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nothing else in it but an insolent transport, arising only from the distinction of fortune.
It is therefore high time that I call in such coaches as are in their embellishments improper for the character of their owners. But if I find that I am not obeyed herein, and that I cannot pull down those equipages already erected, I shall take upon me to prevent the growth of this evil for the future, by inquiring into the pretentions of the persons who shall hereafter attempt to make publick enteries with ornaments and decorations of their own appointment. If a man, who believed he had the handfomest leg in this kingdom, should take a fancy to adorn fo deserving a limb with a blue garter, he would justly be punished for offending against the most noble order ; and, I think, the general prostitution of equipage and retinue is as destructive to all distinction, as the impertinence of one man, if permitted, would certainly be to that illustrious fraternity.
MR. BICKERSTAFF RECEIVES A DEPUTATION FROM THE
COUNTRY-A CASE OF PRECEDENCE.
aHEN I came home last night, my servant delivered me the following letter :
« October, 24. “I have orders from Sir Harry Quickset of Staffordshire, Bart., to acquaint you, that his honour Sir Harry himself, Sir Giles Wheelbarrow, Kt, Thomas Rentfree, Esq., justice of the quorum, Andrew Windmill, Esq., and Mr. Nicholas Doubt, of the Inner Temple, Sir Harry's grandfon, will wait upon you at the hour of nine, to-morrow morning, being Tuesday, the 25th of October, upon business which Sir Harry will impart to you by word of mouth. I thought it proper to acquaint you before hand, so many persons of quality came, that you might not be surprised therewith. Which concludes, though by many years absence since I saw you at Stafford, unknown,
“ Your most humble Servant,
I received this message with less surprise than I believe Mr. Thrifty imagined, for I knew the good company too well to feel any palpitations at their approach ; but I was in a very great concern how I should adjust the ceremonial, and demean
myself to all these great men, who perhaps had not seen anything above themselves for these twenty years last past
. sure that's the case of Sir Harry. Besides which, I was sensible that there was a great point in adjusting my behaviour to the simple 'squire, so as to give him fatisfaction, and not disoblige the justice of the quorum,
The hour of nine was come this morning, and I had no sooner fet chairs (by the steward's letter) and fixed my tea-equipage, but I heard a knock at my door, which was opened but no one entered; after which followed a long silence, which was broke at last, by “ Sir, I beg your pardon, I think I know better ;” and another voice, “Nay, good Sir Giles- .." I looked out from my window, and saw the good company all with their hats off and arms spread, offering the door to each other. After many offers, they entered with much folemnity, in the order Mr. Thrifty was so kind as to name them to me. But they are now got to my
chamber-door, and I saw my old friend Sir Harry enter. I met him with all the respect due to so reverend a vegetable, for you are to know that is my sense of a person who remains idle in the same place för half a century.
got him with great success into his chair by the fire, without throwing down any of my cups. The knight-batchelor told me he had a great respect for my whole family, and would, with my leave, place himself next to Sir Harry, at whose right hand he had fat at every quarter sessions this thirty years, unless he was sick. The steward in the rear whispered the young templar, that's true to my knowledge. I had the misfortune, as they stood cheek by jole, to desire the 'squire to sit down before the justice of the quorum, to the no small satisfaction of the former and resentment of the latter : but I saw my error too late, and got them as soon as I could into their seats. “Well,” said I, “gentlemen, after I have told you how glad I am of this great honour, I am to desire you to drink a dish of tea. They answered one and all, “That they never drank tea in a morning.” "Not in a morning!” said I, staring round me. Upon which the pert jackanapes, Nicholas Doubt, tipped me the wink, and put out his tongue at his grandfather. Here followed a profound filence, when the steward in his boots and whip proposed, “That we should adjourn to some public house, where everybody might call for what they pleased, and enter upon the business. We all stood up in an instant, and Sir Harry filed off from the left, very discreetly, countermarching behind the chairs towards the door ; after him, Sir Giles in the same manner. The simple 'fquire made a sudden start to follow, but the justice of the quorum whipped between upon the stand of the stairs. A maid going up with coals made us halt, and put us into such confusion that we stood all in a heap, without any visible possibility of recovering our order, for the young jackanapes seemed to make a jest of this matter, and had so contrived by pressing amongst us, under pretence of making way, that his grandfather was got into the middle, and he knew nobody was of quality to stir a step till Sir Harry moved first.
We were fixed in this perplexity for some time, till we heard a very loud noise in the street, and Sir Harry asking what it was, I, to make them move, said it was fire. Upon this, all ran down as fast as they could, without order or ceremony till we got into the street, where we drew up in a very good order and filed off down Sheer Lane, the impertinent templar driving us before him as in a string, and pointing to his acquaintance who passed by.
I must confess I love to use people according to their own sense of good breeding, and therefore whipped in between the justice and the 'squire. He could not properly take this ill ; but I overheard him whisper the steward, « That he thought it hard, that a common conjurer should take place of him, though an elder 'squire.” In this order we march down Sheer Lane, at the upper end of which I lodge. When we came to Temple Bar, Sir Harry and Sir Giles got over, but a run of the coaches kept the rest of us on this side of the street; however, we all at last landed, and drew up in order before Ben Tooke's shop, who favoured our rallying with great humanity; from whence we proceeded again, till we came to Dick's coffee-house, where I designed to carry them. Here we were at our old difficulty, and took up the street upon the same ceremony. We proceeded through the entry, and were fo
necessarily kept in order by the situation, that we were now got into the coffee-house itself, where, as soon as we arrived, we repeated our civilities to each other, after which, we marched up to the high table, which has an ascent to it inclosed in the middle of the room. The whole house was alarmed at this entry, made up of persons of so much state and rusticity. Sir Harry called for a mug of ale and Dyer's Letter. The boy brought the ale in an instant, but said they did not take in the Letter “No,” says Sir Harry, “Then take back your mug; we are like indeed to have good liquor at this house." Here the templar tipped me a second wink, and if I had not looked very grave upon him, I found he was disposed to be very familiar
In short, I observed after a long pause, that the gentlemen did not care to enter upon business till after their morning draught, for which reason I called for a bottle of mum, and finding that had no effect upon them, I ordered a second and a third, after which Sir Harry reached over to me, and told me in a low voice, “ That the place was too public for business, but he would call upon me again to-morrow morning at my own lodgings, and bring some more friends with him