« ПретходнаНастави »
however, that I should be indicted for a vagabond once more, so did not much care to go down into the country, but kept about the town, and did little jobs when I could get them.
'I was very happy in this manner for some time, till one evening, coming home from work, two men knocked me down, and then desired me to stand. They belonged to a press-gang : I was carried before the justice, and, as I could give no account of myself, I had my choice left, whether to go on board a man of war, or list for a soldier I chose the latter; and, in this post of a gentleman, I served two campaigns in Flanders, was at the battles of Val and Fontenoy, and received but one wound, through the breast here ; but the doctor of our regiment soon made me well again.
• When the peace came on I was discharged, and, as I could not work, because my wound was sometimes troublesome, I listed for a landsman in the East-India company's service. I here fought the French in six pitched battles; and I verily believe, that, if I could read or write, our captain would bave made me a corporal. But it was not my good fortnne to have any promotion, for I soon fell sick, and so got leave to return home again, with forty pounds in my pocket. This was at the beginning of the present war, and I hoped to be set on shore, and to have the pleasure of spending my money ;, but the government wanted men, and so I was pressed for a sailor before ever I could set foot on shore.
'The boatswain found me, as he said, an obstinate fellow: he swore he knew that I understood my business well, but that I shammed Abraham, merely to be idle; but, God knows, I knew nothing of seabusiness, and he beat me without considering what
he was about. I had still, however, my forty pounds, and that was some comfort to me under every beating; and the money I might have had to this day, but that our ship was taken by, the French, and so I lost all.
• Our crew was carried into Brest, and many of them died, because they were not used to live in a jail; but, for my part; it was nothing to me, for I was seasoned. One night, as I was sleeping on the bed of boards, with a warm blanket about me, for I always loved to lie well, I was awakened by the boatswain, who had a dark lantern in his hand. Jack, says he to me, will you knock out the French sentries' brains. I don't care, says I, striving to keep myself awake, if I lend a hand. Then follow me, says he, and I hope we shall do business. So up I got, and tied my blanket, which was all the clothes I had, about my middle, and went with him to fight the l'reachmen: I hate the French because they are all slaves, and wear wooden shoes.
Though we had no arms, ove Englishman is able to beat five French at any time; so we went down to the door, were both the sentries were posted, and, rushing upon them, seized their arms in a moment, and knocked them down. From thence, nine of us ran together to the quay, and, seizing the first boat we met, got out of the harbour, and put to sea. We had not been here three days before we were taken up by the Dorset privateer, who were glad of 80 many good hands; and we consented to run our chance. However, we had not so much good luck, as we expected. In three days we fell in with the Pompadour privateer, of forty guns, while we had but twenty-three; so to it we went, yard-arm and yard-arm. The fight lasted for three hours, and I verily believe we should have taken the Frencbman,
had we but had some more men left behind; but unfortunately we lost all our men just as we were going to get the victory.
'I was once more in the power of the French, and I believe it would have gone hard with me had I been brought back to Brest : but, by good for. tüne, we were retaken by the Viper. I had almost forgot to tell you, that, in that engagement, I was wounded in two places; I lost four fingers of the left hand, and my leg was shot off. If I had had the good fortune to have lost my leg and use of my hand on board a king's ship, and not aboard a pri. vateer, I should have been entitled to clothing and maintenance during the rest of my life ; but that was not my chance; one man is born with a silver · spooon in his mouth, and another with a wooden ladle. However, blessed be God! I enjoy good health, and will for ever love liberty and Old Eng. land. Liberty, property, and Old England, for ever, huzza!
Thus saying, he limped off, leaving me in admi. ration at his intrepidity and content; nor could I avoid acknowledging, that an habitual acquaintance with misery serves better than philosophy to teach us to despise it.
ON THE FRAILTY OF MAN:
Supposed to be Written by the Ordinary of
AN is a most frail being, incapable of directing
his steps, unacquainted with what is to happen in this life; and perhaps no man is a more manifest
instance of the truth of this maxim than Mr. The. Cibber, just now gone out of the world. Such a variety of turns of fortune, yet such a persevering uniformity of conduct, appears in all that happened in his short span, that the whole may be looked upon as one regular confusion; every action of his life was matter of wonder and surprise, and his death was an astonishment.
This gentleman was born of creditable parents, who gave him a very good education, and a great deal of good learning, so that be could read and write before he was sixtern. However, he early discovered an inclination to follow lewd courses: he refused to take the advice of his parents, and pursued the bent of his inclination; he played at cards on the Sundays, called himself a gentleman, fell out with his mother and laundress; and, even in these early days, his father was frequently heard to observe, that young The.-would be banged.
As he advanced in years, he grew more fond of pleasure ; would eat an ortolan for dinner, though he begged the gainea that bought it; and was once known to give three pounds for a plate of green peas, whicis he had collected over-night as charity for a friend in distress: he ran into debt with every body that would trust him, and none could build a sconce better than be: so that, at last, bis creditors swore with one accord that The.-would be hanged.
But, as getting into debt by a man who had no visible means but impudence for subsistence, is a thing that every reader is not acquainted with, I must explain this point a little, and that to his satisfaction.
There are three ways of getting into debt : first, by pushing a face; as thus, ' You, Mr. Lastring, send me home six yards of that paduasoy, damme;
-but, hark'ye, don't think I ever intend to pay you for it-damme. At this the mercer laughs heartily, cuts off the paduasoy, aud sends it home; nor is he, till too late, surprised to find the gentleman bad said nothing but truth, and kept his word.
The second method ot running into debt is called fineering; which is getting goods made up in such a fashion as to be unfit for every other purchaser : and, if the tradesman refuses to give them upun credit, then threaten to leave them upon his hands.
But the third and best method is called, ' Being the good customer.' The gentleman tirst buys some trifle, and pays for it in ready money; he comes a few days after with nothing about him but bank bills, and buys, we will suppose, a sixpenny tweezer. case; the bills are too great to be changed, so he promises to return punctually the day after, and pay for what he has bougbt. In this promise he is punctual; and this is repeated for eight or ten times, till his face is well known, and he has got, at last, the character of a good customer. By this means he gets credit for something considerable, and then never pays for it.
In all this the young man, who is the unhappy subject of our present reflections, was very expert; and could face, fineer, and bring custom to a shop, with any man in England: none of his companions could exceed him in this; and his very companions at last said, that The.--would be hanged.
As he grew old, he grew never the better; he loved ortolans and green peas, as before; he drank gravy-soup when he could get it, and always thought his oysters tasted best when he got them for nothing, or, which was just the same, when he bought they upon tick; thus the old man kept up the vice the youth, and what he wanted in power hey