his blow, trusting to the tenderness Nic. had for his own person. When he perceived that John was immovable in his purpose, he applied himself to Lewis.
"Art thou," quoth he, "turned bubble in thy old age, from being a sharper in thy youth? What occasion hast thou to give up Ecclesdown Castle to John Bull? His friendship is not worth a rush. Give it me, and I'll make it worth thy while. If thou dislikest that proposition, keep it thyself; I'd rather thou shouldst have it than he. If thou hearkenest not to my advice, take what follows; Esquire South and I will go on with our lawsuit in spite of John Bull's teeth."
LEWIS BABOON.—Monsieur Bull has used me like a gentleman, and I am resolved to make good my promise, and trust him for the consequences.
NIC. FROG.—Then I tell thee thou art an old doating fool.—With that Nic. bounced up with a spring equal to that of one of your nimblest tumblers or rope-dancers, and fell foul upon John Bull, to snatch the cudgel* he had in his hand, that he might thwack Lewis with it: John held it fast so that there was no wrenching it from him. At last Squire South buckled to, to assist his friend Nic.: John hauled on one side, and they two on the other. Sometimes they were like to pull John over, then it went all of a sudden again on John's side, so they went see-sawing up and down, from one end of the room to the other. Down tumbled the tables, bottles, glasses, and tobacco-pipes; the wine and the tobacco were all spilt about the room, and the little fellows were almost trod under foot, till more of the tradesmen joining with Nic. and the Squire, John was hardly able to pull against then all, yet would he never quit hold of his trusty cudgel: which by the contrary force of two so great powers broke short in his hands.** Nic. seized the longer end, and with it began to bastinado old Lewis, who had slunk into a corner, waiting the event of this squabble. Nic. came up to him with an insolent menacing air, so that the old fellow was forced to scuttle out of the room, and retire behind a dung-cart. He called to Nic., "Thou insolent jackanapes, time was when thou durst not have used me so; thou now takest me unprovided; but, old and infirm as I am, I shall find a weapon by-and-by to chastise thy impudence."
* The army. ** The separation of the army.
When John Bull had recovered his breath, he began to parley with Nic.: "Friend Nic., I am glad to find thee so strong after thy great complaints; really thy motions, Nic., are pretty vigorous for a consumptive man. As for thy worldly affairs, Nic., if it can do thee any service, I freely make over to thee this profitable lawsuit, and I desire all these gentlemen to bear witness to this my act and deed. Yours be all the gain, as mine has been the charges. I have brought it to bear finely: however, all I have laid out upon it goes for nothing—thou shalt have it with all its appurtenances; I ask nothing but leave to go home."
NIC. FROG.—The counsel are fee'd, and all things prepared for a trial; thou shalt be forced to stand the issue; it shall be pleaded in thy name as well as mine. Go home if thou canst; the gates are shut, the turnpikes locked, and the roads barricaded.*
* Difficulty of the march of part of the army to Dunkirk.
JOHN BULL.—Even these very ways, Nic., that thou toldest me were as open to me as thyself, if I can't pass with my own equipage, what can I expect for my goods and wagons? I am denied passage through those very grounds that I have purchased with my own money. However, I am glad I have made the experiment; it may serve me in some stead.
John Bull was so overjoyed that he was going to take possession of Ecclesdown, that nothing could vex him. "Nic.," quoth he, "I am just a-going to leave thee; cast a kind look upon me at parting."
Nic. looked sour and glum, and would not open his mouth.
JOHN BULL.—I wish thee all the success that thy heart can desire, and that these honest gentlemen of the long robe may have their belly full of law.
Nic. could stand it no longer, but flung out of the room with disdain, and beckoned the lawyers to follow him.
JOHN BULL.—B'ye, b'ye, Nic,; not one poor smile at parting? won't you shake your day-day, Nic? b'ye, Nic.—With that John marched out of the common road, across the country, to take possession of Ecclesdown.
When John had got into his castle he seemed like Ulysses upon his plank after he had been well soused in salt water, who, as Homer says, was as glad as a judge going to sit down to dinner after hearing a long cause upon the bench. I daresay John Bull's joy was equal to that of either of the two; he skipped from room to room, ran up-stairs and down-stairs, from the kitchen to the garrets, and from the garrets to the kitchen; he peeped into every cranny; sometimes he admired the beauty of the architecture and the vast solidity of the mason's work; at other times he commended the symmetry and proportion of the rooms. He walked about the gardens; he bathed himself in the canal, swimming, diving, and beating the liquid element like a milk-white swan. The hall resounded with the sprightly violin and the martial hautbois. The family tripped it about, and capered like hailstones bounding from a marble floor. Wine, ale, and October flew about as plentifully as kennel-water. Then a frolic took John in the head to call up some of Nic. Frog's pensioners that had been so mutinous in his family.
JOHN BULL.—Are you glad to see your master in Ecclesdown Castle?
ALL.—Yes, indeed, sir.
JOHN BULL.—Extremely glad?
ALL.—Extremely glad, sir.
JOHN BULL.—Swear to me that you are so.
Then they began to sink their souls to the lowest pit if any person in the world rejoiced more than they did.
JOHN BULL.—Now hang me if I don't believe you are a parcel of perjured rascals; however, take this bumper of October to your master's health.
Then John got upon the battlements, and looking over he called to Nic. Frog.—
"How d'ye do, Nic.? D'ye see where I am, Nic.? I hope the cause goes on swimmingly, Nic. When dost thou intend to go to Claypool, Nic.? Wilt thou buy there some high heads of the newest cut for my daughters? How comest thou to go with thy arm tied up? Has old Lewis given thee a rap over thy fingers' ends? Thy weapon was a good one when I wielded it, but the butt-end remains in my hands. I am so busy in packing up my goods that I have no time to talk with thee any longer. It would do thy heart good to see what wagon-loads I am preparing for market. If thou wantest any good office of mine, for all that has happened I will use thee well, Nic. B'ye, Nic."
It has been disputed amongst the literati of Grub Street whether Sir Humphry proceeded any farther into the history of John Bull. By diligent inquiry we have found the titles of some chapters, which appear to be a continuation of it, and are as follow:—
CHAP. I.—How John was made angry with the Articles of Agreement. How he kicked the Parchment through the House, up-stairs and down-stairs, and put himself in a great Heat thereby.
CHAP. II.—How in his Passion he was going to cut off Sir Roger's head with a Cleaver. Of the strange manner of Sir Roger's escaping the blow, by laying his Head upon the Dresser.
CHAP. III.—How some of John's Servants attempted to scale his House with Rope Ladders, and how many unfortunately dangled in the same.
CHAP. IV.—Of the Methods by which John endeavoured to preserve the Peace amongst his Neighbours. How he kept a pair of Stillyards to weigh them, and by Diet, Purging, Vomiting, and Bleeding, tried to bring them to equal Bulk and Strength.
CHAP. V.—Of False Accounts of the Weights given in by some of the Journeymen, and of the Newmarket Tricks that were practised at the Stillyards.
CHAP. VI.—How John's New Journeymen brought him other guess Accounts of the Stillyards.
CHAP. VII.—How Sir Swain Northy* was, by Bleeding, Purging, and a Steel Diet, brought into a Consumption, and how John was forced afterwards to give him the Gold Cordial.
* King of Sweden.
CHAP. VIII.—How Peter Bear* was overfed, and afterwards refused to submit to the course of Physic.
* Czar of Muscovy.
CHAP. IX.—How John pampered Esquire South with Tit-bits, till he grew wanton; how he got drunk with Calabrian Wine, and longed for Sicilian Beef, and how John carried him thither in his barge.
CHAP. X.—How the Esquire, from a foul-feeder, grew dainty: how he longed for Mangoes, Spices, and Indian Birds' Nests, etc., and could not sleep but in a Chintz Bed.
CHAP. XI.—The Esquire turned Tradesman; how he set up a China Shop* over against Nic. Frog.
* The Ostend Company.
CHAP. XII.—How he procured Spanish Flies to blister his Neighbours, and as a Provocative to himself. As likewise how he carried off Nic. Frog's favourite Daughter.
CHAP. XIII.—How Nic. Frog, hearing the Girl squeak, went to call John Bull as a Constable.
CHAP. XIV.—How John rose out of his Bed on a cold Morning to prevent a Duel between Esq. South and Lord Strutt; how, to his great surprise, he found the Combatants drinking Geneva in a Brandy Shop, with Nic.'s favourite Daughter between them; how they both fell upon John, so that he was forced to fight his way out.
CHAP. XV.—How John came with his Constable's Staff to rescue Nic.'s Daughter, and break the Esquire's China Ware.
CHAP. XVI.—Commentary upon the Spanish Proverb, "Time and I against any Two;" or Advice to Dogmatical Politicians exemplified in some New Affairs between John Bull and Lewis Baboon.
CHAP. XVII.—A Discourse of the delightful Game of Quadrille. How Lewis Baboon attempted to play a Game Solo in Clubs, and was bested; how John called Lewis for his King, and was afraid that his own Partner should have too many tricks; and how the Success and Skill of Quadrille depends upon calling a right King.