George Atherton Aitken.

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

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now and then a farm went to pot ; at last ^ it was thought a
good expedient to set up Esquire South's title, to prove the will
forged, and dispossess Philip Lord Strutt at once. Here again
was a new field for the lawyers, and the cause grew more
intricate than ever. John grew madder and madder ; wliere-
ever he met any of Loixl Strutt's servants, he tore off their
clothes ; now and then yovi would see them come home naked,
without shoes, stockings, and linen. As for old Lewis Baboon,
he was reduced to his last shirt, though he had as many as any
other ; his children were reduced from rich silks to Doily "^
stuffs, his servants in rags, and bare-footed ; instead of good
victuals, they now lived upon neck-beef, and bullock's liver ;
in short, nobody got much by the matter but the men of law.


How John Bull was so mightily pleased with his success,


It is wisely obsei-ved by a great philosopher, that habit is a
second nature ; this was verified in the case of John Bull, who,
from an honest and plain tradesman, had got such a haunt
about the courts of justice, and such a jargon of law words,
that he concluded himself as able a lawyer as any that pleaded
at the bar, or sat on the bench. He was overheard one day
talking to himself after this manner : ' How capriciously does
fate or chance dispose of mankind ? how seldom is that
business allotted to a man, for which he is fitted by nature?
It is plain I was intended for a man of law ; how did my
guardians mistake my genius in placing me, like a mean slave,
behind a counter ? Bless me ! what immense estates these

eluded upon the principles of the treaty ; and there was a parlia-
alliance ; but a partition of the mentary declaration for continuing
Spanish dominions in favour of the the war, till he should be de-
house of Austria, and an engage- throned.

ment that the same person should ^ Doily was a draper, who intro-

never be king of France and Spain, duced a cheap but genteel material

were not now thought sufficient. that was named after him. See

' It was insisted that the will in Spectator^ Nos. 283, 319.
favour of Philip was contrary to


fellows raise by the law ! Besides, it is the profession of a
gentleman. What a pleasure is it to be victorious in a cause,
to swagger at the bar ! What a fool am I to drudge any more
in this woollen trade ! for a lawyer I was born, and a lawyer I
will be ; one is never too old to learn.' All this while John
had conned over such a catalogue of hard words, as were enough
to conjure up the devil ; these he used to babble indifferently in
all companies, especially at coffee-houses ; so that his neighbour
tradesmen began to shun his company as a man that was
cracked. Instead of the affairs at Blackwell-hall \ and price of
broad cloth, wool and baizes, he talks of nothing but actions
upon the case, returns, capias, alias capias, demurrers, venire
facias, replevins, supersedeases, certioraris, writs of error, actions
of trover and conversion, trespasses, precipes and dedimus.
This was matter of jest to the learned in law ; however, Hocus,
and the rest of the tribe, encouraged John in his fancy, assuring
him that he had a great genius for law ; that they questioned
not but in time he might raise money enough by it to reimburse
him all his charges ; that, if he studied, he would undoubtedly
arrive to the dignity of a lord chief justice ^ : as for the advice of
honest friends and neighbours, John despised it ; he looked
upon theni as fellows of a low genius, poor groveling mechanics ;
John reckoned it more honour to have got one favourable
verdict, than to have sold a bale of broad-cloth. As for Nic.
Frog, to say the tnith, he was more j^rudent ; for, though he
followed his lawsuit closely, he neglected not his ordinary
business, but was both in court and in his shoj) at the proper


How John discovered that Hocus had an intrigue with
HIS wife ; and what followed thereupon.

John had not run on a madding so long, had it not been
for an extravagant bitch of a wife, whom Hocus perceiving
John to be fond of, was resolved to win over to his side. It is
a tme saying, that the last man of the parish that knows of his
cuckoldom is himself. It was observed by all the neighbour-

^ Bakewell or Blackwell Hall was Street. It was pulled down in
a market-place used weekly for the 1820.
sale of woollen goods, in Basinghall * Hold the balance of power.



hood that Hocus had dealings with John's -wife ^ that were not
so much for his honour ; but this was i^erceived by John a little
too late. She was a luxurious jade, loved splendid equipages,
plays, treats and balls, differing veiy much from the sober
manners of her ancestors, and by no means fit for a tradesman's
wife. Hocus fed her extravagancy (what was still more shame-
ful) with John's own money. Every body said that Hocus had
a month's mind to her body ; be that as it will, it is matter of
fact that upon all occasions she ran out extravagantly on the
praise of Hocus. When John used to be finding fault with his
bills, she used to reproach him as ungrateful to his greatest
benefactor ; one that had taken so much pains in his lawsuit,
and retrieved his family from the oppression of old Lewis Baboon.
A good swinging sum of John's readiest cash went towards
building of Hocus's country-house ^. This affair between Hocus
and Mrs. Bull was now so open that all the world were scan-
dalized at it ; John was not so clod-pated, but at last he took the
hint. The parson of the parish ^ preaching one day with more
zeal than sense against adulteiy, Mrs. Bull told her husband,
that he was a very uncivil fellow to use such coarse language
before people of condition ; that Hocus was of the same mind ;
and that they would join to have him turned out of his living
for using personal reflections *. ' How do you mean,' says John,
' by personal reflections ? I hope in God, wife, he did not reflect
upon you ? ' 'No thank God, my reputation is too well
established in the world to receive any hurt from such a foul-
mouthed scoundrel as he ; his doctrine tends only to make
husbands tyrants, and wives slaves ; must we be shut up, and
husbands left to their liberty ? Veiy pretty indeed ! a wife
must never go abroad with a Platonic to see a play or a ball ;
she must never stir without her husband ; nor walk in Spring-

' It was believed that the General
tampered with the imrliament.

* Parliament settled ujion him
the manor of Woodstock, and after-
wards entailed that, with £5000
per annum, payable out of the
Post Office, to descend with his
honours ; over and above this an
immense sum was expended in
building Blenheim House.

^ In Nov., 1709, Dr. Henrj- Sach-
everell preached a sermon against

poj^ular resistance of regal au-

* The House of Commons voted
this sermon a libel on Her Majesty
and her government, the revolution,
the protestant succession, and the
parliament ; they impeached Sach-
everell of high crimes and misde-
meanours ; and he was silenced for
three years, and the sermon burnt
by the hangman.



garden with a cousin. I do say, husband, and I will stand by
it, that, without the innocent freedoms of life, matrimony
would be a most intolerable state ; and that a wife's vu'tue
ought to be the result of her own reason, and not of her
husband's government ; for my part, I would scorn a husband
that would be jealous, if he saw a fellow a-bed with me.' All
this while John's blood boiled in his veins ; he was now
confirmed in all his suspicions ; jade, bitch, and whore were
the best words, that John gave her '. Things went from better
to woi'se, till Mrs. Bull aimed a knife at John, though John
threw a bottle at her head veiy brutally indeed'^, and, after
this, there was nothing but confusion : bottles, glasses, spoons,
plates, knives, forks, and dishes flew about like dust ; the result
of which was that Mrs. Bull received a bruise in her right side,
of which she died half a year after. The bruise imposthumated,
and afterwards turned to a stinking ulcer, which made eveiy
body shy to come near her ; yet she wanted not the help of
many able physicians, who attended very diligently, and did
what men of skill could do ; but all to no pui-pose, for her
condition was now quite desperate, all regular physicians, and
her nearest relations, having given her over.




There is nothing so impossible in nature, but mountebanks
will undertake ; nothing so incredible, but they will affirm :
Mrs. Bull's condition was looked upon as desperate by all the
men of art ; but * there were those, that bragged they had an
infallible ointment and plaister, which, being aj^plied to the sore,
would cure it in a few days ; at the same time they would give
her a pill that would purge off all her bad humours, sweeten
her blood, and rectify her disturbed imagination. In spite of

* The House complained of being
aspersed and vilified ; opprobrious
terms were used by both parties.

^ The confusion every day in-
creased : the whig or low church
party in the House of Commons
began to decline ; after much con-
tention and debate the parliament
■was prorogued.

' As first published, this chapter
was called ' How Signior Cavallo,
an Italian Quack,' &c. [The Duke
of Somei-set, Master of the Horse.]

* 'Then Signior Cavallo judged
it was high time for him to inter-
pose ; he bragged that he had an
infallible,' &c. (Law? is a Bottomless-



all applications, the patient grew worse every day ; she stunk
so, nobody durst come within a stone's throw of her, except '
those quacks who attended her close, and apprehended no
danger. If one asked them how Mrs. Bull did '? ' Better and
better,' said they ; ' the parts heal, and her constitution mends ;
if she submits to our government, she will be abroad in a little
time.' Nay, it is reported that they wrote to her friends in the
countiy, that she would dance a jig next October in West-
minster-Hall, and that her illness had been chiefly owing to
bad physicians. At last ^, one of them was sent for in great
haste, his patient grew worse and worse : when he came, he
afiirmed that it was a gross mistake, and that she was never in
a fairer way : ' bring hither the salve,' says he, ' and give a plenti-
ful draught of my cordial. ' As he was apj^lying his ointments,
and administering the cordial, the patient gave up the ghost, to
the great confusion of the quack, and the great joy of Bull and
his friends. The quack flung away out of the house in great
disorder, and swore there was fovil play, for he was sure his
medicines were infallible. Mrs. Bull having died without any
signs of repentence or devotion, the clergy would hardly allow
her a christian burial. The relations had once resolved to sue
John for the murder, but considering better of it, and that such
a trial would rip up old sores, and discover things not so much
to the reputation of the deceased, they dropt their design.
She left no will, only there was found in her strong box the
follomng words wrote on a scrip of paper, ' My curse on John
Bull, and all my posterity, if ever they come to any composition
with the Lord Strutt "\ '

She left him three daughters, whose names were Polemia,
Discordia, and Usuria *.

1 ' Except Signior Cavallo and his
wife, whom he sent every day to
dress her, she having a very gentle
soft hand. All this while Signior
apprehended no danger' {Law is a
Bottomless- Pit).

" Parliament was dissolved on
the 2 1st of Sept. 1710.

^ The original pamphlet con-
tinues : ' There were many ej^itaphs

writ upon her ; one was as follows :

Here lies John's wife,

Plague of his life ;

She spent his wealth.

She wronged his health.

And left him daughters three

As bad as she.
The daughters' names were Polemia,
Discordia, and Usuria.'

' War, faction, and usury.



Of John Bull's second wife\ and the good advice
that she gave him.

John quickly got the better of his grief, and seeing that
neither his constitution nor the affairs of his family could
permit him to live in an unmarried state, he resolved to get
him another wife ; a cousin of his last wife's was proposed, but
John would have no more of the breed : in short, he wedded a
sober countxy gentlewoman, of a good family, and a plentiful
fortune, the reverse of the other in her temper ; not but that
she loved money, for she was saving, and applied her fortune
to pay John's clamorous debts, that the unfrugal methods of
his last wife, and this ruinous lawsuit, had brought him into.
One day, as she had got her husband in a good humour, she
talked to him after the following manner : ' My dear, since I
have been your wife, I have observed great abuses and disorders
in your family ; your sei-vants are mutinous and quarrelsome,
and cheat you most abominably ; your cook-maid is in a
combination with your butcher, jooulterer, and fislunonger ;
your butler purloins your liquor, and the brewer sells you
hog^vash ; your baker cheats both in weight and in tale ; even
your milk-woman and your nurseiy-maid have a fellow-feeling ;
your tailor, instead of shi'eds, cabbages whole yards of cloth ;
besides, leaving such long scores, and not going to market
with ready money, forces us to take bad ware of the tradesmen
at their own price. You have not posted your books these ten
years ; how is it possible for a man of business to keep his
affairs even in the world at this rate ? Pray God this Hocus
be honest ; would to God you would look over his bills, and
see how matters stand between Frog and you ; prodigious
sums ai'e spent in this lawsuit, and more must be borrowed of
scriveners and usurers at heavy interest. Besides, my dear,
let me beg of you to lay aside that wild project of leaving your
business to turn lawyer, for which, let me tell you, nature
never designed you. Believe nie, these rogues do but flatter,

^ The new parliament, v>'hich licularly those for victualling and

wiis averse to the war, made a clothing the navy and army ; and

representation of the mismanage- of the sums that had been expended

ment in the several otFicos, par- on the war.


that they may pick your pocket ; obsei-ve ^ what a parcel of
hungry ragged fellows live by your cause ; to be sure they will
never make an end on it ; I foresee this haunt you have got
about the courts will one day or other bring your family to
beggaiy. Consider, my dear, how indecent it is to aljandon
your shop, and follow pettifoggers ; the habit is so strong upon
you, that there is hardly a plea between two country esquires
about a barren acre upon a common, but you draw yourself in
as bail, surety or solicitor".' John heard her all this while
Math patience, till she pricked his maggot, and touched him in
the tender point ; then he broke out into a violent passion,
' What, I not fit for a lawyer ! let me tell you, my clodpated
relations spoiled the greatest genius in the world when they
bred me a mechanic. Lord Strutt, and his old rogue of a
grandsire, have found to their cost, that I can manage a law-
suit as well as another.' 'I don't deny what you say,' says
Mrs. Bull, ' nor do I call in question your parts ; but I say it
does not suit with your circumstances : you and your predecessors
have lived in good reputation among your neighbours by this
same clothing-trade, and it were madness to leave it off.
Besides, there are few that know all the tricks and cheats of
these lawyers ; does not your own experience teach you, how
they have drawn you on from one term to another, and how
you have danced the round of all the courts, still flattering you
with a final issue, and, for aught I can see, your cause is not a
bit clearer than it was seven years ago? ' 'I will be damned,'
says John, ' if I accept of any composition from Strutt or his
grandfather ; I'll rather wheel al^out the streets an engine to
grind knives and scissars ; however, I'll take your advice, and
look over my accounts.'


How John looked over his attorney's bill.

When John first brought out the bills, the surjirise of all
the family was inexpressible at the prodigious dimensions of
them ; they would have measured with the best bale of cloth in
John's shop. Fees to judges, puisni-judges, clerks, prothonota-
ries, filacers, chirographers, under-clerks, proclamatprs, council,

^ The remainder of the speech - The war was still popuLir with

is not in the original pamphlet. the people.

P 2


witnesses, jurymen, marshals, tipstaffs, criers, porters ; for
enrollings, exemplifieations, bails, vouchers, returns, caveats,
examinations, filings of writs, entries, declarations, replications,
recordats, noli proscquis, certioraris, mittimuses, demurrers,
special verdicts, informations, scire facias, supersedeas, habeas
corpus, coach-hire, treating of witnesses, &c. 'Verily,' says
John, ' there are a prodigious number of learned words in this
law ; what a pretty science it is ! ' ' Ay ! but husband, you
have paid for every syllable and letter of these fine words ;
bless me, what immense sums are at the bottom of the account !'
John spent several weeks in looking over his bills, and by
comparing and stating his accounts he discovered that, besides
the extravagance of every article, he had been egregiously
cheated ; that he had paid for counsel that were never feed ^,
for writs that were never drawn, for dinners that were never
dressed, and journeys that were never made: in shoit, that^
the tradesmen, lawyers and Frog had agreed to throw the
burden of the lawsuit upon his shoulders,


How John grew angry, and resolved to accept a composi-

Well might the learned Daniel Burgess ^ say, that a lawsuit
is a suit for life. He that sows his grain upon marble, will
have many a hungiy belly before hai-vest. This John felt by
woful experience. John's cause was a good milch cow, and
many a man subsisted his family out of it. However John
l>egan to think it high time to look about him. He had a
cousin in the country, one Sir Eoger Bold '', whose predecessors
had been bred up to the law, and knew as much of it as any
Ijody ; but, having left off the profession for some time, they
took great pleasure in compounding lawsuits among then-
neighljours, for which they were the aversion of the gentlemen
of the long robe, and at perpetual war with all the countiy

^ Troops on the roll, but not in the riots which occurred at the

the field. time of Dr. Sacheverell's trial.

= ' That Hocus and Frog ' (Law is * Robert Harley, Earl of Oxford,

a Bottomkfis-Pit). was made Ti'easurer in jjlace of Lord

^ A dissenting ministei", whose Godolphin.
meeting-house was wrecked during


attorneys. John put his caxise in Sir Roger's hands, desiring
him to make the best of it : the news had no sooner reached
the ears of the hiwyers, but they were all in an uproar. They
brought all the rest of the tradesmen upon John ' : 'Squire
South swore he was betrayed, that he would stai've before he
compounded ; Frog said he was highly wronged ; even lying
Ned the chimney-sweeper, and Tom the dustman complained
that their interest was sacrificed. The''' lawyers, solicitors,
Hocus, and his clerks, were all up in arms at the news of the
composition ; they abused him and his wife most shamefully.
'You silly, awkward, ill-bred, countiy sow,' quoth one, 'have
you no more manners than to rail at Hocus, that has saved that
clod-pated numskulled ninny-hammer of yours from ruin, and
all his family ? It is well known, how he has rose early and
sat up late to make him easy, when he was sotting at eveiy ale-
house in town. I knew his last wife ; she was a woman of
breeding, good humour, and complaisance ; knew how to live
in the world : as for you, you look like a puppet moved by
clock-work ; your clothes hang upon you as they were upon
tenter-hooks, and you come into a room as if you were going to
steal away a piss-pot : get you gone into the countiy to look
after your mother's poultry, to milk the cows, churn the butter,
and dress up nosegays for a holiday, and not meddle with
matters which you know no more of than the sign-post before
your door. It is well known that Hocus had an established
reputation ; he never swore an oath, nor told a lie in all his
life ; he is grateful to his benefactors, faithful to his friends,
liberal to his dependants, and dutiful to his superiors ; he
values not your money more than the dust under his feet, but
he hates to be abused. Once for all, Mrs. Minx, leave off talking
of Hocus, or I will pull out those saucer eyes of yours, and
make that redstreak country face look as raw as an ox-cheek
upon a butcher's stall : remember, I say, that there are pillories
and ducking-stools.' With this away they flung, leaving Mrs.
Bull no time to reply. No stone was left unturned to fright
John from his composition : sometimes they spread reports at
coffee-houses, that John and his wife were run mad ; that they
intended to give vip house, and make over all their estate to

* The measure was opposed by liouse immediately, and fell a

the allies and the genei-al. scolding at his wife, like tlie

^ 'As foi- Hocus's wife, she took mother of Beelzebub, "You,"' &c.

a hackney chair and came to John's {Law is a Bottomless-Pit).


Lewis Baboon ; that John had been often heard talking to
himself, and seen in the streets without shoes or stockings ;
that he did nothing from morning till night but beat his
servants, after having been the best master alive ; as for his
wife, she was a mere natural. Sometimes John's house was
beset with a whole regiment of attorney's clerks, bailiffs, and
bailiffs' followers, and other small retainers of the law, who
threw stones at his windows, and dii't at himself, as he went
along the street. When John complained of want of ready
money to carry on his suit, they advised him to pawn his plate
and jewels, and that Mrs. Bull should sell her linen and
wearing-clothes '.


Mrs. Bull's vindication of the indispensable duty of
cuckoldom incumbent upon wives in case of the
tyranny, infidelity, or insufficiency of husbands :


John found daily fresh proofs of the infidelity and bad
designs of his deceased wife ; amongst other things, one day
looking over his cabinet, he found the following paj)er : —

1 The original pamphlet ended Jupiter were in a wrong house, but

with the following 'Chap. XIII,' I have now discovered their true

which was not afterwards re- places : I tell you I find that the

printed. stars are unanimously of opinion

How the laicyers agreed to send Don that you will be successful in this

Diego Dismallo, the conjurer, to John cause ; that Lewis will come to an

Bull, to dissuade him from making an untimely end, and Strutt will be

end of his Imo-suit; and what passed turned out of doors by his wife and

between them. children.

Bull. How does my good friend Then he went on with a torrent

Don Diego ? of Eclyptics, Cycles, Epicycles, As-

Don. Never worse. Who can be cendauts, Trines, Quadrants, Con-
easy when their friends are playing junctions, Bulls, Bears, Goats, and
the fool ? Earns, and abundance of hard

Bull. But then you may be easy, words, which being put together

for I am resolved to play the fool signified nothing. John all this

no longer : I wish I had hearkened while stood gaping and staring,

to your advice, and compounded like a man in a trance,

this law-suit sooner. ^ Here the second jmrnphlet in

Don. It is true ; I was then the original series commenced,—

against the ruinous ways of this John Bull in his Senses.

law-suit, but looking over my s The tories' representation of the

scheme since, I find there is an speeches at Sacheverell's trial,
error in my calculation. Sol and


It is evident that matrimony is founded ujion an original
contract, whereby the wife makes over the right she has by
the law of nature to the concubitus vagus, in favour of the
husband ; by which he acquires the propei-ty of all her pos-
terity. But then the obligation is mutual ; and where the

Online LibraryGeorge Atherton AitkenThe life and works of John Arbuthnot, M.D., fellow of the Royal College of Physicians → online text (page 19 of 47)