THE HISTORY OF JOHN BULL
By John Arbuthnot, M.D.
INTRODUCTION BY HENRY MORLEY.
This is the book which fixed the name and character of John Bull on the English people. Though in one part of the story he is thin and long nosed, as a result of trouble, generally he is suggested to us as "ruddy and plump, with a pair of cheeks like a trumpeter," an honest tradesman, simple and straightforward, easily cheated; but when he takes his affairs into his own hands, acting with good plain sense, knowing very well what he wants done, and doing it.
The book was begun in the year 1712, and published in four successive groups of chapters that dealt playfully, from the Tory point of view, with public affairs leading up to the Peace of Utrecht. The Peace urged and made by the Tories was in these light papers recommended to the public. The last touches in the parable refer to the beginning of the year 1713, when the Duke of Ormond separated his troops from those of the Allies and went to receive Dunkirk as the stipulated condition of cessation of arms. After the withdrawal of the British troops, Prince Eugene was defeated by Marshal Villars at Denain, and other reverses followed. The Peace of Utrecht was signed on the 31st of March.
Some chapters in this book deal in like manner, from the point of view of a good-natured Tory of Queen Anne's time, with the feuds of the day between Church and Dissent. Other chapters unite with this topic a playful account of another chief political event of the time—the negotiation leading to the Act of Union between England and Scotland, which received the Royal Assent on the 6th of March, 1707; John Bull then consented to receive his "Sister Peg" into his house. The Church, of course, is John Bull's mother; his first wife is a Whig Parliament, his second wife a Tory Parliament, which first met in November, 1710.
This "History of John Bull" began with the first of its four parts entitled "Law is a Bottomless Pit, exemplified in the case of Lord Strutt, John Bull, Nicholas Frog, and Lewis Baboon, who spent all they had in a Law-suit." For Law put War—the War of the Spanish Succession; for lawyers, soldiers; for sessions, campaigns; for verdicts, battles won; for Humphry Hocus the attorney, Marlborough the general; for law expenses, war expenses; and for aim of the whole, to aid the Tory policy of peace with France. A second part followed, entitled "John Bull in his Senses;" the third part was called "John Bull still in his Senses;" and the fourth part, "Lewis Baboon turned Honest, and John Bull Politician." The four parts were afterwards arranged into two, as they are here reprinted, and published together as "The History of John Bull," with a few notes by the author which sufficiently explain its drift.
The author was John Arbuthnot, a physician, familiar friend of Pope and Swift, whom Pope addressed as
"Friend to my life, which did not you prolong, The world had wanted many an idle song;"
and of whom Swift said, that "he has more wit than we all have, and his humanity is equal to his wit." "If there were a dozen Arbuthnots in the world," said Swift, "I would burn 'Gulliver's Travels.'"
Arbuthnot was of Swift's age, born in 1667, son of a Scotch Episcopal clergyman, who lost his living at the Revolution. His sons—all trained in High Church principles—left Scotland to seek their fortunes; John came to London and taught mathematics. He took his degree of Doctor of Medicine at St. Andrews in 1696; found use for mathematics in his studies of medicine; became a Fellow of the Royal Society; and being by chance at Epsom when Queen Anne's husband was taken ill, prescribed for him so successfully that he was made in 1705 Physician Extraordinary, and upon the occurrence of a vacancy in 1709 Physician in Ordinary, to the Queen. Swift calls him her favourite physician. In 1710 he was admitted Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. That was Arbuthnot's position in 1712-13 when, at the age of forty-five, he wrote this "History of John Bull." He was personal friend of the Ministers whose policy he supported, and especially of Harley, Earl of Oxford, the Sir Roger of the History.
After Queen Anne's death, and the coming of the Whigs to power, Arbuthnot lost his office at Court. But he was the friend and physician of all the wits; himself without literary ambition, allowing friends to make what alterations they pleased in pieces that he wrote, or his children to make kites of them. A couple of years before his death he suffered deeply from the loss of the elder of his two sons. He was himself afflicted then with stone, and retired to Hampstead to die. "A recovery," he wrote to Swift, "is in my case and in my age impossible; the kindest wish of my friends is euthanasia." He died in 1735.
When I was first called to the office of historiographer to John Bull, he expressed himself to this purpose:—"Sir Humphrey Polesworth,* I know you are a plain dealer; it is for that reason I have chosen you for this important trust; speak the truth and spare not." That I might fulfil those his honourable intentions, I obtained leave to repair to, and attend him in his most secret retirements; and I put the journals of all transactions into a strong box, to be opened at a fitting occasion, after the manner of the historiographers of some eastern monarchs: this I thought was the safest way; though I declare I was never afraid to be chopped** by my master for telling of truth. It is from those journals that my memoirs are compiled: therefore let not posterity a thousand years hence look for truth in the voluminous annals of pedants, who are entirely ignorant of the secret springs of great actions; if they do, let me tell them they will be nebused.***
* A Member of Parliament, eminent for a certain cant in his conversation, of which there is a good deal in this book.
** A cant word of Sir Humphrey's.
*** Another cant word, signifying deceived.
With incredible pains have I endeavoured to copy the several beauties of the ancient and modern historians; the impartial temper of Herodotus, the gravity, austerity, and strict morals of Thucydides, the extensive knowledge of Xenophon, the sublimity and grandeur of Titus Livius; and to avoid the careless style of Polybius, I have borrowed considerable ornaments from Dionysius Halicarnasseus, and Diodorus Siculus. The specious gilding of Tacitus I have endeavoured to shun. Mariana, Davila, and Fra. Paulo, are those amongst the moderns whom I thought most worthy of imitation; but I cannot be so disingenuous, as not to own the infinite obligations I have to the "Pilgrim's Progress" of John Bunyan, and the "Tenter Belly" of the Reverend Joseph Hall.
From such encouragement and helps, it is easy to guess to what a degree of perfection I might have brought this great work, had it not been nipped in the bud by some illiterate people in both Houses of Parliament, who envying the great figure I was to make in future ages, under pretence of raising money for the war,* have padlocked all those very pens that were to celebrate the actions of their heroes, by silencing at once the whole university of Grub Street. I am persuaded that nothing but the prospect of an approaching peace could have encouraged them to make so bold a step. But suffer me, in the name of the rest of the matriculates of that famous university, to ask them some plain questions: Do they think that peace will bring along with it the golden age? Will there be never a dying speech of a traitor? Are Cethegus and Catiline turned so tame, that there will be no opportunity to cry about the streets, "A Dangerous Plot?" Will peace bring such plenty that no gentleman will have occasion to go upon the highway, or break into a house? I am sorry that the world should be so much imposed upon by the dreams of a false prophet, as to imagine the Millennium is at hand. O Grub Street! thou fruitful nursery of towering geniuses! How do I lament thy downfall? Thy ruin could never be meditated by any who meant well to English liberty. No modern lyceum will ever equal thy glory: whether in soft pastorals thou didst sing the flames of pampered apprentices and coy cook maids; or mournful ditties of departing lovers; or if to Maeonian strains thou raisedst thy voice, to record the stratagems, the arduous exploits, and the nocturnal scalade of needy heroes, the terror of your peaceful citizens, describing the powerful Betty or the artful Picklock, or the secret caverns and grottoes of Vulcan sweating at his forge, and stamping the queen's image on viler metals which he retails for beef and pots of ale; or if thou wert content in simple narrative, to relate the cruel acts of implacable revenge, or the complaint of ravished virgins blushing to tell their adventures before the listening crowd of city damsels, whilst in thy faithful history thou intermingledst the gravest counsels and the purest morals. Nor less acute and piercing wert thou in thy search and pompous descriptions of the works of nature; whether in proper and emphatic terms thou didst paint the blazing comet's fiery tail, the stupendous force of dreadful thunder and earthquakes, and the unrelenting inundations. Sometimes, with Machiavelian sagacity, thou unravelledst intrigues of state, and the traitorous conspiracies of rebels, giving wise counsel to monarchs. How didst thou move our terror and our pity with thy passionate scenes between Jack Catch and the heroes of the Old Bailey? How didst thou describe their intrepid march up Holborn Hill? Nor didst thou shine less in thy theological capacity, when thou gavest ghostly counsels to dying felons, and didst record the guilty pangs of Sabbath breakers. How will the noble arts of John Overton's** painting and sculpture now languish? where rich invention, proper expression, correct design, divine attitudes, and artful contrast, heightened with the beauties of Clar. Obscur., embellished thy celebrated pieces, to the delight and astonishment of the judicious multitude! Adieu, persuasive eloquence! the quaint metaphor, the poignant irony, the proper epithet, and the lively simile, are fled for ever! Instead of these, we shall have, I know not what! The illiterate will tell the rest with pleasure.
* Act restraining the liberty of the press, etc.
** The engraver of the cuts before the Grub Street papers.
I hope the reader will excuse this digression, due by way of condolence to my worthy brethren of Grub Street, for the approaching barbarity that is likely to overspread all its regions by this oppressive and exorbitant tax. It has been my good fortune to receive my education there; and so long as I preserved some figure and rank amongst the learned of that society, I scorned to take my degree either at Utrecht or Leyden, though I was offered it gratis by the professors in those universities.
And now that posterity may not be ignorant in what age so excellent a history was written (which would otherwise, no doubt, be the subject of its inquiries), I think it proper to inform the learned of future times, that it was compiled when Louis XIV. was King of France, and Philip his grandson of Spain; when England and Holland, in conjunction with the Emperor and the Allies, entered into a war against these two princes, which lasted ten years, under the management of the Duke of Marlborough, and was put to a conclusion by the Treaty of Utrecht, under the ministry of the Earl of Oxford, in the year 1713.
Many at that time did imagine the history of John Bull, and the personages mentioned in it, to be allegorical, which the author would never own. Notwithstanding, to indulge the reader's fancy and curiosity, I have printed at the bottom of the page the supposed allusions of the most obscure parts of the story.
THE HISTORY OF JOHN BULL.
CHAPTER I. The Occasion of the Law Suit.
I need not tell you of the great quarrels that have happened in our neighbourhood since the death of the late Lord Strutt;* how the parson** and a cunning attorney got him to settle his estate upon his cousin Philip Baboon, to the great disappointment of his cousin Esquire South. Some stick not to say that the parson and the attorney forged a will; for which they were well paid by the family of the Baboons. Let that be as it will, it is matter of fact that the honour and estate have continued ever since in the person of Philip Baboon.
* Late King of Spain.
** Cardinal Portocarero.
You know that the Lord Strutts have for many years been possessed of a very great landed estate, well conditioned, wooded, watered, with coal, salt, tin, copper, iron, etc., all within themselves; that it has been the misfortune of that family to be the property of their stewards, tradesmen, and inferior servants, which has brought great incumbrances upon them; at the same time, their not abating of their expensive way of living has forced them to mortgage their best manors. It is credibly reported that the butcher's and baker's bill of a Lord Strutt that lived two hundred years ago are not yet paid.
When Philip Baboon came first to the possession of the Lord Strutt's estate, his tradesmen,* as is usual upon such occasions, waited upon him to wish him joy and bespeak his custom. The two chief were John Bull,** the clothier, and Nic. Frog,*** the linendraper. They told him that the Bulls and Frogs had served the Lord Strutts with draperyware for many years; that they were honest and fair dealers; that their bills had never been questioned; that the Lord Strutts lived generously, and never used to dirty their fingers with pen, ink, and counters; that his lordship might depend upon their honesty that they would use him as kindly as they had done his predecessors. The young lord seemed to take all in good part, and dismissed them with a deal of seeming content, assuring them he did not intend to change any of the honourable maxims of his predecessors.
* The first letters of congratulation from King William and the States of Holland upon King Philip's accession to the crown of Spain.
** The English.
*** The Dutch.
CHAPTER II. How Bull and Frog grew jealous that the Lord Strutt intended to give all his custom to his grandfather Lewis Baboon.
It happened unfortunately for the peace of our neighbourhood that this young lord had an old cunning rogue, or, as the Scots call it, a false loon of a grandfather, that one might justly call a Jack-of-all-Trades.* Sometimes you would see him behind his counter selling broadcloth, sometimes measuring linen; next day he would be dealing in merceryware. High heads, ribbons, gloves, fans, and lace he understood to a nicety. Charles Mather could not bubble a young beau better with a toy; nay, he would descend even to the selling of tape, garters, and shoe-buckles. When shop was shut up he would go about the neighbourhood and earn half-a-crown by teaching the young men and maids to dance. By these methods he had acquired immense riches, which he used to squander* away at back-sword, quarter-staff, and cudgel-play, in which he took great pleasure, and challenged all the country. You will say it is no wonder if Bull and Frog should be jealous of this fellow. "It is not impossible," says Frog to Bull, "but this old rogue will take the management of the young lord's business into his hands; besides, the rascal has good ware, and will serve him as cheap as anybody. In that case, I leave you to judge what must become of us and our families; we must starve, or turn journeyman to old Lewis Baboon. Therefore, neighbour, I hold it advisable that we write to young Lord Strutt to know the bottom of this matter."
* The character and trade of the French nation.
** The King's disposition to war.
CHAPTER III. A Copy of Bull and Frog's Letter to Lord Strutt.
My Lord,—I suppose your lordship knows that the Bulls and the Frogs have served the Lord Strutts with all sorts of draperyware time out of mind. And whereas we are jealous, not without reason, that your lordship intends henceforth to buy of your grandsire old Lewis Baboon, this is to inform your lordship that this proceeding does not suit with the circumstances of our families, who have lived and made a good figure in the world by the generosity of the Lord Strutts. Therefore we think fit to acquaint your lordship that you must find sufficient security to us, our heirs, and assigns that you will not employ Lewis Baboon, or else we will take our remedy at law, clap an action upon you of 20,000 pounds for old debts, seize and distrain your goods and chattels, which, considering your lordship's circumstances, will plunge you into difficulties, from which it will not be easy to extricate yourself. Therefore we hope, when your lordship has better considered on it, you will comply with the desire of
Your loving friends,
Some of Bull's friends advised him to take gentler methods with the young lord, but John naturally loved rough play. It is impossible to express the surprise of the Lord Strutt upon the receipt of this letter. He was not flush in ready either to go to law or clear old debts, neither could he find good bail. He offered to bring matters to a friendly accommodation, and promised, upon his word of honour, that he would not change his drapers; but all to no purpose, for Bull and Frog saw clearly that old Lewis would have the cheating of him.
CHAPTER IV. How Bull and Frog went to law with Lord Strutt about the premises, and were joined by the rest of the tradesmen.
All endeavours of accommodation between Lord Strutt and his drapers proved vain. Jealousies increased, and, indeed, it was rumoured abroad that Lord Strutt had bespoke his new liveries of old Lewis Baboon. This coming to Mrs. Bull's ears, when John Bull came home, he found all his family in an uproar. Mrs. Bull, you must know, was very apt to be choleric. "You sot," says she, "you loiter about alehouses and taverns, spend your time at billiards, ninepins, or puppet-shows, or flaunt about the streets in your new gilt chariot, never minding me nor your numerous family. Don't you hear how Lord Strutt has bespoke his liveries at Lewis Baboon's shop? Don't you see how that old fox steals away your customers, and turns you out of your business every day, and you sit like an idle drone, with your hands in your pockets? Fie upon it. Up man, rouse thyself; I'll sell to my shift before I'll be so used by that knave."* You must think Mrs. Bull had been pretty well tuned up by Frog, who chimed in with her learned harangue. No further delay now, but to counsel learned in the law they go, who unanimously assured them both of justice and infallible success of their lawsuit.
* The sentiments and addresses of the Parliament at that time.
I told you before that old Lewis Baboon was a sort of a Jack-of-all-trades, which made the rest of the tradesmen jealous, as well as Bull and Frog; they hearing of the quarrel, were glad of an opportunity of joining against old Lewis Baboon, provided that Bull and Frog would bear the charges of the suit. Even lying Ned, the chimney-sweeper of Savoy, and Tom, the Portugal dustman, put in their claims, and the cause was put into the hands of Humphry Hocus, the attorney.
A declaration was drawn up to show "That Bull and Frog had undoubted right by prescription to be drapers to the Lord Strutts; that there were several old contracts to that purpose; that Lewis Baboon had taken up the trade of clothier and draper without serving his time or purchasing his freedom; that he sold goods that were not marketable without the stamp; that he himself was more fit for a bully than a tradesman, and went about through all the country fairs challenging people to fight prizes, wrestling and cudgel play, and abundance more to this purpose."
CHAPTER V. The true characters of John Bull, Nic. Frog, and Hocus.*
* Characters of the English and Dutch, and the General Duke of Marlborough.
For the better understanding the following history the reader ought to know that Bull, in the main, was an honest, plain-dealing fellow, choleric, bold, and of a very unconstant temper; he dreaded not old Lewis either at back-sword, single falchion, or cudgel-play; but then he was very apt to quarrel with his best friends, especially if they pretended to govern him. If you flattered him you might lead him like a child. John's temper depended very much upon the air; his spirits rose and fell with the weather-glass. John was quick and understood his business very well, but no man alive was more careless in looking into his accounts, or more cheated by partners, apprentices, and servants. This was occasioned by his being a boon companion, loving his bottle and his diversion; for, to say truth, no man kept a better house than John, nor spent his money more generously. By plain and fair dealing John had acquired some plums, and might have kept them, had it not been for his unhappy lawsuit.
Nic. Frog was a cunning, sly fellow, quite the reverse of John in many particulars; covetous, frugal, minded domestic affairs, would pinch his belly to save his pocket, never lost a farthing by careless servants or bad debtors. He did not care much for any sort of diversion, except tricks of high German artists and legerdemain. No man exceeded Nic. in these; yet it must be owned that Nic. was a fair dealer, and in that way acquired immense riches.
Hocus was an old cunning attorney, and though this was the first considerable suit that ever he was engaged in he showed himself superior in address to most of his profession. He kept always good clerks, he loved money, was smooth-tongued, gave good words, and seldom lost his temper. He was not worse than an infidel, for he provided plentifully for his family, but he loved himself better than them all. The neighbours reported that he was henpecked, which was impossible, by such a mild-spirited woman as his wife was.
CHAPTER VI. Of the various success of the Lawsuit.*
* The success of the war.
Law is a bottomless pit; it is a cormorant, a harpy, that devours everything. John Bull was flattered by the lawyers that his suit would not last above a year or two at most; that before that time he would be in quiet possession of his business; yet ten long years did Hocus steer his cause through all the meanders of the law and all the courts. No skill, no address was wanting, and, to say truth, John did not starve the cause; there wanted not yellowboys to fee counsel, hire witnesses, and bribe juries. Lord Strutt was generally cast, never had one verdict in his favour, and John was promised that the next, and the next, would be the final determination; but, alas! that final determination and happy conclusion was like an enchanted island; the nearer John came to it the further it went from him. New trials upon new points still arose, new doubts, new matters to be cleared; in short, lawyers seldom part with so good a cause till they have got the oyster and their clients the shell. John's ready money, book debts, bonds, mortgages, all went into the lawyers' pockets. Then John began to borrow money upon Bank Stock and East India Bonds. Now and then a farm went to pot. At last it was thought a good expedient to set up Esquire South's title to prove the will forged and dispossess Philip Lord Strutt at once. Here again was a new field for the lawyers, and the cause grew more intricate than ever. John grew madder and madder; wherever he met any of Lord Strutt's servants he tore off their clothes. Now and then you would see them come home naked, without shoes, stockings, and linen. As for old Lewis Baboon, he was reduced to his last shift, though he had as many as any other. His children were reduced from rich silks to doily stuffs, his servants in rags and barefooted; instead of good victuals they now lived upon neck beef and bullock's liver. In short, nobody got much by the matter but the men of law.
CHAPTER VII. How John Bull was so mightily pleased with his success that he was going to leave off his trade and turn Lawyer.
It is wisely observed by a great philosopher that habit is a second nature. This was verified in the case of John Bull, who, from an honest and plain tradesman, had got such a haunt about the Courts of Justice, and such a jargon of law words, that he concluded himself as able a lawyer as any that pleaded at the bar or sat on the bench. He was overheard one day talking to himself after this manner: "How capriciously does fate or chance dispose of mankind. How seldom is that business allotted to a man for which he is fitted by Nature. It is plain I was intended for a man of law. How did my guardians mistake my genius in placing me, like a mean slave, behind a counter? Bless me! what immense estates these fellows raise by the law. Besides, it is the profession of a gentleman. What a pleasure it is to be victorious in a cause: to swagger at the bar. What a fool am I to drudge any more in this woollen trade. For a lawyer I was born, and a lawyer I will be; one is never too old to learn."* All this while John had conned over such a catalogue of hard words as were enough to conjure up the devil; these he used to babble indifferently in all companies, especially at coffee houses, so that his neighbour tradesmen began to shun his company as a man that was cracked. Instead of the affairs of Blackwell Hall and price of broadcloth, wool, and baizes, he talks of nothing but actions upon the case, returns, capias, alias capias, demurrers, venire facias, replevins, supersedeases, certioraries, writs of error, actions of trover and conversion, trespasses, precipes, and dedimus. This was matter of jest to the learned in law; however Hocus and the rest of the tribe encouraged John in his fancy, assuring him that he had a great genius for law; that they questioned not but in time he might raise money enough by it to reimburse him of all his charges; that if he studied he would undoubtedly arrive to the dignity of a Lord Chief Justice. As for the advice of honest friends and neighbours John despised it; he looked upon them as fellows of a low genius, poor grovelling mechanics. John reckoned it more honour to have got one favourable verdict than to have sold a bale of broadcloth. As for Nic. Frog, to say the truth, he was more prudent; for though he followed his lawsuit closely he neglected not his ordinary business, but was both in court and in his shop at the proper hours.
* The manners and sentiments of the nation at that time.
CHAPTER VIII. How John discovered that Hocus had an Intrigue with his Wife;* and what followed thereupon.
John had not run on a madding so long had it not been for an extravagant wife, whom Hocus perceiving John to be fond of, was resolved to win over to his side. It is a true saying, that the last man of the parish that knows of his cuckoldom is himself. It was observed by all the neighbourhood that Hocus had dealings with John's wife that were not so much for his honour; but this was perceived by John a little too late: she was a luxurious jade, loved splendid equipages, plays, treats and balls, differing very much from the sober manners of her ancestors, and by no means fit for a tradesman's wife. Hocus fed her extravagancy (what was still more shameful) with John's own money. Everybody said that Hocus had a month's mind to her; be that as it will, it is matter of fact, that upon all occasions she ran out extravagantly on the praise of Hocus. When John used to be finding fault with his bills, she used to reproach him as ungrateful to his greatest benefactor; one that had taken so much pains in his lawsuit, and retrieved his family from the oppression of old Lewis Baboon. A good swinging sum of John's readiest cash went towards building of Hocus's country house.** This affair between Hocus and Mrs. Bull was now so open, that all the world was scandalised at it; John was not so clod-pated, but at last he took the hint. The parson of the parish preaching one day with more zeal than sense against adultery, Mrs. Bull told her husband that he was a very uncivil fellow to use such coarse language before people of condition;*** that Hocus was of the same mind, and that they would join to have him turned out of his living for using personal reflections. How do you mean, says John, by personal reflections? I hope in God, wife, he did not reflect upon you? "No, thank God, my reputation is too well established in the world to receive any hurt from such a foul-mouthed scoundrel as he; his doctrine tends only to make husbands tyrants, and wives slaves; must we be shut up, and husbands left to their liberty? Very pretty indeed! a wife must never go abroad with a Platonic to see a play or a ball; she must never stir without her husband; nor walk in Spring Garden with a cousin. I do say, husband, and I will stand by it, that without the innocent freedoms of life, matrimony would be a most intolerable state; and that a wife's virtue ought to be the result of her own reason, and not of her husband's government: for my part, I would scorn a husband that would be jealous, if he saw a fellow with me." All this while John's blood boiled in his veins: he was now confirmed in all his suspicions; the hardest names, were the best words that John gave her. Things went from better to worse, till Mrs. Bull aimed a knife at John, though John threw a bottle at her head very brutally indeed: and after this there was nothing but confusion; bottles, glasses, spoons, plates, knives, forks, and dishes, flew about like dust; the result of which was, that Mrs. Bull received a bruise in her right side of which she died half a year after. The bruise imposthumated, and afterwards turned to a stinking ulcer, which made everybody shy to come near her, yet she wanted not the help of many able physicians, who attended very diligently, and did what men of skill could do; but all to no purpose, for her condition was now quite desperate, all regular physicians and her nearest relations having given her over.****
* The opinion at that time of the General's tampering with the Parliament.
** Blenheim Palace.
*** The story of Dr. Sacheverel, and the resentment of the House of Commons.
**** The opinion of the Tories about that House of Commons.
CHAPTER IX. How some Quacks undertook to cure Mrs. Bull of her ulcer.*
There is nothing so impossible in Nature but mountebanks will undertake; nothing so incredible but they will affirm: Mrs. Bull's condition was looked upon as desperate by all the men of art; but there were those that bragged they had an infallible ointment and plaister, which being applied to the sore, would cure it in a few days; at the same time they would give her a pill that would purge off all her bad humours, sweeten her blood, and rectify her disturbed imagination. In spite of all applications the patient grew worse every day; she stunk so, nobody durst come within a stone's throw of her, except those quacks who attended her close, and apprehended no danger. If one asked them how Mrs. Bull did? Better and better, said they; the parts heal, and her constitution mends: if she submits to our government she will be abroad in a little time. Nay, it is reported that they wrote to her friends in the country that she should dance a jig next October in Westminster Hall, and that her illness had been chiefly owing to bad physicians. At last, one of them was sent for in great haste, his patient grew worse and worse: when he came, he affirmed that it was a gross mistake, and that she was never in a fairer way. Bring hither the salve, says he, and give her a plentiful draught of my cordial. As he was applying his ointments, and administering the cordial, the patient gave up the ghost, to the great confusion of the quack, and the great joy of Bull and his friends. The quack flung away out of the house in great disorder, and swore there was foul play, for he was sure his medicines were infallible. Mrs. Bull having died without any signs of repentance or devotion, the clergy would hardly allow her a Christian burial. The relations had once resolved to sue John for the murder, but considering better of it, and that such a trial would rip up old sores, and discover things not so much to the reputation of the deceased, they dropped their design. She left no will, only there was found in her strong box the following words written on a scrip of paper—"My curse on John Bull, and all my posterity, if ever they come to any composition with the Lord Strutt."
She left him three daughters, whose names were Polemia, Discordia, and Usuria.**
* Endeavours and hopes of some people to hinder the dissolution of that Parliament.
** War, faction, and usury.
CHAPTER X. Of John Bull's second Wife, and the good Advice that she gave him.*
John quickly got the better of his grief, and, seeing that neither his constitution nor the affairs of his family, could permit him to live in an unmarried state, he resolved to get him another wife; a cousin of his last wife's was proposed, but John would have no more of the breed. In short, he wedded a sober country gentlewoman, of a good family and a plentiful fortune, the reverse of the other in her temper; not but that she loved money, for she was saving, and applied her fortune to pay John's clamorous debts, that the unfrugal method of his last wife, and this ruinous lawsuit, had brought him into. One day, as she had got her husband in a good humour, she talked to him after the following manner:—"My dear, since I have been your wife, I have observed great abuses and disorders in your family: your servants are mutinous and quarrelsome, and cheat you most abominably; your cookmaid is in a combination with your butcher, poulterer, and fishmonger; your butler purloins your liquor, and the brewer sells you hogwash; your baker cheats both in weight and in tale; even your milkwoman and your nursery-maid have a fellow feeling; your tailor, instead of shreds, cabbages whole yards of cloth; besides, leaving such long scores, and not going to market with ready money forces us to take bad ware of the tradesmen at their own price. You have not posted your books these ten years. How is it possible for a man of business to keep his affairs even in the world at this rate? Pray God this Hocus be honest; would to God you would look over his bills, and see how matters stand between Frog and you. Prodigious sums are spent in this lawsuit, and more must be borrowed of scriveners and usurers at heavy interest. Besides, my dear, let me beg of you to lay aside that wild project of leaving your business to turn lawyer, for which, let me tell you, Nature never designed you. Believe me, these rogues do but flatter, that they may pick your pocket; observe what a parcel of hungry ragged fellows live by your cause; to be sure they will never make an end of it. I foresee this haunt you have got about the courts will one day or another bring your family to beggary. Consider, my dear, how indecent it is to abandon your shop and follow pettifoggers; the habit is so strong upon you, that there is hardly a plea between two country esquires, about a barren acre upon a common, but you draw yourself in as bail, surety, or solicitor." John heard her all this while with patience, till she pricked his maggot, and touched him in the tender point. Then he broke out into a violent passion: "What, I not fit for a lawyer? let me tell you, my clod-pated relations spoiled the greatest genius in the world when they bred me a mechanic. Lord Strutt, and his old rogue of a grandsire, have found to their cost that I can manage a lawsuit as well as another." "I don't deny what you say," replied Mrs. Bull, "nor do I call in question your parts; but, I say, it does not suit with your circumstances; you and your predecessors have lived in good reputation among your neighbours by this same clothing-trade, and it were madness to leave it off. Besides, there are few that know all the tricks and cheats of these lawyers. Does not your own experience teach you how they have drawn you on from one term to another, and how you have danced the round of all the courts, still flattering you with a final issue; and, for aught I can see, your cause is not a bit clearer than it was seven years ago." "I will be hanged," says John, "if I accept of any composition from Strutt or his grandfather; I'll rather wheel about the streets an engine to grind knives and scissors. However, I'll take your advice, and look over my accounts."
* A new Parliament: the aversion of a Tory House of Commons to war.
CHAPTER XI. How John looked over his Attorney's Bill.*
* Looking over the accounts.
When John first brought out the bills, the surprise of all the family was unexpressible at the prodigious dimensions of them; they would have measured with the best bale of cloth in John's shop. Fees to judges, puny judges, clerks, prothonotaries, philisers, chirographers, under-clerks, proclamators, counsel, witnesses, jurymen, marshals, tipstaffs, criers, porters; for enrollings, exemplifications, bails, vouchers, returns, caveats, examinations, filings of words, entries, declarations, replications, recordats, nolle prosequies, certioraries, mittimuses, demurrers, special verdicts, informations, scire facias, supersedeas, habeas corpus, coach-hire, treating of witnesses, etc. "Verily," says John, "there are a prodigious number of learned words in this law; what a pretty science it is!" "Ay but, husband, you have paid for every syllable and letter of these fine words. Bless me, what immense sums are at the bottom of the account!" John spent several weeks in looking over his bills, and, by comparing and stating his accounts, he discovered that, besides the extravagance of every article, he had been egregiously cheated; that he had paid for counsel that were never fee'd, for writs that were never drawn, for dinners that were never dressed, and journeys that were never made; in short, that the tradesmen, lawyers, and Frog had agreed to throw the burden of the lawsuit upon his shoulders.
CHAPTER XII. How John grew angry, and resolved to accept a Composition; and what Methods were practised by the Lawyers for keeping him from it.*
Well might the learned Daniel Burgess say, "That a lawsuit is a suit for life. He that sows his grain upon marble will have many a hungry belly before harvest." This John felt by woeful experience. John's cause was a good milch cow, and many a man subsisted his family out of it. However, John began to think it high time to look about him. He had a cousin in the country, one Sir Roger Bold, whose predecessors had been bred up to the law, and knew as much of it as anybody; but having left off the profession for some time, they took great pleasure in compounding lawsuits among their neighbours, for which they were the aversion of the gentlemen of the long robe, and at perpetual war with all the country attorneys. John put his cause in Sir Roger's hands, desiring him to make the best of it. The news had no sooner reached the ears of the lawyers, but they were all in an uproar. They brought all the rest of the tradesmen upon John.** Squire South swore he was betrayed, that he would starve before he compounded; Frog said he was highly wronged; even lying Ned the chimney-sweeper and Tom the dustman complained that their interest was sacrificed; the lawyers, solicitors, Hocus and his clerks, were all up in arms at the news of the composition: they abused him and his wife most shamefully. "You silly, awkward, ill-bred country sow," quoth one, "have you no more manners than to rail at Hocus that has saved that clod-pated numskulled ninny-hammer of yours from ruin, and all his family? It is well known how he has rose early and sat up late to make him easy, when he was sotting at every alehouse in town. I knew his last wife: she was a woman of breeding, good humour, and complaisance—knew how to live in the world. As for you, you look like a puppet moved by clockwork; your clothes hang upon you as they were upon tenter-hooks; and you come into a room as you were going to steal away a pint pot. Get you gone in the country, to look after your mother's poultry, to milk the cows, churn the butter, and dress up nosegays for a holiday, and not meddle with matters which you know no more of than the sign-post before your door. It is well known that Hocus has an established reputation; he never swore an oath, nor told a lie, in all his life; he is grateful to his benefactors, faithful to his friends, liberal to his dependents, and dutiful to his superiors; he values not your money more than the dust under his feet, but he hates to be abused. Once for all, Mrs. Minx, leave off talking of Hocus, or I will pull out these saucer-eyes of yours, and make that redstreak country face look as raw as an ox-cheek upon a butcher's-stall; remember, I say, that there are pillories and ducking-stools."*** With this away they flung, leaving Mrs. Bull no time to reply. No stone was left unturned to frighten John from his composition. Sometimes they spread reports at coffee-houses that John and his wife were run mad; that they intended to give up house, and make over all their estate to Lewis Baboon; that John had been often heard talking to himself, and seen in the streets without shoes or stockings; that he did nothing from morning till night but beat his servants, after having been the best master alive. As for his wife, she was a mere natural. Sometimes John's house was beset with a whole regiment of attornies' clerks, bailiffs, and bailiffs' followers, and other small retainers of the law, who threw stones at his windows, and dirt at himself as he went along the street. When John complained of want of ready-money to carry on his suit, they advised him to pawn his plate and jewels, and that Mrs. Bull should sell her linen and wearing clothes.
* Talk of peace, and the struggle of the party against it.
** The endeavours made use of to stop the Treaty of Peace.
*** Reflections upon the House of Commons as ignorant, who know nothing of business.
CHAPTER XIII. Mrs. Bull's vindication of the indispensable duty incumbent upon Wives in case of the Tyranny, Infidelity, or Insufficiency of Husbands; being a full Answer to the Doctor's Sermon against Adultery.*
* The Tories' representation of the speeches at Sacheverel's trial.
John found daily fresh proofs of the infidelity and bad designs of his deceased wife; amongst other things, one day looking over his cabinet, he found the following paper:—
"It is evident that matrimony is founded upon an original contract, whereby the wife makes over the right she has by the law of Nature in favour of the husband, by which he acquires the property of all her posterity. But, then, the obligation is mutual; and where the contract is broken on one side it ceases to bind on the other. Where there is a right there must be a power to maintain it and to punish the offending party. This power I affirm to be that original right, or rather that indispensable duty lodged in all wives in the cases above mentioned. No wife is bound by any law to which herself has not consented. All economical government is lodged originally in the husband and wife, the executive part being in the husband; both have their privileges secured to them by law and reason; but will any man infer from the husband being invested with the executive power, that the wife is deprived of her share, and that she has no remedy left but preces and lacrymae, or an appeal to a supreme court of judicature? No less frivolous are the arrangements that are drawn from the general appellations and terms of husband and wife. A husband denotes several different sorts of magistracy, according to the usages and customs of different climates and countries. In some eastern nations it signifies a tyrant, with the absolute power of life and death. In Turkey it denotes an arbitrary governor, with power of perpetual imprisonment; in Italy it gives the husband the power of poison and padlocks; in the countries of England, France, and Holland, it has a quite different meaning, implying a free and equal government, securing to the wife in certain cases the liberty of change, and the property of pin-money and separate maintenance. So that the arguments drawn from the terms of husband and wife are fallacious, and by no means fit to support a tyrannical doctrine, as that of absolute unlimited chastity and conjugal fidelity.
"The general exhortations to fidelity in wives are meant only for rules in ordinary cases, but they naturally suppose three conditions of ability, justice, and fidelity in the husband; such an unlimited, unconditioned fidelity in the wife could never be supposed by reasonable men. It seems a reflection upon the Church to charge her with doctrines that countenance oppression.
"This doctrine of the original right of change is congruous to the law of Nature, which is superior to all human laws, and for that I dare appeal to all wives: It is much to the honour of our English wives that they have never given up that fundamental point, and that though in former ages they were muffled up in darkness and superstition, yet that notion seemed engraven on their minds, and the impression so strong that nothing could impair it.
"To assert the illegality of change, upon any pretence whatsoever, were to cast odious colours upon the married state, to blacken the necessary means of perpetuating families—such laws can never be supposed to have been designed to defeat the very end of matrimony. I call them necessary means, for in many cases what other means are left? Such a doctrine wounds the honour of families, unsettles the titles to kingdoms, honours, and estates; for if the actions from which such settlements spring were illegal, all that is built upon them must be so too; but the last is absurd, therefore the first must be so likewise. What is the cause that Europe groans at present under the heavy load of a cruel and expensive war, but the tyrannical custom of a certain nation, and the scrupulous nicety of a silly queen in not exercising this indispensable duty, whereby the kingdom might have had an heir, and a controverted succession might have been avoided. These are the effects of the narrow maxims of your clergy, 'That one must not do evil that good may come of it.'
"The assertors of this indefeasible right, and jus divinum of matrimony, do all in their hearts favour the pretenders to married women; for if the true legal foundation of the married state be once sapped, and instead thereof tyrannical maxims introduced, what must follow but elopements instead of secret and peaceable change?
"From all that has been said, one may clearly perceive the absurdity of the doctrine of this seditious, discontented, hot-headed, ungifted, unedifying preacher, asserting 'that the grand security of the matrimonial state, and the pillar upon which it stands, is founded upon the wife's belief of an absolute unconditional fidelity to the husband;' by which bold assertion he strikes at the root, digs the foundation, and removes the basis upon which the happiness of a married state is built. As for his personal reflections, I would gladly know who are those 'wanton wives' he speaks of? who are those ladies of high stations that he so boldly traduces in his sermon? It is pretty plain who these aspersions are aimed at, for which he deserves the pillory, or something worse.
"In confirmation of this doctrine of the indispensable duty of change, I could bring the example of the wisest wives in all ages, who by these means have preserved their husband's families from ruin and oblivion by want of posterity; but what has been said is a sufficient ground for punishing this pragmatical parson."
CHAPTER XIV. The two great Parties of Wives, the Devotos and the Hitts.*
*Those who were for and against the doctrine of nonresistance.
The doctrine of unlimited fidelity in wives was universally espoused by all husbands, who went about the country and made the wives sign papers signifying their utter detestation and abhorrence of Mrs. Bull's wicked doctrine of the indispensable duty of change. Some yielded, others refused to part with their native liberty, which gave rise to two great parties amongst the wives, the Devotos and the Hitts. Though, it must be owned, the distinction was more nominal than real; for the Devotos would abuse freedoms sometimes, and those who were distinguished by the name of Hitts were often very honest. At the same time there was an ingenious treatise came out with the title of "Good Advice to Husbands," in which they are counselled not to trust too much to their wives owning the doctrine of unlimited conjugal fidelity, and so to neglect a due watchfulness over the manners of their wives; that the greatest security to husbands was a good usage of their wives and keeping them from temptation, many husbands having been sufferers by their trusting too much to general professions, as was exemplified in the case of a foolish and negligent husband, who, trusting to the efficacy of this principle, was undone by his wife's elopement from him.
CHAPTER XV. An Account of the Conference between Mrs. Bull and Don Diego.*
* A Tory nobleman who, by his influence upon the House of Commons, endeavoured to stop the Treaty.
The lawyers, as their last effort to put off the composition, sent Don Diego to John. Don Diego was a very worthy gentleman, a friend to John, his mother, and present wife, and, therefore, supposed to have some influence over her. He had been ill used himself by John's lawyers, but because of some animosity to Sir Roger was against the composition. The conference between him and Mrs. Bull was word for word as follows:—
DON DIEGO.—Is it possible, cousin Bull, that you can forget the honourable maxims of the family you are come of, and break your word with three of the honestest, best-meaning persons in the world—Esquires South, Frog, and Hocus—that have sacrificed their interests to yours? It is base to take advantage of their simplicity and credulity, and leave them in the lurch at last.
MRS. BULL—I am sure they have left my family in a bad condition, we have hardly money to go to market; and nobody will take our words for sixpence. A very fine spark this Esquire South! My husband took him in, a dirty boy. It was the business of half the servants to attend him.* The rogue did bawl and make such a noise: sometimes he fell in the fire and burnt his face, sometimes broke his shins clambering over the benches, and always came in so dirty, as if he had been dragged through the kennel at a boarding-school. He lost his money at chuck-farthing, shuffle-cap, and all-fours; sold his books, pawned his linen, which we were always forced to redeem. Then the whole generation of him are so in love with bagpipes and puppet-shows! I wish you knew what my husband has paid at the pastry-cook's and confectioner's for Naples biscuits, tarts, custards, and sweetmeats. All this while my husband considered him as a gentleman of a good family that had fallen into decay, gave him good education, and has settled him in a good creditable way of living—having procured him, by his interest, one of the best places of the country. And what return, think you, does this fine gentleman make us? he will hardly give me or my husband a good word, or a civil expression. Instead of Sir and Madam (which, though I say it, is our due), he calls us "goody" and "gaffer" such-a-one; says he did us a great deal of honour to board with us; huffs and dings at such a rate, because we will not spend the little we have left to get him the title and estate of Lord Strutt; and then forsooth, we shall have the honour to be his woollen-drapers.** Besides, Esquire South will be Esquire South still; fickle, proud, and ungrateful. If he behaves himself so when he depends on us for his daily bread, can any man say what he will do when he is got above the world?
* Something relating to the manners of a great prince, superstition, love of operas, shows, etc.
** Something relating to forms and titles.
D. DIEGO.—And would you lose the honour of so noble and generous an undertaking? Would you rather accept this scandalous composition, and trust that old rogue, Lewis Baboon?
MRS. BULL.—Look you, Friend Diego, if we law it on till Lewis turns honest, I am afraid our credit will run low at Blackwell Hall. I wish every man had his own; but I still say, that Lord Strutt's money shines as bright and chinks as well as Esquire South's. I don't know any other hold that we tradesmen have of these great folks but their interest: buy dear and sell cheap, and I warrant ye you will keep your customer. The worst is, that Lord Strutt's servants have got such a haunt about that old rogue's shop, that it will cost us many a firkin of strong beer to bring them back again; and the longer they are in a bad road, the harder it will be to get them out of it.
D. DIEGO.—But poor Frog, what has he done! On my conscience, if there be an honest, sincere man in the world, it is that Frog.
MRS. BULL.—I think I need not tell you how much Frog has been obliged to our family from his childhood; he carries his head high now, but he had never been the man he is without our help.* Ever since the commencement of this lawsuit, it has been the business of Hocus, in sharing out expenses, to plead for Frog. "Poor Frog," says he, "is in hard circumstances, he has a numerous family, and lives from hand to mouth; his children don't eat a bit of good victuals from one year's end to the other, but live upon salt herring, sour curd, and borecole. He does his utmost, poor fellow, to keep things even in the world, and has exerted himself beyond his ability in this lawsuit; but he really has not wherewithal to go on. What signifies this hundred pounds? place it upon your side of the account; it is a great deal to poor Frog, and a trifle to you." This has been Hocus's constant language, and I am sure he has had obligations enough to us to have acted another part.
* Complaints of the House of Commons of the unequal burden of the war.
D. DIEGO.—No doubt Hocus meant all this for the best, but he is a tender-hearted, charitable man; Frog is indeed in hard circumstances.
MRS. BULL—Hard circumstances! I swear this is provoking to the last degree. All the time of the lawsuit, as fast as I have mortgaged, Frog has purchased: from a plain tradesman, with a shop, warehouse, and a country hut with a dirty fish-pond at the end of it, he is now grown a very rich country gentleman, with a noble landed estate, noble palaces, manors, parks, gardens, and farms, finer than any we were ever master of.* Is it not strange, when my husband disbursed great sums every term, Frog should be purchasing some new farm or manor? so that if this lawsuit lasts, he will be far the richest man in his country. What is worse than all this, he steals away my customers every day; twelve of the richest and the best have left my shop by his persuasion, and whom, to my certain knowledge, he has under bonds never to return again: judge you if this be neighbourly dealing.
* The Dutch acquisitions in Flanders.
D. DIEGO—Frog is indeed pretty close in his dealings, but very honest: you are so touchy, and take things so hotly, I am sure there must be some mistake in this.
MRS. BULL—A plaguy one indeed! You know, and have often told me of it, how Hocus and those rogues kept my husband, John Bull, drunk for five years together with punch and strong waters: I am sure he never went one night sober to bed, till they got him to sign the strangest deed that ever you saw in your life. The methods they took to manage him I'll tell you another time; at present I'll read only the writing.
Articles of Agreement betwixt JOHN BULL, Clothier, and NICHOLAS FROG, Linen-draper.*
* The sentiments of the House of Commons, and their representation of the Barrier Treaty.
I. That for maintaining the ancient good correspondence and friendship between the said parties, I, Nicholas Frog, do solemnly engage and promise to keep peace in John Bull's family; that neither his wife, children, nor servants, give him any trouble, disturbance, or molestation whatsoever, but to oblige them all to do their duty quietly in their respective stations. And whereas the said John Bull, from the assured confidence that he has in my friendship, has appointed me executor of his last will and testament, and guardian to his children, I do undertake for me, my heirs and assigns, to see the same duly executed and performed, and that it shall be unalterable in all its parts by John Bull, or anybody else: for that purpose it shall be lawful and allowable for me to enter his house at any hour of the day or night, to break open bars, bolts, and doors, chests of drawers, and strong boxes, in order to secure the peace of my friend John Bull's family, and to see his will duly executed.
II. In consideration of which kind neighbourly office of Nicholas Frog, in that he has been pleased to accept of the aforesaid trust, I, John Bull, having duly considered that my friend, Nicholas Frog, at this time lives in a marshy soil and unwholesome air, infested with fogs and damps, destructive of the health of himself, wife, and children, do bind and oblige me, my heirs and assigns, to purchase for the said Nicholas Frog, with the best and readiest of my cash, bonds, mortgages, goods and chattels, a landed estate, with parks, gardens, palaces, rivers, fields, and outlets, consisting of as large extent as the said Nicholas Frog shall think fit. And whereas the said Nicholas Frog is at present hemmed in too close by the grounds of Lewis Baboon, master of the science of defence, I, the said John Bull, do oblige myself with the readiest of my cash, to purchase and enclose the said grounds, for as many fields and acres as the said Nicholas shall think fit; to the intent that the said Nicholas may have free egress and regress, without let or molestation, suitable to the demands of himself and family.
III. Furthermore, the said John Bull obliges himself to make the country neighbours of Nicholas Frog allot a certain part of yearly rents, to pay for the repairs of the said landed estate, to the intent that his good friend, Nicholas Frog, may be eased of all charges.
IV. And whereas the said Nicholas Frog did contract with the deceased Lord Strutt about certain liberties, privileges, and immunities, formerly in the possession of the said John Bull, I, the said John Bull, do freely by these presents, renounce, quit, and make over to the said Nicholas, the liberties, privileges, and immunities contracted for, in as full a manner, as if they never had belonged to me.
V. The said John Bull obliges himself, his heirs and assigns, not to sell one rag of broad or coarse cloth to any gentleman within the neighbourhood of the said Nicholas, except in such quantities and such rates as the said Nicholas shall think fit.
Signed and sealed,
The reading of this paper put Mrs. Bull in such a passion that she fell downright into a fit, and they were forced to give her a good quantity of the spirit of hartshorn before she recovered.
D. DIEGO—Why in such a passion, cousin? considering your circumstances at that time, I don't think this such an unreasonable contract. You see Frog, for all this, is religiously true to his bargain; he scorns to hearken to any composition without your privacy.
MRS. BULL.—You know the contrary.* Read that letter.
[Reads the superscription.] For Lewis Baboon, Master of the Noble Science of Defence.
"SIR.—I understand that you are at this time treating with my friend John Bull, about restoring the Lord Strutt's custom, and besides allowing him certain privileges of parks and fish-ponds; I wonder how you that are a man that knows the world, can talk with that simple fellow. He has been my bubble these twenty years, and to my certain knowledge, understands no more of his own affairs than a child in swaddling clothes. I know he has got a sort of a pragmatical silly jade of a wife, that pretends to take him out of my hands; but you and she both will find yourselves mistaken; I'll find those that shall manage her; and for him, he dares as well be hanged as make one step in his affairs without my consent. If you will give me what you promised him, I will make all things easy, and stop the deeds of ejectment against Lord Strutt: if you will not, take what follows. I shall have a good action against you, for pretending to rob me of my bubble. Take this warning from
"Your loving friend,
* Secret negotiations of the Dutch at that time.
I am told, cousin Diego, you are one of those that have undertaken to manage me, and that you have said you will carry a green bag yourself, rather than we shall make an end of our lawsuit: I'll teach them and you too to manage.
D. DIEGO.—For God's sake, madam, why so choleric? I say this letter is some forgery; it never entered into the head of that honest man, Nic. Frog, to do any such thing.
MRS. BULL.—I can't abide you. You have been railing these twenty years at Squire South, Frog, and Hocus, calling them rogues and pickpockets, and now they are turned the honestest fellows in the world. What is the meaning of all this?
D. DIEGO.—Pray tell me how you came to employ this Sir Roger in your affairs, and not think of your old friend Diego?
MRS. BULL.—So, so, there it pinches. To tell you truth, I have employed Sir Roger in several weighty affairs, and have found him trusty and honest, and the poor man always scorned to take a farthing of me. I have abundance that profess great zeal, but they are damnable greedy of the pence. My husband and I are now in such circumstances, that we must be served upon cheaper terms than we have been.
D. DIEGO.—Well, cousin, I find I can do no good with you; I am sorry that you will ruin yourself by trusting this Sir Roger.
CHAPTER XVI. How the guardians of the deceased Mrs. Bull's three daughters came to John, and what advice they gave him; wherein is briefly treated the characters of the three daughters. Also John Bull's answer to the three guardians.*
* Concerns of the party, and speeches for carrying on the war, etc. Sentiments of the Tories and House of Commons against continuing the war for setting King Charles upon the throne of Spain.
I told you in a former chapter that Mrs. Bull, before she departed this life, had blessed John with three daughters. I need not here repeat their names, neither would I willingly use any scandalous reflections upon young ladies, whose reputations ought to be very tenderly handled; but the characters of these were so well known in the neighbourhood, that it is doing them no injury to make a short description of them.
The eldest* was a termagant, imperious, prodigal, lewd, profligate wench, as ever breathed; she used to rantipole about the house, pinch the children, kick the servants, and torture the cats and the dogs; she would rob her father's strong box, for money to give the young fellows that she was fond of. She had a noble air, and something great in her mien, but such a noisome infectious breath, as threw all the servants that dressed her into consumptions; if she smelt to the freshest nosegay, it would shrivel and wither as it had been blighted: she used to come home in her cups, and break the china, and the looking-glasses; and was of such an irregular temper, and so entirely given up to her passion, that you might argue as well with the North wind, as with her ladyship: so expensive, that the income of three dukedoms was not enough to supply her extravagance. Hocus loved her best, believing her to be his own, got upon the body of Mrs. Bull.
The second daughter,* born a year after her sister, was a peevish, froward, ill-conditioned creature as ever was, ugly as the devil, lean, haggard, pale, with saucer eyes, a sharp nose, and hunched backed; but active, sprightly, and diligent about her affairs. Her ill complexion was occasioned by her bad diet, which was coffee** morning, noon, and night. She never rested quietly a-bed, but used to disturb the whole family with shrieking out in her dreams, and plague them next day with interpreting them, for she took them all for gospel; she would cry out "Murder!" and disturb the whole neighbourhood; and when John came running downstairs to inquire what the matter was, nothing forsooth, only her maid had stuck a pin wrong in her gown; she turned away one servant for putting too much oil in her salad, and another for putting too little salt in her water-gruel; but such as by flattery had procured her esteem, she would indulge in the greatest crime. Her father had two coachmen; when one was in the coach-box, if the coach swung but the least to one side, she used to shriek so loud, that all the street concluded she was overturned; but though the other was eternally drunk, and had overturned the whole family, she was very angry with her father for turning him away. Then she used to carry tales and stories from one to another, till she had set the whole neighbourhood together by the ears; and this was the only diversion she took pleasure in. She never went abroad, but she brought home such a bundle of monstrous lies, as would have amazed any mortal, but such as know her: of a whale that had swallowed a fleet of ships; of the lions being let out of the Tower, to destroy the Protestant religion; of the Pope's being seen in a brandy-shop at Wapping; and a prodigious strong man that was going to shove down the cupola of St. Paul's; of three millions of five pound pieces that Squire South had found under an old wall; of blazing stars, flying dragons, and abundance of such stuff. All the servants in the family made high court to her, for she domineered there, and turned out and in whom she pleased; only there was an old grudge between her and Sir Roger, whom she mortally hated and used to hire fellows to squirt kennel water upon him as he passed along the streets; so that he was forced constantly to wear a surtout of oiled cloth, by which means he came home pretty clean, except where the surtout was a little scanty.
** Coffee-house tattle.
As for the third* she was a thief and a common mercenary. She had no respect of persons: a prince or a porter was all one, according as they paid; yea, she would leave the finest gentleman in the world to go to an ugly fellow for sixpence more. In the practice of her profession she had amassed vast magazines of all sorts of things: she had above five hundred suits of fine clothes, and yet went abroad like a cinder wench. She robbed and starved all the servants, so that nobody could live near her.
So much for John's three daughters, which you will say were rarities to be fond of. Yet Nature will shew itself. Nobody could blame their relations for taking care of them, and therefore it was that Hocus, with two other of the guardians, thought it their duty to take care of the interest of the three girls and give John their best advice before he compounded the lawsuit.
HOCUS.—What makes you so shy of late, my good friend? There's nobody loves you better than I, nor has taken more pains in your affairs. As I hope to be saved I would do anything to serve you; I would crawl upon all fours to serve you; I have spent my health and paternal estate in your service. I have, indeed, a small pittance left, with which I might retire, and with as good a conscience as any man; but the thoughts of this disgraceful composition so touches me to the quick that I cannot sleep. After I had brought the cause to the last stroke, that one verdict more had quite ruined old Lewis and Lord Strutt, and put you in the quiet possession of everything—then to compound! I cannot bear it. This cause was my favourite; I had set my heart upon it; it is like an only child; I cannot endure it should miscarry. For God's sake consider only to what a dismal condition old Lewis is brought. He is at an end of all his cash; his attorneys have hardly one trick left; they are at an end of all their chicane; besides, he has both his law and his daily bread now upon trust. Hold out only one term longer, and I'll warrant you before the next we shall have him in the Fleet. I'll bring him to the pillory; his ears shall pay for his perjuries. For the love of God don't compound. Let me be damned if you have a friend in the world that loves you better than I. There is nobody can say I am covetous or that I have any interests to pursue but yours.
SECOND GUARDIAN.—There is nothing so plain as that this Lewis has a design to ruin all his neighbouring tradesmen, and at this time he has such a prodigious income by his trade of all kinds, that, if there is not some stop put to his exorbitant riches, he will monopolise everything; nobody will be able to sell a yard of drapery or mercery ware but himself. I then hold it advisable that you continue the lawsuit and burst him at once. My concern for the three poor motherless children obliges me to give you this advice; for their estates, poor girls, depend upon the success of this cause.
THIRD GUARDIAN.—I own this Writ of Ejectment has cost dear, but then consider it is a jewel well worth the purchasing at the price of all you have. None but Mr. Bull's declared enemies can say he has any other security for his clothing trade but the ejectment of Lord Strutt. The only question, then, that remains to be decided is: who shall stand the expenses of the suit? To which the answer is as plain: who but he that is to have the advantage of the sentence? When Esquire South has got possession of his title and honour is not John Bull to be his clothier? Who, then, but John ought to put in possession? Ask but any indifferent gentleman, Who ought to bear his charges at law? and he will readily answer, His tradesmen. I do therefore affirm, and I will go to death with it, that, being his clothier, you ought to put him in quiet possession of his estate, and with the same generous spirit you have begun it complete the good work. If you persist in the bad measures you are now in, what must become of the three poor orphans! My heart bleeds for the poor girls.
JOHN BULL.—You are all very eloquent persons, but give me leave to tell you you express a great deal more concern for the three girls than for me. I think my interest ought to be considered in the first place. As for you, Hocus, I can't but say you have managed my lawsuit with great address and much to my honour, and, though I say it, you have been well paid for it. Why must the burden be taken off Frog's back and laid upon my shoulders? He can drive about his own parks and fields in his gilt chariot, when I have been forced to mortgage my estate; his note will go farther than my bond. Is it not matter of fact, that from the richest tradesman in all the country, I am reduced to beg and borrow from scriveners and usurers that suck the heart, blood, and guts out of me, and what is all this for! Did you like Frog's countenance better than mine? Was not I your old friend and relation? Have I not presented you nobly? Have I not clad your whole family? Have you not had a hundred yards at a time of the finest cloth in my shop? Why must the rest of the tradesmen be not only indemnified from charges, but forbid to go on with their own business, and what is more their concern than mine? As to holding out this term I appeal to your own conscience, has not that been your constant discourse these six years, "One term more and old Lewis goes to pot?" If thou art so fond of my cause be generous for once, and lend me a brace of thousands. Ah, Hocus! Hocus! I know thee: not a sous to save me from jail, I trow. Look ye, gentlemen, I have lived with credit in the world, and it grieves my heart never to stir out of my doors but to be pulled by the sleeve by some rascally dun or other. "Sir, remember my bill. There's a small concern of a thousand pounds; I hope you think on't, sir." And to have these usurers transact my debts at coffee-houses and ale-houses, as if I were going to break up shop. Lord! that ever the rich, the generous John Bull, clothier, the envy of all his neighbours, should be brought to compound his debts for five shillings in the pound, and to have his name in an advertisement for a statute of bankrupt. The thought of it makes me mad. I have read somewhere in the Apocrypha, "That one should not consult with a woman touching her of whom she is jealous; nor with a merchant concerning exchange; nor with a buyer, of selling; nor with an unmerciful man, of kindness, etc." I could have added one thing more: nor with an attorney about compounding a lawsuit. The ejectment of Lord Strutt will never do. The evidence is crimp: the witnesses swear backwards and forwards, and contradict themselves; and his tenants stick by him. One tells me that I must carry on my suit, because Lewis is poor; another, because he is still too rich: whom shall I believe? I am sure of one thing, that a penny in the purse is the best friend John can have at last, and who can say that this will be the last suit I shall be engaged in? Besides, if this ejectment were practicable is it reasonable that, when Esquire South is losing his money to sharpers and pickpockets, going about the country with fiddlers and buffoons, and squandering his income with hawks and dogs, I should lay out the fruits of my honest industry in a lawsuit for him, only upon the hopes of being his clothier? And when the cause is over I shall not have the benefit of my project for want of money to go to market. Look ye, gentlemen, John Bull is but a plain man, but John Bull knows when he is ill used. I know the infirmity of our family: we are apt to play the boon-companion and throw away our money in our cups. But it was an unfair thing in you, gentlemen, to take advantage of my weakness, to keep a parcel of roaring bullies about me day and night, with huzzas and hunting horns, and ringing the changes on butcher's cleavers; never let me cool, and make me set my hand to papers when I could hardly hold my pen. There will come a day of reckoning for all that proceeding. In the meantime, gentlemen, I beg you will let me into my affairs a little, and that you would not grudge me the small remainder of a very great estate.
CHAPTER XVII. Esquire South's Message and Letter to Mrs. Bull.*
* Complaints of the deficiencies of the House of Austria, Prince Eugene's journey and message.
The arguments used by Hocus and the rest of the guardians had hitherto proved insufficient. John and his wife could not be persuaded to bear the expense of Esquire South's lawsuit. They thought it reasonable that, since he was to have the honour and advantage, he should bear the greatest share of the charges, and retrench what he lost to sharpers and spent upon country dances and puppet plays to apply it to that use. This was not very grateful to the esquire; therefore, as the last experiment, he was resolved to send Signior Benenato, master of his foxhounds, to Mrs. Bull to try what good he could do with her. This Signior Benenato had all the qualities of a fine gentleman that were set to charm a lady's heart, and if any person in the world could have persuaded her it was he. But such was her unshaken fidelity to her husband, and the constant purpose of her mind to pursue his interest, that the most refined arts of gallantry that were practised could not seduce her heart. The necklaces, diamond crosses, and rich bracelets that were offered she rejected with the utmost scorn and disdain. The music and serenades that were given her sounded more ungratefully in her ears than the noise of a screech owl. However, she received Esquire South's letter by the hands of Signior Benenato with that respect which became his quality. The copy of the letter is as follows, in which you will observe he changes a little his usual style:—
MADAM,—The Writ of Ejectment against Philip Baboon (pretended Lord Strutt) is just ready to pass. There want but a few necessary forms and a verdict or two more to put me in the quiet possession of my honour and estate. I question not but that, according to your wonted generosity and goodness, you will give it the finishing stroke: an honour that I would grudge anybody but yourself. In order to ease you of some part of the charges, I promise to furnish pen, ink, and paper, provided you pay for the stamps. Besides, I have ordered my stewards to pay out of the readiest and best of my rents five pounds ten shillings a year till my suit is finished. I wish you health and happiness, being with due respect,
Madam, your assured friend,
What answer Mrs. Bull returned to this letter you shall know in my second part, only they were at a pretty good distance in their proposals; for as Esquire South only offered to be at the charges of pen, ink, and paper, Mrs. Bull refused any more than to lend her barge* to carry his counsel to Westminster Hall.
* Sending the English Fleet to convoy the forces to Barcelona.
THE PUBLISHER'S PREFACE.
The world is much indebted to the famous Sir Humphry Polesworth for his ingenious and impartial account of John Bull's lawsuit. Yet there is just cause of complaint against him, in that he relates it only by parcels, and won't give us the whole work. This forces me, who am only the publisher, to bespeak the assistance of his friends and acquaintance to engage him to lay aside that stingey humour and gratify the curiosity of the public at once. He pleads in excuse that they are only private memoirs, wrote for his own use in a loose style to serve as a help to his ordinary conversation. I represented to him the good reception the first part had met with; that, though calculated only for the meridian of Grub Street, it was yet taken notice of by the better sort; that the world was now sufficiently acquainted with John Bull, and interested itself in his concerns. He answered with a smile, that he had, indeed, some trifling things to impart that concerned John Bull's relations and domestic affairs. If these would satisfy me he gave me free leave to make use of them, because they would serve to make the history of the lawsuit more intelligible. When I had looked over the manuscript I found likewise some further account of the composition, which, perhaps, may not be unacceptable to such as have read the former part.
CHAPTER I. The Character of John Bull's Mother.*
* The Church of England.
John had a mother whom he loved and honoured extremely, a discreet, grave, sober, good-conditioned, cleanly old gentlewoman as ever lived. She was none of your cross-grained, termagant, scolding jades that one had as good be hanged as live in the house with, such as are always censuring the conduct and telling scandalous stories of their neighbours, extolling their own good qualities and undervaluing those of others. On the contrary, she was of a meek spirit, and, as she was strictly virtuous herself, so she always put the best construction upon the words and actions of her neighbours, except where they were irreconcileable to the rules of honesty and decency. She was neither one of your precise prudes, nor one of your fantastical old belles that dress themselves like girls of fifteen; as she neither wore a ruff, forehead-cloth, nor high-crowned hat, so she had laid aside feathers, flowers, and crimpt ribbons in her head-dress, furbelow-scarfs, and hooped-petticoats. She scorned to patch and paint, yet she loved to keep her hands and her face clean. Though she wore no flaunting laced ruffles, she would not keep herself in a constant sweat with greasy flannel. Though her hair was not stuck with jewels, she was not ashamed of a diamond cross; she was not, like some ladies, hung about with toys and trinkets, tweezer-cases, pocket-glasses, and essence-bottles; she used only a gold watch and an almanack to mark the hours and the holy days.
Her furniture was neat and genteel, well fancied with a bon gout. As she affected not the grandeur of a state with a canopy, she thought there was no offence in an elbow-chair. She had laid aside your carving, gilding, and Japan work as being too apt to gather dirt. But she never could be prevailed upon to part with plain wainscot and clean hangings. There are some ladies that affect to smell a stink in everything; they are always highly perfumed, and continually burning frankincense in their rooms. She was above such affectation, yet she never would lay aside the use of brooms and scrubbing-brushes, and scrupled not to lay her linen in fresh lavender.
She was no less genteel in her behaviour, well-bred, without affectation; in the due mean between one of your affected, curtseying pieces of formality and your romps that have no regard to the common rules of civility. There are some ladies that affect a mighty regard for their relations. "We must not eat to-day, for my uncle Tom, or my cousin Betty, died this time ten years. Let's have a ball to-night, it is my neighbour Such-a-one's birthday." She looked upon all this as grimace, yet she constantly observed her husband's birthday, her wedding-day, and some few more.
Though she was a truly good woman, and had a sincere motherly love for her son John, yet there wanted not those who endeavoured to create a misunderstanding between them, and they had so far prevailed with him once that he turned her out of doors, to his great sorrow, as he found afterwards, for his affairs went on at sixes and sevens.
She was no less judicious in the turn of her conversation and choice of her studies, in which she far exceeded all her sex. Your rakes that hate the company of all sober, grave gentlewomen would bear hers, and she would, by her handsome manner of proceeding, sooner reclaim than some that were more sour and reserved. She was a zealous preacher up of conjugal fidelity in wives, and by no means a friend to the new-fangled doctrine of the indispensable duty of change. Though she advanced her opinions with a becoming assurance, yet she never ushered them in as some positive creatures will do, with dogmatical assertions. "This is infallible; I cannot be mistaken; none but a rogue can deny it." It has been observed that such people are oftener in the wrong than anybody.
Though she had a thousand good qualities, she was not without her faults, amongst which one might, perhaps, reckon too great lenity to her servants, to whom she always gave good counsel, but often too gentle correction. I thought I could not say less of John Bull's mother, because she bears a part in the following transactions.
CHAPTER II. The Character of John Bull's Sister Peg,* with the Quarrels that happened between Master and Miss in their Childhood.
* The nation and Church of Scotland.
John had a sister, a poor girl that had been starved at nurse. Anybody would have guessed Miss to have been bred up under the influence of a cruel stepdame, and John to be the fondling of a tender mother. John looked ruddy and plump, with a pair of cheeks like a trumpeter; Miss looked pale and wan, as if she had the green sickness; and no wonder, for John was the darling: he had all the good bits, was crammed with good pullet, chicken, pig, goose, and capon; while Miss had only a little oatmeal and water, or a dry crust without butter. John had his golden pippins, peaches, and nectarines; poor Miss, a crab-apple, sloe, or a blackberry. Master lay in the best apartment, with his bedchamber towards the south sun. Miss lodged in a garret exposed to the north wind, which shrivelled her countenance. However, this usage, though it stunted the girl in her growth, gave her a hardy constitution; she had life and spirit in abundance, and knew when she was ill-used. Now and then she would seize upon John's commons, snatch a leg of a pullet, or a bit of good beef, for which they were sure to go to fisticuffs. Master was indeed too strong for her, but Miss would not yield in the least point; but even when Master had got her down, she would scratch and bite like a tiger; when he gave her a cuff on the ear, she would prick him with her knitting-needle. John brought a great chain one day to tie her to the bedpost, for which affront Miss aimed a penknife at his heart. In short, these quarrels grew up to rooted aversions; they gave one another nicknames, though the girl was a tight clever wench as any was, and through her pale looks you might discern spirit and vivacity, which made her not, indeed, a perfect beauty, but something that was agreeable. It was barbarous in parents not to take notice of these early quarrels, and make them live better together, such domestic feuds proving afterwards the occasion of misfortunes to them both. Peg had, indeed, some odd humours* and comical antipathy, for which John would jeer her. "What think you of my sister Peg," says he, "that faints at the sound of an organ, and yet will dance and frisk at the noise of a bagpipe?" "What's that to you?" quoth Peg. "Everybody's to choose their own music." Then Peg had taken a fancy not to say her Paternoster, which made people imagine strange things of her. Of the three brothers that have made such a clutter in the world—Lord Peter, Martin, and Jack—Jack had of late been her inclinations. Lord Peter she detested, nor did Martin stand much better in her good graces; but Jack had found the way to her heart. I have often admired what charms she discovered in that awkward booby, till I talked with a person that was acquainted with the intrigue, who gave me the following account of it.
* Love of Presbytery.
CHAPTER III. Jack's Charms,* or the Method by which he gained Peg's Heart.
* Character of the Presbyterians.
In the first place, Jack was a very young fellow, by much the youngest of the three brothers, and people, indeed, wondered how such a young upstart jackanapes should grow so pert and saucy, and take so much upon him.
Jack bragged of greater abilities than other men. He was well gifted, as he pretended: I need not tell you what secret influence that has upon the ladies.
Jack had a most scandalous tongue, and persuaded Peg that all mankind, besides himself, were plagued by that scarlet-faced woman, Signiora Bubonia.* "As for his brother, Lord Peter, the tokens were evident on him—blotches and scabs. His brother Martin, though he was not quite so bad, had some nocturnal pains, which his friends pretended were only scorbutical; but he was sure it proceeded from a worse cause." By such malicious insinuations he had possessed the lady that he was the only man in the world of a sound, pure, and untainted constitution, though there were some that stuck not to say that Signiora Bubonia and Jack railed at one another only the better to hide an intrigue, and that Jack had been found with Signiora under his cloak, carrying her home on a dark stormy night.
* The Woman of Babylon, or the Pope.
Jack was a prodigious ogler; he would ogle you the outside of his eye inward, and the white upward.
Jack gave himself out for a man of a great estate in the Fortunate Islands, of which the sole property was vested in his person. By this trick he cheated abundance of poor people of small sums, pretending to make over plantations in the said islands; but when the poor wretches came there with Jack's grant, they were beat, mocked, and turned out of doors.
I told you that Peg was whimsical, and loved anything that was particular. In that way Jack was her man, for he neither thought, spoke, dressed, nor acted like other mortals. He was for your bold strokes. He railed at fops, though he was himself the most affected in the world; instead of the common fashion, he would visit his mistress in a mourning-cloak, band, short cuffs, and a peaked beard. He invented a way of coming into a room backwards, which he said showed more humility and less affectation. Where other people stood, he sat; where they sat, he stood; when he went to Court, he used to kick away the state, and sit down by his prince cheek by jowl. "Confound these states," says he, "they are a modern invention." When he spoke to his prince, he always turned his back upon him. If he was advised to fast for his health, he would eat roast beef; if he was allowed a more plentiful diet, then he would be sure that day to live upon water-gruel; he would cry at a wedding, laugh and make jests at a funeral.
He was no less singular in his opinions. You would have burst your sides to hear him talk of politics. "All government," says he, "is founded upon the right distribution of punishments: decent executions keep the world in awe; for that reason, the majority of mankind ought to be hanged every year. For example, I suppose the magistrate ought to pass an irreversible sentence upon all blue-eyed children from the cradle; but that there may be some show of justice in this proceeding, these children ought to be trained up by masters, appointed for that purpose, to all sorts of villany, that they may deserve their fate, and the execution of them may serve as an object of terror to the rest of mankind."* As to the giving of pardons, he had this singular method:** that when these wretches had the rope about their necks, it should be inquired who believed they should be hanged, and who not? The first were to be pardoned, the last hanged outright. Such as were once pardoned were never to be hanged afterwards for any crime whatsoever. He had such skill in physiognomy, that he would pronounce peremptorily upon a man's face. "That fellow," says he, "do what he will, can't avoid hanging; he has a hanging look." By the same art he would prognosticate a principality to a scoundrel.
* Absolute predestination and reprobation.
** Saving Faith: a belief that one shall certainly be saved.
He was no less particular in the choice of his studies; they were generally bent towards exploded chimeras*—the perpetuum mobile, the circular shot, philosopher's stone, silent gunpowder, making chains for fleas, nets for flies, and instruments to unravel cobwebs and split hairs.
* The learning of the Presbyterians.
Thus, I think, I have given a distinct account of the methods he practised upon Peg. Her brother would now and then ask her, "What dost thou see in that pragmatical coxcomb to make thee so in love with him? He is a fit match for a tailor's or a shoemaker's daughter, but not for you that are a gentlewoman?" "Fancy is free," quoth Peg; "I'll take my own way, do you take yours. I do not care for your flaunting beaus, that gang with their breasts open, and their sarks over their waistcoats, that accost me with set speeches out of Sidney's 'Arcadia' or the 'Academy of Compliments.' Jack is a sober, grave young man; though he has none of your studied harangues, his meaning is sincere. He has a great regard to his father's will, and he that shows himself a good son will make a good husband. Besides, I know he has the original deed of conveyance to the Fortunate Islands; the others are counterfeits." There is nothing so obstinate as a young lady in her amours; the more you cross her, the worse she is.
CHAPTER IV. How the relations reconciled John and his sister Peg, and what return Peg made to John's message.*
* The Treaty of Union. Reason of it: the Succession not being settled in Scotland. Fears for the Presbyterian Church Government, and of being burdened with the English National Debts.
John Bull, otherwise a good-natured man, was very hard-hearted to his sister Peg, chiefly from an aversion he had conceived in his infancy. While he flourished, kept a warm house, and drove a plentiful trade, poor Peg was forced to go hawking and peddling about the streets selling knives, scissors, and shoe-buckles; now and then carried a basket of fish to the market; sewed, spun, and knit for a livelihood, till her fingers' ends were sore; and when she could not get bread for her family, she was forced to hire them out at journey-work to her neighbours. Yet in these her poor circumstances she still preserved the air and mien of a gentlewoman—a certain decent pride that extorted respect from the haughtiest of her neighbours. When she came in to any full assembly, she would not yield the pas to the best of them. If one asked her, "Are not you related to John Bull?" "Yes," says she, "he has the honour to be my brother." So Peg's affairs went till all the relations cried out shame upon John for his barbarous usage of his own flesh and blood; that it was an easy matter for him to put her in a creditable way of living, not only without hurt, but with advantage to himself, seeing she was an industrious person, and might be serviceable to him in his way of business. "Hang her, jade," quoth John, "I can't endure her as long as she keeps that rascal Jack's company." They told him the way to reclaim her was to take her into his house; that by conversation the childish humours of their younger days might be worn out. These arguments were enforced by a certain incident. It happened that John was at that time about making his will* and entailing his estate, the very same in which Nic. Frog is named executor. Now, his sister Peg's name being in the entail, he could not make a thorough settlement without her consent. There was, indeed, a malicious story went about as if John's last wife had fallen in love with Jack as he was eating custard on horseback;** that she persuaded John to take his sister into the house the better to drive on the intrigue with Jack, concluding he would follow his mistress Peg. All I can infer from this story is that when one has got a bad character in the world people will report and believe anything of them, true or false. But to return to my story. When Peg received John's message she huffed and stormed: "My brother John," quoth she, "is grown wondrous kind-hearted all of a sudden, but I meikle doubt whether it be not mair for their own conveniency than for my good; he draws up his writs and his deeds, forsooth, and I must set my hand to them, unsight, unseen. I like the young man he has settled upon well enough, but I think I ought to have a valuable consideration for my consent. He wants my poor little farm because it makes a nook in his park-wall. Ye may e'en tell him he has mair than he makes good use of; he gangs up and down drinking, roaring, and quarrelling, through all the country markets, making foolish bargains in his cups, which he repents when he is sober; like a thriftless wretch, spending the goods and gear that his forefathers won with the sweat of their brows: light come, light go, he cares not a farthing. But why should I stand surety for his contracts? The little I have is free, and I can call it my awn—hame's hame, let it be never so hamely. I ken him well enough, he could never abide me, and when he has his ends he'll e'en use me as he did before. I'm sure I shall be treated like a poor drudge—I shall be set to tend the bairns, darn the hose, and mend the linen. Then there's no living with that old carline his mother; she rails at Jack, and Jack's an honester man than any of her kin: I shall be plagued with her spells and her Paternosters, and silly old world ceremonies; I mun never pare my nails on a Friday, nor begin a journey on Childermas Day; and I mun stand beeking and binging as I gang out and into the hall. Tell him he may e'en gang his get; I'll have nothing to do with him; I'll stay like the poor country mouse, in my awn habitation." So Peg talked; but for all that, by the interposition of good friends, and by many a bonny thing that was sent, and many more that were promised Peg, the matter was concluded, and Peg taken into the house upon certain articles:*** one of which was that she might have the freedom of Jack's conversation, and might take him for better and for worse if she pleased: provided always he did not come into the house at unseasonable hours and disturb the rest of the old woman, John's mother.
* The Act of Succession.
** A Presbyterian Lord Mayor.
*** The Act of Toleration.
CHAPTER V. Of some Quarrels that happened after Peg was taken into the Family.*
*Quarrels about some of the Articles of Union, particularly the peerage.
It is an old observation that the quarrels of relations are harder to reconcile than any other; injuries from friends fret and gall more, and the memory of them is not so easily obliterated. This is cunningly represented by one of your old sages called Aesop, in the story of the bird that was grieved extremely at being wounded with an arrow feathered with his own wing; as also of the oak that let many a heavy groan when he was cleft with a wedge of his own timber.