The two Friends eclipse all their Competitors in Gallantry, and practise a pleasant Project of Revenge upon the Physicians of the Place. Peregrine humbles a noted Hector, and meets with a strange Character at the House of a certain Lady. He cultivates an Acquaintance with the Misanthrope, who favours him with a short Sketch of his own History.
Peregrine arrives at the Garrison, where he receives the last Admonitions of Commodore Trunnion, who next Day resigns his Breath, and is buried according to his own Directions — Some Gentlemen in the Country make a fruitless Attempt to accommodate Matters betwixt Mr. Gamaliel Pickle and his eldest Son.
The young Gentleman, having settled his domestic Affairs, arrives in London, and sets up a gay Equipage — He meets with Emilia, and is introduced to her Uncle. He prevails upon Emilia to accompany him to a Masquerade, makes a treacherous Attempt upon her Affection, and meets with a deserved Repulse.
He endeavours to Reconcile himself to his Mistress, and Expostulates with the Uncle, who forbids him the House. He projects a violent Scheme, in consequence of which he is involved in a most fatiguing Adventure, which greatly tends towards the Augmentation of his Chagrin. Peregrine sends a Message to Mrs. Gauntlet, who rejects his Proposal — He repairs to the Garrison. He returns to London, and meets with Cadwallader, who entertains him with many curious Particulars — Crabtree sounds the Duchess, and undeceives Pickle, who, by an extraordinary Accident, becomes acquainted with another Lady of Quality.
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He persuades Cadwallader to assume the Character of a Magician, in which he acquires a great Share of Reputation, by his Responses to three Females of Distinction, who severally consult the Researches of his Art. Peregrine and his friend Cadwallader proceed in the Exercise of the Mystery of Fortune-telling, in the course of which they achieve various Adventures.
The Conjurer and his Associate execute a Plan of Vengeance against certain Infidels who pretend to despise their Art; and Peregrine achieves an Adventure with a young Nobleman. Peregrine is celebrated as a Wit and Patron, and proceeds to entertain himself at the Expense of whom it did concern. Peregrine receives a letter from Hatchway, in consequence of which he repairs to the Garrison, and performs the last Offices to his Aunt — He is visited by Mr. Gauntlet, who invites him to his Marriage. Peregrine sets out for the Garrison, and meets with a Nymph of the Road, whom he takes into Keeping, and metamorphoses into a fine Lady.
He is taken into the Protection of a great Man — Sets up for a Member of Parliament — Is disappointed in his Expectation, and finds himself egregiously outwitted. Gauntlet — And descends gradually in the Condition of Life. Cadwallader acts the part of a Comforter to his Friend; and in his turn is consoled by Peregrine, who begins to find himself a most egregious Dupe. He is indulged with a second Audience by the Minister, of whose Sincerity he is convinced — His Pride and Ambition revive, and again are mortified. Peregrine, finding himself neglected by Sir Steady Steerwell, expostulates with him in a Letter; in consequence of which he is forbid his House, loses his Pension, and incurs the charge of Lunacy.
He writes against the Minister, by whose Instigation he is arrested, and moves himself by habeas corpus into the Fleet. Pickle seems tolerably well reconciled to his Cage; and is by the Clergyman entertained with the Memoirs of a Noted Personage, whom he sees by accident in the Fleet. He is surprised with the Appearance of Hatchway and Pipes, who take up their Habitation in his Neighbourhood, contrary to his Inclination and express Desire.
These Associates commit an Assault upon Crabtree, for which they are banished from the Fleet — Peregrine begins to feel the effects of Confinement.
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Peregrine reconciles himself to the Lieutenant, and renews his Connection with Society — Divers Plans are projected in his behalf, and he has occasion to exhibit a remarkable Proof of Self-denial. He is engaged in a very extraordinary Correspondence, which is interrupted by a very unexpected Event. He performs the last Offices to his Father, and returns to London, upon a very interesting Design. He enjoys an interview with Emilia, and makes himself ample Amends for all the Mortifications of his Life. In a certain county of England, bounded on one side by the sea, and at the distance of one hundred miles from the metropolis, lived Gamaliel Pickle, esq.
He was the son of a merchant in London, who, like Rome, from small beginnings had raised himself to the highest honours of the city, and acquired a plentiful fortune, though, to his infinite regret, he died before it amounted to a plum, conjuring his son, as he respected the last injunction of a parent, to imitate his industry, and adhere to his maxims, until he should have made up the deficiency, which was a sum considerably less than fifteen thousand pounds.
He was often heard to express his fears of coming upon the parish; and to bless God, that, on account of his having been so long a housekeeper, he was entitled to that provision. In short, his talents were not naturally active, and there was a sort of inconsistency in his character; for, with all the desire of amassing which any citizen could possibly entertain, he was encumbered by a certain indolence and sluggishness that prevailed over every interested consideration, and even hindered him from profiting by that singleness of apprehension, and moderation of appetites, which have so frequently conduced to the acquisition of immense fortunes; qualities which he possessed in a very remarkable degree.
Nature, in all probability, had mixed little or nothing inflammable in his composition; or, whatever seeds of excess she might have sown within him, were effectually stifled and destroyed by the austerity of his education. The sallies of his youth, far from being inordinate or criminal, never exceeded the bounds of that decent jollity which an extraordinary pot, on extraordinary occasions, may be supposed to have produced in a club of sedate book-keepers, whose imaginations were neither very warm nor luxuriant.
Little subject to refined sensations, he was scarce ever disturbed with violent emotions of any kind. The passion of love never interrupted his tranquility; and if, as Mr. Creech says, after Horace,. Pickle was undoubtedly possessed of that invaluable secret; at least, he was never known to betray the faintest symptom of transport, except one evening at the club, where he observed, with some demonstrations of vivacity, that he had dined upon a delicate loin of veal. Notwithstanding this appearance of phlegm, he could not help feeling his disappointments in trade; and upon the failure of a certain underwriter, by which he lost five hundred pounds, declared his design of relinquishing business, and retiring to the country.
In this resolution he was comforted and encouraged by his only sister, Mrs. Grizzle, who had managed his family since the death of his father, and was now in the thirtieth year of her maidenhood, with a fortune of five thousand pounds, and a large stock of economy and devotion. These qualifications, one would think, might have been the means of abridging the term of her celibacy, as she never expressed any aversion to wedlock; but, it seems, she was too delicate in her choice, to find a mate to her inclination in the city: for I cannot suppose that she remained so long unsolicited; though the charms of her person were not altogether enchanting, nor her manner over and above agreeable.
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Exclusive of a very wan not to call it sallow complexion, which, perhaps, was the effects of her virginity and mortification, she had a cast in her eyes that was not at all engaging; and such an extent of mouth, as no art or affectation could contract into any proportionable dimension; then her piety was rather peevish than resigned, and did not in the least diminish a certain stateliness in her demeanour and conversation, that delighted in communicating the importance and honour of her family, which, by the bye, was not to be traced two generations back by all the power of heraldry or tradition.
She seemed to have renounced all the ideas she had acquired before her father served the office of sheriff; and the eye which regulated the dates of all her observation, was the mayoralty of her papa. Nay, so solicitous was this good lady for the support and propagation of the family name, that, suppressing every selfish motive, she actually prevailed upon her brother to combat with his own disposition, and even surmount it so far, as to declare a passion for the person whom he afterwards wedded, as we shall see in the sequel.
Indeed, she was the spur that instigated him in all his extraordinary undertakings; and I question, whether be would or not have been able to disengage himself from that course of life in which he had so long mechanically moved, unless he had been roused and actuated by her incessant exhortations. London, she observed, was a receptacle of iniquity, where an honest, unsuspecting man was every day in danger of falling a sacrifice to craft; where innocence was exposed to continual temptations, and virtue eternally persecuted by malice and slander; where everything was ruled by caprice and corruption, and merit utterly discouraged and despised.
This last imputation she pronounced with such emphasis and chagrin, as plainly denoted how far she considered herself as an example of what she advanced; and really the charge was justified by the constructions that were put upon her retreat by her female friends, who, far from imputing it to the laudable motives that induced her, insinuated, in sarcastic commendations, that she had good reason to be dissatisfied with a place where she had been so overlooked; and that it was certainly her wisest course to make her last effort in the country, where, in all probability, her talents would be less eclipsed, and her fortune more attractive.
Be this as it will, her admonitions, though they were powerful enough to convince, would have been insufficient to overcome the languor and vis inertiae of her brother, had she not reinforced her arguments, by calling in question the credit of two or three merchants, with whom he was embarked in trade. Alarmed at these hints of intelligence, be exerted himself effectually; he withdrew his money from trade, and laying it out in Bank-stock, and India-bonds, removed to a house in the country, which his father had built near the sea-side, for the convenience of carrying on a certain branch of traffic in which he had been deeply concerned.
Here then Mr. Pickle fixed his habitation for life, in the six-and-thirtieth year of his age; and though the pangs he felt at parting with his intimate companions, and quitting all his former connections, were not quite so keen as to produce any dangerous disorder in his constitution, he did not fail to be extremely disconcerted at his first entrance into a scene of life to which he was totally a stranger.
Not but that he met with abundance of people in the country, who, in consideration of his fortune, courted his acquaintance, and breathed nothing but friendship and hospitality; yet, even the trouble of receiving and returning these civilities was an intolerable fatigue to a man of his habits and disposition. He therefore left the care of the ceremonial to his sister, who indulged herself in all the pride of formality; while he himself, having made a discovery of a public-house in the neighbourhood, went thither every evening and enjoyed his pipe and can; being very well satisfied with the behaviour of the landlord, whose communicative temper was a great comfort to his own taciturnity; for he shunned all superfluity of speech, as much as he avoided any other unnecessary expense.
This loquacious publican soon gave him sketches of all the characters in the county; and, among others, described that of his next neighbour, Commodore Trunnion, which was altogether singular and odd. Lord help us!
Who will be villages’ ‘parson’?
Lord have mercy upon us! Then he does not live like any other Christian land-man; but keeps garrison in his house, as if he were in the midst of his enemies, and makes his servants turn out in the night, watch and watch as he calls it, all the year round. His habitation is defended by a ditch, over which he has laid a draw-bridge, and planted his court-yard with patereroes continually loaded with shot, under the direction of one Mr. Then he sweats with agony at the sight of an attorney, just, for all the world, as some people have an antipathy to a cat: for it seems he was once at law, for striking one of his officers, and cast in a swinging sum.
He is, moreover, exceedingly afflicted with goblins that disturb his rest, and keep such a racket in his house, that you would think God bless us! It was no longer ago than last year about this time, that he was tormented the livelong night by the mischievous spirits that got into his chamber, and played a thousand pranks about his hammock, for there is not one bed within his walls.
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Well, sir, he rang his bell, called up all his servants, got lights, and made a thorough search; but the devil a goblin was to be found. He had no sooner turned in again, and the rest of the family gone to sleep, than the foul fiends began their game anew. The commodore got up in the dark, drew his cutlass, and attacked them both so manfully, that in five minutes everything in the apartment went to pieces, The lieutenant, hearing the noise, came to his assistance.
Tom Pipes, being told what was the matter, lighted his match, and going down to the yard, fired all the patereroes as signals of distress. Ah, master!
These are hard times, when an industrious body cannot earn his bread without fear of the gallows. But, as I was saying, the hubbub continued till morning, when the parson being sent for, conjured the spirits into the Red Sea; and the house has been pretty quiet ever since. True it is, Mr.
Hatchway makes a mock of the whole affair; and told his commander, in this very blessed spot, that the two goblins were no other than a couple of jackdaws which had fallen down the chimney, and made a flapping with their wings up and down the apartment. He owned, indeed, that the birds were found, but denied that they were the occasion of the uproar. For my own part, master, I believe much may be said on both sides of the question; though to be sure, the devil is always going about, as the saying is.