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and the beauty of it was, that Prince Rusty, and the Old Gentlewoman were now almost as anxious as John that Madam should be brought in, if that would only make peace in the house, so mortally afraid were they of Sister Peg, and Brummagem Tom.
Every Steel was on the alert, “ All hands aloft" was the cry, and “ Down with Hookey ;” and even Prince Rustyfusty himself seemed less hateful to them at this time than the old Drill. And ever and anon they would shout, “ Bill Boswain has sold Madam !-sold her ! and be. trayed John Bull !” and every five minutes a fresh scout of the Rusty faction would bounce into Bill's parlour, which no Steel would now look near, and where neither Tims nor Chronie would be admitted, when they begged to tell Bill the rights of the story.
« Mrs. Bull, the vixen,” cried one, “ is still insisting on keeping the keys.” “Well, Moses will lend us a couple of pieces for a few days, to carry on the war,” cried Hookey, nothing daunted yet ; “ I have thrown as much in his way before now." But Moses “ pegged the prave and callant Hookey would exquies de poor Cherman Chew, who was a stranger, and did not wish to meddle or make in 'Squire Pull's familish." Hookey, it is said, lent him a kick, made him bounce out at the window, where, in falling, he knocked down Old Bags, Mad Charley, and the Pettifogger, like as many nine pins set up for practice. But as a faithful and veracious historian, I must premise, that this part of my narrative is not authenticated, and that it is as like Hookey would have been sly enough to apply privately for funds to That Most Mighty and Potent, &c., &c., before trying a Jew money-lender. But to return.
“ What next, goose-face ?" cries the Old Corporal, as Silly Billy came in, blowing and puffing, Hookey's hands now as full of work as if there had been a grand cock-match next day ; besides having all the Wenches hanging on him. “ Peg,” cried Silly Billy, “ is coming striding up the North Wynd, * her petticoats kilted to the knee, laying about her with a rung,t her eyne like a wild-cat's, and Donald hard behind her, ettling at the Skien Dhu."
“Peg has been at her whisky bottle this morning," quoth the Raw Duckling ;# but had you seen the pair of black lucken brows Peg bent, when this was told her, ye might guess the reason Duckie was fair to sing dumb, and eat in these same words of wisdom.
“ Pat is whooping over the bog like a mad bull, flourishing nis shille. lah, and swearing by the Poker to be the death of the Old Gentlewoman, and to break every bone in Hookey's body,” said Derrydown Georgy, or Paddy Roddy, or some one or other of those spalpeens that had provoked Pat to this.
“ What next, Gents.?” cried Hookey sulkily; and between hands he and the wenches were sending off gossoons and caddies to every quarter -to Sly Bob, to Chanticleer, to the Chuff, &c. &c. “ What next, your honour ? If this is not enough, there's Brummagem Tcm, beating up, on his iron griddle, and all the hive gathering at his tail, brandishing Sheffield whittles, and swearing to make mince_meat of you." “ The Devil they do," quoth Hookey, pretending still to be nothing daunted. “ Peg and Tom are swearing a Solemn League and Covenant against you.” Peg's heart jumped to her mouth when she heard of this Covenant.
• See Horne Tooke.
+ See Jamieson.
“ And what then?” cried Hookey the brave. “ Bad enough in all conscience. The Dominie has been down in the country with Brown Bess,* and has all her ear. The Bailiff of the Yorkshire Farm has written to Bill that he suspects the sneaking knave has all her ear; and he would not wonder if they pretend a Scotch marriage. Any way she's damnably sulky, and mutters she'll be blown before she take your part, or move hand or tongue against the 'Squire, whose bread she eats, and to whom her mother was very nearly related."
“ Brown Bess jilt me !" shouted Hookey in despair ; and he clapped his hands to his ears, and strode across the room, all the wenches and getts screaming about him, or sprawling on the floor in the exies, in the most extraordinary attitudes, and Bill's wife all of a twitter, wishing herself, for the time, in her father's poor cabin in the Oak Forest; and the Old Gentlewoman in a dead swoon, with neither Bags, Topplestone, nor Toby to hold lier head. Poor Bill himself was a droll figure enough; still unable to stir one way or other for want of his breeches, and afraid the 'Squire might find out his doleful plight, and laugh at him.
An agreeable family party it was that John's view-halloo rather dis. turbed at this time, though still heard at a distance; but as on it came, there was rare confusion. “Every man for himself, and the Devil for us all,” was the word. "What's here to do?" quoth Bill. “Hark!” Few now a-days better knew the roaring of the Steels, or John's angry bellow, than the old Drill, who pricked up his ears. “ John-blatant Beast !” quoth he; but say the word, Bill, and please the pigs, I'll run a ring in his nose ;” and all the Getts, and the cheesemonger, and his wife, and Lumbercourt, and Swashbuckler, Some-Ilowe-or-No-Howe, and every varlet, seed and breed of them, set upon poor unhappy Bill, tweaging and pinching, and pulling at him ; scolding and coaxing, and slobbering all of a breath. “ You don't care for me a brass farden, so you don't," cried the foremost wench, “ if you refuse me such a trifle as ringing up that mad brute who has thrown me into such a quandary; and when you know I have set my heart on having that priggish Gaffer, and his Broom, turned out of doors ; and the brave Hookey, the favourite of My Most Mighty and Potent Cousin-German get the place : you mind John Bull, and his vulgar wife, and low-lived family, more than me or mine, so you do ;" and here there was a blubbering chorus among them all.
« Take it all your own way, good folks,” cried poor Bill, who liked to eat his junk and sip his grog in quiet. “ You'll drive me across the herring-pond ere you stop ; that's as sure as a gun. But be done of it any way, and let's know what's for dinner.”-“ Deuce a fear of you, my oid boy !" cried the young Monster ; « Trust all to Hookey and 1.-Look ve! John is sheering off already—cowed as soon as Hookey popped the bridge of his heroic nose out of the stair window.” Bill sighed; but the fact was, John was really retiring; and why? Madam's friends, and Tom and Tims were again at his elbow, begging hïm to keep quiet if he ever hoped for good at Madam's hands, All Hookey wanted was a row, ani to clap Juhn in the bilboes, and throw his affairs into Chancery as a lumatic not fit to take care of himself. It was owned to be a miracle of nature to see how the 'Squire, though in his worst paroxysms, would
* The Greys, at Birmingham, and the representation made by Earl Harewood, jad prodigious effect in the crisis.
become at a word as gentle as a lamb, and promise to go home to bed till Madam bade him get up.
“ I'm obliged to Madam for this lull, any way;" said Bill Boswain, when they drew off. “ John swears I promised to bring her in too ; I'll be hanged if I mind rightly aught about it-I had just got the office, then, and was all a-buzz at the time."--"I'll make it all plain about your promises,” cried Pettifoger. “You promised to make clear way for the plaguy jade as far as the door of the second pair; and a most rash and inconsiderate promise that was, for give her an inch and she'll take an ell; but you never promised to break open the door for the baggage, if Prince Rustyfusty refused her admittance."--" Right, Foggy, bam me if I did ! or if I will !- Do you hear that my dear? Hark ye, Atty, a word;" and Bill led Hookey aside, the wenches now in high glee, fancying all was right at last.
“ I hope my wife don't hear us-she, poor dear, don't know John's ways yet,-she don't understand his lingo, or bad trim, and fancies I may manage Master John with as high a hand as the landlord of the Black Bear does his 'Squire's affairs. My wife says you can lend us a lift, my fine fellow; but if you can please my wife, Madam Reform, John's Mother, and the 'Squire himself, all at once, l'll call you a deuced clever one, for its more than ever I could do. But I fear me ye'll need to smuggle in, Madam, after all ; only take off a few of the fal-lals Gaffer has tricked her out with, and so please Rusty." Hookey laid his finger to his long nose,moors I'm steward, then?” said he ;-and Bill gives him his hand on it. “ You are ; and Lord let's have something good for supper, and make a jolly night of it for once. That cursed Bubble and Squeuk makes me hate the very name of Gaffer worse than the devil's dam. It's deuced bad eating, I can tell you, for elderly gentlemen. Hark ye wenches ! Hookey is our man-avast the Gaff there! Hookey's our mizen ! split me! ha! ha!"-And Hookey kissed all the wenches round, and promised them rare junketings—a hop at Shrove-tide,* and new cherry-coloured top-knots a-piece, now that he was again steward; and how they did chatter and laugh like so many monkies and magpies!
But there was still much to be done. « Boot and saddle !” cried the old trooper; and as his white donkey was already tied to Bill's latch, down the backstairs he rattles, promising Bill's wife to take bread and cheese and give them the news at bed-time, and the wench named Soldier's Joy, throws her old shoe after him for luck, on which Bill laughed like mad, now in great spirits, and certain John must be pleased with him at last. But, I trow, Hookey, who, when his passion allowed, had the cunning of the Old One, told none of these jill-flirts of his intention to bring in Madam himself, if better must not be. Give them top-knots and junketings enough, and hoist out Gaffer, whom they hated as much as if he had robbed them of their ruffling gallants; give them all their fairings and fine things, and they cared little about the 'Squire's matters.
Away Hookey canters, whistling “ The Rogue's March," fancying the day his own and Gaffer at the dogs; so puffed up was he, poor man, and so little knew he of the real trim and temper of the 'Squire. And first he drops in at the Hole-in-the-Wall, calls for a half-pot, and has a hit at all-fours, or some such thing; for Hookey liked to rattle the
bones, and, it was said, turned the penny handsomely by it among the greenhorn helpers; then he off for Pettifogger's, thinking to meet Sly Bob there; but never a Bob nor Bob to be heard of. So down at a round trot to the Mitre ;-speaking of which reminds me of the Old Gen. tlewoman whom we left in a deep swoon. She was still known to haunt hereabouts, but had laid aside her ancient pinners and coif, and black silk apron, lest she should be known on the streets.* She was always mighty busy, too, trying to convert John's wife; but had latterly given that up as hopeless, and now confined her labours to Bill's back-stairs and Rusty's pantry. It was said she had fallen into a course of strong waters, and was often seen maudlin, maundering about of an evening, pretending all the while she feared to stir abroad, lest she should meet her son John in his cups, in his present rantipole humour. Some said she was fairly off the hooks, others that she was still shamming Abraham to make the neighbours pity her. The last they heard of her, for certain, was wringing her hands and tearing her cap, when the hopeful project failed of making Greysteel say the Pater-Noster backwards ; crying, “ her life was not safe with the vagabond Steels, who pelted her with mud as often as she went to chapel, for her alleged connivance with Rustyfusty. “What cared she for Rustyfusty! little good had he done her ; she minded her own household. But she had scorned to see her son, a raw ninny or jealous prig, taking offence at the harmless platonic affections of her old friend Rusty for her son's wife. She dared to swear that illustrious Prince would never set a toe within the 'Squire's doors save from respect to herself, and regard to the interest of the family.” “ Platonic me, no platonics,” cried John, swelling as red as a turkey cock, and swirling his stout cudgel lustily round his head, to the hypocritical Old Gentlewoman s deadly terror; for though waspish and venomous enough, she was a cowardly sort of body at heart. «Gadzookers, if I catch him caterwauling in my house again with his damned platonics, by jingo I'll baste them out of his shrivelled parchment hide :--and you may tell him so from me! Shame upon you, Old Woman! Is this all comes of your godly books, and your homilies, to connive at corruption, bribery, false swearing, revelling, and all manner of debauchery in your son's family? But, as my Sister Peg says"- " Your Sister Peg ! blasphemous wretch, and what does—what dare that verjuice-faced, starveling jade say of me?” “She says," quoth John, Chronie jogging his elbow, “that no one can know what to make of you, unless he take the BoneGrubber's clew, who has long said-and I partly begin to believe it—that provided your dearly beloved jointure be well paid, and your paunches stuffed with sucking pigs and turkey poults, your son's house may be a parish work-house, or common stew for you ; Prince Rusty revelling in one end, and my poor tenants starving in t'other." Here the Old Lady bawled, like a Bedlamite, “ Burn him! burn him !" and fell into a fit; which it was her fancy to call the falling-sickness as long as the bystanders denied it. But let any skilful doctor but hint that too much blood and flesh, too high living and fulness of bread had corrupted her humours, and that it might be proper to take a hoop out of her wine measure, as she certainly had some symptoms of plethora, apoplexy, or the staggers, then she would cuff, and scratch, and bawl at him for an
* In the Memorabilia of Anno Domini 1832, may be entered : In this year the Bishops left off their wigs and silk aprons.
impudent quack, who wished to starve or poison her. Of all the old women ever heard of since this world began, she was surely one of the greediest, and the most idle and dawdling.
John, who knew her tricks well by this time, let her servants put her to bed. She is a-bed yet, it is said, but now sends Hookey private messages by Toby Philpot; and I warrant me, if John need another wife, we shall all soon hear of the Old Gentlewoman crossing his wooing. Give her her will, and it would be long enough before he had ever been marriageable ;—but catch her letting him choose for himself.*
We took leave of Hookey pressing on for the Mitre, a squadron of Steels roaring at his heels, and Donkey kicking and flinging like a Beelzebub, as both flew like smoke before drifting showers of kennel mui".“ It was sin, shame, and disgrace,” Rusty's varlets said, “ to baste the brave Hookey with such sauce, especially on Shrove-tide, considering how he had so often fought John's cocks.” “All in the wrong box, Most Mighty and Potent,” cried one of Pat's children. “ It a’n't for fighting John's cocks we baste him ; for that John has given him ten times their weight of gold. We baste him quite on a clean other score ; for his late beastly usage of the 'Squire, for the hanging, and pistolling, and starving, and the cold iron, rather worse than a handful of mud any day, with which Hookey, with his confounded insolence, has threatened the 'Squire more than once, and will try to apply too, if Bob's heart does not fail. Your hero, Hookey, is a very great man to be sure, but our 'Squire is something of a great man also ; and moreover, has a large family. Be a little reasonable now, Most Potent Rusty's sensible varlet : bullets and the steel diet are less digestible than a few handfuls of soft mud.”+
“When the dirt is dry it will rub out,” quoth Peg, drily, when she heard of the ullaballoo that was got up in Bill's house at a “ pickle clarts,” as she said, “thrown at their Pagan idol. If they had pebbled him wi' stones, or made a Jock Porteous o' him, mair could not have been said about it. Tims' lad had clapped the saddle on the right horse. It was not for fighting cocks. That was well enough in its way,—and, by her certes ! weel paid too; but for wanting to make a muzzled ox, or a belaboured ass, or a trussed moorcock, of him he pretended the cocks were foughten for ; though for her part she had long jaloused that game had been Prince Rusty's, and none other's, from first to last. A proper saying, to kick Nap out of the saddle to be ridden by this Hookey !”
But turn we to the tap-room of the Mitre, which Hookey had not yet entered. There sat all the Dons in full fig, in their budge redingotes and best buzz wigs :-all of the Most Potent's blood relations, down to the hundredth cousin, and all who had, or expected to have, their names in the entail; and I am concerned to say, all at loggerheads, agreeing in no one thing save kicking the shins of the Yankey Rat, who looked as if he had been dragged through fifty kennels, and half worried by dog Billy, before that famous terrier lost himself.
“ You, with your clever scheme, and be cursed to you !” cried one ; “ You have played Gaffer's game to some purpose_are you in his pay?" and the orator painted the condition of the 'Squire's family. “Nor is this all :-Sly Bob fights shy—Bill Boswain may back again ; and, as I
• The interference of the clergy with elections, is no news.
+ Substance of an article in the Times, on the mob-attacks on the Duke, on Waterloo day,