I being a Servant, and so unjustly accounted of Base Degree by these Sour-Cabbage gorging and Sourer-Beer swilling High Dutch Bed-Pressers, was put into the Common Ward with the Raff; while my Master was suffered, on Payment of Fees, to have better lodgings. Gaolers are Gaolers all over the world, and Golden Fetters are always the lightsomest. We were some Sixty Rascals (that is to say, Fifty-nine scoundrels, with one Honest Youth, your Humble Servant) in the Common Room, with but one Bed between us; this being, indeed, but a Raised Wooden Platform, like that you see in a Soldiers' Guard Room. They brought us some Straw every day, and littered us down Dog Fashion, and that was all we had for Lodging Gear. It mattered little. There was a Roof to the Gaol that was weather-tight, and what more could a Man want?—until things got better at least.
Which they speedily did; and neither Master nor Man came to any very great harm. 'Twas a near touch, though; and the safety of Jack Dangerous's bones hung for days, so I was afterwards told, by the merest thread. They deliberated long and earnestly about my case among themselves. It was even, I believe, brought before the Aulic Council; but, after about a week's confinement, and much going to and fro between the English Embassador and the Great ones of the Court, Mr. Pinchin had signified to him that he might procure his Enlargement by paying a Fine of Eight Hundred Florins, which was reckoned remarkably cheap, considering his outrageous behaviour at the Shooting match. Some days longer they thought fit to detain Me; but My Master, after he regained his liberty, came to see me once and sometimes twice a day; and through his and Mr. Hodge's kindness, I was supplied with as good Victuals and Drink as I had heretofore been accustomed to. Indeed, such abundant fare was there provided for me, that I had always a superfluity, and I was enabled to relieve the necessities and fill the bellies of many poor Miserable Hungry creatures who otherwise must have starved; for 'twas the custom of the Crown only to allow their Captives a few Kreutzers, amounting to some twopence-farthing a day English, for their subsistence. The Oldest Prisoner in the Ward, whom they called Father of the Room, would on this Bare Pittance take tithe and toll, often in a most Extortionate manner. Then these Gaol birds would fall to thieving from one another, even as they slept; and if a man was weak of Arm and Feeble of Heart, he might go for a week without touching a doit of his allowance, and so might Die of Famine, unless he could manage to beg a little filthy Cabbage Soup, or a lump of Black Bread, from some one not wholly without Bowels of Compassion.
But I had not been here more than a month when the instances of my master at length prevailed, and I too was Enlarged; only some Fifty Florins being laid upon me by way of fine. This mulct was paid perforce by Mr. Pinchin; for as 'twas through his mad folly, and no fault of my own, that I had come to Sorrow, he was in all Justice and Equity bound to bear me harmless in the Consequences. He was fain, however, to make some Demur, and to Complain, in his usual piteous manner, of being so amerced.
"Suppose you had been sentenced to Five Hundred Blows of a Stick, sirrah,"—'twas thus he put the case to me, logically enough,—"would you have expected me to pay for thee in carcase, as now I am paying for thee in Purse?"
"Circumstances alter cases," interposes Mr. Hodge in my behalf. "Here is luckily no question of Stripes at all. John may bless his Stars that he hath gotten off without a Rib-Roasting; and to your Worship, after the Tune they have made you dance to, and the Piper you have paid, what is this miserable little Fine of Fifty Florins?" So my Master paid; and Leaving another Ten Florins for the poor Losels in the Gaol to drink his health in, we departed from that place of Durance, thinking ourselves, and with reason, very well out of it.
Servants are not always so lucky when they too implicitly obey the behests of their Masters, or, in a hot fever of Fidelity, stand up for them in Times of Danger or Desperate Affrays. Has there not ever been brought under your notice that famous French Law Case, of the Court Lady,—the Dame de Liancourt, I think she was called,—against whom another Dame had a Spite, either for her Beauty, or her Wit, or her Riches' sake? She, riding one day in her Coach-and-Six by a cross-road, comes upon the Dame de Liancourt, likewise in her Coach-and-Six, both ladies having the ordinary complement of Running Footmen. My Lady who had a Spite against her of Liancourt whispers to her Lacqueys; and these poor Faithful Rogues, too eager to obey their Mistress's commands, ran to the other coach-door, pulled out that unlucky Dame de Liancourt, and then and there inflicted on her that shameful chastisement which jealous Venus, as the Poetry books say, did, once upon a time, order to poor Psyche; and which, even in our own times, so I have heard, Madame du Barry, the last French King's Favourite, did cause Four Chambermaids to inflict on some Lady about Versailles with whom she had cause of Anger. At any rate, the cruel and Disgraceful thing was done, the Dame sitting in her coach meanwhile clapping her hands. O! 'twas a scandalous thing. The poor Dame de Liancourt goes, Burning with Rage and Shame, to the Chief Town of the Province, to lodge her complaint. The matter is brought before the Parliament, and in due time it goes to Paris, and is heard and re-heard, the Judges all making a Mighty to-do about it; and at last, after some two years and a half's litigation, is settled in this wise. My Lady pays a Fine and the Costs, and begs the Dame de Liancourt's pardon. But what, think you, becomes of the two poor Lacqueys that had been rash enough to execute her Revengeful Orders? Why, at first they are haled about from one gaol to another for Thirty Months in succession, and then they are subjected to the question, Ordinary and Extraordinary—that is to say, to the Torture; and at last, when my Lady is paying her fine of 10,000 livres, I think, or about Four Hundred Pounds of our Money, the Judges at Paris pronounce against these two poor Devils of Footmen,—that were as innocent of any Malice in the Matter as the Babe that is unborn, and only Did what they were Told,—that one is to be Hanged in the Place de Greve, and the other banished to the Galleys, there to be chained to the Oar for life. A fine Encouragement truly for those who think that, for good Victuals and a Fine Livery, they are bound to obey all the Humours and Caprices, even to the most Unreasonable and most Arbitrary, of their Masters and Mistresses.
We were in no great Mood, after this Affair was over, to remain in Vienna. Mr. Pinchin did at first purpose journeying through the Province of Styria by Gratz, to a little town on the sea-coast, called Trieste,—that has much grown in importance during these latter days,—and so crossing the Gulf to Venice; but he abandoned this Scheme. His health was visibly breaking; his Funds, he said, were running low; he was more anxious about his Mamma than ever; and 'twas easy to see that he was half-weary and half-afraid of the Chaplain and Myself, and that he desired nothing Half so Much as to get Rid of us Both. So we packed up, and resumed our Wanderings, but in Retreat instead of Advance. We passed, coming back, through Dresden, where there are some fine History Pictures, and close to which the Saxon Elector had set up a great Factory for the making of painted Pottery Ware: not after the monstrous Chinese Fashion, but rather after the Mode practised with great Success at our own Chelsea. The manner of making this Pottery was, however, kept a high State Secret by the government of the then Saxon Elector; and no strangers were, on any pretence, admitted to the place where the Works were carried on; so of this we saw nothing: and not Sorry was I of the privation, being utterly Wearied and palled with much gadding about and Sight-seeing. So post to Frankfort, where there were a many Jews; and thence to Mayence; and from thence down the grand old River Rhine to the City of Cologne; whence, by the most lagging stages I did ever know, to Bruxelles. But we stayed not here to see the sights—not even the droll little statue of the Mannikin (at the corner of a street, in a most improper attitude; and there is a Group quite as unseemly in one of the Markets, so I was told, although at that time we were fain to pass them by), which Mannikin the burgesses of Bruxelles regard as a kind of tutelary Divinity, and set much greater store by than do we by our London Stone, or Little Naked Boy in Panyer Alley. But it is curious to mark what strange fanteagues these Foreigners run mad after.
At Bruxelles my Master buys an old Post Carriage—cost him Two Hundred and Fifty Livres, which was not dear; and the wretched horses of the country being harnessed thereto, we made Paris in about a week afterwards. We alighted at a decent enough kind of Inn, in the Place named after Lewis the Great (an eight-sided space, and the houses handsome, though not so large as Golden Square). There was a great sight the day after our coming, which we could not well avoid seeing. This was the Burial of a certain great nobleman, a Duke and Marshal of France, and at the time of his Decease Governor of the City of Paris. I have forgotten his name; but it does not so much matter at this time of day, his Grace and Governorship being as dead as Queen Anne. It began (the Burial), on foot, from his house, which was next door but one to our Inn, and went first to his Parish Church, and thence, in coaches, right to the other end of Paris, to a Monastery where his Lordship's Family Vault was. There was a prodigious long procession of Flambeaux; Friars, white, black, and gray, very trumpery, and marvellous foul-looking; no plumes, banners, scutcheons, led horses, or open chariots,—altogether most mean obsequies. The march began at eight in the evening, and did not end till four o'clock the next morning, for at each church they passed they stopped for a Hymn and Holy Water. And, by the way, we were told that one of these same choice Friars, who had been set to watching the body while it lay in state, fell asleep one night, and let the Tapers catch fire of the rich Velvet Mantle, lined with Ermine and powdered over with gold Flower-de-Luces, which melted all the candles, and burnt off one of the feet of the Departed, before it wakened the watcher.
It was afterwards my fortune to know Paris very well; but I cannot say that I thought much of the place on first coming to it. Dirt there was everywhere, and the most villanous smells that could be imagined. A great deal of Show, but a vein of Rascal manners running through it all. Nothing neat or handsomely ordered. Where my Master stood to see the Burial Procession, the balcony was hung with Crimson Damask and Gold; but the windows behind him were patched in half-a-dozen places with oiled paper. At Dinner they gave you at least Three Courses; but a third of the Repast was patched up with Sallets, Butter, Puff-paste, or some such miscarriages of Dishes. Nothing like good, wholesome, substantial Belly-Timber. None but Germans, and other Strangers, wore fine clothes; the French people mainly in rags, but powdered up to their eyebrows. Their coaches miserably horsed, and rope-harnessed; yet, in the way of Allegories on the panels, all tawdry enough for the Wedding of Cupid and Psyche. Their shop-signs extremely laughable. Here some living at the Y Gue; some at Venus's Toilette; and others at the Sucking Cat. Their notions of Honour most preposterous. It was thought mighty dishonourable for any that was a Born Gentleman not to be in the Army, or in the King's Service, but no dishonour at all to keep Public Gaming Houses; there being at least five hundred persons of the first Quality in Paris living by it. You might go to their Houses at all Hours of the Night, and find Hazard, Pharaoh, &c. The men who kept the gaming-tables at the Duke of Gesvres' paid him twelve guineas a night for the privilege. Even the Princesses of the Blood were mean enough to go snacks in the profits of the banks kept in their palaces. I will say nothing more of Paris in this place, save that it was the fashion of the Ladies to wear Red Hair of a very deep hue; these said Princesses of the Blood being consumedly carroty. And I do think that if a Princess of the Blood was born with a Tail, and chose to show it, tied up with Pea-Green Ribbon, through the Placket-hole of her Gown, the Ladies, not only in France, but all over the World, would be proud to sport Tails with Pea-Green Ribbons,—or any other colour that was the mode,—whether they were Born with 'em or not.
Nothing more that is worthy of Mention took place until our leaving Paris. We came away in a calash, that is, my Master and the Chaplain, riding at their Ease in that vehicle, while I trotted behind on a little Bidet, and posted it through St. Denis to Beauvais. So on to Abbeville, where they had the Impudence to charge us Ten Livres for three Dishes of Coffee, and some of the nastiest Eau de Vie that ever I tasted; excusing themselves, the Rogues, on the score that Englishmen were scarce nowadays. And to our great Relief, we at last arrived at Calais, where we had comfortable Lodgings, and good fare, at a not too exorbitant rate. Here we had to wait four days for a favourable Wind; and even then we found the Packet Boat all taken up for Passengers, and not a place on board to be had either for Love or Money. As Mr. Pinchin was desperately pressed to reach his Native Land, to wait for the next boat seemed utterly intolerable to him; so, all in a Hurry, and being cheated, as folks when they are in a Hurry must needs be, we bargained for a Private Yatch to take us to Dover. The Master would hear of nothing less than five-and-twenty guineas for the voyage, which, with many Sighs and almost Weeping, my poor Little Master agrees to give. He might have recouped himself ten guineas of the money; for there was a Great Italian Singing Woman, with her Chambermaid, her Valet de Chambre, a Black Boy, and a Monkey, bound for the King's Opera House in the Haymarket, very anxious to reach England, and willing to pay Handsomely—out of English pockets in the long-run—for the accommodation we had to give; but my capricious Master flies into a Tiff, and vows that he will have no Foreign Squallers on board his Yatch with him. So the poor Signora—who was not at all a Bad-looking woman, although mighty Brown of visage—was fain to wait for the next Packet; and we went off in very great state, but still having to Pay with needless heaviness for our Whistle. And, of course, all the way there was nothing but whining and grumbling on his Worship's part, that so short a trip should have cost him Twenty-five Guineas. The little Brute was never satisfied; and when I remembered the Life I had led with him, despite abundant Victuals, good Clothes, and decent Wages, I confess that I felt half-inclined to pitch him over the Taffrail, and make an End of him, for good and all.
The villanous Tub which the Rascals who manned it called a Yatch was not Seaworthy, wouldn't answer her Helm, and floundered about in the Trough of the Sea for a day and a half; and even then we did not make Dover, but were obliged to beat up for Ramsgate. We had been fools enough to pay the Fare beforehand; and these Channel Pirates were unconscionable enough to demand Ten Guineas more, swearing that they would have us up before the Mayor—who, I believe, was in league with 'em—if we did not disburse. Then the Master of the Port came upon us for Dues and Light Tolls; and a Revenue Pink boarded us, the Crew getting Half-drunk at our Expense, under pretence of searching for contraband, and sticking to us till we had given the Midshipman a guinea, and another guinea to the Crew, to drink our Healths.
CHAPTER THE SEVENTH.
OF CERTAIN TICKLISH UPS AND DOWNS IN MY LIFE: AMONGST OTHERS OF MY BEING PRESSED FOR SERVICE IN THE FLEET.
THE best of Friends, says the Proverb, must part, and so must the worst, or the most indifferent of companions. By this time, I apprehend,—that is to say, the year 1728, Messieurs Pinchin, Hodge, and Dangerous had had quite enough of each other's company, and 'twas ripe Time for 'em to Part. Not but what there were some difficulties in the way. 'Twas not to be denied that my little Master was a parcel curmudgeon, very vain and conceited, very difficult of management in his Everlasting Tempers, and a trifle Mad, besides; but his service—apart from the inconvenience of bearing with a tetchy, half Lunatic Ape of Quality, was light and easy; the victuals were abundant and the Wages were comfortable. There must be two parties to make a quarrel, and when Master and servant propose to part, there should be a perfect agreement between them as to the manner of their going asunder. A Hundred times, vexed by the follies and exactions of the little man, I had sworn that I would doff his livery, and have nothing more to do with him; but then came the Reflection of the certain Bite and Sup, and I withheld my abandonment of Service. It may be that the Chaplain, Mr. Hodge, was very much of the same mind as your Humble. He said often, that he had been bearleader quite long enough to this young Cub, and was sick alike of his savage hugs, and uncouth gestures, when he had a mind to dance. Yet was he wise enough in his generation to acknowledge the commodity of a fat Pasty and a full Flask every day in the year, and of a neverfailing crown piece in the pouch in the morning for a draught to cool one's throat, when the bottle had been pushed about pretty briskly overnight. Parson Hodge was a philosopher. "I don't like the kicks," quoth he; "but when halfpence come along with 'em, they cease to be intolerable."
However, all our nice weighings of Pros and Cons were brought to a very abrupt standstill upon our arrival at Dover (having taken a post chariot from Ramsgate) by the Inconceivable Behaviour of Mr. Pinchin. This young Gentleman, utterly forgetting the claims of Duty, of Honour, of Honesty, and of Gratitude, fairly Ran away from us, his faithful and Attached Domestics. Without with your leave or by your leave he showed us a clean pair of Heels. He left a very cool Letter for the Chaplain in the hands of the master of the Inn where we put up, in which he repeated his old uncivil Accusation, that we had eaten him out of House and Home, that we were Leeches, Pirates, bloodsucking vampires, and the like—myself he even did the honour to call a Designing Cockatrice—and that he had fled from us to save the small remains of his Fortune from being Devoured, and intended to rejoin his long-neglected Mamma. Mr. Hodge read me this letter with a very long face, and asked me what I intended to do. I answered that I should be better able to tell him when he had read me the Postscript to the letter, for that I hardly fancied that Squire Pinchin would behave in so Base and Mean a manner as to run away without paying his Body Servant's wages. Upon this the Reverend Gentleman hems and ha's somewhat, and gave me to understand that Mr. Pinchin had enclosed a draft upon a Goldsmith in Change Alley in part disbursement of his debt to him, Mr. Hodge, and that out of that—although no special provision had been made for me by Mr. Pinchin—he thought he could spare me a matter of Ten Pound. Now as he kept the letter very tight in his hand, and was, withal, a Strong Man, who would have resisted any attempt of mine to wrest it from him, I was fain to take his statement for granted, and in a very Sulky manner agreed to accept the Ten Pound in full of all demands, stipulating only that my Travelling charges to London should be defrayed. This Mr. Hodge boggled at for awhile; but, seeing me Resolute he gave way, and at last said that there was no need for me to trouble with going to the Goldsmith in London to get the Draft changed—"If, indeed," says he, "the unhappy young spendthrift be not proclaimed a Bankrupt before I get this slip of paper cashed;" and that having a small store of Gold by him, he would give me the Ten Pound down, together with a couple of Pieces to bear my Expenses to the Town. To this I agreed; and his Reverence handing me over the ready, we cried Quits.
"And now, Sir," says I, "as you are no longer a Led-Parson, and I am no longer a Lacquey, we are both, till we get Fresh Places, Gentlemen at large, and Jack is as good as his Master, I shall be happy to crack a bottle of Lisbon with you, and whether you pay or I pay shall be decided by the flinging up of a Jacobus."
He declared that I was an Impudent young Fellow, with more Wickednesses in my Heart than I had hairs in my Head; but he accepted my Invitation to crack the bottle of Lisbon very readily, and won the Toss of me with much Affability. So, after a joyous Rouse (which my young Head could then stand, but I am a sad Skinker at the bottle now), the Landlord standing in, we drank Mr. Pinchin's health and better manners to him; and his Reverence dismissed me with a Buss and his Benediction.
"When you reach London, which is a wicked place," says he; "I prithee get you to Highgate, and without more ado cause yourself to be sworn upon the Horns there, never to drink Small Ale when you can get Strong, and never to Kiss the Maid when you can Kiss the Mistress. After that, with your Face, and your Figure, and your Foreign Travel, to say nothing of your Amazing Impudence, and your Incorrigible habit of Lying, I think you will do pretty well. Go thy ways, my son, and if ever you come to be hanged, send for Parson Hodge, and he will (with the Ordinary's permission) do everything for you in the cart that a True Blue Church and State Man can wish. Vale: that is to say, get off, you vagabond," with which in his merry way he half pushes me out of the room at the Inn, and I dare say that he had given a sufficiently liberal construction to Mr. Pinchin's postscript as to cheat me out of Twenty Pound.
And now on this worthy I must bestow a brace of Paragraphs ere I dismiss him for good and all, premising that the knowledge of what I am about to set down did not come upon me at this period of my History, but was gathered up, in Odds and Ends in subsequent epochs of my career:—some of it, indeed, many years afterwards. Parson Hodge had managed—all losses allowed for—to feather his nest pretty well out of his attendance on Squire Bartholomew Pinchin, and the ten or twelve pound he doled out to me (whether the story about the draft on the Goldsmith was a Cock and Bull one or not) must have been but a mere fleabite to him. I heard that he went down to the Bath, and dropping his Clerical Dignity for awhile, set up for a fashionable Physician of High Dutch extraction that was to cure all ailments. Doctor Von Hoogius I think he called himself; and his travelling about with my little Master had given him just such a smattering of Tongues as to enable him to speak Broken English with just so much of a foreign accent as to make it unlike a Brogue or a Burr. The guineas came in pretty quickly, and I believe that he cured several people of the Quinsy with pills made of dough, hogslard, cinnamon, and turmeric, and that he was highly successful in ridding ladies of fashion of the vapours by means of his Royal Arabian Electuary, which was nothing more than white Jamaica Rum coloured pink and with a flavouring of Almonds. The regular Practitioners, however, grew jealous of him, and beginning to ask him impertinent questions about his Diploma, he was fain to give up Legitimate practice, and to pick up a dirty Living as a mere Quack, and Vendor of Pills, Potions, Salves, Balsams, and Elixirs of Life. Then he came down in the world, owing to a Waiting Gentlewoman whose fortune he must needs tell, and whom, 'tis said, he cozened out of three quarters' wages; so, for fear of being committed by the justices as a Rogue and Vagabond, he then kept a Herb Shop for some time, with great success, until he got into trouble about a Horse, and being clearly Tart of that crime, very wisely shifted his quarters to the Kingdom of Ireland. I have heard that by turns he was, in his New Sphere, a Player at the Dublin Theatre, a Drawer at a Usquebaugh Shop in Cork, a hedge-schoolmaster among the Bogtrotters—a wild, savage kind of People, that infest the Southern parts of that fertile but distracted kingdom—a teacher of the Mathematics in Belfast, and a fiddler going about to wakes and weddings in the county of Galway. 'Twas whilst pursuing this last and jovial vocation that he was fortunate enough to run away with an Heiress of considerable Fortune. He managed it by a sort of Rough and Ready process they call over there an Abduction, two or three of the Wild Irishes being killed while he was getting the young lady on the car to take her away to be married; and she, happening to be a Ward in Chancery, he fell into Contempt, and was committed to Newgate in the City of Dublin, where he might have lain till his heels rotted off, but for the Favourable Renown into which he grew by his Bold and Gallant Feat of Abduction, and which brought him into such sympathetic notice, that interest was made with the Chancellor to purge him of his contempt, and he was honourably Discharged therefrom by means of escaping from Newgate at night by means of a Silver Key agreed upon betwixt him and the Warden. By the way, he had the sagacity at this time to conceal his being an Englishman, and passed very easily by the name of O'Hagan. A subscription was made for him among the Quality after his Enlargement, and he was charitably advised to push his fortune among the Saxons in England, his good friends little suspecting that he had already pushed his Fortune there, at different times, to a very pretty tune. But for his unfortunate—or rather fortunate, for him—collision with justice, he might have obtained employment as a Tithe Proctor with some of the dignified and non-resident Established Clergy in Ireland, who were very anxious to have able and Unscrupulous Men to collect their Dues for 'em; but the Sister Isle being, on several accounts, too hot for Mr. Hodge, Von Hoogius, O'Hagan, he took shipping with a purse full of guineas, collected for him by his kind friends, for Liverpool in Lancashire. Here he prospered indifferently for a time, now as a Schoolmaster, now as a Quack Doctor, under his old High Dutch alias, and now as an Agent for the crimping of children for the West India plantations, which last traffic I have ever held, for reasons personal, to be utterly Indefensible and Abominable. A Bill of Indictment before the Grand Jury speedily, however, put an end to the chaplain's dealings in flesh and blood; so he made what haste he could to town, where squandering what means he had with him in Riot and Unthrift, and being unluckily recognised by an old acquaintance in the Tailoring line, he was arrested on civil process, and clapped into the Fleet Prison. But here his ever-soaring genius took a new Flight. Those half surreptitious and wholly scandalous Nuptials known as Fleet Marriages, were then very rife, and the adventurer had wit enough to discover that it was to his interest to resume his cassock and bands, and to become the Reverend Mr. Hodge once more. Not much was wanted to set him up in business. Canonicals were to be had cheap enough in Rag Fair for the sending for 'em; a greasy Common Prayer Book and a chandler's-shop ledger to serve as a Register, did not cost much; so with these, and an inimitably Brazen face, behold our worthy equipped as a perfect Fleet Parson. He had to maintain at first a ragged regiment of cads and Runners to tout for him and bring him customers, but he soon became notorious, and formed a very fine connexion. Judgements by the score had been obtained, and Detainers lodged against him at the gate, since his incarceration at the suit of his acquaintance, the Tailor; but 'twas not long ere he contrived, by the easy process of joining people's hands, to gain enough to pay all the claims against him, and by permission of the Warden of the Fleet, to set up a Chapel and Liquor Shop within the rules of the prison. Punch, Geneva, poisonous wine, brandy, bitters, Rum, and Tobacco, were sold below stairs, and the Order for the Solemnization of Matrimony was performed on the first floor. It became quite a fashionable thing to go and be married by Parson Hodge, and at last it would be said of him, that if he extorted money from you beforehand, he did not pick your pocket afterwards, as too many of the Fleet Parsons in those shameful days were in the habit of doing. He continued at this merry game for many years, being in his way quite as popular as Orator Henley, and coining a great deal more money than that crack-brained Fanatic—for I have always been at pains to discover whether Henley was more Rogue or Fool—till at last his lucrative but unholy trade was put an end to by an Act of Parliament, called for by the righteous indignation of all peaceable and loyal subjects of the King, who did not desire to be married in haste and to repent at leisure. I believe that Parson Hodge retired with a comfortable fortune, and, going down into Somersetshire, purchased a small estate there, and died, much respected, in the odour of many pigs, and in the Commission of the Peace.
As for poor little Bartholomew Pinchin, his career was not nearly so prosperous, nor his end so happy. You will learn, a little further on, what scurvy tricks Fortune played him, and how at last his poor little brains succumbed to the rough toasting of that graceless jade. I had always thought him Mad, and Mad, indeed, as a March hare he proved to be in the long run.
And now as to Myself, for it is surely fitting that a proper young Fellow, such as I was now, stout and vigorous, and going for nineteen years of age, should no longer remain in the Background. First I hied me to London by the waggon, where, after four days' journey—for it was ill travelling in those days, between London and Dover—I arrived without any misadventure. I was my own Master, I had Ten Pound in my pocket (the two additional Pieces being now spent), and I did not know one single soul in a city of eight hundred thousand inhabitants. Is it to be wondered at, under these premises, that before I fixed upon any decided line of life, I went, first of all, to the Deuce. It took me but a woundily short time to reach that Goal. For ten pounds you may reckon, we will say—if you put up at a small alehouse in the Borough—upon about ten friends who shall be very fond of you for a couple of days. I think, at the beginning of the third, I had just three and sixpence left wherewith to buy a razor to cut my throat withal. "Stuff and nonsense!" cried the last of the fleeting friends who had abided with me. "Three and sixpence for a razor, forsooth! why, a yard of good new cord, quite strong enough to bear your weight, can be bought in any shop in Tooley-street for a penny. You have just three and fivepence left, brother, to make yourself merry for the day, and, please the pigs, we will be merry as grigs upon it until Sundown (for I took a fancy to you the first minute I set eyes upon you), and even then there are two ways out of the hobble, without twisting your weasand. I have a pair of pistols, and as I love you like a brother, will share anything with you; and we will pad the hoof betwixt this and Deptford, and see whether we can meet any fat Kentish hop-grower on his way to the Borough Market with more money than wit—a capital plan, any way, seeing that if you fail, the Sheriff will hang you for nothing, and you can keep your penny for drink, or else you can list for a soldier, as many a tall and pretty fellow in the like straits has done before."
I civilly declined this amicable and philosophical advice, for it had suddenly become apparent to me that my new friend was a confirmed Rogue. For opening of the Eyes there is nothing like having spent all your money. I gave him a shilling, however, out of my three and sixpence, and crossed London Bridge to see if I could find better luck on the Middlesex side, determined, if nothing offered itself during the day, to ask my way to the Barracks at the Savoy and list for a Soldier. I amused myself as I walked, with the thought that chance might so bring it about for the Sergeant who would give me the King's shilling to be the selfsame grenadier whose sconce I had broken years agone in Charlwood Chase with the Demijohn of Brandy.
I had heard, as most Ignoramuses have done, I suppose, that London Streets are paved with Gold; and I found 'em as Muddy, as Stony, and as Hardhearted as I dare say they have been discovered by ten thousand Ignoramuses before my time to be. I was quite dazed and stupified with the noise and uproar of the Great City, the more perplexing to me as I was not only a Stranger, but almost a Foreigner and Outlandish Man in Great Britain. I could speak my own tongue well enough with Parson Hodge and Mr. Pinchin, but when it came to be clamoured all around me by innumerable voices, I a'most lost heart, and gave up the notion that I was an Englishman at all. It must be confessed, that half a century since we English were a very Blackguard People, and that London was about the most disreputable city in all Europe. There were few public buildings of any great note or of Majestic Proportions, save St. Paul's Cathedral, the Monument, and the Banqueting House at Whitehall. The Mansion House and the Bank of England were not yet built, and between them and the Royal Exchange (the which, noble enough in itself, was girt about, and choked up with Shops and Tenements exceeding mean and shabby), was a nasty, rubbishing, faint-smelling place, full of fruiterers and herbalists, called the Stocks Market. The crazy and rotten City Gates blocked up the chief thoroughfares, and across the bottom of Ludgate Hill yawned a marvellous foul and filthy open sewer, rich in dead dogs and cats, called the Fleet Ditch. This street was fair enough, and full of commodious houses and wealthy shops, but all about Temple Bar was a vile and horrid labyrinth of lanes and alleys, the chief and the most villanous of which was a place full of tripe shops and low taverns, called Butcher Row, leading from the Bar down to the Churchyard of St. Clement's Danes. The Strand was broad and fair enough to view as far as the New Exchange; but in lieu of that magnificent structure which Sir William Chambers, the Swedish architect, has built for Government offices, and where the Royal Academy of Arts and the Learned Societies have their apartments (when I first came to town there was no Royal Academy at all, only a Mean School for painting from the Life and drawing from Bustos in St. Martin's Lane; the Royal Society held their sittings in a court off Fleet Street; the College of Physicians was chock-a-block among the butchers in Warwick Lane, Newgate Market, where it still, to the scandal of Science, remains; and Surgeon's Hall, where malefactors were anatomised after execution—a Sanguinary but Salutary custom—was in the Old Bailey, over against the leads of the Sessions House)—in place, then, of what we now call Somerset House, albeit it has lost all connexion with the proud Duke of that name, there stood the Old Palace of the Queens of England, a remarkable tumbledown barn of a place, hideous in its ugliness towards the Strand, but having some stately edifices at the back, built by that Famous Engineer, Mr. Inigo Jones. Here sometimes Queens were lodged, and sometimes Embassadors—'twas the Venetian Envoy, I think, that had his rooms in Somerset House when I first knew it,—and sometimes Masquerades were given. A company of Soldiers was kept on guard in the precincts, not so much for ornament as for use, for they had hard work every night in the week in quelling the pottle-pot brawls and brabbling among the Rogues, Thieves, Besognosos, Beggars, Ribbibes, Bidstands, and Clapper-dudgeons, male and female, who infested the outskirts of the Old Palace, or had Impudently Squatted within its very walls, and had made of the Place a very Alsatia, now that Scamp's Paradise in Whitefriars had been put down by Act of Parliament. Here they burrowed like so many Grice, till the shoulder-tapping Pilchers of the Compter came a badger-drawing with their bludgeons. 'Twas a perfect chaos of clap-dishes, skeldering, cranion-legged Impostors, fittous cripples, and gambling bullies, for ever roaring over Post and Pair, or Dust Point, or throwing their Highmen, or barbing gold, or yelling profane songs and catches. A man was killed here about every other day in some Callet and Cockoloch squabble, and there was a broil about twice in every hour. Of course there were Patricos here, who only wanted Fashionable Encouragement to rival the Feet Parsons in the trade of faggot-weddings. There were philosophers who devised schemes for paying off the National Debt, or for making roast ribs of beef out of brickbats. Here were swept the last pillings and frayings of the South Sea Bubble, in the shape of divers Speculators and Directors who had absconded from their Creditors, and were here pretty safe from arrest, for although not legally a sanctuary, it was as chancy to cop a man here on a capias as to put one's naked hand into a bag full of rats.
I dined this day at a sixpenny ordinary in the New Exchange, and after that asked my way to the Savoy, which I found to be close by. So I walked down to the old Tower, and passed the time of day to the Sergeant of the Guard, who was for having me empty a can of ale with him on the spot, but I would not then, and concealed my intention, being minded to defer the execution of it till sunset. I don't know what Vain and Foolish Hope possessed me that something might yet turn up which might save me from the sad necessity of listing for a soldier, to the which vocation, mindful of my early experiences among the Blacks in Charlwood Chase, I entertained a very sincere Abhorrence. So I wandered up and down the Streets, asking from time to time where I was, and being (as is usual with the People of England in their intercourse with strangers) cursed or laughed at for a fool or a bumpkin. Half a dozen times I felt that some rogue was trying my pocket; but I knew I had no money to be robbed of, and kept my kerchief in my hat; only the bare endeavour made me mad, and the next time one of my gentleman nick-skins made a dive into my pouch, I turned round and hit him a crack over the head with a short knobbed-stick I carried, which, I warrant, made him repent of his Temerity.
I had gotten into St. James's Park about four o'clock in the afternoon, and was walking very moodily by the side of the long water trench called Rosamond's Pond, when at once a desire seized hold of me to behold the Tower of London. Whether in my fantastic Imagination I deemed that I might find Tower Hill paved with gold, or pick up some Profitable Acquaintance there, it is fruitless as this distance of time to inquire. But I must needs see the Tower, and was as eager for a view of that famous Fortress as though I had been the veriest holiday-making and sight-seeing Country Cousin. I made my way into the Birdcage walk, and so through Palace-yard down to the stairs at the foot of where they were driving the first piles of that great structure which is now called Westminster Bridge. Here a Waterman agreed to take me to the Tower stairs for a shilling, which was not above thrice his legal fare, but yokels and simpletons are common prey in this great village of London. I observed more than once as he rowed me down stream that we were followed by a heavy wherry, manned by stout, smart fellows in frocks of blue duck, who kept stroke remarkably well together, and whose coxswain eyed me very narrowly. As we were shooting one of the narrow arches of London Bridge—(then covered with shops and houses, with barbicans, and traitors' heads spiked upon 'em at each end, and I have heard old people say that many a time they have fished for perch and grayling standing on the starlings of the Bridge)—this wherry fouled our craft, and my waterman burst into a volley of horrible ribald abuse, till he who was coxswain among the blue-frocked gentry spake some words to him in a low voice, at which he touched his cap, and became quite Meek and Humble. I caught him eyeing me, quite as narrowly as the steersman of the wherry had done, and when I asked him what ailed him, he stuck his Tongue in his cheek and grinned audaciously.
"Who were those rough fellows in the wherry, yonder, that fouled us?" I asked.
"Bluebottles," says he, with another grin.
"What d'ye mean, fellow?" I continued.
"Well, fresh-water fishermen, if you like," he went on, "that bait their hooks with salt worms. Will you please pay me my fare now, Master, since I am a Fellow forsooth, and Murphy's Murrain to you?"
What Murphy's Murrain was—except some term of waterside sculduddrey I did not know—but I paid the knave his shilling, whereupon he very importunately craved another sixpence to drink my health, saying that it might be a very long time before he saw me again. Now I happened only to have one and fourpence left in the world, and suspecting that I had already overpaid him, I resisted further extortion, upon which he became more and more clamorous for money, and finding that I was as obstinate as he, rested on his oars and declared that, burn him—with many other execrations too unseemly to transcribe—he would not pull a stroke further. This it seems was by no means an uncommon occurrence among the dishonest waterside knaves of those days, and it afforded vast sport to a mob of small craft that gathered round, and the people in which covered me with ridicule and abuse, calling me a Thames Bilk, and advising the waterman to hold me over the side of the boat by the scruff of the neck and give me a Ducking. I was in a great Quandary, and knew not what to do.
Meanwhile the heavy wherry, which had kept close in our offing, pulled almost on board of us, and the coxswain hailed us to know what was the matter.
"Here's a Holiday Tailor that would seek to stump a poor waterman of his fare," quoth the false scoundrel who was striving to rob me.
"'Tis a base lie!" I cried out; "I gave him a shilling at Westminster stairs to row me to the Tower wharf."
"Fare's only fourpence. Shame! shame!" cried one part of the people in the small craft.
"He's a Bilk," yelled another part of 'em. "Duck him, Goodman Crabs, duck him."
"Stop," cries the coxswain of the wherry, standing up. "It is a shame. The poor fellow shan't be put upon. Here, young man, step on board this, and we'll land you at the Tower wharf for nothing; and here, waterman, take this shilling and be d—d to you, and sheer off before you can cry Poor John."
The wherry by this time had got so close on our quarter that, thanking the blue-frocked gentlemen for their politeness, I was able to step on board the wherry without any difficulty. My thief of a waterman took the shilling which was flung to him, and again sticking his tongue in his cheek, and grinning in a more unblushing manner than before, pulled away. The crowd in the small craft set up a cheer, that had more of derision than approbation in it, and I once more heard the cry of "Blue Bottles."
These Blue Bottles, however, were as good as their word, for five minutes afterwards I was landed safe and sound at the Tower wharf. I thanked them all very heartily; but, as I had not enough money to treat them all, made bold to confess the narrowness of my means to the coxswain, begging that he, at least, would do me the honour to take a mug of flip—which could be had, double allowance, for fourpence. He clapped me, in reply, on the shoulder in the most friendly manner, and said, roast him, that he would not see me put upon; that I was evidently a lad of mettle and spirit, and that I should go with him to the "Admiral Benbow," on Little Tower Hill, close by, where he would himself stand treat for as many mugs of flip or Punch as ever I liked.
He would take no denial to his hospitable proposal, so that I accompanied him to the "Admiral Benbow," a snuggish little hostelry, about which some half a score more stout fellows in blue frocks were lounging. But these I noticed had broad leather belts round their waists, in which were stuck pistols, and to which hung cutlasses.
When we had made ourselves comfortable in the little back parlour of the "Admiral Benbow" over a steaming jug and a Pipe of Tobacco, my companion began to ask me a few questions, to which, with the ingenuous candour of youth, I made full replies. I told him that I was a young man seeking my fortune, but had as yet come only on very scurvy luck; that I had spent all my money; that I had but recently come from foreign parts, and that, in despite of finding honest employment, I had made up my mind to list for a soldier that very night.
"Don't do that, boy?" cried my friend the coxswain. "Curse pipeclay and red blanketing, and the life of a swaddy. The sea, the blue glorious sea's the place for a bold heart like you."
I answered that I knew not enough of seamanship to take the place of an officer, and that I considered the condition of a common sailor as too base for one of my bringing up.
"Ay, ay! you shall be an officer in time, my hearty," answered the Coxswain—"Lord High Admiral, for a certainty; but you must creep through the hawse-holes first. There's nothing like half-a-dozen cruises before the mast for taking the conceit out of a maple-faced hobbledehoy."
Whether I was maple-faced or not, I did not stay to argue; but there was something about the mahogany face of the coxswain that misliked me much. Now that I inspected him closely I recognised in him something of that mangonising or slave-dealing expression which is burnt in as with a Red-hot Iron upon the countenances of all those whose trade is kidnapping and man-stealing. So without more ado I rose to go, thanking him for his treat, and saying that if I went to sea it should be at my own pleasure and in my own way.
"Stop abit," he answered, rising with me, and putting his back against the door—"not so fast, my hearty! King George doesn't allow likely young blades to slip through his fingers in this fashion. As you're in such a deuce of a hurry, I think we'd better see the Midshipmite."
I measured him with my eye, but at once gave up all thoughts of mastering him if I attempted violence in leaving the room. He was taller than I, broader across the chest, older, his limbs better knit, and in every way the more powerful. He too, I saw, was taking stock of me, and marking from my Frame and my Mien that, although young, I was likely to prove an Ugly Customer, he outs with a pistol from under his jerkin, and holds it to my head with one hand, while with the other he blows a smart call upon a silver whistle suspended by a lanyard round his neck.
In a moment the room was full of blue-frocked ruffians; a dozen pistols were levelled at my head, a dozen cutlasses drawn menacingly against me. Before I knew where I was I was tripped up, knocked down from behind, a gag forced into my mouth, and a pair of handcuffs slipped on to my wrists.
"No offence, shipmate," said a big fellow with black whiskers, as he knelt on my chest and screwed the manacles on so tightly that I gave a scream of pain. "We always begin in this here way—we crimps our cod before we cooks it. To-morrow morning, when you've had your grog, you'll be as gentle as a lamb, and after your first cruise you'll be as ready as ere a one of us to come cub-hunting."
Upon this there entered the room he whom the coxswain had spoken of as the Midshipmite, and who I rightly conjectured to be in authority over these dare-devils. He was a young man wearing his own hair, which was bright red. His face was all covered with pimples, and his mouth was harelipped from a sword cut. He had canvas bags and grey ribbed hose like a common sailor, but his hat was bound with a scrap of dirty gold lace; he had a hanger at his side, and on his threadbare blue coat I could see the King's button. Withal he was a very precise gentleman, and would listen to nothing but facts. He bade his men remove the gag from my mouth, and then addressed me.
"The fact of the matter is," says he, "that you've been kicking up a devil of a row, and that you'd much better have gone quietly with the coxswain."
"Why am I kidnapped? why have you put these footpad bracelets on me?" I cried out, passionately.
"The fact of the matter is that we always do it to save time and trouble," answered the Midshipmite—"Easy and quiet is the word at the 'Admiral Benbow.'"
"I'll have the law of you!" I exclaimed, in a rage.
"Exactly so," quoth the Midshipmite, quite politely. "May I ask if you're a free-man of the City of London?"
"I am not."
"Precisely so. Are you a waterman, duly entered at your Hall, and all arrears paid up, or an apprentice, carrying your indentures with you?"
"I am not, and I don't know what you mean."
"Then the fact of the matter is," said the Midshipmite, with a chuckle, "that we've got the law of you. The King, God bless him, wants stout and gallant hearts to man his fleet, and you're about the likeliest young fellow I've seen this week; so the best thing you can do is to go willingly on board the Tower Tender, of which I have the honour to be second in command. If you won't, the fact of the matter is that we must make you."
"But why should I go with you?" I urged.
"The fact of the matter is that you're Pressed," coolly answered the Midshipmite, or midshipman, "and if you want to see the warrant, you may ask Davy Jones for it, who keeps it under three seals in his locker to prevent accidents."
Between listing for a soldier and being pressed for a sailor there was not, I take it, much difference. Either way, the chance of a livelihood offered itself. But I did not like this violent way of doing things, and I told the midshipman so. He merely ordered his blue-frocks to take me away. Then I attempted to burst my bonds, and bit, kicked, and struggled, so that it took half-a-dozen men to drag me to the door.
"The fact of the matter is," remarked the midshipman, filling himself a glass of punch, "that there's always this hullabaloo at the first going off, and that you'd better give him One for peace and quietness."
Somebody immediately followed the officer's advice, and gave me One with the butt end of a pistol, which nearly clove my skull in twain, and certainly made me peaceable and quietness, for it stunned me.
CHAPTER THE EIGHTH.
JOHN DANGEROUS IS IN THE SERVICE OF KING GEORGE.
IT now becomes expedient for me to pass over no less than Fifteen Years of my momentous Career. I am led to do this for divers cogent Reasons, two of which I will forthwith lay before my Reader. For the first, let me urge a Decent Prudence. It is not, Goodness knows, that I have any thing to be ashamed of which should hinder me from giving a Full, True, and Particular Account of all the Adventures that befell me in these same fifteen Years, with the same Minute Particularity which I bestowed upon my Unhappy Childhood, my varied Youth, and stormy Adolescence. I did dwell, perhaps, with a fonder circumspection and more scrupulous niceness upon those early days, inasmuch as the things we have first known and suffered are always more vividly presented to our mind when we strive to recall 'em, sitting as old men in the ingle-nook, than are the events of complete manhood. Yet do I assure those who have been at the pains to scan the chapters that have gone before, that it would be easy for me to sit down with the Fidelity of a Ledger-Keeper all the things that happened unto me from my eighteenth year, when I last bade them leave, and the year 1747, when I had come to be three-and-thirty years of age. I remember all: the Ups and Downs; the Crosses and the Runs of Luck; the Fortunes and Misfortunes; the Good and the Bad Feasts I sat me down to, during an ever-changing and Troublous Period. But, as I have said, I have been moved thus to skip over a vast tract of time through Prudence. There may have been certain items in my life upon which, now that I am respectable and prosperous, I no more care to think of. There may be whole pages, close-written and full of Stirring Matter, which I have chosen to cancel; there may be occurrences treated of which it is best, at this time of Day, to draw a Veil over. Finally, there may be Great Personages still Living who would have just cause to be Offended were I to tell all I know. The dead belong to all the World, and their Bones are oft-times Dug up and made use of by those who in the Flesh knew them not; but Famous Persons live to a very Great Age, and it is sometimes scandalous to recount what adventures one has had with 'em in the days of their hot and rash Youth. Had I permission to publish all I am acquainted with, the very Hair upon your Head might stand up in Amazement at some of the Matters I could relate:—how Mean and Base the Great and Powerful might become; how utterly Despisable some of the most Superb and Arrogant Creatures of this our Commonwealth might appear. But I am prudent and Hold my Tongue.
Again, and for the Second Reason, I am led to pass over these fifteen years through a feeling that is akin to Mercy and Forbearance towards my Reader. For I well know how desperately given is John Dangerous to a wordy Garrulity—how prone he is to make much of little things, and to elevate to the dignity of Important and Commanding Events that which is perchance only of the very slightest moment. By Prosing and Amplifying, by Moralizing and Digressing, by spinning of yarns and wearing of reflections threadbare, I might make a Great Book out of the pettiest and most uneventful career; but even in honestly transcribing my actual adventures, one by one,—the things I have done, and the Men and Women I have known,—I should imperceptibly swell a Narrative, which was at first meant to attain no great volume, to most deplorable dimensions. And the World will no longer tolerate Huge Chronicles in Folio, whether they relate to History, to Love or Adventure, to Voyages and Travels, or even to Philosophy, Mechanics, or the Useful Arts. The world wants smart, dandy little volumes, as thin as a Herring, and just as Salt. For these two reasons, then, do I nerve myself to a sudden leap, and entreat you now to think no longer of John Dangerous as a raw youth of eighteen summers, but as a sturdy, well-set man of thirty-three.
Yet, lest mine Enemies and other vile Rascal Fellows that go about the town taking away the characters of honest people for mere Envy and Spitefulness' sake, lest these petty curmudgeons should, in their own sly saucy manner, Mop and Mow, and Grin and Whisper, that If I am silent as to Fifteen Years of my Sayings and Doings, I have good cause for holding my peace,—lest these scurril Slanderers should insinuate that during this time I lay in divers Gaols for offences which I dare not avow, that I was concerned in Desperate and Unlawful Enterprises which brought upon me many Indictments in the King's Courts, or that I was ever Pilloried, or held to Bail for contemptible misdemeanours,—I do here declare and affirm that for the whole of the time I so pass over I earned my bread in a perfectly Honest, Legal, and Honourable Manner, and that I never once went out of the limits of the United Kingdom. I have heard, indeed, a Ridiculous Tale setting forth that, finding myself Destitute in London after the Chaplain, Mr Pinchin, and I had parted company, and after escaping from the Pressgang, I enlisted in the Foot Guards. The preposterous Fable goes on to say that quickly mastering my Drill, and being a favourite with my officers, whom I much pleased with my Alacrity and Intelligence, although they were much given to laugh at my assumptions of superior Birth, and nicknamed me "Gentleman Jack,"—I was promoted to the rank of Corporal, and might have aspired to the dignity of a Sergeant's Halbert, but that in a Mad Frolic one night I betook myself to the road as a Footpad, and robbed a Gentleman, coming from the King's Arms, Kensington, towards the Weigh House at Knightsbridge, of fourteen spade guineas, a gold watch, and a bottle-screw. And that being taken by the Hue and Cry, and had before Justice de Veil then sitting at the Sun Tavern in Bow Street, I should have been committed to Newgate, tried, and most likely have swung for the robbery, but for the strong intercession of my Captain, who was a friend of the Gentleman robbed. That I was indeed enlarged, but was not suffered to go scot-free, inasmuch as, being tried by court-martial for absence without leave on the night of the gentleman's misfortune, I was sentenced to receive three hundred lashes at the halberts. Infamous and Absurd calumnies!
Behold me, then, in the beginning of the year 1747 in the Service of his Sacred Majesty King George the Second. Behold me, further, installed in no common Barrack, mean Guard-house, or paltry Garrison Town, but in one of the most famous of his Majesty's Royal Fortresses:—a place that had been at once and for centuries (ever since the days of Julius Caesar, as I am told) a Palace, a Citadel, and a Prison. In good sooth, I was one of the King's Warders, and the place where I was stationed was the Ancient and Honourable Tower of London.
Whether I had ever worn the King's uniform before, either in scarlet as a Soldier in his armies, or of blue and tarpaulin as a Sailor in his Fleets, or of brown as a Riding Officer in his customs,—under which guise a man may often have doughty encounters with smugglers that are trying to run their contraband cargoes, or to hide their goods in farmers' houses,—or of green, as a Keeper in one of the Royal Chases,—I absolutely refuse to say. Here I am, or rather here I was, a Warder and in the Tower.
I was bravely accoutred. A doublet of crimson cloth, with the crown, the Royal Cipher G. R., and a wreath of laurel embroidered in gold, both on its back and front; a linen ruff, well plaited, round my neck, sleeves puffed with black velvet, trunk-hose of scarlet, rosettes in my slashed shoes, and a flat hat with a border of the red and white roses of York and Lancaster in satin ribbon,—these made up my costume. There were forty of us in the Tower, mounting guard with drawn swords at the portcullis gate and at the entrances to the lodgings of such as were in hold, and otherwise attending upon unfortunate noblemen and gentlemen who were in trouble. On state occasions, when taking prisoners by water from the Tower to Westminster, and in preceding the Lieutenant to the outward port, we carried Halberts or Partisans with tassels of gold and crimson thread. But although our dress was identical, as you may see from the prints, with that of the Beef-Eaters, we Tower Warders were of a very different kidney to the lazy hangers-on about St. James's. Those fellows were Anybodies, Parasites of Back-Stairs favourites, and spies and lacqueys, transformed serving-men, butlers past drawing corks, grooms and porters, even. They had nothing to do but loiter about the antechambers and staircases of St. James's, to walk by the side of his Majesty's coach when he went to the Houses of Parliament, or to fight with the Marshalmen at Royal Funerals for petty spoils of wax-candles or shreds of black hangings. The knaves actually wore wigs, and powdered them, as though they had been so many danglers on the Mall. They passed their time, when not in requisition about the Court, smoking and card-playing in the taverns and mug-houses about Scotland Yard and Spring Gardens. They had the run of a few servant-wenches belonging to great people, but we did not envy them their sweethearts. Some of them, I verily believe, were sunk so low as, when they were not masquerading at court, to become tavern-drawers, or ushers and cryers in the courts of law about Westminster. A very mean people were these Beef-eaters, and they toiled not, neither did they spin, for the collops they ate.
But we brave boys of the Tower earned both our Beef and our Bread, and the abundant Beer and Strong Waters with which we washed our victuals down. We were military men, almost all. Some of us had fought at Blenheim or Ramilies—these were the veterans: the very juniors had made the French Maison du Roy scamper, or else crossed bayonets with the Irish Brigade (a brave body of men, but deplorably criminal in carrying arms against a Gracious and Clement Prince) in some of those well-fought German Fields, in which His Royal Highness the Duke and my Lord George Sackville (since Germaine, and my very good friend and Patron) covered themselves with immortal glory. Nay some of us, One of us at least, had fought and bled, to the amazement of his comrades and the admiration of his commanders,—never mind where. 'Tis not the luck of every soldier to have had his hand wrung by the Great Duke of Cumberland, or to have been presented with ten guineas to drink his health withal by Field-Marshal Wade. We would have thought it vile poltroonery and macaronism to have worn wigs—to say nothing of powder—unless, indeed, the peruke was a true Malplaquet club or Dettingen scratch.
Our duties were no trifling ones, let me assure you. The Tower, as a place of military strength, was well looked after by the Regiment of Foot Guards and the Companies of Artillery that did garrison duties on its ramparts and the foot of its drawbridges; but to us was confided a charge much more onerous, and the custody of things much more precious. We had other matters to mind besides seeing that stray dogs did not venture on to the Tower Green, that dust did not get into the cannon's mouths, or that Grand Rounds received proper salutes. Was not the Imperial Crown of England in our keeping? Had we not to look after the Royal diadem, the orb, the sceptre, the Swords of Justice and of Mercy, and the great parcel-gilt Salt Cellar that is moulded in the likeness of the White Tower itself? Did it not behove us to keep up a constant care and watchfulness, lest among the curious strangers and country cousins who trudged to the Jewel House to see all that glittering and golden finery, and who gave us shillings to exhibit them, there might be lurking some Rogue as dishonest and as desperate as that Colonel Blood who so nearly succeeded in getting away with the crown and other valuables in King Charles the Second's time. Oh! I warrant you that we kept sharp eyes on the curious strangers and the country cousins, and allowed them not to go too near the grate behind which were those priceless baubles.
But another charge had we, I trow. Of all times had this famous fortress of the Tower of London been a place of hold for the King's prisoners. Felons, nor cutpurses, nor wantons suffered we indeed in our precincts, nor gave we the hospitality of dungeons to; but of state prisoners, noblemen and gentlemen in durance for High Treason, or for other offences against the Royal State and Prerogative, had we always a plentiful store. Some of the greatest Barons—the proudest names in England—have pined their lives away within the Tower's inexorable walls. Walls! why there were little dungeons and casemates built in the very thickness of those huge mural stones. In ancient days I have heard that foul deeds were common in the fortress—that princes were done to Death here—notably the two poor Royal infants that the wicked Richard of Gloucester bid his hell-hounds smother and bury at the foot of the stairs in that building which has ever since gone by the name of the Bloody Tower. So, too, I am afraid it is a true bill that Torture was in the bad old days indiscriminately used towards both gentle and simple in some gloomy underground places in this said Tower. I have heard of a Sworn Tormentor and his assistants, whose fiendish task it was to torture poor creatures' souls out of their miserable bodies, and of a Chirurgeon who had to watch lest the agonies used upon 'em should be too much for human endurance, and so, putting 'em out of their misery, rob the headsman of his due, the scaffold of its prey, and the vile mobile that congregate at public executions of their raree show. Of "Scavenger's Daughters," Backs, Thumbscrews, iron boots, and wedges, and other horrible engines of pain, I have heard many dismal tales told; but all had long fallen into disuse before my time. The last persons tortured within the Tower walls were, I believe, Colonel Faux (Guido) and his confederates, for their most abominable Gunpowder Plot, which was to put an end to the Protestant Religion and the illustrious House of Stuart at one fell blow; but happily came to nothing, through the prudence of my Lord Monteagle, and the well-nigh superhuman sagacity of his Majesty King James the First. Guy and his accomplices they tortured horribly; and did not even give 'em the honour of being beheaded on Tower Hall,—they being sent away as common traitors to Old Palace Yard (close to the scene of their desperately meditated but fortunately abortive crime), and there half-hanged, cut down while yet warm, disembowelled, their Hearts and Inwards taken out and burnt by Gregory (that was hangman then, and that, as Gregory Brandon, had a coat-of-arms given him as a gentleman, through a fraud practised upon Garter King), and their mangled bodies—their heads severed—cut into quarters, well coated with pitch, and stuck upon spikes over London Bridge, east Portcullis, Ludgate, Temple Bar, and other places of public resort, according to the then bloody-minded custom, and the statute in that case made and provided. But after Colonel Guido Faux, Back, Thumbscrews, boots, and wedges, and Scavenger's daughters fell into a decline, from which, thank God, they have never, in this fair realm of England, recovered. I question even if the Jesuit Garnett and his fellows, albeit most barbarously executed, were tortured in prison; but it is certain that when Felton killed the Duke of Bucks at Portsmouth, and was taken red-handed, the Courtiers, Parasites, and other cruel persons that were about the King, would fain have had him racked; but the public,—which by this time had begun to inquire pretty sharply about Things of State,—cried out that Felton should not be tormented (their not loving the Duke of Bucks too much may have been one reason for their wishing some degree of leniency to be shown to the assassin), and the opinion of the Judges being taken, those learned Persons, in full court of King's Bench assembled, decided that Torture was contrary to the Law of England, and could not legally be used upon any of the King's subjects howsoever guilty he might have been.
But I confess that when I first took up service as a Tower Warder, and gazed upon those horrible implements of Man's cruelty and hard-heartedness collected in the Armoury, I imagined with dismay that, all rusty as they had grown, there might be occasions for them to be used upon the persons of unfortunate captives. For I had lived much abroad, and knew what devilish freaks were often indulged in by arbitrary and unrestrained power. But my comrades soon put my mind at ease, and pointed out to me that few, very few, of these instruments of Anguish were of English use or origin at all; but that the great majority of these wicked things were from among the spoils of the Great Armada, when the proud Spaniards, designing to invade this free and happy country with their monstrous Flotilla of Caravels and Galleons, provided numerous tools of Torture for despitefully using the Heretics (as they called them) who would not obey the unrighteous mandates of a foreign despot, or submit to the domination (usurped) of the Bishop of Rome. And so tender indeed of the bodies of the King's prisoners had the Tower authorities become, that the underground dungeons were now never used, commodious apartments being provided for the noblemen and gentlemen in hold: and a pretty penny they had to pay for their accommodation; five guineas a day, besides warder and gentlemen gaolers' fees, being the ordinary charge for a nobleman, and half that sum for a knight and private esquire. Besides this, the Lieutenant of the Tower had a gratuity of thirty pounds from every peer that came into his custody, and twenty pounds for every gentleman writing himself Armiger, and in default could seize upon their cloaks: whence arose a merry saying—"best go to the Tower like a peeled carrot than come forth like one."
There were even no chains used in this state prison; of fetters and manacles we had indeed a plenitude, all of an antique pattern and covered with rust; but no irons such as are put upon their prisoners by vulgar gaolers in Newgate and elsewhere. I have heard say, that when poor Counsellor Layer, that was afterwards hanged, drawn, and quartered as a Jacobite, and his head stuck atop of Temple Bar hard by his own chambers,—was first brought for safer custody to the Tower, breakings out of Newgate having been common, the Government sent down word that, as a deep-dyed conspirator and desperate rebel, he was to be double-ironed. Upon this Mr. Lieutenant flies into a mighty heat, and taking boat to Whitehall, waits on Mr. Secretary at the Cockpit, and tells him plainly that such an indignity towards his Majesty's prisoners in the Tower was never heard of, that no such base modes of coercion as chains or bilboes had ever been known in use since the reign of King Charles I., and that the King's warders were there to see that the prisoners did not attempt Evasion. To which Mr. Secretary answered, with a grim smile, that notwithstanding all the keenness of the watch and ward, he had often heard of prisoners escaping from durance in the Tower, notably mentioning the case of my Lord Nithesdale, who escaped in his lady's clothes, and without more ado informed the Lieutenant that Counsellor Layer must be chained as directed, even if the chains had to be forged expressly for him. Upon which Mr. Lieutenant took a very surly leave of the Great Man, cursing him as he comes down the steps for a Thief-catcher and Tyburn purveyor, and sped him to Newgate, where he borrowed a set of double-irons from the Peachum or Lockit, or whatever the fellow's name it was that kept that Den of Thieves. And even then, when they had gotten the chains to the Tower, none of the warders knew how to put them on, or cared to sully their fingers with such hangman's work; and so they were fain to have a blacksmith with his anvil, and a couple of turnkeys down from Newgate, to rivet the chains upon the poor gentleman's limbs; he being at the time half dead of a Strangury; but so cruel was justice in those days.
When I first came to the Tower, we had but few prisoners; for it was before the Great Rebellion of the 'Forty-five; and for a few years previous the times had been after a manner quiet. Now and then some notorious Jacobite, Seminarist, or seditious person was taken up; but he was rarely of sufficient importance to be confined in our illustrious Prison; and was either had to Newgate, or else incarcerated in the lodgings of a King's Messenger till his examinations were over, and he was either committed or Enlarged. These Messengers kept, in those days, a kind of Sponging Houses for High Treason, where Gentlemen Traitors who were not in very great peril lived, as it were, at an ordinary, and paid much dearer for their meat and lodging than though they had been at some bailiffs lock-up in Cursitor Street, or Tooke's Court, or at the Pied Bull in the Borough. We had, it is true, for a long time a Romanist Bishop that was suspected of being in correspondence with St. Germain's, and lay for a long time under detention. He was a merry old soul, and most learned man; would dine very gaily with Mr. Lieutenant, or his deputy, or the Fort Major, swig his bottle of claret, and play a game of tric-trac afterwards; and it was something laughable to watch the quiet cunning way in which he would seek to Convert us Warders who had the guarding of him to the Romanist faith. They let him out at last upon something they called a Nolle prosequi of the Attorney-General, or some suchlike dignitary of the law—which nolle prosequi I take to be a kind of habeas corpus for gentlefolks. He was as liberal to us when he departed as his means would allow; for I believe that save his cassock, his breviary, a gold cross round his neck, and episcopal ring, and a portmantel full of linen, the old gentleman had neither goods nor chattels in the wide world: indeed, we heard that the Lieutenant lent him, on leaving, a score of gold pieces, for friendship-sake, to distribute among us. But he went away—to foreign parts, I infer—with flying colours; for every body loved the old Bishop, all Romanist and suspected Jacobite as he was.
Then came that dreadful era of rebellion of which I have spoken, and we Tower Warders found that our holiday time was over. Whilst the war still raged in Scotland, scarcely a day passed without some person of consequence being brought either by water to Traitor's Gate, or by a strong escort of Horse and Foot to the Tower Postern; not for active participation in the Rebellion, but as a measure of safety, and to prevent worse harm being done. And many persons of consequence, trust me, saved their heads by being laid by the heels for a little time while the hue and cry was afoot, and Habeas Corpus suspended. Fast bind, safe find, is a true proverb; and you may thank your stars, even if your enemies have for a time bound you with chains and with links of iron, if, when the stormy season has gone past, you find your head still safe on your shoulders. Now it was a great Lord who was brought to the Tower, and from whom Mr. Lieutenant did not forget to claim his thirty-pound fee on entrance; for "here to-day, gone to-morrow," he reasoned, and so shot his game as soon as he had good parview of the same. Now it was some Cheshire or Lancashire Squire, snatched away from his Inn, at the Hercules' Pillars, or the Catherine Wheel in the Borough, as being vehemently suspected of Jacobitism. These gentlemen mostly took their captivity in a very cheerful and philosophical manner. They would call for a round of spiced beef, a tankard of ale, and a pipe of tobacco, so soon as ever they were fairly bestowed in their lodgings; drank to the King—taking care not to let us know whether his name began with a G or a J, with many jovial ha-has, and were as happy as the day was long, so it seemed to us, if they had but a pack of cards and a volume of the Gentleman's Recreation, or Academy of Field Sports. What bowls of punch, too, they would imbibe o' nights, and what mad carouses they would have! Such roaring Squires as these would have been much better bestowed in the Messengers' Houses; but these were all full, likewise the common gaols; nay, the debtors' prisons and vile sponging-houses were taken up by Government for the temporary incarceration of suspected persons.
How well do I remember the dreadful amazement and consternation which broke over this city when the news came that the Prince—I mean the Pretender—had utterly routed the King's troops commanded by Sir John Cope at Prestonpans; that the Misguided Young Man had entered Edinborough at the head of a furious mob of Highlandmen, whose preposterous style of dress I never could abide, and who in those days we Southrons held as being very little better than painted Savages; that the ladies of the Scottish capital had all mounted the white cockade, and were embroidering scarves for the Pretender and his officers, and that the Castle of Edinborough alone held out 'gainst this monstrous uprising to destroy authority! But how much greater was the Dismay in London when we learnt that the Rebels, not satisfied with their conquests in his Majesty's Scottish Dominions, had been so venturous as to invade England itself, and had actually advanced so far as the trading town of Derby! Then did those who had been long, albeit obscurely, suspected of Jacobitism, come forth from their lurking holes and corners, and almost openly avow their preference for the House of Stuart. Then did very many respectable persons, formerly thought to be excellently well affected towards King George's person and Government, become waverers, or prove themselves the Turncoats they had always, in secret, been, and seditiously prophesy that the days of the Hanoverian dynasty were numbered. Then did spies and traitors abound, together with numbers of alarming rumours, that the Chevalier had advanced as far as Barnet on the Great North Road; that his Majesty was about to convey himself away to Hanover; that the Duke of Cumberland was dead; that barrels of gunpowder had been discovered in the Crypt beneath Guildhall, and in the vaults of the Chapel Royal; that mutiny was rife among the troops; that the Bank of England was about to break, with sundry other distracting reports and noises.
Of course authority did all it could to reassure the public mind, tossed in a most tempestuous manner as it was by conflicting accounts. Authority bestirred itself to put down seditious meetings by proclamation, and to interdict residence in the capital to all known Papists; whereby several most estimable Catholic gentlemen (as many there be of that old Faith) were forced to leave their Town Houses, and betake themselves to mean and inconvenient dwellings in the country. The gates of Temple Bar were now shut, on sudden alarms, two or three times a week; as though the closing of these rotten portals could in any way impede the progress of rebellion, or do any thing more than further to hamper the already choked-up progress of the streets. The Lord Mayor was mighty busy calling out the Train-bands, and having them drilled in Moorfields, for the defence of the City; and a mighty fine show those citizen soldiers would have made no doubt to the bare-legged Highlandmen, had they come that way. The Guards at all the posts at the Court end of the town were doubled, and we at the Tower put ourselves into a perfect state of defence. Cannon were run out; matches kept lighted; whole battalions maintained under arms; munitions and provisions of war laid in, as though to withstand a regular siege; drawbridges pulled up and portcullises lowered, with great clanking of chains and gnashing of old iron teeth;—and rich sport it was to see those old rust-eaten engines once more brought into gear again.
But, as the Wise Man saith that a soft answer turneth away wrath, so do we often find that a merry word spoken in season will do more than all your Flaming Ordinances, and Terrific Denunciations of Fire and Sword. And although at this time (beginning of the year 1746) authority very properly exerted itself to procure obedience to the constitution, by instilling Awe into men's minds, and did breathe nothing in its official documents but heading, hanging, and quartering, with threats of bombardments, free quarters, drum-head courts-martial, chains, gags, fines, imprisonment, and sequestration,—yet I question whether so much good was done by these towards the stability of the cause of the Protestant Religion and King George, or so much harm to that of the Pretender, Popery, brass money, and wooden shoes, as by a little series of Pamphlets put forth by the witty Mr. Henry Fielding, a writer of plays and novels then much in vogue; but a sad loose fish, although he afterwards, as I am told, did good service to the State as one of the justices of peace for Middlesex, and helped to put down many notorious gangs of murderers, highwaymen, and footpads infesting the metropolis. This Mr. Fielding—whom his intimates used to call Harry, and whom I have often seen lounging in the Temple Gardens, or about the gaming-houses in St. James's Street, and whom I have often met, I grieve to say, in the very worst of company under the Piazzas in Covent Garden much overtaken in liquor, and his fine Lace clothes and curled periwig all besmirched and bewrayed after a carouse—took up the Hanoverian cause very hotly,—having perhaps weighty reasons for so doing—and, making the very best use of his natural gifts and natural weapons, namely, a very strong and caustic humour, with most keen and trenchant satire, did infinite harm to the Pretender's side by laughing at him and his adherents. He published, probably at the charges of authority,—for he was a needy gentleman, always in love, in liquor, or in debt,—a paper called the True Patriot, in which the Jacobites were most mercilessly treated. Notably do I recall a sort of sham diary or almanack, purporting to be written by an honest tradesman of the City during the predicted triumph of the Pretender, and in which such occurrences were noted down as London being at the mercy of Highlanders and Friars; Walbrook church and many others being razed to the ground; Father O'Blaze, a Dominican, exulting over it; Queen Anne's statue at Paul's taken away, and a large Crucifix erected in its place; the Bank, South-Sea, India Houses, &c. converted into convents; Father Macdagger, the Royal confessor, preaching at St. James's; three Anabaptists hung at Tyburn, attended by their ordinary, Mr. Machenly (a grotesque name for the ranting fellow who was wont to be known as Orator Henley); Father Poignardini, an Italian Jesuit, made Privy-Seal; four Heretics burnt in Smithfield; the French Ambassador made a Duke, with precedence; Cape Breton given back to the French, with Gibraltar and Port Mahon to the Spaniards; the Pope's nuncio entering London, and the Lord Mayor and Aldermen kissing his feet; an office opened in Drury Lane for the sale of papistical Pardons and Indulgences; with the like prophecies calculated to arouse the bigotry of the lower and middle orders, and to lash them into a religious as well as a political frenzy. For a cry of "No Popery" has ever acted upon a true-born Englishman as a red rag does on a bull. Perhaps the thing that went best down of all Mr. Fielding's drolleries, and tickled the taste of the town most amazingly, was the passage where he made his honest London tradesman enter in his diary to this effect: "My little boy Jacky taken ill of the itch. He had been on the parade with his godfather the day before to see the Life Guards, and had just touched one of their plaids." One of the King's Ministers said long afterwards that this passage touching the itch was worth two regiments of horse to the cause of Government. At this distance of time one doesn't see much wit in a scurrilous lampoon, of which the gist was to taunt one's neighbours with being afflicted with a disease of the skin: and, indeed, the lower ranks of English were, in those days, anything but free from similar ailments, and, in London at least, were in their persons and manners inconceivably filthy. But 'tis astonishing what a mark you can make with a coarse jest, if you only go far enough, and forswear justice and decency.
Strange but true is it to remark that, in the midst of all such tremendous convulsions as wars, battles, sieges, rebellions, and other martial conflagrations, men and women and children do eat and drink, and love and marry, and beget other babes of humanity, and at last Die and turn to dust, precisely as though the world—or rather the concerns of that gross Orb—were all going on in their ordinary jog-trot manner. Although from day to day we people in London knew not whether before the sun set the dreaded pibroch of the Highland Clans might not be heard at Charing Cross, and the barbarian rout of Caterans that formed the Prince,—I mean the Chevalier,—I mean the Pretender's Army, scattered all about the City, plundering our Chattels, and ravaging our fair English homes; although, for aught men knew, another month, nay another week, might see King George the Second toppled from his Throne, and King James the Third installed, with his Royal Highness Charles Edward Prince of Wales as Regent; although it was but a toss-up whether the Archbishop of Canterbury should not be ousted from Lambeth by a Popish Prelate, and the whole country reduced to Slavery and Bankruptcy;—yet to those who lived quiet lives, and kept civil tongues in their heads, all things went on pretty much as usual: and each day had its evil, and sufficient for the day was the evil thereof. That the Highlandmen were at Derby did not prevent the Hostess of the Stone Kitchen—that famous Tavern in the Tower—from bringing in one's reckoning and insisting on payment. That there was consternation at St. James's, with the King meditating flight and the Royal Family in tears and swooning, did not save the little schoolboy a whipping if he knew not his lesson at morning call. It will be so, I suppose, until the end of the world. We must needs eat and drink, and feel heat and cold, and marry or be given in marriage, whatsoever party prevail, and whatsoever King carries crown and sceptre; and however dreadful the crisis, we must have our Dinners, and fleas will bite us, and corns pinch our Feet. So while all the Public were talking about the Rebellion, all the world went nevertheless to the Playhouses, where they played loyal Pieces and sang "God save great George our King" every night; as also to Balls, Ridottos, Clubs, Masquerades, Drums, Routs, Concerts, and Pharaoh parties. They read Novels and flirted their fans, and powdered and patched themselves, and distended their coats with hoops, just as though there were no such persons in the world as the Duke of Cumberland and Charles Edward Stuart. And in like manner we Warders in the Tower, though ready for any martial emergency that might turn up, were by no means unnecessarily afeard or distraught with anxiety; but ate and drank our fill, joked the pretty girls who came to see the shows in the Tower, and trailed our halberts in our usual jovial devil-me-care manner, as true Cavaliers, Warders in the service of his Majesty the King, should do.
By and by came the news of Stirling and Falkirk, after the disastrous retreat of the Highlandmen back into England. And then happened that short but tremendous fight of Drummossie Moor, commonly called the Battle of Culloden, where claymores and Lochaber axes clashed and glinted for the last time against English broadswords and bayonets. After this was what was called the pacification of the Highlands, meaning that the Duke and his dragoons devastated all before them with fire and sword; and then "retributive justice" had its turn, and the work of the Tower Warders began in earnest.
Poor creatures! theirs was a hard fate. At Carlisle, at Manchester, at Tyburn, and at Kennington Common, London, how many unhappy persons suffered death in its most frightful form, to say nothing of the unspeakable ignominy of being dragged on a hurdle to the place of execution, and mangled in the most horrible manner by the Hangman's butcherly knife, merely because they held that King James, and not King George, was the rightful sovereign of these realms! Is there in all History—at least insomuch as it touches our sentiments and feelings—a more lamentable and pathetic narration than the story of Jemmy Dawson? This young man, Mr. James Dawson by name,—for by the endearing aggravative of Jemmy he is only known in Mr. William Shenstone's charming ballad (the gentleman that lived at the Leasowes, and writ the Schoolmistress, among other pleasing pieces, and spent so much money upon Ornamental Gardening),—this Mr. James Dawson, I say, was the son of highly reputable parents, dwelling, by some, 'tis said, in the county of Lancashire, by others, in the county of Middlesex. At all events, his father was a Gentleman of good estate, who strove hard to bring up his son in the ways of piety and virtue. But the youth was wild and froward, and would not listen to the sage Counsels that were continually given him. After the ordinary grammar-school education, during which course he much angered his teachers,—less by his reckless and disobedient conduct than by his perverse flinging away of his opportunities, and manifest ignoring of the parts with which he had been gifted by Heaven,—he was sent to the University of Oxford to complete the curriculum of studies necessary to make him a complete gentleman. And I have heard, indeed, that he was singularly endowed with the properties requisite for the making of that very rare animal:—that he was quick, ready, generous, warm-hearted, skilful, and accomplished,—that he rode, and drove, and shot, and fenced, and swam, and fished in that marvellously finished manner only possible to those who seem to have been destined by a capricious Fate to do so well that which they have never learned to do. And at college, who but Jemmy Dawson—who but he? For a wicked prank, or a mad carouse; for a trick to be played on a proctor, or a kiss to be taken by stealth,—who such a Master of Arts as our young Undergraduate? But at his lectures and chapels and repetitions he was (although always with a vast natural capacity) an inveterate Idler; and he did besides so continually violate and outrage the college rules and discipline, that his Superiors, after repeated admonitions, gatings, impositions, and rustications (which are a kind of temporary banishment), were at last fain solemnly to expel him from the University. Upon which his father discarded him from his house, vowing that he would leave his broad acres (which were not entailed) to his Nephew, and bidding him go to the Devil; whither he accordingly proceeded, but by a very leisurely and circuitous route. But the young Rogue had already made a more perilous journey than this, for he had fallen in Love with a young Madam of exceeding Beauty, and of large Fortune in her own right, the daughter of a neighbouring Baronet. And she, to her sorrow, poor soul, became as desperately enamoured of this young Scapegrace, and would have run away with him, I have no doubt, had he asked her, but for a spark of honour which still remained in that reckless Heart, and forbade his linking the young girl, all good and pure as she was, to so desperate a life as his. And so he went wandering for a time up and down the country, swaggering with his boon companions, and pawning his Father's credit in whatsoever inns and pothouses he came unto, until, in the beginning of that fatal year '46, he must needs find himself at Manchester without a Shilling in his pocket, or the means of raising one. It was then the time that the town of Manchester had been captured, in the Pretender's interest, by a Scots Sergeant and a Wench; and the notorious Colonel Towneley was about raising the Manchester Regiment of Lancashire Lads to fight for Prince Charlie. Desperate Jemmy Dawson enlisted under Towneley; and soon, being a young fellow of good figure and shining talents, was made a Captain. But the ill-fated Manchester Regiment was ere long broken up; and Jemmy Dawson, with Colonel Towneley himself, and many other of the officers, were captured. They were all tried at the Assizes held after the Assizes at St. Margaret's Hill, Southwark; and James Dawson, being convicted of high treason, was sentenced to the usual horrible punishment for that offence. He was drawn on a hurdle to Kennington Common; he was hanged, disembowelled, and quartered; but the young Madam of whom I have spoken was true to him unto the last. For many days following the sentence she vainly solicited his pardon; but finding all useless, she on the fatal morning (having trimmed a shroud for him overnight, in which, poor Soul, his mangled remains were not to rest) followed him in a Mourning Coach to Kennington Common. She saw the Dreadful Tragedy played out to its very last Act; and then she just turned on her Side in the Coach, and with a soft Murmur, breathing Jemmy's Name, she Died. Surely a story so piteous as this needs no comment. And by Heaven it is True!
CHAPTER THE NINTH.
REBELLION IS MADE AN END OF, AND AFTER SOME FURTHER SERVICE WITH HIS MAJESTY I GO INTO BUSINESS ON MY OWN ACCOUNT.
MEMORANDUM.—About a year before the Rebellion, as the Earl of Kilmarnock was one day walking in his Garden, he was suddenly alarmed with a fearful Shriek, which, while he was reflecting on with Astonishment, was soon after repeated. On this he went into the House, and inquired of his Lady and all the Servants, but could not discover from whom or whence the Cry proceeded; but missing his Lady's Woman, he was informed that she was gone into an Upper Room to inspect some Linen. Whereupon the Earl and his Lady went up and opened the Door, which was only latched. But no sooner did the Gentlewoman within set eyes on his Lordship's face than she fainted away. When, proper aid being given to her, she was brought to herself, they asked her the meaning of what they had heard and seen. She replied, that while she sat sewing some Linen she had taken up to mend, the Door opened of itself, and a Bloody Head entered the Room, and rolled upon the Floor; that this dreadful Sight had made her cry out, and then the Bloody Head disappeared; that in a few Moments she saw the same frightful Apparition again, on which she repeated her Shrieks; and at the third time she fainted away, but was just recovered when she saw his Lordship coming in, which had made the Impression on her they had been witness of.
This Relation given by the affrighted Gentlewoman was only laughed at and ridiculed as the Effect of Spleen-Vapours, or the Frenzy of a deluded Imagination, and was thought no more of, till one Night, when the Earl of Kilmarnock, sitting round a Bowl by the Winter Fire with my Lord Galloway,—and it is at such a Time that men are most prone to fall-to telling of Ghost Stories,—and their Lordships' conversation turning on Spectres and Apparitions, the vulgar notions of which they were deriding, the terrible tale of the Bloody Head was brought up, and then dismissed as the idle fancy of a Hoity-toity Tirewoman. But after Kilmarnock had engaged in the Rebellion, and Lord Galloway was told of it, he instantly recollected this Story, and said, "I will wager a dozen Magnums of Claret, and my best Silver-laced Justaucorps, that my Lord Kilmarnock will lose his Head."
Nobody took his bet, not daring thus to trifle with the lives of the Quality; but that Scots Lord lost his Head, notwithstanding; and I saw it cut off on Tower Hill in the latter summer of the year '46.
This story of the Bloody Head was common Talk among us Warders at the time,—who were full as superstitious as other Folks, you may be sure. Many such Legends are there, too, current of Persons who were to die Violent Deaths at the hands of the Public Executioner, being forewarned many years before of their Impending Fate. And sometimes hath the Monition come nearer to the Catastrophe, as in the case of K. C. the 1st, who, entering Westminster Hall at that Unnatural Assize presided over by Bradshaw, the Gold Head fell off his Walking-Staff, and rolled on the Pavement of the Hall among the Soldiers; nor, when it was restored to him, could any Efforts of his make it remain on. Also it is said of my Lord Derwentwater, that the last time he went a hunting in the north, before he joined the Old Chevalier of St. George, his whippers-in unearthed a litter of Fox-cubs, every one of which Vermin had been born without Heads. And as well authenticated is it, that when my Lord Balmerino (that suffered on Tower Hill with the Earl of Kilmarnock) was coming back condemned to Death from his Trial before his Peers at Westminster, his Lordship being of a merry, Epicurean temper, and caring no more for Death than a Sailor does for a wet Shirt, stopped the coach at a Fruiterer's at Charing Cross, where he must needs ask Mr. Lieutenant's Attendant to buy him some Honey-Blobbs, which is the Scottish name for ripe Gooseberries.