George Atherton Aitken.

The life and works of John Arbuthnot, M.D., fellow of the Royal College of Physicians online

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Online LibraryGeorge Atherton AitkenThe life and works of John Arbuthnot, M.D., fellow of the Royal College of Physicians → online text (page 18 of 47)
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With incredible pains have I endeavoured to copy the several
beauties of the ancient and modern historians ^ ; the impartial
temper of Herodotus ; the gravity, avisterity, and strict morals
of Thucydides, the extensive knowledge of Xenophon, the
sublimity and grandeur of Titus Livius ; and, to avoid the
careless style of Polybius, I have borrowed considerable orna-
ments from Dionysius Halicarnasseus and Diodoitis Siculus.
The specious gilding of Tacitus I have endeavoured to shun.

' Ox'iginally printed in the last deal in this book.
of the pamphlets which form the ' A cant word of Sir Humphry's.

History of John Bull. * Another cant word, signifying

^ A member of parliament, emi- deceived,
nent for a certain cant in his con- ^ A parody on Boyer's pi'cface t«

versation ; of which there is a good his History of Queen Anne.



Maiiana, Davila, and Fra. Paulo, are those amongst the
moderns whom I thought most worthy of imitation ; but I
cannot be so disingenuous, as not to own the infinite obliga-
tions I have to the Pilgrim's Progress of John Bunyan, and the
Tenter Belly of the Reverend Joseph Hall.

From such encouragement and helps, it is easy to guess to
what a degree of perfection I might have brought this great
work, had it not been nipt in the bud by some illiterate people
in both Houses of Parliament, who, envying the great figure
I was to make in future ages, under pretence of raising money
for the war, have padlocked ' all those very pens that were to
celebrate the actions of their heroes, by silencing at once the
whole university of Giiib Street. I am persuaded that nothing
but the prospect of an approaching peace ■ could have encouraged
them to make so bold a step. But suffer me, in the name of
the rest of the matriculates of that famous university, to ask
them some plain questions : Do they think that peace will bring
along with it the golden age? Will there be never a dying
speech of a traitor ? Are Cethegus and Catiline turned so tame,
that there will be no opportunity to ciy about the streets,
' A dangerous plot ? ' Will peace l)ring such plenty, that no
gentleman will have occasion to go upon the highway, or break
into a house ? I am sorry that the world should be so much
imposed upon by the dreams of a false prophet as to imagine
the Millennium is at hand. Grub Street ! thou fruitful niu'seiy
of towering geniuses ! How do I lament thy doA\Tifall ! Thy
ruin could never be meditated by any who meant well to
English liberty : no modern Lyceum will ever equal thy gloiy ;
whether in soft pastorals thou didst sing the flames of pam-
pered apprentices and coy cook-maids ; or mournful ditties of
departing lovers ; or if to Mfeonian strains thou raisedst thy
Aoice, to record the stratagems, the arduous exploits, and the
nocturnal scalade of needy heroes, the terror of our peaceful
citizens, describing the powerful Betty or the artful Picklock,
or the secret caverns and grottoes of Vulcan sweating at his
forge, and stamping the Queen's image on viler metals, which
he retails for beef, and jjots of ale ; or, if thou wert content
in simple narrative to relate the cruel acts of implacable
revenge, or the complaints of ravished virgins blushing to tell

* Act restraining the liberty of in 1712.
the press, &c., which was passed ^ The peace of Utrecht, 1713.


their adventures before the listening crowd of city damsels ;
whilst in thy faithful history thou interminglest the gravest
counsels and the purest morals. Nor less acute and piercing
wert thou in thy search and pompous description of the works
of nature ; whether in proj^er and emphatic terms thou didst
paint the blazing comet's fiery tail, the stupendous force of
dreadful thunder and earthquakes, and the unrelenting in-
undations. Sometimes, with Machiavelian sagacity, thou un-
ravelledst intrigues of state, and the traitorous conspiracies
of rebels, giving wise counsel to monarchs. How didst thou
move our terror and our pity with thy passionate scenes be-
tween Jack Catch and the heroes of the Old Bailey ! How
didst thou describe their intrepid march up Holborn-hill ! Nor
didst thou shine less in thy theological capacity, when thou
gavest ghostly counsel to dying felons, and didst record the
guilty pangs of sabbath-breakers. How will the noble arts of
John Overton's ' painting and sculpture now languish ! where
rich invention, proper expression, correct design, di\TLne atti-
tudes and artful contrast, heightened with the beauties of clare-
obscure, embellished thy celebrated pieces, to the delight and
astonishment of the judicious multitude ! Adieu, persuasive
eloquence ! the quaint metaphor, the poignant irony, the proper
epithet, and the lively simile, are fled for ever ! Instead of
these, we shall have, I know not what !— The illiterate will tell
the rest with pleasure ^.

1 hope the reader will excuse this digression, due by way
of condolence to my worthy brethren of Ginib Street, for the ap-
proaching barbarity that is likely to overspread all its regions,
by this oppressive and exorbitant tax. It has been my good
fortune to receive my education there ; and, so long as I pre-
sei"ved some figure and rank amongst the learned of that
society, I scorned to take my degree either at Utrecht or
Leyden, though I was offered it gratis by the professors in
those universities ^.

^ The engraver of the cuts before stead— 'I know not what— Our

the Grub Street papers. enemies will tell the rest with

2 Vid. the preface to four sermons pleasure.' This preface was by order
by William Fleetwood, Bishop of of the House of Commons burnt
St. Asaph, printed in 1712 ; where by the hangman iii Palace-yard,
having displayed the beautiful and "Westminster.

pleasing prospect which was opened ^ Here the Preface, as originally

by the war, he complains that the printed, ended,
spirit of discord had given us in its

O 2


And now, that posterity may not be ignorant in what age
so excellent a history was written (which would othei-wise, no
doubt, be the subject of its inquiries) I think it proper to
inform the learned of future times that it was compiled when
Lewis the XlVth was king of France, and Philip his grandson
of Spain ; when England and Holland, in conjunction with the
emperor and the allies, entered into a war against these two
princes, which lasted ten years under the management of the
Duke of Marlborough, and was put to a conclusion by the treaty
of Utrecht under the ministry of the Earl of Oxford in the year

Many at that time did imagine the history of John Bull, and
the personages mentioned in it, to be allegorical, which the
author would never own. Notwithstanding, to indulge the
reader's fancy and curiosity, I have printed at the bottom
of the page the supposed allusions of the most obscure parts
of the story.




Chap. I. TJie occasion of the lawsuit 199

Chap. II. Hotv Bull and Frog greiv jealous that the Lord Stnitt
intended to give all his custom to his grandfather Leivis
Baboon 200

Chap. III. A copy of Bull cmd Frog's letter to Lord St rutt . . 201
Chap. IV. How Bull and Frog tvent to law ivith Lord Strutt about

the 2}>'emises, and toere joined by the rest of the tradesmen . 202

Chap, V. TJie true characters of John Bull, Nic. Frog, and Hocus 203

Chap. VI. Of the various success of the laivsuit .... 204

Chap. VII. Hoiv John Bull was so mightily pleased with his

success, that he ivas going to leave off his trade, and turn

lawyer 205

Chap. VIII. How John discovered that Hocus had an intrigue

with his wife ; and tvhat followed thereupon .... 206

Chap. IX. Hoiv some quacks undertook to cure Mrs. Bull of her

ulcer 208

Chap. X. Of John BulVs second toife, and the good advice that

she gave him 210

Chap. XL How John looked over his attorney's hill . . .211
Chap. XII. How John grew angry, and resolved to accept a com-
position : and tvhat methods were practised by the lawyers for
keeping him from it . . . . . . . .212

Chap. XIII. Mrs. Bull's vindicatio7i of the indispensable duty of
cuckoldom, incumbent upon wives in case of the tyranny,
infidelity, or insufficiency of husbands : being a full anstver to
the doctor's sermon against adultery . . , . .214

Chap. XIV. TJie two great parties of ivives, the Devotos and the

Hiifs 217

Chap. XV. An account of the conferences between Mrs. Bull and

Don Diego 218

Chap. XVI. How the guardians of the deceased Mrs. Bull's tliree
daughters came to John, and what advice they gave him;
wherein are briefly treated the characters of the three
daughters: also John Bull's answer to the three guardians . 224

Chap. XVII. Esquire South's message and letters to Mrs, Bull . 229




Chap. I. The character of John BulV s mother . . . .231

Chap. II. The character of John Bull's sister Peg, ivith the quar-
rels that hajypened hetiveen master and miss in their childhood 233

Chap. III. Jade's charms, or the method by which he gained Peg's

heart 235

Chap. IV. How the relations reconciled John and his sister Peg,

and what return Peg made to John's message . . .237

Chap. V. Of some quarrels that happened after Peg was taken

into the family ......... 239

Chap. VI. The conversation between John Bull and his tvife . 241

Chap. VII. Of the hard shifts Mrs. Bull was put to, to preserve
the manor of Bullock's Hatch, with Sir Soger's method to keep
off importunate duns 245

Chap. VIII, A continuation of the conversation betwixt John Bull 247
and his tvife

Chap. IX. A Copy of Nic. Frog's letter to John Bull . . . 252

Chap. X. Of some extraordinary things that passed at the Saluta-
tion tavern, in the conference between Bull, Frog, Esquire
South, and Lewis Baboon . . . . . . .254

Chap. XI. Tlie apprehending, examination, and imprisonment of

Jack for suspicion of poisoning 257

Chap. XII. How Jack's friends came to visit him in prison, and

what advice they gave him 261

Chap. XIII. How Jack hanged himself up by the persuasion of
his friends, who broke their words, and left his neck in the
noose 263

Chap. XIV. The conference between Don Diego and John Bull . 266

Chap. XV. The sequel of the meeting at the Salutation . . 268

Chap. XVI. How John Bull and Nic. Frog settled their accounts 271

Chap. XVII. How John Bidl found all his family in an uproar

at home 275

Chap. XVIII. How Lewis Baboon came to visit John Bull, and

what passed between them 277

Chap. XIX. Nic. Frog's letter to John Bull; wherein he endea-
vours to vindicate all his conduct with relation to John Bull
and the lawsuit 280

Chap. XX. The discourse that passed between Nic, Frog and

Esquire South, which John Btdl overheard . . . .282

Chap. XXI. The rest of Nic's fetches to keep John out of Eccles-

doivn Castle 285

Chap. XXII. Of the great joy thcd John expressed when he got

possession of Ecclesdown 287

Postscript 2S9



The occasion of the lawsuit.

I NEED not tell you of the great quarrels that happened in
our neighbourhood since the death of the late Lord Strutt '" ;
how the parson^, and a cunning attorney^, got him to settle
his estate upon his cousin Philip Baboon, to the great disappoint-
ment of his cousin Esquire Souths Some stick not to say,

^ The first portion of the History to make a will, by which he settled

appeared originally as a pamphlet, the succession of the Spanish mo-

Laiv is a BottomJess-Pit. narchy upon Philip Bourbon, Duke

^ Charles II of Spain, who died of Anjou, though his I'ight had by

without issue in 1700. the most solemn renunciations been

^ Cardinal Portocarero. barred in favour of the Archduke

' * The Marshal of Harcourt. Charles of Austria \

' Charles II was prevailed upon

"The following pedigree (taken from Dr. Briglit's ' English History ') shows the relation-
ship of the various claimants to the Spanish throne.

Philip III of Spain

Philip IV Maria =7; Ferdinand III, Anne z=: Louis XIII

I I Emperor j

I 1 1 I I

Cliarles II, Marie =p Louis (i)Margaretz;:LeiiiK)ld I, :^(2) Pi'incess of Louis XIV
died 1700 Tlierese XIV I Emperor | Neuburg

Louis, the Dauphine Electress of Joseph I Charles VI, Archduke

I Bavaria {' Charles III' 0/ Spain)

Louis, Philip, Duke of Joseph, Electoral

Duke of Anjou (Philip V Prince

Burgundy 0/ Spain)

By tlie ijrst Partition Treaty (1698) the bulk of the Spanish dominions was to go to the
Electoral Prince; but his deatli, in 1699, nece,ssitated a second Treaty, according to which
the Archduke Charles was to succeed. But Cliarles II privately made a new will, leaving
Plulip, Duke of Anjou, his heir; and on tlie death of the lung of Spain, Louis XIV, in
defiance of the Treaty, accepted the Spanish kingdom for his grandson. In 1701 an alliance
was formed between England, Holland, and the Emperor, and war was declared in 1702.


that the parson and the attorney forged a will, for which they
were well paid by the family of the Baboons : let that be as it
will, it is naatter of fact, that the honour and estate have
continued ever since in the person of Philip Baboon.

You know that the Lord Strutts have for many years been
possessed of a veiy great landed estate, well conditioned,
wooded, watered, with coal, salt, tin, copper, iron, &c,, all
within themselves ; that it has been the misfortune of that
family to be the property of their stewards, tradesmen, and
inferior servants, which has brought gi'eat incumbrances upon
them ; at the same time, their not abating of their expensive
way of li\ang has forced them to mortgage their best manors.
It is credibly reported, that the butcher's and baker's bill of a
Lord Strutt, that lived two hundred years ago, are not yet paid.

When Philip Baboon came first to the possession of the Lord
Stiaitt's estate, his tradesmen, as is usual upon such occasions,
waited upon him to wish him joy and bespeak his custom. The
two chief were John BuU^ the clothiei-, and Nic. Frog^ the
linen-draper : they told him, that the Bulls and Frogs had
sei-ved the Lord Strutts with drapery-ware for many years ;
that they were honest and fair dealers ; that their bills had
never been questioned ; that the Lord Strutts lived generously,
and never used to dirty their fingers with pen, ink, and
counters ; that his lordship might depend upon their honesty ;
that they would use him as kindly, as they had done his
predecessors. The young lord seemed to take all in good
pai-t and dismissed them with a deal of seeming content,
assuring them he did not intend to change any of the honourable
maxims of his predecessors.


How Bull and Feog grew jealous that the Lord Strutt
intended to give all his custom to his grandfather
Lewis Baboon ^

It happened unfortunately for the peace of our neighbourhood,
that this young lord had an old cunning rogue, or (as the Scots
call it) a false loon, of a grandfather, that one might justly call
a Jack of all trades ^ ; sometimes you would see him behind his

1 The English. = The Dutch. ^ ^e^jg xiv.

* The character and trade of the French.


counter selling broad-cloth, sometimes measuring linen ; next
day he would be dealing in mercery ware ; high heads, ribbons,
gloves, fans, and lace, he understood to a nicety ; Charles
Mather' could not bubble a young beau better with a toy ; nay,
he would descend oven to the selling of tape, garters, and
shoebuckles ; when shop was shut up, he would go about the
neighbourhood, and earn half a crown by teaching the young
men and maids to danoe. By these methods he had acquired
immense riches, which he used to squander away at back-sword,
quarter-staff, and cudgel-play, in which he took great j^leasure,
and challenged all the countiy. You will say it is no wonder
if Bull and Frog should be jealous of this fellow ^ 'It is
not impossible,' says Frog to Bull, 'but this old rogue will
take the management of the young lord's business into his
hands ; besides, the rascal has good ware, and will serve him
as cheap as any body. In that case, I leave you to judge what
must become of us and our families ; we must starve, or turn
journeymen to old Lewis Baboon ; therefore, neighbour, I hold
it advisable that we write to young Lord Strutt to know the
bottom of this matter.'

A COPY OF Bull and Frog's letter to Lord Strutt.

My Lord,

I suppose your lordship knows, that the Bulls and the
Frogs have served the Lord Strutts with all sorts of drapery-
ware time out of mind ; and whereas we are jealous, not
without reason, that your lordship intends henceforth to buy
of your grandsire old Lewis Baboon, this is to inform your
lordship, that this proceeding does not suit with the circum-
stances of our families, who have lived and made a good figure
in the world by the generosity of the Lord Strutts. Therefore
we think fit to acquaint your lordship, that you must find
sufiicient security to us, our heirs and assigns, that you will
not employ Lewis Baboon ; or else we will take our remedy
at law, clai? an action upon you of £'20,000 for old debts, seize

^ A famous toyman. See Specfa^or, cient sociu-ity to England and

No. 570. Holland for their dominions, naviga-

* An alliance was formed to pro- tion, and commerce, and to prevent

cure a reasonable satisfaction to the the union of the two kingdoms of

House of Austria for its pi'etensions France and Spain,
to the Spanish succession, and suffi-


and distrain your goods and chattels, which, considering your
lordship's circumstances, will plunge you into difficulties, from
which it will not be easy to extricate yourself ; therefore we
hope, when your lordship has better considered on it, you will
comply with the desire of

Your loving friends,

John Bull,
Nic. Frog.

Some of Bull's friends advised him to take gentler methods
with the young lord : but John naturally loved I'ough play.
It is impossible to express the surprise of the Lord Strutt
upon the receipt of this letter ; he was not flush in ready, either
to go to law, or clear old debts, neither could he find good bail :
he offered to bring matters to a friendly accommodation ; and
promised upon his woi'd of honour, that he would not change
his drapers ; but all to no purpose, for Bull and Frog saw clearly
that old Lewis would have the cheating of him.

How Bull and Frog went to law with Lord Strutt about


All endeavours of accommodation between Lord Strutt and
his drapers proved vain ; jealousies increased, and indeed it was
nxmoured abroad that Lord Strutt had besj)oke his new liveries
of old Lewis Baboon. This coming to Mrs. Bull's ^ ears, when
John Bull came home, he found all his family in an uproar.
Mrs. Bull, you must know, was very apt to be choleric. ' You
sot,' says she, 'you loiter about ale-houses and taverns, spend
your time at billiards, ninepins, or puppet-shows, or flaunt
a])out the streets in your new gilt chariot, never minding me
nor your numerous family. Don't you hear how Lord Strutt
has bespoke his liveries at Lewis Baboon's shop ? Don't you
see how that old fox steals aM^ay your customers, and turns you
out of your business eveiy day, and you sit like an idle drone
with your hands in your pockets ? Fie upon it ! up man, rouse
thyself ; I'll sell to my shift, before I'll be so used by that knave.'
You must think Mrs. Bull had been pretty well tuned up by
Frog, Avho chimed in with her learned harangue. No further

* The late Ministry.


delay now, but to council learned in the law they go, who
unanimously assured them both of the justice and infallible
success of theu' lawsuit.

I told you before, that old Lewis Baboon was a sort of a Jack
of all trades, which made the rest of the tradesmen jealous, as
well as Bull and Frog ; they hearing of the quarrel were glad
of an oppoi-tunity of joining against old Lewis Baboon, provided
that Bull and Frog would bear the charges of the suit ; even
lying Ned ', the chimney-sweeper of Savoy, and Tom ^ the
Portugal dustman, put in their claims ; and the cause was put
into the hands of Humphry Hocus ^ the attorney.

A declaration was drawn up to shew ' that Bull and Frog
had undoubted right by prescription to be drapers to the Lord
Strutts ; that there were several old contracts to that purpose ;
that Lewis Baboon had taken up the trade of clothier and
draj)er, without serving his time or purchasing his freedom ;
that he sold goods, that were not marketable, without the
stamp ; that he himself w^as more fit for a bully than a trades-
man, and went about through all the countiy fairs challenging
people to fight prizes, wrestling and cudgel-play ; ' and abund-
ance more to this purpose.


TiTe true character of John Bull, Nic. Frog, and Hocus.

For the better understanding the following histoiy, the
reader ought to know that Bull, in the main, was an honest
plain-dealing fellow, cholei'ic, bold, and of a very unconstant
temper ; he dreaded not old Lewis either at back- sword, single
falchion, or cudgel-play ; but then he was very apt to quarrel
with his best friends, especially if they pretended to govern him :
if you flattered him, you might lead him like a child. John's
temper depended very much upon the air ; his spirits rose and
fell with the weather-glass. John was quick, and understood his
business very well ; but no man alive was more careless in looking
into his accounts, or more cheated by partners, apprentices, and
servants. This was occasioned by his being a boon companion,
loving his bottle and his diversion ; for, to say tnith, no man
kept a better house than John, nor spent his money more

* The Duke of Savoy. borough, was appointed general-in-

^ Tlie King of Portugal. chief of the confederate army.

^ John Churchill, Duke of Marl-


generously. By plain and fair dealing John had acquired some
plums, and might have kept them, had it not been for his
unhappy law-suit.

Nic. Frog was a cunning sly whoreson, quite the reverse of
John in many particulars ; covetous, fi-ugal ; minded domestic
affairs ; would pinch his belly to save his pocket ; never lost a
farthing by careless sei-vants, or bad debtors. He did not care
much for any sort of diversions, except tricks of high German
aiiists, and legerdemain : no man exceeded Nic. in these ; yet
it must be owned that Nic. was a fau^ dealer, and in that way
acquu'ed mimense riches.

Hocus was an old cunning attorney ; and, though tliis was
the first consideiable suit that ever he was engaged in, he shewed
himself superior in address to most of his profession ; he kept
always good clerks, he loved money, was smooth-tongued, gave
good words, and seldom lost his temper ; he was not worse
than an infidel, for he provided plentifully for his family ; but
he loved himself better than them all. The neighbours reported
that he was hen-pecked ; which was impossible by such a mild-
spirited woman ^ as his wife was.


Of the various success of the lawsuit.

Law is a bottomless pit ; it is a cormorant, a hai-py that
devours every tiling. John Bull was flattered by the lawyers,
that his suit would not last above a year or two at most ; that
before that time he would be in quiet possession of his business :
yet ten long years did Hocus steer his cause through all the
meanders of the law, and all the courts. No skill, no addi-ess
was wanting ; and, to say truth, John did not starve his cause ;
there wanted not yellow-boys ^ to fee counsel, hu-e witnesses,
and bribe juries : Lord Strutt was generally cast, never had
one verdict in his favour ; and John was promised that the
next, and the next, would be the final determination ; but alas !
that final determination and happy conclusion was like an
inchanted island, the nearer John came to it, the fuiiher it
went from him : new trials upon new points still arose ; new
doubts, new matters to be cleared ^ ; in shoi-t, lawyers seldom

* Sarah Jennings, Duchess of ^ The war was carried on against

Marlborough. France and Spain with great success,

''■ Gold. aud a peace might have been con-


part with so good a cause, till they have got the oyster, and
their clients the shell. John's ready money, book-debts, bonds,
mortgages, all went into the laAvyers' pockets ; then John
began to borrow money upon Bank stock and East-India bonds ;

Online LibraryGeorge Atherton AitkenThe life and works of John Arbuthnot, M.D., fellow of the Royal College of Physicians → online text (page 18 of 47)