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The Romany Rye by George Borrow

Part 4 out of 9

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As I sat in this state of mind, I suddenly felt some one clap me on
the shoulder, and heard a voice say, "Ha! comrade of the dingle,
what chance has brought you into these parts?" I turned round, and
beheld a man in the dress of a postillion, whom I instantly
recognized as he to whom I had rendered assistance on the night of
the storm.

"Ah!" said I, "is it you? I am glad to see you, for I was feeling
very lonely and melancholy."

"Lonely and melancholy," he replied, "how is that? how can any one
be lonely and melancholy with such a noble horse as that you hold
by the bridle?"

"The horse," said I, "is one cause of my melancholy, for I know not
in the world what to do with it."

"It is your own?"

"Yes," said I, "I may call it my own, though I borrowed the money
to purchase it."

"Well, why don't you sell it?"

"It is not always easy to find a purchaser for a horse like this,"
said I; "can you recommend me one?"

"I? Why no, not exactly; but you'll find a purchaser shortly--
pooh! if you have no other cause for disquiet than that horse,
cheer up, man, don't be cast down. Have you nothing else on your
mind? By the bye, what's become of the young woman you were
keeping company with in that queer lodging place of yours?"

"She has left me," said I.

"You quarrelled, I suppose?"

"No," said I, "we did not exactly quarrel, but we are parted."

"Well," replied he, "but you will soon come together again."

"No," said I, "we are parted for ever."

"For ever! Pooh! you little know how people sometimes come
together again who think they are parted for ever. Here's
something on that point relating to myself. You remember, when I
told you my story in that dingle of yours, that I mentioned a young
woman, my fellow-servant when I lived with the English family in
Mumbo Jumbo's town, and how she and I, when our foolish governors
were thinking of changing their religion, agreed to stand by each
other, and be true to old Church of England, and to give our
governors warning, provided they tried to make us renegades. Well,
she and I parted soon after that, and never to meet again, yet we
met the other day in the fields, for she lately came to live with a
great family not far from here, and we have since agreed to marry,
to take a little farm, for we have both a trifle of money, and live
together till 'death us do part.' So much for parting for ever!
But what do I mean by keeping you broiling in the sun with your
horse's bridle in your hand, and you on my own ground? Do you know
where you are? Why, that great house is my inn, that is, it's my
master's, the best fellow in -. Come along, you and your horse
both will find a welcome at my inn."

Thereupon he led the way into a large court in which there were
coaches, chaises, and a great many people; taking my horse from me,
he led it into a nice cool stall, and fastened it to the rack--he
then conducted me into a postillion's keeping-room, which at that
time chanced to be empty, and he then fetched a pot of beer and sat
down by me.

After a little conversation he asked me what I intended to do, and
I told him frankly that I did not know; whereupon he observed that,
provided I had no objection, he had little doubt that I could be
accommodated for some time at his inn. "Our upper ostler," said
he, "died about a week ago; he was a clever fellow, and, besides
his trade, understood reading and accounts."

"Dear me," said I, interrupting him, "I am not fitted for the place
of ostler--moreover, I refused the place of ostler at a public-
house, which was offered to me only a few days ago." The
postillion burst into a laugh. "Ostler at a public-house, indeed!
why, you would not compare a berth at a place like that with the
situation of ostler at my inn, the first road-house in England!
However, I was not thinking of the place of ostler for you; you
are, as you say, not fitted for it, at any rate, not at a house
like this. We have, moreover, the best under-ostler in all
England--old Bill, with the drawback that he is rather fond of
drink. We could make shift with him very well, provided we could
fall in with a man of writing and figures, who could give an
account of the hay and corn which comes in and goes out, and
wouldn't object to give a look occasionally at the yard. Now it
appears to me that you are just such a kind of man, and, if you
will allow me to speak to the governor, I don't doubt that he will
gladly take you, as he feels kindly disposed towards you from what
he has heard me say concerning you."

"And what should I do with my horse?" said I.

"The horse need give you no uneasiness," said the postillion; "I
know he will be welcome here both for bed and manger, and, perhaps,
in a little time you may find a purchaser, as a vast number of
sporting people frequent this house." I offered two or three more
objections, which the postillion overcame with great force of
argument, and the pot being nearly empty, he drained it to the
bottom drop, and then starting up, left me alone.

In about twenty minutes he returned, accompanied by a highly
intelligent-looking individual, dressed in blue and black, with a
particularly white cravat, and without a hat on his head: this
individual, whom I should have mistaken for a gentleman but for the
intelligence depicted in his face, he introduced to me as the
master of the inn. The master of the inn shook me warmly by the
hand, told me that he was happy to see me in his house, and thanked
me in the handsomest terms for the kindness I had shown to his
servant in the affair of the thunderstorm. Then saying that he was
informed I was out of employ, he assured me that he should be most
happy to engage me to keep his hay and corn account, and as general
superintendent of the yard, and that with respect to the horse,
which he was told I had, he begged to inform me that I was
perfectly at liberty to keep it at the inn upon the very best,
until I could find a purchaser,--that with regard to wages--but he
had no sooner mentioned wages than I cut him short, saying, that
provided I stayed I should be most happy to serve him for bed and
board, and requested that he would allow me until the next morning
to consider of his offer; he willingly consented to my request,
and, begging that I would call for anything I pleased, left me
alone with the postillion.

I passed that night until about ten o'clock with the postillion,
when he left me, having to drive a family about ten miles across
the country; before his departure, however, I told him that I had
determined to accept the offer of his governor, as he called him.
At the bottom of my heart I was most happy that an offer had been
made, which secured to myself and the animal a comfortable retreat
at a moment when I knew not whither in the world to take myself and
him.

CHAPTER XXIV

An Inn of Times gone by--A First-rate Publican--Hay and Corn--Old-
fashioned Ostler--Highwaymen--Mounted Police--Grooming.

The inn, of which I had become an inhabitant, was a place of
infinite life and bustle. Travellers of all descriptions, from all
the cardinal points, were continually stopping at it; and to attend
to their wants, and minister to their convenience, an army of
servants, of one description or other, was kept; waiters,
chambermaids, grooms, postillions, shoe-blacks, cooks, scullions,
and what not, for there was a barber and hair-dresser, who had been
at Paris, and talked French with a cockney accent; the French
sounding all the better, as no accent is so melodious as the
cockney. Jacks creaked in the kitchens turning round spits, on
which large joints of meat piped and smoked before great big fires.
There was running up and down stairs, and along galleries, slamming
of doors, cries of "Coming, sir," and "Please to step this way,
ma'am," during eighteen hours of the four-and-twenty. Truly a very
great place for life and bustle was this inn. And often in after
life, when lonely and melancholy, I have called up the time I spent
there, and never failed to become cheerful from the recollection.

I found the master of the house a very kind and civil person.
Before being an inn-keeper he had been in some other line of
business; but on the death of the former proprietor of the inn had
married his widow, who was still alive, but, being somewhat infirm,
lived in a retired part of the house. I have said that he was kind
and civil; he was, however, not one of those people who suffer
themselves to be made fools of by anybody; he knew his customers,
and had a calm, clear eye, which would look through a man without
seeming to do so. The accommodation of his house was of the very
best description; his wines were good, his viands equally so, and
his charges not immoderate; though he very properly took care of
himself. He was no vulgar inn-keeper, had a host of friends, and
deserved them all. During the time I lived with him, he was
presented by a large assemblage of his friends and customers with a
dinner at his own house, which was very costly, and at which the
best of wines were sported, and after the dinner with a piece of
plate estimated at fifty guineas. He received the plate, made a
neat speech of thanks, and when the bill was called for, made
another neat speech, in which he refused to receive one farthing
for the entertainment, ordering in at the same time two dozen more
of the best champagne, and sitting down amidst uproarious applause,
and cries of "You shall be no loser by it!" Nothing very wonderful
in such conduct, some people will say; I don't say there is, nor
have I any intention to endeavour to persuade the reader that the
landlord was a Carlo Boromeo; he merely gave a quid pro quo; but it
is not every person who will give you a quid pro quo. Had he been
a vulgar publican, he would have sent in a swinging bill after
receiving the plate; "but then no vulgar publican would have been
presented with plate;" perhaps not, but many a vulgar public
character has been presented with plate, whose admirers never
received a quid pro quo, except in the shape of a swinging bill.

I found my duties of distributing hay and corn, and keeping an
account thereof, anything but disagreeable, particularly after I
had acquired the good-will of the old ostler, who at first looked
upon me with rather an evil eye, considering me somewhat in the
light of one who had usurped an office which belonged to himself by
the right of succession; but there was little gall in the old
fellow, and, by speaking kindly to him, never giving myself any
airs of assumption; but, above all, by frequently reading the
newspapers to him--for though passionately fond of news and
politics, he was unable to read--I soon succeeded in placing myself
on excellent terms with him. A regular character was that old
ostler; he was a Yorkshireman by birth, but had seen a great deal
of life in the vicinity of London, to which, on the death of his
parents, who were very poor people, he went at a very early age.
Amongst other places where he had served as ostler was a small inn
at Hounslow, much frequented by highwaymen, whose exploits he was
fond of narrating, especially those of Jerry Abershaw, who, he
said, was a capital rider; and on hearing his accounts of that
worthy, I half regretted that the old fellow had not been in
London, and I had not formed his acquaintance about the time I was
thinking of writing the life of the said Abershaw, not doubting
that with his assistance, I could have produced a book at least as
remarkable as the life and adventures of that entirely imaginary
personage Joseph Sell; perhaps, however, I was mistaken; and
whenever Abershaw's life shall appear before the public--and my
publisher credibly informs me that it has not yet appeared--I beg
and entreat the public to state which it likes best, the life of
Abershaw, or that of Sell, for which latter work I am informed that
during the last few months there has been a prodigious demand. My
old friend, however, after talking of Abershaw, would frequently
add, that, good rider as Abershaw certainly was, he was decidedly
inferior to Richard Ferguson, generally called Galloping Dick, who
was a pal of Abershaw's, and had enjoyed a career as long, and
nearly as remarkable as his own. I learned from him that both were
capital customers at the Hounslow inn, and that he had frequently
drank with them in the corn-room. He said that no man could desire
more jolly or entertaining companions over a glass of "summut;" but
that upon the road it was anything but desirable to meet them;
there they were terrible, cursing and swearing, and thrusting the
muzzles of their pistols into people's mouths; and at this part of
his locution the old man winked, and said, in a somewhat lower
voice, that upon the whole they were right in doing so, and that
when a person had once made up his mind to become a highwayman, his
best policy was to go the whole hog, fearing nothing, but making
everybody afraid of him; that people never thought of resisting a
savage-faced, foul-mouthed highwayman, and if he were taken, were
afraid to bear witness against him, lest he should get off and cut
their throats some time or other upon the roads; whereas people
would resist being robbed by a sneaking, pale-visaged rascal, and
would swear bodily against him on the first opportunity,--adding,
that Abershaw and Ferguson, two most awful fellows, had enjoyed a
long career, whereas two disbanded officers of the army, who wished
to rob a coach like gentlemen, had begged the passengers' pardon,
and talked of hard necessity, had been set upon by the passengers
themselves, amongst whom were three women, pulled from their
horses, conducted to Maidstone, and hanged with as little pity as
such contemptible fellows deserved. "There is nothing like going
the whole hog," he repeated, "and if ever I had been a highwayman,
I would have done so; I should have thought myself all the more
safe; and, moreover, shouldn't have despised myself. To curry
favour with those you are robbing, sometimes at the expense of your
own comrades, as I have known fellows do, why, it is the greatest--
"

"So it is," interposed my friend the postillion, who chanced to be
present at a considerable part of the old ostler's discourse; "it
is, as you say, the greatest of humbug, and merely, after all, gets
a fellow into trouble; but no regular bred highwayman would do it.
I say, George, catch the Pope of Rome trying to curry favour with
anybody he robs; catch old Mumbo Jumbo currying favour with the
Archbishop of Canterbury and the Dean and Chapter, should he meet
them in a stage-coach; it would be with him, Bricconi Abbasso, as
he knocked their teeth out with the butt of his trombone; and the
old regular-built ruffian would be all the safer for it, as Bill
would say, as ten to one the Archbishop and Chapter, after such a
spice of his quality, would be afraid to swear against him, and to
hang him, even if he were in their power, though that would be the
proper way; for, if it is the greatest of all humbug for a
highwayman to curry favour with those he robs, the next greatest is
to try to curry favour with a highwayman when you have got him, by
letting him off."

Finding the old man so well acquainted with the history of
highwaymen, and taking considerable interest in the subject, having
myself edited a book containing the lives of many remarkable people
who had figured on the highway, I forthwith asked him how it was
that the trade of highwaymen had become extinct in England, as at
present we never heard of any one following it. Whereupon he told
me that many causes had contributed to bring about that result; the
principal of which were the following:- the refusal to license
houses which were known to afford shelter to highwaymen, which,
amongst many others, had caused the inn at Hounslow to be closed;
the inclosure of many a wild heath in the country, on which they
were in the habit of lurking, and particularly the establishing in
the neighbourhood of London of a well-armed mounted patrol, who
rode the highwaymen down, and delivered them up to justice, which
hanged them without ceremony.

"And that would be the way to deal with Mumbo Jumbo and his gang,"
said the postillion, "should they show their visages in these
realms; and I hear by the newspapers that they are becoming every
day more desperate. Take away the license from their public-
houses, cut down the rookeries and shadowy old avenues in which
they are fond of lying in wait, in order to sally out upon people
as they pass in the roads; but, above all, establish a good mounted
police to ride after the ruffians and drag them by the scruff of
the neck to the next clink, where they might lie till they could be
properly dealt with by law; instead of which, the Government are
repealing the wise old laws enacted against such characters, giving
fresh licenses every day to their public-houses, and saying that it
would be a pity to cut down their rookeries and thickets because
they look so very picturesque; and, in fact, giving them all kind
of encouragement; why, if such behaviour is not enough to drive an
honest man mad, I know not what is. It is of no use talking, I
only wish the power were in my hands, and if I did not make short
work of them, might I be a mere jackass postillion all the
remainder of my life."

Besides acquiring from the ancient ostler a great deal of curious
information respecting the ways and habits of the heroes of the
road, with whom he had come in contact in the early portion of his
life, I picked up from him many excellent hints relating to the art
of grooming horses. Whilst at the inn, I frequently groomed the
stage and post-horses, and those driven up by travellers in their
gigs: I was not compelled, nor indeed expected, to do so; but I
took pleasure in the occupation; and I remember at that period one
of the principal objects of my ambition was to be a first-rate
groom, and to make the skins of the creatures I took in hand look
sleek and glossy like those of moles. I have said that I derived
valuable hints from the old man, and, indeed, became a very
tolerable groom, but there was a certain finishing touch which I
could never learn from him, though he possessed it himself, and
which I could never attain to by my own endeavours; though my want
of success certainly did not proceed from want of application, for
I have rubbed the horses down, purring and buzzing all the time,
after the genuine ostler fashion, until the perspiration fell in
heavy drops upon my shoes, and when I had done my best and asked
the old fellow what he thought of my work, I could never extract
from him more than a kind of grunt, which might be translated, "Not
so very bad, but I have seen a horse groomed much better," which
leads me to suppose that a person, in order to be a first-rate
groom, must have something in him when he is born which I had not,
and, indeed, which many other people have not who pretend to be
grooms. What does the reader think?

CHAPTER XXV

Stable Hartshorn--How to Manage a Horse on a Journey--Your Best
Friend.

Of one thing I am certain, that the reader must be much delighted
with the wholesome smell of the stable, with which many of these
pages are redolent; what a contrast to the sickly odours exhaled
from those of some of my contemporaries, especially of those who
pretend to be of the highly fashionable class, and who treat of
reception-rooms, well may they be styled so, in which dukes,
duchesses, earls, countesses, archbishops, bishops, mayors,
mayoresses--not forgetting the writers themselves, both male and
female--congregate and press upon one another; how cheering, how
refreshing, after having been nearly knocked down with such an
atmosphere, to come in contact with genuine stable hartshorn. Oh!
the reader shall have yet more of the stable, and of that old
ostler, for which he or she will doubtless exclaim, "Much
obliged!"--and, lest I should forget to perform my promise, the
reader shall have it now.

I shall never forget an harangue from the mouth of the old man,
which I listened to one warm evening as he and I sat on the
threshold of the stable, after having attended to some of the wants
of a batch of coach-horses. It related to the manner in which a
gentleman should take care of his horse and self, whilst engaged in
a journey on horseback, and was addressed to myself, on the
supposition of my one day coming to an estate, and of course
becoming a gentleman.

"When you are a gentleman," said he, "should you ever journey on a
horse of your own, and you could not have a much better than the
one you have here eating its fill in the box yonder--I wonder, by
the bye, how you ever came by it--you can't do better than follow
the advice I am about to give you, both with respect to your animal
and yourself. Before you start, merely give your horse a couple of
handfuls of corn and a little water, somewhat under a quart, and if
you drink a pint of water yourself out of the pail, you will feel
all the better during the whole day; then you may walk and trot
your animal for about ten miles, till you come to some nice inn,
where you may get down and see your horse led into a nice stall,
telling the ostler not to feed him till you come. If the ostler
happens to be a dog-fancier, and has an English terrier-dog like
that of mine there, say what a nice dog it is, and praise its black
and tawn; and if he does not happen to be a dog-fancier, ask him
how he's getting on, and whether he ever knew worse times; that
kind of thing will please the ostler, and he will let you do just
what you please with your own horse, and when your back is turned,
he'll say to his comrades what a nice gentleman you are, and how he
thinks he has seen you before; then go and sit down to breakfast,
and, before you have finished breakfast, get up and go and give
your horse a feed of corn; chat with the ostler two or three
minutes till your horse has taken the shine out of his corn, which
will prevent the ostler taking any of it away when your back is
turned, for such things are sometimes done--not that I ever did
such a thing myself when I was at the inn at Hounslow. Oh, dear
me, no! Then go and finish your breakfast, and when you have
finished your breakfast and called for the newspaper, go and water
your horse, letting him have one pailful, then give him another
feed of corn, and enter into discourse with the ostler about bull-
baiting, the prime minister, and the like; and when your horse has
once more taken the shine out of his corn, go back to your room and
your newspaper--and I hope for your sake it may be the Globe, for
that's the best paper going--then pull the bell-rope and order in
your bill, which you will pay without counting it up--supposing you
to be a gentleman. Give the waiter sixpence, and order out your
horse, and when your horse is out, pay for the corn, and give the
ostler a shilling, then mount your horse and walk him gently for
five miles; and whilst you are walking him in this manner, it may
be as well to tell you to take care that you do not let him down
and smash his knees, more especially if the road be a particularly
good one, for it is not at a desperate hiverman pace, and over very
bad roads, that a horse tumbles and smashes his knees, but on your
particularly nice road, when the horse is going gently and lazily,
and is half asleep, like the gemman on his back; well, at the end
of the five miles, when the horse has digested his food, and is all
right, you may begin to push your horse on, trotting him a mile at
a heat, and then walking him a quarter of a one, that his wind may
be not distressed; and you may go on in that way for thirty miles,
never galloping, of course, for none but fools or hivermen ever
gallop horses on roads; and at the end of that distance you may
stop at some other nice inn to dinner. I say, when your horse is
led into the stable, after that same thirty miles' trotting and
walking, don't let the saddle be whisked off at once, for if you do
your horse will have such a sore back as will frighten you, but let
your saddle remain on your horse's back, with the girths loosened,
till after his next feed of corn, and be sure that he has no corn,
much less water, till after a long hour and more; after he is fed
he may be watered to the tune of half a pail, and then the ostler
can give him a regular rub down; you may then sit down to dinner,
and when you have dined get up and see to your horse as you did
after breakfast, in fact, you must do much after the same fashion
you did at t'other inn; see to your horse, and by no means
disoblige the ostler. So when you have seen to your horse a second
time, you will sit down to your bottle of wine--supposing you to be
a gentleman--and after you have finished it, and your argument
about the corn-laws with any commercial gentleman who happens to be
in the room, you may mount your horse again--not forgetting to do
the proper thing to the waiter and ostler; you may mount your horse
again and ride him, as you did before, for about five and twenty
miles, at the end of which you may put up for the night after a
very fair day's journey, for no gentleman--supposing he weighs
sixteen stone, as I suppose you will by the time you become a
gentleman--ought to ride a horse more than sixty-five miles in one
day, provided he has any regard for his horse's back, or his own
either. See to your horse at night, and have him well rubbed down.
The next day you may ride your horse forty miles, just as you
please, but never foolishly, and those forty miles will bring you
to your journey's end, unless your journey be a plaguy long one,
and if so, never ride your horse more than five and thirty miles a
day, always, however, seeing him well fed, and taking more care of
him than yourself; which is but right and reasonable, seeing as how
the horse is the best animal of the two."

"When you are a gentleman," said he, after a pause, "the first
thing you must think about is to provide yourself with a good horse
for your own particular riding; you will, perhaps, keep a coach and
pair, but they will be less your own than your lady's, should you
have one, and your young gentry, should you have any; or, if you
have neither, for madam, your housekeeper, and the upper female
servants; so you need trouble your head less about them, though, of
course, you would not like to pay away your money for screws; but
be sure you get a good horse for your own riding; and that you may
have a good chance of having a good one, buy one that's young and
has plenty of belly--a little more than the one has which you now
have, though you are not yet a gentleman; you will, of course, look
to his head, his withers, legs and other points, but never buy a
horse at any price that has not plenty of belly; no horse that has
not belly is ever a good feeder, and a horse that a'n't a good
feeder can't be a good horse; never buy a horse that is drawn up in
the belly behind; a horse of that description can't feed, and can
never carry sixteen stone.

"So when you have got such a horse be proud of it--as I daresay you
are of the one you have now--and wherever you go swear there a'n't
another to match it in the country, and if anybody gives you the
lie, take him by the nose and tweak it off, just as you would do if
anybody were to speak ill of your lady, or, for want of her, of
your housekeeper. Take care of your horse, as you would of the
apple of your eye--I am sure I would, if I were a gentleman, which
I don't ever expect to be, and hardly wish, seeing as how I am
sixty-nine, and am rather too old to ride--yes, cherish and take
care of your horse as perhaps the best friend you have in the
world; for, after all, who will carry you through thick and thin as
your horse will? not your gentlemen friends, I warrant, nor your
upper servants, male or female; perhaps your lady would, that is,
if she is a whopper, and one of the right sort; the others would be
more likely to take up mud and pelt you with it, provided they saw
you in trouble, than to help you. So take care of your horse, and
feed him every day with your own hands; give him three quarters of
a peck of corn each day, mixed up with a little hay-chaff, and
allow him besides one hundredweight of hay in the course of the
week; some say that the hay should be hardland hay, because it is
the wholesomest, but I say, let it be clover hay, because the horse
likes it best; give him through summer and winter, once a week, a
pailful of bran mash, cold in summer and in winter hot; ride him
gently about the neighbourhood every day, by which means you will
give exercise to yourself and horse, and, moreover, have the
satisfaction of exhibiting yourself and your horse to advantage,
and hearing, perhaps, the men say what a fine horse, and the ladies
saying what a fine man: never let your groom mount your horse, as
it is ten to one, if you do, your groom will be wishing to show off
before company, and will fling your horse down. I was groom to a
gemman before I went to the inn at Hounslow, and flung him a horse
down worth ninety guineas, by endeavouring to show off before some
ladies that I met on the road. Turn your horse out to grass
throughout May and the first part of June, for then the grass is
sweetest, and the flies don't sting so bad as they do later in
summer; afterwards merely turn him out occasionally in the swale of
the morn and the evening; after September the grass is good for
little, lash and sour at best; every horse should go out to grass,
if not his blood becomes full of greasy humours, and his wind is
apt to become affected, but he ought to be kept as much as possible
from the heat and flies, always got up at night, and never turned
out late in the year--Lord! if I had always such a nice attentive
person to listen to me as you are, I could go on talking about
'orses to the end of time."

CHAPTER XXVI

The Stage--Coachmen of England--A Bully Served Out--Broughton's
Guard--The Brazen Head.

I lived on very good terms, not only with the master and the old
ostler, but with all the domestics and hangers on at the inn;
waiters, chambermaids, cooks, and scullions, not forgetting the
"boots," of which there were three. As for the postillions, I was
sworn brother with them all, and some of them went so far as to
swear that I was the best fellow in the world; for which high
opinion entertained by them of me, I believe I was principally
indebted to the good account their comrade gave of me, whom I had
so hospitably received in the dingle. I repeat that I lived on
good terms with all the people connected with the inn, and was
noticed and spoken kindly to by some of the guests--especially by
that class termed commercial travellers--all of whom were great
friends and patronizers of the landlord, and were the principal
promoters of the dinner, and subscribers to the gift of plate,
which I have already spoken of, the whole fraternity striking me as
the jolliest set of fellows imaginable, the best customers to an
inn, and the most liberal to servants; there was one description of
persons, however, frequenting the inn, which I did not like at all,
and which I did not get on well with, and these people were the
stage-coachmen.

The stage-coachmen of England, at the time of which I am speaking,
considered themselves mighty fine gentry, nay, I verily believe the
most important personages of the realm, and their entertaining this
high opinion of themselves can scarcely be wondered at; they were
low fellows, but masters at driving; driving was in fashion, and
sprigs of nobility used to dress as coachmen and imitate the slang
and behaviour of the coachmen, from whom occasionally they would
take lessons in driving as they sat beside them on the box, which
post of honour any sprig of nobility who happened to take a place
on a coach claimed as his unquestionable right; and these sprigs
would smoke cigars and drink sherry with the coachmen in bar-rooms,
and on the road; and, when bidding them farewell, would give them a
guinea or a half-guinea, and shake them by the hand, so that these
fellows, being low fellows, very naturally thought no small liquor
of themselves, but would talk familiarly of their friends lords so
and so, the honourable misters so and so, and Sir Harry and Sir
Charles, and be wonderfully saucy to any one who was not a lord, or
something of the kind; and this high opinion of themselves received
daily augmentation from the servile homage paid them by the
generality of the untitled male passengers, especially those on the
fore part of the coach, who used to contend for the honour of
sitting on the box with the coachman when no sprig was nigh to put
in his claim. Oh! what servile homage these craven creatures did
pay these same coach fellows, more especially after witnessing this
or t'other act of brutality practised upon the weak and
unoffending--upon some poor friendless woman travelling with but
little money, and perhaps a brace of hungry children with her, or
upon some thin and half-starved man travelling on the hind part of
the coach from London to Liverpool with only eighteen pence in his
pocket after his fare was paid, to defray his expenses on the road;
for as the insolence of these knights was vast, so was their
rapacity enormous; they had been so long accustomed to have crowns
and half-crowns rained upon them by their admirers and flatterers,
that they would look at a shilling, for which many an honest
labourer was happy to toil for ten hours under a broiling sun, with
the utmost contempt; would blow upon it derisively, or fillip it
into the air before they pocketed it; but when nothing was given
them, as would occasionally happen--for how could they receive from
those who had nothing? and nobody was bound to give them anything,
as they had certain wages from their employers--then what a scene
would ensue! Truly the brutality and rapacious insolence of
English coachmen had reached a climax; it was time that these
fellows should be disenchanted, and the time--thank Heaven!--was
not far distant. Let the craven dastards who used to curry favour
with them, and applaud their brutality, lament their loss now that
they and their vehicles have disappeared from the roads; I, who
have ever been an enemy to insolence, cruelty, and tyranny, loathe
their memory, and, what is more, am not afraid to say so, well
aware of the storm of vituperation, partly learnt from them, which
I may expect from those who used to fall down and worship them.

Amongst the coachmen who frequented the inn was one who was called
"the bang-up coachman." He drove to our inn, in the fore part of
every day, one of what were called the fast coaches, and afterwards
took back the corresponding vehicle. He stayed at our house about
twenty minutes, during which time the passengers of the coach which
he was to return with dined; those at least who were inclined for
dinner, and could pay for it. He derived his sobriquet of "the
bang-up coachman" partly from his being dressed in the extremity of
coach dandyism, and partly from the peculiar insolence of his
manner, and the unmerciful fashion in which he was in the habit of
lashing on the poor horses committed to his charge. He was a large
tall fellow, of about thirty, with a face which, had it not been
bloated by excess, and insolence and cruelty stamped most visibly
upon it, might have been called good-looking. His insolence indeed
was so great, that he was hated by all the minor fry connected with
coaches along the road upon which he drove, especially the ostlers,
whom he was continually abusing or finding fault with. Many was
the hearty curse which he received when his back was turned; but
the generality of people were much afraid of him, for he was a
swinging strong fellow, and had the reputation of being a fighter,
and in one or two instances had beaten in a barbarous manner
individuals who had quarrelled with him.

I was nearly having a fracas with this worthy. One day, after he
had been drinking sherry with a sprig, he swaggered into the yard
where I happened to be standing; just then a waiter came by
carrying upon a tray part of a splendid Cheshire cheese, with a
knife, plate, and napkin. Stopping the waiter, the coachman cut
with the knife a tolerably large lump out of the very middle of the
cheese, stuck it on the end of the knife, and putting it to his
mouth nibbled a slight piece off it, and then, tossing the rest
away with disdain, flung the knife down upon the tray, motioning
the waiter to proceed; "I wish," said I, "you may not want before
you die what you have just flung away," whereupon the fellow turned
furiously towards me; just then, however, his coach being standing
at the door, there was a cry for coachman, so that he was forced to
depart, contenting himself for the present with shaking his fist at
me, and threatening to serve me out on the first opportunity;
before, however, the opportunity occurred he himself got served out
in a most unexpected manner.

The day after this incident he drove his coach to the inn, and
after having dismounted and received the contributions of the
generality of the passengers, he strutted up, with a cigar in his
mouth, to an individual who had come with him, and who had just
asked me a question with respect to the direction of a village
about three miles off, to which he was going. "Remember the
coachman," said the knight of the box to this individual, who was a
thin person of about sixty, with a white hat, rather shabby black
coat, and buff-coloured trousers, and who held an umbrella and a
small bundle in his hand. "If you expect me to give you anything,"
said he to the coachman, "you are mistaken; I will give you
nothing. You have been very insolent to me as I rode behind you on
the coach, and have encouraged two or three trumpery fellows, who
rode along with you, to cut scurvy jokes at my expense, and now you
come to me for money; I am not so poor, but I could have given you
a shilling had you been civil; as it is, I will give you nothing."
"Oh! you won't, won't you?" said the coachman; "dear me! I hope I
shan't starve because you won't give me anything--a shilling I why,
I could afford to give you twenty if I thought fit, you pauper!
civil to you, indeed! things are come to a fine pass if I need be
civil to you! Do you know who you are speaking to? why, the best
lords in the country are proud to speak to me. Why, it was only
the other day that the Marquis of--said to me--" and then he went
on to say what the Marquis said to him; after which, flinging down
his cigar, he strutted up the road, swearing to himself about
paupers.

"You say it is three miles to -," said the individual to me; "I
think I shall light my pipe, and smoke it as I go along."
Thereupon he took out from a side-pocket a tobacco-box and short
meerschaum pipe, and implements for striking a light, filled his
pipe, lighted it, and commenced smoking. Presently the coachman
drew near. I saw at once that there was mischief in his eye; the
man smoking was standing with his back towards him, and he came so
nigh to him, seemingly purposely, that as he passed a puff of smoke
came of necessity against his face. "What do you mean by smoking
in my face?" said he, striking the pipe of the elderly individual
out of his mouth. The other, without manifesting much surprise,
said, "I thank you; and if you will wait a minute, I will give you
a receipt for that favour;" then gathering up his pipe, and taking
off his coat and hat, he laid them on a stepping-block which stood
near, and rubbing his hands together, he advanced towards the
coachman in an attitude of offence, holding his hands crossed very
near to his face. The coachman, who probably expected anything but
such a movement from a person of the age and appearance of the
individual whom he had insulted, stood for a moment motionless with
surprise; but, recollecting himself, he pointed at him derisively
with his finger; the next moment, however, the other was close upon
him, had struck aside the extended hand with his left fist, and
given him a severe blow on the nose with his right, which he
immediately followed by a left-hand blow in the eye; then drawing
his body slightly backward, with the velocity of lightning he
struck the coachman full in the mouth, and the last blow was the
severest of all, for it cut the coachman's lips nearly through;
blows so quickly and sharply dealt I had never seen. The coachman
reeled like a fir-tree in a gale, and seemed nearly unsensed. "Ho!
what's this? a fight! a fight!" sounded from a dozen voices, and
people came running from all directions to see what was going on.
The coachman, coming somewhat to himself, disencumbered himself of
his coat and hat; and, encouraged by two or three of his brothers
of the whip, showed some symptoms of fighting, endeavouring to
close with his foe, but the attempt was vain, for his foe was not
to be closed with; he did not shift or dodge about, but warded off
the blows of his opponent with the greatest sang-froid, always
using the guard which I have already described, and putting in, in
return, short chopping blows with the swiftness of lightning. In a
very few minutes the countenance of the coachman was literally cut
to pieces, and several of his teeth were dislodged; at length he
gave in; stung with mortification, however, he repented, and asked
for another round; it was granted, to his own complete demolition.
The coachman did not drive his coach back that day, he did not
appear on the box again for a week; but he never held up his head
afterwards. Before I quitted the inn, he had disappeared from the
road, going no one knew where.

The coachman, as I have said before, was very much disliked upon
the road, but there was an esprit de corps amongst the coachmen,
and those who stood by did not like to see their brother chastised
in such tremendous fashion. "I never saw such a fight before,"
said one. "Fight! why, I don't call it a fight at all; this chap
here ha'n't got a scratch, whereas Tom is cut to pieces; it is all
along of that guard of his; if Tom could have got within his guard
he would have soon served the old chap out." "So he would," said
another, "it was all owing to that guard. However, I think I see
into it, and if I had not to drive this afternoon, I would have a
turn with the old fellow and soon serve him out." "I will fight
him now for a guinea," said the other coachman, half taking off his
coat; observing, however, that the elderly individual made a motion
towards him, he hitched it upon his shoulder again, and added,
"that is, if he had not been fighting already, but as it is, I am
above taking an advantage, especially of such a poor old creature
as that." And when he had said this, he looked around him, and
there was a feeble titter of approbation from two or three of the
craven crew, who were in the habit of currying favour with the
coachmen. The elderly individual looked for a moment at these
last, and then said, "To such fellows as you I have nothing to
say;" then turning to the coachmen, "and as for you," he said, "ye
cowardly bullies, I have but one word, which is, that your reign
upon the roads is nearly over, and that a time is coming when ye
will no longer be wanted or employed in your present capacity, when
ye will either have to drive dung-carts, assist as ostlers at
village ale-houses, or rot in the workhouse." Then putting on his
coat and hat, and taking up his bundle, not forgetting his
meerschaum, and the rest of his smoking apparatus, he departed on
his way. Filled with curiosity, I followed him.

"I am quite astonished that you should be able to use your hands in
the way you have done," said I, as I walked with this individual in
the direction in which he was bound.

"I will tell you how I became able to do so," said the elderly
individual, proceeding to fill and light his pipe as he walked
along. "My father was a journeyman engraver, who lived in a very
riotous neighbourhood in the outskirts of London. Wishing to give
me something of an education, he sent me to a day-school, two or
three streets distant from where we lived, and there, being rather
a puny boy, I suffered much persecution from my schoolfellows, who
were a very blackguard set. One day, as I was running home, with
one of my tormentors pursuing me, old Sergeant Broughton, the
retired fighting-man, seized me by the arm--"

"Dear me," said I, "has it ever been your luck to be acquainted
with Sergeant Broughton?"

"You may well call it luck," said the elderly individual; but for
him I should never have been able to make my way through the world.
He lived only four doors from our house; so, as I was running along
the street, with my tyrant behind me, Sergeant Broughton seized me
by the arm. 'Stop, my boy,' said he; 'I have frequently seen that
scamp ill-treating you; now I will teach you how to send him home
with a bloody nose; down with your bag of books; and now, my game
chick,' whispered he to me, placing himself between me and my
adversary, so that he could not observe his motions; 'clench your
fist in this manner, and hold your arms in this, and when he
strikes at you, move them as I now show you, and he can't hurt you;
now, don't be afraid, but go at him.' I confess that I was
somewhat afraid, but I considered myself in some degree under the
protection of the famous Sergeant, and, clenching my fist, I went
at my foe, using the guard which my ally recommended. The result
corresponded to a certain degree with the predictions of the
Sergeant; I gave my foe a bloody nose and a black eye, though,
notwithstanding my recent lesson in the art of self-defence, he
contrived to give me two or three clumsy blows. From that moment I
was the especial favourite of the Sergeant, who gave me further
lessons, so that in a little time I became a very fair boxer,
beating everybody of my own size who attacked me. The old
gentleman, however, made me promise never to be quarrelsome, nor to
turn his instructions to account, except in self-defence. I have
always borne in mind my promise, and have made it a point of
conscience never to fight unless absolutely compelled. Folks may
rail against boxing if they please, but being able to box may
sometimes stand a quiet man in good stead. How should I have fared
to-day, but for the instructions of Sergeant Broughton? But for
them, the brutal ruffian who insulted me must have passed
unpunished. He will not soon forget the lesson which I have just
given him--the only lesson he could understand. What would have
been the use of reasoning with a fellow of that description? Brave
old Broughton! I owe him much."

"And your manner of fighting," said I, "was the manner employed by
Sergeant Broughton?"

"Yes," said my new acquaintance; "it was the manner in which he
beat every one who attempted to contend with him, till, in an evil
hour, he entered the ring with Slack, without any training or
preparation, and by a chance blow lost the battle to a man who had
been beaten with ease by those who, in the hands of Broughton,
appeared like so many children. It was the way of fighting of him
who first taught Englishmen to box scientifically, who was the head
and father of the fighters of what is now called the old school,
the last of which were Johnson and Big Ben."

"A wonderful man, that Big Ben," said I.

"He was so," said the elderly individual; "but had it not been for
Broughton, I question whether Ben would have ever been the fighter
he was. Oh! there was no one like old Broughton; but for him I
should at the present moment be sneaking along the road, pursued by
the hissings and hootings of the dirty flatterers of that
blackguard coachman."

"What did you mean," said I, "by those words of yours, that the
coachmen would speedily disappear from the roads?"

"I meant," said he, "that a new method of travelling is about to be
established, which will supersede the old. I am a poor engraver,
as my father was before me; but engraving is an intellectual trade,
and by following it, I have been brought in contact with some of
the cleverest men in England. It has even made me acquainted with
the projector of the scheme, which he has told me many of the
wisest heads of England have been dreaming of during a period of
six hundred years, and which it seems was alluded to by a certain
Brazen Head in the story-book of Friar Bacon, who is generally
supposed to have been a wizard, but in reality was a great
philosopher. Young man, in less than twenty years, by which time I
shall be dead and gone, England will be surrounded with roads of
metal, on which armies may travel with mighty velocity, and of
which the walls of brass and iron by which the friar proposed to
defend his native land are the types." He then, shaking me by the
hand, proceeded on his way, whilst I returned to the inn.

CHAPTER XXVII

Francis Ardry--His Misfortunes--Dog and Lion Fight--Great Men of
the World.

A few days after the circumstance which I have last commemorated,
it chanced that, as I was standing at the door of the inn, one of
the numerous stage-coaches which were in the habit of stopping
there, drove up, and several passengers got down. I had assisted a
woman with a couple of children to dismount, and had just delivered
to her a band-box, which appeared to be her only property, which
she had begged me to fetch down from the roof, when I felt a hand
laid upon my shoulder, and heard a voice exclaim, "Is it possible,
old fellow, that I find you in this place?" I turned round, and,
wrapped in a large blue cloak, I beheld my good friend Francis
Ardry. I shook him most warmly by the hand, and said, "If you are
surprised to see me, I am no less so to see you; where are you
bound to?"

"I am bound for L-; at any rate, I am booked for that sea-port,"
said my friend in reply.

"I am sorry for it," said I, "for in that case we shall have to
part in a quarter of an hour, the coach by which you came stopping
no longer."

"And whither are you bound?" demanded my friend.

"I am stopping at present in this house, quite undetermined as to
what to do."

"Then come along with me," said Francis Ardry.

"That I can scarcely do," said I; "I have a horse in the stall
which I cannot afford to ruin by racing to L--- by the side of your
coach."

My friend mused for a moment: "I have no particular business at L-
--," said he; "I was merely going thither to pass a day or two,
till an affair, in which I am deeply interested, at C--- shall come
off. I think I shall stay with you for four-and-twenty hours at
least; I have been rather melancholy of late, and cannot afford to
part with a friend like you at the present moment; it is an
unexpected piece of good fortune to have met you; and I have not
been very fortunate of late," he added, sighing.

"Well," said I, "I am glad to see you once more, whether fortunate,
or not; where is your baggage?"

"Yon trunk is mine," said Francis, pointing to a trunk of black
Russian leather upon the coach.

"We will soon have it down," said I; and at a word which I gave to
one of the hangers-on of the inn, the trunk was taken from the top
of the coach. "Now," said I to Francis Ardry, "follow me, I am a
person of some authority in this house;" thereupon I led Francis
Ardry into the house, and a word which I said to a waiter forthwith
installed Francis Ardry in a comfortable private sitting-room, and
his trunk in the very best sleeping-room of our extensive
establishment.

It was now about one o'clock: Francis Ardry ordered dinner for
two, to be ready at four, and a pint of sherry to be brought
forthwith, which I requested my friend the waiter might be the very
best, and which in effect turned out as I requested; we sat down,
and when we had drunk to each other's health, Frank requested me to
make known to him how I had contrived to free myself from my
embarrassments in London, what I had been about since I quitted
that city, and the present posture of my affairs.

I related to Francis Ardry how I had composed the Life of Joseph
Sell, and how the sale of it to the bookseller had enabled me to
quit London with money in my pocket, which had supported me during
a long course of ramble in the country, into the particulars of
which I, however, did not enter with any considerable degree of
fulness. I summed up my account by saying that "I was at present a
kind of overlooker in the stables of the inn, had still some pounds
in my purse, and, moreover, a capital horse in the stall."

"No very agreeable posture of affairs," said Francis Ardry, looking
rather seriously at me.

"I make no complaints," said I, "my prospects are not very bright,
it is true, but sometimes I have visions both waking and sleeping,
which, though always strange, are invariably agreeable. Last
night, in my chamber near the hayloft, I dreamt that I had passed
over an almost interminable wilderness--an enormous wall rose
before me, the wall, methought, was the great wall of China:-
strange figures appeared to be beckoning to me from the top of the
wall; such visions are not exactly to be sneered at. Not that such
phantasmagoria," said I, raising my voice, "are to be compared for
a moment with such desirable things as fashion, fine clothes,
cheques from uncles, parliamentary interest, the love of splendid
females. Ah! woman's love," said I, and sighed.

"What's the matter with the fellow?" said Francis Ardry.

"There is nothing like it," said I.

"Like what?"

"Love, divine love," said I.

"Confound love," said Francis Ardry, "I hate the very name; I have
made myself a pretty fool by it, but trust me for ever being at
such folly again. In an evil hour I abandoned my former pursuits
and amusements for it; in one morning spent at Joey's there was
more real pleasure than in--"

"Surely," said I, "you are not hankering after dog-fighting again,
a sport which none but the gross and unrefined care anything for?
No, one's thoughts should be occupied by something higher and more
rational than dog-fighting; and what better than love--divine love?
Oh, there's nothing like it!"

"Pray, don't talk nonsense," said Francis Ardry.

"Nonsense," said I; "why I was repeating, to the best of my
recollection, what I heard you say on a former occasion."

"If ever I talked such stuff," said Francis Ardry, "I was a fool;
and indeed I cannot deny that I have been one: no, there's no
denying that I have been a fool. What do you think? that false
Annette has cruelly abandoned me."

"Well," said I, "perhaps you have yourself to thank for her having
done so; did you never treat her with coldness, and repay her marks
of affectionate interest with strange fits of eccentric humour?"

"Lord! how little you know of women," said Francis Ardry; "had I
done as you suppose, I should probably have possessed her at the
present moment. I treated her in a manner diametrically opposite
to that. I loaded her with presents, was always most assiduous to
her, always at her feet, as I may say, yet she nevertheless
abandoned me--and for whom? I am almost ashamed to say--for a
fiddler."

I took a glass of wine, Francis Ardry followed my example, and then
proceeded to detail to me the treatment which he had experienced
from Annette, and from what he said, it appeared that her conduct
to him had been in the highest degree reprehensible;
notwithstanding he had indulged her in everything, she was never
civil to him, but loaded him continually with taunts and insults,
and had finally, on his being unable to supply her with a sum of
money which she had demanded, decamped from the lodgings which he
had taken for her, carrying with her all the presents which at
various times he had bestowed upon her, and had put herself under
the protection of a gentleman who played the bassoon at the Italian
Opera, at which place it appeared that her sister had lately been
engaged as a danseuse. My friend informed me that at first he had
experienced great agony at the ingratitude of Annette, but at last
had made up his mind to forget her, and, in order more effectually
to do so, had left London with the intention of witnessing a fight,
which was shortly coming off at a town in these parts, between some
dogs and a lion; which combat, he informed me, had for some time
past been looked forward to with intense eagerness by the gentlemen
of the sporting world.

I commended him for his resolution, at the same time advising him
not to give up his mind entirely to dog-fighting, as he had
formerly done, but, when the present combat should be over, to
return to his rhetorical studies, and above all to marry some rich
and handsome lady on the first opportunity, as, with his person and
expectations, he had only to sue for the hand of the daughter of a
marquis to be successful, telling him, with a sigh, that all women
were not Annettes, and that, upon the whole, there was nothing like
them. To which advice he answered, that he intended to return to
rhetoric as soon as the lion fight should be over, but that he
never intended to marry, having had enough of women; adding that he
was glad he had no sister, as, with the feelings which he
entertained with respect to her sex, he should be unable to treat
her with common affection, and concluded by repeating a proverb
which he had learnt from an Arab whom he had met at Venice, to the
effect, that, "one who has been stung by a snake, shivers at the
sight of a sting."

After a little more conversation, we strolled to the stable, where
my horse was standing; my friend, who was a connoisseur in
horseflesh, surveyed the animal with attention, and after inquiring
where and how I had obtained him, asked what I intended to do with
him; on my telling him that I was undetermined, and that I was
afraid the horse was likely to prove a burden to me, he said, "It
is a noble animal, and if you mind what you are about, you may make
a small fortune by him. I do not want such an animal myself, nor
do I know any one who does; but a great horse-fair will be held
shortly at a place where, it is true, I have never been, but of
which I have heard a great deal from my acquaintances, where it is
said a first-rate horse is always sure to fetch its value; that
place is Horncastle, in Lincolnshire, you should take him thither."

Francis Ardry and myself dined together, and after dinner partook
of a bottle of the best port which the inn afforded. After a few
glasses, we had a great deal of conversation; I again brought the
subject of marriage and love, divine love, upon the carpet, but
Francis almost immediately begged me to drop it; and on my having
the delicacy to comply, he reverted to dog-fighting, on which he
talked well and learnedly; amongst other things, he said it was a
princely sport of great antiquity, and quoted from Quintus Curtius
to prove that the princes of India must have been of the fancy,
they having, according to that author, treated Alexander to a fight
between certain dogs and a lion. Becoming, notwithstanding my
friend's eloquence and learning, somewhat tired of the subject, I
began to talk about Alexander. Francis Ardry said he was one of
the two great men whom the world has produced, the other being
Napoleon; I replied that I believed Tamerlane was a greater man
than either; but Francis Ardry knew nothing of Tamerlane, save what
he had gathered from the play of Timour the Tartar. "No," said he,
"Alexander and Napoleon are the great men of the world, their names
are known everywhere. Alexander has been dead upwards of two
thousand years, but the very English bumpkins sometimes christen
their boys by the name of Alexander--can there be a greater
evidence of his greatness? As for Napoleon, there are some parts
of India in which his bust is worshipped." Wishing to make up a
triumvirate, I mentioned the name of Wellington, to which Francis
Ardry merely said, "bah!" and resumed the subject of dog-fighting.

Francis Ardry remained at the inn during that day and the next, and
then departed to the dog and lion fight; I never saw him
afterwards, and merely heard of him once after a lapse of some
years, and what I then heard was not exactly what I could have
wished to hear. He did not make much of the advantages which he
possessed, a pity, for how great were those advantages--person,
intellect, eloquence, connection, riches! yet, with all these
advantages, one thing highly needful seems to have been wanting in
Francis. A desire, a craving, to perform something great and good.
Oh! what a vast deal may be done with intellect, courage, riches,
accompanied by the desire of ,doing something great and good! Why,
a person may carry the blessings of civilization and religion to
barbarous, yet at the same time beautiful and romantic lands; and
what a triumph there is for him who does so! what a crown of glory!
of far greater value than those surrounding the brows of your mere
conquerors. Yet who has done so in these times? Not many; not
three, not two, something seems to have been always wanting; there
is, however, one instance, in which the various requisites have
been united, and the crown, the most desirable in the world--at
least which I consider to be the most desirable--achieved, and only
one, that of Brooke of Borneo.

CHAPTER XXVIII

Mr. Platitude and the Man in Black--The Postillion's Adventures--
The Lone House--A Goodly Assemblage.

It never rains, but it pours. I was destined to see at this inn
more acquaintances than one. On the day of Francis Ardry's
departure, shortly after he had taken leave of me, as I was
standing in the corn-chamber, at a kind of writing-table or desk,
fastened to the wall, with a book before me, in which I was making
out an account of the corn and hay lately received and distributed,
my friend the postillion came running in out of breath. "Here they
both are," he gasped out; "pray do come and look at them."

"Whom do you mean?" said I.

"Why, that red-haired Jack Priest, and that idiotic parson,
Platitude; they have just been set down by one of the coaches, and
want a postchaise to go across the country in; and what do you
think? I am to have the driving of them. I have no time to lose,
for I must get myself ready; so do come and look at them."

I hastened into the yard of the inn; two or three of the helpers of
our establishment were employed in drawing forward a postchaise out
of the chaise-house, which occupied one side of the yard, and which
was spacious enough to contain nearly twenty of these vehicles,
though it was never full, several of them being always out upon the
roads, as the demand upon us for postchaises across the country was
very great. "There they are," said the postillion, softly, nodding
towards two individuals, in one of whom I recognized the man in
black, and in the other Mr. Platitude; "there they are; have a good
look at them, while I go and get ready." The man in black and Mr.
Platitude were walking up and down the yard, Mr. Platitude was
doing his best to make himself appear ridiculous, talking very
loudly in exceedingly bad Italian, evidently for the purpose of
attracting the notice of the bystanders, in which he succeeded, all
the stable-boys and hangers-on about the yard, attracted by his
vociferation, grinning at his ridiculous figure as he limped up and
down. The man in black said little or nothing, but from the
glances which he cast sideways appeared to be thoroughly ashamed of
his companion; the worthy couple presently arrived close to where I
was standing, and the man in black, who was nearest to me,
perceiving me, stood still as if hesitating, but recovering himself
in a moment, he moved on without taking any farther notice; Mr.
Platitude exclaimed as they passed in broken lingo, "I hope we
shall find the holy doctors all assembled," and as they returned,
"I make no doubt that they will all be rejoiced to see me." Not
wishing to be standing an idle gazer, I went to the chaise and
assisted in attaching the horses, which had now been brought out,
to the pole. The postillion presently arrived, and finding all
ready took the reins and mounted the box, whilst I very politely
opened the door for the two travellers; Mr. Platitude got in first,
and, without taking any notice of me, seated himself on the farther
side. In got the man in black, and seated himself nearest to me.
"All is right," said I, as I shut the door, whereupon the
postillion cracked his whip, and the chaise drove out of the yard.
Just as I shut the door, however, and just as Mr. Platitude had
recommenced talking in jergo, at the top of his voice, the man in
black turned his face partly towards me, and gave me a wink with
his left eye.

I did not see my friend the postillion till the next morning, when
he gave me an account of the adventures he had met with on his
expedition. It appeared that he had driven the man in black and
the Reverend Platitude across the country by roads and lanes which
he had some difficulty in threading. At length, when he had
reached a part of the country where he had never been before, the
man in black pointed out to him a house near the corner of a wood,
to which he informed him they were bound. The postillion said it
was a strange-looking house, with a wall round it; and, upon the
whole, bore something of the look of a madhouse. There was already
a postchaise at the gate, from which three individuals had
alighted--one of them the postillion said was a mean-looking
scoundrel, with a regular petty-larceny expression in his
countenance. He was dressed very much like the man in black, and
the postillion said that he could almost have taken his Bible oath
that they were both of the same profession. The other two he said
were parsons, he could swear that, though he had never seen them
before; there could be no mistake about them. Church of England
parsons the postillion swore they were, with their black coats,
white cravats, and airs, in which clumsiness and conceit were most
funnily blended--Church of England parsons of the Platitude
description, who had been in Italy, and seen the Pope, and kissed
his toe, and picked up a little broken Italian, and come home
greater fools than they went forth. It appeared that they were all
acquaintances of Mr. Platitude, for when the postillion had
alighted and let Mr. Platitude and his companion out of the chaise,
Mr. Platitude shook the whole three by the hand, conversed with his
two brothers in a little broken jergo, and addressed the petty-
larceny looking individual by the title of Reverend Doctor. In the
midst of these greetings, however, the postillion said the man in
black came up to him, and proceeded to settle with him for the
chaise; he had shaken hands with nobody, and had merely nodded to
the others; "and now," said the postillion, "he evidently wished to
get rid of me, fearing, probably, that I should see too much of the
nonsense that was going on. It was whilst settling with me that he
seemed to recognize me for the first time, for he stared hard at
me, and at last asked whether I had not been in Italy; to which
question, with a nod and a laugh, I replied that I had. I was then
going to ask him about the health of the image of Holy Mary, and to
say that I hoped it had recovered from its horsewhipping; but he
interrupted me, paid me the money for the fare, and gave me a crown
for myself, saying he would not detain me any longer. I say,
partner, I am a poor postillion, but when he gave me the crown I
had a good mind to fling it in his face. I reflected, however,
that it was not mere gift-money, but coin which I had earned, and
hardly too, so I put it in my pocket, and I bethought me, moreover,
that, knave as I knew him to be, he had always treated me with
civility; so I nodded to him, and he said something which, perhaps,
he meant for Latin, but which sounded very much like 'vails,' and
by which he doubtless alluded to the money which he had given me.
He then went into the house with the rest, the coach drove away
which had brought the others, and I was about to get on the box and
follow; observing, however, two more chaises driving up, I thought
I would be in no hurry, so I just led my horses and chaise a little
out of the way, and pretending to be occupied about the harness, I
kept a tolerably sharp look-out at the new arrivals. Well,
partner, the next vehicle that drove up was a gentleman's carriage
which I knew very well, as well as those within it, who were a
father and son, the father a good kind old gentleman, and a justice
of the peace, therefore not very wise, as you may suppose; the son
a puppy who has been abroad, where he contrived to forget his own
language, though only nine months absent, and now rules the roast
over his father and mother, whose only child he is, and by whom he
is thought wondrous clever. So this foreigneering chap brings his
poor old father to this out-of-the-way house to meet these
Platitudes and petty-larceny villains, and perhaps would have
brought his mother too, only, simple thing, by good fortune she
happens to be laid up with the rheumatic. Well, the father and
son, I beg pardon, I mean the son and father, got down and went in,
and then after their carriage was gone, the chaise behind drove up,
in which was a huge fat fellow, weighing twenty stone at least, but
with something of a foreign look, and with him--who do you think?
Why, a rascally Unitarian minister, that is, a fellow who had been
such a minister, but who, some years ago leaving his own people,
who had bred him up and sent him to their college at York, went
over to the High Church, and is now, I suppose, going over to some
other church, for he was talking, as he got down, wondrous fast in
Latin, or what sounded something like Latin, to the fat fellow, who
appeared to take things wonderfully easy, and merely grunted to the
dog Latin which the scoundrel had learnt at the expense of the poor
Unitarians at York. So they went into the house, and presently
arrived another chaise, but ere I could make any further
observations, the porter of the out-of-the-way house came up to me,
asking what I was stopping there for? bidding me go away, and not
pry into other people's business. 'Pretty business,' said I to
him, 'that is being transacted in a place like this,' and then I
was going to say something uncivil, but he went to attend to the
new corners, and I took myself away on my own business as he bade
me, not, however, before observing that these two last were a
couple of blackcoats."

The postillion then proceeded to relate how he made the best of his
way to a small public-house, about a mile off, where he had
intended to bait, and how he met on the way a landau and pair,
belonging to a Scotch coxcomb whom he had known in London, about
whom he related some curious particulars, and then continued:
"Well, after I had passed him and his turn-out, I drove straight to
the public-house, where I baited my horses, and where I found some
of the chaises and drivers who had driven the folks to the lunatic-
looking mansion, and were now waiting to take them up again.
Whilst my horses were eating their bait, I sat me down, as the
weather was warm, at a table outside, and smoked a pipe, and drank
some ale, in company with the coachman of the old gentleman who had
gone to the house with his son, and the coachman then told me that
the house was a Papist house, and that the present was a grand
meeting of all the fools and rascals in the country, who came to
bow down to images, and to concert schemes--pretty schemes no
doubt--for overturning the religion of the country, and that for
his part he did not approve of being concerned with such doings,
and that he was going to give his master warning next day. So, as
we were drinking and discoursing, up drove the chariot of the
Scotchman, and down got his valet and the driver, and whilst the
driver was seeing after the horses, the valet came and sat down at
the table where the gentleman's coachman and I were drinking. I
knew the fellow well, a Scotchman like his master, and just of the
same kidney, with white kid gloves, red hair frizzled, a patch of
paint on his face, and his hands covered with rings. This very
fellow, I must tell you, was one of those most busy in endeavouring
to get me turned out of the servants' club in Park Lane, because I
happened to serve a literary man; so he sat down, and in a kind of
affected tone cried out, 'Landlord, bring me a glass of cold
negus.' The landlord, however, told him that there was no negus,
but that if he pleased, he could have a jug of as good beer as any
in the country. 'Confound the beer,' said the valet, 'do you think
that I am accustomed to such vulgar beverage?' However, as he
found there was nothing better to be had, he let the man bring him
some beer, and when he had got it, soon showed that he could drink
it easily enough; so, when he had drunk two or three draughts, he
turned his eyes in a contemptuous manner, first, on the coachman,
and then on me: I saw the scamp recollected me, for after staring
at me and my dress for about half a minute, he put on a broad grin,
and flinging his head back, he uttered a loud laugh. Well, I did
not like this, as you may well believe, and taking the pipe out of
my mouth, I asked him if he meant anything personal, to which he
answered, that he had said nothing to me, and that he had a right
to look where he pleased, and laugh when he pleased. Well, as to a
certain extent he was right, as to looking and laughing; and as I
have occasionally looked at a fool and laughed, though I was not
the fool in this instance, I put my pipe into my mouth and said no
more. This quiet and well-regulated behaviour of mine, however,
the fellow interpreted into fear; so, after drinking a little more,
he suddenly started up, and striding once or twice before the
table, he asked me what I meant by that impertinent question of
mine, saying that he had a good mind to wring my nose for my
presumption. 'You have?' said I, getting up, and laying down my
pipe. 'Well, I'll now give you an opportunity.' So I put myself
in an attitude, and went up to him, saying 'I have an old score to
settle with you, you scamp; you wanted to get me turned out of the
club, didn't you?' And thereupon, remembering that he had
threatened to wring my nose, I gave him a snorter upon his own. I
wish you could have seen the fellow when he felt the smart; so far
from trying to defend himself, he turned round, and with his hand
to his face, attempted to run away; but I was now in a regular
passion, and following him up, got before him, and was going to
pummel away at him, when he burst into tears, and begged me not to
hurt him, saying that he was sorry if he had offended me, and that,
if I pleased, he would go down on his knees, or do anything else I
wanted. Well, when I heard him talk in this manner, I, of course,
let him be; I could hardly help laughing at the figure he cut; his
face all blubbered with tears, and blood and paint; but I did not
laugh at the poor creature either, but went to the table and took
up my pipe, and smoked and drank as if nothing had happened; and
the fellow, after having been to the pump, came and sat down,
crying, and trying to curry favour with me and the coachman;
presently, however, putting on a confidential look, he began to
talk of the Popish house, and of the doings there, and said he
supposed as how we were of the party, and that it was all right;
and then he began to talk of the Pope of Rome, and what a nice man
he was, and what a fine thing it was to be of his religion,
especially if folks went over to him; and how it advanced them in
the world, and gave them consideration; and how his master, who had
been abroad and seen the Pope, and kissed his toe, was going over
to the Popish religion, and had persuaded him to consent to do so,
and to forsake his own, which I think the scoundrel called the
'Piscopal Church of Scotland, and how many others of that church
were going over, thinking to better their condition in life by so
doing, and to be more thought on; and how many of the English
Church were thinking of going over too--and that he had no doubt
that it would all end right and comfortably. Well, as he was going
on in this way, the old coachman began to spit, and getting up,
flung all the beer that was in his jug upon the ground, and going
away, ordered another jug of beer, and sat down at another table,
saying that he would not drink in such company; and I too got up,
and flung what beer remained in my jug, there wasn't more than a
drop, in the fellow's face, saying, I would scorn to drink any more
in such company; and then I went to my horses, put them to, paid my
reckoning, and drove home."

The postillion having related his story, to which I listened with
all due attention, mused for a moment, and then said, "I dare say
you remember how, some time since, when old Bill had been telling
us how the Government a long time ago, had done away with robbing
on the highway, by putting down the public-houses and places which
the highwaymen frequented, and by sending a good mounted police to
hunt them down, I said that it was a shame that the present
Government did not employ somewhat the same means in order to stop
the proceedings of Mumbo Jumbo and his gang now-a-days in England.
Howsomever, since I have driven a fare to a Popish rendezvous, and
seen something of what is going on there, I should conceive that
the Government are justified in allowing the gang the free exercise
of their calling. Anybody is welcome to stoop and pick up nothing,
or worse than nothing, and if Mumbo Jumbo's people, after their
expeditions, return to their haunts with no better plunder in the
shape of converts than what I saw going into yonder place of call,
I should say they are welcome to what they get; for if that's the
kind of rubbish they steal out of the Church of England, or any
other church, who in his senses but would say a good riddance, and
many thanks for your trouble: at any rate, that is my opinion of
the matter."

CHAPTER XXIX

Deliberations with Self-Resolution--Invitation to Dinner--The
Commercial Traveller--The Landlord's Offer--The Comet Wine.

It was now that I had frequent deliberations with myself. Should I
continue at the inn in my present position? I was not very much
captivated with it; there was little poetry in keeping an account
of the corn, hay, and straw which came in, and was given out, and I
was fond of poetry; moreover, there was no glory at all to be
expected in doing so, and I was fond of glory. Should I give up
that situation, and remaining at the inn, become ostler under old
Bill? There was more poetry in rubbing down horses than in keeping
an account of straw, hay, and corn; there was also some prospect of
glory attached to the situation of ostler, for the grooms and
stable-boys occasionally talked of an ostler, a great way down the
road, who had been presented by some sporting people, not with a
silver vase, as our governor had been, but with a silver currycomb,
in testimony of their admiration for his skill; but I confess that
the poetry of rubbing down had become, as all other poetry becomes,
rather prosy by frequent repetition, and with respect to the chance
of deriving glory from the employment, I entertained, in the event
of my determining to stay, very slight hope of ever attaining skill
in the ostler art sufficient to induce sporting people to bestow
upon me a silver currycomb. I was not half so good an ostler as
old Bill, who had never been presented with a silver currycomb, and
I never expected to become so, therefore what chance had I? It was
true, there was a prospect of some pecuniary emolument to be
derived by remaining in either situation. It was very probable
that, provided I continued to keep an account of the hay and corn
coming in and expended, the landlord would consent to allow me a
pound a week, which at the end of a dozen years, provided I kept
myself sober, would amount to a considerable sum. I might, on the
retirement of old Bill, by taking his place, save up a decent sum
of money, provided, unlike him, I kept myself sober, and laid by
all the shillings and sixpences I got; but the prospect of laying
up a decent sum of money was not of sufficient importance to induce
me to continue either at my wooden desk, or in the inn-yard. The
reader will remember what difficulty I had to make up my mind to
become a merchant under the Armenian's auspices, even with the
prospect of making two or three hundred thousand pounds by
following the Armenian way of doing business, so it was not
probable that I should feel disposed to be a book-keeper or ostler
all my life with no other prospect than being able to make a tidy
sum of money. If indeed, besides the prospect of making a tidy sum
at the end of perhaps forty years' ostlering, I had been certain of
being presented with a silver currycomb with my name engraved upon
it, which I might have left to my descendants, or, in default
thereof, to the parish church destined to contain my bones, with
directions that it might be soldered into the wall above the arch
leading from the body of the church into the chancel--I will not
say with such a certainty of immortality, combined with such a
prospect of moderate pecuniary advantage,--I might not have thought
it worth my while to stay, but I entertained no such certainty,
and, taking everything into consideration, I determined to mount my
horse and leave the inn.

This horse had caused me for some time past no little perplexity; I
had frequently repented of having purchased him, more especially as
the purchase had been made with another person's money, and had
more than once shown him to people who, I imagined, were likely to
purchase him; but, though they were profuse in his praise, as
people generally are in the praise of what they don't intend to
purchase, they never made me an offer, and now that I had
determined to mount on his back and ride away, what was I to do
with him in the sequel? I could not maintain him long. Suddenly I
bethought me of Horncastle, which Francis Ardry had mentioned as a
place where the horse was likely to find a purchaser, and not
having determined upon any particular place to which to repair, I
thought that I could do no better than betake myself to Horncastle
in the first instance, and there endeavour to dispose of my horse.

On making inquiries with respect to the situation of Horncastle,
and the time when the fair would be held, I learned that the town
was situated in Lincolnshire, about a hundred and fifty miles from
the inn at which I was at present sojourning, and that the fair
would be held nominally within about a month, but that it was
always requisite to be on the spot some days before the nominal day
of the fair, as all the best horses were generally sold before that
time, and the people who came to purchase gone away with what they
had bought.

The people of the inn were very sorry on being informed of my
determination to depart. Old Bill told me that he had hoped as how
I had intended to settle down there, and to take his place as
ostler when he was fit for no more work, adding, that though I did
not know much of the business, yet he had no doubt but that I might
improve. My friend the postillion was particularly sorry, and
taking me with him to the tap-room called for two pints of beer, to
one of which he treated me; and whilst we were drinking told me how
particularly sorry he was at the thought of my going, but that he
hoped I should think better of the matter. On my telling him that
I must go, he said that he trusted I should put off my departure
for three weeks, in order that I might be present at his marriage,
the banns of which were just about to be published. He said that
nothing would give him greater pleasure than to see me dance a
minuet with his wife after the marriage dinner; but I told him it
was impossible that I should stay, my affairs imperatively calling
me elsewhere; and that with respect to my dancing a minuet, such a
thing was out of the question, as I had never learned to dance. At
which he said that he was exceedingly sorry, and finding me
determined to go, wished me success in all my undertakings.

The master of the house, to whom, as in duty bound, I communicated
my intention before I spoke of it to the servants, was, I make no
doubt, very sorry, though he did not exactly tell me so. What he
said was, that he had never expected that I should remain long
there, as such a situation never appeared to him quite suitable to
me, though I had been very diligent, and had given him perfect
satisfaction. On his inquiring when I intended to depart, I
informed him next day, whereupon he begged that I would defer my
departure till the next day but one, and do him the favour of
dining with him on the morrow. I informed him that I should be
only too happy.

On the following day at four o'clock I dined with the landlord, in
company with a commercial traveller. The dinner was good, though
plain, consisting of boiled mackerel--rather a rarity in those
parts at that time--with fennel sauce, a prime baron of roast beef
after the mackerel, then a tart and noble Cheshire cheese; we had
prime sherry at dinner, and whilst eating the cheese prime porter,
that of Barclay, the only good porter in the world. After the
cloth was removed we had a bottle of very good port; and whilst
partaking of the port I had an argument with the commercial
traveller on the subject of the corn-laws.

The commercial traveller, having worsted me in the argument on the
subject of the corn-laws, got up in great glee, saying that he must
order his gig, as business must be attended to. Before leaving the
room, however, he shook me patronizingly by the hand, and said
something to the master of the house, but in so low a tone that it
escaped my ear.

No sooner had he departed than the master of the house told me that
his friend the traveller had just said that I was a confounded
sensible young fellow, and not at all opinionated, a sentiment in
which he himself perfectly agreed--then hemming once or twice, he
said that as I was going on a journey he hoped I was tolerably well
provided with money, adding that travelling was rather expensive,
especially on horseback, the manner in which he supposed, as I had
a horse in the stable, I intended to travel. I told him that
though I was not particularly well supplied with money, I had
sufficient for the expenses of my journey, at the end of which I
hoped to procure more. He then hemmed again, and said that since I
had been at the inn I had rendered him a great deal of service in
more ways than one, and that he should not think of permitting me
to depart without making me some remuneration; then putting his
hand into his waistcoat pocket, he handed me a cheque for ten
pounds, which he had prepared beforehand, the value of which he
said I could receive at the next town, or that, if I wished it, any
waiter in the house would cash it for me. I thanked him for his
generosity in the best terms I could select, but, handing him back
the cheque, I told him that I could not accept it, saying, that, so
far from his being my debtor, I believed myself to be indebted to
him, as not only myself but my horse had been living at his house
for several weeks. He replied, that as for my board at a house
like his it amounted to nothing, and as for the little corn and hay
which the horse had consumed it was of no consequence, and that he
must insist upon my taking the cheque. But I again declined,
telling him that doing so would be a violation of a rule which I
had determined to follow, and which nothing but the greatest
necessity would ever compel me to break through--never to incur
obligations. "But," said he, "receiving this money will not be
incurring an obligation, it is your due." "I do not think so,"
said I; "I did not engage to serve you for money, nor will I take
any from you." "Perhaps you will take it as a loan?" said he.
"No," I replied, "I never borrow." "Well," said the landlord,
smiling, "you are different from all others that I am acquainted
with. I never yet knew any one else who scrupled to borrow and
receive obligations; why, there are two baronets in the
neighbourhood who have borrowed money of me, ay, and who have never
repaid what they borrowed; and there are a dozen squires who are
under considerable obligations to me, who I dare say will never
return them. Come, you need not be more scrupulous than your
superiors--I mean in station." "Every vessel must stand on its own
bottom," said I; "they take pleasure in receiving obligations, I
take pleasure in being independent. Perhaps they are wise, and I
am a fool, I know not, but one thing I am certain of, which is,
that were I not independent I should be very unhappy: I should
have no visions then." "Have you any relations?" said the
landlord, looking at me compassionately; "excuse me, but I don't
think you are exactly fit to take care of yourself." "There you
are mistaken," said I, "I can take precious good care of myself;
ay, and can drive a precious hard bargain when I have occasion, but
driving bargains is a widely different thing from receiving gifts.
I am going to take my horse to Horncastle, and when there I shall
endeavour to obtain his full value--ay to the last penny."

"Horncastle!" said the landlord, "I have heard of that place; you
mustn't be dreaming visions when you get there, or they'll steal
the horse from under you. Well," said he, rising, "I shall not
press you further on the subject of the cheque. I intend, however,
to put you under an obligation to me." He then rang the bell, and
having ordered two fresh glasses to be brought, he went out and
presently returned with a small pint bottle, which he uncorked with
his own hand; then sitting down, he said, "The wine that I bring
here, is port of eighteen hundred and eleven, the year of the
comet, the best vintage on record; the wine which we have been
drinking," he added, "is good, but not to be compared with this,
which I never sell, and which I am chary of. When you have drunk
some of it, I think you will own that I have conferred an
obligation upon you;" he then filled the glasses, the wine which he
poured out diffusing an aroma through the room; then motioning me
to drink, he raised his own glass to his lips, saying, "Come,
friend, I drink to your success at Horncastle."

CHAPTER XXX

Triumphal Departure--No Season like Youth--Extreme Old Age--
Beautiful England--The Ratcatcher--A Misadventure.

I departed from the inn much in the same fashion as I had come to
it, mounted on a splendid horse indifferently well caparisoned,
with the small valise attached to my crupper, in which, besides the
few things I had brought with me, was a small book of roads with a
map which had been presented to me by the landlord. I must not
forget to state that I did not ride out of the yard, but that my
horse was brought to me at the front door by old Bill, who insisted
upon doing so, and who refused a five-shilling piece which I
offered him; and it will be as well to let the reader know that the
landlord shook me by the hand as I mounted, and that the people
attached to the inn, male and female--my friend the postillion at
the head--assembled before the house to see me off, and gave me
three cheers as I rode away. Perhaps no person ever departed from
an inn with more eclat or better wishes; nobody looked at me
askance, except two stage-coachmen who were loitering about, one of
whom said to his companion, "I say, Jim! twig his portmanteau! a
regular Newmarket turn-out, by--!"

It was in the cool of the evening of a bright day--all the days of
that summer were bright--that I departed. I felt at first rather
melancholy at finding myself again launched into the wide world,
and leaving the friends whom I had lately made behind me; but by
occasionally trotting the horse, and occasionally singing a song of
Romanvile, I had dispelled the feeling of melancholy by the time I
had proceeded three miles down the main road. It was at the end of
these three miles, just opposite a milestone, that I struck into a
cross road. After riding about seven miles, threading what are
called, in postillion parlance, cross-country roads, I reached
another high road, tending to the east, along which I proceeded for
a mile or two, when coming to a small inn, about nine o'clock, I
halted and put up for the night.

Early on the following morning I proceeded on my journey, but
fearing to gall the horse, I no longer rode him, but led him by the
bridle, until I came to a town at the distance of about ten miles
from the place where I had passed the night. Here I stayed during
the heat of the day, more on the horse's account than my own, and
towards evening resumed my journey, leading the animal by the
bridle as before; and in this manner I proceeded for several days,
travelling on an average from twenty to twenty-five miles a day,
always leading the animal, except perhaps now and then of an
evening, when, if I saw a good piece of road before me, I would
mount and put the horse into a trot, which the creature seemed to
enjoy as much as myself, showing his satisfaction by snorting and
neighing, whilst I gave utterance to my own exhilaration by shouts,
or by "the chi she is kaulo she soves pre lakie dumo," or by
something else of the same kind in Romanvile.

On the whole, I journeyed along very pleasantly, certainly quite as
pleasantly as I do at present, now that I am become a gentleman and
weigh sixteen stone, though some people would say that my present
manner of travelling is much the most preferable, riding as I now
do, instead of leading my horse; receiving the homage of ostlers
instead of their familiar nods; sitting down to dinner in the
parlour of the best inn I can find, instead of passing the
brightest part of the day in the kitchen of a village alehouse;
carrying on my argument after dinner on the subject of the corn-
laws, with the best commercial gentlemen on the road, instead of
being glad, whilst sipping a pint of beer, to get into conversation
with blind trampers, or maimed Abraham sailors, regaling themselves
on half-pints at the said village hostelries. Many people will
doubtless say that things have altered wonderfully with me for the
better, and they would say right, provided I possessed now what I
then carried about with me in my journeys--the spirit of youth.
Youth is the only season for enjoyment, and the first twenty-five
years of one's life are worth all the rest of the longest life of
man, even though those five-and-twenty be spent in penury and
contempt, and the rest in the possession of wealth, honours,
respectability, ay, and many of them in strength and health, such
as will enable one to ride forty miles before dinner, and over
one's pint of port--for the best gentleman in the land should not
drink a bottle--carry on one's argument, with gravity and decorum,
with any commercial gentleman who, responsive to one's challenge,
takes the part of humanity and common sense against "protection"
and the lord of the land.

Ah! there is nothing like youth--not that after-life is valueless.
Even in extreme old age one may get on very well, provided we will
but accept of the bounties of God. I met the other day an old man,
who asked me to drink. "I am not thirsty," said I, "and will not
drink with you." "Yes, you will," said the old man, "for I am this
day one hundred years old; and you will never again have an
opportunity of drinking the health of a man on his hundredth
birthday." So I broke my word, and drank. "Yours is a wonderful
age," said I. "It is a long time to look back to the beginning of
it," said the old man; "yet, upon the whole, I am not sorry to have
lived it all." "How have you passed your time?" said I. "As well
as I could," said the old man; "always enjoying a good thing when
it came honestly within my reach; not forgetting to praise God for
putting it there." "I suppose you were fond of a glass of good ale
when you were young?" "Yes," said the old man, "I was; and so,
thank God, I am still." And he drank off a glass of ale.

On I went in my journey, traversing England from west to east--
ascending and descending hills--crossing rivers by bridge and
ferry--and passing over extensive plains. What a beautiful country
is England! People run abroad to see beautiful countries, and
leave their own behind unknown, unnoticed--their own the most
beautiful! And then, again, what a country for adventures!
especially to those who travel on foot, or on horseback. People
run abroad in quest of adventures, and traverse Spain or Portugal
on mule or on horseback; whereas there are ten times more
adventures to be met with in England than in Spain, Portugal, or
stupid Germany to boot. Witness the number of adventures narrated
in the present book--a book entirely devoted to England. Why,
there is not a chapter in the present book which is not full of
adventures, with the exception of the present one, and this is not
yet terminated.

After traversing two or three counties, I reached the confines of
Lincolnshire. During one particularly hot day I put up at a
public-house, to which, in the evening, came a party of harvesters
to make merry, who, finding me wandering about the house a
stranger, invited me to partake of their ale; so I drank with the
harvesters, who sang me songs about rural life, such as -

"Sitting in the swale; and listening to the swindle of the flail,
as it sounds dub-a-dub on the corn, from the neighbouring barn."

In requital for which I treated them with a song, not of Romanvile,
but the song of "Sivory and the horse Grayman." I remained with
them till it was dark, having, after sunset, entered into deep
discourse with a celebrated ratcatcher, who communicated to me the
secrets of his trade, saying, amongst other things, "When you see
the rats pouring out of their holes, and running up my hands and
arms, it's not after me they comes, but after the oils I carries
about me they comes;" and who subsequently spoke in the most
enthusiastic manner of his trade, saying that it was the best trade
in the world, and most diverting, and that it was likely to last
for ever; for whereas all other kinds of vermin were fast
disappearing from England, rats were every day becoming more
abundant. I had quitted this good company, and having mounted my
horse, was making my way towards a town at about six miles'
distance, at a swinging trot, my thoughts deeply engaged on what I
had gathered from the ratcatcher, when all on a sudden a light
glared upon the horse's face, who purled round in great terror, and
flung me out of the saddle, as from a sling, or with as much
violence as the horse Grayman, in the ballad, flings Sivord the
Snareswayne. I fell upon the ground--felt a kind of crashing about
my neck--and forthwith became senseless.

CHAPTER XXXI

A Novel Situation--The Elderly Individual--The Surgeon--A Kind
Offer--Chimerical Ideas--Strange Dream.

How long I remained senseless I cannot say, for a considerable
time, I believe; at length, opening my eyes, I found myself lying
on a bed in a middle-sized chamber, lighted by a candle, which
stood on a table--an elderly man stood near me, and a yet more
elderly female was holding a phial of very pungent salts to my
olfactory organ. I attempted to move, but felt very stiff--my
right arm appeared nearly paralysed, and there was a strange dull
sensation in my head. "You had better remain still, young man,"
said the elderly individual, "the surgeon will be here presently; I
have sent a message for him to the neighbouring village." "Where
am I?" said I, "and what has happened?" "You are in my house,"
said the old man, "and you have been flung from a horse. I am
sorry to say that I was the cause. As I was driving home, the
lights in my gig frightened the animal." "Where is the horse?"
said I. "Below, in my stable," said the elderly individual. "I
saw you fall, but knowing that on account of my age I could be of
little use to you, I instantly hurried home, the accident did not
occur more than a furlong off, and procuring the assistance of my
lad, and two or three neighbouring cottagers, I returned to the
spot where you were lying senseless. We raised you up, and brought
you here. My lad then went in quest of the horse, who had run away
as we drew nigh. When we saw him first he was standing near you;
he caught him with some difficulty, and brought him home. What are
you about?" said the old man, as I strove to get off the bed. "I
want to see the horse," said I. "I entreat you to be still," said
the old man; "the horse is safe, I assure you." "I am thinking
about his knees," said I. "Instead of thinking about your horse's
knees," said the old man, "be thankful that you have not broke your
own neck." "You do not talk wisely," said I; "when a man's neck is
broke, he is provided for; but when his horse's knees are broke, he
is a lost jockey, that is, if he has nothing but his horse to
depend upon. A pretty figure I should cut at Horncastle, mounted
on a horse blood-raw at the knees." "Oh, you are going to
Horncastle," said the old man, seriously, "then I can sympathize
with you in your anxiety about your horse, being a Lincolnshire
man, and the son of one who bred horses. I will myself go down
into the stable, and examine into the condition of your horse, so
pray remain quiet till I return; it would certainly be a terrible
thing to appear at Horncastle on a broken-kneed horse."

He left the room and returned in about ten minutes, followed by
another person. "Your horse is safe," said he, "and his knees are
unblemished; not a hair ruffled. He is a fine animal, and will do
credit to Horncastle; but here is the surgeon come to examine into
your own condition." The surgeon was a man about thirty-five,
thin, and rather tall; his face was long and pale, and his hair,
which was light, was carefully combed back as much as possible from
his forehead. He was dressed very neatly, and spoke in a very
precise tone. "Allow me to feel your pulse, friend?" said he,
taking me by the right wrist. I uttered a cry, for at the motion
which he caused a thrill of agony darted through my arm. "I hope
your arm is not broke, my friend," said the surgeon, "allow me to
see; first of all, we must divest you of this cumbrous frock."

The frock was removed with some difficulty, and then the upper
vestments of my frame, with more difficulty still. The surgeon
felt my arm, moving it up and down, causing me unspeakable pain.
"There is no fracture," said he, at last, "but a contusion--a
violent contusion. I am told you were going to Horncastle; I am
afraid you will be hardly able to ride your horse thither in time
to dispose of him; however, we shall see--your arm must be
bandaged, friend; after which I shall bleed you, and administer a
composing draught."

To be short, the surgeon did as he proposed, and when he had
administered the composing draught, he said, "Be of good cheer; I
should not be surprised if you are yet in time for Horncastle." He
then departed with the master of the house, and the woman, leaving
me to my repose. I soon began to feel drowsy, and was just
composing myself to slumber, lying on my back, as the surgeon had
advised me, when I heard steps ascending the stairs, and in a
moment more the surgeon entered again, followed by the master of
the house. "I hope I don't disturb you," said the former; "my
reason for returning is to relieve your mind from any anxiety with
respect to your horse. I am by no means sure that you will be
able, owing to your accident, to reach Horncastle in time: to
quiet you, however, I will buy your horse for any reasonable sum.
I have been down to the stable, and approve of his figure. What do
you ask for him?" "This is a strange time of night," said I, "to
come to me about purchasing my horse, and I am hardly in a fitting
situation to be applied to about such a matter. What do you want
him for?" "For my own use," said the surgeon; "I am a professional
man, and am obliged to be continually driving about; I cover at
least one hundred and fifty miles every week." "He will never
answer your purpose," said I, "he is not a driving horse, and was
never between shafts in his life; he is for riding, more especially
for trotting, at which he has few equals." "It matters not to me
whether he is for riding or driving," said the surgeon, "sometimes
I ride, sometimes drive; so, if we can come to terms, I will buy
him, though remember it is chiefly to remove any anxiety from your
mind about him." "This is no time for bargaining," said I, "if you
wish to have the horse for a hundred guineas, you may; if not--"
"A hundred guineas!" said the surgeon, "my good friend, you must
surely be light-headed; allow me to feel your pulse," and he
attempted to feel my left wrist. "I am not light-headed," said I,
"and I require no one to feel my pulse; but I should be light-
headed if I were to sell my horse for less than I have demanded;
but I have a curiosity to know what you would be willing to offer."
"Thirty pounds," said the surgeon, "is all I can afford to give;
and that is a great deal for a country surgeon to offer for a
horse." "Thirty pounds!" said I, "why, he cost me nearly double
that sum. To tell you the truth, I am afraid that you want to take
advantage of my situation." "Not in the least, friend," said the
surgeon, "not in the least; I only wished to set your mind at rest
about your horse; but as you think he is worth more than I can
afford to offer, take him to Horncastle by all means; I will do my
best to cure you in time. Good night, I will see you again on the
morrow." Thereupon he once more departed with the master of the
house. "A sharp one," I heard him say, with a laugh, as the door
closed upon him.

Left to myself, I again essayed to compose myself to rest, but for
some time in vain. I had been terribly shaken by my fall, and had
subsequently, owing to the incision of the surgeon's lancet, been
deprived of much of the vital fluid; it is when the body is in such
a state that the merest trifles affect and agitate the mind; no
wonder, then, that the return of the surgeon and the master of the
house for the purpose of inquiring whether I would sell my horse,
struck me as being highly extraordinary, considering the hour of
the night, and the situation in which they knew me to be. What
could they mean by such conduct--did they wish to cheat me of the
animal? "Well, well," said I, "if they did, what matters, they
found their match; yes, yes," said I, "but I am in their power,
perhaps"--but I instantly dismissed the apprehension which came
into my mind, with a pooh, nonsense! In a little time, however, a
far more foolish and chimerical idea began to disturb me--the idea
of being flung from my horse; was I not disgraced for ever as a
horseman by being flung from my horse? Assuredly, I thought; and
the idea of being disgraced as a horseman, operating on my nervous
system, caused me very acute misery. "After all," said I to
myself, "it was perhaps the contemptible opinion which the surgeon
must have formed of my equestrian powers, which induced him to
offer to take my horse off my hands; he perhaps thought I was
unable to manage a horse, and therefore in pity returned in the
dead of night to offer to purchase the animal which had flung me;"
and then the thought that the surgeon had conceived a contemptible
opinion of my equestrian powers, caused me the acutest misery, and
continued tormenting me until some other idea (I have forgot what
it was, but doubtless equally foolish) took possession of my mind.
At length, brought on by the agitation of my spirits, there came
over me the same feeling of horror that I had experienced of old
when I was a boy, and likewise of late within the dingle; it was,
however, not so violent as it had been on those occasions, and I
struggled manfully against it, until by degrees it passed away, and
then I fell asleep; and in my sleep I had an ugly dream. I dreamt
that I had died of the injuries I had received from my fall, and
that no sooner had my soul departed from my body than it entered
that of a quadruped, even my own horse in the stable--in a word, I
was, to all intents and purposes, my own steed; and as I stood in
the stable chewing hay (and I remember that the hay was exceedingly
tough), the door opened, and the surgeon who had attended me came
in. "My good animal," said he, "as your late master has scarcely
left enough to pay for the expenses of his funeral, and nothing to
remunerate me for my trouble, I shall make bold to take possession
of you. If your paces are good, I shall keep you for my own
riding; if not, I shall take you to Horncastle, your original
destination." He then bridled and saddled me, and, leading me out,
mounted, and then trotted me up and down before the house, at the
door of which the old man, who now appeared to be dressed in
regular jockey fashion, was standing. "I like his paces well,"
said the surgeon; "I think I shall take him for my own use." "And
what am I to have for all the trouble his master caused me?" said
my late entertainer, on whose countenance I now observed, for the
first time, a diabolical squint. "The consciousness of having done
your duty to a fellow-creature in succouring him in a time of
distress, must be your reward," said the surgeon. "Pretty gammon,
truly," said my late entertainer; "what would you say if I were to
talk in that way to you? Come, unless you choose to behave
jonnock, I shall take the bridle and lead the horse back into the
stable." "Well," said the surgeon, "we are old friends, and I
don't wish to dispute with you, so I'll tell you what I will do; I
will ride the animal to Horncastle, and we will share what he
fetches like brothers." "Good," said the old man, "but if you say
that you have sold him for less than a hundred, I shan't consider
you jonnock; remember what the young fellow said--that young
fellow--" I heard no more, for the next moment I found myself on a
broad road leading, as I supposed, in the direction of Horncastle,
the surgeon still in the saddle, and my legs moving at a rapid
trot. "Get on," said the surgeon, jerking my mouth with the bit;
whereupon, full of rage, I instantly set off at a full gallop,
determined, if possible, to dash my rider to the earth. The
surgeon, however, kept his seat, and, so far from attempting to
abate my speed, urged me on to greater efforts with a stout stick,
which methought he held in his hand. In vain did I rear and kick,
attempting to get rid of my foe; but the surgeon remained as
saddle-fast as ever the Maugrabin sorcerer in the Arabian tale what
time he rode the young prince transformed into a steed to his
enchanted palace in the wilderness. At last, as I was still madly
dashing on, panting and blowing, and had almost given up all hope,
I saw at a distance before me a heap of stones by the side of the
road, probably placed there for the purpose of repairing it; a
thought appeared to strike me--I will shy at those stones, and, if
I can't get rid of him so, resign myself to my fate. So I
increased my speed, till arriving within about ten yards of the
heap, I made a desperate start, turning half round with nearly the
velocity of a mill-stone. Oh, the joy I experienced when I felt my
enemy canted over my neck, and saw him lying senseless in the road.
"I have you now in my power," I said, or rather neighed, as, going
up to my prostrate foe, I stood over him. "Suppose I were to rear
now, and let my fore feet fall upon you, what would your life be
worth? that is, supposing you are not killed already; but lie
there, I will do you no further harm, but trot to Horncastle
without a rider, and when there--" and without further reflection
off I trotted in the direction of Horncastle, but had not gone far
before my bridle, falling from my neck, got entangled with my off
fore foot. I felt myself falling, a thrill of agony shot through
me--my knees would be broken, and what should I do at Horncastle
with a pair of broken knees? I struggled, but I could not
disengage my off fore foot, and downward I fell, but before I had
reached the ground I awoke, and found myself half out of bed, my
bandaged arm in considerable pain, and my left hand just touching
the floor.

With some difficulty I readjusted myself in bed. It was now early
morning, and the first rays of the sun were beginning to penetrate
the white curtains of a window on my left, which probably looked
into the garden, as I caught a glimpse or two of the leaves of
trees through a small uncovered part at the side. For some time I
felt uneasy and anxious, my spirits being in a strange fluttering
state. At last my eyes fell upon a small row of tea-cups seemingly
of china, which stood on a mantelpiece exactly fronting the bottom
of the bed. The sight of these objects, I know not why, soothed
and pacified me; I kept my eyes fixed upon them, as I lay on my
back on the bed, with my head upon the pillow, till at last I fell
into a calm and refreshing sleep.

CHAPTER XXXII

The Morning after a Fall--The Teapot--Unpretending Hospitality--The
Chinese Student.

It might be about eight o'clock in the morning when I was awakened
by the entrance of the old man. "How have you rested?" said he,
coming up to the bedside, and looking me in the face. "Well," said
I, "and I feel much better, but I am still very sore." I surveyed
him now for the first time with attention. He was dressed in a
sober-coloured suit, and was apparently between sixty and seventy.
In stature he was rather above the middle height, but with a slight
stoop; his features were placid, and expressive of much
benevolence, but, as it appeared to me, with rather a melancholy
cast--as I gazed upon them, I felt ashamed that I should ever have
conceived in my brain a vision like that of the preceding night, in
which he appeared in so disadvantageous a light. At length he
said, "It is now time for you to take some refreshment. I hear my
old servant coming up with your breakfast." In a moment the
elderly female entered with a tray, on which was some bread and
butter, a teapot and cup. The cup was of common blue earthenware,
but the pot was of china, curiously fashioned, and seemingly of
great antiquity. The old man poured me out a cupful of tea, and
then, with the assistance of the woman, raised me higher, and
propped me up with the pillows. I ate and drank; when the pot was
emptied of its liquid (it did not contain much), I raised it up
with my left hand to inspect it. The sides were covered with

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