TALES AND NOVELS
VOL. II. POPULAR TALES.
Some author says, that a good book needs no apology; and, as a preface is usually an apology, a book enters into the world with a better grace without one. I, however, appeal to those readers who are not gluttons, but epicures, in literature, whether they do not wish to see the bill of fare? I appeal to monthly critics, whether a preface that gives a view of the pretensions of the writer is not a good thing? The author may overvalue his subject, and very naturally may overrate the manner in which it is treated; but still he will explain his views, and facilitate the useful and necessary art which the French call reading with the thumb. We call this hunting a book, a term certainly invented by a sportsman. I leave the reader to choose which he pleases, whilst I lay before him the contents and design of these volumes.
Burke supposes that there are eighty thousand readers in Great Britain, nearly one hundredth part of its inhabitants! Out of these we may calculate that ten thousand are nobility, clergy, or gentlemen of the learned professions. Of seventy thousand readers which remain, there are many who might be amused and instructed by books which were not professedly adapted to the classes that have been enumerated. With this view the following volumes have been composed. The title of POPULAR TALES has been chosen, not as a presumptuous and premature claim to popularity, but from the wish that they may be current beyond circles which are sometimes exclusively considered as polite.
The art of printing has opened to all classes of people various new channels of entertainment and information.—Amongst the ancients, wisdom required austere manners and a length of beard to command attention; but in our days, instruction, in the dress of innocent amusement, is not denied admittance amongst the wise and good of all ranks. It is therefore hoped that a succession of stories, adapted to different ages, sexes, and situations in life, will not be rejected by the public, unless they offend against morality, tire by their sameness, or disgust by their imitation of other writers.
RICHARD LOVELL EDGEWORTH.
[Footnote 1: This Work was originally published in three volumes.] CONTENTS
LAME JERVAS 1 THE WILL 55 THE LIMERICK GLOVES 101 OUT OF DEBT OUT OF DANGER 129 THE LOTTERY 161 ROSANNA 195 MURAD THE UNLUCKY 245 THE MANUFACTURERS 281 THE CONTRAST 317 THE GRATEFUL NEGRO 399 TO-MORROW 421
Some years ago, a lad of the name of William Jervas, or, as he was called from his lameness, Lame Jervas, whose business it was to tend the horses in one of the Cornwall tin-mines, was missing. He was left one night in a little hut, at one end of the mine, where he always slept; but in the morning, he could no where be found; and this his sudden disappearance gave rise to a number of strange and ridiculous stories among the miners. The most rational, however, concluded that the lad, tired of his situation, had made his escape during the night. It was certainly rather surprising that he could no where be traced; but after the neighbours had wondered and talked for some time about it, the circumstance was by degrees forgotten. The name of William Jervas was scarcely remembered by any, except two or three of the oldest miners, when, twenty years afterward, there came a party of gentlemen and ladies to see the mines! and, as the guide was showing the curiosities of the place, one among the company, a gentleman of about six-and-thirty years of age, pointed to some letters that were carved on the rock, and asked, "Whose name was written there?" "Only the name of one William Jervas," answered the guide; "a poor lad, who ran away from the mines a great long while ago." "Are you sure that he ran away?" said the gentleman. "Yes," answered the guide, "sure and certain I am of that." "Not at all sure and certain of any such thing," cried one of the oldest of the miners, who interrupted the guide, and then related all that he knew, all that he had heard, and all that he imagined and believed concerning the sudden disappearance of Jervas; concluding by positively assuring the stranger that the ghost of the said Jervas was often seen to walk, slowly, in the long west gallery of the mine, with a blue taper in his hand.—"I will take my Bible oath," added the man, "that about a month after he was missing, I saw the ghost just as the clock struck twelve, walking slowly, with the light in one hand, and a chain dragging after him in t'other; and he was coming straight towards me, and I ran away into the stables to the horses; and from that time forth I've taken special good care never to go late in the evening to that there gallery, or near it: for I never was so frightened, above or under ground, in all my born days."
The stranger, upon hearing this story, burst into a loud fit of laughter; and, on recovering himself, he desired the ghost-seer to look stedfastly in his face, and to tell whether he bore any resemblance to the ghost that walked with the blue taper in the west gallery. The miner stared for some minutes, and answered, "No; he that walks in the gallery is clear another guess sort of a person; in a white jacket, a leather apron, and ragged cap, like what Jervas used to wear in his lifetime; and, moreover, he limps in his gait, as Lame Jervas always did, I remember well." The gentleman walked on, and the miners observed, what had before escaped their notice, that he limped a little; and, when he came again to the light, the guide, after considering him very attentively, said, "If I was not afraid of affronting the like of a gentleman such as your honour, I should make bold for to say that you be very much—only a deal darker complexioned—you be very much of the same sort of person as our Lame Jervas used for to be." "Not at all like our Lame Jervas," cried the old miner, who professed to have seen the ghost; "no more like to him than Black Jack to Blue John." The by-standers laughed at this comparison; and the guide, provoked at being laughed at, sturdily maintained that not a man that wore a head in Cornwall should laugh him out of his senses. Each party now growing violent in support of his opinion, from words they were just coming to blows, when the stranger at once put an end to the dispute, by declaring that he was the very man. "Jervas!" exclaimed they all at once, "Jervas alive!—our Lame Jervas turned gentleman!"
The miners could scarcely believe their eyes, or their ears, especially when, upon following him out of the mine, they saw him get into a handsome coach, and drive toward the mansion of one of the principal gentlemen of the neighbourhood, who was a proprietor of the mine.
The next day, all the head miners were invited to dine in tents, pitched in a field near this gentleman's house. It was fine weather, and harvest time; the guests assembled, and in the tents found abundance of good cheer provided for them.
After dinner, Mr. R——, the master of the house, appeared, accompanied by Lame Jervas, dressed in his miner's old jacket and cap. Even the ghost-seer acknowledged that he now looked wonderful like himself. Mr. R——, the master of the house, filled a glass, and drank—"Welcome home to our friend, Mr. Jervas; and may good faith always meet with good fortune." The toast went round, each drank, and repeated, "Welcome home to our friend Mr. Jervas; and may good faith always meet good fortune." Indeed, what was meant by the good faith, or the good fortune, none could guess; and many in whispers, and some aloud, made bold to ask for an explanation of the toast.
Mr. Jervas, on whom all eyes were fixed, after thanking the company for their welcome home, took his seat at the table; and in compliance with Mr. R——'s request, and the wishes of all present, related to them his story nearly in the following manner:
"Where I was born, or who were my parents, I do not well know myself; nor can I recollect who was my nurse, or whether I was ever nursed at all: but, luckily, these circumstances are not of much importance to the world. The first thing which I can distinctly remember is the being set, along with a number of children of my own age, to pick and wash loose ore of tin mixed with the earth, which in those days we used to call shoad, or squad—I don't know what you call it now."
"We call it squad to this day, master," interrupted one of the miners.
"I might be at this time, I suppose," continued the gentleman, "about five or six years old; and from that time till I was thirteen I worked in the mine where we were yesterday. From the bottom of my heart I rejoice that the times are bettered for youngsters since then; for I know I had a hard life of it.
"My good master, here, never knew any thing of the matter but I was cruelly used by those under him. First, the oldwoman—Betty Morgan, I think, was her name—who set us our tasks of picking and washing the squad, was as cross as the rheumatism could make her. She never picked an ounce herself, but made us do her heap for her among us; and I being the youngest, it was shoved down to me. Often and often my day's wages were kept back, not having done this woman's task; and I did not dare to tell my master the truth, lest she should beat me. But, God rest her soul! she was an angel of light in comparison with the trap-door keeper, who was my next tyrant.
"It was our business to open and shut certain doors, that were placed in the mine for letting in air to the different galleries: but my young tyrant left them every one to me to take care of; and I was made to run to and fro, till I had scarcely breath in my body, while every miner in turn was swearing at me for the idlest little fellow upon the surface of the earth; though the surface of the earth, alas! was a place on which I had never yet, to my knowledge, set my foot.
"In my own defence, I made all the excuses I could think of; and, from excuses, I went on to all kinds of deceit: for tyranny and injustice always produce cunning and falsehood.
"One day, having shut all the doors on my side of the mine, I left three open on my companion's side. The men, I thought, would not go to work on that side of the mine for a day or two: but in this I was mistaken; and about noon I was alarmed by the report of a man having been killed in one of the galleries for want of fresh air.
"The door-keepers were summoned before the overseer; or, as you call him, the viewer. I was the youngest, and the blame was all laid upon me. The man, who had only swooned, recovered; but I was thrashed and thrashed for the neglect of another person, till the viewer was tired.
"A weary life I led afterwards with my friend the door-keeper, who was enraged against me for having told the truth.
"In process of time, as I grew stronger and bigger, I was set to other work. First, I was employed at the barrow; and then a pick-axe and a gad[Footnote: A gad is a tool used in mines; it resembles a smith's punch.] were put into my hands; and I thought myself a great man.—It was my fate to fall among the idlest set in the mine. I observed that those men who worked by task, and who had the luck to hit upon easy beds of the rock, were not obliged to work more than three or four hours a day: they got high wages with little labour; and they spent their money jollily above-ground in the ale-houses, as I heard. I did not know that these jolly fellows often left their wives and families starving while they were getting drunk.
"I longed for the time when I should be a man, and do as I saw others do. I longed for the days when I should be able to drink and be idle; and, in the mean time, I set all my wits to work to baffle and overreach the viewer.
"I was now about fourteen, and, had I grown up with these notions and habits, I must have spent my life in wretchedness, and I should probably have ended my days in a workhouse; but fortunately for me, an accident happened, which made as great a change in my mind as in my body.
"One of my companions bribed me, with a strong dram, to go down into a hole in the mine to search for his gad; which he, being half intoxicated, had dropped. My head could not stand the strength of the dram which he made me swallow to give me courage: and being quite insensible to the danger, I took a leap down a precipice which I should have shuddered to look at, if I had not lost my recollection.
"I soon came to my senses, for I broke my leg; and it is wonderful I did not break my neck by my fall. I was drawn up by cords, and was carried to a hut in the mine, near the stables, where I lay in great pain.
"My master was in the mine at the time the accident happened; and, hearing where I was, he had the goodness to come directly to me himself, to let me know that he had sent for a surgeon.
"The surgeon, who lived in the neighbourhood, was not at home; but there was then upon a visit at my master's a Mr. Y——, an old gentleman who had been a surgeon; and, though he had for many years left off practice, he no sooner heard of the accident that had happened to me than he had the goodness to come down into the mine, to set my leg.
"After the operation was over, my master returned to tell me that I should want for nothing. Never shall I forget the humanity with which he treated me. I do not remember that I had ever heard him speak to me before this time; but now his voice and manner were so full of compassion and kindness, that I looked up to him as to a new sort of being.
"His goodness wakened and warmed me to a sense of gratitude—the first virtuous emotion I was conscious of having ever felt.
"I was attended with the greatest care, during my illness, by the benevolent surgeon, Mr. Y——. The circumstance of my having been intoxicated, when I took the leap, had been concealed by the man who gave me the dram; who declared that I had fallen by accident, as I was looking down the hole for a gad that I had dropped. I did not join in this falsehood: for, the moment my master spoke to me with so much goodness about my mishap, my heart opened to him, and I told him just how the thing happened.
"Mr. Y—— also heard the truth from me, and I had no reason to repent having told it, for this gave him, as he said, hopes that I might turn out well, and was the cause of his taking some pains to instruct me. He observed to me, that it was a pity a lad like me should so early in my days take to dram-drinking; and he explained the consequences of intemperance, of which I had never before heard or thought.
"While I was confined to my bed, I had leisure for many reflections. The drunken and brutal among the miners, with whom I formerly associated, never came near me in my illness; but the better sort used to come and see me often, and I began to take a liking to their ways, and to wish to imitate them.
"As they stood talking over their own affairs in my hut, I learned how they laid out their time and their money; and I now began to desire to have, as they had, a little garden, and property of my own, for which I knew I must work hard. So I rose from my bed with very different views from those which I had when I was laid down upon it; and from this time forward I kept company with the sober and industrious as much as I could. I saw things with different eyes: formerly I used, like my companions, to be ready enough to take any advantage that lay in my way of my employer; but my gratitude to him who had befriended me in my helpless state wrought such a change in me, that I now took part with my master on all occasions, and could not bear to see him wronged—so gratitude first made me honest.
"My master would not let the viewer turn me out of the work, as he wanted to do, because I was lame and weak, and not able to do much.—'Let him have the care of my horses in the stable,' said my master: 'he can do something. I don't want to make money of poor Lame Jervas. So, as long as he is willing to work, he shall not be turned out to starve.'—These were his very words; and when I heard them I said in my heart, 'God bless him!' And, from that time forth, I could, as I thought, have fought with the stoutest man in the mine that said a word to his disparagement.
"Perhaps my feeling of attachment to him was the stronger, because he was, I may say, the first person then in the world who had ever shown me any tenderness, and the only one from whom I felt sure of meeting with justice.
"About this time, as I was busied in the stable, unperceived by them, I saw through a window a party of the miners, amongst whom were several of my old associates, at work opposite to me. Suddenly, one of them gave a shout—then all was hushed—they threw down their tools, huddled together, and I judged by the keenness of their looks that they knew they had made some valuable discovery. I further observed, that, instead of beginning to work the vein, they covered it up immediately with rubbish, and defaced the country with their pick-axes; so that, to look at, no one could have suspected there was any load to be found near. I also saw them secrete a lump of spar, in which they had reason to guess there were Cornish diamonds, as they call them, and they carefully hid the bits of kellus[Footnote: 2 Kellus is the miner's name for a substance like a white soft stone, which lies above the floor or spar, near to a vein.], which they had picked out, lest the viewer should notice them and suspect the truth.
"From all this, the whispering that went on, and the pains they took to chase or entice the overseer away from this spot, I conjectured they meant to keep their discovery a secret, that they might turn it to their own advantage.
"There was a passage out of the mine, known only to themselves, as they thought, through which they intended to convey all the newly-found ore. This passage, I should observe, led through an old gallery in the mine, along the side of the mountain, immediately up to the surface of the earth; so that you could by this way come in and out of the mine without the assistance of the gin, by which people and ore are usually let down or drawn up.
"I made myself sure of my facts by searching this passage, in which I found plenty of their purloined treasure. I then went up to one of the party, whose name was Clarke, and, drawing him aside, ventured to expostulate with him. Clarke cursed me for a spy, and then knocked me down, and returned to tell his associates what I had been saying, and how he had served me. They one and all swore that they would be revenged upon me, if I gave the least hint of what I had seen to our master.
"From this time they watched me, whenever he came down amongst us, lest I should have an opportunity of speaking to him; and they never, on any account, would suffer me to go out of the mine. Under pretence that the horses must be looked after, and that no one tended them so well as I did, they contrived to keep me prisoner night and day; hinting to me pretty plainly, that if I ever again complained of being thus shut up, I should not long be buried alive.
"Whether they would have gone the lengths they threatened I know not: perhaps they threw out these hints only with a design to intimidate me, and so to preserve their secret. I confess I was alarmed; but there was something in the thought of showing my good master how much I was attached to his interests, that continually prevailed over my fears; and my spirits rose with the reflection that I, a poor insignificant lad; I, that was often the scoff and laughing-stock of the miners; I, that went by the name of Lame Jervas; I, who they thought could be bullied to any thing by their threats, might do a nobler action than any man amongst them would have the courage to do in my place. Then the kindness of my master, and the words he said about me to the viewer, came into my memory; and I was so worked up, that I resolved, let the consequence be what it might, I would, living or dying, be faithful to my benefactor.
"I now waited anxiously for an opportunity to speak to him; and if I did but hear the sound of his voice at a distance, my heart beat violently. 'You little know,' thought I, 'that there is one here whom perhaps you quite forget, who is ready to hazard his life to do you a service.'
"One day, as he was coming near the place where I was at work, rubbing down a horse, he took notice that I fixed my eyes very earnestly upon him; and he came closer to me, saying, 'I am glad to see you better, Jervas:—do you want any thing?' 'I want for nothing, thank you, sir,—but,'—and as I said but, I looked round, to see who was near. Instantly Clarke, one of the gang, who had his eyes upon us, called me, and despatched me, on some errand, to a distant part of the mine. As I was coming back, however, it was my good fortune to meet my master by himself in one of the galleries. I told him my secret and my fears. He answered me only with a nod, and these words, 'Thank you—trust to me—make haste back to those that sent you.'
"I did so; but I fancy there was something unusual in my manner or countenance which gave alarm; for, at the close of the day, I saw Clarke and the gang whispering together; and I observed that they refrained from going to their secret treasure the whole of the day. I was in great fear that they suspected me, and that they would take immediate and perhaps bloody revenge.
"These fears increased when I found myself left alone in my hut at night; and, as I lay quite still, but broad awake in my bed, I listened to every sound, and once or twice started up on hearing some noise near me; but it was only the horses moving in the stable, which was close to my hut. I lay down again, laughing at my own fears, and endeavoured to compose myself to sleep, reflecting that I had never, in my life, more reason to sleep with a safe conscience.
"I then turned round, and fell into a sweet sound sleep; but from this I was suddenly roused by a noise at the door of my hut. 'It is only the horses again,' thought I; but, opening my eyes, I saw a light under the door. I rubbed my eyes, hoping I had been in a dream: the light disappeared, and I thought it was my fancy. As I kept my eyes, however, turned towards the door, I saw the light again through the key-hole, and the latch was pulled up; the door was then softly pushed inwards, and I saw on the wall the large shadow of a man with a pistol in his hand. My heart sunk within me, and I gave myself up for lost. The man came in: he was muffled up in a thick coat, his hat was slouched, and a lantern in his hand. Which of the gang it was I did not know, but I took it for granted that it was one of them come with intent to murder me. Terror at this instant left me; and starting upright in my bed, I exclaimed—'I'm ready to die! I die in a good cause! Give me five minutes to say my prayers!' and I fell upon my knees. The man standing silent beside the bed, with one hand upon me, as if afraid I should escape from him.
"When I had finished my short prayer, I looked up towards my murderer, expecting the stroke: but, what was my surprise and joy, when, as he held the lantern up to his face, I beheld—the countenance of my master, smiling upon me with the most encouraging benevolence. 'Awake, Jervas,' said he, 'and try if you can find out the difference between a friend and an enemy. Put on your clothes as fast as you can, and show me the way to this new vein.'
"No one ever was sooner dressed than I was. I led the way to the spot, which was covered up with rubbish, so that I was some time clearing out an opening, my master assisting me all the while: for, as he said, he was impatient to get me out of the mine safe, as he did not think my apprehensions wholly without foundation. The light of our lantern was scarcely sufficient for our purpose; but, when we came to the vein, my master saw enough to be certain that I was in the right. We covered up the place as before, and he noted the situation, so that he could be sure to find it again. Then I showed him the way to the secret passage; but this passage he knew already, for by it he had descended into the mine this night.
"As we passed along, I pointed out the heaps of ore which lay ready to be carried off. 'It is enough, Jervas,' said he, clapping his hand upon my shoulder; 'you have given me proof sufficient of your fidelity. Since you were so ready to die in a good cause, and that cause mine, it is my business to take care you shall live by it: so follow me out of this place directly; and I will take good care of you, my honest lad.'
"I followed him with quick steps, and a joyful heart: he took me home with him to his own house, where he said I might sleep for the rest of the night secure from all fear of murderers: and so, showing me into a small closet within his own bedchamber, he wished me a good night; desiring me, if I waked early, not to open the window-shutters of my room, nor go to the window, lest some of his people should see me.
"I lay down, for the first time in my life, upon a feather-bed; but, whether it was from the unusual feeling of the soft bed, or from the hurry of mind in which I had been kept, and the sudden change of my circumstances, I could not sleep a wink all the remainder of the night.
"Before daybreak, my master came into my room, and bid me rise, put on the clothes which he brought me, and follow him without making any noise. I followed him out of the house before any body else was awake; and he took me across the fields towards the high road. At this place we waited till we heard the tinkling of the bells of a team of horses. 'Here comes the waggon,' said he, 'in which you are to go. I have taken every possible precaution to prevent any of the miners or people in the neighbourhood from tracing you; and you will be in safety at Exeter, with my friend Mr. Y——; to whom I am going to send you. Take this,' continued he, putting a letter directed to Mr. Y—— into my hand; 'and here are five guineas for you. I shall desire Mr. Y—— to pay you an annuity of ten guineas out of the profits of the new vein, provided it turns out well, and you do not turn out ill. So fare you well, Jervas. I shall hear how you go on; and I only hope you will serve your next master, whoever he may be, as faithfully as you have served me.'
"'I shall never find so good a master,' was all I could say for the soul of me; for I was quite overcome by his goodness and by sorrow at parting with him, as I then thought, for ever."
"The morning clouds began to clear away; I could see my master at some distance, and I kept looking after him, as the waggon went on slowly, and as he walked fast away over the fields; but, when I had lost sight of him, my thoughts were forcibly turned to other things. I seemed to awake to quite a new scene, and new feelings. Buried underground in a mine, as I had been from my infancy, the face of nature was totally unknown to me.
"'We shall have a brave fine day of it, I hope and trust,' said the waggoner, pointing with his long whip to the rising sun.
"He went on whistling, whilst I, to whom the rising sun was a spectacle wholly surprising, started up in astonishment! I know not what exclamations I uttered, as I gazed upon it; but I remember the waggoner burst out into a loud laugh. 'Lud a marcy,' said he, holding his sides, 'to hear un, and look at un, a body would think the oaf had never seen the sun rise afore in all his born days!'
"Upon this hint, which was nearer the truth than he imagined, recollecting that we were still in Cornwall, and not out of the reach of my enemies, I drew myself back into the waggon, lest any of the miners, passing the road to their morning's work, might chance to spy me out.
"It was well for me that I took this precaution; for we had not gone much farther when we met a party of the miners; and, as I sat wedged up in a corner behind a heap of parcels, I heard the voice of Clarke, who asked the waggoner as he passed us, 'What o'clock it might be?' I kept myself quite snug till he was out of sight; nay, long afterwards, I was content to sit within the waggon, rather than venture out; and I amused myself with listening to the bells of the team, which jingled continually.
"On our second day's journey, however, I ventured out of my hiding-place; I walked with the waggoner up and down the hills, enjoying the fresh air, the singing of the birds, and the delightful smell of the honey-suckles and the dog-roses in the hedges. All these wild flowers, and even the weeds on the banks by the way-side, were to me matters of wonder and admiration. At every step, almost, I paused to observe something that was new to me; and I could not help feeling surprised at the insensibility of my fellow-traveller, who plodded on, seldom interrupting his whistling, except to cry, 'Gee, Blackbird, aw, woa;' or, 'How now, Smiler;' and certain other words or sounds of menace and encouragement, addressed to his horses in a language which seemed intelligible to them and to him, though utterly incomprehensible to me.
"Once, as I was in admiration of a plant, whose stem was about two feet high, and which had a round, shining, pale purple, beautiful flower, the waggoner, with a look of extreme scorn, exclaimed, 'Help thee, lad, does not thee know 'tis a common thistle? Didst thee not know that a thistle would prick thee?' continued he, laughing at the face I made when I touched the prickly leaves; 'why my horse Dobbin has more sense by half! he is not like an ass hunting for thistles.'
"After this, the waggoner seemed to look upon me as very nearly an idiot. Just as we were going into the town of Plymouth, he eyed me from head to foot, and muttered, 'The lad's beside himself, sure enough.' In truth, I believe I was a droll figure; for my hat was stuck full of weeds, and of all sorts of wild flowers; and both my coat and waistcoat pockets were stuffed out with pebbles and funguses.
"Such an effect, however, had the waggoner's contemptuous look upon me, that I pulled the weeds out of my hat, and threw down all my treasure of pebbles before we entered the town. Nay, so much was I overawed, and in such dread was I of passing for an idiot, that when we came within view of the sea, in the fine harbour of Plymouth, I did not utter a single exclamation; although I was struck prodigiously at this, my first sight of the ocean, as much almost as I had been at the spectacle of the rising sun. I just ventured, however, to ask my companion some questions about the vessels which I beheld sailing on the sea, and the shipping with which the bay was filled. But he answered coldly, 'They be nothing in life but the boats and ships, man: them that see them for the first time are often struck all on a heap, as I've noticed, in passing by here: but I've seen it all a many and a many times.' So he turned away, went on chewing a straw, and seemed not a whit more moved with admiration than he had been at the sight of my thistle.
"I conceived a high opinion of a man who had seen so much that he could admire nothing; and he preserved and increased my respect for him by the profound silence which he maintained, during the five succeeding days of our journey: he seldom or never opened his lips except to inform me of the names of the towns through which we passed. I have since reflected that it was fortunate for me that I had such a supercilious fellow-traveller on my first journey; for he made me at once thoroughly sensible of my own ignorance, and extremely anxious to supply my deficiencies, and to find one who would give some other answer to my questions than a smile of contempt, or, 'I do na knaw, I say.'
"We arrived at Exeter at last; and, with much ado, I found my way to Mr. Y——'s house. It was evening when I got there; and the servant to whom I gave the letter said he supposed Mr. Y—— would not see me that night, as he liked to have his evenings to himself; but he took the letter, and in a few minutes returned, desiring me to follow him up stairs.
"I found the good old gentleman and some of his friends in his study, with his grand-children about him; one little chap on his knee, another climbing on the arm of his chair; and two bigger lads were busy looking at a glass tube which he was showing them when I came in. It does not become me to repeat the handsome things he said to me, upon reading over my good master's letter; but he was very gracious to me, and told me that he would look out for some place or employment that would suit me; and in the mean time, that I should be welcome to stay in his house, where I should meet with the good treatment (which he was pleased to say) I deserved. Then, observing that I was overcome with bashfulness, at being looked at by so many strangers, he kindly dismissed me.
"The next day he sent for me again to his study, when he was alone; and asked me several questions, seeming pleased with the openness and simplicity of my answers. He saw that I gazed with vast curiosity at several objects in the room, which were new to me: and pointing to the glass tube, which he had been showing the boys when I first came in, he asked me if they had such things as that in our mines; and if I knew the use of it? I told him I had seen something like it in our overseer's hands; but that I had never known its use. It was a thermometer. Mr. Y—— took great pains to show me how, and on what occasions, this instrument might be useful.
"I saw I had now to do with a person who was somewhat different from my friend the waggoner; and I cannot express the surprise and gratitude I felt, when I found that he did not think me quite a fool. Instead of looking at me with scorn, as one very nearly an idiot, he answered my questions with condescension; and sometimes was so good as to add, 'That's a sensible question, my lad.'
"While we were looking at the thermometer, he found out that I could not read the words temperate, freezing point, boiling water heat, &c. which were written upon the ivory scale, in small characters. He took that occasion to point out to me the use and advantages of knowing how to read and write; and he told me that, as I wished to learn, he would desire the writing-master, who came to attend his young grandson, to teach me.
"I shall not detain you with a journal of my progress through my spelling-book and copy-books: it is enough to say that I applied with diligence, and soon could write my name in rather more intelligible characters than those in which the name of Jervas is cut on the rock that we were looking at yesterday.
"My eagerness to read the books which he put into my hands, and the attention which I paid to his lessons, pleased my writing-master so much, that he took a pride, as he said, 'in bringing me forward as fast as possible.'
"And here, I must confess, he was rather imprudent in the warmth of his commendations; my head could not stand them; as much as I was humbled and mortified by the waggoner's calling me an idiot, so much was I elated by my writing-master's calling me a genius. I wrote some very bad lines in praise of a thistle, which I thought prodigiously fine, because my writing-master looked surprised, when I showed them to him; and because he told me that, having given a copy of them to some gentlemen in Exeter, they agreed that the rhymes were wonderful for me.
"I was at this period very nearly spoiled for life: but fortunately my friend Mr. Y—— saw my danger, and cured me of my conceit, without damping my ardour to acquire knowledge. He took me to the books in his study, and showed me many volumes of fine poems; pointing out some passages to me that greatly diminished my admiration of my own lines on the thistle The vast distance which I perceived between myself and these writers threw me into despair. Mr. Y—— seeing me thoroughly abashed, observed that he was glad to find I saw the difference between bad and good poetry; and pointed out to me, it was not likely, if I turned my industry to writing verses, that I should ever either earn my bread, or equal those who had enjoyed greater advantages of leisure and education. 'But, Jervas,' continued he, 'I commend you for your application and quickness in learning to write and read, in so short a time: you will find both these qualifications of great advantage to you. Now, I advise you, turn your thoughts to something that may make you useful to other people. You have your bread to earn, and this you can only do by making yourself useful in some way or other. Look about you, and you will see that I tell you truth. You may perceive that the servants in my house are all useful to me, and that I pay them for their services. The cook who can dress my dinner, the baker who bakes bread for me, the smith who knows how to shoe my horses, the writing-master who undertakes to teach my children to write, can all earn money for themselves, and make themselves independent.—And you may remark that, of all those I have mentioned, the writing-master is the most respected, and the best paid. There are some kinds of knowledge, and some kinds of labour, that are more highly paid for than others. But I have said enough to you, Jervas, for the present: I do not want to lecture you, but to serve you.—You are a young lad, and have had no experience; I am an old man, and have had a great deal: so perhaps my advice may be of some use to you.'
"His advice was indeed of the greatest use to me: every word he said sunk into my mind. I wish those who give advice to young people, especially to those in a lower station than themselves, would follow this gentleman's example; and, instead of haranguing with the haughtiness of superior knowledge, would speak with such kindness as to persuade at the same time that they convince.
"The very day that Mr. Y—— spoke to me in this manner, he called me in, that I might tell his eldest grandson the names which we miners give to certain fossils that had been sent him from Cornwall; and, after observing to the boy that this knowledge would be useful to him, he begged me to tell him exactly how the mine, in which I had been employed, was worked. This I did, as well as I was able; and imperfect as my description was, it entertained the boys so much that I determined to try to make a sort of model of the tin-mine for their amusement.
"But this I found no easy task; my remembrance, even of the place in which I had lived all my life, was not sufficiently exact to serve me, as to the length, height, breadth, &c. of the different parts; and though Mr. Y—— had a good collection of fossils, I was at a loss, for want of materials, to represent properly the different strata and veins; or, as we call it, the country.
"My temper, naturally enthusiastic, was not on this occasion to be daunted by any difficulties. I was roused by the notion that I should be able to complete something that would be really useful to my kind benefactor's family; and I anticipated with rapture, the moment when I should produce my model complete, and justify Mr. Y——'s opinion of my diligence and capacity. I thought of nothing else from the moment these ideas came into my head. The measures, plans, and specimens of earths and ore which were wanting, I knew could only be obtained from the mine; and such was my ardour to accomplish my little project, that I determined at all hazards to return into Cornwall, and to ask my good master's permission to revisit the mine in the night time.
"Accordingly, without a moment's delay, I set out upon this expedition. Part of the journey I performed on foot; but wherever I could, I got a set down, because I was impatient to get near the Land's End. I concluded that the wonder excited by my sudden disappearance had subsided by this time; that I was too insignificant to make it worth while to continue a search after me for more than a few days; and that, in all likelihood, my master had dismissed from his work the gang who had been concerned in the plot, and who were the only persons whose revenge I had reason to fear.
"However, as I drew near the mine, I had the prudence not to expose myself unnecessarily; and I watched my opportunity so well, that I contrived to meet my master, in his walk homeward, when no one was with him. I hastily gave him a letter from Mr. Y——, as a certificate of my good conduct since my leaving him; then explained the reason of my return, and asked permission to examine the mines that night.
"He expressed a good deal of surprise, but no displeasure, at my boldness in returning: he willingly granted my request; but, at the same time, warned me that some of my enemies were still in the neighbourhood; and that, though he had dismissed them from his works, and though several had left the country in search of employment elsewhere, yet he was informed that two or three of the gang, and Clarke among the number, were seen lurking about the country: that they had sworn vengeance against me for betraying them, as they called it; and had been indefatigably active in their search after me.
"My master consequently advised me to stay only the ensuing night, and to depart before daybreak: he also cautioned me not to wake the man who now slept in my hut in the mine.
"I did not like to spoil the only good suit of clothes of which I was possessed; so, before I went down into the mine, I got from my master my old jacket, apron, and cap, in which being equipped, and furnished with a lantern, and rod for measuring, I descended into the mine.
"I went to work as quietly as possible, surveyed the place exactly, and remembered what I had heard Mr. Y—— observe, 'that people can never make their knowledge useful, if they have not been at the pains to make it exact.' I was determined to give him a proof of my exactness: accordingly I measured and minuted down every thing with the most cautious accuracy; and, so intent was my mind upon my work, the thoughts of Clarke and his associates never came across me for a moment. Nay, I absolutely forgot the man in the hut, and am astonished he was not sooner waked.
"What roused him at last was, I believe, the noise I made in loosening some earth and stones for specimens. A great stone came tumbling down, and immediately afterwards I heard one of the horses neigh, which showed me I had waked them at least; and I betook myself to a hiding-place, in the western gallery, where I kept quiet, for I believe a quarter of an hour, in order to give the horses and the man, if he were awake, time to go to sleep again.
"I ventured out of my hiding-place too soon; for, just as I left my nook, I saw the man at the end of the gallery. Instantly, upon the sight of me, he put both his hands before his face, gave a loud shriek, turned his back, and took to his heels with the greatest precipitation. I guessed that, as he said yesterday, he took me for the ghost of myself; and that his terror made him mistake my lantern for a blue taper. I had no chain; but that I had a rod in my hand is most certain: and it is also true that I took advantage of his fears, to drive him out of my way; for the moment he began to run, I shook my rod as fast and as loud as I could against the tin top of my lantern; and I trampled with my feet as if I was pursuing him.
"As soon as the coast was clear, I hastened back for my specimens; which I packed up in my basket, and then decamped as fast as I could. This is the only time I ever walked in the western gallery with a blue taper in my hand, dragging a chain after me, whatever the ghost-seer may report to the contrary.
"I was heartily glad to get away, and to have thus happily accomplished the object of my journey. I carried my basket on my back for some miles, till I got to the place where a waggon put up; and in this I travelled safely back to Exeter.
"I determined not to show my model to Mr. Y——, or the boys, till it should be as complete as I could make it. I got a good ingenious carpenter, who had been in the habit of working for the toy-shops, to help me; and laid out the best part of my worldly treasure upon this my grand first project. I had new models made of the sieves for lueing, the box and trough, the buddle, wreck, and tool [Footnote: The names of vessels and machines used in the Cornish tin-mines.], beside some dozen of wooden workmen, wheelbarrows, &c,; with which the carpenter, by my directions, furnished my mine. I paid a smith and tinman, moreover, for models of our stamps, and blowing-house, and an iron grate for my box: besides, I had a lion rampant [Footnote: A lion rampant is stamped on the block tin which is brought thence.], and other small matters, from the pewterer; also a pair of bellows, finished by the glover; for all which articles, as they were out of the common way, I was charged high.
"It was some time, even when all this was ready, before we could contrive to make our puppets do their business properly: but patience accomplishes every thing. At last we got our wooden miners to obey us, and to perform their several tasks at the word of command; that is to say, at the pulling of certain strings and wires, which we fastened to their legs, arms, heads, and shoulders: which wires, being slender and black, were at a little distance invisible to the spectators. When the skeletons were perfect, we fell to work to dress and paint them; and I never shall forget the delight with which I contemplated our whole company of puppets: men, women, and children, fresh painted and dizened out, all in their proper colours. The carpenter could scarcely prevent me from spoiling them: I was so impatient to set them at work that I could not wait till their clothes were dry; and I was every half hour rubbing my fingers upon their cheeks, to try whether the red paint was yet hard enough.
"With some pride, I announced my intended exhibition to Mr. Y——; and he appointed that evening for seeing it, saying that none but his own boys should be present at the first representation. It was for them alone it was originally designed; but I was so charmed with my newly-finished work, that I would gladly have had all Exeter present at the exhibition. However, before night, I was convinced of my friend Mr. Y——'s superior prudence: the whole thing, as the carpenter said, went off pretty well; but several disasters happened which I had not foreseen. There was one stiff old fellow, whose arms, twitch them which way I would, I could never get to bend: and an obstinate old woman, who would never do any thing else but curtsy, when I wanted her to kneel down and to do her work. My children sorted their heaps of rubbish and ore very dexterously; excepting one unlucky little chap, who, from the beginning, had his head, somehow or other, turned the wrong way upon his shoulders; and I could never manage, all the night, to set it right again: it was in vain I flattered myself that his wry neck would escape observation; for, as he was one of the wheelbarrow boys, he was a conspicuous figure in the piece; and, whenever he appeared, wheeling or emptying his barrow, I to my mortification heard repeated peals of laughter from the spectators, in which even my patron, notwithstanding his good-natured struggles against it for some time, was at last compelled to join.
"I, all the while, was wiping my forehead behind my show-box; for I never was in such a bath of heat in my life: not the hardest day's work I ever wrought in the mine made me one half so hot as setting these puppets to work.
"When my exhibition was over, good Mr. Y—— came to me, and consoled me for all disasters, by the praises he bestowed upon my patience and ingenuity: he showed me that he knew the difficulties with which I had to contend: and he mentioned the defects to me in the kindest manner, and how they might be remedied. 'I see,' said he, smiling, 'that you have endeavoured to make something useful for the entertainment of my boys; and I will take pains to make it turn out advantageously to you.'
"The next morning I went to look at my show-box, which Mr. Y—— had desired me to leave in his study; and I was surprised to see the front of the box, which I had left open for the spectators, filled up with boards, and having a circular glass in the middle. The eldest boy, who stood by enjoying my surprise, bid me look in, and tell him what I saw. What was my astonishment, when I first looked through this glass—'As large as the life!—As large as the life!' cried I, in admiration—'I see the puppets, the wheelbarrows, every thing as large as life!'
"Mr. Y—— then told me, that it was by his grandson's directions that this glass, which he said was called a magnifying-glass, or convex-lens, was added to my show-box. 'He makes you a present of it; and now,' added he, smiling, 'get all your little performers into order, and prepare for a second representation: I will send for a clock-maker in this town, who is an ingenious man, and will show you how to manage properly the motions of your puppets; and then we will get a good painter to paint them for you."
"There was at this time, in Exeter, a society of literary gentlemen, who met once a week at each other's houses. Mr. Y—— was one of these; and several of the principal families in Exeter, especially those who had children, came on the appointed evening to see the model of the Cornwall tin-mine, which, with the assistance of the clock-maker and painter, was now become really a show worth looking at. I made but few blunders this time, and the company were indulgent enough to pardon these, and to express themselves well pleased with my little exhibition. They gave me, indeed, solid marks of their satisfaction, which were quite unexpected: after the exhibition, Mr. Y——'s youngest grandchild, in the name of the rest of the company, presented me with a purse, containing the contributions which had been made for me.
"After repaying all my expenses for my journey and machinery, I found I had six guineas and a crown to spare. So I thought myself a rich man; and, having never seen so much money together in my life before, as six golden guineas and a crown, I should, most probably, like the generality of people who come into the possession of unexpected wealth, have become extravagant, had it not been for the timely advice of my kind monitor, Mr. Y——. When I showed him a pair of Chinese tumblers, which I had bought from a pedlar for twice as much as they were worth, merely because they pleased my fancy, he shook his head, and observed that I might, before my death, want this very money to buy a loaf of bread. 'If you spend your money as fast as you get it, Jervas,' said he, 'no matter how ingenious or industrious you are, you will always be poor. Remember the good proverb that says, Industry is Fortune's right hand, and Frugality her left;' a proverb which has been worth ten times more to me than all my little purse contained: so true it is, that those do not always give most who give money."
"I had soon reason to rejoice at having thrown away no more money on baubles, as I had occasion for my whole stock to fit myself out for a new way of life. 'Jervas,' said Mr. Y—— to me, 'I have at last found an occupation, which I hope will suit you.'—Unknown to me, he had been, ever since he first saw my little model, intent upon turning it to my lasting advantage. Among the gentlemen of the society which I have before mentioned, there was one who had formed a design of sending some well-informed lecturer through England, to exhibit models of the machines used in manufactories: Mr. Y—— purposely invited this gentleman the evening that I exhibited my tin-mine, and proposed to him that I should be permitted to accompany his lecturer. To this he agreed. Mr. Y—— told me that although the person who was fixed upon as lecturer was not exactly the sort of man he should have chosen, yet as he was a relation of the gentleman who set the business on foot, no objection could well be made to him.
"I was rather daunted by the cold and haughty look with which my new master, the lecturer, received me when I was presented to him. Mr. Y——, observing this, whispered to me at parting. 'Make yourself useful, and you will soon be agreeable to him. We must not expect to find friends ready made wherever we go in the world: we often have to make friends for ourselves with great pains and care.' It cost me both pains and care, I know, to make this lecturer my friend. He was what is called born a gentleman; and he began by treating me as a low-born upstart, who, being perfectly ignorant, wanted to pass for a self-taught genius. That I was low-born, I did not attempt to conceal; nor did I perceive that I had any reason to be ashamed of my birth, or of having raised myself by honest means to a station above that in which I was born. I was proud of this circumstance, and therefore it was no torment to me to hear the continual hints which my well-born master threw out upon this subject. I moreover never pretended to any knowledge which I had not; so that, by degrees, notwithstanding his prejudices, he began to feel that I had neither the presumption of an upstart, nor of a self-taught genius. I kept in mind the counsel given to me by Mr. Y——, to endeavour to make myself useful to my employer; but it was no easy matter to do this at first, because he had such a dread of my awkwardness that he would never let me touch any of his apparatus. I was always left to stand like a cipher beside him whilst he lectured; and I had regularly the mortification of hearing him conclude his lecture with, 'Now, gentlemen and ladies, I will not detain you any longer from what, I am sensible, is much better worth your attention than any thing I can offer—Mr. Jervas's puppet-show.'
"It happened one day that he sent me with a shilling, as he thought, to pay a hostler for the feeding of his horse; as I rubbed the money between my finger and thumb, I perceived that the white surface came off, and the piece looked yellow: I recollected that my master had the day before been showing some experiments with quicksilver and gold, and that he had covered a guinea with quicksilver: so I immediately took the money back, and my master, for the first time in his life, thanked me very cordially; for this was in reality a guinea, and not a shilling. He was also surprised at my directly mentioning the experiment he had shown.
"The next day that he lectured, he omitted the offensive conclusion about Mr. Jervas's puppet-show. I observed, farther, to my infinite satisfaction, that after this affair of the guinea, he was not so suspicious of my honesty as he used to appear to be: he now yielded more to his natural indolence, and suffered me to pack up his things for him, and to do a hundred little services which formerly he used roughly to refuse at my hands; saying, 'I had rather do it myself, sir,' or, 'I don't like to have any body meddle with my things, Mr. Jervas.' But his tone changed, and it was now, 'Jervas, I'll leave you to put up these things, whilst I go and read;'—or, 'Jervas, will you see that I leave none of my goods behind me, there's a good lad?'—In truth, he was rather apt to leave his goods behind him: he was the most absent and forgetful man alive. During the first half year we travelled together, whilst he attempted to take care of his own things, I counted that he lost two pair and a half of slippers, one boot, three night-caps, one shirt, and fifteen pocket-handkerchiefs. Many of these losses, I make no doubt, were set down in his imagination to my account whilst he had no opinion of my honesty; but I am satisfied that he was afterwards thoroughly convinced of the injustice of his suspicions, as, from the time that I had the charge of his goods, as he called them, to the day we parted, including a space of above four years and a half, he never lost any thing but one red nightcap, which, to the best of my belief, he sent in his wig one Sunday morning to the barber's, but which never came back again, and an old ragged blue pocket-handkerchief, which he said he put under his pillow, or into his boot, when he went to bed at night. He had an odd way of sticking his pocket-handkerchief into his boot, 'that he might be sure to find it in the morning.' I suspect the handkerchief was carried down in the boot when it was taken to be cleaned. He was, however, perfectly certain that these two losses were not to be imputed to any carelessness of mine. He often said he was obliged to me for the attention I paid to his interests; he treated me now very civilly, and would sometimes condescend to explain to me in private what I did not understand in his public lectures.
"I was presently advanced to the dignity of his secretary. He wrote a miserably bad hand: and his manuscripts were so scratched and interlined, that it was with the utmost difficulty he could decipher his own writing, when he was obliged to have recourse to his notes in lecturing. He was, moreover, extremely near-sighted; and he had a strange trick of wrinkling up the skin on the bridge of his nose when he was perplexed: altogether, his look was so comical when he began to pore over these papers of his, that few of the younger part of our audiences could resist their inclination to laugh. This disconcerted him beyond measure; and he was truly glad to accept my offer of copying out his scrawls fairly in a good bold round hand. I could now write, if I may say it without vanity, an excellent hand, and could go over his calculations as far as the first four rules of arithmetic were concerned; so that I became quite his factotum: and I thought myself rewarded for all my pains, by having opportunities of gaining every day some fresh piece of knowledge from the perusal of the notes which I transcribed.
"It was now that I felt most thoroughly the advantage of having learned to read and write: stores of useful information were opened to me, and my curiosity and desire to inform myself were insatiable. I often sat up half the night reading and writing: I had free access now to all my fellow-traveller's books, and I thought I could never study them enough.
"At the commencement of my studies, my master often praised my diligence, and would show me where to look for what I wanted in his books, or explain difficulties: I looked up to him as a miracle of science and learning; nay, I was actually growing fond of him, but this did not last long. In process of time, he grew shy of explaining things to me; he scolded me for thumbing his books, though, God knows, my thumbs were always cleaner than his own, and he thwarted me continually upon some pretence or other. I could not for some time conceive the cause of this change in my master's behaviour: indeed it was hard for me to guess or believe that he was become jealous of the talents and knowledge of a poor lad, whose ignorance he, but a few years before, had so much despised and derided. I was the more surprised at this new turn of his mind, because I was conscious that, instead of becoming more conceited, I had of late become more humble; but this humility was, by my suspicious master, attributed to artifice, and tended more than any thing to confirm him in his notion that I had formed a plan to supplant him in his office of lecturer, a scheme which had never entered into my head. I was thunderstruck when he one day said to me, 'You need not study so hard, Mr. Jervas; for I promise you that, even with Mr. Y——'s assistance, and all your art, you will not be able to supplant me, clever as, with all affected humility, you think yourself.'
"The truth lightened upon me at once. Had he been a judge of the human countenance, he must have seen my innocence in my looks: but he was so fixed in his opinion, that I knew any protestations I could make of my never having thought of the scheme he imputed to me, would serve only to confirm him in his idea of my dissimulation. I contented myself with returning to him his books and his manuscripts, and thenceforward withdrew my attention from his lectures, to which I had always till now been one of the most eager auditors; by these proceedings I hoped to quiet his suspicions. I no longer applied myself to any studies in which he was engaged, to show him that all competition with him was far from my thoughts; and I have since reflected that this fit of jealousy of his, which I at the time looked upon as a misfortune, because it stopped me short in pursuits which were highly agreeable to my taste, was in fact of essential service to me. My reading had been too general; and I had endeavoured to master so many things, that I was not likely to make myself thoroughly skilled in any. As a blacksmith said once to me, when he was asked why he was not both blacksmith and whitesmith, 'The smith that will meddle with all things may go shoe the goslings;' an old proverb, which, from its mixture of drollery and good sense, became ever after a favourite of mine.
"Having returned my master's books, I had only such to read as I could purchase or borrow for myself, and I became very careful in my choice: I also took every opportunity of learning all I could from the conversation of sensible people, wherever we went; and I found that one piece of knowledge helped me to another often when I least expected it. And this I may add, for the encouragement of others, that every thing which I learned accurately was, at some time or other of my life, of use to me.
"After having made a progress through England, my fellow-traveller determined to try his fortune in the metropolis, and to give lectures there to young people during the winter season. Accordingly, we proceeded towards London, taking Woolwich in our way, where we exhibited before the young gentlemen of the military academy. My master, who, since he had withdrawn his notes from my hands, had no one to copy them fairly, found himself, during his lecture, in some perplexity; and, as he exhibited his usual odd contortions upon this occasion, the young gentlemen could not restrain their laughter: he also prolonged his lecture more than his audience liked, and several yawned terribly, and made signs of an impatient desire to see what was in my box, as a relief from their fatigue. This my master quickly perceived, and, being extremely provoked, he spoke to me with a degree of harshness and insolence which, as I bore it with temper, prepossessed the young company in my favour. He concluded his lecture with the old sentence: 'Gentlemen, I shall no longer detain you from what I am sure is much better worthy of your attention than any thing I can offer, viz. Mr. Jervas's puppet-show.' This was an unlucky speech on the present occasion, for it happened that every body, after having seen what he called my puppet-show, was precisely of this opinion. My master grew more and more impatient, and wanted to hurry me away, but one spirited young man most warmly took me and my tin-mine under his protection: I stood my ground, insisting upon my right to finish my exhibition, as my master had been allowed full time to finish his. The young gentleman who supported me was as well pleased by my present firmness as he had been by my former patience. At parting he made a handsome collection for me, which I refused to accept, taking only the regular price. 'Well,' said he, 'you shall be no loser by this. You are going to town; my father is in London; here is his direction. I'll mention you to him the next time I write home, and you'll not be the worse for that.'
"As soon as we got to London, I went according to my direction. The young gentleman had been more punctual in writing home than young gentlemen sometimes are. I was appointed to come with my models the next evening, when a number of young people were collected, beside the children of the family. The young spectators gathered round me at one end of a large saloon, asking me innumerable questions after the exhibition was over; whilst the master of the house, who was an East India director, was walking up and down the room, conversing with a gentleman in an officer's uniform. They were, as I afterwards understood, talking about the casting of some guns at Woolwich for the East India Company. 'Charles,' said the director, coming to the place where we were standing, and tapping one of his sons on the shoulder, 'do you recollect what your brother told us about the proportion of tin which is used in casting brass cannon at Woolwich?' The young gentleman answered that he could not recollect, but referred his father to me; adding, that his brother told him I was the person from whom he had the information. My memory served me exactly; and I had reason to rejoice that I had not neglected the opportunity of gaining this knowledge, during our short stay at Woolwich. The East India director, pleased with my answering his first question accurately, condescended, in compliance with his children's entreaties, to examine my models, and questioned me upon a variety of subjects: at length he observed to the gentleman with whom he had been conversing, that I explained myself well, that I knew all I did know accurately, and that I had the art of captivating the attention of young people. 'I do think,' concluded he, 'that he would answer Dr. Bell's description better than any person I have seen.' He then inquired particularly into my history and connexions, all of which I told him exactly. He took down the direction to Mr. Y——, and my good master (as I shall always call Mr. R——), and to several other gentlemen, at whose houses I had been during the last three or four years, telling me that he would write to them about me; and that if he found my accounts of myself were as exact as my knowledge upon other subjects, he thought he could place me in a very eligible situation. The answers to these letters were all perfectly satisfactory: he gave me the letter from Mr. R——, saying 'you had better keep this letter, and take care of it; for it will be a recommendation to you in any part of the world where courage and fidelity are held in esteem.' Upon looking into this letter, I found that my good master had related, in the handsomest manner, the whole of my conduct about the discovery of the vein in his mine.
"The director now informed me that, if I had no objection to go to India, I should be appointed to go out to Madras as an assistant to Dr. Bell, one of the directors of the asylum for the instruction of orphans; an establishment which is immediately under the auspices of the East India Company, and which does them honour [Footnote: Vide a small pamphlet, printed for Cadell and Davies, entitled, "An Experiment in Education, made at the Male Asylum of Madras, by the Rev. Dr. A. Bell."].
"The salary which was offered me was munificent beyond my utmost expectations; and the account of the institution, which was put into my hands, charmed me. I speedily settled all my concerns with the lecturer, who was in great astonishment that this appointment had not fallen upon him. To console him for the last time, I showed him a passage in Dr. Bell's pamphlet, in which it is said that the doctor prefers to all others, for teaching at his school, youths who have no fixed habits as tutors, and who will implicitly follow his directions. I was at this time but nineteen: my master was somewhat appeased by this view of the affair, and we parted, as I wished, upon civil terms; though I could not feel much regret at leaving him. I had no pleasure in living with one who would not let me become attached to him; for, having early met with two excellent friends and masters, the agreeable feelings of gratitude and affection were in a manner necessary to my happiness.
"Before I left England, I received new proofs of Mr. R——'s goodness: he wrote to me to say that, as I was going to a distant country, to which a small annuity of ten guineas a year could not easily be remitted, he had determined to lay out a sum equal to the value of the annuity he had promised me, in a manner which he hoped would be advantageous: he further said, that as the vein of the mine with which I had made him acquainted turned out better than he expected, he had added the value of fifty guineas more than my annuity; and that if I would go to Mr. Ramsden's, mathematical instrument maker, in Piccadilly, I should receive all he had ordered to be ready for me. At Mr. Ramsden's I found ready to be packed up for me two small globes, siphons, prisms, an air-gun and an air-pump, a speaking trumpet, a small apparatus for showing the gases, and an apparatus for freezing water. Mr. Ramsden informed me that these were not all the things Mr. R—— had bespoken; that he had ordered a small balloon, and a portable telegraph, in form of an umbrella, which would be sent home, as he expected, in the course of the next week. Mr. Ramsden also had directions to furnish me with a set of mathematical instruments of his own making. 'But,' added he with a smile, 'you will be lucky if you get them soon enough out of my hands.' In fact, I believe I called a hundred times in the course of a fortnight upon Ramsden, and it was only the day before the fleet sailed that they were finished and delivered to me.
"I cannot here omit to mention an incident that happened in one of my walks to Ramsden's: I was rather late, and was pushing my way hastily through a crowd that was gathered at the turning of a street, when a hawker by accident flapped a bundle of wet hand-bills in my eyes, and at the same instant screamed in my ears, 'The last dying speech and confession of Jonathan Clarke, who was executed on Monday, the 11th instant.'—Jonathan Clarke! The name struck my ears suddenly, and the words I shocked me so much that I stood fixed to the spot; and it was I not till the hawker had passed by me some yards, and was beginning with 'The last dying speech and confession of Jonathan Clarke, the Cornwall miner,' that I recollected myself enough to speak: I called after the hawker in vain: he was bawling too loud to hear me, and I was forced to run the whole length of the street before I could overtake him, and get one of the hand-bills. On reading it, I could have no doubt that it was really the last dying speech of my old enemy Clarke. His birth, parentage, and every circumstance, convinced me of the truth. Amongst other things in his confession, I came to a plan he had laid to murder a poor lad in the tin-mine, where he formerly worked; 'and he thanked God that this plan was never executed, as the boy providentially disappeared the very night on which the murder was to have been perpetrated. He further set forth that, after being turned away by his master, and obliged to fly from Cornwall, he came up to London, and worked as a coal-heaver for a little while, but soon became what is called a mud-lark; that is, a plunderer of the ships' cargoes that unload in the Thames. He plied this abominable trade for some time, drinking every day to the value of what he stole, till, in a quarrel at an ale-house about the division of some articles to be sold to a receiver of stolen goods, he struck the woman of the house a blow, of which she died; and, as it was proved that he had long-borne her malice for some old dispute, Clarke was on his trial brought in guilty of wilful murder, and sentenced to be hanged.
"I shuddered whilst I read all this.—To such an end, after the utmost his cunning could do, was this villain brought at last! How thankful I was that I did not continue his associate I in my boyish days! My gratitude to my good master increased upon the reflection that it was his humanity which had raised me from vice and misery, to virtue and happiness. We sailed from the Downs the 20th of March, one thousand seven hundred and.... But why I tell you this I do not know; except it be in compliance with the custom of all voyagers, who think that it is important to the world to know on what day they sailed from this or that port. I shall not, however, imitate them in giving you a journal of the wind, or a copy of the ship's log-book. Suffice it to say, that we arrived safely at Madras, after a voyage of about the usual number of months and days, during all which I am sorry that I have not for your entertainment any escape or imminent danger of shipwreck to relate; nor even any description of a storm or a water-spout.
"You will, I am afraid, be much disappointed to find that, upon my arrival in India, where doubtless you expected that I should like others have wonderful adventures, I began to live at Dr. Bell's asylum in Madras a quiet regular life; in which for years I may safely say, that every day in the week was extremely like that which preceded it. This regularity was nowise irksome to me, notwithstanding that I had for some years, in England, been so much used to a roving way of life. I had never any taste for rambling; and under Dr. Bell, who treated me with strict justice, as far as the business of the asylum was concerned, and with distinguished kindness in all other circumstances, I enjoyed as much freedom as I desired. I never had those absurd vague notions of liberty, which render men uneasy under the necessary restraints of all civilized society, and which do not make them the more fit to live with savages. The young people who were under my care gradually became attached to me, and I to them. I obeyed Dr. Bell's directions exactly in all things; and he was pleased to say, after I had been with him for some time, that he never had any assistant who was so entirely agreeable to him. When the business of the day was over, I often amused myself, and the elder boys, with my apparatus for preparing the gases, my speaking-trumpet, air-gun, &c.
"One day, I think it was in the fourth year of my residence at Madras, Dr. Bell sent for me into his closet, and asked me if I had ever heard of a scholar of his, of the name of William Smith, a youth of seventeen years of age; who, in the year 1794, attended the embassy to Tippoo Sultan, when the hostage princes were restored; and who went through a course of experiments in natural philosophy, in the presence of the sultan. I answered Dr. Bell that, before I left England, I had read, in his account of the asylum, extracts from this William Smith's letters, whilst he was at the sultan's court; and that I remembered all the experiments he had exhibited perfectly well; and also that he was detained, by the sultan's order, nineteen days after the embassy had taken leave, for the purpose of instructing two aruzbegs, or lords, in the use of an extensive and elegant mathematical apparatus, presented to Tippoo by the government at Madras. [Footnote: Extracts from William Smith's Letters to Dr. Bell, (vide the Pamphlet before mentioned.)
'Devanelli Fort, April 8, 1792.
'I take the liberty of informing you that we arrived here the 28th uit. without any particular occurrence in the way. The day after our arrival we made our first visit to the sultan; and he entertained us at his court for upwards of three hours.
'On the 1st instant Captain Dovetoun sent me an order to open the boxes, and lay out the machines, to show them to the sultan. Accordingly, on the third, I was sent for, and I exhibited the following experiments; viz. head and wig; dancing images; electric stool; cotton fired; small receiver and stand; hemispheres; Archimedes' screw; siphon; Tantalus's cup; water-pump; condensing engine, &c. Captain Dovetoun was present, and explained, as I went on, to the sultan, who has given us an instance of his being acquainted with some of these experiments. He has shown us a condensing engine made by himself, which spouted water higher than ours. He desired me to teach two men, his aruzbegs.
* * * * *
'I can assure you that Tippoo Sultan was mightily pleased with the electric machine. He was prepared for every experiment I exhibited, except the firing of the inflammable air.
* * * * *
'It did cost me several minutes before the firing of the inflammable air proved successful; during which time he was in a very impatient emotion; and, when that was done, it did indeed surprise him. He desired me to go over it three times.
'I take the liberty to write for your information the familiar discourse Tippoo Sultan was pleased to enter into with me, that took place at the close of the experiments.
'There were some silver trumpets, newly made, brought in to him for his inspection, and which he desired the trumpeters to sound hauw and jauw; i.e. come and go; after which, he asked me if they were like those I saw at Madras. I answered, Yes; but those at Madras are made of copper. He asked me again whether the tune was any thing like what I had ever heard. I answered, No. How then? says he; and presently ordering the instrument to be put into my hands, desired me to blow. I told him, very civilly, that I could not blow. No! says he: you could; what are you afraid of? I told him again that I spoke truth; and that I was brought up in a school where my master informed me what lying was, and always punished those boys that spoke untruths.
* * * * *
'June 11th. After this the sultan arose (five hours being elapsed) to quit the court, and desired the present (of a hundred rupees) to be delivered into my hands, with these words: "This is given you as a present for the trouble you took in performing those experiments, which verily pleased me;" and a command that I am to stay in the fort ten days; "after which," he continued, "I will send you to Kistnagherry, with two hircarrahs, in order to conduct you safely through my country." I returned the compliment with a salam, in the manner I was instructed; saying that I thankfully accepted his present, and am willing to obey his commands. The language which the sultan used was the Carnatic Malabar. Mine very little differed from his. Poornbia was the interpreter of such terms as the sultan did not understand.']
"Well,' said Dr. Bell, 'since that time Tippoo Sultan has been at war, and has had no leisure, I suppose, for the study of philosophy, or mathematics; but now that he has just made peace, and wants something to amuse him, he has sent to the government at Madras, to request that I will permit some of my scholars to pay a second visit at his court to refresh the memory of the aruzbegs, and, I presume, to exhibit some new wonders for Tippoo's entertainment.'
"Dr. B. proposed to me to go on this embassy: accordingly, I prepared all my apparatus, and, having carefully remarked what experiments Tippoo had already seen, I selected such as would be new to him. I packed up my speaking-trumpet, my apparatus for freezing water, and that for exhibiting the gases, my balloon and telegraph, and with these and my model of the tin-mine, which I took by Dr. Bell's advice, I set out with two of his eldest scholars upon our expedition. We were met on the entrance of Tippoo's dominions by four hircarrahs or soldiers, whom the sultan sent as a guard to conduct us safely through his dominions. He received us at court the day after our arrival. Unaccustomed as I was to Asiatic magnificence, I confess that my eyes were at first so dazzled by the display of oriental pomp that, as I prostrated myself at the foot of the sultan's throne, I considered him as a personage high as human veneration could look upon. After having made my salam, or salutation, according to the custom of his court, as I was instructed to do, the sultan commanded me, by his interpreter, to display my knowledge of the arts and sciences, for the instruction and amusement of his court.
"My boxes and machines had all been previously opened, and laid out: I was prepared to show my apparatus for freezing, but Tippoo's eye was fixed upon the painted silk balloon; and with prodigious eagerness he interrupted me several times with questions about that great empty bag. I endeavoured to make him understand as well as I could, by my interpreter and his own, that this great empty bag was to be filled with a species of air lighter than the common air; and that, when filled, the bag which I informed him was in our country called a balloon, would mount far above his palace. No sooner was this repeated to him, by the interpreter, than the sultan commanded me instantly to fill the balloon; and when I replied that it could not be done instantly, and that I was not prepared to exhibit it on this day, Tippoo gave signs of the most childish impatience. He signified to me, that since I could not show him what he wanted to see, the sultan would not see what I wanted to show. I replied, through his interpreter, in the most respectful but firm manner, that no one would be so presumptuous as to show to Tippoo Sultan, in his own court, any thing which he did not desire to see: that it was in compliance with his wishes that I came to his court, from which, in obedience to his commands, I should at any time be ready to withdraw. A youth, who stood at the right hand of Tippoo's throne, seemed much to approve of this answer, and the sultan, assuming a more composed and dignified aspect, signified to me that he was satisfied to await for the sight of the filling of the great bag till the next day; and that he should, in the mean time, be well pleased to see what I was now prepared to show.
"The apparatus for freezing, which we then exhibited, seemed to please him; but I observed that he was, during a great part of the time whilst I was explaining it, intent upon something else; and no sooner had I done speaking than he caused to be produced the condensing engines, made by himself, which he formerly showed to William Smith, and which he said spouted water higher than any of ours. The sultan, I perceived, was much more intent upon displaying his small stock of mechanical knowledge than upon increasing it; and the mixture of vanity and ignorance, which he displayed upon this and many subsequent occasions, considerably lessened the awe which his external magnificence at first excited in my mind. Sometimes he would put himself in competition with me, to show his courtiers his superiority; but failing in these attempts, he would then treat me as a species of mechanic juggler, who was fit only to exhibit for the amusement of his court. When he saw my speaking-trumpet, which was made of copper, he at first looked at it with great scorn, and ordered his trumpeters to show me theirs, which were made of silver. As he had formerly done when my predecessor was at his court, he desired his trumpeters to sound through these trumpets the words hauw and jauw, i.e. come and go: but, upon trial, mine was found to be far superior to the sultan's: and I received intimation, through one of his courtiers, that it would be prudent to offer it immediately to Tippoo. This I accordingly did, and he accepted it with the eagerness of a child who has begged and obtained a new play-thing."
"The next day, Tippoo and his whole court assembled to see my balloon. Tippoo was seated in a splendid pavilion, and his principal courtiers stood in a semicircle on each side of him: the youth, whom I formerly observed, was again on his right hand, and his eyes were immovably fixed upon my balloon, which had been previously filled and fastened down by cords. I had the curiosity to ask who this youth was: I was informed he was the sultan's eldest son, Prince Abdul Calie. I had not time to make any farther inquiries, for Tippoo now ordered a signal to be given, as had been previously agreed upon. I instantly cut the cords which held the balloon, and it ascended with a rapid but graceful motion, to the unspeakable astonishment and delight of all the spectators. Some clapped their hands and shouted, others looked up in speechless ecstasy, and in the general emotion all ranks for an instant were confounded: even Tippoo Sultan seemed at this interval to be forgotten, and to forget himself, in the admiration of this new wonder.
"As soon as the balloon was out of sight, the court returned to their usual places, the noise subsided, and the sultan, as if desirous to fix the public attention upon himself, and to show his own superior magnificence, issued orders immediately to his treasurer to present me, as a token of his royal approbation, with two hundred star pagodas. When I approached to make my salam and compliment of thanks, as I was instructed, the sultan, who observed that some of the courtiers already began to regard me with envy, as if my reward had been too great, determined to divert himself with their spleen, and to astonish me with his generosity: he took from his finger a diamond ring, which he presented to me by one of his officers. The young prince, Abdul Calie, whispered to his father whilst I was withdrawing, and I soon afterwards received a message from the sultan, requesting, or, in other words, ordering me to remain some time at his court, to instruct the young prince, his son, in the use of my European machines, for which they had in their language no names.
"This command proved a source of real pleasure to me; for I found Prince Abdul Calie not only a youth of quick apprehension, but of a most amiable disposition, unlike the imperious and capricious temper which I had remarked in his father. Prince Abdul Calie had been, when he was about twelve years old, one of the hostage princes left with Lord Cornwallis at Seringapatam. With that politeness which is seldom to be found in the sons of eastern despots, this prince, after my first introduction, ordered the magnificent palanquin, given to him by Lord Cornwallis, to be shown to me; then pointing to the enamelled snakes which support the panels, and on which the sun at that instant happened to shine, Prince Abdul Calie was pleased to say, 'The remembrance of your noble countryman's kindness to me is as fresh and lively in my soul as those colours now appear to my eye.'
"Another thing gave me a good opinion of this young prince; he did not seem to value presents merely by their costliness; whether he gave or received, he considered the feelings of others; and I know that he often excited in my mind more gratitude by the gift of a mere trifle, by a word or a look, than his ostentatious father could by the most valuable donations. Tippoo, though he ordered his treasurer to pay me fifty rupees per day, whilst I was in his service, yet treated me with a species of insolence; which, having some of the feelings of a free-born Briton about me, I found it difficult to endure with patience. His son, on the contrary, showed that he felt obliged to me for the little instruction I was able to give him; and never appeared to think that, as a prince, he could pay for all the kindness, as well as the service of his inferiors, by pagodas or rupees: so true it is that attachment cannot be bought; and those who wish to have friends, as well as servants, should keep this truth constantly in mind. My English spirit of independence induced me to make these and many more such reflections whilst I was at Tippoo's court.
"Every day afforded me fresh occasion to form comparisons between the sultan and his son; and my attachment to my pupil every day increased. My pupil! It was with astonishment I sometimes reflected that a young prince was actually my pupil. Thus an obscure individual, in a country like England, where arts, sciences, and literature are open to all ranks, may obtain a degree of knowledge which an eastern despot, in all his pride, would gladly purchase with ingots of his purest gold.
"One evening, after the business of the day was over, Tippoo Sultan came into his son's apartment, whilst I was explaining to the young prince the use of some of the mathematical instruments in my pocket-case. 'We are well acquainted with these things,' said the sultan in a haughty tone: 'the government of Madras sent us such things as those, with others, which are now in the possession of some of my aruzbegs, who have doubtless explained them sufficiently to the prince my son.' Prince Abdul Calie modestly replied, 'that he had never before been made to understand them; for that the aruzbeg, who had formerly attempted to explain them, had not the art of making things so clear to him as I had done.'
"I felt a glow of pleasure at this compliment, and at the consciousness that I deserved it. How little did I imagine, when I used to sit up at nights studying my old master's books, that one of them would be the means of procuring me such honour. [Footnote: Jervas here alludes to a book entitled, "A Description of Pocket and Magazine Cases of Drawing Instruments: in which is explained the use of each instrument, and particularly of the sector and plain scale, Gunter's scale, &c. By J. Barrow, private teacher of mathematics."]
"'What is contained in that box?' said the sultan, pointing to the box which held the model of the tin-mine. 'I do not remember to have seen it opened in my presence.'
"I replied that it had not been opened, because I feared that it was not worthy to be shown to him. But he commanded that it should instantly be exhibited; and, to my great surprise, it seemed to delight him excessively: he examined every part, moved the wires of the puppets, and asked innumerable questions concerning our tin-mines. I was the more astonished at this, because I had imagined he would have considered every object of commerce as beneath the notice of a sultan. Nor could I guess why he should be peculiarly interested in this subject: but he soon explained this to me, by saying that he had, in his dominions, certain mines of tin, which he had a notion would, if properly managed, bring a considerable revenue to the royal treasury; but that at present, through negligence or fraud, these mines were rather burdensome than profitable.
"He inquired from me how my model came into my possession; and, when his interpreter told him that I made it myself, he caused the question and answer to be repeated twice, before he would believe that he understood me rightly. He next inquired whether I was acquainted with the art of mining; and how I came by my information: in short, he commanded me to relate my history. I replied that it was a long story, concerning only an obscure individual, and unworthy the attention of a great monarch: but he seemed this evening to have nothing to do but to gratify his curiosity, which my apology only served to increase. He again commanded me to relate my adventures, and I then told him the history of my early life. I was much flattered by the interest which the young prince took in my escape from the mine, and by the praises he bestowed on my fidelity to my master.
"The sultan, on the contrary, heard me at first with curiosity, but afterwards with an air of incredulity. Upon observing this, I produced the letter from my good master to the East India director, which gave a full account of the whole affair. I put this letter into the hands of the interpreter, and with some difficulty he translated it into the Carnatic Malabar, which was the language the sultan used in speaking to me.
"The letter, which had the counter-signatures of some of the East India Company's servants resident at Madras, whose names were well known to Tippoo, failed not to make a great impression in favour of my integrity: of my knowledge he had before a high opinion. He stood musing for some time, with his eyes fixed upon the model of the tin-mine; and, after consulting with the young prince, as I guessed by their tones and looks, he bade his interpreter tell me that, if I would undertake to visit the tin-mines in his dominions, to instruct his miners how to work them, and to manage the ore according to the English fashion, I should receive from the royal treasury a reward more than proportioned to my services, and suitable to the generosity of a sultan.
"Some days were given me to consider of this proposal. Though tempted by the idea that I might realize, in a short time, a sum that would make me independent for the rest of my life, yet my suspicions of the capricious and tyrannical temper of Tippoo made me dread to have him for a master; and, above all, I resolved to do nothing without the express permission of Dr. Bell, to whom I immediately wrote. He seemed, by his answer, to think that such an opportunity of making my fortune was not to be neglected: my hopes, therefore, prevailed over my fears, and I accepted the proposal.
"The presents which he had made me, and the salary allowed me during six weeks that I had attended the young prince, amounted to a considerable sum; 500 star pagodas and 500 rupees: all which I left, together with my ring, in the care of a great Gentoo merchant of the name of Omychund, who had shown me many civilities. With proper guides, and full powers from the sultan, I proceeded on my journey, and devoted myself with the greatest ardour to my undertaking. A very laborious and difficult undertaking it proved: for in no country are prejudices in favour of their own customs more inveterate, amongst workmen of every description, than in India; and although I was empowered to inflict what punishment I thought proper on those who disobeyed, or even hesitated to fulfil my orders, yet, thank God! I could never bring myself to have a poor slave tortured, or put to death, because he roasted ore in a manner which I did not think so good as my own method; nor even because he was not so well convinced as I was of the advantages of our Cornwall smelting-furnace.