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full in my face :-" but why do I say you don't say so," continued he, “ for as I told you before, Sir, I was myself years together, and never set foot in the fields; and this reminds me that I must come to my story at last. Well then, Sir, I went on living.in the way I spoke of, for five years, by which time I had become a confidential servant of the house. I then had a little more leisure. I was always fond of reading, and now I read more than ever. Ay, ay, Sir, you may smile; you have a right to it, and the truth must out. But I love reading as well as you; I think it's only bad, as they say, in the abuse. I was’nt scholar enough however to be spoilt by overmuch study; though, to be sure, I must say, that when I gave up going into the fields, I had better have spent half the time I did in my book, and gone out the other half. But I'll tell
how it was, Sir. I hadn't so much exercise to take as before, though enough to keep me in decent health; my evenings were my own more than they used to be; and what with all this, and some losses that I had, I took to going to a club, which the under clerks frequented, and which they were glad enough I should join, on account of my love of reading, which enabled me to talk better than most of them. To this club I used to go every night after my day's work, and there, what with talking, and debating, and eating hot coarse dishes, and drinking brandy and water, I went home with my head muddled; and that made me prefer lying in bed of a Sunday morning 10 walking abroad; and that made me a little sick and gloomy; and that made me drink more brandy and water; and that made me muddled again, and sick, and lazy, and so on; till at last between pain and pleasure, and liking and necessity, I got into such a regular habit of spending my days and evenings in this manner, that I never went out of the heat of London, Southwark, and Westminster, for four
years. I thought of the country sometimes, and wished I was as comfortable somehow as I used to be there, for my head used to feel thick and dim, as it were, and my eyes hot; but then I had a good deal of walking still, which took off the worst part of the queerness,
and there was a little bowling-green public-house, near the suburbs, which contrived to look like a little bit of a village house still; and there I went now and then; but you may think it odd,- I used to lose my temper there more than any where else; and this I didn't like, besides it's exciting me to drink more brandy and water; and so latterly I left off going, and stuck to my club in the city. At last, what was odder still, I took a sort of dislike to the thought of the country; and partly from this, and partly I believe from the vanity of being wondered at for it, made a practice of boasting that I never went to see it; and so between boasting and making a fool of myself, and going of messages, and muddling my head, I arrived at the fifth year of my death, as I call it.
“I was silly enough, Sir, at that period, to have a kind of feast in honor of my nonsense in having stopped so long among the noise and smoke. It was held at the club; and about a week after, the good-tempered clerk of whom I spoke to you, and who had laughed at me for it, and said I was a foolish fellow (which made me drink double the quantity
of brandy that evening) told me that there was an old gentleman, an acquaintance of bis, and not much wiser than myself, who wanted to speak with me.
It struck me at first I needn't go to see a person, of whom the clerk gave such a character; but then I didn't wish to offend that excellent man, though he made me ashamed of myself; and besides I was a little piqued, if I was not offendert, at hearing the gentleman called no wiser ihan myself, and wanted to think he was a very clever fellow in consequence. So I went to him; and what d’ye think he said to me? I found him with a nightcap on; and a basin of broth by his
-a little man, with a great puffed red face that looked as if it was full of blood; and I couldn't tell at first whether he was angry with me or pleased.
So," says he, “they tell me that you have not been out of the metropolis for five years ?”
Yes, Sir, it's very true.” “ Eh, -and that you make a joke of the country, and prefer the town?”
“Why, Sir, I joke sometimes about it at the club." “Eh,—and that you had a supper the other night in commemoration of the fifth year of your never having seen it?”
Why yes, Sir, I hope no offence ?” “Offence !--Curse the country, -it's pigs, it's sheep, it's hedges, it's ditches, it's people, it's every thing!”
“I was quite petrified, Sir, as you may suppose, at this burst of the old gentleman's, which ended in making his face look twice as full and fiery as before, and forced him to speak in a whisper. He then told me that he always despised the country with it's idle nonsense, and that he had lately got good reason to hate it,-which I found afterwarus was the marriage of his daughter with my young master, who had gone with her, to make the best of his little patrimony ;- -we shall see it in a minute, when we get to the green lane.-- But what do
think our conversation about the country ended with? Why, Sir, with his telling me he liked my spirit, and that he would give me twice my present income a year, so as to enable me to leave off going of messages, upon condition that I never saw the face of the country again."
" Done, Sir," said I, in the bragging of my heart. “Done,” said he; “and done sure enough it was,-the bargain and my comfort too.
“Sir, I liked my independence, as I thought it, mightily at first; some of the clerks, especially the wise one, shook their heads at me; the others said I was a fine fellow, and had made my fortune. I left off trampling about the streets. I only loitered about ihem, looked at the picture-shops, and over the book-stails, which lasted me a pretty good while. By degrees, I got quite a little library; and when I wasn't lounging about, I read, and I went to the two-shilling gallery sometimes at the theatres, and above all, went to the club, and cut more noisy jokes, and drank more brandy and water than ever.
“But, Sir, among my other leisures, I had leisure to think, and then
I thought of the country; and that was the devil. (Here's the green lane, Sir, you may see the newly-whitened house a peeping half way down, like a young lass in a corner:) At first I succeeded pretty well in driving the thought off; but in proportion as I stayed longer at the club, and took less exercise, and got of a sickly kind of stoniach, I found the thought stuck by me. The brandy and water only did it away the time. If I had taken to my messages again, I believe they night have helped me, but I was too lazy, and to tell you the truth, was ashamed. I thought, as the Irishman might say, it would be like laughing in my own face. So I crept on, and crept on, and got very miserable. I went to my old bowling-green; but that made me worse. I then bethought me of seeing the prospect from the Monument; for though it was part of my bargain never to see the face of the couniry again, I had a right, you know, Sir, to look upon that as what they call a figure of speech. So I went up; and I shall never forget! I made haste down again, for I thought I should have thrown myself from the top. But I couldn't sleep that night for thinking of the beautiful prospect, the water and distance on one side, and the green hills on the other: and next evening, as my stars would have it, I went to the theatre, and there what should I see but Love in a Village! Lord, lord ! How merry and how sad I was by turns! There was a dance in it ready to make me get up and dance over the gallery; and there was the old gouty Justice, and Master Hawthorn with his gun, and the pair of lovers in disguise, and gardens and 'arbours, and the old songs that I sung when a lad! I couldn't help humming in with some of them, in spite of the looks of people about me.
“ It was all over with me after this. I had already began to find myself a sort of a knave in this unnatural situation. My old pensioner had got his money, much like the rest of 'em, by charging, and squeezing, and doing no good that ever I heard of; and I began to think it might not be so very bad to cheat him a little in the business. Ah, what you shake your head ;-well, and so did I, and
shall hear. What made me less scrupulous was the news of his going out of town himself for the benefit of the air. It struck me, to be sure, that I was going to do a wrong thing; but then I thought he was very hard upon me too, and unjust, and might have given me the pension for what I had done already, instead of what I was to do ; and so as wrong produces wrong, and nothing, I find, makes one so careless as injustice in one's superiors, I made up my mind to take my pleasure, and suffer pain for it less intolerable than the one I felt.
“Well, Sir, I found afterwards that my old gentleman went no farther than Hornsey, a very pretty place too, where the New River runs, and
Ah, you know it:-well, now, Sir, it so happened, that he hadn't been there above a month, when he heard of a man, who was quite opposite to what he found me, and who came there sometimes of an afternoon to a pretty house and tea-gardens, and talked away at a great rate against the town.
“Oh, the rascal!” said he ;." I suppose he is some fellow running away from the bailiffs :- I should like to tell him of my fellow in the city."
Here I burst out into a fit of laughter, and my hero joined me very heartily, holding his sides, with the tears in his eyes, and whining between the fits at the top of his voice.
“Well, Sir," he resumed, “ the old gentleman -- the old gentleman - he told the waiter he should like to be shewn into the room where the fellow was making merry; and so, one Wednesday afternoon one Wednesday afternoon, when a whole set of us had got together, and were in the act of hurraing, in he comes, and there was I,-yes, Sir,—there was I, standing on the table, with a glass of cyder in my hand, just going to give the last hurra ; but I caught his eye, and he caught mine, and we stood gaping at each other.
“ You may guess the result, Sir. It wasn't much after the fashion of some stories I have read. I didn't convert him with my example, nor he me with his. I lost my pension, made up matters with my conscience, and should never have slept sounder than the night after, if I hadn't been too happy with thinking how I should go into the country. Heaven be praised, I was enabled to go very shortly; for my young master, hearing of my adventure, sent for me down here, and made me his gardener; and so I left off my brandy and water, and took to exercise again, as well as my book, and have a neighbour or so to visit me of an evening, or go to them, and tell merry tales with the young ones, and should be as healthy and happy as the day is long, if it wasn't for seeing so many people plagued with the taxes and such things. But if we must be plagued sometimes, it's a sort of happiness, in my mind, to be plagued in fresh air, instead of foul; and so, Sir, I have made a terrible long business of my story, and here you are at your antiquities.”
I thanked him very sincerely for his history, and invited myself with great willingness on his part, to a cup of his tea, in my way home. I did not remain long where he left me; for not having an antiquary's experience, I could find nothing of what I looked for, except the mark of a dyke; and having inspected that with much pretended satisfaction to myself, and felt some of the real emotion, which the thought of any thing old and lasting is sure to give us in this life, I reached my new old acquaintance just as he was entering his door, and took one of the pleasantest cups of tea I ever had in my life, with him and his neighbour Parkins, who was an old sailor, and had been half round the world. A day or two after, I sent my old anti-metropolitan, who pressed me to call that way again, if he might be so bold,
,-a few books of poetry and story, among which was Fairfax's Tasso, with the page marked down where Erminia gets among the country people.
Orders received by the Booksellers, by the Newsmen, and by the Publisher,
JOSEPH APPLEYARD, No. 19, Catherine-street, Strand.-Price 2d. Printed by C. H. REYNELL, No. 45, Broad-street, Golden-square, London.
There he arriving round about doth flie,
No. XVII.-WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 2nd, 1820.
THE OLD GENTLEMAN. Our Old Gentleman, in order to be exclusively himself, must be either a widower or a bachelor. Suppose the former. We do not mention his precise age, which would be invidious:- :-nor whether he wears his own hair or a wig; which would be wanting in universality. If a wig, it is a compromise between the more modern scratch and the departed glory of the toupee. If bis own hair, it is white, in spite of his favourite grandson, who used to get on the chair behind him, and pull the silver hairs out, ten years ago. If he is bald at top, the hair-dresser, hovering and breathing about him like a second youth, takes care to give the bald place as much powder as the covered; in order that he may convey to the sensorium within a pleasing indistinctness of idea respecting the exact limits of skin and hair. He is very clean and neat; and, in warm weather, is proud of opening his waistcoat half way down, and letting so much of his frill be seen, in order to shew his hardiness as well as taste. His watch and shirt-buttons are of the best; and he does not care if he has two rings on a finger. If his watch ever failed him at the club or coffee-house, he would take a walk every day to the nearest clock of good character, purely to keep it right. He has a cane at home, but seldom uses it, on finding it out of fashion with his elderly juniors. He has a small cocked hat for gala days, which he lifts higher from his head than the round one, when made a bow to. In his pockets are two handkerchiefs (one for the neck at night-time), his spectacles, and his pocketbook. The pocket-book, among other things, contains a receipt for a cough, and some verses cut out of an odd sheet of an old magazine, on the lovely Duchess of A., beginning
When beauteous Mira walks the plain. He intends this for a common-place book which he keeps, consisting of passages in verse and prose cut of newspapers and magazines, and pasted in columns; some of them rather gay. His principal other books are Shakspeare's Plays and Milton's Paradise Lost; the Spectator, the History