JAPHET, IN SEARCH OF A FATHER
BY CAPTAIN MARRYAT
LONDON J.M. DENT AND CO. BOSTON: LITTLE, BROWN AND CO.
CHAPTER I 1
CHAPTER II 7
CHAPTER III 14
CHAPTER IV 18
CHAPTER V 24
CHAPTER VI 29
CHAPTER VII 37
CHAPTER VIII 41
CHAPTER IX 47
CHAPTER X 53
CHAPTER XI 60
CHAPTER XII 67
CHAPTER XIII 73
CHAPTER XIV 79
CHAPTER XV 84
CHAPTER XVI 91
CHAPTER XVII 98
CHAPTER XVIII 104
CHAPTER XIX 110
CHAPTER XX 113
CHAPTER XXI 118
CHAPTER XXII 123
CHAPTER XXIII 130
CHAPTER XXIV 134
CHAPTER XXV 139
CHAPTER XXVI 144
CHAPTER XXVII 147
CHAPTER XXVIII 152
CHAPTER XXIX 156
CHAPTER XXX 160
CHAPTER XXXI 165
CHAPTER XXXII 169
CHAPTER XXXIII 173
CHAPTER XXXIV 176
CHAPTER XXXV 182
CHAPTER XXXVI 187
CHAPTER XXXVII 192
CHAPTER XXXVIII 196
CHAPTER XXXIX 201
CHAPTER XL 206
CHAPTER XLI 211
CHAPTER XLII 216
CHAPTER XLIII 220
CHAPTER XLIV 224
CHAPTER XLV 229
CHAPTER XLVI 234
CHAPTER XLVII 237
CHAPTER XLVIII 241
CHAPTER XLIX 247
CHAPTER L 251
CHAPTER LI 254
CHAPTER LII 259
CHAPTER LIII 265
CHAPTER LIV 268
CHAPTER LV 273
CHAPTER LVI 279
CHAPTER LVII 285
CHAPTER LVIII 290
CHAPTER LIX 294
CHAPTER LX 299
CHAPTER LXI 305
CHAPTER LXII 310
CHAPTER LXIII 314
CHAPTER LXIV 319
CHAPTER LXV 322
CHAPTER LXVI 327
CHAPTER LXVII 333
CHAPTER LXVIII 338
CHAPTER LXIX 344
CHAPTER LXX 349
CHAPTER LXXI 355
CHAPTER LXXII 362
CHAPTER LXXIII 259
CHAPTER LXXIV 378
CHAPTER LXXV 387
CHAPTER LXXVI 394
CHAPTER LXXVII 400
CHAPTER LXXVIII 408
CHAPTER LXXIX 414
In the Metropolitan Magazine, where this novel originally appeared (Sep. 1834-Jan. 1836), Marryat prepared his readers for its reception in the following words:—
"And having now completed 'Jacob Faithful,' we trust to the satisfaction of our readers, we will make a few remarks. We commenced writing on our own profession, and having completed four tales, novels, or whatever you may please to call them" (viz., Frank Mildmay, The King's Own, Newton Forster, Peter Simple), "in 'Jacob Faithful' we quitted the salt water for the fresh. From the wherry we shall now step on shore, and in our next number we shall introduce to our readers 'The Adventures of Japhet, in search of his Father.'"
The promise was faithfully kept, and Japhet, with all his varied experience, never went to sea. There were indeed few companies on land to which he did not penetrate. Reared in a foundling hospital, and apprenticed to a Smithfield apothecary, his good looks, impulsive self-confidence, and unbounded talent for lying, carried him with eclat through the professions of quack doctor, juggler, and mountebank, gentleman about town, tramp, and quaker: to emerge triumphantly at last as the only son of a wealthy Anglo-Indian general, or "Bengal tiger," as his friends preferred to call him.
Japhet's "adventures," of course, are shared by a faithful friend and ally, Timothy Oldmixon, the Sancho to his Quixote, originally an orphan pauper like himself, composed of two qualities—fun and affection. He encounters villains, lawyers, kind-hearted peers, "rooks" and "pigeons," gipsies, leaders of fashion, fair maidens—enough and to spare. In a word, Marryat here makes use of well-worn material, and uses it well. He has constructed a tale of private adventure on the old familiar lines, in which the local colour—acquired from other books—is admirably laid on, and the interest sustained to the end. The story is well told, enlivened by humour, and very respectably constructed.
The reader will find Japhet thoroughly exciting, and will have no difficulty in believing that, while it was running in the pages of the Metropolitan, "an American vessel meeting an English one in the broad Atlantic, instead of a demand for water or supplies, ran up the question to her mast-head, 'Has Japhet found his father yet?'"
Japhet, in search of a Father, is here re-printed, with a few corrections, from the first edition in 3 vols. Saunders & Otley, 1836. On page 360 a few words, enclosed in square brackets, have been inserted from the magazine version, as the abbreviated sentence, always hitherto reproduced from the first edition, is unintelligible.
* * * * *
Japhet, in Search of a Father
Like most other children, who should be my godfather is decided by Mammon—So precocious as to make some noise in the world and be hung a few days after I was born—Cut down in time and produce a scene of bloodshed—My early propensities fully developed by the choice of my profession
Those who may be pleased to honour these pages with a perusal, will not be detained with a long introductory history of my birth, parentage, and education. The very title implies that, at this period of my memoirs, I was ignorant of the two first; and it will be necessary for the due development of my narrative, that I allow them to remain in the same state of bliss; for in the perusal of a tale, as well as in the pilgrimage of life, ignorance of the future may truly be considered as the greatest source of happiness. The little that was known of me at this time I will however narrate as concisely, and as correctly, as I am able. It was on the—I really forget the date, and must rise from my chair, look for a key, open a closet, and then open an iron safe to hunt over a pile of papers—it will detain you too long—it will be sufficient to say that it was on a night—but whether the night was dark or moonlit, or rainy or foggy, or cloudy or fine, or starlight, I really cannot tell; but it is of no very great consequence. Well, it was on a night about the hour—there again I'm puzzled, it might have been ten, or eleven, or twelve, or between any of these hours; nay it might have been past midnight, and far advancing to the morning, for what I know to the contrary. The reader must excuse an infant of—there again I am at a nonplus; but we will assume of some days old—if, when wrapped up in flannel and in a covered basket, and, moreover, fast asleep at the time, he does not exactly observe the state of the weather, and the time by the church clock. I never before was aware of the great importance of dates in telling a story; but it is now too late to recover these facts, which have been swept away into oblivion by the broad wing of Time. I must therefore just tell the little I do know, trusting to the reader's good nature, and to blanks. It is as follows:—that, at the hour—of the night—the state of the weather being also—I, an infant of a certain age—was suspended by somebody or somebodies—at the knocker of the Foundling Hospital. Having made me fast, the said somebody or somebodies rang a peal upon the bell which made the old porter start up in so great a hurry, that, with the back of his hand he hit his better half a blow on the nose, occasioning a great suffusion of blood from that organ, and a still greater pouring forth of invectives from the organ immediately below it.
All this having been effected by the said peal on the bell, the said somebody or somebodies did incontinently take to their heels, and disappear long before the old porter could pull his legs through his nether garments and obey the rude summons. At last the old man swung open the gate, and the basket swung across his nose; he went in again for a knife and cut me down, for it was cruel to hang a baby of a few days old; carried me into the lodge, lighted a candle, and opened the basket. Thus did I metaphorically first come to light.
When he opened the basket I opened my eyes, and although I did not observe it, the old woman was standing at the table in very light attire, sponging her nose over a basin.
"Verily, a pretty babe with black eyes!" exclaimed the old man in a tremulous voice.
"Black eyes indeed," muttered the old woman. "I shall have two to-morrow."
"Beautiful black eyes indeed!" continued the old man.
"Terrible black eyes, for sartain," continued the old woman, as she sponged away.
"Poor thing, it must be cold," murmured the old porter.
"Warrant I catch my death a-cold," muttered the wife.
"But, dear me, here's a paper!" exclaimed the old man.
"Vinegar and brown paper," echoed the old woman.
"Addressed to the governors of the hospital," continued the porter.
"Apply to the dispenser of the hospital," continued his wife.
"And sealed," said he.
"Get it healed," said she.
"The linen is good; it must be the child of no poor people. Who knows?"—soliloquised the old man.
"My poor nose!" exclaimed the old woman.
"I must take it to the nurses, and the letter I will give to-morrow," said the old porter, winding up his portion of this double soliloquy, and tottering away with the basket and your humble servant across the courtyard.
"There, it will do now," said the old wife, wiping her face on a towel, and regaining her bed, in which she was soon joined by her husband, and they finished their nap without any further interruption during that night.
The next morning I was reported and examined, and the letter addressed to the governors was opened and read. It was laconic, but still, as most things laconic are, very much to the point.
"This child was born in wedlock—he is to be named Japhet. When circumstances permit, he will be reclaimed."
But there was a postscript by Abraham Newlands, Esq., promising to pay the bearer, on demand, the sum of fifty pounds. In plainer terms, there was a bank note to that amount inclosed in the letter. As in general, the parties who suspend children in baskets, have long before suspended cash payments, or, at all events, forget to suspend them with the baskets, my arrival created no little noise, to which I added my share, until I obtained a share of the breast of a young woman, who, like Charity, suckled two or three babies at one time.
We have preparatory schools all over the kingdom; for young gentlemen, from three to five years of age, under ladies, and from four to seven, under either, or both sexes, as it may happen; but the most preparatory of all preparatory schools, is certainly the Foundling Hospital, which takes in its pupils, if they are sent, from one to three days old, or even hours, if the parents are in such extreme anxiety about their education. Here it commences with their weaning, when they are instructed in the mystery of devouring pap; next, they are taught to walk—and as soon as they can walk—to sit still; to talk—and as soon as they can talk—to hold their tongues; thus are they instructed and passed on from one part of the establishment to another, until they finally are passed out of its gates, to get on in the world, with the advantages of some education, and the still further advantage of having no father or mother to provide for, or relatives to pester them with their necessities. It was so with me: I arrived at the age of fourteen, and notwithstanding the promise contained in the letter, it appeared that circumstances did not permit of my being reclaimed. But I had a great advantage over the other inmates of the hospital; the fifty pounds sent with me were not added to the funds of the establishment, but generously employed for my benefit by the governors, who were pleased with my conduct, and thought highly of my abilities. Instead of being bound 'prentice to a cordwainer or some other mechanic, by the influence of the governors, added to the fifty pounds and interest, as a premium, I was taken by an apothecary, who engaged to bring me up to the profession. And now, that I am out of the Foundling, we must not travel quite so fast.
The practitioner who thus took me by the hand was a Mr Phineas Cophagus, whose house was most conveniently situated for business, one side of the shop looking upon Smithfield Market, the other presenting a surface of glass to the principal street leading out of the same market. It was a corner house, but not in a corner. On each side of the shop were two gin establishments, and next to them were two public-houses and then two eating-houses, frequented by graziers, butchers, and drovers. Did the men drink so much as to quarrel in their cups, who was so handy to plaister up the broken heads as Mr Cophagus? Did a fat grazier eat himself into an apoplexy, how very convenient was the ready lancet of Mr Cophagus. Did a bull gore a man, Mr Cophagus appeared with his diachylon and lint. Did an ox frighten a lady, it was in the back parlour of Mr Cophagus that she was recovered from her syncope. Market days were a sure market to my master; and if an overdriven beast knocked down others, it only helped to set him on his legs. Our windows suffered occasionally; but whether it were broken heads, or broken limbs, or broken windows, they were well paid for. Every one suffered but Mr Phineas Cophagus, who never suffered a patient to escape him. The shop had the usual allowance of green, yellow, and blue bottles; and in hot weather, from our vicinity, we were visited by no small proportion of bluebottle flies. We had a white horse in one window, and a brown horse in the other, to announce to the drovers that we supplied horse-medicines. And we had all the patent medicines in the known world, even to the "all-sufficient medicine for mankind" of Mr Enouy; having which, I wondered, on my first arrival, why we troubled ourselves about any others. The shop was large, and at the back part there was a most capacious iron mortar, with a pestle to correspond. The first floor was tenanted by Mr Cophagus, who was a bachelor; the second floor was let; the others were appropriated to the housekeeper, and to those who formed the establishment. In this well-situated tenement, Mr Cophagus got on swimmingly. I will therefore, for the present, sink the shop, that my master may rise in the estimation of the reader, when I describe his person and his qualifications.
Mr Phineas Cophagus might have been about forty-five years of age when I first had the honour of an introduction to him in the receiving room of the Foundling Hospital. He was of the middle height, his face was thin, his nose very much hooked, his eyes small and peering, with a good-humoured twinkle in them, his mouth large, and drawn down at one corner. He was stout in his body, and carried a considerable protuberance before him, which he was in the habit of patting with his left hand very complacently; but although stout in his body, his legs were mere spindles, so that, in his appearance, he reminded you of some bird of the crane genus. Indeed, I may say, that his whole figure gave you just such an impression as an orange might do, had it taken to itself a couple of pieces of tobacco pipes as vehicles of locomotion. He was dressed in a black coat and waistcoat, white cravat and high collar to his shirt, blue cotton net pantaloons and Hessian boots, both fitting so tight, that it appeared as if he was proud of his spindle shanks. His hat was broad-brimmed and low, and he carried a stout black cane with a gold top in his right hand, almost always raising the gold top to his nose when he spoke, just as we see doctors represented at a consultation in the caricature prints. But if his figure was strange, his language and manners were still more so. He spoke, as some birds fly, in jerks, intermixing his words, for he never completed a whole sentence, with um—um—and ending it with "so on," leaving his hearers to supply the context from the heads of his discourse. Almost always in motion, he generally changed his position as soon as he had finished speaking, walking to any other part of the room, with his cane to his nose, and his head cocked on one side, with a self-sufficient tiptoe gait. When I was ushered into his presence, he was standing with two of the governors. "This is the lad," said one of them, "his name is Japhet."
"Japhet," replied Mr Cophagus; "um, scriptural—Shem, Ham, um—and so on. Boy reads?"
"Very well, and writes a very good hand. He is a very good boy, Mr Cophagus."
"Read—write—spell—good, and so on. Bring him up—rudiments—spatula—write labels—um—M.D. one of these days—make a man of him—and so on," said this strange personage, walking round and round me with his cane to his nose, and scrutinising my person with his twinkling eyes. I was dismissed after this examination and approval, and the next day, dressed in a plain suit of clothes, was delivered by the porter at the shop of Mr Phineas Cophagus, who was not at home when I arrived.
Like all Tyros, I find the rudiments of learning extremely difficult and laborious, but advance so rapidly than I can do without my Master.
A tall, fresh-coloured, but hectic looking young man, stood behind the counter, making up prescriptions, and a dirty lad, about thirteen years old, was standing near with his basket to deliver the medicines to the several addresses, as soon as they were ready. The young man behind the counter, whose name was Brookes, was within eighteen months of serving his time, when his friends intended to establish him on his own account, and this was the reason which induced Mr Cophagus to take me, that I might learn the business, and supply his place when he left. Mr Brookes was a very quiet, amiable person, kind to me and the other boy who carried out the medicines, and who had been taken by Mr Cophagus, for his food and raiment. The porter told Mr Brookes who I was, and left me. "Do you think that you will like to be an apothecary?" said Mr Brookes to me, with a benevolent smile.
"Yes; I do not see why I should not," replied I.
"Stop a moment," said the lad who was waiting with the basket, lookly archly at me, "you hav'n't got through your rudimans yet."
"Hold your tongue, Timothy," said Mr Brookes. "That you are not very fond of the rudiments, as Mr Cophagus calls them, is very clear. Now walk off as fast as you can with these medicines, sir—14, Spring Street; 16, Cleaver Street, as before; and then to John Street, 55, Mrs Smith's. Do you understand?"
"To be sure I do—can't I read? I reads all the directions, and all your Latin stuff into the bargain—all your summen dusses, horez, diez, cockly hairy. I mean to set up for myself one of these days."
"I'll knock you down one of these days, Mr Timothy, if you stay so long as you do, looking at the print shops; that you may depend upon."
"I keep up all my learning that way," replied Timothy, walking off with his load, turning his head round and laughing at me, as he quitted the shop. Mr Brookes smiled, but said nothing.
As Timothy went out, in came Mr Cophagus. "Heh! Japhet—I see," said he, putting up his cane, "nothing to do—bad—must work—um—and so on. Mr Brookes—boy learn rudiments—good—and so on." Hereupon Mr Cophagus took his cane from his nose, pointed to the large iron mortar, and then walked away into the back parlour. Mr Brookes understood his master, if I did not. He wiped out the mortar, threw in some drugs, and, showing me how to use the pestle, left me to my work. In half an hour I discovered why it was that Timothy had such an objection to what Mr Cophagus facetiously termed the rudiments of the profession. It was dreadful hard work for a boy; the perspiration ran down me in streams, and I could hardly lift my arms. When Mr Cophagus passed through the shop and looked at me, as I continued to thump away with the heavy iron pestle. "Good,"—said he, "by-and-bye—M.D.—and so on." I thought it was a very rough road to such preferment, and I stopped to take a little breath. "By-the-by—Japhet—Christian name—and so on—sirname—heh!"
"Mr Cophagus wishes to know your other name," said Mr Brookes, interpreting.
I have omitted to acquaint the reader that sirnames as well as Christian names, are always given to the children at the Foundling, and in consequence of the bank note found in my basket, I had been named after the celebrated personage whose signature it bore. "Newland is my other name, sir," replied I.
"Newland—heh!—very good name—every body likes to see that name—and have plenty of them in his pockets too—um—very comfortable—and so on," replied Mr Cophagus, leaving the shop.
I resumed my thumping occupation, when Timothy returned with his empty basket. He laughed when he saw me at work. "Well, how do you like the rudimans?—and so on—heh?" said he, mimicking Mr Cophagus.
"Not overmuch," replied I, wiping my face.
"That was my job before you came. I have been more than a year, and never have got out of those rudimans yet, and I suppose I never shall."
Mr Brookes, perceiving that I was tired, desired me to leave off, an order which I gladly obeyed, and I took my seat in a corner of the shop.
"There," said Timothy, laying down his basket; "no more work for me hanty prandium, is there, Mr Brookes?"
"No, Tim; but post prandium, you'll post off again."
Dinner being ready, and Mr Cophagus having returned, he and Mr Brookes went into the back parlour, leaving Timothy and me in the shop to announce customers. And I shall take this opportunity of introducing Mr Timothy more particularly, as he will play a very conspicuous part in this narrative. Timothy was short in stature for his age, but very strongly built. He had an oval face, with a very dark complexion, grey eyes flashing from under their long eyelashes, and eyebrows nearly meeting each other. He was marked with the small-pox, not so much as to disfigure him, but still it was very perceptible when near to him. His countenance was always lighted up with merriment; there was such a happy, devil-may-care expression in his face, that you liked him the first minute that you were in his company, and I was intimate with him immediately.
"I say, Japhet," said he, "where did you come from?"
"The Foundling," replied I.
"Then you have no friends or relations."
"If I have, I do not know where to find them," replied I, very gravely.
"Pooh! don't be grave upon it. I haven't any either. I was brought up by the parish, in the workhouse. I was found at the door of a gentleman's house, who sent me to the overseers—I was about a year old then. They call me a foundling, but I don't care what they call me, so long as they don't call me too late for dinner. Father and mother, whoever they were, when they ran away from me, didn't run away with my appetite. I wonder how long master means to play with his knife and fork. As for Mr Brookes, what he eats wouldn't physic a snipe. What's your other name, Japhet?"
"Newland—now you shall have mine in exchange: Timothy Oldmixon at your service. They christened me after the workhouse pump, which had 'Timothy Oldmixon fecit' on it; and the overseers thought it as good a name to give me as any other; so I was christened after the pump-maker with some of the pump water. As soon as I was big enough, they employed me to pump all the water for the use of the workhouse. I worked at my papa, as I called the pump, all day long. Few sons worked their father more, or disliked him so much: and now, Japhet, you see, from habit, I'm pumping you."
"You'll soon pump dry, then, for I've very little to tell you," replied I; "but, tell me, what sort of a person is our master?"
"He's just what you see him, never alters, hardly ever out of humour, and when he is, he is just as odd as ever. He very often threatens me, but I have never had a blow yet, although Mr Brookes has complained once or twice."
"But surely Mr Brookes is not cross?"
"No, he is a very good gentleman; but sometimes I carry on my rigs a little too far, I must say that. For as Mr Brookes says, people may die for want of the medicines, because I put down my basket to play. It's very true; but I can't give up 'peg in the ring' on that account. But then I only get a box of the ear from Mr Brookes, and that goes for nothing. Mr Cophagus shakes his stick, and says, 'Bad boy—big stick—um—won't forget—next time—and so on,'" continued Timothy, laughing; "and it is so on, to the end of the chapter."
By this time Mr Cophagus and his assistant had finished their dinner, and came into the shop. The former looked at me, put his stick to his nose, "Little boys—always hungry—um—like good dinner—roast beef—Yorkshire pudding—and so on," and he pointed with the stick to the back parlour. Timothy and I understood him very well this time: we went into the parlour, when the housekeeper sat down with us and helped us. She was a terribly cross, little old woman, but as honest as she was cross, which is all that I shall say in her favour. Timothy was no favourite, because he had such a good appetite; and it appeared that I was not very likely to stand well in her good opinion, for I also ate a great deal, and every extra mouthful I took I sank in her estimation, till I was nearly at the zero, where Timothy had long been for the same offence; but Mr Cophagus would not allow her to stint him, saying, "Little boys must eat—or won't grow—and so on."
I soon found out that we were not only well fed, but in every other point well treated, and I was very comfortable and happy. Mr Brookes instructed me in the art of labelling and tying up, and in a very short time I was very expert; and as Timothy predicted, the rudiments were once more handed over to him. Mr Cophagus supplied me with good clothes, but never gave me any pocket-money, and Timothy and I often lamented that we had not even a halfpenny to spend.
Before I had been many months in the shop Mr Brookes was able to leave when any exigence required his immediate attendance. I made up the pills, but he weighed out the quantities in the prescriptions; if, therefore, any one came in for medicines, I desired them to wait the return of Mr Brookes, who would be in very soon. One day, when Mr Brookes was out, and I was sitting behind the counter, Timothy sitting on it, and swinging his legs to and fro, both lamenting that we had no pocket-money, Timothy said, "Japhet, I've been puzzling my brains how we can get some money, and I've hit it at last; let you and I turn doctors; we won't send all the people away who come when Mr Brookes is out, but we'll physic them ourselves."
I jumped at the idea, and he had hardly proposed it, when an old woman came in, and addressing Timothy, said, "That she wanted something for her poor grandchild's sore throat."
"I don't mix up the medicines, ma'am," replied Timothy; "you must apply to that gentleman, Mr Newland, who is behind the counter—he understands what is good for every body's complaints."
"Bless his handsome face—and so young too! Why, be you a doctor, sir?"
"I should hope so," replied I; "what is it you require—a lotion, or an embrocation?"
"I don't understand those hard words, but I want some doctor's stuff."
"Very well, my good woman; I know what is proper," replied I, assuming an important air. "Here, Timothy, wash out this vial very clean."
"Yes, sir," replied Timothy, very respectfully.
I took one of the measures, and putting in a little green, a little blue, and a little white liquid from the medicine bottles generally used by Mr Brookes, filled it up with water, poured the mixture into the vial, corked, and labelled it, haustus statim sumendus, and handed it over the counter to the old woman.
"Is the poor child to take it, or is it to rub outside?" inquired the old woman.
"The directions are on the label;—but you don't read Latin?"
"Deary me, no! Latin! and do you understand Latin? What a nice clever boy!"
"I should not be a good doctor if I did not," replied I. On second thoughts, I considered it advisable and safer, that the application should be external, so I translated the label to her—Haustus, rub it in—statim, on the throat—sumendus, with the palm of the hand.
"Deary me! and does it mean all that? How much have I to pay, sir?"
"Embrocation is a very dear medicine, my good woman; it ought to be eighteen-pence, but as you are a poor woman, I shall only charge you nine-pence."
"I'm sure I thank you kindly," replied the old woman, putting down the money, and wishing me a good morning as she left the shop.
"Bravo!" cried Timothy, rubbing his hands; "it's halves, Japhet, is it not?"
"Yes," I replied; "but first we must be honest, and not cheat Mr Cophagus; the vial is sold, you know, for one penny, and I suppose the stuff I have taken is not worth a penny more. Now, if we put aside two-pence for Mr Cophagus, we don't cheat him, or steal his property; the other seven-pence is of course our own—being the profits of the profession."
"But how shall we account for receiving the two-pence?" said Timothy.
"Selling two vials instead of one: they are never reckoned, you know."
"That will do capitally," cried Timothy; "and now for halves." But this could not be managed until Timothy had run out and changed the sixpence; we then each had our three-pence halfpenny, and for once in our lives could say that we had money in our pockets.
I perform a wonderful cure upon St John Long's principle, having little or no principle of my own—I begin to puzzle my head with a problem; of all others most difficult to solve.
The success of our first attempt encouraged us to proceed; but afraid that I might do some mischief, I asked of Mr Brookes the nature and qualities of the various medicines, as he was mixing the prescriptions, that I might avoid taking any of those which were poisonous. Mr Brookes, pleased with my continual inquiries, gave me all the information I could desire, and thus I gained, not only a great deal of information, but also a great deal of credit with Mr Cophagus, to whom Mr Brookes had made known my diligence and thirst for knowledge.
"Good—very good," said Mr Cophagus; "fine boy—learns his business—M.D. one of these days—ride in his coach—um, and so on." Nevertheless, at my second attempt, I made an awkward mistake, which very nearly led to detection. An Irish labourer, more than half tipsy, came in one evening, and asked whether we had such a thing as was called "A poor man's plaister. By the powers, it will be a poor man's plaister when it belongs to me; but they tell me that it is a sure and sartain cure for the thumbago, as they call it, which I've at the small of my back, and which is a hinder to my mounting up the ladder; so as it's Saturday night, and I've just got the money, I'll buy the plaister first, and then try what a little whiskey inside will do, the devil's in it if it won't be driven out of me between the two."
We had not that plaister in the shop, but we had blister plaister, and Timothy, handing one to me, I proffered it to him. "And what may you be after asking for this same?" inquired he.
The blister plaisters were sold at a shilling each, when spread on paper, so I asked him eighteen-pence, that we might pocket the extra sixpence.
"By the powers, one would think that you had made a mistake, and handed me the rich man's plaister, instead of the poor one's. It's less whiskey I'll have to drink, anyhow; but here's the money, and the top of the morning to ye, seeing as how it's jist getting late."
Timothy and I laughed as we divided the sixpence. It appeared that after taking his allowance of whiskey, the poor fellow fixed the plaister on his back when he went to bed, and the next morning found himself in a condition not be envied. It was a week before we saw him again, and much to the horror of Timothy and myself, he walked into the shop when Mr Brookes was employed behind the counter. Timothy perceived him before he saw us, and pulling me behind the large mortar, we contrived to make our escape into the back parlour, the door of which we held ajar to hear what would take place.
"Murder and turf!" cried the man, "but that was the devil's own plaister that you gave me here for my back, and it left me as raw as a turnip, taking every bit of my skin off me entirely, foreby my lying in bed for a whole week, and losing my day's work."
"I really do not recollect supplying you with a plaister, my good man," replied Mr Brookes.
"Then by the piper that played before Moses, if you don't recollect it, I've an idea that I shall never forget it. Sure enough, it cured me, but wasn't I quite kilt before I was cured?"
"It must have been some other shop," observed Mr Brookes. "You have made a mistake."
"Devil a bit of a mistake, except in selling me the plaister. Didn't I get it of a lad in this same shop?"
"Nobody sells things out of this shop without my knowledge."
The Irishman was puzzled—he looked round the shop. "Well, then, if this a'n't the shop, it was own sister to it."
"Timothy," called Mr Brookes.
"And sure enough there was a Timothy in the other shop, for I heard the boy call the other by the name; however, it's no matter, if it took off the skin, it also took away the thumbago, so the morning to you, Mr Pottykarry."
When the Irishman departed, we made our appearance. "Japhet, did you sell a plaister to an Irishman?"
"Yes—don't you recollect, last Saturday? and I gave you the shilling."
"Very true; but what did he ask for?"
"He asked for a plaister, but he was very tipsy. I showed him a blister, and he took it;" and then I looked at Timothy and laughed.
"You must not play such tricks," said Mr Brookes. "I see what you have been about—it was a joke to you, but not to him."
Mr Brookes, who imagined we had sold it to the Irishman out of fun, then gave us a very severe lecture, and threatened to acquaint Mr Cophagus, if ever we played such tricks again. Thus the affair blew over, and it made me very careful; and, as every day I knew more about medicines, I was soon able to mix them, so as to be of service to those who applied, and before eighteen months had expired, I was trusted with the mixing up all the prescriptions. At the end of that period Mr Brookes left us, and I took the whole of his department upon myself, giving great satisfaction to Mr Cophagus.
And now that I have announced my promotion, it will perhaps be as well that I give the reader some idea of my personal appearance, upon which I have hitherto been silent. I was thin, between fifteen and sixteen years old, very tall for my age, and of my figure I had no reason to be ashamed; a large beaming eye, with a slightly aquiline nose, a high forehead, fair in complexion, but with very dark hair. I was always what may be termed a remarkably clean-looking boy, from the peculiarity of my skin and complexion; my teeth were small, but were transparent, and I had a very deep dimple in my chin. Like all embryo apothecaries, I carried in my appearance, if not the look of wisdom, most certainly that of self-sufficiency, which does equally well with the world in general. My forehead was smooth, and very white, and my dark locks were combed back systematically, and with a regularity that said, as plainly as hair could do, "The owner of this does everything by prescription, measurement, and rule." With my long fingers I folded up the little packets, with an air as thoughtful and imposing as that of a minister who has just presented a protocol as interminable as unintelligible: and the look of solemn sagacity with which I poured out the contents of one vial into the other, would have well become the king's physician, when he watched the "lord's anointed" in articulo mortis.
As I followed up my saturnine avocation, I generally had an open book on the counter beside me; not a marble-covered dirty volume, from the Minerva press, or a half-bound, half-guinea's worth of fashionable trash, but a good, honest, heavy-looking, wisdom-implying book, horribly stuffed with epithet of drug; a book in which Latin words were redundant, and here and there were to be observed the crabbed characters of Greek. Altogether, with my book and my look, I cut such a truly medical appearance, that even the most guarded would not have hesitated to allow me the sole conduct of a whitlow, from inflammation to suppuration, and from suppuration to cure, or have refused to have confided to me the entire suppression of a gumboil. Such were my personal qualifications at the time that I was raised to the important office of dispenser of, I may say, life and death.
It will not surprise the reader when I tell him that I was much noticed by those who came to consult, or talk with, Mr Cophagus. "A very fine looking lad that, Mr Cophagus," an acquaintance would say. "Where did you get him—who is his father?"
"Father!" Mr Cophagus would reply, when they had gained the back parlour, but I could overhear him, "father, um—can't tell—love—concealment—child born—foundling hospital—put out—and so on."
This was constantly occurring, and the constant occurrence made me often reflect upon my condition, which otherwise I might, from the happy and even tenor of my life, have forgotten. When I retired to my bed I would revolve in my mind all that I had gained from the governors of the hospital relative to myself.—The paper found in the basket had been given to me. I was born in wedlock—at least, so said that paper. The sum left with me also proved that my parents could not, at my birth, have been paupers. The very peculiar circumstances attending my case, only made me more anxious to know my parentage. I was now old enough to be aware of the value of birth, and I was also just entering the age of romance, and many were the strange and absurd reveries in which I indulged. At one time I would cherish the idea that I was of a noble, if not princely birth, and frame reasons for concealment. At others—but it is useless to repeat the absurdities and castle buildings which were generated in my brain from mystery. My airy fabrics would at last disappear, and leave me in all the misery of doubt and abandoned hope. Mr Cophagus, when the question was sometimes put to him, would say, "Good boy—very good boy—don't want a father." But he was wrong, I did want a father; and every day the want became more pressing, and I found myself continually repeating the question, "Who is my father?"
Very much puzzled with a new Patient, nevertheless take my degree at fifteen as an M.D.; and what is still more acceptable, I pocket the fees.
The departure of Mr Brookes, of course, rendered me more able to follow up with Timothy my little professional attempts to procure pocket-money; but independent of these pillages by the aid of pills, and making drafts upon our master's legitimate profits, by the assistance of draughts from his shop, accident shortly enabled me to raise the ways and means in a more rapid manner. But of this directly.
In the meantime I was fast gaining knowledge; every evening I read surgical and medical books, put into my hands by Mr Cophagus, who explained whenever I applied to him, and I soon obtained a very fair smattering of my profession. He also taught me how to bleed, by making me, in the first instance, puncture very scientifically, all the larger veins of a cabbage-leaf, until well satisfied with the delicacy of my hand, and the precision of my eye, he wound up his instructions by permitting me to breathe a vein in his own arm.
"Well," said Timothy, when he first saw me practising, "I have often heard it said, there's no getting blood out of a turnip; but it seems there is more chance with a cabbage. I tell you what, Japhet, you may try your hand upon me as much as you please, for two-pence a go."
I consented to this arrangement, and by dint of practising on Timothy over and over again, I became quite perfect. I should here observe, that my anxiety relative to my birth increased every day, and that in one of the books lent me by Mr Cophagus, there was a dissertation upon the human frame, sympathies, antipathies, and also on those features and peculiarities most likely to descend from one generation to another. It was there asserted, that the nose was the facial feature most likely to be transmitted from father to son. As I before have mentioned, my nose was rather aquiline; and after I had read this book, it was surprising with what eagerness I examined the faces of those whom I met; and if I saw a nose upon any man's face, at all resembling my own, I immediately would wonder and surmise whether that person could be my father. The constant dwelling upon the subject at last created a species of monomania, and a hundred times a day I would mutter to myself, "Who is my father?" indeed, the very bells, when they rung a peal, seemed, as in the case of Whittington, to chime the question, and at last I talked so much on the subject to Timothy, who was my Fidus Achates, and bosom friend, that I really believe, partial as he was to me, he wished my father at the devil.
Our shop was well appointed with all that glare and glitter with which we decorate the "house of call" of disease and death. Being situated in such a thoroughfare, passengers would stop to look in, and ragged-vested, and in other garments still more ragged, little boys would stand to stare at the variety of colours, and the 'pottecary gentleman, your humble servant, who presided over so many labelled-in-gold phalanxes which decorated the sides of the shop.
Among those who always stopped and gazed as she passed by, which was generally three or four times a day, was a well-dressed female, apparently about forty years of age, straight as an arrow, with an elasticity of step, and a decision in her manner of walking, which was almost masculine, although her form, notwithstanding that it was tall and thin, was extremely feminine and graceful. Sometimes she would fix her eyes upon me, and there was a wildness in her looks, which certainly gave a painful impression, and at the same time so fascinated me, that when I met her gaze, the paper which contained the powder remained unfolded, and the arm which was pouring out the liquid suspended.
She was often remarked by Timothy, as well as me; and we further observed, that her step was not equal throughout the day. In her latter peregrinations, towards the evening, her gait was more vigorous, but unequal, at the same time that her gaze was more stedfast. She usually passed the shop for the last time each day, about five o'clock in the afternoon.
One evening, after we had watched her past, as we supposed, to return no more till the ensuing morning, for this peeping in, on her part, had become an expected occurrence, and afforded much amusement to Timothy, who designated her as the "mad woman," to our great surprise, and to the alarm of Timothy, who sprang over the counter, and took a position by my side, she walked into the shop. Her eye appeared wild, as usual, but I could not make out that it was insanity. I recovered my self-possession, and desired Timothy to hand the lady a chair, begging to know in what way I could be useful. Timothy walked round by the end of the counter, pushed a chair near to her, and then made a hasty retreat to his former position. She declined the chair with a motion of her hand, in which there was much dignity, as well as grace, and placing upon the counter her hands, which were small and beautifully white, she bent forwards towards me, and said, in a sweet, low voice, which actually startled me by its depth of melody, "I am very ill."
My astonishment increased. Why, I know not, because the exceptions are certainly as many as the general rule, we always form an estimate of the voice before we hear it, from the outward appearance of the speaker; and when I looked up in her face, which was now exposed to the glare of the argand lamp, and witnessed the cadaverous, pale, chalky expression on it, and the crow's feet near the eyes, and wrinkles on her forehead, I should have sooner expected to have heard a burst of heavenly symphony from a thunder-cloud, than such music as issued from her parted lips.
"Good heavens, madam!" said I eagerly and respectfully, "allow me to send for Mr Cophagus."
"By no means," replied she. "I come to you. I am aware," continued she in an undertone, "that you dispense medicines, give advice, and receive money yourself."
I felt very much agitated, and the blush of detection mounted up to my forehead. Timothy, who heard what she said, showed his uneasiness in a variety of grotesque ways. He drew up his legs alternately, as if he were dancing on hot plates; he slapped his pockets, grinned, clenched his fists, ground his teeth, and bit his lips till he made the blood come. At last he sidled up to me, "She has been peeping and screwing those eyes of her's into this shop for something. It's all up with both of us, unless you can buy her off."
"I have, madam," said I, at last, "ventured to prescribe in some trivial cases, and, as you say, received money when my master is not here; but I am entrusted with the till."
"I know—I know—you need not fear me. You are too modest. What I would request is, that you would prescribe for me, as I have no great opinion of your master's talents."
"If you wish it, madam," said I, bowing respectfully.
"You have camphor julep ready made up, have you not?"
"Yes, madam," replied I.
"Then do me the favour to send the boy with a bottle to my house directly." I handed down the bottle, she paid for it, and putting it into Timothy's hands, desired him to take it to the direction which she gave him. Timothy put on his hat, cocked his eye at me, and left us alone.
"What is your name?" said she, in the same melodious voice.
"Japhet Newland, madam," replied I.
"Japhet—it is a good, a scriptural name," said the lady, musirg in half soliloquy. "Newland—that sounds of mammon."
"This mystery is unravelled," thought I, and I was right in my conjectures. "She is some fanatical methodist;" but I looked at her again, and her dress disclaimed the idea, for in it there was much taste displayed.
"Who gave you that name?" said she, after a pause.
The question was simple enough, but it stirred up a host of annoying recollections; but not wishing to make a confidant of her, I gently replied, as I used to do in the Foundling Hospital on Sunday morning—"My godfathers and godmothers in my baptism, ma'am."
"My dear sir, I am very ill," said she, after a pause, "will you feel my pulse?"
I touched a wrist, and looked at a hand that was worthy of being admired. What a pity, thought I, that she should be old, ugly, and half crazy!
"Do you not think that this pulse of mine exhibits considerable nervous excitement? I reckoned it this morning, it was at a hundred and twenty."
"It certainly beats quick," replied I, "but perhaps the camphor julep may prove beneficial."
"I thank you for your advice, Mr Newland," said she, laying down a guinea, "and if I am not better, I will call again, or send for you. Good-night."
She walked out of the shop, leaving me in no small astonishment. What could she mean? I was lost in reverie, when Timothy returned. The guinea remained on the counter.
"I met her going home," said he. "Bless me—a guinea—why, Japhet!" I recounted all that had passed. "Well, then, it has turned out well for us instead of ill, as I expected."
The us reminded me that we shared profits on these occasions, and I offered Timothy his half; but Tim, with all his espieglerie was not selfish, and he stoutly refused to take his share. He dubbed me an M.D., and said I had beat Mr Cophagus already, for he had never taken a physician's fee.
"I cannot understand it, Timothy," said I, after a few minutes' thought.
"I can," replied Timothy. "She has looked in at the window until she has fallen in love with your handsome face; that's it, depend upon it." As I could find no other cause, and Tim's opinion was backed by my own vanity, I imagined that such must be the case. "Yes, 'tis so," continued Timothy, "as the saying is, there's money bid for you."
"I wish that it had not been by so ill-favoured a person, at all events, Tim," replied I; "I cannot return her affection."
"Never mind that, so long as you don't return the money."
The next evening she made her appearance, bought, as before, a bottle of camphor julep—sent Timothy home with it, and asking my advice, paid me another guinea.
"Really, madam," said I, putting it back towards her, "I am not entitled to it."
"Yes, you are," replied she. "I know you have no friends, and I also know that you deserve them. You must purchase books, you must study, or you never will be a great man." She then sat down, entered into conversation, and I was struck with the fire and vigour of the remarks, which were uttered in such a melodious tone.
Her visits, during a month, were frequent, and every time did she press upon me a fee. Although not in love with her person, I certainly felt very grateful, and moreover was charmed with the superiority of her mind. We were now on the most friendly and confiding terms. One evening she said to me, "Japhet, we have now been friends some time. Can I trust you?"
"With your life, if it were necessary," replied I.
"I believe it," said she. "Then can you leave the shop and come to me to-morrow evening?"
"Yes, if you will send your maid for me, saying that you are not well."
"I will, at eight o'clock. Farewell, then, till to-morrow."
My vanity receives a desperate wound, but my heart remains unscathed—An anomaly in woman, one who despises beauty.
The next evening I left Timothy in charge, and repaired to her house; it was very respectable in outward appearance, as well as its furniture. I was not, however, shown up into the first floor, but into the room below.
"Miss Judd will come directly, sir," said a tall, meagre, puritanical-looking maid, shutting the door upon me. In a few minutes, during which my pulse beat quick (for I could not but expect some disclosure; whether it was to be one of love or murder, I hardly knew which), Miss Aramathea Judd, for such was her christian name, made her appearance, and sitting down on the sofa, requested me to take a seat by her.
"Mr Newland," said she, "I wish to—and I think I can entrust you with a secret most important to me. Why I am obliged to do it, you will perfectly comprehend when you have heard my story. Tell me, are you attached to me?"
This was a home question to a forward lad of sixteen. I took her by the hand, and when I looked down on it, I felt as if I was. I looked up into her face, and felt that I was not. And, as I now was close to her, I perceived that she must have some aromatic drug in her mouth, as it smelt strongly—this gave me the supposition that the breath which drew such melodious tones, was not equally sweet, and I felt a certain increased degree of disgust.
"I am very grateful, Miss Judd," replied I; "I hope I shall prove that I am attached when you confide in me."
"Swear then, by all that's sacred, you will not reveal what I do confide."
"By all that's sacred I will not," replied I, kissing her hand with more fervour than I expected from myself.
"Do me then the favour to excuse me one minute."
She left the room, and in a very short time, there returned, in the same dress, and, in every other point the same person, but with a young and lively face of not more, apparently, than twenty-two or twenty-three years old. I started as if I had seen an apparation. "Yes," said she, smiling, "you now see Aramathea Judd without disguise; and you are the first who has seen that face for more than two years. Before I proceed further, again I say, may I trust you—swear!"
"I do swear," replied I, and took her hand for the book, which this time I kissed with pleasure, over and over again. Like a young jackass as I was, I still retained her hand, throwing as much persuasion as I possibly could in my eyes. In fact, I did enough to have softened the hearts of three bonnet-makers. I began to feel most dreadfully in love, and thought of marriage, and making my fortune, and I don't know what; but all this was put an end to by one simple short sentence, delivered in a very decided but soft voice, "Japhet, don't be silly."
I was crushed, and all my hopes crushed with me. I dropped her hand, and sat like a fool.
"And now hear me. I am, as you must have already found out, an impostor; that is, I am what is called a religious adventuress—a new term, I grant, and perhaps only applicable to a very few. My aunt was considered, by a certain sect, to be a great prophetess, which I hardly need tell you, was all nonsense; nevertheless, there are hundreds who believed in her, and do so now. Brought up with my aunt, I soon found out what fools and dupes may be made of mankind by taking advantage of their credulity. She had her religious inspirations, her trances, and her convulsions, and I was always behind the scenes: she confided in me, and I may say that I was her only confidant. You cannot, therefore, wonder at my practising that deceit to which I have been brought up from almost my infancy. In person I am the exact counterpart of what my aunt was at my age, equally so in figure, although my figure is now disguised to resemble that of a woman of her age. I often had dressed myself in my aunt's clothes, put on her cap and front, and then the resemblance was very striking. My aunt fell sick and died, but she promised the disciples that she would re-appear to them, and they believed her. I did not. She was buried, and by many her return was anxiously expected. It occurred to me about a week afterwards that I might contrive to deceive them. I dressed in my aunt's clothes, I painted and disguised my face as you have seen, and the deception was complete, even to myself, as I surveyed my countenance in the glass. I boldly set off in the evening to the tabernacle, which I knew they still frequented—came into the midst of them, and they fell down and worshipped me as a prophetess risen from the dead; deceived, indeed, by my appearance, but still more deceived by their own credulity. For two years I have been omnipotent with them; but there is one difficulty which shakes the faith of the new converts, and new converts I must have, Japhet, as the old ones die, or I should not be able to fee my physician. It is this: by habit I can almost throw myself into a stupor or a convulsion, but to do that effectually, to be able to carry on the deception for so long a time, and to undergo the severe fatigue attending such violent exertion, it is necessary that I have recourse to stimulants—do you understand?"
"I do," replied I; "I have more than once thought you under the influence of them towards the evening. I'm afraid that you take more than is good for your health."
"Not more than I require for what I have to undergo to keep up the faith of my disciples; but there are many who waver, some who doubt, and I find that my movements are watched. I cannot trust the woman in this house. I think she is a spy set upon me, but I cannot remove her, as this house, and all which it contains, are not mine, but belong to the disciples in general. There is another woman, not far off, who is my rival; she calls me an impostor, and says that she is the true prophetess, and that I am not one. This will be rather difficult for her to prove," continued she, with a mocking smile. "Beset as I am, I require your assistance, for you must be aware that it is rather discreditable to a prophetess, who has risen from the dead, to be seen all day at the gin-shop, yet without stimulants now, I could not exist."
"And how can I assist you?"
"By sending me, as medicine, that which I dare no longer procure in any other way, and keeping the secret which I have imparted."
"I will do both with pleasure; but yet," said I, "is it not a pity, a thousand pities, that one so young—and if you will allow me to add, so lovely, should give herself up to ardent spirits? Why," continued I, taking her small white hand, "why should you carry on the deception; why sacrifice your health, and I may say your happiness—" What more I might have said I know not, probably it might have been an offer of marriage, but she cut me short.
"Why does everybody sacrifice their health, their happiness, their all, but for ambition and the love of power? It is true, as long as this little beauty lasts, I might be courted as a woman, but never should I be worshipped as—I may say—a god.—No, no, there is something too delightful in that adoration, something too pleasant in witnessing a crowd of fools stare, and men of three times my age, falling down and kissing the hem of my garment. This is, indeed, adoration! the delight arising from it is so great, that all other passions are crushed by it—it absorbs all other feelings, and has closed my heart even against love, Japhet. I could not, I would not debase myself, sink so low in my own estimation, as to allow so paltry a passion to have dominion over me; and, indeed, now that I am so wedded to stimulants, even if I were no longer a prophetess, it never could."
"But is not intoxication one of the most debasing of all habits?"
"I grant you, in itself, but with me and in my situation it is different. I fall to rise again, and higher. I cannot be what I am without I simulate—I cannot simulate without stimulants, therefore it is but a means to a great and glorious ambition."
I had more conversation with her before I left, but nothing appeared to move her resolution, and I left her lamenting, in the first place, that she had abjured love, because, notwithstanding the orris root, which she kept in her mouth to take away the smell of the spirits, I found myself very much taken with such beauty of person, combined with so much vigour of mind; and in the second, that one so young should carry on a system of deceit and self-destruction. When I rose to go away she put five guineas in my hand, to enable me to purchase what she required. "Add to this one small favour," said I, "Aramathea—allow me a kiss."
"A kiss," replied she, with scorn; "no, Japhet, look upon me, for it is the last time you will behold my youth; look upon me as a sepulchre, fair without but unsavoury and rottenness within. Let me do you a greater kindness, let me awaken your dormant energies, and plant that ambition in your soul, which may lead to all that is great and good—a better path and more worthy of a man than the one which I have partly chosen, and partly destiny has decided for me. Look upon me as your friend; although perhaps, you truly say, no friend unto myself. Farewell—remember that to-morrow you will send the medicine which I require."
I left her, and returned home: it was late. I went to bed, and having disclosed as much to Timothy as I could safely venture to do, I fell fast asleep, but her figure and her voice haunted me in my dreams. At one time, she appeared before me in her painted, enamelled face, and then the mask fell off, and I fell at her feet to worship her extreme beauty; then her beauty would vanish, and she would appear an image of loathsomeness and deformity, and I felt suffocated with the atmosphere impregnated with the smell of liquor. I would wake and compose myself again, glad to be rid of the horrid dream, but again would she appear, with a hydra's tail, like Sin in Milton's Paradise Lost, wind herself round me, her beautiful face gradually changing into that of a skeleton. I cried out with terror, and awoke to sleep no more, and effectually cured by my dream of the penchant which I felt towards Miss Aramathea Judd.
My prescriptions very effective and palatable, but I lose my patient—The feud equal to that of the Montagues and the Capulets—Results different—Mercutio comes off unhurt.
The next day I sent Timothy to purchase some highly rectified white brandy, which I coloured with a blue tincture, and added to it a small proportion of the essence of cinnamon, to disguise the smell; a dozen large vials, carefully tied up and sealed, were despatched to her abode. She now seldom called unless it was early in the morning; I made repeated visits to her house to receive money, but no longer to make love. One day I requested permission to be present at their meeting, and to this she gave immediate consent; indeed we were on the most intimate terms, and when she perceived that I no longer attempted to play the fool, I was permitted to remain for hours with her in conversation. She had, as she told me she intended, re-enamelled and painted her face, but knowing what beauty was concealed underneath, I no longer felt any disgust.
Timothy was very much pleased at his share of this arrangement, as he seldom brought her the medicine without pocketing half-a-crown.
For two or three months every thing went on very satisfactorily; but one evening, Timothy, who had been sent with the basket of vials for Miss Judd's assistance, returned in great consternation, informing me that the house was empty. He had inquired of the neighbours, and from the accounts given, which were very contradictory, it appeared that the rival prophetess had marched up at the head of her proselytes the evening before, had obtained entrance, and that a desperate contention had been the result. That the police had been called in, and all parties had been lodged in the watch-house; that the whole affair was being investigated by the magistrates, and that it was said that Miss Judd and all her coadjutors would be sent to the Penitentiary. This was quite enough to frighten two boys like us; for days afterwards we trembled when people came into the shop, expecting to be summoned and imprisoned. Gradually, however, our fears were dismissed, but I never from that time heard any thing more of Miss Aramathea Judd.
After this affair, I adhered steadily to my business, and profiting by the advice given me by that young person, improved rapidly in my profession, as well as in general knowledge; but my thoughts, as usual, were upon one subject—my parentage, and the mystery hanging over it. My eternal reveries became at last so painful, that I had recourse to reading to drive them away, and subscribing to a good circulating library, I was seldom without a book in my hand. By this time I had been nearly two years and a half with Mr Cophagus, when an adventure occurred which I must attempt to describe with all the dignity with which it ought to be invested.
This is a world of ambition, competition, and rivalry. Nation rivals nation, and flies to arms, cutting the throats of a few thousands on each side till one finds that it has the worst of it. Man rivals man, and hence detraction, duels, and individual death. Woman rivals woman, and hence loss of reputation and position in high, and loss of hair, and fighting with pattens in low, life. Are we then to be surprised that this universal passion, undeterred by the smell of drugs and poisonous compounds, should enter into apothecaries' shops? But two streets—two very short streets from our own—was situated the single-fronted shop of Mr Ebenezer Pleggit. Thank heaven, it was only single-fronted; there, at least, we had the ascendancy over them. Upon other points, our advantages were more equally balanced. Mr Pleggit had two large coloured bottles in his windows more than we had; but then we had two horses, and he had only one. He tied over the corks of his bottles with red-coloured paper; we covered up the lips of our vials with delicate blue. It certainly was the case—for though an enemy, I'll do him justice—that, after Mr Brookes had left us, Mr Pleggit had two shopmen, and Mr Cophagus only one; but then that one was Mr Japhet Newland; besides, one of his assistants had only one eye, and the other squinted horribly, so if we measured by eyes, I think the advantage was actually on our side; and, as far as ornament went, most decidedly; for who would not prefer putting on his chimney-piece one handsome, elegant vase, than two damaged, ill-looking pieces of crockery? Mr Pleggit had certainly a gilt mortar and pestle over his door, which Mr Cophagus had omitted when he furnished his shop; but then the mortar had a great crack down the middle, and the pestle had lost its knob. And let me ask those who have been accustomed to handle it, what is a pestle without a knob? On the whole, I think, with the advantage of having two fronts, like Janus, we certainly had the best of the comparison; but I shall leave the impartial to decide.
All I can say is, that the feuds of the rival houses were most bitter—the hate intense—the mutual scorn unmeasurable. Did Mr Ebenezer Pleggit meet Mr Phineas Cophagus in the street, the former immediately began to spit as if he had swallowed some of his own vile adulterated drugs; and in rejoinder, Mr Cophagus immediately raised the cane from his nose high above his forehead in so threatening an attitude as almost to warrant the other swearing the peace against him, muttering, "Ugly puppy—knows nothing—um—patients die—and so on."
It may be well supposed that this spirit of enmity extended through the lower branches of the rival houses—the assistants and I were at deadly feud; and this feud was even more deadly between the boys who carried out the medicines, and whose baskets might, in some measure, have been looked upon as the rival ensigns of the parties, they themselves occupying the dangerous and honourable post of standard bearers.
Timothy, although the kindest-hearted fellow in the world, was as good a hater as Dr Johnson himself could have wished to meet with; and when sometimes his basket was not so well filled as usual, he would fill up with empty bottles below, rather than that the credit of the house should be suspected, and his deficiencies create a smile of scorn in the mouth of his red-haired antagonist, when they happened to meet going their rounds. As yet, no actual collision had taken place between either the principals or the subordinates of the hostile factions; but it was fated that this state of quiescence should no longer remain.
Homer has sung the battles of gods, demigods, and heroes; Milton the strife of angels. Swift has been great in his Battle of the Books; but I am not aware that the battle of the vials has as yet been sung; and it requires a greater genius than was to be found in those who portrayed the conflicts of heroes, demigods, gods, angels, or books, to do adequate justice to the mortal strife which took place between the lotions, potions, draughts, pills, and embrocations. I must tell the story as well as I can, leaving it as an outline for a future epic.
Burning with all the hate which infuriated the breasts of the two houses of Capulet and Montague, hate each day increasing from years of "biting thumbs" at each other, and yet no excuse presenting itself for an affray, Timothy Oldmixon—for on such an occasion it would be a sin to omit his whole designation—Timothy Oldmixon, I say, burning with hate and eager with haste, turning a corner of the street with his basket well filled with medicines hanging on his left arm, encountered, equally eager in his haste, and equally burning in his hate, the red-haired Mercury of Mr Ebenezer Pleggit. Great was the concussion of the opposing baskets, dire was the crash of many of the vials, and dreadful was the mingled odour of the abominations which escaped, and poured through the wicker interstices. Two ladies from Billingsgate, who were near, indulging their rhetorical powers, stopped short. Two tom cats, who were on an adjacent roof, just fixing their eyes of enmity, and about to fix their claws, turned their eyes to the scene below. Two political antagonists stopped their noisy arguments. Two dustmen ceased to ring their bells; and two little urchins eating cherries from the crowns of their hats, lost sight of their fruit, and stood aghast with fear. They met, and met with such violence, that they each rebounded many paces; but like stalwart knights, each kept his basket and his feet. A few seconds to recover breath; one withering, fiery look from Timothy, returned by his antagonist, one flash of the memory in each to tell them that they each had the la on their side, and "Take that!" was roared by Timothy, planting a well-directed blow with his dexter and dexterous hand upon the sinister and sinisterous eye of his opponent. "Take that!" continued he, as his adversary reeled back; "take that, and be d——d to you, for running against a gentleman."
He of the rubicund hair had retreated, because so violent was the blow he could not help so doing, and we all must yield to fate. But it was not from fear. Seizing a vile potation that was labelled "to be taken immediately," and hurling it with demoniacal force right on the chops of the courageous Timothy, "Take that!" cried he, with a rancorous yell. This missile, well directed as the spears of Homer's heroes, came full upon the bridge of Timothy's nose, and the fragile glass shivering, inflicted divers wounds upon his physiognomy, and at the same time poured forth a dark burnt-sienna coloured balsam, to heal them, giving pain unutterable. Timothy, disdaining to lament the agony of his wounds, followed the example of his antagonist, and hastily seizing a similar bottle of much larger dimensions, threw it with such force that it split between the eyes of his opponent. Thus with these dreadful weapons did they commence the mortal strife.
The lovers of good order, or at least of fair play, gathered round the combatants, forming an almost impregnable ring, yet of sufficient dimensions to avoid the missiles. "Go it, red-head!" "Bravo! white apron!" resounded on every side. Draughts now met draughts in their passage through the circumambient air, and exploded like shells over a besieged town. Bolusses were fired with the precision of cannon shot, pill-boxes were thrown with such force that they burst like grape and canister, while acids and alkalies hissed, as they neutralised each other's power, with all the venom of expiring snakes, "Bravo! white apron!" "Red-head for ever!" resounded on every side as the conflict continued with unabated vigour. The ammunition was fast expending on both sides, when Mr Ebenezer Pleggit, hearing the noise, and perhaps smelling his own drugs, was so unfortunately rash and so unwisely foolhardy, as to break through the sacred ring, advancing from behind with uplifted cane to fell the redoubtable Timothy, when a mixture of his own, hurled by his own red-haired champion, caught him in his open mouth, breaking against his only two remaining front teeth, extracting them as the discharged liquid ran down his throat, and turning him as sick as a dog. He fell, was taken away on a shutter, and it was some days before he was again to be seen in his shop, dispensing those medicines which, on this fatal occasion, he would but too gladly have dispensed with.
Reader, have you not elsewhere read in the mortal fray between knights, when the casque has been beaten off, the shield lost, and the sword shivered, how they have resorted to closer and more deadly strife with their daggers raised on high? Thus it was with Timothy: his means had failed, and disdaining any longer to wage a distant combat, he closed vigorously with his panting enemy, overthrew him in the first struggle, seizing from his basket the only weapons which remained, one single vial, and one single box of pills. As he sat upon his prostrate foe, first he forced the box of pills into his gasping mouth, and then with the lower end of the vial he drove it down his throat, as a gunner rams home the wad and shot into a thirty-two pound carronade. Choked with the box, the fallen knight held up his hands for quarter; but Timothy continued until the end of the vial breaking out the top and bottom of the pasteboard receptacle, forty-and-eight of antibilious pills rolled in haste down Red-head's throat. Timothy then seized his basket, and amid the shouts of triumph, walked away. His fallen-crested adversary coughed up the remnants of the pasteboard, once more breathed, and was led disconsolate to the neighbouring pump; while Timothy regained our shop with his blushing honours thick upon him.
But I must drop the vein heroical. Mr Cophagus, who was at home when Timothy returned, was at first very much inclined to be wroth at the loss of so much medicine; but when he heard the story, and the finale, he was so pleased at Tim's double victory over Mr Pleggit and his messenger, that he actually put his hand in his pocket, and pulled out half-a-crown.
Mr Pleggit, on the contrary, was any thing but pleased; he went to a lawyer, and commenced an action for assault and battery, and all the neighbourhood did nothing but talk about the affray which had taken place, and the action at law which it was said would take place in the ensuing term.
But with the exception of this fracas, which ended in the action not holding good, whereby the animosity was increased, I have little to recount during the remainder of the time I served under Mr Cophagus. I had been more than three years with him when my confinement became insupportable. I had but one idea, which performed an everlasting cycle in my brain—Who was my father? And I should have abandoned the profession to search the world in the hope of finding my progenitor, had it not been that I was without the means. Latterly, I had hoarded up all I could collect; but the sum was small, much too small for the proposed expedition. I became melancholy, indifferent to the business, and slovenly in my appearance, when a circumstance occurred which put an end to my further dispensing medicines, and left me a free agent.
Looking out for business not exactly minding your own business—The loss of the scales occasions the loss of place to Timothy and me, who when weighed in other scales were found wanting—We bundle off with our bundles on.
It happened one market-day that there was an overdriven, infuriated beast, which was making sad havoc. Crowds of people were running past our shop in one direction, and the cries of "Mad bull!" were re-echoed in every quarter. Mr Cophagus, who was in the shop, and to whom, as I have before observed, a mad bull was a source of great profit, very naturally looked out of the shop to ascertain whether the animal was near to us. In most other countries, when people hear of any danger, they generally avoid it by increasing their distance; but in England, it is too often the case, that they are so fond of indulging their curiosity, that they run to the danger. Mr Cophagus, who perceived the people running one way, naturally supposed, not being aware of the extreme proximity of the animal, that the people were running to see what was the matter, and turned his eyes in that direction, walking out on the pavement that he might have a fairer view. He was just observing, "Can't say—fear—um—rascal Pleggit—close to him—get all the custom—wounds—contusions—and"—when the animal came suddenly round the corner upon Mr Cophagus, who had his eyes the other way, and before he could escape, tossed him through his own shop windows, and landed him on the counter. Not satisfied with this, the beast followed him into the shop. Timothy and I pulled Mr Cophagus over towards us, and he dropped inside the counter, where we also crouched, frightened out of our wits. To our great horror the bull made one or two attempts to leap the counter; but not succeeding, and being now attacked by the dogs and butcher boys, he charged at them through the door, carrying away our best scales on his horns as a trophy, as he galloped out of the shop in pursuit of his persecutors. When the shouts and hallooes were at some little distance, Timothy and I raised our heads and looked round us; and perceiving that all was safe, we proceeded to help Mr Cophagus, who remained on the floor bleeding, and in a state of insensibility. We carried him into the back parlour and laid him on the sofa. I desired Timothy to run for surgical aid as fast as he could, while I opened a vein; and in a few minutes he returned with our opponent, Mr Ebenezer Pleggit. We stripped Mr Cophagus, and proceeded to examine him. "Bad case this—very bad case indeed, Mr Newland—dislocation of the os humeri—severe contusion on the os frontis—and I'm very much afraid there is some intercostal injury. Very sorry, very sorry, indeed, for my brother Cophagus." But Mr Pleggit did not appear to be sorry; on the contrary, he appeared to perform his surgical duties with the greatest glee.
We reduced the dislocation, and then carried Mr Cophagus up to his bed. In an hour he was sensible, and Mr Pleggit took his departure, shaking hands with Mr Cophagus, and wishing him joy of his providential escape.
"Bad job, Japhet," said Mr Cophagus to me.
"Very bad indeed, sir; but it might have been worse."
"Worse—um—no, nothing worse—not possible."
"Why, sir, you might have been killed."
"Pooh!—didn't mean that—mean Pleggit—rascal—um—kill me if he can—sha'n't though—soon get rid of him—and so on."
"You will not require his further attendance now that your shoulder is reduced. I can very well attend upon you."
"Very true, Japhet;—but won't go—sure of that—damned rascal—quite pleased—I saw it—um—eyes twinkled—smile checked—and so on."
That evening Mr Pleggit called in as Mr Cophagus said that he would, and the latter showed a great deal of impatience; but Mr Pleggit repeated his visits over and over again, and I observed that Mr Cophagus no longer made any objection; on the contrary, seemed anxious for his coming, and still more so, after he was convalescent, and able to sit at his table. But the mystery was soon divulged. It appeared that Mr Cophagus, although he was very glad that other people should suffer from mad bulls, and come to be cured, viewed the case in a very different light when the bull thought proper to toss him, and having now realised a comfortable independence, he had resolved to retire from business, and from a site attended with so much danger. A hint of this escaping him when Mr Pleggit was attending him on the third day after his accident, the latter, who knew the value of the locale, also hinted that if Mr Cophagus was inclined so to do, that he would be most happy to enter into an arrangement with him. Self-interest will not only change friendship into enmity, in this rascally world, but also turn enmity into friendship. All Mr Pleggit's enormities, and all Mr Cophagus' shameful conduct, were mutually forgotten. In less than ten minutes it was, "My dear Mr Pleggit, and so on," and "My dear brother Cophagus."
In three weeks every thing had been arranged between them, and the shop, fixtures, stock in trade, and good will, were all the property of our ancient antagonist. But although Mr Pleggit could shake hands with Mr Cophagus for his fixtures and good will, yet as Timothy and I were not included in the good will, neither were we included among the fixtures, and Mr Cophagus could not, of course, interfere with Mr Pleggit's private arrangements. He did all he could do in the way of recommendation, but Mr Pleggit had not forgotten my occasional impertinences or the battle of the bottles. I really believe that his ill will against Timothy was one reason for purchasing the good will of Mr Cophagus, and we were very gently told by Mr Pleggit that he would have no occasion for our services.
Mr Cophagus offered to procure me another situation as soon as he could, and at the same time presented me with twenty guineas, as a proof of his regard and appreciation of my conduct—but this sum put in my hand decided me: I thanked him, and told him I had other views at present, but hoped he would let me know where I might find him hereafter, as I should be glad to see him again. He told me he would leave his address for me at the Foundling Hospital, and shaking me heartily by the hand, we parted. Timothy was then summoned. Mr Cophagus gave him five guineas, and wished him good fortune.
"And now, Japhet, what are you about to do?" said Timothy, as he descended into the shop.
"To do," replied I; "I am about to leave you, which is the only thing I am sorry for. I am going, Timothy, in search of my father."
"Well," replied Timothy, "I feel as you do, Japhet, that it will be hard to part; and there is another thing on my mind—which is, I am very sorry that the bull did not break the rudimans (pointing to the iron mortar and pestle); had he had but half the spite I have against it, he would not have left a piece as big as a thimble. I've a great mind to have a smack at it before I go."
"You will only injure Mr Cophagus, for the mortar will not then be paid for."
"Very true; and as he has just given me five guineas, I will refrain from my just indignation. But now, Japhet, let me speak to you. I don't know how you feel, but I feel as if I could not part with you. I do not want to go in search of my father particularly. They say it's a wise child that knows its own father—but as there can be no doubt of my other parent—if I can only hit upon her, I have a strong inclination to go in search of my mother, and if you like my company, why I will go with you—always, my dear Japhet," continued Tim, "keeping in my mind the great difference between a person who has been feed as an M.D., and a lad who only carries out his prescriptions."
"Do you really mean to say, Tim, that you will go with me?"
"Yes, to the end of the world, Japhet, as your companion, your friend, and your servant, if you require it. I love you, Japhet, and I will serve you faithfully."
"My dear Tim, I am delighted; now I am really happy: we will have but one purse, and but one interest; if I find good fortune, you shall share it."
"And if you meet with ill luck, I will share that too—so the affair is settled—and as here come Mr Pleggit's assistants with only one pair of eyes between them, the sooner we pack up the better."
In half an hour all was ready; a bundle each, contained our wardrobes. We descended from our attic, walked proudly through the shop without making any observation, or taking any notice of our successors; all the notice taken was by Timothy, who turned round and shook his fist at his old enemies, the iron mortar and pestle; and there we were, standing on the pavement, with the wide world before us, and quite undecided which way we should go.
"Is it to be east, west, north, or south, Japhet?" said Timothy.
"The wise men came from the east," replied I.
"Then they must have travelled west," said Tim; "let us show our wisdom by doing the same."
Passing by a small shop, we purchased two good sticks, as defenders, as well as to hang our bundles on—and off we set upon our pilgrimage.
We take a coach, but the driver does not like his fare and hits us foul—We change our mode of travelling upon the principle of slow and sure, and fall in with a very learned man.
I believe it to be a very general custom, when people set off upon a journey, to reckon up their means—that is, to count the money which they may have in their pockets. At all events, this was done by Timothy and me, and I found that my stock amounted to twenty-two pounds eighteen shillings, and Timothy's to the five guineas presented by Mr Cophagus, and three halfpence which were in the corner of his waistcoat pocket—sum total, twenty-eight pounds three shillings and three halfpence; a very handsome sum, as we thought, with which to commence our peregrinations, and, as I observed to Timothy, sufficient to last us for a considerable time, if husbanded with care.
"Yes," replied he, "but we must husband our legs also, Japhet, or we shall soon be tired, and very soon wear out our shoes. I vote we take a hackney coach."
"Take a hackney coach, Tim! we mustn't think of it; we cannot afford such a luxury; you can't be tired yet, we are now only just clear of Hyde Park Corner."
"Still I think we had better take a coach, Japhet, and here is one coming. I always do take one when I carry out medicines, to make up for the time I lose looking at the shops, and playing peg in the ring."
I now understood what Timothy meant, which was, to get behind and have a ride for nothing. I consented to this arrangement, and we got up behind one which was already well filled inside. "The only difference between an inside and outside passenger in a hackney coach, is that one pays, and the other does not," said I, to Timothy, as we rolled along at the act of parliament speed of four miles per hour.
"That depends upon circumstances: if we are found out, in all probability we shall not only have our ride, but be paid into the bargain."
"With the coachman's whip, I presume?"
"Exactly." And Timothy had hardly time to get the word out of his mouth, when flac, flac, came the whip across our eyes—a little envious wretch, with his shirt hanging out of his trousers, having called out, Cut behind! Not wishing to have our faces, or our behinds cut any more, we hastily descended, and reached the footpath, after having gained about three miles on the road before we were discovered.
"That wasn't a bad lift, Japhet, and as for the whip I never mind that with corduroys. And now, Japhet, I'll tell you something; we must get into a wagon, if we can find one going down the road, as soon as it is dark."
"But that will cost money, Tim."
"It's economy, I tell you; for a shilling, if you bargain, you may ride the whole night, and if we stop at a public-house to sleep, we shall have to pay for our beds, as well as be obliged to order something to eat, and pay dearer for it than if we buy what we want at cooks' shops."
"There is sense in what you say, Timothy; we will look out for a wagon."
"Oh! it's no use now—wagons are like black beetles, not only in shape but in habits, they only travel by night—at least most of them do. We are now coming into long dirty Brentford, and I don't know how you feel, Japhet, but I find that walking wonderfully increases the appetite—that's another reason why you should not walk when you can ride—for nothing."
"Well, I'm rather hungry myself; and dear me, how very good that piece of roast pork looks in that window!"
"I agree with you—let's go in and make a bargain!"
We bought a good allowance for a shilling, and after sticking out for a greater proportion of mustard than the woman said we were entitled to, and some salt, we wrapped it up in a piece of paper, and continued our course, till we arrived at a baker's, where we purchased our bread, and then taking up a position on a bench outside a public-house, called for a pot of beer, and putting our provisions down before us, made a hearty, and, what made us more enjoy it, an independent meal. Having finished our pork and our porter, and refreshed ourselves, we again started and walked till it was quite dark, when we felt so tired that we agreed to sit down on our bundles and wait for the first wagon which passed. We soon heard the jingling of bells, and shortly afterwards its enormous towering bulk appeared between us and the sky. We went up to the wagoner, who was mounted on a little pony, and asked him if he could give two poor lads a lift, and how much he would charge us for the ride.