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The Adventures of Roderick Random by Tobias Smollett

Part 6 out of 10

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ferment of my spirits; and the young paysanne had no reason to
complain of my remembrance. Early in the morning, the kind creatures
left us to our repose, which lasted till eight o'clock when we got
up, and were treated at breakfast with chocolate and l'eau-de-vie
by our paramours, of whom we took a tender leave, after my companion
had confessed and given them absolution.

While we proceeded on our journey, the conversation turned upon the
night's adventure, being introduced by the capuchin, who asked me
how I liked my lodging; I declared my satisfaction, and talked in
rapture of the agreeable Nanette, at which he shook his head, and
smiling said, she was a morceau pour la bonne bouche. "I never
valued myself," continued he, "upon anything so much as the conquest
of Nanette; and, vanity apart, I have been pretty fortunate in my
amours." This information shocked me not a little, as I was well
convinced of his intimacy with her sister; and though I did not
care to tax him with downright incest, I professed my astonishment
at his last night's choice, when, I supposed, the other was at
his devotion. To this hint he answered that, besides his natural
complaisance to the sex, he had another reason to distribute his
favours equally between them, namely, to preserve peace in the
family, which could not otherwise be maintained; that, moreover,
Nanette had conceived an affection for me, and he loved her too well
to balk her inclination; more especially, when he had an opportunity
of obliging his friend at the same time. I thanked him for this
instance of his friendship, though I was extremely disgusted at
his want of delicacy, and cursed the occasion that threw me in his
way. Libertine as I was, I could not bear to see a man behave so
wide of the character he assumed. I looked upon him as a person
of very little worth or honesty, and should even have kept a wary
eye upon my pocket, if I had thought he could have had any temptation
to steal. But I could not conceive the use of money to a capuchin,
who is obliged, by the rules of his order, to appear like a beggar,
and enjoy all other necessaries of life gratis; besides, my fellow
traveller seemed to be of a complexion too careless and sanguine
to give me any apprehension on that score; so that I proceeded with
great confidence, in expectation of being soon at my journey's end.


We lodge at a House near Amiens, where I am robbed by the Capuchin,
who escapes while I am asleep--I go to Noyons in search of him,
but without Success--make my Condition known to several People, but
find no Relief--grow desperate--find a Company of Soldiers--Enlist
in the Regiment of Picardy--we are ordered into Germany--I find the
Fatigues of the March almost intolerable--Quarrel with my Comrade
in a dispute about Politics--he challenges me to the Field--wounds
and disarms me

The third night of our pilgrimage we passed at a house near Amiens,
where being unknown, we supped upon indifferent fare and sour wine,
and were fain to be in a garret upon an old mattress, which, I
believe had been in the possession of ten thousand myriads of fleas
time out of mind. We did not invade their territory with impunity;
in less than a minute we were attacked by stings innumerable,
in spite of which, however, I fell fast asleep, being excessively
fatigued with our day's march, and did not wake till nine next
morning, when, seeing myself alone, I started up in a terrible
fright, and, examining my pockets, found my presaging fear too
true! My companion had made free with my cash, and left me to seek
my way to Paris by myself! I ran down stairs immediately; and, with
a look full of grief and amazement, inquired for the mendicant,
who, they gave me to understand, had set out four hours before,
after having told them I was a little indisposed, and desired I
might not be disturbed, but be informed when I should wake, that
he had taken the road to Noyons, where he would wait for my coming,
at the Coq d'Or. I spoke not a word, but with a heavy heart directed
my course to that place, at which I arrived in the afternoon, fainting
with weariness and hunger; but learned to my utter confusion, that
no such person had been there! It was happy for me that I had a
good deal of resentment in my constitution, which animated me on
such occasions against the villainy of mankind, and enabled me to
bear misfortunes, otherwise intolerable. Boiling with indignation,
I discovered to the host my deplorable condition, and inveighed
with great bitterness against the treachery of Balthazar; at which
he shrugged up his shoulders, and with a peculiar grimace on his
countenance, said, he was sorry for my misfortune, but there was
no remedy like patience. At that instant some guests arrived, to
whom he hastened to offer his service, leaving me mortified at his
indifference, and fully persuaded that an innkeeper is the same
sordid animal all the world over.

While I stood in the porch forlorn and undetermined, venting
ejaculations of curses against the thief who had robbed me, and the
old priest who recommended him to my friendship, a young gentleman
richly dressed, attended by a valet de chambre and two servants in
livery, arrived at the inn. I thought I perceived a great deal of
sweetness and good-nature in his countenance; therefore. he had no
sooner alighted than I accosted him, and, in a few words, explained
my situation: he listened with great politeness, and, when I made
an end of my story, said, "Well, monsieur, what would you have me
to do?" I was effectually abashed at this interrogation, which, I
believe, no man of common sense or generosity could make, and made
no other compliment than a low bow: he returned the compliment
still lower, and tripped into an apartment, while the landlord let
me know that my standing there to interrupt company gave offence,
and might do him infinite prejudice. He had no occasion to repeat
his insinuation; I moved from the place immediately, and was so
much transported with grief, anger, and disdain, that a torrent of
blood gushed from my nostrils. In this ecstacy, I quitted Noyons,
and betook myself to the fields, where I wandered about like one
distracted, till my spirits were quite exhausted, and I was obliged
to throw myself down at the root of a tree, to rest my wearied limbs.
Here my rage forsook me: I began to feel the importunate cravings
of nature, and relapsed into silent sorrow and melancholy reflection.
I revolved all the crimes I had been guilty of and found them too
few and venial, that I could not comprehend the justice of that
Providence, which, after having exposed me to so much wretchedness
and danger, left me a prey to famine at last in a foreign country,
where I had not one friend or acquaintance to close my eyes, and
do the last offices of humanity to my miserable carcass. A thousand
times I wished myself a bear, that I might retreat to woods and
deserts, far from the inhospitable haunts of man, where I could
live by my own talents, independent of treacherous friends and
supercilious scorn.

As I lay in this manner, groaning over my hapless fate, I heard the
sound of a violin, and raising my head, perceived a company of men
and women dancing on the grass at some distance from me. I looked
upon this to be a favourable season for distress to attract
compassion, when every selfish thought is banished, and the heart
dilated with mirth and social joy; wherefore I got up, and approached
those happy people, whom I soon discovered to be a party of soldiers,
with their wives and children, unbending and diverting themselves
at this rate, after the fatigue of a march. I had never before seen
such a parcel of scarecrows together, neither could I reconcile
their meagre and gaunt looks, their squalid and ragged attire, and
every other external symptom of extreme woe, with this appearance
of festivity. I saluted them, however, and was received with great
politeness; after which they formed a ring, and danced around me.
This jollity had a wonderful effect upon my spirits. I was infected
with their gaiety, and in spite of my dismal situation, forgot
my cares, and joined in their extravagance. When we had recreated
ourselves a good while at this diversion, the ladies spread their
manteaus on the ground, upon which they emptied their knapsacks
of some onions, coarse bread, and a few flasks of poor wine: being
invited to a share of the banquet, I sat down with the rest, and,
in the whole course of my life, never made a more comfortable meal.
When our repast was ended, we got up again to dance, and, now that
I found myself refreshed I behaved to the admiration of everybody;
I was loaded with a thousand compliments and professions of
friendship: the men commended my person and agility, and the women
were loud in the praise of my bonne grace; the sergeant in particular
expressed so much regard for me, and described the pleasures of
a soldier's life to me with so much art, that I began to listen to
his proposal of enlisting me in the service; and the more I considered
my own condition, the more I was convinced of the necessity I was
under to come to a speedy determination.

Having, therefore, maturely weighed the circumstances pro and con
I signified my consent, and was admitted into the regiment of Picardy,
said to be the oldest corps in Europe. The company to which this
commander belonged was quartered at a village not far off, whither
we marched next day, and I was presented to my captain, who seemed
very well pleased with my appearance, gave me a crown to drink, and
ordered me to be accommodated with clothes, arms, and accoutrements.
Then I sold my livery suit, purchased linen, and, as I was at great
pains to learn the exercise, in a very short time became a complete

It was not long before we received orders to join several more
regiments, and march with all expedition into Germany, in order
to reinforce Mareschal Duc de Noailles, who was then encamped with
his army on the side of the river Mayne, to watch the motions of
the English, Hanoverians, Austrians, and Hessians, under the command
of the Earl of Stair. We began our march accordingly, and then I
became acquainted with that part of a soldier's life to which I had
been hitherto a stranger. It is impossible to describe the hunger
and thirst I sustained, and the fatigue I underwent in a march of
so many hundred miles; during which, I was so much chafed with the
heat and motion of my limbs, that in a very short time the inside
of my thighs and legs were deprived of skin, and I proceeded in
the utmost torture. This misfortune I owed to the plumpness of my
constitution, which I cursed, and envied the withered condition of
my comrades, whose bodies could not spare juice enough to supply a
common issue, and were indeed proof against all manner of friction.
The continual pain I felt made me fretful, and my peevishness was
increased by the mortification of my pride in seeing those miserable
wretches, whom a hard gale of wind would have scattered through
the air like chaff, bear those toils with alacrity under which I
was ready to sink.

One day, while we enjoyed a halt, and the soldiers with their wives
had gone out to dance, according to custom, my comrade stayed at
home with me on pretence of friendship, and insulted me with his
pity and consolation! He told me that, though I was young and tender
at present, I should soon be seasoned to the service; and he did
not doubt but I should have the honour to contribute in some measure
to the glory of the king. "Have courage, therefore, my child," said
he, "and pray to the good God, that you may be as happy as I am,
who have had the honour of serving Louis the Great, and of receiving
many wounds, in helping to establish his glory." When I looked upon
the contemptible object that pronounced these words, I was amazed
at the infatuation that possessed him; and could not help expressing
my astonishment at the absurdity of a rational who thinks himself
highly honoured, in being permitted to encounter abject poverty,
oppression, famine, disease, mutilation, and evident death merely
to gratify the vicious ambition of a prince, by whom his sufferings
were disregarded, and his name utterly unknown. I observed that,
if his situation were the consequence of compulsion, I would praise
his patience and fortitude in bearing his lot: if he had taken up
arms in defence of his injured country, he was to be applauded for
his patriotism: or if he had fled to this way of life as a refuge
from a greater evil, he was justifiable in his own conscience (though
I could have no notion of misery more extreme than he suffered);
but to put his condition on the footing of conducing to the glory
of his prince, was no more than professing himself a desperate
slave, who voluntarily underwent the utmost wretchedness and peril,
and committed the most flagrant crimes, to soothe the barbarous
pride of a fellow-creature, his superior in nothing but the power
he derived from the submission of such wretches as him. The soldier
was very much affronted at the liberty I took with his king, which,
he said, nothing but my ignorance could excuse: he affirmed that
the characters of princes were sacred, and ought not to be profaned
by the censure of their subjects, who were bound by their allegiance
to obey their commands, of what nature soever, without scruple or
repining; and advised me to correct the rebellious principles I
had imbibed among the English, who, for their insolence to their
kings, were notorious all over the world, even to a proverb.

In vindication of my countrymen, I repeated all the arguments commonly
used to prove that every man has a natural right to liberty; that
allegiance and protection are reciprocal; that, when the mutual
tie is broken by the tyranny of the king, he is accountable to the
people for his breach of contract, and subject to the penalties of
the law; and that those insurrections of the English, which are
branded with the name of rebellion by the slaves of arbitrary power,
were no other than glorious efforts to rescue that independence
which was their birthright, from the ravenous claws of usurping
ambition. The Frenchman, provoked at the little deference I
paid to the kingly name, lost all patience, and reproached me in
such a manner that my temper forsook me, I clenched my fist, with
an intention to give him a hearty box on the ear. Perceiving my
design, he started back and demanded a parley; upon which I checked
my indignation, and he gave me to understand that a Frenchman never
forgave a blow; therefore, if I were not weary of my life, I would
do well to spare him that mortification, and do him the honour of
measuring his sword with mine, like a gentleman. I took his advice
and followed him to a field hard by, where indeed I was ashamed at
the pitiful figure of my antagonist, who was a poor little shivering
creature, decrepit with age, and blind of one eye. But I soon
found the folly of judging from appearances; being at the second
pass wounded in the sword hand, and immediately disarmed with such
a jerk, that I thought the joint was dislocated. I was no less
confounded than enraged at this event, especially as my adversary
did not bear his success with all the moderation that might have
been expected; for he insisted upon my asking pardon for affronting
his king and him. This proposal I would by no means comply with,
but told him, it was a mean condescension, which no gentleman in
his circumstances ought to propose, nor any in my situation ought
to perform; and that, if he persisted in his ungenerous demand, I
would in my turn claim satisfaction with my musket, when we should
be more upon a par than with the sword, of which he seemed so much


In order to be revenged, I learn the Science of Defence--we join
Mareschal Duc de Noailles, are engaged with the Allies of Dettingen,
and put to flight--the behaviour of the French soldiers on that
occasion--I industriously seek another combat with the old Gascon,
and vanquish him in my turn--our regiment is put into Winter Quarters at
Rheims, where I find my friend Strap--our Recognition--he supplies
me with Money, and procures my Discharge--we take a trip to Paris;
from whence, by the way of Flanders, we set out for London; where
we safely arrive

He was disconcerted at this declaration, to which he made no reply,
but repaired to the dancers, among whom he recounted his victory
with many exaggerations and gasconades; while I, taking up my sword,
went to my quarters, and examined my wound, which I found was of
no consequence. The same day an Irish drummer, having heard of my
misfortune, visited me, and after having condoled me on the chance
of war, gave me to understand, that he was master of the sword,
and would in a very short time instruct me so thoroughly in that
noble science, that I should be able to chastise the old Gascon
for his insolent boasting at my expense. This friendly office he
proffered on pretence of the regard he had for his countrymen; but
I afterwards learned the true motive was no other than a jealousy
he entertained of a correspondence between the Frenchman and his
wife, which he did not think proper to resent in person. Be this as
it will, I accepted his offer and practised his lessons with such
application, that I soon believed myself a match for my conqueror.
In the meantime we continued our march, and arrived at the Camp
of Mareschal Noailles the night before the battle at Dettingen:
notwithstanding the fatigue we had undergone, our regiment was one
of those that were ordered next day to cross the river, under the
command of the Duc de Grammont, to take possession of a narrow
defile, through which the allies must of necessity have passed at a
great disadvantage, or remain where they were, and perish for want
of provision, if they would not condescend to surrender at discretion.
How they suffered themselves to be pent up in this manner it is
not my province to relate; I shall only observe that, when we had
taken possession of our ground, I heard an old officer in conversation
with another express a surprise at the conduct of Lord Stair, who
had the reputation of a good general. But it seems, at this time,
that nobleman was overruled, and only acted in an inferior character;
so that no part of the blame could be imputed to him, who declared
his disapprobation of the step, in consequence of which the whole
army was in the utmost danger; but Providence or destiny acted
miracles in their behalf, by disposing the Duc de Grammont to quit
his advantageous post, pass the defile, and attack the English, who
were drawn up in order of battle on the plain, and who handled us
so roughly that, after having lost a great number of men, we turned
our backs without ceremony, and fled with such precipitation that
many hundreds perished in the river through pure fear and confusion:
for the enemy were so generous that they did not pursue us one inch
of ground; and, if our consternation would have permitted, we might
have retreated with great order and deliberation. But, notwithstanding
the royal clemency of the king of Great Britain, who headed the
allies in person, and, no doubt, put a stop to the carnage, our
loss amounted to five thousand men, among whom were many officers
of distinction. Our miscarriage opened a passage for the foe to
Haynau, whither they immediately marched, leaving their sick and
wounded to the care of the French, who next day took possession of
the field of battle, buried the dead, and treated the living with

This circumstance was a great consolation to us, who thence took
occasion to claim the victory; and the genius of the French nation
never appeared more conspicuous than now, in the rhodomontades they
uttered on the subject of their generosity and courage. Every man
(by his own account) performed feats that eclipsed all the heroes
of antiquity. One compared himself to a lion retiring at leisure
from his cowardly pursuers, who keep at a wary distance, and gall him
with their darts. Another likened himself to a bear that retreats
with his face to the enemy, who dare not assail him; and the third
assumed the character of a desperate stag, that turns upon the hounds
and keeps them at bay. There was not a private soldier engaged who
had not by the prowess of his single arm demolished a whole platoon,
or put a squadron of horse to flight; and, among others, the meagre
Gascon extolled his exploits above those of Hercules or Charlemagne.
As I still retained my resentment for the disgrace I suffered
in my last rencontre with him, and, now that I the thought myself
qualified, longed for an opportunity to retrieve my honour, I
magnified the valour of the English with all the hyperboles I could
imagine, and described the pusillanimity of the French in the same
style, comparing them to hares flying before greyhounds, or mice
pursued by cats; and passed an ironical compliment on the speed he
exerted in his flight, which, considering his age and infirmities
I said was surprising. He was stung to the quick by this sarcasm,
and, with an air of threatening disdain, bade me know myself better,
and remember the correction I had already received from him for
my insolence; for he might not always be in the humour of sparing
a wretch who abused his goodness. To this inuendo I made no reply
but by a kick on the breech, which overturned him in an instant. He
started up with wonderful agility, and, drawing his sword, attacked
me with great fury. Several people interposed, but, when he informed
them of its being an affair of honour, they retired, and left us to
decide the battle by ourselves. I sustained his onset with little
damage, having only received a small scratch on my right shoulder,
and, seeing his breath and vigour almost exhausted, assaulted him
in my turn, closed with him, and wrested his sword out of his hand
in the struggle. Having thus acquired the victory, I desired him
to beg his life; to which demand he made no answer, but shrugged
up his shoulders to his ears, expanded his hands, elevated the
skin on his forehead and eyebrows, and depressed the corners of his
mouth in such a manner, that I could scarce refrain from laughing
aloud at his grotesque appearance. That I might, however, mortify
his vanity, which triumphed without bounds over my misfortune, I
thrust his sword up to the hilt in something (it was not a tansy),
that lay smoking on the plain, and joined the rest of the soldiers
with an air of tranquillity and indifference.

There was nothing more of moment attempted by either of the armies
during the remaining part of the campaign, which being ended,
the English marched back to the Netherlands; part of our army was
detached to French Flanders, and our regiment ordered into winter
quarters in Champagne. It was the fate of the grenadier company,
to which I now belonged, to lie at Rheims, where I found myself
in the utmost want of everything, my pay, which amounted to five
sols a day, far from supplying me with necessaries, being scarce
sufficient to procure a wretched subsistence to keep soul and body
together; so that I was, by hunger and hard duty, brought down to
the meagre condition of my fellow-soldiers, and my linen reduced
from three tolerable shirts to two pair of sleeves and necks, the
bodies having been long ago converted into spatterdaches; and after
all, I was better provided than any private man in the regiment.
In this urgency of my affairs, I wrote to my uncle in England,
though my hopes from that quarter were not at all sanguine, for the
reasons I have already explained; and in the meantime had recourse
to my old remedy patience, consoling myself with the flattering
suggestions of a lively imagination, that never abandoned me in my

One day, while I stood sentinel at the gate of a general officer,
a certain nobleman came to the door, followed by a gentleman in
mourning, to whom, at parting, I heard him say, "You may depend upon
my good offices." This assurance was answered by a low bow of the
person in black, who, turning to go away, discovered to me the
individual countenance of my old friend and adherent Strap. I was
so much astonished at the sight, that I lost the power of utterance,
and, before I could recollect myself, he was gone without taking any
notice of me. Indeed, had he stayed, I scarcely should have ventured
to accost him; because, though I was perfectly well acquainted with
the features of his face, I could not be positively certain as to
the rest of his person, which was very much altered for the better
since he left me at London, neither could I conceive by which means
he was enabled to appear in the sphere of a gentleman, to which,
while I knew him, he had not even the ambition to aspire. But I was
too much concerned in the affair to neglect further information,
and therefore took the first opportunity of asking the porter if
he knew the gentleman to whom the marquis spoke. The Swiss told me
his name was Monsieur d'Estrapes, that he had been valet-de-chambre
to an English gentleman lately deceased, and that he was very much
regarded by the marquis for his fidelity to his master, between
whom and that nobleman a very intimate friendship had subsisted.
Nothing could be more agreeable to me than this piece of intelligence,
which banished all doubt of its being my friend, who had found means
to frenchify his name as well as his behaviour since we parted. As
soon, therefore, as I was relieved, I went to his lodging, according
to a direction given me by the Swiss, and had the good fortune to
find him at home. That I might surprise him the more, I concealed
my name and business, and only desired the servant of the house to
tell Monsieur d'Estrapes that I begged the honour of half-an-hour's
conversation with him. He was confounded and dismayed at this
message, when he understood it was sent by a soldier; though he
was conscious to himself of no crime, all that he had heard of the
Bastille appeared to his imagination with aggravated horror, but
it was not before I had waited a considerable time that he had
resolution enough to bid the servant show me up-stairs.

When I entered his chamber, he returned my bow with great civility,
and endeavoured, with forced complaisance, to disguise his fear,
which appeared in the paleness of his face, the wildness of his looks,
and the shaking of his limbs. I was diverted at his consternation,
which redoubled, when I told him in French, I had business for his
private ear and demanded a particular audience. The valet being
withdrawn, I asked in the same language if his name was d'Estrapes,
to which he answered with a faltering tongue, "The same, at your
service." "Are you a Frenchman?" Said I. "I have not the honour
of being a Frenchman born," replied he, "but I have an infinite
veneration for the country." I then desired he would do me the
honour to look at me, which he no sooner did than, struck with my
appearance, he started back, and cried in English, "O Jesus!--sure
it can't! No 'tis impossible!" I smiled at his interjections,
saying, "I suppose you are too much of a gentleman to own your
friend in adversity." When he heard me pronounce these words in our
own language, he leaped upon me in a transport of joy, hung about
my neck, kissed me from ear to ear, and blubbered like a great
schoolboy who had been whipped. Then, observing my dress, he set
up his throat, crying, "O Lord! O Lord! that ever I should live to
see my dearest friend reduced to the condition of a foot soldier
in the French service! Why did you consent to my leaving you?--but
I know the reason--you thought you had got more creditable friends,
and grew ashamed of my acquaintance. Ah! Lord help us! though I
was a little short-sighted, I was not altogether blind: and though
I did not complain, I was not the less sensible of your unkindness,
which was indeed the only thing that induced me to ramble abroad,
the Lord knows whither; but I must own it has been a lucky ramble
for me, and so I forgive you, and may God forgive you! O Lord! Lord!
is it come to this?" I was nettled at the charge, which, though
just, I could not help thinking unseasonable, and told him with some
tartness that, whether his suspicions were well or ill grounded,
he might have chosen a more convenient opportunity of introducing
them; and that the question now was whether or no he found himself
disposed to lend me any assistance. "Disposed!" replied he with
great emotion; "I thought you had known me so well as to assure
yourself without asking, that I, and all that belongs to me, are at
your command. In the meantime you shall dine with me, and I will
tell you something that, perhaps, will not be displeasing unto
you." Then, wringing my hand, he said, "It makes my heart bleed to
see you in that garb!" I thanked him for his invitation, which, I
observed, could not be unwelcome to a person who had not eaten a
comfortable meal these seven months; but I had another request to
make, which I begged he would grant before dinner, and that was the
loan of a shirt; for although my back had been many weeks a stranger
to any comfort of that kind, my skin was not yet familiarised to
the want of it. He stared in my face, with a woful countenance, at
this declaration, which he could scarce believe, until I explained
it by unbuttoning my coat and disclosing my naked body--a circumstance
which shocked the tender-hearted Strap, who, with tears in his eyes,
ran to a chest of drawers, and taking out some linen, presented to
me a very fine ruffled Holland shirt and cambric neckcloth, assuring
me he had three dozen of the same kind at my service.

I was ravished at this piece of good news and, having accommodated
myself in a moment, hugged my benefactor for his generous offer,
saying, I was overjoyed to find him undebauched by prosperity, which
seldom fails to corrupt the heart. He bespoke for dinner some soup
and bouilli, a couple of pullets roasted, and a dish of asparagus,
and in the interim entertained me with biscuit and Burgundy, after
which repast he entreated me to gratify his longing desire of
knowing every circumstance of my fortune since his departure from
London. This request I complied with, beginning at the adventure
of Gawky, and relating every particular event in which I had been
concerned from that day to the present hour. During the recital, my
friend was strongly affected, according to the various situations
described. He stared with surprise, glowed with indignation, gaped
with curiosity, smiled with pleasure, trembled with fear, and wept
with sorrow, as the vicissitudes of my life inspired these different
passions; and, when my story was ended, signified his amazement on
the whole, by lifting up his eyes and hands and protesting that,
though I was a young man, had suffered more than all the blessed

After dinner, I desired in my turn to know the particulars of his
peregrination, and he satisfied me in a few words, by giving me to
understand that he had lived a year at Paris with his master, who,
in that time having acquired the language, as well as the fashionable
exercises to perfection, made a tour of France and Holland, during
which excursion he was so unfortunate as to meet with three of
his own countrymen on their travels, in whose company he committed
such excesses, that his constitution failed, and he fell into a
consumption; that by the advice of physicians, he went to Montpelier
for the benefit of good air, and recovered so well in six weeks,
that he returned to Rheims seemingly in good health, where he had
not continued above a month, when he was seized with a looseness
that carried him off in ten days, to the unspeakable sorrow of all
who knew him and especially of Strap, who had been very happy in
his service, and given such satisfaction, that his master, on his
death-bed recommended him to several persons of distinction for
his diligence, sobriety, and affection, and left him by will his
wearing apparel, gold watch, sword, rings, ready money, and all the
moveables he had in France, to the value of three hundred pounds
"which I now," said he, "in the sight of God and man, surrender
to your absolute disposal: here are my keys; take them, I beseech
you, and God give you joy of the possession." My brain was almost
turned by this sudden change of fortune, which I could scarce
believe real: however, I positively refused this extravagant proffer
of my friend, and put him in mind of my being a soldier; at which
hint he started, crying, "Odso! that's true! we must procure your
discharge. I have some interest with a nobleman who is able to do
me that favour."

We consulted about this affair, and it was determined that Monsieur
d'Estrapes should wait upon the Marquis in the morning, and tell
him he had by accident found his brother, whom he had not seen for
many years before, a private soldier in the regiment of Picardy,
and implore that nobleman's interest for his discharge. In the
meantime, we enjoyed ourselves over a bottle of good Burgundy, and
spent the evening in concerting schemes for our future conduct, in
case I should be so lucky as to get rid of the army. The business
was to make ourselves easy for life by means of his legacy, a task
very difficult, and, in the usual methods of laying out money,
altogether impracticable, so that, after much canvassing, we could
come to no resolution that night, but when we parted, recommended
the matter to the serious attention of each other. As for my own
part, I puzzled my imagination to no purpose. When I thought of
turning merchant, the smallness of our stock, and the risk of seas,
enemies, and markets, deterred me from that scheme. If I should
settle as a surgeon in my own country, I would find the business
already overstocked; or, if I pretended to set up in England, must
labour under want of friends and powerful opposition, obstacles
insurmountable by the most shining merit: neither should I succeed
in my endeavours to rise in the state, inasmuch as I could neither
flatter nor pimp for courtiers, nor prostitute my pen in defence
of a wicked and contemptible administration. Before I could form
any feasible project, I fell asleep, and my fancy was blest with
the image of the dear Narcissa, who seemed to smile upon my passion,
and offer her hand as a reward for all my toils.

Early in the morning, I went to the lodgings of my friend, whom I
found exulting over his happy invention! for I no sooner entered
his apartment, than he addressed himself to me in these words,
with a smile of self-applause: "Well, Mr. Random, a lucky thought
may come into a fool's head sometimes. I have hit it--I'll hold
you a button my plan is better than yours, for all your learning.
But you shall have the preference in this as in all other things;
therefore proceed, and let us know the effects of your meditation;
and then I will impart my own simple excogitations." I told him,
that not one thought had occurred to me which deserved the least
notice, and signified my impatience to be acquainted with the fruits
of his reflection. "As we have not," said he, "money sufficient to
maintain us during a tedious expectation, it is my opinion that a
bold push must be made; and I see none so likely to succeed as your
appearing in the character of a gentleman (which is your due), and
making your addresses to some lady of fortune, who can render you
independent at once. Nay, don't stare--I affirm that this scheme
is both prudent and honourable; for I would not have you throw
yourself away upon an old toothless wheezing dame, whose breath
would stink you into a consumption in less than three months,
neither would I advise you to assume the character of a wealthy
squire, as your common fortune-hunters do, by which means many a
poor lady is cheated into matrimony, and instead of enjoying the
pomp and grandeur that was promised, sees her dowry seized by her
husband's rapacious creditors, and herself reduced to misery and
despair. No, I know you have a soul that disdains such imposition;
and are master of qualifications, both of mind and body, which
alone entitle you to a match that will set you above the world. I
have clothes in my possession that a duke need not be ashamed to
wear. I believe they will fit you as they are, if not there are
plenty of tailors in France. Let us take a short trip to Paris,
and provide ourselves with all other necessaries, then set out for
England, where I intend to do myself the honour of attending you in
quality of a valet. This expedient will save you the expense of a
servant, shaving, and dressing; and I doubt not but, by the blessing
of God, we shall bring matters to a speedy and fortunate issue."
Extravagant as this proposal was, I listened to it with pleasure,
because it flattered my vanity, and indulged a ridiculous hope I
began to entertain of inspiring Narcissa with a mutual flame.

After breakfast, Monsieur d'Estrapes went to pay his devoirs to the
marquis, and was so successful in his application, that I obtained
a discharge in a few days, upon which we set out for Paris. Here
I had time to reflect and congratulate myself upon this sudden
transition of fate, which to bear with moderation required some
degree of philosophy and self-denial. This truth will be more obvious,
if I give a detail of the particulars, to the quiet possession of
which I was raised in an instant, from the most abject misery and
contempt. My wardrobe consisted of five fashionable coats full
mounted, two of which were plain, one of cut velvet, one trimmed
with gold, and another with silver lace, two frocks, one of white
drab, with large plate buttons, the other of blue with gold binding;
one waistcoat of gold brocade; one of blue satin, embroidered with
silver; one of green silk, trimmed with figured broad gold lace;
one of black silk, with fringes; one of white satin, one of black
cloth, and one of scarlet; six pair of cloth breeches; one pair
of crimson, and another of black velvet; twelve pair of white silk
stockings, as many of black silk, and the same number of white
cotton; one hat, laced with gold point d'Espagne, another with
silver lace scolloped, a third with gold binding, and a fourth
plain; three dozen of fine ruffled shirts, as many neckcloths; one
dozen of cambric handkerchiefs, and the like number of silk. The
other moveables, which I possessed by the generosity and friendship
of Strap, were a gold watch with a chased case, two valuable diamond
rings, two mourning swords, one with a silver handle, and a fourth
cut steel inlaid with gold, a diamond stock buckle, and a set of
stone buckles for the knees and shoes; a pair of silver-mounted
pistols with rich housings; a gold-headed cane, and a snuff-box of
tortoiseshell, mounted with gold, having the picture of a lady in
the top. The gentleman left many other things of value, which my
friend had converted into cash before I met with him; so that, over
and above these particulars, our stock in ready money amounted to
something more than two hundred pounds.

Thus equipped, I put on the gentleman of figure, and, attended by
my honest friend, who was contented with the station of my valet,
visited the Louvre, examined the gallery of Luxembourg, and appeared
at Versailles, where I had the honour of seeing his Most Christian
Majesty eat a considerable quantity of olives. During the month I
spent at Paris, I went several times to court, the Italian comedy,
opera, and playhouse, danced at a masquerade, and, in short, saw
everything remarkable in and about that capital. Then we set out
for England by the way of Flanders, passed through Brussels, Ghent,
and Bruges, and took shipping at Ostend, from whence, in fourteen
hours, we arrived at Deal, hired a postchaise, and in twelve hours
more got safe to London, having disposed of our heavy baggage in
the waggon.


I inquire for my Uncle, and understand he is gone to sea--take
Lodgings at Charing Cross--go to the Play, where I meet with an
adventure-Dine at an ordinary--the Guests described--become acquainted
with Medlar and Doctor Wagtail

As soon as we alighted at the inn, I dispatched Strap to inquire
for my uncle at the Union Flag in Wapping; and he returned in a
little time, with an account of Mr. Bowling's having gone to sea,
mate of a merchant ship, after a long and unsuccessful application
attendance at the Admiralty; where, it seems, the interest he
depended upon was not sufficient to reinstate him, or recover the
pay that was due to him when he quitted the Thunder.

Next day I hired very handsome lodgings not far from Charing Cross;
and in the evening dressed myself in a plain suit of the true Paris
cut, and appeared in a front box at the play, where I saw a good
deal of company, and was vain enough to believe that I was observed
with an uncommon degree of attention and applause. This silly conceit
intoxicated me so much, that I was guilty of a thousand ridiculous
coquetries; and I dare say, how favourable soever the thoughts of
the company might be at my first appearance, they were soon changed
by my absurd behaviour into pity or contempt. I rose and sat down,
covered and uncovered my head twenty times between the acts; pulled
out my watch, clapped it to my ear, wound it up, set it, gave it
the hearing again; displayed my snuff-box, affected to take snuff,
that I might have all opportunity of showing my brilliant, and
wiped my nose with perfumed handkerchief; then dangled my cane, and
adjusted my sword-knot, and acted many more fooleries of the same
kind, in hopes of obtaining the character of a pretty fellow, in
the acquiring of which I found two considerable obstructions in
my disposition--namely, a natural reserve and jealous sensibility.
Fain would I have entered into conversation with the people around
me: but I was restrained by the fear of being censured for my
assurance, as well as by reflecting that I was more entitled to a
compliment of this kind from them, than they to such condescension
from a stranger like me. How often did I redden at the frequent
whispers and loud laughter of my fellow beaux, which I imagined were
excited by me; and how often did I envy the happy indifference of
those choice spirits, who behold the distress of the scene without
discovering the least symptom of approbation or concern. My attention
was engaged in spite of myself, and I could not help weeping with
the heroine of the stage, though I practised a great many shifs to
conceal this piece of unpolite weakness.

When the play was ended, I sat waiting for an opportunity of handing
some lady to her coach; but everyone was attended by such a number
of officious gallants, that for a long time I was balked in
my expectation. At length, however, I perceived a very handsome
creature, genteelly dressed, sitting by herself in a box, at
some distance from me; upon which I went up to her, and offered
my service. She seemed to be in some confusion, thanked me for my
complaisance, and with a tender look declined giving me the trouble:
looking at her watch, and testifying her surprise at the negligence
of her footman whom she had ordered to have a chair ready for her
at that hour. I repeated my entreaty with all the eloquence and
compliment I was master of; and, in the event, she was prevailed upon
to accept of a proposal I made, to send my servant for a chair or
coach: accordingly, Strap was detached for that purpose, and returned
without success. By this time the playhouse was quite empty, and
we were obliged to retire. As I led her through the passage, I
observed five or six young fellows of fashion standing in a corner,
one of whom, as I thought, tipped my charmer the wink, and when we
were passed, I heard a loud laugh. This note aroused my attention,
and I was resolved to be fully satisfied of this lady's character,
before I should have any nearer connection with her. As no convenience
appeared, I proposed to conduct her to a tavern, where we might
stay a few minutes, until my servant could fetch a coach from the
Strand. She seemed particularly shy of trusting herself in a tavern
with a stranger, but at last yielded to my pathetic remonstrances,
rather than endanger her health by remaining in a cold, damp
thoroughfare. Having thus far succeeded, I begged to know what
wine she would be pleased to drink a glass of; but she professed
the greatest aversion to all sorts of strong liquors, and it was
with much difficulty that I could persuade her to eat a jelly.

In the meantime, I endeavoured to alleviate the uneasiness she
discovered, by saying all the agreeable things I could think of;
at which she would often sigh, and regard me with a languishing
look, that seemed, however, too near akin to the lewd leer of a
courtesan. This discovery added to my former suspicion, while it
put me upon my guard against her arts, divested me of reserve, and
enabled me to entertain her with gaiety and freedom. In the course
of our conversation, I pressed her to allow me the honour of waiting
upon her next day at her lodgings, a request which she, with many
apologues, refused, lest it should give umbrage to Sir John, who was
of a disposition apt to be fretted with trifles. This information,
by which I was to understand that her husband was a knight, did not
check my addresses, which became more and more importunate, and I
was even hardy enough to ravish a kiss. But, O heavens! instead of
banqueting on the ambrosial flavour, that her delicacy of complexion
promised, I was almost suffocated with the steams of Geneva! An
exhalation of this kind, from a mouth which had just before declared
an utter abhorrence of all spirituous liquors, not only changed my
doubts into certainty, but my raptures into loathing; and it would
have been impossible for me to have preserved common complaisance
five minutes longer, when my servant returned with a coach. I took
the advantage of this occasion, and presented my hand to the lady,
who put in practice against me the whole artillery of her charms,
ogling, languishing, sighing, and squeezing, with so little reserve
that Strap perceived her tenderness, and rubbed his hands with
joy as he followed us to the door; but I was proof against all her
endearments, and handed her into the coach with an intention to
take my leave immediately. She guessed my design, and invited me
to her house, whispering, that now Sir John was gone to bed, she
could have the pleasure of my conversation for half-an-hour without
interruption. I told her there was no mortification I would not
undergo, rather than endanger the repose of her ladyship; and,
bidding the coachman drive on, wished her a good night. She lost
all temper at my indifference, and, stopping the coach, at the
distance of about twenty yards from me, popped out her head, and
howled with the lungs of a fishwoman, "D--n you, you dog, won't you
pay the coach-hire?" As I made no answer, she held forth against me
with an eloquence peculiar to herself; calling me pitifull fellow,
scoundrel, and a hundred such appellations; concluding with an
oath, that, for all my appearance, she believed I had got no money
in my pocket.

Having thus vented her indignation, she ordered her coachman to
proceed, and I returned to the tavern, where I bespoke something
for supper, very well pleased at the issue of this adventure. I
dispensed with the attendance of the waiter at table, on pretence
that my own servant was present, and, when we were alone, said to
Strap, "Well, Monsieur d'Estrapes, what d'ye think of this lady?"
My friend, who had not opened his mouth since her departure, could
make no other reply than the monosyllable "Think!" which he pronounced
with a note of fear and astonishment. Surprised at this emphasis,
I surveyed my valet, and, perceiving a wildness in his looks, asked
if he had seen his grandfather's ghost? "Ghost!" said he, "I am
sure I have seen a devil incarnate! Who would have thought that
so much devilish malice and Billingsgate could lurk under so much
sweetness of countenance and modesty of behaviour? Ah! God help
us! Fronti nulla fides--nimium ne crede colori--but we ought to
down on our knees, and bless God for delivering us from the jaws
of that painted sepulchre!" I was pretty much of Strap's opinion,
and, though I did not believe myself in any danger from the allurements
of that sisterhood, I determined to act with great circumspection
for the future, and shun all commerce of that kind, as equally
prejudicial to my purse and constitution.

My next care was to introduce myself into a set of good acquaintance:
for which purpose I frequented a certain coffee-house, noted for
the resort of good company, English as well as foreigners, where
my appearance procured all the civilities and advances I could
desire. As there was an ordinary in the same house, I went upstairs
to dinner with the other guests, and found myself at a table with
thirteen people, the greatest part of whom were better dressed than
myself. The conversation, which was mostly carried on in French,
turned chiefly on politics; and I soon found the whole company were
in the French interest, myself excepted, and a testy old gentleman,
who contradicted everything that was advanced in favour of his Most
Christian Majesty, with a surliness truly English. But this trusty
patriot, who had never been out of his own country, and drew all
his maxims and notions from prejudice and hearsay, was very unequal
to his antagonists, who were superior to him in learning and
experience, and often took the liberty of travellers in asserting
things which were not strictly true, because they thought themselves
in no danger of being detected by him. The claim of the Queen
Of Spain to the Austrian dominions in Italy was fully explained
and vindicated, by a person who sat opposite to me, and, by the
solemnity of his manner and the richness of his apparel, seemed to
be a foreign ambassador. This dissertation produced another on the
Pragmatic Sanction, handled with great warmth by a young gentleman
at my right hand, dressed in a green frock, trimmed with gold,
who justified the French king for his breach of that contract; and
affirmed that he could not have observed it without injuring his
own glory. Although I was not at all convinced by this gentleman's
arguments, I could not help admiring his vivacity which, I imagined,
must be the effect of his illustrious birth and noble education,
and accordingly rated him, in my conjecture, as a young prince on
his travels. The discourse was afterwards shifted by an old gentleman,
of a very martial appearance, to the last campaign, when the battle
of Dettingen was fought over again, with so many circumstances to
the honour of the French and disadvantages if the Allies, that I
began to entertain some doubts of my having been there in person,
and took the liberty to mention some objections to what he advanced.
This freedom introduced a dispute, which lasted a good while, to
the mortification of all present; and was at last referred to the
determination of a grave person, whom they styled Doctor, and who,
under a show of great moderation, decided it against me, with so
little regard to truth, that I taxed him with partiality in pretty
severe terms, to the no small entertainment of the true English
politician, who rejoiced at my defence of a cause he had so often
espoused without success.

My opponent, pleased with the victory he had gained, affected a great
deal of candour, and told me, he should not have been so positive,
if he had not been at great pains to inform himself of each
particular. "Indeed," said he, "I am convinced that the previous
steps considered, things could not happen otherwise; for we generals
who have seen service, though we may not be on the spot ourselves,
know by the least sketch of the disposition what must be the
event." He then censured, with great freedom, every circumstance
of the conduct of those who commanded the Allies; from thence made
a transition to the ministry, which he honoured with many invectives
for employing people who had neither experience nor capacity,
to the prejudice of old officers, who had been distinguished for
both; dropped many hints of his own importance, and concluded with
observing, that the French and Spaniards knew better how to value
generals of merit; the good effects of which are seen in the
conquests they gain, and the discipline of their troops, which are
at the same time better clothed and paid than any soldiers in the
universe. These remarks furnished the green knight with an opportunity
of launching out in the praise of the French government in general,
civil as well as military; on which occasion he made many odious
comparisons to the disadvantage of the English. Everybody,
almost, assented to the observations he made, and the doctor gave
his sanction, by saying, the people of France were undoubtedly
the happiest subjects in the world. I was so much astonished and
confounded at their infatuation and effrontery, that I had not
power to utter one word in opposition to their assertions; but my
morose associate could not put up with the indignity that was offered
to Old England, and therefore with a satirical grin addressed himself
to the general in these words: "Sir, sir, I have often heard it
said, She's a villainous bird that befouls her own nest. As for
what those people who are foreigners say, I don't mind it; they
know no better; but you who were bred and born, and have got your
bread, under the English government, should have more regard to
gratitude, as well as truth in censuring your native country. If
the ministry have thought fit to lay you aside, I suppose they have
their own reasons for so doing; and you ought to remember, that
you still live on the bounty of this nation. As for these gentlemen
(meaning the prince and ambassador), who make so free with our
constitution, laws, and genius of our people, I think they might
show a little more respect for their benefactors, who, I must own,
are to blame in harbouring and protecting, and encouraging such
ungrateful vagrants as they are." At these words, the chevalier
in green started up in a great passion, and laying his hand on the
hilt of his hanger, exclaimed, "Ah! foutre!" The Englishman on the
other hand, grasping his cane cried, "Don't foutre me, sirrah, or
by G--d I'll knock you down." The company interposed, the Frenchman
sat down again, and his antagonist proceeded--"Lookey, Monsieur,
you know very well that had you dared to speak so freely of the
administration of your own country in Paris as you have done of
ours in London, you would have been sent to the Bastille without
ceremony, where you might have rotted in a dungeon, and never seen
the light of the sun again. Now, sir, take my word for it, although
our constitution screens us from such oppression, we want not
laws to chastise the authors of seditious discourse, and if I hear
another syllable out of your mouth in contempt or prejudice of this
kingdom, I will give you a convincing proof of what I advance, and
have you laid by the heels for your presumption." This declaration
had an effect on the company as sudden as surprising. The young
prince became as supple as a spaniel, the ambassador trembled, the
general sat silent and abashed, and the doctor, who it seems, had
felt the rod of power, grew pale as death, and assured us all,
that he had no intention to affront any person or people. "Your
principles, doctor," resumed the old gentleman, "are no secret--I
have nothing to say upon that head; but am very much surprised,
that a man who despises us so much, should notwithstanding live
among us, when he has no visible motive for so doing. Why don't
you take up your habitation in your beloved France, where you may
rail at England without censure?" To this remonstrance the doctor
thought proper to make no reply, and an unsocial silence ensued;
which I perceiving, took notice, that it was pity such idle disputes,
maintained very often through whim or diversion, should create any
misunderstanding among gentlemen of good sense, and proposed to
drink down all animosity in another bottle,

This motion was applauded by the whole company. The wine was brought,
and the English champion, declaring he had no spleen against any
man for differing in opinion from him, any more than for difference
of complexion, drank to the good health of all present; the compliment
was returned, and the conversation once more became unreserved
though more general than before. Among other topics, the subject
of war was introduced, on which the general declaimed with great
eloquence, recounting many of his own exploits by way of illustration.
In the course of his harangue he happened to mention the word
epaulement, upon which the testy gentleman asked the meaning, of that
term. "I'll tell you what an epaulement is," replied he, "I never
saw an epaulement but once, and that was at the siege of Namur. In
a council of war, Monsieur Cohorn, the famous engineer, affirmed
that the place could not be taken." "Yes," said the Prince of
Vandemont, "it may be taken by an epaulement." "This was immediately
put into execution, and in twenty-four hours Mareschal Boufflers
was fain to capitulate." Here he made a full stop, and the old
gentleman repeated the question, "But pray what is an epaulement?"
To this interrogation the officer made no immediate reply, but rang
the bell, and called for the bill, which being brought, he threw
down his proportion of the reckoning, and, telling the company he
would show them an epaulement when his majesty should think fit to
entrust him with the command of our army abroad, strutted away with
great dignity. I could not imagine why he was so shy of explaining
one of the most simple terms of fortification, which I forthwith
described as a side-work composed of earth, gabions, or fascines;
but I was very much surprised when I afterwards understood that
his reserve proceeded from his ignorance.

Having paid our bill, we adjourned to the coffee-room, where my
fellow-labourer insisted on treating me with a dish, giving me to
understand, at the same time, that I had acquired his good opinion,
both with respect to my principles and understanding. I thanked
him for his compliment, and, professing myself an utter stranger
in this part of the world, begged he would have the goodness to
inform me of the quality and characters of the people who dined
above. This request was a real favour to one of his disposition,
which was no less communicative than curious; he therefore complied
with great satisfaction, and told me, to my extreme astonishment,
that the supposed young prince was a dancer at one of the theatres,
and the ambassador no other than a fiddler belonging to the opera.
"The doctor," said he "is a Roman Catholic priest, who sometimes
appears in the character of an officer, and assumes the name of
captain; but more generally takes the garb, title, and behaviour
of a physician, in which capacity he wheedles himself into the
confidence of weak-minded people, and by arguments no less specious
than false, converts them from their religion and allegiance. He
has been in the hands of justice more than once for such practices,
but he is a sly dog, and manages matters with so much craft, that
hitherto he has escaped for a short imprisonment. As for the general,
you may see he has owed his promotion more to his interest than
his capacity; and, now that the eyes of the ministry are opened,
his friends dead or become inconsiderable, he is struck off the
list, and obliged to put up with a yearly pension. In consequence
of this reduction, he is become malcontent, and inveighs against
the government in all companies, with so little discretion, that
I am surprised at the lenity of the administration, in overlooking
his insolence, but the truth of the matter is, he owes his safety
to his weakness and want of importance. He has seen a little, and
but a little, service, and yet, if you will take his word to it,
there has not been a great action performed in the field since
the Revolution, in which he was not principally concerned. When a
story is told of any great general, he immediately matches it with
one of himself, though he is often unhappy in his invention, and
commits such gross blunders in the detail, that everybody is in pain
for him. Caesar, Pompey, and Alexander the Great, are continually
in his mouth; and, as he reads a good deal without any judgment to
digest it, his ideas are confused, and his harangues as unintelligible
as infinite; for, if once he begin, there is no chance of his
leaving off speaking while one person remains to yield attention;
therefore the only expedient I know, for putting a stop to his
loquacity, is to lay hold of some incongruity he has uttered, and
demand an explanation; or ask the meaning of some difficult term
that he knows by name; this method will effectually put him to
silence, if not to flight, as it happened when I inquired about an
epaulement. Had he been acquainted with the signification of that
word, his triumph would have been intolerable, and we must have
quitted the field first, or been worried with impertinence."

Having thus gratified my curiosity, the old gentleman began
to discover his own, in questions relating to myself, to which I
thought proper to return ambiguous answers. "I presume, Sir," said
he, "you have travelled." I answered, "Yes." "I dare say you have
found it very expensive," said he. I replied, "To be sure, one cannot
travel without money." "That I know by experience," said he, "for
I myself take a trip to Bath or Tunbridge every season; and one must
pay sauce for what he has on the road, as well in other countries
as in this. That's a pretty stone in your ring--give me leave, sir--the
French have attained to a wonderful skill in making compositions
of this kind. Why, now, this looks almost as well as a diamond."
"Almost as well, Sir!" said I, "Why not altogether? I am sure if you
understand anything of jewels, you must perceive, at first sight,
that this stone is a real diamond, and that of a very fine water.
Take it in your hand and examine it." He did so with some confusion,
and returned it, saying, "I ask your pardon; I see it is a true
brilliant of immense value." I imagined his respect to me increased
after this inquiry; therefore to captivate his esteem the more, I
told him, I would show him a seal of composition, engraved after
a very valuable antique; upon which I pulled out my watch with a
rich gold chain, adorned with three seals set in gold, and an opal
ring, He viewed each of them with great eagerness, handled the
chain, admired the chased case, and observed that the whole must
have cost me a vast sum of money. I affected indifference, and
replied in a careless manner, "Some trifle of sixty or seventy
guineas." He stared in my face for some time, and then asked
if I was an Englishman? I answered in the negative. "You are from
Ireland then, Sir, I presume," said he. I made the same reply. "Oh!
perhaps," said he "you were born in one of our settlements abroad."
I still answered No. He seemed very much surprised, and said, he
was sure I was not a foreigner. I made no reply, but left him upon
the tenter-hooks of impatient uncertainty. He could not contain
his anxiety, but asked pardon for the liberties he had taken and,
to encourage me the more to disclose my situation, displayed his own
without reserve. "I am," said he, "a single man, have a considerable
annuity, on which I live according to my inclination, and make
the ends of the year meet very comfortably. As I have no estate to
leave behind, I am not troubled with the importunate officiousness
of relations or legacy hunters, and I consider the world as made
for me, not me for the world. It is my maxim, therefore, to enjoy
it while I can, and let futurity shift for itself."

While he thus indulged his own talkative vein, and at the same
time, no doubt, expected retaliation from me, a young man entered,
dressed in black velvet and an enormous tie-wig, with an air in
which natural levity and affected solemnity were so jumbled together,
that on the whole he appeared a burlesque on all decorum. This
ridiculous oddity danced up to the table at which we sat, and, after
a thousand grimaces, asked my friend by the name of Mr. Medlar,
if we were not engaged upon business. My companion put on a surly
countenance, and replied "No great business, doctor--but however--"
"Oh! then," cried the physician; "I must beg your indulgence a little;
pray pardon me, gentlemen." "Sir," said he, addressing himself to
me, "your most humble servant. I hope you will forgive me, sir--I
must beg the favour to sit--sir--sir--I have something of consequence
to impart to my friend Mr. Medlar--sir, I hope you will excuse
my freedom in whispering, sir," Before I had time to give this
complaisant person my permission, Mr. Medlar cried, "I'Il have no
whispering--if you have anything to say to me, speak with an audible
voice." The doctor seemed a little disconcerted at this exclamation,
and, turning again to me, made a thousand apologies for pretending
to make a mystery of anything, a piece of caution which he said
was owing to his ignorance of my connection with Mr. Medlar; but
now he understood I was a friend, and would communicate what he
had to say in my hearing. He then began, after two or three hems,
in this manner: "You must know, sir, I am just come from dinner
at my Lady Flareit's (then addressing himself to me), a lady of
quality, sir, at whose table I have the honour of dining sometimes.
There was Lady Stately and my Lady Larum, and Mrs. Dainty, and Miss
Biddy Giggler, upon my word, a very good-natured young lady, with
a very pretty fortune sir. There was also my Lord Straddle. Sir John
Shrug, and Master Billy Chatter, who is actually a very facetious
young gentleman. So, sir, her ladyship seeing me excessively fatigued,
for she was the last of fifteen patients (people of distinction,
sir) whom I had visited this forenoon, insisted upon my staying
dinner, though upon my word I protest I had no appetite; however,
in compliance with her ladyship's request, sir, I sat down, and
the conversation turning on different subjects, among other things,
Mr Chatter asked very earnestly when I saw Mr. Medlar. I told him
I had not had the pleasure of seeing you these nineteen hours and
a half; for you may remember, sir, it was nearly about that time;
I won't be positive as to a minute." "No," says he, "then I desire
you will go to his lodgings immediately after dinner, and see what's
the matter with him, for he must certainly be very bad from having
eaten last night such a vast quantity of raw oysters." The crusty
gentleman, who, from the solemnity of his delivery, expected something
extraordinary, no sooner heard his conclusion, than he started up
in a testy humour, crying, "Pshaw, pshaw! D--n your oysters!" and
walked away, after a short compliment of, "Your servant sir," to
me. The doctor got up also, saying, "I vow and protest, upon my
word, I am actually amazed;" and followed Mr. Medlar to the bar,
which was hard by, where he was paying for his coffee: there he
whispered so loud that I could overhear, "Pray who is this gentleman?"
His friend replied hastily, "I might have known that before now,
if it had not been for your impertinent intrusion,"--and walked
off very much disappointed. The ceremonious physician returned
immediately and sat down by me, asking a thousand pardons for leaving
me alone: and giving me to understand that what he had communicated
to Mr. Medlar at the bar, was an affair of the last importance,
that would admit of no delay. He then called for some coffee, and
launched out into the virtues of that berry, which, he said, in
cold phlegmatic constitutions, like his, dried up the superfluous
moisture, and braced the relaxed nerves. He told me it was utterly
unknown to the ancients; and derived its name from an Arabian word,
which I might easily perceive by the sound and termination. From
this topic he transferred his disquisitions to the verb drink,
which he affirmed was improperly applied to the taking of coffee,
inasmuch as people did not drink, but sip or sipple that liquor;
that the genuine meaning of drinking is to quench one's thirst,
or commit a debauch by swallowing wine; that the Latin word, which
conveyed the same idea, was bibere or potare, and that of the
Greeks pinein or poteein, though he was apt to believe they were
differently used on different occasions: for example--to drink
a vast quantity, or, as the vulgar express it, to drink an ocean
of liquor, was in Latin potare, and in Greek poteein; and, on the
other hand, to use it moderately, was bibere and pinein;--that
this was only a conjecture of his, which, however, seemed to be
supported by the word bibulous, which is particularly applied to
the pores of the skin, and can only drink a very small quantity
of the circumambient moisture, by reason of the smallness of their
diameters;--whereas, from the verb poteein is derived the substantive
potamos, which signifies a river, or vast quantity of liquor. I
could not help smiling at this learned and important investigation;
and, to recommend myself the more to my new acquaintance, whose
disposition I was by this time well informed of, I observed that,
what he alleged, did not, to the best of my remembrance, appear in
the writings of the ancients; for Horace uses the words poto and
bibo indifferently for the same purpose, as in the twentieth Ode
of his first Book.

"Vile potabis modicis sabinum cantharis--
--Et praelo domitam caleno tu bibes uvam."

That I had never heard of the verb poteein, but that potamos, potema,
and potos, were derived from pino, poso, pepoka, in consequence of
which, the Greek poets never use any other word for festal drinking.
Homer describes Nestor at his cups in these words,

"Nestora d'ouk elathen jache pinonta pcrempes."

And Anacreon mentions it on the same occasion always in every page.

"Pinonti de oinon hedun.
Otan pino ton oinon.
Opliz' ego de pino."

And in a thousand other places. The doctor who doubtless intended
by his criticism to give me a high idea of his erudition, was
infinitely surprised to find himself schooled by one of my appearance;
and after a considerable pause cried, "Upon my word, you are in
the right, sir--I find I have not considered this affair with my
usual accuracy." Then, accosting me in Latin, which he spoke very
well, the conversation was maintained full two hours, on a variety
of subjects, in that language; and indeed he spoke so judiciously,
that I was convinced, notwithstanding his whimsical appearance and
attention to trifles, that he was a man of extensive knowledge,
especially in books; he looked upon me, as I afterwards understood
from Mr. Medlar, as a prodigy in learning, and proposed that very
night, if I were not engaged, to introduce me to several young
gentlemen of fortune and fashion, with whom I had an appointment
at the Bedford coffee house.


Wagtail introduces me to set of fine Gentlemen with whom I spend
the Evening at a Tavern--our Conversation--the Characters of my
new Companions--the Doctor is roasted--our Issue of our Debauch

I accepted his offer with pleasure, and we went thither in a hackney
coach where I saw a great number of gay figures fluttering about,
most of whom spoke to the doctor with great familiarity. Among the
rest stood a group of them round the fire whom I immediately knew
to be the very persons who had the night before, by their laughing,
alarmed my suspicion of the lady who had put herself under
my protection. They no sooner perceived me enter with Dr. Wagtail
(for that was my companion's name) than they tittered and whispered
one to another, and I was not a little surprised to find that they
were the gentlemen to whose acquaintance he designed to recommend
me; for, when he observed them together, he to told me who they
were, and desired to know by what name he should introduce me.
I satisfied him in that particular, and he advanced with great
gravity, saying, "Gentlemen, your most obedient servant:--give me
leave to introduce my friend Mr. Random to your society." Then,
turning to me, "Mr. Random, this is Mr. Bragwell--Mr. Banter,
sir--Mr. Chatter--my friend Mr. Slyboot, and Mr. Ranter sir." I
saluted each of then in order, and when I came to take Mr. Slyboot
by the hand, I perceived him thrust his tongue in his cheek, to the
no small entertainment of the company; but I did not think proper
to take any notice of it on this occasion. Mr. Ranter too (who I
afterwards learned was a player) displayed his talents, by mimicking
my air, features, and voice, while he returned my compliment: this
feat I should not have been so sensible of, had I not seen him
behave in the same manner to my friend Wagtail, when he made up
to them at first. But for once I let him enjoy the fruits of his
dexterity without question or control, resolved however to chastise
his insolence at a more convenient opportunity. Mr. Slyboot, guessing
I was a stranger, asked if I had been lately in France? and when I
answered in the affirmative, inquired if I had seen the Luxembourg
Gallery? I told him I had considered it more than once with great
attention: upon this a conversion ensued, in which I discovered
him to be a painter.

While we were discoursing upon the particulars of this famous
performance, I overheard Banter ask Dr. Wagtail, where he had picked
up this Mr. Random. To which question the physician answered, "Upon
my word, a mighty pretty sort of a gentleman--a man of fortune,
sir--he has made the grand tour, and seen the best company in Europe,
air." "What, he told you so, I suppose?" said the other: "I take
him to be neither more nor less than a French valet-de-chambre."
"O barbarous, barbarous!" cried the doctor; "this is actually, upon
my word, altogether unaccountable. I know all his family perfectly
well, sir; he is of the Randoms of the north--a very ancient house
sir, and a distant relation of mine." I was extremely nettled at the
conjecture of Mr. Banter, and began to entertain a very indifferent
opinion of my company in general; but, as I might possibly by
their means acquire a more extensive and agreeable acquaintance, I
determined to bear these little mortifications as long as I could
without injuring the dignity of my character. After having talked
for some time on the weather, plays, politics, and other coffee-house
subjects, it was proposed that we should spend the evening at a
noted tavern in the neighbourhood, whither we repaired in a body.

Having taken possession of a room, called for French wine, and bespoke
supper, the glass went about pretty freely, and the characters of
my associates opened upon me more and more. It soon appeared that
the doctor was entertained as butt for the painter and player to
exercise their wit upon, for the diversion of the company. Mr.
Ranter began the game by asking him what was good for a hoarseness,
lowness of spirits, and in digestion, for he was troubled with
all these complaints to a very great degree. Wagtail immediately
undertook to explain the nature of his case, and in a very prolix
manner harangued upon prognostics, diagnostics, symptomatics,
therapeutics, inanition, and repletion; then calculated the force
of the stomach and lungs in their respective operations; ascribed
the player's malady to a disorder in these organs, proceeding
from hard drinkings and vociferations, and prescribed a course
of stomachics, with abstinence from venery, wine, loud speaking,
laughing, singing, coughing, sneezing, or hallooing. "Pah, pah!"
cried Ranter, interrupting him, "the remedy is worse than the
disease--I wish I knew where to find some tinder water." "Tinder
water!" said the doctor; "Upon my word, I don't apprehend you,
Mr. Ranter." "Water extracted from tinder," replied the other,
"a universal specific for all distempers incident to man. It was
invented by a learned German monk, who, for a valuable consideration,
imparted the secret to Paracelsus." "Pardon me," cried the painter,
"it was first used by Solomon, as appears by a Greek manuscript in
his civil handwriting, lately found at the foot of Mount Lebanon,
by a peasant who was digging for potatoes--" "Well," said Wagtail,
"in all my vast reading, I never met with such a preparation!
neither did I know till this minute, that Solomon understood Greek,
or that potatoes grew in Palestine."

Here Banter interposed, saying, he was surprised that Dr. Wagtail
should make the least doubt of Solomon's understanding Greek, when
he is represented to us as the wisest and best-educated prince
in the world; and as for potatoes, they were transplanted thither
from Ireland, in the time of the Crusade, by some knights of that
country. "I profess," said the doctor, "there is nothing more likely.
I would actually give a vast sum for a sight of that manuscript,
which must be inestimable; and, if I understood the process, would
set about it immediately." The player assured him the process was
very simple--that he must cram a hundred-weight of dry tinder into
a glass retort, and, distilling it by the force of animal heat, it
would yield half a scruple of insipid water, one drop of which is
a full dose. "Upon my integrity!" exclaimed the incredulous doctor,
"this is very amazing and extraordinary! that a caput mortuum
should yield any water at all. I must own I have always been an
enemy to specifics which I thought inconsistent with the nature of
the animal economy; but certainly the authority of Solomon is not
to be questioned. I wonder where I shall find a glass retort large
enough to contain such a vast quantity of tinder, the consumption
of which must, undoubtedly, raise the price of paper, or where shall
I find animal heat sufficient even to warm such a mass?" Slyboot
informed him, that he might have a retort blown for him as big as
a church: and, that the easiest method of raising the vapour by
animal heat, would be to place it in the middle of an infirmary
for feverish patients, who might he upon mattresses around and
in contact with it. He had he sooner pronounced these words, than
Wagtail exclaimed in a rapture, "An admirable expedient, as I hope
to be saved! I will positively put it in practice."

This simplicity of the physician furnished excellent diversion
for the company, who, in their turns, sneered at him in ironical
compliments, which his vanity swallowed as the genuine sentiments
of their hearts. Mr. Chatter, impatient of so long a silence, now
broke out and entertained us with a catalogue of all the people who
danced at the last Hampstead assembly, with a most circumstantial
account of the dress and ornaments of each, from the lappets of
the ladies to the shoe-buckles of the men; concluding with telling
Bragwell, that his mistress Melinda was there, and seemed to miss
him: and soliciting his company at the next occasion of that kind.

"No, d--mm," said Bragwell, "I have something else to mind than
dangling after a parcel of giddy-headed girls; besides. you know
my temper is so unruly, that I am apt to involve myself in scrapes
when a woman is concerned. The last time I was there, I had
an affair with Tom Trippit." "Oh! I remember that!" cried Banter;
"You lugged out before the ladies; and I commend you for so doing,
because you had an opportunity of showing your manhood without running
any risk. "Risk!" said the other with a fierce countenance, d--n
my blood! I fear no risks. I an't afraid of lugging out against any
man that wears a head, d-me! 'Tis well known that I have drawn blood
more than once, and lost some too; but what does that signify?" The
player begged this champion to employ him as his second the next
time he intended to kill, for he wanted to see a man die of a stab,
that he might know how to act such an art the more naturally on the
stage. "Die!" replied the hero: "No, by G--! I know better things
than to incur the verdict of a Middlesex jury--I should look
upon my fencing-master to be an ignorant son of a b--h, if he had
not taught me to prick any of my antagonist's body that I please
to disable." "Oho!" cried Slyboot, "if that be the case, I have a
favour to ask. You must know I am employed to paint a Jesus on the
cross; and my purpose is to represent him at that point of time
when the spear is thrust into his side. Now I should be glad if you
would, in my presence, pink some impertinent fellow into convulsions,
without endangering his life, that I may have an opportunity of
taking a good clever agony from nature: the doctor will direct you
where to enter and how far to go, but pray let it be as near the
left side as possible." Wagtail, who took this proposal seriously,
observed, that it would be a very difficult matter to penetrate
into the left side of the thorax without hurting the heart, and in
consequence killing the patient; but he believed it was possible
for a man of a very nice hand and exact knowledge of anatomy, to
wound the diaphragma somewhere about the skirts, which might induce
a singultus, without being attended with death: that he was ready
to demonstrate the insertion of that muscle to Mr. Bragwell;
but desired to have no concern with the experiment, which might
essentially prejudice his reputation, in case of a miscarriage.
Bragwell was as much imposed upon by the painter's waggery as the
doctor, and declined engaging in the affair, saying he held a very
great regard for Mr, Slyboot, but had laid it down as a maxim, never
to fight except when his honour was engaged. A thousand jokes of
this kind were uttered; the wine circulated, supper was served in,
we ate heartily, returned to the bottle, Bragwell became noisy and
troublesome, Banter grew more and more severe, Ranter rehearsed,
Slyboot made faces at the whole company, I sang French catches,
and Chatter kissed me with great affection; while the doctor, with
a wofull countenance, sat silent like a disciple of Pythagoras.
At length, it was proposed by Bragwell, that we should scour the
hundreds, sweat the constable, maul the watch, and then reel soberly
to bed.

While we deliberated upon this expedition, the waiter came into
the room, and asked for Doctor Wagtail: when he understood he was
present, he told him there was a lady below to inquire for him, at
which message the physician started from his melancholy contemplation,
and, with a look of extreme confusion, assured the company he could
not possibly be the person wanted, for he bad no connection with
any lady whatever, and bade the drawer tell her so. "For shame!"
cried Banter; "would you be so impolite as to refuse a lady
a hearing? perhaps she comes for a consultation. It must be some
extraordinary affair that brings a lady to a tavern at this time
of night. Mr. Ranter, pray do the doctor's base-mains to the lady,
and squire her hither." The player immediately staggered out, and
returned, leading in with much ceremony, a tall strapping wench,
whose appearance proclaimed her occupation. We received her with
the utmost solemnity, and with a good deal of entreaty she was
persuaded to sit, when a profound silence ensued, during which she
fixed her eyes, with a disconsolate look, upon the doctor, who was
utterly confounded at her behaviour, and returned her melancholy
fourfold; at length, after a good many piteous sighs, she wiped her
eyes, and accosted him thus: "What! not one word of comfort? Will
nothing soften that stony heart of thine? Not all my tears! not
all my affliction! not the inevitable ruin thou hast brought upon
me! Where are thy vows, thou faithless, perjured man? Hast thou
no honour--no conscience--no remorse for thy perfidious conduct
towards me? Answer me, wilt thou at last do me justice, or must I
have recourse to heaven or hell for my revenge?" If poor Wagtail
was amazed before she spoke, what must his confusion be on hearing
this address! His natural paleness changed into a ghastly clay
colour, his eyes rolled, his lip trembled, and he answered in an
accent not to be described, "Upon my word, honour, and salvation,
madam, you are actually mistaken in my person. I have a most
particular veneration for your sex, and, am actually incapable of
injuring any lady in the smallest degree, madam; besides, madam,
to the best of my recollection, I never had the honour of seeing
you before, as I hope to be saved, madam!" "How, traitor!" cried
she, "dost thou disown me then? Mistaken! no, too well I know that
fair bewitching face! too well I know that false enchanting tongue!
Alas! gentlemen, since the villain compels me by his unkindness, to
expose myself and him, know that this betrayer, under the specious
pretence of honourable addresses, won my heart, and taking advantage
of his conquest, robbed me of my virgin treasure, and afterwards
abandoned me to my fate! I am now four months gone with child by
him, turned out of doors by my relations, and left a prey to misery
and want! Yes, thou barbarian," said she, turning to Wagtail, "thou
tiger, thou succubus! too well thou knowest my situation. But I
will tear out thy faithless heart, and deliver the world from such
a monster." So saying, she sprang forward at the doctor, who with
incredible agility, jumped over the table, and ran behind Bragwell,
while the rest of us endeavoured to appease the furious heroine.
Although everybody in the company affected the utmost surprise, I
could easily perceive it was a scheme concerted among them to produce
diversion at the doctor's expense, and being under no concern about
the consequence, I entered into the confederacy, and enjoyed the
distress of Wagtail, who with tears in his eyes begged the protection
of the company, declaring himself as innocent of the crime laid to
his charge as the foetus in utero; and hinting at the same time,
that nature had not put it in his power to be guilty of such
a trespass. "Nature!" cried the lady, "there was no nature in the
case; he abused me by the help of charms and spells; else how is
it possible that any woman could have listened to the addresses
of such a scarecrow? Were these owlish eyes made for ogling; that
carrion complexion to be admired; or that mouth, like a horse-shoe,
to be kissed? No, no, you owe your success to your philtres, to
your drugs and incantations; and not to your natural talents, which
are, in every respect, mean and contemptible."

The doctor thought he had got an opportunity of vindicating himself
effectually; and desired the complainant to compose herself but
for half-an-hour, in which he undertook to prove the absurdity
of believing in the power of incantations, which were only idle
dreams of ignorance and superstition. He accordingly pronounced
a very learned discourse upon the nature of ideas, the power and
independence of the mind, the properties of stimulating medicines,
the difference between a proneness to venery, which many simples
would create, and a passion limited to one object, which can only
be the result of sense and reflection; and concluded with a pathetic
remonstrance, setting forth his unhappiness in being persecuted with
the resentment of a lady whom he had never injured, nor even seen
before that occasion, and whose faculties were, in all likelihood,
so much impaired by her misfortunes that an innocent person was in
danger of being ruined by her disorder. He had no sooner finished
his harangue, than the forlorn princess renewed her lamentations,
and cautioned the company against his eloquence, which, she said,
was able to bias the most impartial bench in Christendom. Ranter
advised him to espouse her immediately, as the only means to save
his reputation, and offered to accompany him to the Fleet for that
purpose; but Slyboot proposed that a father should be purchased for
the child, and a comfortable alimony settled on the mother. Ranter
promised to adopt the infant gratis. Wagtail was ready to worship
him for his generosity, and, though he persisted in protesting his
innocence, condescended to everything rather than his unblemished
character should be called into question. The lady rejected the
proposal, and insisted on matrimony. Bragwell took up the cudgels
for the doctor, and undertook to rid him of her importunity for
half-a-guinea; upon which Wagtail, with great eagerness, pulled
out his purse, and put it into the hand of his friend, who, taking
half a piece out of it, gave it to the plaintiff, and bade her
thank God for her good fortune. When she had received this bounty,
she affected to weep, and begged, since the physician had renounced
her, he would at least vouchsafe her a parting kiss; this he was
prevailed upon to grant with great reluctance, and went up with
his usual solemnity to salute her, when she laid hold of his cheek
with her teeth, and held fast, while he roared with anguish, to
the unspeakable diversion of all present. When she thought proper
to release him, she dropped a low courtesy to the company, and
quitted the room, leaving the doctor in the utmost horror, not so
much on account of the pain, as the apprehension of the consequence
of the bite; for, by this time, he was convinced of her being mad.
Banter prescribed the actual cautery, and put the poker in the
fire to be heated, in order to sear the place. The player was of
opinion that Bragwell should scoop out the part affected. with the
point of his sword; but the painter prevented both these dreadful
operations by recommending a balsam he had in his pocket, which
never failed to cure the bite of a mad dog; so saying, he pulled
out a small bladder of black paint, with which he instantly anointed
not only the sore, but the greatest part of the patient's face,
and left it in a frightful condition. In short, the poor creature
was so harassed with fear and vexation, that I pitied him extremely,
and sent him home in a chair, contrary to the inclination of
everybody present.

This freedom of mine gave umbrage to Bragwell, who testified his
displeasure by swearing a few threats, without making any application;
which, being perceived by Slyboot, who sat by me, he, with a view
of promoting a quarrel, whispered to me, that he thought Bragwell
used me very ill, but every man was the best judge of his own
affairs. I answered aloud, that I would neither suffer Mr. Bragwell
nor him to use me ill with impunity; and that I stood in no need of
his counsel in regard to the regulation of my conduct. He thought
proper to ask a thousand pardons, and assure me he meant no offence;
while Bragwell feigned himself asleep, that he might not be obliged
to take notice of what passed. But the player, who had more animal
spirits and less discretion than Slyboot, unwilling to let the
affair rest where he had dropped it, jogged Mr. Bragwell and told
him softly that I had called him names, and threatened to cudgel
him. This particular I understood by his starting, up and crying,
"Blood. and wounds, you lie! No man durst treat me so ignominiously. Mr.
Random, did you call me names, and threaten to drub me?" I denied
the imputation, and proposed to punish the scoundrel who endeavoured
to foment disturbance in the company. Bragwell signified his
approbation, and drew his sword; I did the same, and accosted the
actor in these words: "Lookee, Mr. Ranter; I know you possess all
the mimicry and mischievous qualities of an ape, because I have
observed you put them all in practice more than once to-night, on
me and others; now I want to see if you resemble one in nimbleness
also; therefore, I desire you leap over this sword without hesitation."
So saying, I held it parallel to the horizon, at the distance of
about three feet from the floor, and called, " Once-twice-thrice--and
away!" but, instead of complying with my demand, he snatched his
hat and hanger, and, assuming the looks, swagger, and phrase of
Pistol, burst out into the following exclamation, "Ha! must I then
perform inglorious prank of sylvan ape in mountain forest caught!
Death rock me asleep, abridge my doleful days, and lay my head in
fury's lap--Have we not Hiren here?" This buffoonery did not answer
his expectation, for, by this time, the company was bent on seeing
him in a new character. Mr. Banter desired me to hold my sword a
foot or two higher, that he might have the better opportunity of
exerting himself. The painter told him, if he performed well, he
would recommend him as a vaulter to the proprietors of Sadler's
Wells; and Bragwell crying, "Leap for the King!" applied the point
of his sword to the player's posteriors with such success, that he
sprang over in a trice, and, finding the door unguarded, vanished
in a twinkling; glad, no doubt, of having paid his share of the
reckoning so easily.

It being now near two o'clock in the morning, we discharged
the bill, and sallied out into the street. The painter slunk away
without taking his leave. Billy Chatter, being unable to speak or
stand, was sent to a bagnio; and Banter and I accompanied Bragwell
to Moll King's coffee-house, where after he had kicked half a
dozen hungry whores, we left him asleep on a bench, and directed
our course towards Charing-cross, near which place both he and I

The natural dryness of my companion being overcome by liquor, he
honoured me by the way with many compliments and professions, of
friendship, for which I made suitable acknowledgments, and told
him I thought myself happy in having, by my behaviour, removed the
unfavourable opinion he entertained of me at first sight. He was
surprised at this declaration, and begged me to explain myself; upon
which I mentioned what I had overheard him say of me to Wagtail in
the coffee-house. He laughed, and made an apology for his freedom,
assuring me, that my appearance had very much prepossessed him
in my favour; and what he said was only intended as a joke on the
doctor's solemnity. I was highly pleased at being undeceived in
this particular, and not a little proud of the good opinion of this
wit, who shook me by the hand at parting, and promised to meet me
the next day at the ordinary.


Strap communicates to me a conquest he had made of a Chandler's
Widow--finds himself miserably mistaken--I go to the Opera--admire
Melinda--am cautioned by Banter--go to the Assembly at Hampstead--dance
with that young lady--receive an insolent message from Bragwell,
whose mettle is soon cooled--am in favour with my Mistress, whom I
visit next day, and am bubbled out of eighteen guineas at cards--Strap
triumphs at my success, but is astonished at my expense--Banter
comes to my lodging, is very sarcastic at my expense, and borrows
five guineas from me, as a proof of his friendship

In the morning, before I got up, Strap came into my chamber, and,
finding me awake, hemmed several times, scratched his head, cast
his eyes upon the ground, and, with a very foolish kind of simper
upon his face gave me to understand he had something to communicate.
"By your countenance," said I, "I expect to hear good tidings."
"Indifferently," replied he, tittering, "that is, hereafter as
it shall be. You must know, I have some thoughts of altering my
condition." "What!" cried I, astonished, "a matrimonial scheme? O
rare Strap! thou hast got the heels of me at last." "N--no less,
I assure you," said he, bursting into a laugh of self-approbation:
" a tallow chandler's widow that lives hard by, has taken a liking
to me, a fine jolly dame, as plump as a partridge. She has a
well-furnished house, a brisk trade, and a good deal of the ready.
I may have her for the asking. She told a friend of mine, a brother
footman, that she would take me out of a stinking clout. But I
refused to give my final answer, till I knew your opinion of the
matter." I congratulated Monsieur d'Estrapes upon his conquest,
and approved of the scheme, provided he could be assured of those
circumstances of her fortune; but advised him to do nothing rashly,
and give me an opportunity of seeing the lady before matters should
be brought to a conclusion. He assured me he would do nothing without
my consent and approbation, and that very morning, while I was at
breakfast, introduce his inamorata to my acquaintance. She was a
short thick woman, about the age of thirty-six, and had a particular
prominence of belly, which I perceived at first sight, not without
some suspicion of foul play. I desired her, however, to sit, and
treated her with a dish of tea; the discourse turning on the good
qualities of Strap, whom I represented as a prodigy of sobriety,
industry and virtue. When she took her leave, he followed her to the
door, and returned licking his lips, and asking if I did not think
she was a luscious creature. I made no mystery of my apprehension,
but declared my sentiments of her without reserve; at which he was
not surprised, telling me he had observed the same symptom, but
was informed by his friend that she was only livergrown and would
in few months be as small in the waist as ever. " Yes," said I,
"a few weeks, I believe, will do the business. In short, Strap,
it is my opinion, that you are egregiously imposed upon; and that
this friend is no other than a rascal who wants to palm his trull
upon you for a wife, that he may at once deliver himself from the
importunities of the mother and the expense of her bantling; for
which reason I would not have you trust implicitly to the report
he makes of her wealth, which is inconsistent with his behaviour,
nor run your head precipitately into a noose, that you may afterwards
wish exchanged for the hangman's." He seemed very much startled
at my insinuation, and promised to look twice before he leaped;
saying, with some heat, "Odds, if I find his intention is to betray
me, we shall see which of us is the better man." My prediction was
verified in less than a fortnight, her great belly producing an
infant, to the unspeakable amazement of Strap, who was before this
happened, inclinable to believe I had refined a little too much in
my penetration. His false friend disappeared; and a few days after
an execution was issued against her goods and household furniture,
which were seized by the creditors.

Meanwhile I met my friend Banter at the ordinary, and in the evening
went to the Opera with him and Mr Chatter, who pointed out Melinda
in one of the boxes, and offered to introduce me to her, observing
at the same time, that she was a reigning toast worth ten thousand
pounds. This piece of information made my heart bound with joy, and
I discovered great eagerness to accept the proposal; upon which he
assured me I should dance with her at the next assembly, if he had
any influence in that quarter: so saying, he went round, spoke to
her some minutes, and, as I imagined, pointed at me; then returning,
told me, to my inexpressible pleasure, that I might depend upon
what he had promised, for she was now engaged as my partner. Banter
in a whisper, gave me to understand that she was an incorrigible
coquette, who would grant the same favour to any young fellow in
England of a tolerable appearance, merely to engage him among the
herd of her admirers, that she might have the pleasure of seeing
them daily increase; that she was of a cold insensible disposition,
dead to every passion but vanity, and so blind to merit, that he
would lay any wager the wealthiest fool would carry her at last. I
attributed a good deal of this intelligence to the satirical turn
of my friend, or resentment for having himself suffered a rebuff
from the lady in question. and, at any rate, trusted so much to my
own accomplishments as to believe no woman could resist the ardour
of my addresses.

Full of this confidence I repaired to Hampstead in company with
Billy Chatter, my Lord Hobble, and Doctor Wagtail. There I saw a very
brilliant assembly, before whom I had the honour to walk a minuet
with Melinda, who charmed me with her frank manner and easiness of
behaviour. Before the country dances began, I received a message by
a person I did not know from Bragwell, who was present, importing
that nobody who knew him presumed to dance with Melinda while he
was there in person, that I would do well to relinquish her without
noise, because he had a mind to lead up a country dance with her.
This extraordinary intimation, which was delivered in the lady's
hearing, did not at all discompose me, who, by this time, was
pretty well acquainted with the character of my rival. I therefore,
without the least symptom of concern bade the gentleman tell Mr.
Bragwell, that since I was so happy as to obtain the lady's consent,
I should not be solicitous about his; and desired the bearer himself
to bring me no such impertinent messages for the future. Melinda,
affected a sort of confusion, and pretended to wonder that Mr.
Bragwell should give himself such liberties with regard to her, who
had no manner of connection with the fellow. I laid hold of this
opportunity to display my valour, and offered to call him to an
account for his insolence, a proposal which she absolutely refused,
under pretence of consulting my safety; though I could perceive, by
the sparkling of her eyes, that she would not have thought herself
affronted by being the subject of a duel. I was by no means pleased
with this discovery of her thoughts, which not only argued the most
unjustifiable vanity, but likewise the most barbarous indifference;
however, I was allured by her fortune, and resolved to gratify her
pride, in making her the occasion of a public quarrel between me
and Bragwell, who, I was pretty certain, would never drive matters
to a dangerous extremity.

While we danced together, I observed this formidable rival at one
end of the room, encircled with a cluster of beaux, to whom he
talked with great vehemence, casting many big looks at me from time
to time. I guessed the subject of his discourse, and as soon as I
had handed my partner to her seat, strutted up to the place where
he stood, and, cocking my hat in his face, demanded aloud, if he
had anything to say to me. He answered with a sullen tone, "Nothing,
at present, sir;" and turned about upon his heel. "Well," said I,
"you where I am to be found at any time." His companions stared at
one another, and I returned to the lady, whose features brightened
at my approach, and immediately a whisper ran through the whole
room; after which so many eyes were turned upon me that I was ready
to sink with confusion. When the ball broke up, I led her to her
coach, and, like a true French gallant, would have got up behind
it, in order to protect her from violence on the road, but she
absolutely refused my offer, and expressed her concern that there
was not an empty seat for me within the vehicle.

Next day, in the afternoon, I waited on her at her lodgings, by
permission, in company with Chatter, and was very civilly received
by her mother, with whom she lived. There were a good many fashionable
people present, chiefly young fellows, and immediately after tea,
a couple of card tables were set, at one of which I had the honour
to play with Melinda, who in less than three hours, made shift to
plunder me of eight guineas. I was well enough content to lose a
little money with a good grace, that I might have an opportunity
in the meantime to say soft things, which are still most welcome
when attended with good luck; but I was by no means satisfied of
her fair play, a circumstance that shocked me not a little, and
greatly impaired my opinion of her disinterestedness and delicacy.
However, I was resolved to profit by this behaviour, and treat her
in my turn with less ceremony; accordingly, I laid close siege to
her, and, finding her not at all disgusted with the gross incense
I offered, that very night made a declaration of love in plain
terms. She received my addresses with great gaiety, and pretended
to laugh them off, but at the same time treated me with such
particular complacency that I was persuaded I had made a conquest
of her heart, and concluded myself the happiest man alive. Elevated
with these flattering ideas, I sat down again to cards after supper,
and with great cheerfulness suffered myself to be cheated of ten
guineas more.

It was late before I took my leave, after being favoured with
a general invitation; and, when I got into bed, the adventures of
the day hindered me from sleeping. Sometimes I pleased myself with
the hopes of possessing n fine woman with ten thousand pounds; then
I would ruminate on the character I had heard of her from Banter,
and compare it with the circumstances of her conduct towards me,
which seemed to bear too great a resemblance to the picture he had
drawn. This introduced a melancholy reflection on the expense I
had undergone, and the smallness of my funds to support it, which,
by-the-by, were none of my own. In short, I found myself involved
in doubts and perplexities, that kept me awake the greatest part
of the night.

In the morning, Strap, with whom I had not conversed for two days,
presented himself with the utensils for shaving me; upon which, I
asked his opinion of the lady he had seen me conduct to her coach
at Hampstead. "Odds! she's a delicious creature!" cried he, "and,
as I am informed, a great fortune. I am sorry you did not insist on
going home with her. I dare say, she would not have refused your
company; for she seems to be a good-humoured soul." "There's a time
for all things," said I. "you must know, Strap, I was in company
with her till one o'clock this morning." I had no sooner pronounced
these words than he began to caper about the room, and snap
his fingers, crying in a transport, "The day's our own--the day's
our own!" I gave him to understand that his triumph was a little
premature, and that I had more difficulties to surmount than he was
aware of; then I recounted to him the intelligence I had received
from Banter. At which he changed colour, shook his head, and observed
there was no faith in woman. I told him I was resolved to make a
bold push notwithstanding, although I foresaw it would lead me into
a great expense; and bade him guess the sum I had lost last night
at cards. He scratched his chin, and protested his abhorrence of
cards, the very name of which being mentioned, made him sweat with
vexation, as it recalled the money-dropper to his remembrance. "But,
however," said he, "you have to do with other guess people now.
Why, I suppose, if you had a bad run last night, you would scarce
come off for less than ten or twelve shilling." I was mortified at
this piece of simplicity, which I imagined, at that time, was all
affected by way of reprimand for my folly; and asked with some heat
if he thought I had spent the evening in a cellar with chairmen
and bunters; giving him to know, at the same time, that my expense
had amounted to eighteen guineas.

It would require the pencil of Hogarth to express the astonishment
and concern of Strap on hearing this piece of news; the basin, in
which he was preparing the lather for my chin, dropped out of his
hands, and he I remained some time immovable in that ludicrous
attitude, with his mouth open, and his eyes thrust forward considerably
beyond their station; but, remembering my disposition, which was
touchy, and impatient of control, he smothered his chagrin, and
attempted to recollect himself. With this view he endeavoured to
laugh, but in spite if his teeth, broke out in a whimper, took up
his wash-ball and pewter-pot, scrubbed my beard with the one, and
discharged the other upon my face. I took no notice of this confusion,
but after he had fully recovered himself, put him in mind of his
right, and assured him of my readiness to surrender my effects
whenever he should think proper to demand them. He was nettled
at my insinuation, which he thought proceeded from my distrust of
his friendship; and begged I would never talk to him in that strain
again, unless I had a mind to break his heart.

This good creature's unalterable friendship for me affected me with
the most grateful sentiments, and acted as a spur to my resolution
of acquiring a fortune, that I might have it in my power to manifest
my generosity in my turn. For this purpose, I determined to bring
matters to a speedy conclusion with Melinda; well knowing that a
few such nights as the last would effectually incapacitate me from
prosecuting that or any other advantageous amour.

While my meditation was busied in planning out my future conduct,
Mr. Banter favoured me with a visit, and after breakfast asked how
I had passed the preceding evening. I answered I was very agreeably
entertained at a private house. "Yes," said he, with a sarcastic
smile, "you deserve something extraordinary for the price you paid."
I was surprised at this remark, and pretended ignorance of his
meaning. "Come, come, Mr. Random," continued he, "you need not make
a mystery of it to me; the whole town has it. I wish that foolish
affair between you and Bragwell at Hampstead had been less public.
It has set all the busybodies at work to find out your real character
and situation; and you cannot imagine what conjectures have already
circulated at your expense. One suspects you to be a Jesuit in
disguise; another thinks you are an agent from the Pretender; a
third believes you to be an upstart gamester, because nobody knows
anything of your family or fortune; a fourth is of opinion that
you are an Irish fortune-hunter." This last hypothesis touched me
so nearly that, to conceal my confusion, I was fain to interrupt
his detail, and damn the world for an envious meddling community,
that would not suffer a gentleman to live without molestation. He
took no notice of this apostrophe, but went on. "For my own part,
I neither know nor desire to know who or what you are. This I
am certain of, that few people make a mystery of their origin or
situation, who can boast of anything advantageous in either; and
my own opinion of the matter is that you have raised yourself, by
your industry, from nothing to the appearance you now maintain, and
which you endeavour to support by some matrimonial scheme." Here he
fixed his eyes steadfastly upon me and perceiving my face covered
with blushes, told me, how he was confirmed in his opinion. "Look
ye, Random," said he, "I have divined your plan, and am confident
it will never succeed. You are too honest and too ignorant of
the town to practise the necessary cheats of your profession, and
detect the conspiracies that will be formed against you. Besides,
you are downright bashful. What the devil! set up for a fortune
hunter before you have conquered the sense of shame! Perhaps you
are entitled by your merit, and I believe you are, to a richer and
a better wife than Melinda; but take my word for it, she is not
to be won at that rate;--or, if you are so lucky as to carry her,
between you and me, you may say, as Teague said, By my soul, I
have gained a loss! She would take care to spend her fortune in a
twinkling, and soon make you sick of her extravagance."

I was alarmed by his discourse, while I resented the freedom of
it, and expressed my disgust by telling him, he was mistaken in
my intentions, and desiring he would give me leave to regulate my
conduct according to the dictates of my own reason. He made no apology
for the liberty he had taken, and ascribed it to the warmth of his
friendship for me; as an uncommon instance of which he borrowed
five guineas, assuring me there were very few people in the world
who whom he could so far favour with his confidence. I gave him
the money, and professed myself so well convinced of his sincerity,
that he had no occasion to put it to such extraordinary proofs for
the future. "I thought," said he, "to have asked five pieces more,
but hearing you were bubbled of eighteen last night, I presumed you
might he out of cash, and resolved to model my demand accordingly."
I could not help admiring the cavalier behaviour of this spark,
of whom I desired to know his reason for saying I was bubbled. He
then gave me to understand, that before he came to my lodgings,
he had beat up Tom Tossle, who, being present, informed him of the
particulars, rehearsed all the fine things I said to Melinda, with
which he proposed to entertain the town, and among other circumstances,
assured him my mistress cheated with so little art, that nobody
but a mere novice could be imposed upon.

The thoughts of becoming a subject of raillery for coxcombs, and
losing my money to boot, stung me to the quick; but I made a virtue
of my indignation, and swore that no man should with impunity either
asperse the character of Melinda, or turn my behaviour into ridicule.
He replied in a dry manner, that I would find it a Herculean task
to chastise everybody who should laugh at my expense; and, as for
the character of Melinda, he did not see how it could suffer by
what was laid to her charge; for that cheating at cards, far from
being reckoned a blemish among people of fashion, was looked upon
as an honourable indication of superior genius and address. "But
let us waive this subject," said he, "and go to the coffee-house,
in order to make a party for dinner."


We repair to the coffee-house, where we overhear a curious dispute
between Wagtail and Medlar, which is referred to our decision--the
Doctor gives an account of his experiment--Medlar is roasted by
Banter at the ordinary--the old gentleman's advice to me

Being as willing to drop the theme as he was to propose it, I
accompanied him thither, where we found Mr. Medlar and Dr. Wagtail
disputing upon the word Custard, which the physician affirmed
should be spelt with a G, observing that it was derived from the
Latin verb gustare, "to taste;" but Medlar pleaded custom in behalf
of C, observing, that, by the Doctor's rule, we ought to change
pudding into budding, because it is derived from the French word
boudin; and in that case why not retain the original orthography
and pronunciation of all the foreign words we have adopted, by
which means our language would become a dissonant jargon without
standard or propriety? The controversy was referred to us; and
Banter, notwithstanding his real opinion to the contrary, decided
it in favour of Wagtail; upon which the peevish annuitant arose,
and uttering the monosyllable pish! with great emphasis, removed
to another table.

We then inquired of the doctor, what progress he had made in the
experiment of distilling tinder-water; and he told us he had been
at all the glass-houses about town, but could find nobody who would
undertake to blow a retort large enough to hold the third part of
the quantity prescribed; but he intended to try the process on as
much as would produce five drops, which would be sufficient to prove
the specific, and then he would make it a parliamentary affair;
that he had already purchased a considerable weight of rags, in
reducing which to tinder, he had met with a misfortune, which had
obliged him to change his lodgings; for he had gathered them in
a heap on the floor, and set fire to them with a candle, on the
supposition that the boards would sustain no damage, because it
is the nature of flame to ascend; but, by some very extraordinary
accident, the wood was invaded, and began to blaze with great
violence, which disordered him so much, that he had not the presence
of mind enough to call for assistance, and the whole house must
have been consumed with him in the midst of it, had not the smoke
that rolled out of the windows in clouds alarmed the neighbourhood,
and brought people to his succour: that he had lost a pair of black
velvet breeches and a tie-wig in the hurry, besides the expense of
the rags, which were rendered useless by the water used to quench
the flame, and the damage of the floor, which he was compelled to
repair; that his landlord, believing him distracted, had insisted on
his quitting his apartment at a minute's warning, and he was put to
incredible inconvenience; but now he was settled in a very comfortable
house, and had the use of a large paved yard for preparing his
tinder; so that he hoped in a very short time to reap the fruits
of his labour.

After having congratulated the doctor on his prospect, and read the
papers, we repaired to an auction of pictures, where we entertained
ourselves an hour or two; from thence we adjourned to the Mall,
and, after two or three turns, went back to dinner, Banter assuring
us, that he intended to roast Medlar at the ordinary; and, indeed,
we were no sooner set than this cynic began to execute his purpose,
by telling the old gentleman that he looked extremely well,
considering the little sleep he had enjoyed last night. To this
compliment Medlar made no reply, but by a stare, accompanied with
a significant grin; and Banter went on thus; "I don't know whether
most to admire the charity of your mind, or the vigour of your
body. Upon my soul, Mr. Medlar, you do generous things with the
best taste of any man I know! You extend your compassion to real
objects, and exact only such returns as they are capable of making.
You must know, gentlemen," said he, turning to the company, "I had
been up most part of the night with a friend who is ill of a fever,
and, on my return home this morning, chanced to pass by a gin shop
still open, whence issued a confused sound of mirth and jollity:
upon which, I popped in my head, and perceived Mr. Medlar dancing
bareheaded in the midst of ten or twenty ragged bunters, who rejoiced
at his expense. But indeed, Mr. Medlar, you should not sacrifice
your constitution to your benevolence. Consider, you grow old
apace; and, therefore, have a reverend care of your health, which
must certainly be very much impaired by these nocturnal expeditions."
The testy senior could no longer contain himself, but cried hastily,
"'Tis well known that your tongue is no slanderer." "I think,"
said the other, " you might spare that observation, as you are
very sensible, that my tongue has done you signal service on many
occasions. You may remember, that, when you made your addresses
to the fat widow who kept a public-house at Islington, there was
a report spread very much to the prejudice of your manhood, which
coming to the ears of your mistress, you were discarded immediately:
and I brought matters to a reconciliation, by assuring her you had
three bastards at nurse in the country. How you ruined your own
affair afterwards, it is neither my business nor inclination to

This anecdote, which had no other foundation than in Banter's own
invention, afforded a good deal of mirth to everybody present,
and provoked Mr. Medlar beyond all sufferance; so that he started
up in a mighty passion, and, forgetting that his mouth was full,
bespattered those who sat next to him, while he discharged his
indignation in a volley of oaths, and called Banter insignificant
puppy, impertinent jackanapes, and a hundred such appellations;
telling the company he had invented these false and malicious
aspersions, because he would not lend him money to squander away
upon rooks and whores. "A very likely story," said Banter, "that I
should attempt to borrow money of a man who is obliged to practise
a thousand shifts to make his weekly allowance hold out till Saturday
night. Sometimes he sleeps four-and-twenty hours at a stretch, by
which means he saves three meals, besides coffee-house expense.
Sometimes he is fain to put up with bread and cheese and small beer
for dinner; and sometimes he regales on twopennyworth of ox cheek
in a cellar." "You are a lying miscreant!" cried Medlar, in an
ecstacy of rage; "I can always command money enough to pay your
tailor's bill, which I am sure is no trifle; and I have a good mind
to give you a convincing proof of my circumstances, by prosecuting
you for defamation, sirrah." By this time the violence of his
wrath had deprived him of his appetite, and he sat silent, unable
to swallow one mouthful, while his tormentor enjoyed his mortification,
and increased his chagrin, by advising him to lay in plentifully
for his next day's fast.

Dinner being ended, we came down stairs to the coffee room, and
Banter went away to keep an appointment, saying, he supposed he should
see Wagtail and me in the evening at the Bedford Coffee-house. He
was no sooner gone than the old gentleman took me aside, and said,
he was sorry to see me so intimate with that fellow, who was one of
the most graceless rakes about town, and had already wasted a good
estate and constitution upon harlots; that he had been the ruin
of many a young man, by introducing them into debauched company,
and setting a lewd example of all manner of wickedness; and that,
unless I were on my guard, he would strip me in a short time both
of my money and reputation. I thanked him for his information,
and promised to conduct myself accordingly, wishing, however, his
caution had been a few hours more early, by which means I might
have saved five guineas. Notwithstanding this intelligence, I was
inclinable to impute some part of the charge to Medlar's revenge
for the liberties taken with him at dinner; and therefore, as soon
as I could disengage myself, applied to Wagtail for his opinion
of the character in question, resolved to compare their accounts,
allowing for the prejudice of each, and to form my judgment upon
both, without adhering strictly to either. The doctor assured me,
that he was a very pretty gentleman of family and fortune; a scholar,

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