« PreviousContinue »
foul on both her husband and the poor puppet-mover. Here, husband,' says she, you see the consequence of harbouring these people in your house. If one doth draw a little drink the more for them, one is hardly made amends for the litter they make; and then to have one's house made a bawdy-house of by such lousy vermin. In short, I desire you would be gone to-morrow morning; for I will tolerate no more such doings. It is only the way to teach our servants idleness and nonsense; for to be sure nothing better can be learned by such idle shows as these. I remember when pup. pet-shows were made of good Scripture stories, as Jephtha's Rash Vow, and such good things, and when wicked people were carried away by the devil. There was some sense in those matters; but, as the parson told us last Sunday, nobody believes in the devil now-a-days; and here you bring about a parcel of puppets dressed up like lords and ladies, only to turn the heads of poor country wenches; and when their heads are once turned topsy-turvy, no wonder every thing else is so.'
Virgil, I think, tells us, that when the mob are assembled in a riotous and tumultuous manner, and all sorts of missile weapons fly about, if a man of gravity and authority appears amongst them the tumult is presently appeased, and the mob, which, when collected into one body, may be well compared to an ass, erect their long ears at the grave man's discourse.
On the contrary, when a set of grave men and philosophers are disputing; when wisdom herself may in a manner be considered as present, and administering arguments to the disputants; should a tumult arise among the mob, or should one scold, who is herself equal in noise to a mighty mob, appear among the said philosophers; their disputes cease in a moment, wisdom no longer performs her ministerial office, and the attention of every one is immediately attracted by the scold alone.
Thus the uproar aforesaid, and the arrival of the landlady, silenced the master of the puppet-show, and put a speedy and final end to that grave and solemn harangue, of which we have given the reader a sufficient taste already. Nothing indeed could have happened so very inopportune as this accident; the most wanton malice of fortune could not have contrived such another stratagem to confound the poor fellow, while he was so triumphantly descant. ing on the good morals inculcated by his exhibi tions. His mouth was now as effectually stopped, as that of a quack must be, if, in the midst of a declamation on the great virtues of his pills and powders, the corpse of one of his martyrs should be brought forth, and deposited before the stage, as a testimony of his skill.
Instead, therefore, of answering my landlady, the puppet-show man ran out to punish his Merry-An. drew; and now the moon beginning to put forth her silver light, as the poets call it (though she looked at that time more like a piece of copper), Jones called for his reckoning, and ordered Partridge, whom my landlady had just awaked from a profound nap, to prepare for his journey; but Par tridge, having lately carried two points, as my reader hath seen before, was emboldened to attempt a third, which was to prevail with Jones to take up a lodging that evening in the house where he then
He introduced this with an affected surprise at the intention which Mr. Jones declared of re moving; and, after urging many excellent arguments against it, he at last insisted strongly, that it could be to no manner of purpose whatever; for that unless Jones knew which way the lady was gone, every step he took might very possibly lead him the farther from her; for you find, sir,' said he, by all the people in the house, that she is not gone this way. How much better, therefore, would it be to stay till the morning, when we may expect to meet with somebody to inquire of?"
This last argument had indeed some effect on Jones; and while he was weighing it, the landlord threw all the rhetoric of which he was master, into the same scale. Sure, sir,' said he,' your servant gives you most excellent advice; for who would travel by night at this time of the year?" He then began in the usual style to trumpet forth the excellent accommodations which his house afforded; and my landlady likewise opened on the occasion.But not to detain the reader with what is common to every host and hostess, it is sufficient to tell him, Jones was at last prevailed on to stay and refresh himself with a few hours' rest, which indeed he very much wanted; for he had hardly shut his eyes since he had left the inn where the accident of the broken head had happened.
As soon as Jones had taken a resolution to proceed no farther that night, he presently retired to rest, with his two bed-fellows, the pocket-book and the muff; but Partridge, who at several times had refreshed himself with several naps, was more inclined to eating than to sleeping, and more to drinking than to either.
And now the storm which Grace had raised being at an end, and my landlady being again reconciled to the puppet man, who on his side forgave the indecent reflections which the good woman in her pas sion had cast on his performances, a face of perfect peace and tranquillity reigned in the kitchen; where sat assembled round the fire, the landlord and landlady of the house, the master of the puppet show, the attorney's clerk, the exciseman, and the ingenious Mr. Partridge; in which company passed the agreeable conversation which will be found in the next chapter.
THOUGH the pride of Partridge did not submit to acknowledge himself a servant; yet he con. descended in most particulars to imitate the man. ners of that rank. One instance of this was his greatly magnifying the fortune of his companion, as he called Jones: such is the general custom with all servants among strangers, as none of them would be willingly thought the attendant on a beg. gar for the higher the situation of the master is, the higher consequently is that of the inan, in his own opinion; the truth of which observation appears from the behaviour of all the footmen of the nobility.
But though title and fortune communicate a splendor all around them, and the footmen of men of quality and of estate think themselves entitled to a part of that respect which is paid to the quality and estates of their masters, it is clearly otherwise with regard to virtue and understanding. These advantages are strictly personal, and swallow themselves all the respect which is paid to them. To say the truth, this is so very little, that they can. not well afford to let any others partake with them. As these, therefore, reflect no honour on the domestic, so neither is he at all dishonoured by the most deplorable want of both in his master. Indeed it is otherwise in the want of what is called virtue in a mistress, the consequence of which we have before seen; for in this dishonour there is a kind of contagion, which, like that of poverty, communicates itself to all who approach it.
Now for these reasons we are not to wonder that servants (I mean among the men only) should have so great regard for the reputation of the wealth of their masters, and little or none at all for their
character in other points, and that though they would be ashamed to be the footman of a beggar, they are not so to attend upon a rogue, or a blockhead; and do consequently make no scruple to spread the fame of the iniquities and follies of their said masters as far as possible, and this often with great humour and merriment. In reality, a footman is often a wit, as well as a beau, at the expense of the gentleman whose livery he wears.
After Partridge, therefore, had enlarged greatly on the vast fortune to which Mr. Jones was heir, he very freely communicated an apprehension which he had begun to conceive the day before, and for which, as we hinted at that very time, the behaviour. of Jones seemed to have furnished a sufficient foundation. In short, he was now pretty well confirmed in an opinion, that his master was out of his wits, with which opinion he very bluntly acquainted the good company round the fire.
With this sentiment the puppet-show man imme diately coincided. I own,' said he, the gentleman surprised me very much, when he talked so absurdly about puppet-shows. It is indeed hardly to be conceived that any man in his senses should be so much mistaken; what you say now, accounts very well for all his monstrous notions. Poor gen. tleman! I am heartily concerned about him; indeed he hath a strange wildness about his eyes, which I took notice of before, though I did not mention it.'
The landlord agreed with this last assertion, and likewise claimed the sagacity of having observed it.
And certainly,' added he, it must be so; for no one but a madman would have thought of leaving so good a house, to ramble about the country at that time of night.'
The exciseman, pulling his pipe from his mouth, said, He thought the gentleman looked aud talked a little wildly: and then turning to Partridge, If he be a madman,' says he, he should not be suf.