The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle - Tobias Smollett - ebook
Kategoria: Obyczajowe i romanse Język: angielski Rok wydania: 1751

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Tobias Smollett

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Opis ebooka The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle - Tobias Smollett

The story of the fortunes and misfortunes of the egotistical dandy Peregrine Pickle, and it provides a comic and caustic portrayal of 18th century European society.

Opinie o ebooku The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle - Tobias Smollett

Fragment ebooka The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle - Tobias Smollett

About
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14

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Chapter 1

 

An Account of Mr. Gamaliel Pickle—The Disposition of his Sister described—He yields to her Solicitations, and returns to the Country.

In a certain county of England, bounded on one side by the sea, and at the distance of one hundred miles from the metropolis, lived Gamaliel Pickle, esq.; the father of that hero whose fortunes we propose to record. He was the son of a merchant in London, who, like Rome, from small beginnings had raised himself to the highest honours of the city, and acquired a plentiful fortune, though, to his infinite regret, he died before it amounted to a plum, conjuring his son, as he respected the last injunction of a parent, to imitate his industry, and adhere to his maxims, until he should have made up the deficiency, which was a sum considerably less than fifteen thousand pounds.

This pathetic remonstrance had the desired effect upon his representative, who spared no pains to fulfil the request of the deceased: but exerted all the capacity with which nature had endowed him, in a series of efforts, which, however, did not succeed; for by the time he bad been fifteen years in trade, he found himself five thousand pounds worse than he was when he first took possession of his father's effects; a circumstance that affected him so nearly, as to detach his inclinations from business, and induce him to retire from the world to some place where he might at leisure deplore his misfortunes, and, by frugality, secure himself from want, and the apprehensions of a jail, with which his imagination was incessantly haunted. He was often heard to express his fears of coming upon the parish; and to bless God, that, on account of his having been so long a housekeeper, he was entitled to that provision. In short, his talents were not naturally active, and there was a sort of inconsistency in his character; for, with all the desire of amassing which any citizen could possibly entertain, he was encumbered by a certain indolence and sluggishness that prevailed over every interested consideration, and even hindered him from profiting by that singleness of apprehension, and moderation of appetites, which have so frequently conduced to the acquisition of immense fortunes; qualities which he possessed in a very remarkable degree. Nature, in all probability, had mixed little or nothing inflammable in his composition; or, whatever seeds of excess she might have sown within him, were effectually stifled and destroyed by the austerity of his education.

The sallies of his youth, far from being inordinate or criminal, never exceeded the bounds of that decent jollity which an extraordinary pot, on extraordinary occasions, may be supposed to have produced in a club of sedate book-keepers, whose imaginations were neither very warm nor luxuriant. Little subject to refined sensations, he was scarce ever disturbed with violent emotions of any kind. The passion of love never interrupted his tranquility; and if, as Mr. Creech says, after Horace,

Not to admire is all the art I know;
To make men happy, and to keep them so;

Mr. Pickle was undoubtedly possessed of that invaluable secret; at least, he was never known to betray the faintest symptom of transport, except one evening at the club, where he observed, with some demonstrations of vivacity, that he had dined upon a delicate loin of veal.

Notwithstanding this appearance of phlegm, he could not help feeling his disappointments in trade; and upon the failure of a certain underwriter, by which he lost five hundred pounds, declared his design of relinquishing business, and retiring to the country. In this resolution he was comforted and encouraged by his only sister, Mrs. Grizzle, who had managed his family since the death of his father, and was now in the thirtieth year of her maidenhood, with a fortune of five thousand pounds, and a large stock of economy and devotion.

These qualifications, one would think, might have been the means of abridging the term of her celibacy, as she never expressed any aversion to wedlock; but, it seems, she was too delicate in her choice, to find a mate to her inclination in the city: for I cannot suppose that she remained so long unsolicited; though the charms of her person were not altogether enchanting, nor her manner over and above agreeable. Exclusive of a very wan (not to call it sallow) complexion, which, perhaps, was the effects of her virginity and mortification, she had a cast in her eyes that was not at all engaging; and such an extent of mouth, as no art or affectation could contract into any proportionable dimension; then her piety was rather peevish than resigned, and did not in the least diminish a certain stateliness in her demeanour and conversation, that delighted in communicating the importance and honour of her family, which, by the bye, was not to be traced two generations back by all the power of heraldry or tradition.

She seemed to have renounced all the ideas she had acquired before her father served the office of sheriff; and the eye which regulated the dates of all her observation, was the mayoralty of her papa. Nay, so solicitous was this good lady for the support and propagation of the family name, that, suppressing every selfish motive, she actually prevailed upon her brother to combat with his own disposition, and even surmount it so far, as to declare a passion for the person whom he afterwards wedded, as we shall see in the sequel. Indeed, she was the spur that instigated him in all his extraordinary undertakings; and I question, whether be would or not have been able to disengage himself from that course of life in which he had so long mechanically moved, unless he had been roused and actuated by her incessant exhortations. London, she observed, was a receptacle of iniquity, where an honest, unsuspecting man was every day in danger of falling a sacrifice to craft; where innocence was exposed to continual temptations, and virtue eternally persecuted by malice and slander; where everything was ruled by caprice and corruption, and merit utterly discouraged and despised. This last imputation she pronounced with such emphasis and chagrin, as plainly denoted how far she considered herself as an example of what she advanced; and really the charge was justified by the constructions that were put upon her retreat by her female friends, who, far from imputing it to the laudable motives that induced her, insinuated, in sarcastic commendations, that she had good reason to be dissatisfied with a place where she had been so overlooked; and that it was certainly her wisest course to make her last effort in the country, where, in all probability, her talents would be less eclipsed, and her fortune more attractive.

Be this as it will, her admonitions, though they were powerful enough to convince, would have been insufficient to overcome the languor and vis inertiae of her brother, had she not reinforced her arguments, by calling in question the credit of two or three merchants, with whom he was embarked in trade.

Alarmed at these hints of intelligence, be exerted himself effectually; he withdrew his money from trade, and laying it out in Bank-stock, and India-bonds, removed to a house in the country, which his father had built near the sea-side, for the convenience of carrying on a certain branch of traffic in which he had been deeply concerned.

Here then Mr. Pickle fixed his habitation for life, in the six-and-thirtieth year of his age; and though the pangs he felt at parting with his intimate companions, and quitting all his former connections, were not quite so keen as to produce any dangerous disorder in his constitution, he did not fail to be extremely disconcerted at his first entrance into a scene of life to which he was totally a stranger. Not but that he met with abundance of people in the country, who, in consideration of his fortune, courted his acquaintance, and breathed nothing but friendship and hospitality; yet, even the trouble of receiving and returning these civilities was an intolerable fatigue to a man of his habits and disposition. He therefore left the care of the ceremonial to his sister, who indulged herself in all the pride of formality; while he himself, having made a discovery of a public-house in the neighbourhood, went thither every evening and enjoyed his pipe and can; being very well satisfied with the behaviour of the landlord, whose communicative temper was a great comfort to his own taciturnity; for he shunned all superfluity of speech, as much as he avoided any other unnecessary expense.


Chapter 2

 

He is made acquainted with the Characters of Commodore Trunnion and his Adherents—Meets with them by Accident, and contracts an Intimacy with that Commander.

This loquacious publican soon gave him sketches of all the characters in the county; and, among others, described that of his next neighbour, Commodore Trunnion, which was altogether singular and odd. "The commodore and your worship," said he, "will in a short time be hand and glove, he has a power of money, and spends it like a prince—that is, in his own way—for to be sure he is a little humorsome, as the saying is, and swears woundily; though I'll be sworn he means no more harm than a sucking babe. Lord help us! it will do your honour's heart good to hear him tell a story, as how he lay alongside of the French, yard-arm and yard-arm, board and board, and of heaving grapplings, and stink-pots, and grapes, and round and double-headed partridges, crows and carters. Lord have mercy upon us! he has been a great warrior in his time, and lost an eye and a heel in the service. Then he does not live like any other Christian land-man; but keeps garrison in his house, as if he were in the midst of his enemies, and makes his servants turn out in the night, watch and watch as he calls it, all the year round. His habitation is defended by a ditch, over which he has laid a draw-bridge, and planted his court-yard with patereroes continually loaded with shot, under the direction of one Mr. Hatchway, who had one of his legs shot away while he acted as lieutenant on board the commodore's ship; and now, being on half-pay, lives with him as his companion. The lieutenant is a very brave man, a great joker, and, as the saying is, hath got the length of his commander's foot—though he has another favourite in the house called Tom Pipes, that was his boatswain's mate, and now keeps the servants in order. Tom is a man of few words, but an excellent hand at a song concerning the boatswain's whistle, hustle-cap, and chuck-farthing—there is not such another pipe in the county—so that the commodore lives very happy in his own manner; though he be sometimes thrown into perilous passions and quandaries, by the application of his poor kinsmen, whom he can't abide, because as how some of them were the first occasion of his going to sea. Then he sweats with agony at the sight of an attorney, just, for all the world, as some people have an antipathy to a cat: for it seems he was once at law, for striking one of his officers, and cast in a swinging sum. He is, moreover, exceedingly afflicted with goblins that disturb his rest, and keep such a racket in his house, that you would think (God bless us!) all the devils in hell had broke loose upon him. It was no longer ago than last year about this time, that he was tormented the livelong night by the mischievous spirits that got into his chamber, and played a thousand pranks about his hammock, for there is not one bed within his walls. Well, sir, he rang his bell, called up all his servants, got lights, and made a thorough search; but the devil a goblin was to be found. He had no sooner turned in again, and the rest of the family gone to sleep, than the foul fiends began their game anew. The commodore got up in the dark, drew his cutlass, and attacked them both so manfully, that in five minutes everything in the apartment went to pieces, The lieutenant, hearing the noise, came to his assistance. Tom Pipes, being told what was the matter, lighted his match, and going down to the yard, fired all the patereroes as signals of distress. Well, to be sure the whole parish was in a pucker: some thought the French had landed; others imagined the commodore's house was beset by thieves; for my own part, I called up two dragoons that are quartered upon me, and they swore, with deadly oaths, it was a gang of smugglers engaged with a party of their regiment that lies in the next village; and mounting their horses like lusty fellows, rode up into the country as fast as their beasts could carry them. Ah, master! These are hard times, when an industrious body cannot earn his bread without fear of the gallows. Your worship's father (God rest his soul!) was a good gentleman, and as well respected in this parish as e'er a he that walks upon neat's leather; and if your honour should want a small parcel of fine tea, or a few ankers of right Nantes, I'll be bound you shall be furnished to your heart's content. But, as I was saying, the hubbub continued till morning, when the parson being sent for, conjured the spirits into the Red Sea; and the house has been pretty quiet ever since. True it is, Mr. Hatchway makes a mock of the whole affair; and told his commander, in this very blessed spot, that the two goblins were no other than a couple of jackdaws which had fallen down the chimney, and made a flapping with their wings up and down the apartment. But the commodore, who is very choleric, and does not like to be jeered, fell into a main high passion, and stormed like a perfect hurricane, swearing that he knew a devil from a jackdaw as well as e'er a man in the three kingdoms. He owned, indeed, that the birds were found, but denied that they were the occasion of the uproar. For my own part, master, I believe much may be said on both sides of the question; though to be sure, the devil is always going about, as the saying is."

This circumstantial account, extraordinary as it was, never altered one feature in the countenance of Mr. Pickle, who, having heard it to an end, took the pipe from his mouth, saying, with a look of infinite sagacity and deliberation, "I do suppose he is of the Cornish Trunnions. What sort of a woman is his spouse?" "Spouse!" cried the other; "odds-heart! I don't think he would marry the queen of Sheba. Lack-a-day! sir, he won't suffer his own maids to be in the garrison, but turns them into an out-house every night before the watch is set. Bless your honour's soul, he is, as it were, a very oddish kind of a gentleman. Your worship would have seen him before now; for, when he is well, he and my good master Hatchway come hither every evening, and drink a couple of cans of rumbo a piece; but he has been confined to his house this fortnight by a plaguy fit of the gout, which, I'll assure your worship, is a good penny out of my pocket."

At that instant, Mr. Pickle's ears were saluted with such a strange noise, as even discomposed the muscles of his face, which gave immediate indications of alarm. This composition of notes at first resembled the crying of quails, and croaking of bull-dogs; but as it approached nearer, he could distinguish articulate sounds pronounced with great violence, in such a cadence as one would expect to hear from a human creature scolding through the organs of an ass; it was neither speaking nor braying, but a surprising mixture of both, employed in the utterance of terms absolutely unintelligible to our wondering merchant, who had just opened his mouth to express his curiosity, when the starting up at the well-known sound, cried, "Odd's niggers! there is the commodore with his company, as sure as I live," and with his apron began to wipe the dust off an elbow-chair placed at one side of the fire, and kept sacred for the ease and convenience of this infirm commander. While he vas thus occupied, a voice, still more uncouth than the former, bawled aloud, "Ho! the house, a-hoy!" Upon which the publican, clapping a hand to each side of his head with his thumbs fixed to his ears, rebellowed in the same tone, which he had learned to imitate, "Hilloah." The voice again exclaimed, "Have you got any attorneys aboard?" and when the landlord replied, "No, no," this man of strange expectation came in, supported by his two dependents, and displayed a figure every way answerable to the oddity of his character. He was in stature at least six feet high, though he had contracted a habit of stooping, by living so long on board; his complexion was tawny, and his aspect rendered hideous by a large scar across his nose, and a patch that covered the place of one eye. Being seated in his chair, with great formality the landlord complimented him upon his being able to come abroad again; and having in a whisper communicated the name of his fellow-guest, whom the commodore already knew by report, went to prepare, with all imaginable despatch, the first allowance of his favourite liquor, in three separate cans (for each was accommodated with his own portion apart), while the lieutenant sat down on the blind side of his commander; and Tom Pipes, knowing his distance, with great modesty took his station in the rear.

After a pause of some minutes, the conversation was begun by this ferocious chief, who, fixing his eye upon the lieutenant with a sternness of countenance not to be described, addressed him in these words: "D— my eyes! Hatchway, I always took you to be a better seaman than to overset our chaise in such fair weather. Blood! didn't I tell you we were running bump ashore, and bid you set in the ice-brace, and haul up a wind?"—"Yes," replied the other, with an arch sneer, "I do confess as how you did give such orders, after you had run us foul of a post, so as that the carriage lay along, and could not right herself."—"I run you foul of a post!" cried the commander: "d— my heart! you're a pretty dog, an't you, to tell me so above-board to my face? Did I take charge of the chaise? Did I stand at the helm?"—"No," answered Hatchway; "I must confess you did not steer; but, howsomever, you cunned all the way, and so, as you could not see how the land lay, being blind of your larboard eye, we were fast ashore before you knew anything of the matter, Pipes, who stood abaft, can testify the truth of what I say."—"D— my limbs!" resumed the commodore, "I don't value what you or Pipes say a rope-yarn. You're a couple of mutinous—I'll say no more; but you shan't run your rig upon me, d— ye, I am the man that learnt you, Jack Hatchway, to splice a rope and raise a perpendicular."

The lieutenant, who was perfectly well acquainted with the trim of his captain, did not choose to carry on the altercation any further; but taking up his can, drank to the health of the stranger, who very courteously returned the compliment, without, however, presuming to join in the conversation, which suffered a considerable pause. During this interruption, Mr. Hatchway's wit displayed itself in several practical jokes upon the commodore, with whom he knew it was dangerous to tamper in any other way. Being without the sphere of his vision, he securely pilfered his tobacco, drank his rumbo, made wry faces, and, to use the vulgar phrase, cocked his eye at him, to the no small entertainment of the spectators, Mr. Pickle himself not excepted, who gave evident tokens of uncommon satisfaction at the dexterity of this marine p pantomime.

Meanwhile, the captain's choler gradually subsided, and he was pleased to desire Hatchway, by the familiar and friendly diminutive of Jack, to read a newspaper that lay on the table before him. This task was accordingly undertaken by the lame lieutenant, who, among paragraphs, read that which follows, with an elevation of voice which seemed to prognosticate something extraordinary: "We are informed, that Admiral Bower will very soon be created a British peer, for his eminent services during the war, particularly in his late engagement with the French fleet."

Trunnion was thunderstruck at this piece of intelligence: the ring dropped front his hand, and shivered into a thousand pieces; his eye glistened like that of a rattle-snake; and some minutes elapsed before he could pronounce, "Avast! overhaul that article again!"

It was no sooner read the second time, than, smiting the table with his fist, he started up, and, with the most violent emphasis of rage and indignation, exclaimed, "D— my heart and liver! 'tis a land lie, d'ye see; and I will maintain it to be a lie, from the sprit-sail yard to the mizen-top-sail haulyards! Blood and thunder! Will. Bower a peer of this realm! a fellow of yesterday, that scarce knows a mast from a manger! a snotty-nose boy, whom I myself have ordered to the gun, for stealing eggs out of the hen-coops! and I, Hawser Trunnion, who commanded a ship before be could keep a reckoning, am laid aside, d'ye see, and forgotten! If so be as this be the case, there is a rotten plank in our constitution, which ought to be hove down and repaired, d— my eyes! For my own part, d'ye see, I was none of your Guinea pigs: I did not rise in the service by parlamenteering interest, or a handsome b— of a wife. I was not over the bellies of better men, nor strutted athwart the quarter-deck in a laced doublet, and thingumbobs at the wrists. D— my limbs! I have been a hard-working man, and served all offices on board from cook's shifter to the command of a vessel. Here, you Tunley, there's the hand of a seaman, you dog."

So saying, he laid hold on the landlord's fist, and honoured him with such a squeeze, as compelled him to roar with great vociferation, to the infinite satisfaction of the commodore, whose features were a little unblended by this acknowledgment of his vigour; and he thus proceeded, in a less outrageous strain: "They make a d—d noise about this engagement with the French: but, egad! it was no more than a bumboat battle, in comparison with some that I have seen. There was old Rook and Jennings, and another whom I'll be d—d before I name, that knew what fighting was. As for my own share, d'ye see, I am none of those that hallo in their own commendation: but if so be that I were minded to stand my own trumpeter, some of those little fellows that hold their heads so high would be taken all aback, as the saying is: they would be ashamed to show their colours, d— my eyes! I once lay eight glasses alongside of the Flour de Louse, a French man-of-war, though her mettle was heavier, and her complement larger by a hundred hands than mine. You, Jack Hatchway, d— ye, what d'ye grin at! D'ye think I tell a story, because you never heard it before?"

"Why, look ye, sir," answered the lieutenant, "I am glad to find you can stand your own trumpeter on occasion; though I wish you would change the tune, for that is the same you have been piping every watch for these ten months past. Tunley himself will tell you he has heard it five hundred times."—"God forgive you! Mr. Hatchway," said the landlord, interrupting him; "as I am an honest man and a housekeeper, I never heard a syllable of the matter."

This declaration, though not strictly true, was extremely agreeable to Mr. Trunnion, who, with an air of triumph, observed, "Aha! Jack, I thought I should bring you up, with your gibes and your jokes: but suppose you had heard it before, is that any reason why it shouldn't be told to another person? There's the stranger, belike he has heard it five hundred times too; han't you, brother? addressing himself to Mr. Pickle; who replying, with a look expressing curiosity, "No, never;" he thus went on: "Well, you seem to be an honest, quiet sort of a man; and therefore you must know, as I said before, I fell in with a French man-of-war, Cape Finistere bearing about six leagues on the weather bow, and the chase three leagues to leeward, going before the wind: whereupon I set my studding sails; and coming up with her, hoisted my jack and ensign, and poured in a broadside, before you could count three rattlins in the mizen shrouds; for I always keep a good look-out, and love to have the first fire."

"That I'll be sworn," said Hatchway: "for the day we made the Triumph you ordered the men to fire when she was hull-to, by the same token we below pointed the guns at a flight of gulls; and I won a can of punch from the gunner by killing the first bird."

Exasperated at this sarcasm, he replied, with great vehemence, "You lie, lubber! D— your bones! what business have you to come always athwart my hawse in this manner? You, Pipes, was upon deck, and can bear witness whether or not I fired too soon. Speak, you blood of a ——, and that upon the word of a seaman: how did the chase bear of us when I gave orders to fire?"

Pipes, who had hitherto sat silent, being thus called upon to give his evidence, after divers strange gesticulations, opened his mouth like a gasping cod, and with a cadence like that of the east wind singing through a cranny, pronounced, "Half a quarter of a league right upon our lee-beam."

"Nearer, you porpuss-faced swab," cried the commodore, "nearer by twelve fathom: but, howsomever, that's enough to prove the falsehood of Hatchway's jaw—and so, brother, d'ye see," turning to Pickle, "I lay alongside of the Flour de Louse, yard-arm and yard-arm, plying out great guns and small arms, and heaving in stink-pots, powder-bottles, and hand-grenades, till our shot was all expended, double-headed, partridge and grape: then we loaded with iron crows, marlin-spikes, and old nails; but finding the Frenchman took a good deal of drubbing, and that he had shot away all our rigging, and killed and wounded a great number of our men, d'ye see, I resolved to run him on board upon his quarter, and so ordered our grapplings to be got ready; but monsieur, perceiving what we were about, filled his topsails and sheered off, leaving us like a log upon the water, and our scuppers running with blood."

Mr. Pickle and the landlord paid such extraordinary attention to the rehearsal of this exploit, that Trunnion was encouraged to entertain them with more stories of the same nature; after which he observed, by way of encomium on the government, that all he had gained in the service was a lame foot and the loss of an eye. The lieutenant, who could not find in his heart to lose any opportunity of being witty at the expense of his commander, gave a loose to his satirical talent once more, saying,—"I have heard as how you came by your lame foot, by having your upper decks over-stowed with liquor, whereby you became crank, and rolled, d'ye see, in such a manner, that by a pitch of the ship your starboard heel was jammed in one of the scuppers; and as for the matter of your eye, that was knocked out by your own crew when the Lightning was paid off: there's poor Pipes, who was beaten into all the colours of the rainbow for taking your part, and giving you time to sheer off; and I don't find as how you have rewarded him according as he deserves."

As the commodore could not deny the truth of these anecdotes, however unseasonably they were introduced, he affected to receive them with good humour, as jokes of the lieutenant's own inventing; and replied, "Ay, ay, Jack, everybody knows your tongue is no slander; but, howsomever, I'll work you to an oil for this, you dog." So saying, he lifted up one of his crutches, intending to lay it gently across Mr. Hatchway's pate; but Jack, with great agility, tilted up his wooden leg, with which he warded off the blow, to the no small admiration of Mr. Pickle, and utter astonishment of the landlord, who, by the bye, had expressed the same amazement, at the same feet, at the same hour, every night, for three months before. Trunnion then, directing his eye to the boatswain's mate, "You, Pipes," said he, "do you go about and tell people that I did not reward you for standing by me, when I was bustled by these rebellious rapscallions? D— you, han't you been rated on the books ever since?"

Tom, who indeed had no words to spare, sat smoking his pipe with great indifference, and never dreamed of paying any regard to these interrogations; which being repeated and reinforced with many oaths, that, however, produced no effect, the commodore pulled out his purse, saying, "Here, you b— baby, here's something better than a smart ticket;" and threw it at his silent deliverer, who received and pocketed his bounty, without the least demonstration of surprise or satisfaction; while the donor, turning to Mr. Pickle, "You see, brother," said he, "I make good the old saying; we sailors get money like horses, and spend it like asses: come, Pipes, let's have the boatswain's whistle, and be jovial."

This musician accordingly applied to his mouth the silver instrument that hung at the button-hole of his jacket, by a chain of the same metal, and though not quite so ravishing as the pipe of Hermes, produced a sound so loud and shrill, that the stranger, as it were instinctively, stopped his ears, to preserve his organs of hearing from such a dangerous invasion. The prelude being thus executed, Pipes fixed his eyes upon the egg of an ostrich that depended from the ceiling, and without once moving them from that object, performed the whole cantata in a tone of voice that seemed to be the joint issue of an Irish bagpipe and a sow-gelder's horn: the commodore, the lieutenant, and landlord, joined in the chorus, repeating this elegant stanza:—

Bustle, bustle, brave boys!
Let us sing, let us toil,
And drink all the while,
Since labour's the price of our joys.

The third line was no sooner pronounced, than the can was lifted to every man's mouth with admirable uniformity; and the next word taken up at the end of their draught with a twang equally expressive and harmonious. In short, the company began to understand one another; Mr. Pickle seemed to relish the entertainment, and a correspondence immediately commenced between him and Trunnion, who shook him by the hand, drank to further acquaintance, and even invited him to a mess of pork and pease in the garrison. The compliment was returned, good-fellowship prevailed, and the night was pretty far advanced, when the merchant's man arrived with a lantern to light his master home; upon which, the new friends parted, after a mutual promise of meeting next evening in the same place.


Chapter 3

 

Mrs. Grizzle exerts herself in finding a proper Match for her Brother; who is accordingly introduced to the young Lady, whom he marries in due Season.

I have been the more circumstantial in opening the character of Trunnion, because he bears a considerable share in the course of these memoirs; but now it is high time to resume the consideration of Mrs. Grizzle, who, since her arrival in the country, had been engrossed by a double care, namely, that of finding a suitable match for her brother, and a comfortable yoke-fellow for herself.

Neither was this aim the result of any sinister or frail aggression, but the pure dictates of that laudable ambition, which prompted her to the preservation of the family name. Nay, so disinterested was she in this pursuit, that, postponing her nearest concern, or at least leaving her own fate to the silent operation of her charms, she laboured with such indefatigable zeal in behalf of her brother, that before they had been three months settled in the country, the general topic of conversation in the neighbourhood was an intended match between the rich Mr. Pickle and the fair Miss Appleby, daughter of a gentleman who lived in the next parish, and who though he had but little fortune to bestow upon his children, had, to use his own phrase, replenished their veins with some of the best blood in the country.

This young lady, whose character and disposition Mrs. Grizzle had investigated to her own satisfaction, was destined for the spouse of Mr. Pickle; and an overture accordingly made to her father, who, being overjoyed at the proposal, gave his consent without hesitation, and even recommended the immediate execution of the project with such eagerness, as seemed to indicate either a suspicion of Mr. Pickle's constancy, or a diffidence of his own daughter's complexion, which perhaps he thought too sanguine to keep much longer cool. The previous point being thus settled, our merchant, at the instigation of Mrs. Grizzle, went to visit his future father-in-law, and was introduced to the daughter, with whom he had, that same afternoon, an opportunity of being alone. What passed in that interview I never could learn, though from the character of the suitor, the reader may justly conclude that she was not much teased with the impertinence of his addresses. He was not, I believe, the less welcome for that reason: certain it is she made no objection to his taciturnity; and when her father communicated his resolution, acquiesced with the most pious resignation. But Mrs. Grizzle, in order to give the lady a more favourable idea of his intellects than his conversation could possibly inspire, resolved to dictate a letter, which her brother should transcribe and transmit to his mistress as the produce of his own understanding, and had actually composed a very tender billet for this purpose; yet her intention was entirely frustrated by the misapprehension of the lover himself, who, in consequence of his sister's repeated admonitions, anticipated her scheme, by writing, for himself, and despatching the letter one afternoon, while Mrs. Grizzle was visiting at the parson's.

Neither was this step the effect of his vanity or precipitation; but having been often assured by his sister that it was absolutely necessary for him to make a declaration of his love in writing, he took this opportunity of acting in conformity with her advice, when his imagination was unengaged or undisturbed by any other suggestion, without suspecting in the least that she intended to save him the trouble of exercising his own genius. Left, therefore, as he imagined, to his own inventions, he sat down, and produced the following morceau, which was transmitted to Miss Appleby, before his sister and counsellor had the least intimation of the affair:—

"Miss Sally Appleby. "Madam,—Understanding you have a parcel of heart, warranted sound, to be disposed of, shall be pleased to treat for said commodity, on reasonable terms; doubt not, shall agree for same; shall wait on you for further information, when and where you shall appoint. This the needful from—Yours, etc.
"Gam. Pickle."

This laconic epistle, simple and unadorned as it was, met with as cordial a reception from the person to whom it was addressed, as if it had been couched in the most elegant terms that delicacy of passion and cultivated genius could supply; nay, I believe, was the more welcome on account of its mercantile plainness; because when an advantageous match is in view, a sensible woman often considers the flowery professions and rapturous exclamations of love as ensnaring ambiguities, or, at best, impertinent preliminaries, that retard the treaty they are designed to promote; whereas Mr. Pickle removed all disagreeable uncertainty, by descending at once to the most interesting particular.

She had no sooner, as a dutiful child, communicated this billet-doux to her father, than he, as a careful parent, visited Mr. Pickle, and, in presence of Mrs. Grizzle, demanded a formal explanation of his sentiments with regard to his daughter Sally. Mr. Gamaliel, without any ceremony, assured him he had a respect for the young woman, and, with his good leave, would take her for better, for worse. Mr. Appleby, after having expressed his satisfaction that he had fixed his affections in his family, comforted the lover with the assurance of his being agreeable to the young lady; and they forthwith proceeded to the articles of the marriage-settlement, which being discussed and determined, a lawyer was ordered to engross them; the wedding-clothes were bought, and, in short, a day was appointed for the celebration of their nuptials, to which everybody of any fashion in the neighbourhood was invited. Among these, commodore Trunnion and Mr. Hatchway were not forgotten, being the sole companions of the bridegroom, with whom, by this time, they had contracted a sort of intimacy at their nocturnal rendezvous.

They had received a previous intimation of what was on the anvil, from the landlord, before Mr. Pickle thought proper to declare himself; in consequence of which, the topic of the one-eyed commander's discourse, at their meeting, for several evenings before, had been the folly and plague of matrimony, on which he held forth with great vehemence of abuse, leveled at the fair sex, whom he represented as devils incarnate, sent from hell to torment mankind; and in particular inveighed against old maids, for whom he seemed to entertain a singular aversion; while his friend Jack confirmed the truth of all his allegations, and gratified his own malignant vein at the same time by clenching every sentence with a sly joke upon the married state, built upon some allusion to a ship or sea-faring life. He compared a woman to a great gun loaded with fire, brimstone, and noise, which, being violently heated, will bounce and fly, and play the devil, if you don't take special care of her breechings. He said she was like a hurricane that never blows from one quarter, but veers about to all points of the compass. He likened her to a painted galley, curiously rigged, with a leak in her hold, which her husband would never be able to stop. He observed that her inclinations were like the Bay of Biscay; for why? because you may heave your deep sea lead long enough without ever reaching the bottom; that he who comes to anchor on a wife may find himself moored in d—d foul ground, and after all, can't for his blood slip his cable; and that, for his own part, though he might make short trips for pastime, he would never embark in woman on the voyage of life, he was afraid of foundering in the first foul weather.

In all probability, these insinuations made some impression on the mind of Mr. Pickle, who was not very much inclined to run great risks of any kind; but the injunctions and importunities of his sister, who was bent upon the match, overbalanced the opinion of his sea friends, who finding him determined to marry, notwithstanding all the hints of caution they had thrown out, resolved to accept his invitation, and honoured his nuptials with their presence accordingly.


Chapter 4

 

The Behaviour of Mrs. Grizzle at the Wedding, with an Account of the Guests.

I hope it will not be thought uncharitable, if I advance, by way of conjecture, that Mrs. Grizzle, on this grand occasion, summoned her whole exertion to play off the artillery of her charms on the single gentlemen who were invited to the entertainment; sure I am, she displayed to the best advantage all the engaging qualities she possessed; her affability at dinner was altogether uncommon, her attention to the guests was superfluously hospitable, her tongue was sheathed with a most agreeable and infantine lisp, her address was perfectly obliging, and though conscious of the extraordinary capacity of her month, she would not venture to hazard a laugh, she modelled her lips into an enchanting simper, which played on her countenance all day long; nay, she even profited by that defect in her vision we have already observed, and securely contemplated those features which were most to her liking, while the rest of the company believed her regards were disposed in a quite contrary direction. With what humility of complaisance did she receive the compliments of those who could not help praising the elegance of the banquet; and how piously did she seize that opportunity of commemorating the honours of her sire, by observing that it was no merit in her to understand something of entertainments, as she had occasion to preside at so many, during the mayoralty of her papa!

Far from discovering the least symptom of pride and exultation when the opulence of her family became the subject of conversation, she assumed a severity of countenance; and, after having moralized on the vanity of riches, declared that those who looked on her as a fortune were very much mistaken; for her father had left her no more than a poor five thousand pounds, which, with what little she had saved of the interest since his death, was all she had to depend on: indeed, if she had placed her chief felicity in wealth, she should not have been so forward in destroying her own expectations, by advising and promoting the event at which they were now so happily assembled; but she hoped she should always have virtue enough to postpone any interested consideration, when it should happen to clash with the happiness of her friends. Finally, such was her modesty and self-denial that she industriously informed those whom it might concern, that she was no less than three years older than the bride; though had she added ten to the reckoning, she would have committed no mistake in point of computation.

To contribute as much as lay in her power to the satisfaction of all present, she in the afternoon regaled them with a tune on the harpsichord, accompanied with her voice, which, though not the most melodious in the world, I dare say, would have been equally at their service could she have vied with Philomel in song; and as the last effort of her complaisance, when dancing was proposed, she was prevailed on, at the request of her new sister, to open the ball in person.

In a word, Mrs. Grizzle was the principal figure in this festival, and almost eclipsed the bride; who, far from seeming to dispute the pre-eminence, very wisely allowed her to make the best of her talents; contenting herself with the lot to which fortune had already called her and which she imagined would not be the less desirable if her sister-in-law were detached from the family.

I believe I need scarce advertise the reader that, during this whole entertainment, the commodore and his lieutenant were quite out of their element; and this, indeed, was the case with the bridegroom himself, who being utterly unacquainted with any sort of polite commerce, found himself under a very disagreeable restraint during the whole scene.

Trunnion, who had scarce ever been on shore till he was paid off, and never once in his whole life in the company of any females above the rank of those who herd on the Point at Portsmouth, was more embarrassed about his behaviour than if he had been surrounded at sea by the whole French navy. He had never pronounced the word "madam" since he was born; so that, far from entering into conversation with the ladies, he would not even return the compliment, or give the least note of civility when they drank to his health, and, I verily believe, would rather have suffered suffocation than allowed the simple phrase—"your servant," to proceed from his mouth. He was altogether as inflexible with respect to the attitudes of his body; for, either through obstinacy or bashfulness, he sat upright without motion, insomuch that he provoked the mirth of a certain wag, who, addressing himself to the lieutenant, asked whether that was the commodore himself, or the wooden lion that used to stand at his gate?—an image, to which, it must be owned, Mr. Trunnion's person bore no faint resemblance.

Mr. Hatchway, who was not quite so unpolished as the commodore, and had certain notions that seemed to approach the ideas of common life, made a less uncouth appearance; but then he was a wit, and though of a very peculiar genius, partook largely of that disposition which is common to all wits, who never enjoy themselves except when their talents meet with those marks of distinction and veneration, which, in their own opinion, they deserve.

These circumstances being premised, it is not to be wondered at, if this triumvirate made no objections to the proposal, when some of the graver personages of the company made a motion for adjourning into another apartment, where they might enjoy their pipes and bottles, while the young folks indulged themselves in the continuance of their own favourite diversion. Thus rescued, as it were, from a state of annihilation, the first use the two lads of the castle made of their existence, was to ply the bridegroom so hard with bumpers, that in less than an hour he made divers efforts to sing, and soon after was carried to bed, deprived of all manner of sensation, to the utter disappointment of the bridemen and maids, who, by this accident, were prevented from throwing the stocking, and performing certain other ceremonies practised on such occasions. As for the bride, she bore this misfortune with great good humour, and indeed, on all occasions, behaved like a discreet woman, perfectly well acquainted with the nature of her own situation.


Chapter 5

 

Mrs. Pickle assumes the Reins of Government in her own Family—Her Sister-in-law undertakes an Enterprise of great Moment, but is for some time diverted from her Purpose by a very interesting Consideration.

Whatever deference, not to say submission, she had paid to Mrs. Grizzle before she nearly allied to her family, she no sooner became Mrs. Pickle, than she thought it encumbent on her to act up to the dignity of the character; and, the very day after the marriage, ventured to dispute with her sister-in-law on the subject of her own pedigree, which she affirmed to be more honourable in all respects than that of her husband; observing that several younger brothers of her house had arrived at the station of lord-mayor of London, which was the highest pitch of greatness that any of Mr. Pickle's predecessors had ever attained.

This presumption was like a thunderbolt to Mrs. Grizzle, who began to perceive that she had not succeeded quite so well as she imagined, in selecting for her brother a gentle and obedient yoke-fellow, who would always treat her with that profound respect which she thought due to her superior genius, and be entirely regulated by her advice and direction: however, she still continued to manage the reins of government in the house, reprehending the servants as usual; an office she performed with great capacity, and in which she seemed to take singular delight, until Mrs. Pickle, on pretence of consulting her ease, told her one day she would take that trouble on herself, and for the future assume the management of her own family. Nothing could be more mortifying to Mrs. Grizzle than such a declaration; to which, after a considerable pause, and strange distortion of look, she replied: "I shall never refuse or repine at any trouble that may conduce to my brother's advantage."—"Dear madam," answered the sister, "I am infinitely obliged for your kind concern for Mr. Pickle's interest, which I consider as my own, but I cannot bear to see you a sufferer by your friendship; and, therefore, insist on exempting you from the fatigue you have borne so long."

In vain did the other protest that she took pleasure in the task: Mrs. Pickle ascribed the assurance to her excess of complaisance; and expressed such tenderness of zeal for her dear sister's health and tranquility, that the reluctant maiden found herself obliged to resign her authority, without enjoying the least pretext for complaining of her being deposed.

This disgrace was attended by a fit of peevish devotion that lasted three or four weeks; during which period she had the additional chagrin of seeing the young lady gain an absolute ascendency over the mind of her brother, who was persuaded to set up a gay equipage, and improve his housekeeping, by an augmentation in his expense, to the amount of a thousand a year at least: though his alteration in the economy of his household effected no change in his own disposition, or manner of life; for as soon as the painful ceremony of receiving and returning visits was performed, he had recourse to the company of his sea friends, with whom he spent the best part of his time. But if he was satisfied with his condition, the case was otherwise with Mrs. Grizzle, who, finding her importance in the family greatly diminished, her attractions neglected by all the male sex in the neighbourhood, and the withering hand of time hang threatening over her head, began to feel the horror of eternal virginity, and, in a sort of desperation, resolved at any rate to rescue herself from that reproachful and uncomfortable situation.

Thus determined, she formed a plan, the execution of which to a spirit less enterprising and sufficient than hers, would have appeared altogether impracticable: this was no other than to make a conquest of the commodore's heart, which the reader will easily believe was not very susceptible of tender impressions; but, on the contrary, fortified with insensibility and prejudice against the charms of the whole sex, and particularly prepossessed to the prejudice of that class distinguished by the appellation of old maids, in which Mrs. Grizzle was by this time unhappily ranked. She nevertheless took the field, and having invested this seemingly impregnable fortress, began to break ground one day, when Trunnion dined at her brother's, by springing certain ensnaring commendations on the honesty and sincerity of sea-faring people, paying a particular attention to his plate, and affecting a simper of approbation at everything which he said, which by any means she could construe into a joke, or with modesty be supposed to hear: nay, even when he left decency on the left hand, which was often the case, she ventured to reprimand his freedom of speech with a grin, saying, "Sure you gentlemen belonging to the sea have such an odd way with you." But all this complacency was so ineffectual, that, far from suspecting the true cause of it, the commodore, that very evening, at the club, in presence of her brother, with whom by this time he could take any manner of freedom, did not scruple to d— her for a squinting, block-faced, chattering p— kitchen; and immediately after drank "Despair to all old maids." The toast Mr. Pickle pledged without the least hesitation, and next day intimated to his sister, who bore the indignity with surprising resignation, and did not therefore desist from her scheme, unpromising as it seemed to be, until her attention was called off, and engaged in another care, which for some time interrupted the progress of this design.

Her sister had not been married many months, when she exhibited evident symptoms of pregnancy, to the general satisfaction of all concerned, and the inexpressible joy of Mrs. Grizzle, who, as we have already hinted, was more interested in the preservation of the family name than in any other consideration whatever. She therefore no sooner discovered appearances to justify and confirm her hopes, than, postponing her own purpose, and laying aside that pique and resentment she had conceived from the behaviour of Mrs. Pickle, when she superseded her authority; or perhaps, considering her in no other light than that of the vehicle which contained, and was destined to convey, her brother's heir to light, she determined to exert her uttermost in nursing, tending, and cherishing her during the term of her important charge. With this view she purchased Culpepper's Midwifery, which with that sagacious performance dignified with Aristotle's name, she studied with indefatigable care; and diligently perused the Complete Housewife, together with Quincy's Dispensatory, culling every jelly, marmalade, and conserve which these authors recommend as either salutary or toothsome, for the benefit and comfort of her sister-in-law, during her gestation. She restricted her from eating roots, pot-herbs, fruit, and all sorts of vegetables; and one day, when Mrs. Pickle had plucked a peach with her own hand, and was in the very act of putting it between her teeth, Mrs. Grizzle perceived the rash attempt, and running up to her, fell on her knees in the garden, entreating her, with tears in her eyes, to desist such a pernicious appetite. Her request was no sooner complied with, than recollecting, that if her sister's longing was balked, the child might be affected with some disagreeable mark or deplorable disease, she begged as earnestly that she would swallow the fruit, and in the mean time ran for some cordial water of her own composing, which she forced on her sister, as an antidote to the poison she had received.

This excessive zeal and tenderness did not fail to be very troublesome to Mrs. Pickle, who, having resolved divers plans for the recovery of her own ease, at length determined to engage Mrs. Grizzle in such employment as would interrupt that close attendance, which she found so teasing and disagreeable. Neither did she wait long for an opportunity of putting her resolution in practice. The very next day a gentleman happening to dine with Mr. Pickle, unfortunately mentioned a pine-apple, part of which he had eaten a week before at the house of a nobleman, who lived in another part of the country, at the distance of a hundred miles at least.

The name of this fatal fruit was no sooner pronounced, than Mrs. Grizzle, who incessantly watched her sister's looks, took the alarm, because she thought they gave certain indications of curiosity and desire; and after having observed that she herself could never eat pine-apples, which were altogether unnatural productions, extorted by the force of artificial fire out of filthy manure, asked, with a faltering voice, if Mrs. Pickle was not of her way of thinking? This young lady, who wanted neither slyness nor penetration, at once divined her meaning, and replied, with seeming unconcern, that for her own part she should never repine if there was no pine-apple in the universe, provided she could indulge herself with the fruits of her own country.

This answer was calculated for the benefit of the stranger, who would certainly have suffered for his imprudence by the resentment of Mrs. Grizzle, had her sister expressed the least relish for the fruit in question. It had the desired effect, and re-established the peace of the company, which was not a little endangered by the gentleman's want of consideration. Next morning, however, after breakfast, the pregnant lady, in pursuance of her plan, yawned, as it were by accident, full in the face of her maiden sister, who being infinitely disturbed by this convulsion, affirmed it was a symptom of longing, and insisted upon knowing the object in desire; when Mrs. Pickle affecting a smile told her she had eaten a most delicious pine-apple in her sleep. This declaration was attended with an immediate scream, uttered by Mrs. Grizzle, who instantly perceiving her sister surprised at the exclamation, clasped her in her arms, and assured her, with a sort of hysterical laugh, that she could not help screaming with joy, because she had it in her power to gratify her dear sister's wish; a lady in the neighbourhood having promised to send her, as a present, a couple of delicate pine-apples, which she would on that very day go in quest of.

Mrs. Pickle would by no means consent to this proposal, on pretence of sparing the other unnecessary fatigue; and assured her, that if she had any desire to eat a pine-apple, it was so faint, that the disappointment could produce no bad consequence. But this assurance was conveyed in a manner, which she knew very well how to adopt, that, instead of dissuading, rather stimulated Mrs. Grizzle to set out immediately, not on a visit to that lady, whose promise she herself had feigned with a view of consulting her sister's tranquility, but on a random Search through the whole country for this unlucky fruit, which was like to produce so much vexation and prejudice to her and her father's house.

During three whole days and nights did she, attended by a valet, ride from place to place without success, unmindful of her health, and careless of her reputation, that began to suffer from the nature of her inquiry, which was pursued with such peculiar eagerness and distraction, that everybody with whom she conversed, looked upon her as an unhappy person, whose intellects were not a little disordered.

Baffled in all her researches within the country, she at length decided to visit that very nobleman at whose house the officious stranger had been (for her) so unfortunately regaled, and actually arrived, in a post-chaise, at the place of his habitation, when she introduced her business as an affair on which the happiness of a whole family depended. By virtue of a present to his lordship's gardener, she procured the Hesperian fruit, with which she returned in triumph.


Chapter 6

 

Mrs. Grizzle is indefatigable in gratifying her Sister's Longings—Peregrine is born, and managed contrary to the Directions and Remonstrances of his Aunt, who is disgusted upon that account, and resumes the Plan which she had before rejected.

The success of this device would have encouraged Mrs. Pickle to practise more of the same sort upon her sister-in-law, had she not been deterred by a violent fever which seized her zealous ally, in consequence of the fatigue and uneasiness she had undergone; which, while it lasted, as effectually conduced to her repose, as any other stratagem she could invent. But Mrs. Grizzle's health was no sooner restored, than the other, being as much incommoded as ever, was obliged, in her own defence, to have recourse to some other contrivance; and managed her artifices in such a manner, as leaves it at this day a doubt whether she was really so whimsical and capriccios in her appetites as she herself pretended to be; for her longings were not restricted to the demands of the palate and stomach, but also affected all the other organs of sense, and even invaded her imagination, which at this period seemed to be strangely diseased.

One time she longed to pinch her husband's ear; and it was with infinite difficulty that his sister could prevail upon him to undergo the operation. Yet this task was easy, in comparison with another she undertook for the gratification of Mrs. Pickle's unaccountable desire; which was no other than to persuade the commodore to submit his chin to the mercy of the big-bellied lady, who ardently wished for an opportunity of plucking three black hairs from his beard. When this proposal was first communicated to Mr. Trunnion by the husband, his answer was nothing but a dreadful effusion of oaths, accompanied with such a stare, and delivered in such a tone of voice, as terrified the poor beseecher into immediate silence; so that Mrs. Grizzle was fain to take the whole enterprise upon herself, and next day went to the garrison accordingly, where, having obtained entrance by means of the lieutenant, who, while his commander was asleep, ordered her to be admitted for the joke's sake, she waited patiently till he turned out, and then accosted him in the yard, where he used to perform his morning walk. He was thunderstruck at the appearance of a woman in a place he had hitherto kept sacred from the whole sex, and immediately began to utter an apostrophe to Tom Pipes, whose turn it was then to watch; when Mrs. Grizzle, falling on her knees before him, conjured him, with many pathetic supplications, to hear and grant her request, which was no sooner signified, than he bellowed in such an outrageous manner that the whole court re-echoed the opprobrious term b—, and the word damnation, which he repeated with surprising volubility, without any sort of propriety or connection; and retreated into his penetralia, leaving the baffled devotee in the humble posture she had so unsuccessfully chosen to melt his obdurate heart.

Mortifying as this repulse must have been to a lady of her stately disposition, she did not relinquish her aim, but endeavoured to interest the commodore's counsellors and adherents in her cause. With this view she solicited the interest of Mr. Hatchway, who, being highly pleased with a circumstance so productive of mirth and diversion, readily entered into her measures, and promised to employ his whole influence for her satisfaction; and as for the boatswain's mate, he was rendered propitious by the present of a guinea, which she slipped into his hand. In short, Mrs. Grizzle was continually engaged in this negotiation for the space of ten days, during which, the commodore was so incessantly pestered with her remonstrances, and the admonitions of his associates, that he swore his people had a design upon his life, which becoming a burden to him, he at last complied, and was conducted to the scene like a victim to the altar, or rather like a reluctant bear, when he is led to the stake amidst the shouts and cries of butchers and their dogs. After all, this victory was not quite so decisive as the conquerors imagined; for the patient being set, and the performer prepared with a pair of pincers, a small difficulty occurred: she could not for some time discern one black hair on the whole superficies of Mr. Trunnion's face, when Mrs. Grizzle, very much alarmed and disconcerted, had recourse to a magnifying-glass that stood upon her toilet; and, after a most accurate examination, discovered a fibre of a dusky hue, to which the instrument being applied, Mrs. Pickle pulled it up by the roots, to the no small discomposure of the owner, who, feeling the smart much more severe than he had expected, started up, and swore he would not part with another hair to save them all from damnation.

Mr. Hatchway exhorted him to patience and resignation; Mrs. Grizzle repeated her entreaties with great humility; but finding him deaf to all her prayers, and absolutely bent upon leaving the house, she clasped his knees, and begged for the love of God that he would have compassion upon a distressed family, and endure a little more for the sake of the poor infant, who would otherwise be born with a gray beard upon its chin. Far from being melted, he was rather exasperated by this reflection; to which he replied with great indignation, "D— you for a yaw-sighted b—! I'll be hanged, long enough before he has any beard at all:" so saying, he disengaged himself from her embraces, flung out at the door, and halted homewards with such surprising speed, that the lieutenant could not overtake him until he had arrived at his own gate; and Mrs. Grizzle was so much affected with his escape, that her sister, in pure compassion, desired she would not afflict herself, protesting that her own wish was already gratified, for she had plucked three hairs at once, having from the beginning been dubious of the commodore's patience.

But the labours of this assiduous kinswoman did not end with the achievement of this adventure: her eloquence or industry was employed without ceasing in the performance of other tasks imposed by the ingenious craft of her sister-in-law, who at another time conceived an insuppressible affection for a fricassee of frogs, which should be the genuine natives of France; so that there was a necessity for despatching a messenger on purpose to that kingdom; but as she could not depend upon the integrity of any common servant, Mrs. Grizzle undertook that province, and actually set sail in a cutter for Boulogne, from whence she returned in eight-and-forty hours with a tub full of those live animals, which being dressed according to art, her sister did not taste them, on pretence that her fit of longing was past: but then her inclinations took a different turn, and fixed themselves upon a curious implement belonging to a lady of quality in the neighbourhood, which was reported to be a great curiosity: this was no other than a porcelain chamber-pot of admirable workmanship, contrived by the honourable owner, who kept it for her own private use, and cherished it as a utensil of inestimable value.

Mrs. Grizzle shuddered at the first hint, she received of her sister's desire to possess this piece of furniture; because she knew it was not to be purchased; and the lady's character, which was none of the most amiable in point of humanity and condescension, forbad all hopes of borrowing it for a season: she therefore attempted to reason down this capricious appetite, as an extravagance of imagination which ought to be combated and repressed; and Mrs. Pickle, to all appearance was convinced and satisfied by her arguments and advice; but, nevertheless, could make use of no other convenience, and was threatened with a very dangerous suppression. Roused at the peril in which she supposed her to be, Mrs. Grizzle flew to the lady's house, and, having obtained a private audience, disclosed the melancholy situation of her sister, and implored the benevolence of her ladyship, who, contrary to expectation, received her very graciously, and consented to indulge Mrs. Pickle's longing. Mr. Pickle began to be out of humour at the expense to which he was exposed by the caprice of his wife, who was herself alarmed at this last accident, and for the future kept her fancy within bounds; insomuch, that without being subject to any more extraordinary trouble, Mrs. Grizzle reaped the long-wished fruits of her dearest expectation in the birth of a fine boy, whom her sister in a few months brought into the world.

I shall omit the description of the rejoicings, which were infinite on this important occasion, and only observe that Mrs. Pickle's mother and aunt stood godmothers, and the commodore assisted at the ceremony as godfather to the child, who was christened by the name of Peregrine, in compliment to the memory of a deceased uncle. While the mother confined to her bed, and incapable of maintaining her own authority, Mrs. Grizzle took charge of the infant baby double claim, and superintended, with surprising vigilance, the nurse and midwife in all the particulars of their respective offices, which were performed by her express direction. But no sooner was Mrs. Pickle in a condition to reassume the management of her own affairs, when she thought proper to alter certain regulations concerning the child, which had obtained in consequence of her sister's orders, directing, among other innovations, that the bandages with which the infant had been so neatly rolled up, like an Egyptian mummy, should be loosened and laid aside, in order to rid nature of all restraint, and give the blood free scope to circulate; and, with her own hands she plunged him headlong every morning into a tub full of cold water. This operation seemed so barbarous to the tender-hearted Mrs. Grizzle, that she not only opposed it with all her eloquence, shedding abundance of tears over the sacrifice when it was made; and took horse immediately, and departed for the habitation of an eminent country physician, whom she consulted in these words: "Pray, doctor, is it not both dangerous and cruel to be the means of letting a poor tender infant perish by sousing it in water as cold as ice?"—"Yes," replied the doctor, "downright murder, I affirm."—"I see you are a person of great learning and sagacity," said the other; "and I must beg you will be so good as to signify your opinion in your own handwriting." The doctor immediately complied with her request, and expressed himself upon a slip of paper to this purpose:—

"These are to certify whom it may concern, that I firmly believe, and it is my unalterable opinion, that who soever letteth an infant perish, by sousing it in cold water, even though the said water should not be so cold as ice, is in effect guilty of the murder of the said infant, as witness my hand,
"Comfit Colocynth."

Having obtained this certificate, for which the physician was handsomely acknowledged, she returned, exalting, and hoping, with such authority, to overthrow all opposition. Accordingly, next morning, when her nephew was about to undergo his diurnal baptism, she produced the commission, whereby she conceived herself empowered to overrule such inhuman proceedings, but she was disappointed in her expectation, confident as it was; not that Mrs. Pickle pretended to differ in opinion from Dr. Colocynth, "for whose character and sentiments," said she, "I have such veneration, that I shall carefully observe the caution implied in this very certificate, by which, far from condemning my method of practice, he only asserts that killing is murder; an asseveration, the truth of which, it is to be hoped, I shall never dispute."

Mrs. Grizzle, who, sooth to say, had rather too superficially considered the clause by which she thought herself authorized, perused the paper with more accuracy, and was confounded at her own want of penetration. Yet, though she was confuted, she was by no means convinced that her objections to the cold bath were unreasonable; on the contrary, after having bestowed sundry opprobrious epithets on the physician, for his want of knowledge and candour, she protested in the most earnest and solemn manner the pernicious practice of dipping the child—a piece of cruelty which, with God's assistance, she should never suffer to be inflicted on her own issue; and washing her hands of the melancholy consequence that would certainly ensue, shut herself up in her closet to indulge her sorrow and vexation. She was deceived, however, in her prognostic. The boy, instead of declining in point of health, seemed to acquire fresh vigour from every plunge, as if he had been resolved to discredit the wisdom and foresight of his aunt, who in all probability could never forgive him for this want of reverence and respect. This conjecture is founded upon her behaviour to him in the sequel of his infancy, during which she was known to torture him more than once, when she had opportunities of thrusting pins into his flesh, without any danger of being detected. In short, her affections were in a little time altogether alienated from this hope of her family, whom she abandoned to the conduct of his mother, whose province it undoubtedly was to manage the nurture of her own child; while she herself resumed her operations upon the commodore, whom she was resoled at any rate to captivate and enslave. And it must be owned that Mrs. Grizzle's knowledge of the human heart never shone so conspicuous as in the methods she pursued for the accomplishment of this important aim.

Through the rough unpolished hulk that cased the soul of Trunnion, she could easily distinguish a large share of that vanity and self-conceit that generally predominate even in the most savage beast; and to this she constantly appealed. In his presence she always exclaimed against the craft and dishonest dissimulation of the world, and never failed of uttering particular invectives against those arts of chicanery in which the lawyers are so conversant, to the prejudice and ruin of their fellow-creatures; observing that in a seafaring life, as far as she had opportunities of judging or being informed, there was nothing but friendship, sincerity, and a hearty contempt for everything that was mean or selfish.

This kind of conversation, with the assistance of certain particular civilities, insensibly made an impression on the mind of the commodore, and the more effectual as his former prepossessions were built upon very slender foundations. His antipathy to old maids, which he had conceived upon hearsay, began gradually to diminish when he found they were not quite such infernal animals as they had been presented; and it was not long before he was heard to observe, at the club, that Pickle's sister had not so much of the core of b— in her as he had imagined. This negative compliment, by the medium of her brother, soon reached the ears of Mrs. Grizzle, who, thus encouraged, redoubled in her arts and attention; so that, in less than three months after, he in the same place distinguished her with the epithet of a d—d sensible jade.

Hatchway, taking the alarm at this declaration, which he feared foreboded something fatal to his interest, told his commander, with a sneer, that she had sense enough to bring him to under her stern; and he did not doubt but that such an old crazy vessel would be the better for being taken in tow. "But howsomever," added this arch adviser, "I'd have you take care of your upper-works; for if once you are made fast to her poop, egad! She'll spank it away, and make every beam in your body crack with straining."

Our she-projector's whole plan had like to have been ruined by the effect which this malicious hint had upon Trunnion, whose rage and suspicion being wakened at once, his colour changed from tawny to a cadaverous pale, and then shifting to a deep and dusky red, such as we sometimes observe in the sky when it is replete with thunder, he, after his usual preamble of unmeaning oaths, answered in these words:—"D— you, you jury-legg'd dog, you would give all the stowage in your hold to be as sound as I am; and as for being taken in tow, d'ye see, I'm not so disabled that I can lie my course, and perform my voyage without assistance; and, egad! no man shall ever see Hawser Trunnion lagging astern, in the wake of e'er a b— in Christendom."

Mrs. Grizzle, who every morning interrogated her brother with regard to the subject of his night's conversation with his friends, soon received the unwelcome news of the commodore's aversion to matrimony; and justly imputing the greatest part of his disgust to the satirical insinuations of Mr. Hatchway, resolved to level this obstruction to her success, and actually found means to interest him in her scheme. She had indeed, on some occasions, a particular knack at making converts, being probably not unacquainted with that grand system of persuasion which is adopted by the greatest personages of the age, and fraught with maxims much more effectual than all the eloquence of Tully or Demosthenes, even when supported by the demonstrations of truth; besides, Mr. Hatchway's fidelity to his new ally was confirmed by his foreseeing, in his captain's marriage, an infinite fund of gratification for his own cynical disposition. Thus, therefore, converted and properly cautioned, he for the future suppressed all the virulence of his wit against the matrimonial state; and as he knew not how to open his mouth in the positive praise of any person whatever, took all opportunities of excepting Mrs. Grizzle, by name, from the censures he liberally bestowed upon the rest of her sex. "She is not a drunkard, like Nan Castick, of Deptford," he would say; "not a nincompoop, like Peg Simper, of Woolwich; not a brimstone, like Kate Koddle, of Chatham; nor a shrew, like Nell Griffin, on the Point, Portsmouth" (ladies to whom, at different times, they had both paid their addresses); "but a tight, good-humoured, sensible wench, who knows very well how to box her compass; well-trimmed aloft, and well-sheathed alow, with a good cargo under her hatches." The commodore at first imagined this commendation was ironical; but, hearing it repeated again and again, was filled with astonishment at this surprising change in the lieutenant's behaviour; and, after a long fit of musing, concluded that Hatchway himself harboured a matrimonial design on the person of Mrs. Grizzle.

Pleased with this conjecture, he rallied jack in his turn, and one night toasted her health as a compliment to his passion—a circumstance which the lady learned next day by the usual canal of her intelligence; and interpreting as the result of his own tenderness for her, she congratulated herself on the victory she had obtained; and thinking it unnecessary to continue the reserve she had hitherto industriously affected, resolved from that day to sweeten her behaviour towards him with such a dash of affection as could not fail to persuade him that he had inspired her with a reciprocal flame. In consequence of this determination, he was invited to dinner, and while he stayed treated with such cloying proofs of her regard, that not only the rest of the company, but even Trunnion perceived her drift; and taking the alarm accordingly, could not help exclaiming, "Oho! I see how the land lies, and if I don't weather the point, I'll be d—d." Having thus expressed himself to his afflicted inamorata, he made the best of his way to the garrison, in which he shut himself up for the space of ten days, and had no communication with his friends and domestics but by looks, which were most significantly picturesque.


Chapter 7

 

Divers Stratagems are invented and put in practice, in order to overcome the obstinacy of Trunnion, who, at length, is teased and tortured into the Noose of Wedlock.

This abrupt departure and unkind declaration affected Mrs. Grizzle so much, that she fell sick of sorrow and mortification; and after having confined herself to her bed for three days, sent for her brother, told him she perceived her end drawing near, and desired that a lawyer might be brought, in order to write her last will. Mr. Pickle, surprised at her demand, began to act the part of a comforter, assuring her that her distemper was not at all dangerous, and that he would instantly send for a physician, who would convince her that she was in no manner of jeopardy; so that there was no occasion at present to employ any officious attorney in such a melancholy task. Indeed, this affectionate brother was of opinion that a will was altogether superfluous at any rate, as he himself was heir-in-law to his sister's whole real and personal estate. But she insisted on his compliance with such determined obstinacy, that he could no longer resist her importunities; and, a arriving, she dictated and executed her will, in which she bequeathed to Commodore Trunnion one thousand pounds, to purchase a mourning ring, which she hoped he would wear as a pledge of her friendship and affection. Her brother, though he did not much relish this testimony of her love, nevertheless that same evening gave an account of this particular to Mr. Hatchway, who was also, as Mr. Pickle assured him, generously remembered by the testatrix.

The lieutenant, fraught with this piece of intelligence, watched for an opportunity; and as soon as he perceived the commodore's features a little unbended from that ferocious contraction they had retained so long, ventured to inform him that Pickle's sister lay at the point of death, and that she had left him a thousand pounds in her will. This piece of news overwhelmed him with confusion; and Mr. Hatchway, imputing his silence to remorse, resolved to take advantage of that favourable moment, and counselled him to go and visit the poor young woman, who was dying for love of him. But his admonition happened to be somewhat unseasonable. Trunnion no sooner heard him mention the cause of her disorder, than his morosity recurring, he burst out into a violent fit of cursing, and forthwith betook himself again to his hammock, where he lay, uttering, in a low growling tone of voice, a repetition of oaths and imprecations, for the space of four-and-twenty hours, without ceasing. This was a delicious meal to the lieutenant, who, eager to enhance the pleasure of the entertainment, and at the same the conduce to the success of the cause he had espoused, invented a stratagem, the execution of which had all the effect he could desire. He prevailed on Pipes, who was devoted to his service, to get on the top of the chimney, belonging to the commodore's chamber, at midnight, and lower down by a rope a bunch of stinking whitings, which being performed, he put a speaking-trumpet to his mouth, and hallooed down the vent, in a voice like thunder, "Trunnion! Trunnion! turn out and be spliced, or he still and be d—."

This dreadful note, the terror of which was increased by the silence and darkness of the night, as well as the cello of the passage through which it was conveyed, no sooner reached the ears of the astonished commodore, than turning his eyes towards the place from whence this solemn address seemed to proceed, he beheld a glittering object that vanished in an instant. Just as his superstitious fear had improved the apparition into some supernatural messenger clothed in shining array, his opinion was confirmed by a sudden explosion, which he took for thunder, though it was no other than the noise of a pistol fired down the chimney by the boatswain's mate, according to the instructions he had received; and he had time enough to descend before he was in any danger of being detected by his commodore, who could not for an hour recollect himself from the amazement and consternation which had overpowered his faculties.

At length, however, he got up, and rang his bell with great agitation. He repeated the summons more than once; but no regard being paid to this alarm, his dread returned with double terror, a cold sweat bedewed his limbs, his knees knocked together, his hair bristled up, and the remains of his teeth were shattered in pieces in the convulsive vibrations of his jaws.

In the midst of this agony he made one desperate effort, and, bursting open the door of apartment, bolted into Hatchway's chamber, which happened to be on the same floor. There he found the lieutenant in a counterfeit swoon, who pretended to wake from his trance in an ejaculation of "Lord have mercy upon us!" and being questioned by the terrified commodore with regard to what had happened, assured him he had heard the same voice and clap of thunder by which Trunnion himself had been discomposed.

Pipes, whose turn it was to watch, concurred in giving evidence to the same purpose; and the commodore not only owned that he had heard the voice, but likewise communicated his vision, with all the aggravation which his disturbed fancy suggested.

A consultation immediately ensued, in which Mr. Hatchway gravely observed that the finger of Heaven was plainly perceivable in those signals, and that it would be both sinful and foolish to disregard its commands, especially as the match proposed was, in all respects, more advantageous than any that one of his years could reasonably expect; declaring that for his own part he would not endanger his soul and body by living one day longer under the same roof with a man who despised the will of Heaven; and Tom Pipes adhered to the same pious resolution.

Trunnion's perseverance could not resist the number and diversity of considerations that assaulted it; he revolved in silence all the opposite motives that occurred to his reflection; and after having been, to all appearance, bewildered in the labyrinth of his own thoughts, he wiped the sweat from his forehead, and, heaving a piteous groan, yielded to their remonstrances in these words: "Well, since it must be so, I think we must ev'n grapple. But d— my eyes! 'tis a d—d hard case that a fellow of my years should be compelled, d'ye see, to beat up to windward all the rest of my life against the current of my own inclination."

This important article being discussed, Mr. Hatchway set out in the morning to visit the despairing shepherdess, and was handsomely rewarded for the enlivening tidings with which he blessed her ears. Sick as she was, she could not help laughing heartily at the contrivance, in consequence of which her swain's assent had been obtained, and gave the lieutenant ten guineas for Tom Pipes, in consideration of the part he acted in the farce.

In the afternoon the commodore suffered himself to be conveyed to her apartment, like a felon to execution, and was received by her in a languishing manner, and genteel dishabille, accompanied by her sister-in-law, who was, for very obvious reasons, extremely solicitous about her success. Though the lieutenant had tutored him touching his behaviour it this interview, he made a thousand wry faces before he could pronounce the simple salutation of "How d'ye?" to his mistress; and after his counsellor had urged him with twenty or thirty whispers, to each of which he had replied aloud, "D— your eyes, I won't," he got up, and halting towards the couch on which Mrs. Grizzle reclined in a state of strange expectation, he seized her hand and pressed it to his lips; but this piece of gallantry he performed in such a reluctant, uncouth, indignant manner, that the nymph had need of all her resolution to endure the compliment without shrinking; and he himself was so disconcerted at what he had done, that he instantly retired to the other end of the room, where he sat silent, and broiled with shame and vexation.

Mrs. Pickle, like a sensible matron, quitted the place, on pretence of going to the nursery; and Mr. Hatchway, taking the hint, recollected that he had left his tobacco-pouch in the parlour, whither he descended, leaving the two lovers to their mutual endearments. Never had the commodore found himself in such a disagreeable dilemma before. He sat in an agony of suspense, as if he every moment dreaded the dissolution of nature; and the imploring sighs of his future bride added, if possible, to the pangs of his distress. Impatient of this situation, he rolled his eye around in quest of some relief, and, unable to contain himself, exclaimed, "D—n seize the fellow and his pouch too! I believe he has sheered off, and left me here in the stays."

Mrs. Grizzle, who could not help taking some notice of this manifestation of chagrin, lamented her unhappy fate in being so disagreeable to him, that he could not put up with her company for a few moments without repining; and began in very tender terms to reproach him with his inhumanity and indifference. To this expostulation he replied, "Zounds! what would the woman have? Let the parson do his office when he wool: here I am ready to be reeved in the matrimonial block, d'ye see, and d— all nonsensical palaver." So saying, he retreated, leaving his mistress not at all disobliged at his plain dealing. That same evening the treaty of marriage was brought upon the carpet, and, by means of Mr. Pickle and the lieutenant, settled to the satisfaction of all parties, without the intervention of lawyers, whom Mr. Trunnion expressly excluded from all share in the business; making that condition the indispensable preliminary of the whole agreement. Things being brought to this bearing, Mrs. Grizzle's heart dilated with joy; her health, which, by the bye, was never dangerously impaired. she recovered as if by enchantment; and, a day being fixed for the nuptials, employed the short period of her celibacy in choosing ornaments for the celebration of her entrance into the married state.


Chapter 8

 

Preparations are made for the Commodore's Wedding, which is delayed by an Accident that hurried him the Lord knows whither.

The fame of this extraordinary conjunction spread all over the county; and, on the day appointed for their spousals, the church was surrounded by an inconceivable multitude. The commodore, to give a specimen of his gallantry, by the advice of his friend Hatchway, resolved to appear on horseback on the grand occasion, at the head of all his male attendants, whom he had rigged with the white shirts and black caps formerly belonging to his barge's crew; and he bought a couple of hunters for the accommodation of himself and his lieutenant. With this equipage, then, he set out from the garrison for the church, after having despatched a messenger to apprise the bride that he and his company were mounted. She got immediately into the coach, accompanied by her brother and his wife, and drove directly to the place of assignation, where several pews were demolished, and divers persons almost pressed to death, by the eagerness of the crowd that broke in to see the ceremony performed. Thus arrived at the altar, and the priest in attendance, they waited a whole half-hour for the commodore, at whose slowness they began to be under some apprehension, and accordingly dismissed a servant to quicken his pace. The valet having ridden something more than a mile, espied the whole troop disposed in a long field, crossing the road obliquely, and headed by the bridegroom and his friend Hatchway, who, finding himself hindered by a hedge from proceeding farther in the same direction, fired a pistol, and stood over to the other side, making an obtuse angle with the line of his former course; and the rest of the squadron followed his example, keeping always in the rear of each other, like a flight of wild geese.

Surprised at this strange method of journeying, the messenger came up, and told the commodore that his lady and her company expected him in the church, where they had tarried a considerable time, and were beginning to be very uneasy at his delay, and therefore desired he would proceed with more expedition. To this message Mr. Trunnion replied, "Hark ye, brother, don't you see we make all possible speed? go back, and tell those who sent you, that the wind has shifted since we weighed anchor, and that we are obliged to make very short trips in tacking, by reason of the narrowness of the channel; and that as we be within six points of the wind, they must make some allowance for variation and leeway."—"Lord, sir!" said the valet, "what occasion have you to go zig-zag in that manner? Do but clap spurs to your horses, and ride straight forward, and I'll engage yea shall be at the church-porch in less than a quarter of an hour."-"What? right in the wind's eye?" answered the commodore; "ahey! brother, where did you learn your navigation? Hawser Trunnion is not to be taught at this time of day how to lie his course, or keep his own reckoning. And as for you, brother, you best know the trim of your own frigate."

The courier, finding he had to do with people who would not be easily persuaded out of their own opinions, returned to the temple, and made a report of what he had seen and heard, to the no small consolation of the bride, who had begun to discover some signs of disquiet. Composed, however, by this piece of intelligence, she exerted her patience for the space of another half-hour, during which period, seeing no bridegroom arrive, she was exceedingly alarmed; so that all the spectators could easily perceive her perturbation, which manifested itself in frequent palpitations, heart-heavings, and alterations of countenance, in spite of the assistance of a smelling-bottle which she incessantly applied to her nostrils.

Various were the conjectures of the company on this occasion: some imagined he had mistaken the place of rendezvous, as he had never been at church since he first settled in that parish; others believed he had met with some accident, in consequence of which his attendants had carried him back to his own house; and a third set, in which the bride herself was thought to be comprehended, could not help suspecting that the commodore had changed his mind. But all these suppositions, ingenious as they were, happened to be wide of the true cause that detained him, which was no other than this: the commodore and his crew had, by dint of turning, almost weathered the parson's house that stood to windward of the church, when the notes of a pack of hounds unluckily reached the ears of the two hunters which Trunnion and the lieutenant bestrode. These fleet animals no sooner heard the enlivening sound, than, eager for the chase, they sprang away all of a sudden, and strained every nerve to partake of the sport, flew across the fields with incredible speed, overleaped hedges and ditches, and everything in their way, without the least regard to their unfortunate riders. The lieutenant, whose steed had got the heels of the other, finding it would be great folly and presumption in him to pretend to keep the saddle with his wooden leg, very wisely took the opportunity of throwing himself off in his passage through a field of rich clover, among which he lay at his ease; and seeing his captain advancing, at full gallop, hailed him with the salutation of "What cheer? Ho!" The commodore, who was in infinite distress, eyeing him askance as he passed, replied, with a faltering voice, "0, d— ye!—you are safe at an anchor. I wish to God I were as fast moored."

Nevertheless, conscious of his disabled heel, he would not venture to try the experiment which had succeeded so well with Hatchway but resolved to stick as close as possible to his horse's back, until Providence should interpose in his behalf. With this view he dropped his whip, and with his right hand laid fast hold on the pommel, contracting every muscle in his body to secure himself in the seat, and grinning most formidably in consequence of this exertion. In this attitude he was hurried on a considerable way, when all of a sudden his view was comforted by a five-bar gate that appeared before him, as he never doubted that there the career of his hunter must necessarily end. But, alas! he reckoned without his host. Far from halting at this obstruction, the horse sprang over it with amazing agility, to the utter confusion and disorder of his owner, who lost his hat and periwig in the leap, and now began to think, in good earnest, that he was actually mounted on the back of the devil. He recommended himself to God; his reflections forsook him; his eyesight and all his other senses failed; he quitted the reins, and fastening by instinct on the mane, was in this condition conveyed into the midst of the sportsmen, who were astonished at the sight of such an apparition. Neither was their surprise to be wondered at, if we reflect on the figure that presented itself to their view. The commodore's person was at all times an object of admiration; much more so on this occasion, when every singularity was aggravated by the circumstances of his dress and disaster.

He had put on, in honour of his nuptials, his best coat of blue broad-cloth, cut by a tailor of Ramsgate, and trimmed with five dozen of brass buttons large and small; his breeches were of the same piece, fastened at the knees with large bunches of tape; his waistcoat was of red plush lappelled with green velvet, and garnished with vellum holes; his boots bore an infinite resemblance, both in colour and shape, to a pair of leather buckets; his shoulder was graced with a broad buff belt, from whence depended a huge hanger with a hilt like that of a backsword; and on each side of his pommel appeared a rusty pistol rammed in a case covered with a bearskin. The loss of his tie-periwig and laced hat, which were curiosities of the kind, did not at all contribute to the improvement of the picture, but, on the contrary, by exhibiting his bald pate, and the natural extension of his lantern jaws, added to the peculiarity and extravagance of the whole.

Such a spectacle could not have failed of diverting the whole company from the chase had his horse thought proper to pursue a different route; but the beast was too keen a sporter to choose any other way than that which the stag followed and therefore, without stopping to gratify the curiosity of the spectators, he in a few minutes outstripped every hunter in the field. There being a deep hollow betwixt him and the hounds, rather than ride round, about the length of a furlong, in a path that crossed the lane, he transported himself at one jump, to the unspeakable astonishment and terror of a waggoner who chanced to be underneath, and saw this phenomenon fly over his carriage. This was not the only adventure he achieved. The stag, having taken a deep river that lay in his way, every man directed his course to a bridge in the neighbourhood; but our bridegroom's courser, despising all such conveniences, plunged into the stream without hesitation, and swam in a twinkling to the opposite shore. This sudden immersion into an element of which Trunnion was properly a native, in all probability helped to recruit the exhausted spirits of his rider, at his landing on the other side gave some tokens of sensation, by hallooing aloud for assistance, which he could not possibly receive, because his horse still maintained the advantage he had gained, and would not allow himself to be overtaken.

In short, after a long chase that lasted several hours, and extended to a dozen miles at least, he was the first in at the death of the deer, being seconded by the lieutenant's gelding, which, actuated by the same spirit, had, without a rider, followed his companion's example.

Our bridegroom, finding himself at last brought up, or, in other words, at the end of his career, took the opportunity of this first pause, to desire the huntsmen would lend him a hand in dismounting; and by their condescension, safely placed on the grass, where he sat staring at the company as they came in, with such wildness of astonishment in his looks, as if he bad been a creature of another species, dropped among them from the clouds.

Before they had fleshed the hounds, however, he recollected himself; and, seeing one of the sportsmen take a small flask out of his pocket and apply it to his mouth, judged the cordial to be no other than neat Cognac, which it really was; and expressing a desire of participation, was immediately accommodated with a moderate dose, which perfectly completed his recovery.

By this time he and his two horses had engrossed the attention of the whole crowd: while some admired the elegant proportion and uncommon spirit of the two animals, the rest contemplated the surprising appearance of their master, whom before they had only seen en passant; and at length, one of the gentlemen, accosting him very courteously, signified his wonder at seeing him in such an equipage, and asked if he had not dropped his companion by the way. "Why look ye, brother," replied the commodore, "mayhap you think me an odd sort of a fellow, seeing me in this trim, especially as I have lost part of my rigging; but this here is the case, d'ye see: I weighed anchor from my own house this morning, at ten A.M. with fair weather, and a favourable breeze at south-south-east, being bound to the next church on the voyage of matrimony: but howsomever, we had not run down a quarter of a league, when the wind shifting, blowed directly in our teeth; so that we were forced to tack all the way, d'ye see, and had almost been up within sight of the port, when these sons-of-b—s of horses, which I had bought but two days before (for my own part, I believe they are devils incarnate), luffed round in a trice, and then, refusing the helm, drove away like lightning with me and my lieutenant, who soon came to anchor in an exceeding good berth. As for my own part, I have been carried over rocks, and quicksands; among which I have pitched away a special good tie-periwig, and an iron-bound hat; and at last, thank God! am got into smooth water and safe riding; but if ever I venture my carcass upon such a hare'um scare'um blood-of-a-b— again, my name is not Hawser Trunnion, d— my eyes!"

One of the company, struck with this name, which lie had often heard, immediately laid hold on his declaration at the close of this singular account, and, observing that his horses were very vicious, asked how he intended to return. "As for that matter," replied Mr. Trunnion, "I am resolved to hire a sledge or waggon, or such a thing as a jackass; for I'll be d—d if ever I cross the back of a horse again."—"And what do you propose to do with these creatures?" said the other, pointing to the hunters; "they seem to have some mettle; but then they are mere colts, and will take the devil-and-all of breaking: methinks this hinder one is shoulder-slipped."—"D— them," cried the commodore, "I wish both their necks were broke, thof the two cost me forty good yellow-boys.".-"Forty guineas!" exclaimed the stranger, who was a squire and a jockey, as well as owner of the pack, "Lord! Lord! how a man may be imposed upon! Why, these cattle are clumsy enough to go to plough; mind what a flat counter; do but observe how sharp this here one is in the withers; then he's fired in the further fetlock." In short, this connoisseur in horse-flesh, having discovered in them all the defects which can possibly be found in this species of animal, offered to give him ten guineas for the two, saying he would convert them into beasts of burden. The owner, who, after what had happened, was very well disposed to listen to anything that was said to their prejudice, implicitly believed the truth of the stranger's asseverations, discharged a furious volley of oaths against the rascal who had taken him in, and forthwith struck a bargain with the squire, who paid him instantly for his purchase; in consequence of which he won the plate at the next Canterbury races.

This affair being transacted to the mutual satisfaction of both parties, as well as to the general entertainment of the company, who laughed in their sleeves at the dexterity of their friend, Trunnion was set upon the squire's own horse, and led by his servant in the midst of this cavalcade, which proceeded to a neighbouring village, where they had bespoke dinner, and where our bridegroom found means to provide himself with another hat and wig. With regard to his marriage, he bore his disappointment with the temper of a philosopher; and the exercise he had undergone having quickened his appetite, sat down at table in the midst of his new acquaintance, making a very hearty meal, and moistening every morsel with a draught of the ale, which he found very much to his satisfaction.


Chapter 9

 

He is found by Lieutenant—Reconducted to his own House—Married to Mrs. Grizzle, who meets with a small misfortune in the Night, and asserts her Prerogative next Morning, in consequence of which her Husband's Eye is endangered.

Meanwhile Lieutenant Hatchway made shift to hobble to the church, where he informed the company of what had happened to the commodore: and the bride behaved with great decency on the occasion; for, as she understood the danger to which her future husband was exposed, she fainted in the arms of her sister-in-law, to the surprise of all the spectators, who could not comprehend the cause of her disorder; and when she was recovered by the application of smelling-bottles, earnestly begged that Mr. Hatchway and Tom Pipes should take her brother's coach, and go in quest of their commander.

This task they readily undertook, being escorted by all the rest of his adherents on horseback; while the bride and her friends were invited to the parson's horse, and the ceremony deferred till another occasion.

The lieutenant, steering his course as near the line of direction in which Trunnion went off, as the coach-road would permit, got intelligence of his track from one farm-house to another; for such an apparition could not fail of attracting particular notice; and one of the horsemen having picked up his hat and wig in a by-path, the whole troop entered the village where he was lodged, about four o'clock in the afternoon. When they understood he was safely housed at the George, they rode up to the door in a body, and expressed their satisfaction in three cheers; which were returned by the company within, as soon as they were instructed in the nature of the salute by Trunnion, who, by this time, had entered into all the jollity of his new friends, and was indeed more than half-seas-over. The lieutenant was introduced to all present as his sworn brother, and had something tossed up for his dinner. Tom Pipes and the crew were regaled in another room; and, a fresh pair of horses being put to the coach, about six in the evening the commodore, with all his attendants, departed for the garrison, after having shook hands with every individual in the house.

Without any further accident, he was conveyed in safety to his own gate before nine, and committed to the care of Pipes, who carried him instantly to his hammock, while the lieutenant was driven away to the place where the bride and her friends remained in great anxiety, which vanished when he assured them that his commodore was safe, being succeeded by abundance of mirth and pleasantry at the account he gave of Trunnion's adventure.

Another day was fixed for the nuptials; and in order to balk the curiosity of idle people, which had given great offence, the parson was prevailed upon to perform the ceremony in the garrison, which all that day was adorned with flags and pendants displayed; and at night illuminated, by the direction of Hatchway, who also ordered the patereroes to be fired, as soon as the marriage-knot was tied. Neither were the other parts of the entertainment neglected by this ingenious contriver, who produced undeniable proofs of his elegance and art in the wedding-supper, which had been committed to his management and direction. This genial banquet was entirely composed of sea-dishes; a huge pillaw, consisting of a large piece of beef sliced, a couple of fowls, and half a peck of rice, smoked in the middle of the board: a dish of hard fish, swimming in oil, appeared at each end; the sides being furnished with a mess of that savoury composition known by the name of lub's-course, and a plate of salmagundy. The second course displayed a goose of a monstrous magnitude, flanked with two Guinea-hens, a pig barbacued, a hock of salt pork, in the midst of a pease-pudding, a leg of mutton roasted, with potatoes, and another boiled, with yams. The third service was made up of a loin of fresh pork, with apple-sauce, a kid smothered with onions, and a terrapin baked in the shell; and last of all, a prodigious sea-pie was presented, with an infinite volume of pancakes and fritters. That everything might be answerable to the magnificence of this delicate feast, he had provided vast quantifies of strong beer, flip, rumbo, and burnt brandy, with plenty of Barbadoes water for the ladies; and hired all the fiddles within six miles, which, with the addition of a drum, bagpipe, and Welsh harp, regaled the guests with a most melodious concert.

The company, who were not at all exceptions, seemed extremely well pleased with every particular of the entertainment; and the evening being spent in the most social manner, the bride was by her sister conducted to her apartment, where, however, a trifling circumstance had like to have destroyed the harmony which had been hitherto maintained.

I have already observed, that there was not one standing bed within the walls; therefore the reader will not wonder that Mrs. Trunnion was out of humour, when she found herself under the necessity of being confined with her spouse in a hammock, which, though enlarged with a double portion of canvas, and dilated with a yoke for the occasion, was at best but a disagreeable, not to say dangerous situation. She accordingly complained with some warmth of this inconvenience, which she imputed to disrespect; and, at first, absolutely refused to put up with the expedient; but Mrs. Pickle soon brought her to reason and compliance, by observing that one night will soon be elapsed, and next day she might regulate her own economy.

Thus persuaded, she ventured into the vehicle, and was visited by her husband in less than an hour, the company being departed to their own homes, and the garrison left to the command of his lieutenant and mate. But it seems the hooks that supported this swinging couch were not calculated for the addition of weight which they were now destined to bear; and therefore gave way in the middle of the night, to the no small terror of Mrs. Trunnion, who perceiving herself falling, screamed aloud, and by that exclamation brought Hatchway with a light into the chamber. Though she had received no injury by the fall, she was extremely discomposed and incensed at the accident, which she even openly ascribed to the obstinacy and whimsical oddity of the commodore, in such petulant terms as evidently declared that she thought her great aim accomplished, and her authority secured against all the shocks of fortune. Indeed her bedfellow seemed to be of the same opinion, by his tacit resignation; for he made no reply to her insinuations, but with a most vinegar aspect crawled out of his nest, and betook himself to rest in another apartment; while his irritated spouse dismissed the lieutenant, and from the wreck of the hammock made an occasional bed for herself on the floor, fully determined to provide better accommodation for the next night's lodging.

Having no inclination to sleep, her thoughts, during the remaining part of the night, were engrossed by a scheme of reformation she was resolved to execute in the family; and no sooner did the first lark bid salutation to the morn, than, starting from her humble couch, and huddling on her clothes, she sallied from her chamber, explored her way through paths before unknown, and in the course of her researches perceived a large bell, to which she made such effectual application as alarmed every soul in the family. In a moment she was surrounded by Hatchway, Pipes, and all the rest of the servants half-dressed; but seeing none of the feminine gender appear, she began to storm at the sloth and laziness of the maids, who, she observed, ought to have been at work an hour at least before she called; and then, for the first time, understood that no woman was permitted to sleep within the walls.

She did not fail to exclaim against this regulation; and being informed that the cook and chambermaid lodged in a small office-house that stood without the gate, ordered the drawbridge to be let down, and in person beat up their quarters, commanding them forthwith to set about scouring the rooms, which had not been hitherto kept in a very decent condition, while two men were immediately employed to transport the bed on which she used to lie from her brother's house to her new habitation; so that, in less than two hours, the whole economy of the garrison was turned topsy-turvy, and everything involved in tumult and noise. Trunnion, being disturbed and distracted with the uproar, turned out in his shirt like a maniac, and, arming himself with a cudgel of crab-tree, made an irruption into his wife's apartment, where, perceiving a couple of carpenters at work in joining a bedstead, he, with many dreadful oaths and opprobrious invectives, ordered them to desist, swearing he would suffer no bulkheads nor hurricane-houses to stand where he was master: but finding his remonstrances disregarded by these mechanics, who believed him to be some madman belonging to the family, who had broken from his confinement, he assaulted them both with great fury and indignation, and was handled so roughly, in the encounter, that in a very short time he measured his length on the floor, in consequence of a blow that he received from a hammer by which the sight of his remaining eye was grievously endangered.

Having thus reduced him to a state of subjection, they resolved to secure him with cords, and were actually busy in adjusting his fetters, when he was exempted from the disgrace by the accidental entrance of his spouse, who rescued him from the hands of his adversaries, and, in the midst of her condolence, imputed his misfortune to the inconsiderate roughness of his own disposition.

He breathed nothing but revenge, and made some efforts to chastise the insolence of the workmen, who, as soon as they understood his quality, asked forgiveness for what they had done with great humility, protesting that they did not know he was master of the house. But, far from being satisfied with this apology, he groped about for the bell, the inflammation of his eye having utterly deprived him of sight; and the rope being, by the precaution of the delinquents, conveyed out of his reach, began to storm with incredible vociferation, like a lion roaring in the toil, pouring forth innumerable oaths and execrations, and calling by name Hatchway and Pipes, who, being within hearing, obeyed the extraordinary summons, and were ordered to put the carpenters in irons, for having audaciously assaulted him in his own house.

His myrmidons, seeing he had been evil-treated, were exasperated at the insult he had suffered, which they considered as an affront upon the dignity of the garrison; the more so as the mutineers seemed to put themselves in a posture of defence and set their authority at defiance; they therefore unsheathed their cutlasses, which they commonly wore as badges of their commission; and a desperate engagement in all probability would have ensued, had not the lady of the castle interposed, and prevented the effects of their animosity, by assuring the lieutenant that the commodore had been the aggressor, and that the workmen, finding themselves attacked in such an extraordinary manner, by a person whom they did not know, were obliged to act in their own defence, by which he had received that unlucky contusion.

Mr. Hatchway no sooner learnt the sentiments of Mrs. Trunnion, than, sheathing his indignation, he told the commodore he should always be ready to execute his lawful commands; but that he could not in conscience be concerned in oppressing poor people who had been guilty of no offence.

This unexpected declaration, together with the behaviour of his wife, who in his hearing desired the carpenters to resume their work, filled the breast of Trunnion with rage and mortification. He pulled off his woollen night-cap, pummeled his bare pate, beat the floor alternately with his feet, swore his people had betrayed him, and cursed himself to the lowest pit of hell for having admitted such a cockatrice into his family. But all these exclamations did not avail; they were among the last essays of his resistance to the will of his wife, whose influence among his adherents had already swallowed up his own, and peremptorily told him that he must leave the management of everything within-doors to her, who understood best what was for his honour and advantage. She then ordered a poultice to be prepared for his eye, which being applied, he was committed to the care of Pipes, by whom he was led about the house like a blind bear growling for prey, while his industrious yoke-fellow executed every circumstance of the plan she had projected; so that when he recovered his vision he was an utter stranger in his own house.


Chapter 10

 

The Commodore being in some cases restive, his Lady has recourse to Artifice in the Establishment of her Throne—She exhibits Symptoms of Pregnancy, to the unspeakable joy of Trunnion, who, nevertheless, is balked in his expectation.

These innovations were not effected without many loud objections on his part; and divers curious dialogues passed between him and his yoke-fellow, who always came off victorious from the dispute; insomuch, that his countenance gradually fell: he began to suppress, and at length entirely devoured, his chagrin; the terrors of superior authority were plainly perceivable in his features; and in less than three months he became a thorough-paced husband. Not that his obstinacy was extinguished, though overcome. In some things he was as inflexible and mulish as ever; but then he durst not kick so openly, and was reduced to the necessity of being passive in his resentments. Mrs. Trunnion, for example, proposed that a coach and six should be purchased, as she could not ride on horseback, and the chaise was a scandalous carriage for a person of her condition. The commodore, conscious of his own inferior capacity in point of reasoning, did not think proper to dispute the proposal but lent a deaf ear to her repeated remonstrances, though they were enforced with every argument which she thought could soothe, terrify, shame or decoy him into compliance. In vain did she urge the excess of affection she had for him as meriting some return of tenderness and condescension: he was even proof against certain menacing hints she gave touching the resentment of a slighted woman; and he stood out against all the considerations of dignity or disgrace like a bulwark of brass. Neither was he moved to any indecent or unkind expressions of contradiction, even when she upbraided him with his sordid disposition, and put him in mind of the fortune and honour he had acquired by his marriage, but seemed to retire within himself, like a tortoise when attacked, that shrinks within its shell, and silently endured the scourge of her reproaches, without seeming sensible of the smart.

This, however, was the only point in which she had been baffled since her nuptials; and as she could by no means digest the miscarriage, she tortured her invention for some new plan by which she might augment her influence and authority. What her genius refused was supplied by accident; for she had not lived four months in the garrison, when she was seized with frequent qualms and retchings; in a word, she congratulated herself on the symptoms of her own fertility; and the commodore was transported with joy at the prospect of an heir of his own begetting.

She knew this was the proper season for vindicating her own sovereignty, and accordingly employed the means which nature had put in her power. There was not a rare piece of furniture or apparel for which she did not long; and one day, as she went to church, seeing Lady Stately's equipage arrive, she suddenly fainted away. Her husband, whose vanity had never been so perfectly gratified as with this promised harvest of his own sowing, took the alarm immediately; and in order to prevent relapses of that kind, which might be attended with fatal consequence to his hope, gave her leave to bespeak a coach, horses, and liveries, to her own liking. Thus authorized, she in a very little time exhibited such a specimen of her own taste and magnificence as afforded speculation to the whole country, and made Trunnion's heart quake within him; because he foresaw no limits to her extravagance which also manifested itself in the most expensive preparations for her lying-in.

Her pride, which had hitherto regarded the representative of her father's house, seemed now to lose all that hereditary respect, and prompt her to outshine and undervalue the elder branch of her family. She behaved to Mrs. Pickle with a sort of civil reserve that implied a conscious superiority; and an emulation in point of grandeur immediately commenced between the two sisters. She every day communicated her importance to the whole parish, under pretence of taking the air in her coach, and endeavoured to extend her acquaintance among people of fashion. Nor was this an undertaking attended with great difficulty, for all persons whatever capable of maintaining a certain appearance, will always find admission into what is called the best company, and be rated in point of character according to their own valuation, without subjecting their pretensions to the smallest doubt or examination. In all her visits and parties she seized every opportunity of declaring her present condition, observing that she was forbid by her physicians to taste such a pickle, and that such a dish was poison to a woman in her way; nay, where she was on a footing of familiarity, she affected to make wry faces, and complained that the young rogue began to be very unruly, writhing herself into divers contortions, as if she had been grievously incommoded by the mettle of this future Trunnion. The husband himself did not behave with all the moderation that might have been expected. At the club he frequently mentioned this circumstance of his own vigour as a pretty successful feat to be performed by an old fellow of fifty-five, and confirmed the opinion of his strength by redoubled squeezes of the landlord's hand, which never failed of extorting a satisfactory certificate of his might. When his companions drank to the Hans en kelder, or Jack in the low cellar, he could not help displaying an extraordinary complacence of countenance, and signified his intention of sending the young dog to sea as soon as he should be able to carry a cartridge, in hopes of seeing him an officer before his own death.

This hope helped to console him under the extraordinary expense to which he was exposed by the profusion of his wife, especially when he considered that his compliance with her prodigality would be limited to the expiration of the nine months, of which the best part was by this time elapsed: yet, in spite of all this philosophical resignation, her fancy sometimes soared to such a ridiculous and intolerable pitch of insolence and absurdity, that his temper forsook him, and he could not help wishing in secret that her pride might be confounded in the dissipation of her most flattering hopes, even though he himself should be a principal sufferer by the disappointment. These, however, were no other than the suggestions of temporary disgusts, that commonly subsided as suddenly as they arose, and never gave the least disturbance to the person who inspired them, because he took care to conceal them carefully from her knowledge.

Meanwhile she happily advanced in her reckoning, with the promise of a favourable issue: the term of her computation expired, and in the middle of the night she was visited by certain warnings that seemed to bespeak the approach of the critical moment. The commodore got up with great alacrity, and called the midwife, who had been several days in the house; the gossips were immediately summoned, and the most interesting expectations prevailed; but the symptoms of labour gradually vanished, and as the matrons sagely observed, this was no more than a false alarm.

Two nights after they received a second intimation, and as she was sensibly diminished in the waist, everything was supposed to be in a fair way; yet this visitation was not more conclusive than the former; her pains wore off in spite of all her endeavours to encourage them, and the good women betook themselves to their respective homes, in expectation of finding the third attack decisive, alluding to the well-known maxim, that "number three is always fortunate." For once, however, this apophthegm failed; the next call was altogether as ineffectual as the former; and moreover, attended with a phenomenon which to them was equally strange and inexplicable: this was no other than such a reduction in the size of Mrs. Trunnion as might have been expected after the birth of a full-grown child. Startled at such an unaccountable event, they sat in close divan; and concluding that the case was in all respects unnatural and prodigious, desired that a messenger might be immediately despatched for some male practitioner in the art of midwifery.

The commodore, without guessing the cause of her perplexity, ordered Pipes immediately on this piece of duty, and in less than two hours they were assisted by the advice of a surgeon of the neighbourhood, who boldly affirmed that the patient had never been with child. This asseveration was like a clap of thunder to Mr. Trunnion, who had been, during eight whole days and nights, in continual expectation of being hailed with the appellation of father.

After some recollection, he swore the surgeon was an ignorant fellow, and that he would not take his word for what he advanced, being comforted and confirmed in his want of faith by the insinuations of the midwife, who still persisted to feed Mrs. Trunnion with hopes of a speedy and safe delivery; observing that she had been concerned in many a case of the same nature, where a fine child was found, even after all signs of the mother's pregnancy had disappeared. Every twig of hope, how slender soever it may be, is eagerly caught hold on by people who find themselves in danger of being disappointed. To every question proposed by her to the lady, with the preambles of "Han't you?" or "Don't you?" answer was made in the affirmative, whether agreeable to truth or not, because the respondent could not find in her heart to disown any symptom that might favour the notion she had so long indulged.

This experienced proficient in the obstetric art was therefore kept in close attendance for the space of three weeks, during which the patient had several returns of what she pleased herself with believing to be labour pains, till at length, she and her husband became the standing joke of the parish; and this infatuated couple could scarce be prevailed upon to part with their hope, even when she appeared as lank as a greyhound, and they were furnished with other unquestionable proofs of their having been deceived. But they could not for ever remain under the influence of this sweet delusion, which at last faded away, and was succeeded by a paroxysm of shame and confusion, that kept the husband within-doors for the space of a whole fortnight, and confined his lady to her bed for a series of weeks, during which she suffered all the anguish of the most intense mortification; yet even this was subdued by the lenient hand of time.

The first respite from her chagrin was employed in the strict discharge of what are called the duties of religion, which she performed with the most rancorous severity, setting on foot a persecution in her own family, that made the house too hot for all the menial servants, even ruffled the almost invincible indifference of Tom Pipes, harassed the commodore himself out of all patience, and spared no individual but Lieutenant Hatchway, whom she never ventured to disoblige.


Chapter 11

 

Mrs. Trunnion erects a Tyranny in the Garrison, while her Husband conceives an affection for his Nephew Perry, who manifests a peculiarity of disposition even in his tender years.

Having exercised herself three months in such pious amusements, she appeared again in the world; but her misfortune had made such an impression on her mind, that she could not bear the sight of a child, and trembled whenever conversation happened to turn upon a christening. Her temper, which was naturally none of the sweetest, seemed to have imbibed a double proportion of souring from her disappointment; of consequence, her company was not much coveted, and she found very few people disposed to treat her with those marks of consideration which she looked upon as her due. This neglect detached her from the society of an unmannerly world; she concentrated the energy of all her talents in the government of her own house, which groaned accordingly under her arbitrary sway; and in the brandy-bottle found ample consolation for all the affliction she had undergone.

As for the commodore, he in a little time weathered his disgrace, after having sustained many severe jokes from the lieutenant, and now his chief aim being to be absent from his own house as much as possible, he frequented the public-house more than ever, more assiduously cultivated the friendship of his brother-in-law, Mr. Pickle, and in the course of their intimacy conceived an affection for his nephew Perry, which did not end but with his life. Indeed it must be owned that Trunnion was not naturally deficient in the social passions of the soul, which though they were strangely warped, disguised, and overborne by the circumstance of his boisterous life and education, did not fail to manifest themselves occasionally through the whole course of his behaviour.

As all the hopes of propagating his own name had perished, and his relations lay under the interdiction of his hate, it is no wonder that through the familiarity and friendly intercourse subsisting between him and Mr. Gamaliel, he contracted a liking for the boy, who by this time entered the third year of his age, and was indeed a very handsome, healthy, and promising child; and what seemed to ingratiate him still more with his uncle, was a certain oddity of disposition, for which he had been remarkable even from his cradle. It is reported of him, that before the first year of his infancy was elapsed, he used very often, immediately after being dressed, in the midst of the caresses which were bestowed upon him by his mother, while she indulged herself in the contemplation of her own happiness, all of a sudden to alarm her with a fit of shrieks and cries, which continued with great violence till he was stripped to the skin with the utmost expedition by order of his affrighted parent, who thought his tender body was tortured by the misapplication of some unlucky pill; and when he had given them all this disturbance and unnecessary trouble, he would he sprawling and laughing in their faces, as if he ridiculed the impertinence of their concern. Nay, it is affirmed, that one day, when an old woman who attended in the nursery had by stealth conveyed a bottle of cordial waters to her mouth, he pulled his nurse by the sleeve, by a slight glance detected the theft, and tipped her the wink with a particular slyness of countenance, as if he had said, with a sneer, "Ay, ay, that is what you must all come to." But these instances of reflection in a babe nine months old are so incredible, that I look upon them as observations, founded upon imaginary recollection, when he was in a more advanced age, and his peculiarities of temper became much more remarkable; of a piece with the ingenious discoveries of those sagacious observers, who can discern something evidently characteristic in the features of any noted personage whose character they have previously heard explained. Yet without pretending to specify at what period of his childhood this singularity first appeared, I can with great truth declare, that when he first attracted the notice and affection of his uncle, it was plainly perceivable.

One would imagine he had marked out the commodore as a proper object of ridicule, for almost all his little childish satire was leveled against him. I will not deny that he might have been influenced in this particular by the example and instruction of Mr. Hatchway, who delighted in superintending the first essays of his genius. As the gout had taken up its residence in Mr. Trunnion's great toe, from whence it never removed, no not for a day, little Perry took great pleasure in treading by accident on this infirm member; and when his uncle, incensed by the pain, used to damn him for a hell-begotten brat, he would appease him in a twinkling, by returning the curse with equal emphasis, and asking what was the matter with old Hannibal Tough? an appellation by which the lieutenant had taught him to distinguish this grim commander.

Neither was this the only experiment he tried upon the patience of the commodore, with whose nose he used to take indecent freedoms, even. while he was fondled on his knee. In one month he put him to the expense of two guineas in seal-skin; by picking his pocket of divers tobacco-pouches, all of which he in secret committed to the flames. Nor did the caprice of his disposition abstain from the favourite beverage of Trunnion, who more than once swallowed a whole draught in which his brother's snuff-box had been emptied, before he perceived the disagreeable infusion; and one day, when the commodore had chastised him by a gentle tap with his cane, he fell flat on the floor as if he had been deprived of all sense and motion, to the terror and amazement of the striker; and after having filled the whole house with confusion and dismay, opened his eyes, and laughed heartily at the success of his own imposition.

It would be an endless and perhaps no very agreeable task, to enumerate all the unlucky pranks he played upon his uncle and others, before he attained the fourth year of his age; about which time he was sent, with an attendant, to a day-school in the neighbourhood, that (to use his good mother's own expression) he might be out of harm's way. Here, however, he made little progress, except in mischief, which he practised with impunity, because the school-mistress would run no risk of disobliging a lady of fortune, by exercising unnecessary severities upon her only child. Nevertheless, Mrs. Pickle was not so blindly partial as to be pleased with such unseasonable indulgence. Perry was taken out of the hands of this courteous teacher, and committed to the instruction of a pedagogue, who was ordered to administer such correction as the boy should in his opinion deserve. This authority he did not neglect to use, his pupil was regularly flogged twice a day; and after having been subjected to this course of discipline for the space of eighteen months, declared the most obstinate, dull, and untoward genius that ever had fallen under his cultivation; instead of being reformed, he seemed rather hardened and confirmed in his vicious inclinations, and was dead to all sense of fear as well as shame.

His mother was extremely mortified at these symptoms of stupidity, which she considered as an inheritance derived from the spirit of his father, and consequently insurmountable by all the efforts of human care. But the commodore rejoiced over the ruggedness of his nature, and was particularly pleased when, upon inquiry, he found that Perry had beaten all the boys in the school; a circumstance from which he prognosticated everything that was fair and fortunate in his future fate: observing, that at his age he himself was just such another. The boy, who was now turned of six, having profited so little under the birch of his unsparing governor, Mrs. Pickle was counselled to send him to a boarding-school not far from London, which was kept by a certain person very eminent for his successful method of education. This advice she the more readily embraced, because at that time she found herself pretty far gone with another child that she hoped would console her for the disappointment she had met with in the unpromising talents of Perry, or at any rate divide her concern, so as to enable her to endure the absence of either.


Chapter 12

 

Peregrine is sent to a boarding-school—Becomes remarkable for his Genius and Ambition.

The commodore, understanding her determination, to which her husband did not venture to make the least objection, interested himself so much in behalf of his favourite, as to fit him out at his own charge, and accompany him in person to the place of his destination; where he defrayed the expense of his entrance, and left him to the particular care and inspection of the usher, who having been recommended to him as a person of parts and integrity, received per advance a handsome consideration for the task he undertook.

Nothing could be better judged than this piece of liberality; the assistant was actually a man of learning, probity, and good sense; and though obliged by the scandalous administration of fortune to act in the character of an inferior teacher, had, by his sole capacity and application, brought the school to that degree of reputation, which it never could have obtained from the talents of its superior. He had established an economy, which, though regular, was not at all severe, by enacting a body of laws suited to the age and comprehension of every individual; and each transgressor was fairly tried by his peers, and punished according to the verdict of the jury. No boy was scourged for want of apprehension, but a spirit of emulation was raised by well-timed praise and artful comparison, and maintained by a distribution of small prizes, which were adjudged to those who signalized themselves either by their industry, sobriety, or genius.

This tutor, whose name was Jennings, began with Perry, according to his constant maxim, by examining the soil; that is, studying his temper, in order to consult the bias of his disposition, which was strangely perverted by the absurd discipline he had undergone. He found him in a state of sullen insensibility, which the child had gradually contracted in a long course of stupefying correction; and at first he was not in the least actuated by that commendation which animated the rest of his school-fellows; nor was it in the power of reproach to excite his ambition, which had been buried, as it were, in the grave of disgrace; the usher, therefore, had recourse to contemptuous neglect, with which he affected to treat this stubborn spirit; foreseeing that if he retained any seeds of sentiment, this weather would infallibly raise them into vegetation; his judgment was justified by the event; the boy in a little time began to make observations; he perceived the marks of distinction with which virtue was rewarded, grew ashamed of the despicable figure he himself made among his companions, who, far from courting, rather shunned his conversation, and actually pined at his own want of importance.

Mr. Jennings saw and rejoiced at his mortification, which he suffered to proceed as far as possible, without endangering his health. The child lost all relish for diversion, loathed his food, grew pensive, solitary, and was frequently found weeping by himself. These symptoms plainly evinced the recovery of his feelings, to which his governor thought it now high time to make application; and therefore by little and little altered his behaviour from the indifference he had put on, to the appearance of more regard and attention. This produced a favourable change in the boy, whose eyes sparkled with satisfaction one day, when his master expressed himself, with a show of surprise, in these words: "So, Perry! I find you don't want genius, when you think proper to use it." Such encomiums kindled the spirit of emulation in his little breast; he exerted himself with surprising alacrity, by which he soon acquitted himself of the imputation of dullness, and obtained sundry honorary silver pennies, as acknowledgments of his application; his school-fellows now solicited his friendship as eagerly as they had avoided it before; and in less than a twelvemonth after his arrival, this supposed dunce was remarkable for the brightness of his parts; having in that short period learnt to read English perfectly well, made great progress in writing, enabled himself to speak the French language without hesitation, and acquired some knowledge in the rudiments of the Latin tongue. The usher did not fail to transmit an account of his proficiency to the commodore, who received it with transport, and forthwith communicated the happy tidings to the parents.

Mr. Gamaliel Pickle, who was never subject to violent emotions, heard them with a sort of phlegmatic satisfaction, that scarce manifested itself either in his countenance or expressions; nor did the child's mother break forth into that rapture and admiration which might have been expected, when she understood how much the talents of her first-born had exceeded the hope of her warmest imagination. Not but that she professed herself well pleased with Perry's reputation; though she observed that in these commendations the truth was always exaggerated by schoolmasters, for their own interest; and pretended to wonder that the usher had not mingled more probability with his praise. Trunnion was offended at her indifference and want of faith and believing that she refined too much in her discernment, swore that Jennings had declared the truth, and nothing but the truth; for he himself had prophesied, from the beginning, that the boy would turn out a credit to his family. But by this time Mrs. Pickle was blessed with a daughter, whom she had brought into the world about six months before the intelligence arrived; so that her care and affection being otherwise engrossed, the praise of Perry was the less greedily devoured. The abatement of her fondness was an advantage to his education, which would have been retarded, and perhaps ruined, by pernicious indulgence, and preposterous interposition, had her love considered him as an only child; whereas her concern being now diverted to another object, that shared, at least, one-half of her affection, he was left to the management of his preceptor, who tutored him according to his own plan, without any let or interruption. Indeed all his sagacity and circumspection were but barely sufficient to keep the young gentleman in order; for now that he had won the palm of victory from his rivals in point of scholarship, his ambition dilated, and he was seized with the desire of subjecting the whole school by the valour of his arm. Before he could bring his project to bear, innumerable battles were fought with various success; every day a bloody nose and complaint were presented against him, and his own visage commonly bore some livid marks of obstinate contention. At length, however, he accomplished his aim; his adversaries were subdued, his prowess acknowledged, and he obtained the laurel in war as well is in wit. Thus triumphant, he was intoxicated with success: his pride rose in proportion to his power and, in spite of all the endeavours of Jennings, who practised every method he could invent for curbing his licentious conduct, without depressing his spirit, he contracted a large proportion of insolence, which series of misfortunes that happened to him in the sequel could scarce effectually tame. Nevertheless there was a fund of good nature and generosity in his composition; and though he established a tyranny among his comrades, the tranquility of his reign was maintained by the love rather than by the fear of his subjects.

In the midst of all this enjoyment of empire he never once violated that respectful awe with which the usher had found means to inspire him; but he by no means preserved the same regard for the principal master, an old illiterate German quack, who had formerly practised corn-cutting among the quality, and sold cosmetic washes to the ladies, together with teeth-powders, hair-dyeing liquors, prolific elixirs, and tinctures to sweeten the breath. These nostrums, recommended by the art of cringing, in which he was consummate, ingratiated him so much with people of fashion, that he was enabled to set up school with five-and-twenty boys of the best families, whom he boarded on his own terms and undertook to instruct in the French and Latin languages, so as to qualify them for the colleges of Westminster and Eton. While this plan was in its infancy, he was so fortunate as to meet with Jennings, who, for the paltry consideration of thirty pounds a year, which his necessities compelled him to accept, took the whole trouble of educating the children upon himself, contrived an excellent system for that purpose, and, by his assiduity and knowledge, executed all the particulars to the entire satisfaction of those concerned, who, by the bye, never inquired into his qualifications, but suffered the other to enjoy the fruits of his labour and ingenuity.

Over and above a large stock of avarice, ignorance, and vanity, this superior had certain ridiculous peculiarities in his person, such as a hunch upon his back, and distorted limbs, that seemed to attract the satirical notice of Peregrine, who, young as he was, took offence at his want of reverence for his usher, over whom he sometimes chose opportunities of displaying his authority, that the boys might not misplace their veneration. Mr. Keypstick, therefore, such as I have described him, incurred the contempt and displeasure of this enterprising pupil, who now being in the tenth year of his age, had capacity enough to give him abundance of vexation. He underwent many mortifying jokes front the invention of Pickle and his confederates; so that he began to entertain suspicion of Mr. Jennings, who he could not help thinking had been at the bottom of them all, and spirited up principles of rebellion in the school, with a view of making himself independent. Possessed with this chimera, which was void of all foundation, the German descended so low as to tamper in private with the boys, from whom he hoped to draw some very important discovery; but he was disappointed in his expectations; and this mean practice reaching the ears of his usher, he voluntarily resigned his employment. Finding interest to obtain holy orders in a little time after, he left the kingdom, hoping to find a settlement in some of our American plantations.

The departure of Mr. Jennings produced a great revolution in the affairs of Keypstick, which declined from that moment, because he had neither authority to enforce obedience, nor prudence to maintain order among his scholars: so that the school degenerated into anarchy and confusion, and he himself dwindled in the opinion of his employers, who looked upon him as superannuated, and withdrew their children front his tuition.

Peregrine seeing this dissolution of their society, and finding himself every day deprived of some companion, began to repine at his situation, and resolved, if possible, to procure his release from the jurisdiction of the person whom he both detested and despised. With this view he went to work, and composed the following billet, addressed to the commodore, which was the first specimen of his composition in the epistolary way:—

"Honoured and Loving Uncle,—Hoping you are in good health, this serves to inform you, that Mr. Jennings is gone, and Mr. Keypstick will never meet with his fellow. The school is already almost broke up, and the rest daily going away; and I beg of you of all love to have me fetched away also, for I cannot bear to be any longer under one who is a perfect ignoramus, who scarce knows the declination of musa, and is more fit to be a scarecrow than a schoolmaster; hoping you will send for me soon, with my love to my aunt, and my duty to my honoured parents, craving their blessing and yours. And this is all at present from, honoured uncle, your well-beloved and dutiful nephew and godson, and humble servant to command till death,
"Peregrine Pickle."

Trunnion was overjoyed at the receipt of this letter, which he looked upon as one of the greatest efforts of human genius, and as such communicated the contents to his lady, whom he had disturbed for the purpose in the middle of her devotion, by sending a message to her closet, whither it was her custom very frequently to retire. She was out of humour at being interrupted, and therefore did not peruse this specimen of her nephew's understanding with all the relish that the commodore himself had enjoyed; on the contrary, after sundry paralytical endeavours to speak (for her tongue sometimes refused its office), she observed that the boy was a pert jackanapes, and deserved to be severely chastised for treating his betters with such disrespect. Her husband undertook his godson's defence, representing with great warmth that he knew Keypstick to be a good-for-nothing pimping old rascal, and that Perry showed a great deal of spirit and good sense in desiring to be taken from under his command; he therefore declared that the boy should not live a week longer with such a shambling son of a b—, and sanctioned this declaration with abundance of oaths.

Mrs. Trunnion, composing her countenance into a look of religions demureness, rebuked him for his profane way of talking; and asked, in a magisterial tone, if he intended never to lay aside that brutal behaviour. Irritated at this reproach, he answered, in terms of indignation, that he knew how to behave himself as well as e'er a woman that wore a head, bade her mind her affairs, and with another repetition of oaths gave her to understand that he would be master in his own house.

The insinuation operated upon her spirits like friction upon a glass globe: her face gleamed with resentment, and every pore seemed to emit particles of flame. She replied with incredible fluency of the bitterest expressions: he retorted equal rage in broken hints and incoherent imprecations: she rejoined with redoubled fury; and in conclusion he was fain to betake himself to flight, ejaculating curses against her; and muttering something concerning the brandy-bottle, which, however, he took care should never reach her ears.

From his own house he went directly to visit Mrs. Pickle, to whom he imparted Peregrine's epistle, with many encomiums upon the boy's promising parts: and, finding his commendations but coolly received, desired she would permit him to take his godson under his own care.

This lady, whose family was now increased by another son, who seemed to engross her care for the present, had not seen Perry during a course of four years, and, with regard to him, was perfectly weaned of that infirmity known by the name of maternal fondness: she therefore consented to the commodore's request with great condescension, and a polite compliment to him on the concern he had all along manifested for the welfare of the child.


Chapter 13

 

The Commodore takes Peregrine under his own care—The Boy arrives at the Garrison—Is strangely received by his own Mother—Enters into a Confederacy with Hatchway and Pipes, and executes a couple of waggish Enterprises upon his Aunt.

Trunnion having obtained this permission, that very afternoon despatched the lieutenant in a post-chaise to Keypstick's house, from whence in two days he returned with our young hero, who being now in the eleventh year of his age, had outgrown the expectation of all his family, and was remarkable for the beauty and elegance of his person. His godfather was transported at his arrival, as if he had been actually the issue of his own loins: he shook him heartily by the hand, turned him round and round, surveyed him from top to bottom, bade Hatchway take notice how handsomely he was built; and squeezed his hand again, saying,—"D— ye, you dog, I suppose you don't value such an old crazy son of a b— as me a rope's end. You have forgot how I was wont to dandle you on my knee, when you was a little urchin no bigger than a davit, and played a thousand tricks upon me, burning my 'bacco-pouches and poisoning my rumbo. O! d— ye, you can grin fast enough I see; I warrant you have learnt more things than writing and the Latin lingo."

Even Tom Pipes expressed uncommon satisfaction on this joyful occasion; and, coming up to Perry, thrust forth his fore paw, and accosted him with the salutation of "What cheer, my young master? I am glad to see thee with all my heart." These compliments being passed, his uncle halted to the door of his wife's chamber, at which he stood hallooing, "Here's your kinsman, Perry: belike you won't come and bid him welcome."—"Lord, Mr. Trunnion," said she, "why will you continually harass me in this manner with your impertinent intrusion?"-"I harrow you!" replied the commodore: "'sblood! I believe your upper works are damaged: I only came to inform you that here was your cousin, whom you have not seen these four long years; and I'll be d—d if there is such another of his age within the king's dominions, d'ye see, either for make or mettle: he's a credit to the name, d'ye see: but, d— my eyes, I'll say no more of the matter: if you come, you may; if you won't, you may let it alone."—"Well, I won't come, then," answered his yoke-fellow, "for I am at present more agreeably employed."—"Oho! you are. I believe so too," cried the commodore, making wry faces and mimicking the action of dram-drinking. Then, addressing himself to Hatchway, "Prithee, Jack," said he, "go and try thy skill on that stubborn hulk: if anybody can bring her about, I know you wool."

The lieutenant accordingly, taking his station at the door, conveyed his persuasion in these words: "What, won't you turn out and hail little Perry? It will do your heart good to see such a handsome young dog; I'm sure he is the very moral of you, and as like as if he had been spit out of your own mouth, as the saying is: do show a little respect for your kinsman, can't you?" To this remonstrance she replied, in a mild tone of voice, "Dear Mr. Hatchway, you are always teasing one in such a manner: sure I am, nobody can tax me with unkindness, or want of natural affection." So saying, she opened the door, and, advancing to the hall where her nephew stood, received him very graciously and observed that he was the very image of her papa.

In the afternoon he was conducted by the commodore to the house of his parents; and, strange to tell, no sooner was he presented to his mother, than her countenance changed, she eyed him with tokens of affliction and surprise, and, bursting into tears, exclaimed her child was dead, and this was no other than an impostor whom they had brought to defraud her sorrow. Trunnion was confounded at this unaccountable passion, which had no other foundation than caprice and whim; and Gamaliel himself was so disconcerted and unsettled in his own belief, which began to waver, that he knew not how to behave towards the boy, whom his godfather immediately carried back to the garrison, swearing all the way that Perry should never cross their threshold again with his good-will. Nay, so much was he incensed at this unnatural and absurd renunciation, that he refused to carry on any further correspondence with Pickle, until he was appeased by his solicitations and submission, and Peregrine owned as his son and heir. But this acknowledgment was made without the privity of his wife, whose vicious aversion he was obliged, in appearance, to adopt. Thus exiled from his father's house, the young gentleman was left entirely to the disposal of the commodore, whose affection for him daily increased, insomuch that he could scarcely prevail upon himself to part with him, when his education absolutely required that he should be otherwise disposed of.

In all probability, this extraordinary attachment was, if not produced, at least riveted by that peculiar turn in Peregrine's imagination, which we have already observed; and which, during his residence in the castle, appeared in sundry stratagems he practised upon his uncle and aunt, under the auspices of Mr. Hatchway who assisted him in the contrivance and execution of all his schemes. Nor was Pipes exempted from a share in their undertakings; for, being a trusty fellow, not without dexterity in some cases, and altogether resigned to their will, they found him a serviceable instrument for their purpose, and used him accordingly.

The first sample of their art was exhibited upon Mrs. Trunnion. They terrified that good lady with strange noises when she retired to her devotion. Pipes was a natural genius in the composition of discords: he could imitate the sound produced by the winding of a jack, the filing of a saw, and the swinging of a malefactor hanging in chains; he could counterfeit the braying of an ass, the screeching of a night-owl, the caterwauling of cats, the howling of a dog, the squeaking of a pig, the crowing of a cock; and he had learned the war-whoop uttered by the Indians in North America. These talents were exerted successively, at different times and places, to the terror of Mrs. Trunnion, the discomposure of the commodore himself, and the consternation of all the servants in the castle. Peregrine, with a sheet over his clothes, sometimes tumbled before his aunt in the twilight, when her organs of vision were a little impaired by the cordial she had swallowed; and the boatswain's mate taught him to shoe cats with walnut-shells, so that they made a most dreadful clattering in their nocturnal excursions.

The mind of Mrs. Trunnion was not a little disturbed by these alarms, which, in her opinion, portended the death of some principal person in the family; she redoubled her religious exercises, and fortified her spirits with fresh potations; nay, she began to take notice that Mr. Trunnion's constitution was very much broken, and seemed dissatisfied when people observed that they never saw him look better. Her frequent visits to the closet, where all her consolation was deposited, inspired the confederates with a device which had like to have been attended with tragical consequences. They found an opportunity to infuse jalap in one of her case-bottles; and she took so largely of this medicine, that her constitution had well nigh sunk under the violence of its effect. She suffered a succession of fainting fits that reduced her to the brink of the grave, in spite of all the remedies that were administered by a physician, who was called in the beginning of her disorder.

After having examined the symptoms, he declared that the patient had been poisoned with arsenic, and prescribed only draughts and lubricating injections, to defend the coats of the stomach and intestines from the vellicating particles of that pernicious mineral; at the same time hinting, with a look of infinite sagacity, that it was not difficult to divine the whole mystery. He affected to deplore the poor lady, as if she was exposed to more attempts of the same nature; thereby glancing obliquely at the innocent commodore, whom the officious son of Aesculapius suspected as the author of this expedient, to rid his hands of a yoke-fellow for whom he was well known to have no great devotion. This impertinent and malicious insinuation made some impression upon the bystanders, and furnished ample field for slander to asperse the morals of Trunnion, who was represented through the whole district as a monster of barbarity. Nay, the sufferer herself, though she behaved with great decency and prudence, could not help entertaining some small diffidence of her husband; not that she imagined he had any design upon her life, but that he had been at pains to adulterate the brandy with a view of detaching her from that favourite liquor.

On this supposition, she resolved to act with more caution for the future, without setting on foot any inquiry about the affair; while the commodore, imputing her indisposition to some natural cause, after the danger was past, never bestowed a thought upon the subject; so that the perpetrators were quit of their fear, which, however, had punished them so effectually, that they never would hazard any more jokes of the same nature.

The shafts of their wit were now directed against the commander himself, whom they teased and terrified almost out of his senses. One day, while he was at dinner, Pipes came and told him that there was a person below that wanted to speak with him immediately, about an affair of the greatest importance, that would admit of no delay; upon which he ordered the stranger to be told that he was engaged, and that he must send up his name and business. To this demand he received for answer a message importing that the person's name was unknown to him, and his business of such a nature, that it could not be disclosed to any one but the commodore himself, whom he earnestly desired to see without loss of time.

Trunnion, surprised at this importunity, got up with great reluctance, in the middle of his meal, and descending to a parlour where the stranger was, asked him, in a surly tone, what he wanted with him in such a d—d hurry, that he could not wait till he had made an end of his mess? The other, not at all disconcerted at this rough address, advanced close up to him on his tiptoes, and, with a look of confidence and conceit, laying his mouth to one side of the commodore's head, whispered softly in his car, "Sir, I am the attorney whom you wanted to converse with in private."—"The attorney?" cried Trunnion, staring, and half-choked with choler. "Yes, sir, at your service," replied this retainer of the law; "and, if you please, the sooner we despatch the affair the better; for 'tis an old observation, that delay breeds danger."—"Truly, brother," said the commodore, who could no longer contain himself, "I do confess that I am very much of your way of thinking, d'ye see, and therefore you shall be despatched in a trice." So saying, he lifted up his walking-staff, which was something between a crutch and a cudgel, and discharged it with such energy on the seat of the attorney's understanding, that if there had been anything but solid bone, the contents of his skull must have been evacuated.

Fortified as he was by nature against all such assaults, he could not withstand the momentum of the blow, which in an instant laid him flat on the floor, deprived of all sense and motion; and Trunnion hopped upstairs to dinner, applauding himself in ejaculations all the way for the vengeance he had taken on such an impudent pettifogging miscreant.

The attorney no sooner awaked from his trance, into which he had been so unexpectedly killed, than he cast his eyes around in quest of evidence, by which he might be enabled the more easily to prove the injury he had sustained, but not a soul appearing, he made shift to get upon his legs again, and, with the blood trickling over his nose, followed one of the servants into the dining-room, resolved to come to an explanation with the assailant, and either extort money from him by way of satisfaction, or provoke him to a second application before witnesses. With this view, he entered the room in a peal of clamour, to the amazement of all present, and the terror of Mrs. Trunnion, who shrieked at the appearance of such a spectacle; and addressing himself to the commodore, "I'll tell you what, sir," said he; "if there be law in England, I'll make you smart for this here assault." You think you have screened yourself from a prosecution by sending all your servants out of the way; but that circumstance will appear upon trial to be a plain proof of the malice prepense with which the fact was committed; especially when corroborated by the evidence of this here letter, under your own hand, whereby I am desired to come to your own house to transact an affair of consequence. So he produced the writing, and read the contents in these words:—

"Mr. Roger Ravine.
Sir,—Being in a manner prisoner in my own house, I desire you will give me a call precisely at three o'clock in the afternoon, and insist upon seeing myself, as I have an affair of great consequence, in which your particular advice is wanted by your humble servant,
"Hawser Trunnion."

The one-eyed commander, who had been satisfied with the chastisement he had already bestowed upon the plaintiff, hearing him read this audacious piece of forgery, which he considered as the effect of his own villainy, started up from table, and seizing a huge turkey that lay in a dish before him, would have applied it, sauce and all, by way of poultice, to his wound, had he not been restrained by Hatchway, who laid fast hold on both his arms, and fixed him to his chair again, advising the attorney to sheer off with what he had got. Far from following this salutary counsel, he redoubled his threats: set Trunnion at defiance, telling him he not a man of true courage, although he had commanded a ship of war, or else he would not have attacked any person in such a cowardly and clandestine manner. This provocation would have answered his purpose effectually, had not his adversary's indignation been repressed by the suggestions of the lieutenant, who desired his friend, in a whisper, to be easy, for he would take care to have the attorney tossed in a blanket for his presumption. This proposal, which he received with great approbation, pacified him in a moment: he wiped the sweat from his forehead, and his features relaxed into a grim smile.

Hatchway disappeared; and Ravine proceeded with great fluency of abuse, until he was interrupted by the arrival of Pipes, who, without any expostulation, led him out by the hand, and conducted him to the yard, where he was put into a carpet, and in a twinkling sent into the air by the strength and dexterity of five stout operators, whom the lieutenant had selected from the number of domestics for that singular spell of duty.

In vain did the astonished vaulter beg, for the love of God, that they would take pity upon him, and put an end to his involuntary gambols: they were deaf to his prayers and protestations, even when he swore, in the most solemn manner, that if they would cease tormenting him, he would forget and forgive what was past, and depart in peace to his own habitation; and continued the game till they were fatigued with the exercise.

Ravine being dismissed in a most melancholy plight, brought an action of assault and battery against the commodore, and subpoenaed all the servants as evidences in the cause; but as none of them had seen what happened, he did not find his account in the prosecution, though he himself examined all the witnesses, and, among their questions, asked, whether they had not seen him come in like another man? and whether they had ever seen any other man in such condition as that in which he had crawled off. But this last interrogation they were not obliged to answer, because it had reference to the second discipline he bad undergone, in which they, and they only, were concerned; and no person is bound to give testimony against himself.

In short, the attorney was nonsuited, to the satisfaction of all who knew him, and found himself under the necessity of proving that he had received, in course of post, the letter which was declared in court a scandalous forgery, in order to prevent an indictment with which he vas threatened by the commodore, who little dreamt that the whole affair had been planned and executed by Peregrine and his associates.

The next enterprise in which this triumvirate engaged, was a scheme to frighten Trunnion with an apparition, which they prepared and exhibited in this manner: to the hide of a large ox, Pipes fitted a leathern vizor of a most terrible appearance, stretched on the jaws of a shark, which he had brought from sea, and accommodated with a couple of broad glasses instead of eyes. On the inside of these he placed two rushlights, and, with a composition of sulphur and saltpetre, made a pretty large fusee, which he fixed between two rows of the teeth. This equipage being finished, he, one dark night chosen for the purpose, put it on, and, following the commodore into a long passage, in which he was preceded by Perry with a light in his hand, kindled his firework with a match, and began to bellow like a bull. The boy, as it was concerted, looked behind him, screamed aloud, and dropped the light, which was extinguished in the fall; when Trunnion, alarmed at his nephew's consternation, exclaimed, "Zounds! what's the matter?" and turning about to see the cause of his dismay, beheld a hideous phantom vomiting blue flame, which aggravated the horrors of its aspect. He was instantly seized with an agony of fear, which divested him of his reason: nevertheless, he, as it were mechanically, raised his trusty supporter in his own defence, and, the apparition advancing towards him, aimed it at this dreadful annoyance with such a convulsive exertion of strength, that had not the blow chanced to light upon one of the horns Mr. Pipes would have had no cause to value himself upon his invention. Misapplied as it was, he did not fail to stagger at the shock; and, dreading another such salutation, closed with the commodore, and having tripped up his heels, retreated with great expedition.

It was then that Peregrine, pretending to recollect himself a little, ran, with all the marks of disturbance and affright, and called up the servants to the assistance of their master, whom they found in a cold sweat upon the floor, his features betokening horror and confusion. Hatchway raised him up, and having comforted him with a cup of Nantz, began to inquire into the cause of his disorder: but he could not extract one word of answer from his friend, who, after a considerable pause, during which he seemed to be wrapt in profound contemplation, pronounced aloud, "By the Lord! Jack, you may say what you wool; but I'll be d— if it was not Davy Jones himself. I know him by his saucer eyes, his three rows of teeth, his horns and tail, and the blue smoke that came out of his nostrils. What does the blackguard hell's baby want with me? I'm sure I never committed murder, except in the way of my profession, nor wronged any man whatsomever since I first went to sea." This same Davy Jones, according to the mythology of sailors, is the fiend that presides over all the evil spirits of the deep, and is often seen in various shapes, perching among the rigging on the eve of hurricanes, shipwrecks, and other disasters, to which a seafaring life is exposed; warning the devoted wretch of death and woe. No wonder then that Trunnion was disturbed by a supposed visit of this demon, which, in his opinion, foreboded some dreadful calamity.


Chapter 14

 

He is also, by their device, engaged in an Adventure with the Exciseman, who does not find his Account in his own Drollery.

Howsomever preposterous and unaccountable that passion may be which prompts persons, otherwise generous and sympathizing, to afflict and perplex their fellow-creatures, certain it is, our confederates entertained such a large proportion of it, that not satisfied with the pranks they had already played, they still persecuted the commodore without ceasing. In the course of his own history, the particulars of which he delighted to recount, he had often rehearsed an adventure of deer-stealing, in which, during the unthinking impetuosity of his youth, he had been unfortunately concerned. Far from succeeding in that achievement, he and his associates had, it seems, been made prisoners, after an obstinate engagement with the keepers, and carried before a neighbouring justice of the peace, who used Trunnion with great indignity, and with his companions committed him to jail.

His own relations, and in particular an uncle on whom he chiefly depended, treated him during his confinement with great rigour and inhumanity and absolutely refused to interpose his influence in his behalf, unless he would sign a writing, obliging himself to go to sea within thirty days after his release, under the penalty of being proceeded against as a felon. The alternative was, either to undergo this voluntary exile, or remain in prison disowned and deserted by everybody, and, after all, suffer an ignominious trial, that might end in a sentence of transportation for life. He therefore, without much hesitation, embraced the proposal of his kinsman, and, as he observed, was, in less than a month after his discharge, turned adrift to the mercy of the wind and waves.

Since that period he had never maintained any correspondence with his relations, all of whom had concurred in sending him off; nor would he ever pay the least regard to the humiliations and supplications of some among them, who had prostrated themselves before him, on the advancement of his fortune: but he retained a most inveterate resentment against his uncle, who was still in being, though extremely old and infirm, and frequently mentioned his name with all the bitterness of revenge.

Perry being perfectly well acquainted with the particulars of this story, which he had heard so often repeated, proposed to Hatchway that a person should be hired to introduce himself to the commodore, with a supposititious letter of recommendation from this detested kinsman; an imposition that, in all likelihood, would afford abundance of diversion.

The lieutenant relished the scheme and young Pickle having composed an epistle for the occasion, the exciseman of the parish, a fellow of great impudence and some humour, in whom Hatchway could confide, undertook to transcribe and deliver it with his own hand, and also personate the man in whose favour it was feigned to be written. He, accordingly, one morning arrived on horseback at the garrison, two hours at least before Trunnion used to get up, and gave Pipes, who admitted him, to understand, that he had a letter from his master, which he was ordered to deliver to none but the commodore himself. This message was no sooner communicated, than the indignant chief (who had been waked for the purpose) began to curse the messenger for breaking his rest, and swore he would not budge till his usual time of turning out. This resolution being conveyed to the stranger, he desired the carrier to go back and tell him, he had such joyful tidings to impart, that he was sure the commodore would think himself amply rewarded for his trouble, even if he had been raised from the grave to receive them.

This assurance, flattering as it was, would not have been powerful enough to persuade him, had it not been assisted with the exhortations of his spouse, which never failed to influence his conduct. He therefore crept out of bed, though not without great repugnance; and wrapping himself in his morning gown, was supported down-stairs, rubbing his eye, yawning fearfully, and grumbling in the way. As soon as he popped his head into the parlour, the supposed stranger made divers awkward bows, and with a grinning aspect accosted him in these words: "Your most humble servant, most noble commodore! I hope you are in good health; you look pure and hearty; and if it was not for that misfortune of your eye, one would not desire to see a more pleasant countenance in a summer's day. Sure as I am a living soul, one would take you to be on this side of threescore. Lord help us, I should have known you to be a Trunnion, if I had met with one in the midst of Salisbury Plain, as the saying is."

The commodore, who was not at all in the humour of relishing such an impertinent preamble, interrupted him in this place, saying, with a peevish accent, "Pshaw! pshaw! brother, there's no occasion to bowse out so much unnecessary gun; if you can't bring your discourse to bear on the right subject, you had much better clap a stopper on your tongue, and bring yourself up, d'ye see; I was told you had something to deliver."—"Deliver!" cried the waggish impostor, "odds heart! I have got something for you that will make your very entrails rejoice within your body. Here's a letter from a dear and worthy friend of yours. Take, read it, and be happy. Blessings on his old heart! one would think he had renewed his age, like the eagle's." Trunnion's expectation being thus raised, he called for his spectacles, adjusted them to his eye, took the letter, and being curious to know the subscription, no sooner perceived his uncle's name, then he started back, his lip quivered, and he began to shake in every limb with resentment and surprise; eager to know the subject of an epistle from a person who had never before troubled him with any sort of address, he endeavoured to recollect himself, and perused the contents, which were these;—

"Loving Nephew,—I doubt not but you will be rejoiced to hear of my welfare; and well you may, considering what a kind uncle I have been to you in the days of your youth, and how little you deserved any such thing; for yet, was always a graceless young man, given to wicked courses and bad company, whereby you would have come to a shameful end, had it not been for my care in sending you out of mischief's way. But this is not the cause of my present writing. The bearer, Mr. Timothy Trickle, is a distant relation of yours, being the son of the cousin of your aunt Margery, and is not over and above well as to worldly matters. He thinks of going to London, to see for some post in the excise or customs if so be that you will recommend him to some great man of your acquaintance, and give him a small matter to keep him till he is provided. I doubt not, nephew, but you will be glad to serve him, if it was no more but for the respect you bear to me, who am,—Loving nephew, your affectionate uncle, and servant to command,

"Tobiah Trunnion."

It would be a difficult task for the inimitable Hogarth himself to exhibit the ludicrous expression of the commodore's countenance while he read this letter. It was not a stare of astonishment, a convulsion of rage, or a ghastly grin of revenge; but an association of all three, that took possession of his features. At length, he hawked up, with incredible straining, the interjection, "Ah!" that seemed to have stuck some time in his windpipe; and thus gave vent to his indignation: "Have I come alongside of you at last, you old stinking curmudgeon? You lie, you lousy hulk! ye lie! you did all in your power to founder me when I was a stripling; and as for being graceless and wicked, and keeping bad company, you tell a d—d lie again, you thief! there was not a more peaceable lad in the county, and I kept no bad company but your own, d'ye see. Therefore, you Trickle, or what's your name, tell the old rascal that sent you hither, that I spit in his face, and call him horse; that I tear his letter into rags, so; and that I trample upon it as I would upon his own villainous carcase, d'ye see." So saying, he danced in a sort of frenzy upon the fragments of the paper, which he had scattered about the room, to the inexpressible satisfaction of the triumvirate, who beheld the scene.

The exciseman having got between him and the door, which was left open for his escape, in case of necessity, affected great confusion and surprise at his behaviour, saying, with an air of mortification, "Lord be merciful unto me! is this the way you treat your own relations, and the recommendation of your best friend? Surely all gratitude and virtue has left this sinful world! What will cousin Tim, and Dick, and Tom, and good mother Pipkin; and her daughters cousin Sue, and Prue, and Peg, with all the rest of our kinsfolks, say, when they hear of this unconscionable reception that I have met with? Consider, sir, that ingratitude is worse than the sin of witchcraft, as the Apostle wisely observes; and do not send me away with such unchristian usage, which will lay a heavy load of guilt upon your poor miserable soul."—"What, you are on a cruise for a post, brother Trickle, an't ye?" said Trunnion, interrupting him, "we shall find a post for you in a trice, my boy. Here, Pipes, take this saucy son of a b— and help him to the whipping-post in the yard. I'll teach you to rouse me in the morning with such impertinent messages."

Pipes, who wanted to carry the joke farther than the exciseman dreamt of, laid hold of him in a twinkling, and executed the orders of his commander, notwithstanding all his nods, winking, and significant gestures, which the boatswain's mate would by no means understand; so that he began to repent of the part he acted in this performance, which was like to end so tragically; and stood fastened to the stake, in a very disagreeable state of suspense; casting many a rueful look over his left shoulder, while Pipes was absent in quest of a cat-o'-nine-tails, in expectation of being relieved by the interposition of the lieutenant, who did not, however, appear. Tom, returning with the instrument of correction, undressed the delinquent in a trice, and whispering in his ear, that he was very sorry for being employed in such an office, but durst not for his soul disobey the orders of his commander, flourished the scourge about his head, and with admirable dexterity made such a smarting application to the offender's back and shoulders, that the distracted gauger performed sundry new cuts with his feet, and bellowed hideously with pain, to the infinite satisfaction of the spectators. At length, when he was almost flayed from his rump to the nape of his neck, Hatchway, who had purposely absented himself hitherto, appeared in the yard, and interposing in his behalf, prevailed upon Trunnion to call off the executioner, and ordered the malefactor to be released.

The exciseman, mad with the catastrophe he had undergone, threatened to be revenged upon his employers, by making a candid confession of the whole plot; but the lieutenant giving him to understand, that in so doing, he would bring upon himself a prosecution for fraud, forgery, and imposture, he was fain to put up with his loss; and sneaked out of the garrison, attended with a volley of curses discharged upon him by the commodore, who was exceedingly irritated by the disturbance and disappointment he had undergone.