George Atherton Aitken.

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

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stuff. All the servants in the family made high court to her,
for she domineered there, and turned out and in whom she
pleased ; only there was an old grudge between her and Sir
Roger, whom she mortally hated, and vised to hii'e fellows to
squirt kennel water upon him, as he passed along the streets ;

^ ' Discordia,' faction.


so that he was forced constantly to wear a surtout of oiled cloth,
by which means he came home pretty clean, except where the
surtout was a little scanty.

As for the third \ she was a thief, and a common mercenary
prostitute, and that without any solicitation from natui*e, for
she owned she had no enjoyment. She had no respect of
persons, a prince or a porter was all one, according as they paid ;
yea, she would leave the finest gentleman in the world to go to

an ugly fellow for sixpence more. In the practice of her

profession she had amassed vast magazines of all sorts of thmgs ;
she had above five hundred suits of fine clothes, and yet went
abroad like a cinder-wench : she robbed and starved all the
servants, so that nobody could live near her.

So much for John's three daughters, which you will say were
rarities to be fond of: yet nature will shew itself; nobody
could blame their relations for taking care of them ; and there-
fore it was that Hocus, with two other of the guardians, thought
it theii" duty to take care of the interest of the three gii'ls, and
give John theii' best advice before he compounded the lawsuit.

Hocus. What makes you so shy of late, my good friend?
There's nobody loves you better than I, nor has taken more
pains in your affairs : as I hope to be saved, I would do any
thing to sei-ve you ; I would crawl upon all four to serve you ;
I have spent my health and paternal estate m your sen-ice. I
have, indeed, a small pittance left, with which I might retu-e,
and with as good a conscience as any man ; but the thought of
this disgraceful composition so touches me to the quick that I
cannot sleep : after I had brought the cause to the last stroke,
that one verdict more had quite ruined old Lewis, and Lord
Strutt, and put you in the quiet ]30ssession of eveiy thing ; then
to compound ! I cannot bear it. This cause was my favourite,
I had set my heart upon it ; it is like an only child ; I cannot
endure it should miscariy. For God's sake consider only to
what a dismal condition old Lewis is brought. He is at an end
of all his cash ; his attorneys have hardly one trick left ; they
are at an end of all their chicane ; besides, he has both law and
his daily bread now upon trust. Hold out only one term longer,
and I'll warrant you, before the next we shall have him in the
Fleet. Ill bring him to the pilloiy ; his ears shall pay for his
perjuries. For the love of God don't compound ; let me be
damned if you have a friend in the world that loves you better

' 'Usuria,' usury.


than I : there is nobody can say I am covetous, or that I have
any interest to pursue but yours.

Second Guardian. There is nothing so plain as that this
Lewis has a design to ruin all his neighbouring tradesmen ;
and at this time he has such a prodigious income by his trade
of all kinds, that, if there is not some stop put to his exorbitant
riches, he will monopolize eveiy thing ; nobody will be able to
sell a yard of drapery or mercery ware but himself. I then
hold it advisable that you continue the lawsuit, and burst him
at once. My concern for the three poor motherless children
obliges me to give you this advice ; for their estates, poor girls !
depend upon the success of this cause.

Third Guardian. I own this writ of ejectment has cost dear ;
but then consider, it is a jewel well worth the purchasing at the
price of all you have. None but Mr. Bull's declared enemies
can say he has any other security for his clothing trade but
the ejectment of Lord Strutt. The only question then that
remains to be decided is, who shall stand the expenses of the
suit ? To which the answer is as plain ; who but he that is
to have the advantage of the sentence ? When Esquire South
has got possession of his title and honour, is not John Bull to
be his clothier? Who then but John ought to put him in
possession ? Ask but any indifferent gentleman, who ought to
bear his charges at law, and he will readily answer, his trades-
men. I do therefore affii-m, and will go to death with it, that,
being his clothier, you ought to put hmi in quiet possession of
his estate, and, with the same generous spirit you have begun
it, complete the good work. If you persist in the bad measures
you are now in, what must become of the three poor orphans ?
My heart bleeds for the poor girls.

John Bull. You are all very eloquent persons ; but give me
leave to tell you, you express a great deal more concern for the
three girls than for me ; I think my interest ought to be con-
sidered in the first place. As for you, Hocus, I can't but say
you have managed my lawsuit with great address, and much
to my honour ; and, though I say it, you have been well paid
for it. Why must the burden be taken off Frog's back, and
laid vipon my shoulders? He can drive about his own parks
and fields in his gilt chariot, when I have been forced to moii-
gage my estate ; his note will go farther than my bond. Is it
not matter of fact that, from the richest tradesman in all the

Q 2


country, I am reduced to beg and borrow from scriveners and
usurers, that suck the heai-t, blood, and guts out of me? and
what is all this for ? Did you like Frog's countenance better
than mine ? Was not I your old friend and relation ? Have I
not presented you nobly ? Have I not clad your whole family ?
Have you not had an hundred yards at a time of the finest cloth
in my shop ? Why must the rest of the tradesmen be not only
indemnified from charges, but forbid to go on with their own
business, and what is more their concern than mine? As to
holding out this term, I appeal to your own conscience, has not
that been your constant discourse these six years : one term more,
and old Lewis goes to pot. If thou art so fond of my cause,
be generous for once, and lend me a brace of thousands. Ah
Hocus ! Hocus ! I know thee ; not a sou to save me from
gaol, I trow. Look ye, gentlemen, I have lived with credit in
the world, and it grieves my heart never to stir out of my doors
but to be pulled by the sleeve by some rascally dun or other :
' Sir, remember my bill ; there's a small concern of a thousand
pounds, I hope you think on't, Sir.' And to have these usurers
transact my debts at coffee-houses, and ale-houses, as if I were
going to break up shop ! Lord ! that ever the rich, the generous
John Bull, clothier, the envy of all his neighbours, should be
brought to compound his debts for five shillings in the pound ;
and to have his name in an advertisement for a statute of bank-
rupt. The thought of it makes me mad. I have read some-
where in the Apoeiypha, that one should not consult with a
woman touching her of whom she is jealous ; nor with a mer-
chant concerning exchange ; nor with a buyer of selling ; nor
with an unmerciful man of kindness, &c, I could have added
one thing more, nor with an attorney about compounding a law-
suit. The ejectment of Lord Strutt will never do. The evidence
is crimp ; the witnesses swear backwards and forwards, and
contradict themselves ; and his tenants stick by liim. One
tells me that I must carry on my suit, because Lewis is poor ;
another, because he is still too rich : whom shall I believe ? I
am sure of one thing, that a penny in the purse is the best
friend John can have at last ; and who can say that this will be
the last suit I shall be engaged in ? Besides, if this ejectment
were practicable, is it reasonable that, when Esquire South is
losing his money to sharpers and pick-pockets, going about the
country with fidlers and buffoons, and squandering his income


with hawks and clogvS, I should lay out the fiiiits of my honest
industiy in a lawsuit for hmi, only upon the hopes of being his
clothier? And, when the cause is over, I shall not have the
benefit of my project for want of money to go to market.
Look ye, gentlemen, John Bull is but a plain man ; but John
Bull knows when he is ill used. I know the infirmity of our
family ; we are apt to play the boon companion, and throw
away our money in our cups ; but it was an unfair thing in you,
gentlemen, to take advantage of my weakness, to keej^ a pai'cel
of roaring bullies about me day and night, with huzzas and
hunting-horns, and ringing the changes on butchers' cleavers,
never let me cool, and make me set my hand to papers, when
I could hardly hold my pen. There will come a day of reckon-
ing for all that proceeding. In the mean time, gentlemen, I
beg you will let me into my affairs a little, and that you would
not grudge me the small remainder of a veiy great estate.


Esquire South's message and letter to Mrs. Bull '.

The arguments used by Hocus and the rest of the guardians
had hitherto proved insufficient : John and his wife could not
be persuaded to bear the expense of Esquire South's lawsuit.
They thought it reasonal^le that, since he was to have the
honour and advantage, he should bear the greatest share of the
charges ; and retrench what he lost to sharpers, and spent upon
countiy dances and puppet-plays, to apply it to that use. This
was not very grateful to the Esquire ; therefore, as the last
experiment, he resolved to send Signior Benenato, master of his
fox-hounds, to Mrs. Bull, to try what good he could do with
her. This Signior Benenato had all the qualities of a fine
gentleman that were fit to charm a lady's heart ; and if any
person in the world could have persuaded her, it was he. But
such was her unshaken fidelity to her husband, and the constant
pui*pose of her mind to pursue his interest, that the most
refined arts of gallantly that were practised, could not seduce
her heart. The necklaces, diamond crosses, and rich bracelets

' As all attempts of the party to lettei- by Prince Eugene urging the

preclude the treaty were ineffectual, continuance of the war, and offer-

and complaints were made of the ing to bear a proportion of the

deficiencies of the house of Austria, expense,
the Archduke sent a message and


that were offered, she rejected with the utmost scorn and
disdain. The music and serenades that were given her,
sounded more ungratefully in her ears than the noise of a
screech-owl ; however, she received Esquire South's letter ]>y
the hands of Signior Benenato with that I'espect which became
his quality. The copy of the letter is as follows, in which you
will observe he changes a little his usual style.


The writ of ejectment against Philip Baboon, (pretended
Lord Strutt) is just ready to pass ; there want but a few
necessary forms, and a verdict or two more, to put me in the
quiet possession of my honour and estate : I question not, but
that according to your wonted generosity and goodness you will
give it the finishing stroke, an honour that I would grudge any-
body but yourself. In order to ease you of some paii of the
charges, I promise to furnish pen, ink, and paper, provided you
jjay for the stamps. Besides, I have ordered my stewai'ds to
pay, out of the readiest and best of my rents, five pounds ten
shillings a year, till my suit is finished. I wish your health
and happiness, being with due respect.


Your assured friend,


What answer Mis. Bull returned to tliis letter you shall know
in my second part, only they were at a pretty good distance in
their proposals ; for as Esquire South only offered to be at the
charges of pen, ink, and paper \ Mrs. Bull refused any more
than to lend her barge to carry his council to Westminster Hall.

^ This proportion was thought than the convoy of the forces by the
to be so inconsiderable, that tlie English fleet to Barcelona,
letter produced no other effect,



The world is much indebted to the famous Sir Humphry
Polesworth for his ingenious and impartial account of John
Bull's lawsuit ; yet there is just cause of complaint against him,
in that he relates it only by parcels, and won't give us the whole
work : this forces me, who am only the pubHsher, to bespeak
the assistance of his friends and acquaintance to engage him to
lay aside that stingy humour, and gratify the curiosity of the
public at once. He pleads in excuse, that they are only private
memoirs, wrote for liis own use, in a loose style, to serve as a
help to his ordinary conversation. I represented to him the good
reception the first part had met with ; that, though calculated
only for the meridian of Gmb Street, it was yet taken notice
of by the better sort ; that the world was now sufficiently
acquainted with John Bull, and interested itself in his concerns.
He answered, with a smile, that he had indeed some trifling
things to impart, that concerned John Bull's relations and
domestic affairs ; if these would satisfy me, he gave me free
leave to make use of them, because they would serve to make
the history of the lawsuit more intelligible. When I had
looked over the manuscript, I found likewise some further
account of the composition, which perhaps may not be
unacceptable to such as have read the former part.

The character of John Bull's mother ^

John had a mother, whom he loved and honoured extremely,
a discreet, grave, sober, good-conditioned, cleanly old gentle-

^ This Preface formed the com- his Senses.
mencement of the third of the ^ The Church of England,

original pamphlets, John Bull still in


woman as ever lived ; she was none of your cross-grained,
termagant, scolding jades, that one had as good be hanged as
live in the house with, such as are always censuring the
conduct, and telling scandalous stories of their neighbours,
extolling their own good qualities, and undervaluing those of
others. On the contraiy, she was of a meek spirit, and, as she
was strictly virtuous herself, so she always put the best con-
struction upon the words and actions of her neighljours, except
where they were irreconcileable to the rules of honesty and
decency. She was neither one of your precise prudes, nor one
of your fantastical old belles, that dress themselves like girls
of fifteen ; as she neither wore a ruff, forehead cloth, nor high-
crowned hat, so she had laid aside feathers, flowers, and crmipt
i-ibbons in her head-dress, furbelow-scarfs, and hooped-petticoats.
She scorned to patch and j^aint, yet she loved to keep her hands
and her face clean. Though she wore no flaunting laced ruffles,
she would not keep herself in a constant sweat with greasy
flannel ; though her hair was not stuck with jewels, she was
not ashamed of a diamond cross ; she was not, like some ladies,
hung about with toys and trinkets, tweezer-cases, pocket glasses,
and essence bottles ; she used only a gold watch and an
almanac, to mark the hours and the holy-days.

Her furniture was neat and genteel, well fancied with a
&0W gout. As she affected not the grandeur of a state with
a canopy, she thought there was no offence in an elbow-chair ;
she had laid aside your car\'mg, gilding, and japan work,
as being too apt to gather dirt ; but she never could be
prevailed upon to part with plain wainscot and clean hangings.
There are some ladies that affect to smell a stink in eveiy
thing ; they are always highly perfumed, and continually
burning frankincense in then- rooms ; she was above such
affectation, yet she never would lay aside the use of brooms,
and scrubbing-l)rushes, and scrupled not to lay her linen in
fresh lavender.

She was no less genteel in her behaviour, well-bred, without
affectation, in the due mean between one of your affected
curtesying pieces of formality, and your romps that have no
regard to the common rules of civility. There are some ladies,
that affect a mighty regard for their relations : ' we must not
eat to-day, for my uncle Tom, or my cousin Betty, died this
time ten years : let's have a ball to-night, it is my neighbour


such-a-one's bii-th-day ; ' she looked upon all this as grimace ;
yet she constantly observed her husband's birth-day, her
wedding-day, and some few more.

Though she was a truly good woman, and had a sincere
motherly love for her son John, yet there wanted not those
who endeavoured to create a misunderstanding between them,
and they had so far prevailed with him once, that he turned her
out of doors', to his great sorrow, as he found aftenvards, for
his affairs went on at sixes and sevens.

She was no less judicious in the turn of her conversation and
choice of her studies, in which she far exceeded all her sex :
our rakes that hate the company of all sober grave gentle-
women, would bear her's ; and she would, by her handsome
manner of proceeding, sooner reclaim them than some that
were more sour and resers^ed. She was a zealous i>reacher up
of chastity, and conjugal fidelity in wives, and by no means a
friend to the new-fangled doctrine of the indispensable duty of
cuckoldom. Though she advanced her opinions with a becoming
assurance, yet she never ushered them in, as some positive
creatures will do, with dogmatical assertions, * this is infallible ;
I cannot be mistaken ; none but a rogue can deny it.' It has
been observed, that such people are oftener in the wrong than

Though she had a thousand good qualities, she was not with-
out her faults, amongst which one might perhaps reckon too
great lenity to her servants, to whom she always gave good
counsel, but often too gentle correction. I thought I could not
say less of John Bull's mother, because she bears a part in the
following transactions.


The character of John Bull's sister Peg% with the


John had a sister, a poor girl that had been starved at nurse ;
anybody would have guessed Miss to have been bred up
under the influence of a cruel step-dame, and John to be the
fondling of a tender mother. John looked ruddy and plump,
with a pair of cheeks like a trumpeter ; Miss looked pale and

1 At the Civil War. ^ The nation and church of Scotland.


wan, as if she had the green-sickness ; and no wonder, for John
was the darling, he had all the good bits, was crammed with
good pullet, chicken, pig, goose, and capon, while Miss had
only a little oatmeal and water, or a diy crust without butter.
John had his golden pippins, peaches, and nectarines ; poor
Miss a crab-ajiple, sloe, or a blackberry. Master lay in the best
apartment, with his bedchamber towards the south sun. Miss
lodged in a garret, exposed to the north wind, which shrivelled
her countenance ; however, this usage, though it stunted the
girl in her growth, gave her a hardy constitution ; she had life
and spirit in abundance, and knew when she was ill-used :
now and then she would seize upon John's commons, snatch a
leg of a pullet, or a bit of good beef, for wliich they were sure to
go to fisticuffs. Master was indeed too strong for her ; but Miss
would not yield in the least point, but, even when Master has
got her down, she would scratch and bite like a tiger ; when
he gave her a cuff on the ear she would prick him with her
knitting-needle. John brought a great chain one day to tie
her to the bed-post, for which affront Miss aimed a pen-knife at
his heart ^ In short, these quarrels grew vip to rooted aver-
sions ; they gave one another nick-names : she called him
gundy-guts, and he called her lousy Peg, though the girl
was a tight clever wench as any was, and through her pale
looks you might discern spirit and vivacity, which made her
not, indeed, a perfect beauty, but somethmg that was agree-
able. It was barbarous in parents not to take notice of these
early quarrels, and make them live better together, such do-
mestic feuds provmg afterwards the occasion of misfortunes to
them both. Peg had, indeed, some odd humours, and comical
antipathies, for which John M^ould jeer her. ' What think you
of my sister Peg,' says he, ' that faints at the sound of an organ,
and yet will dance and frisk at the noise of a bagpipe?'
'What's that to you, gundy-guts,' quoth Peg, ' eveiybody's to
choose their own music' Then Peg had taken a fancy not to
say her Pater-noster, which made people imagine strange
things of her. Of the three brothers that have made such a
clutter in the world, Lord Peter, Martin, and Jack ^, Jack had

* Ileniy VIII, to unite the two event probably the avithor alludes,

kingdoms under one sovereign, of- ^ The names given in Swift's

fered his daughter Mary to James V TaJe of a Tub to those who followed

of Scotland ; this offer was rejected, the Koman Catholic church, Luther,

and followed by a war : to this and Calvin, respectively.


of late been her inclinations ' : Lord Peter she detested ; nor did
Martin stand much better in her good graces, but Jack had
found the way to her heart. I have often admired, what
charms she discovered in that awkward booby, till I talked
with a person that was acquainted with the intrigue, who gave
me the following account of it.


Jack's charms, or the method by which he gained

Peg's heart.

In the fii-st place, Jack was a very young fellow, by much
the youngest of the three brothers, and people, indeed, won-
dered how such a young upstart jackanapes should grow so pert
and saucy, and take so much upon him.

Jack bragged of greater abilities than other men ; he was
well-gifted, as he pretended ; I need not tell you what secret
influence that has upon the ladies.

Jack had a most scandalous tongue, and persuaded Peg that
all mankind, besides himself, were by that scarlet-
faced whore Signiora Bubonia ^ : 'As for liis brother, Lord Peter,
the tokens were evident on him, blotches, scabs [&c.] ;
his brother Martin, though he was not quite so bad, had some
nocturnal pains, which his friends pretended were only scor-
butical ; but he was sure it proceeded from a worse cause.' By
such malicious insinuations he had possessed the lady that he
was the only man in the world of a sound, pure, and untainted
constitution : though there were some that stuck not to say,
that Signiora Bubonia and Jack railed at one another, only the
better to hide an intrigue ; and that Jack had been found with
Signiora under his cloak, canying her home in a dark stormy

Jack was a prodigious ogier ; he would ogle you the outside
of his eye inward, and the white upward.

Jack gave himself out for a man of a great estate in the For-
tunate Islands, of which the sole propei-ty was vested in his
person ; by this trick he cheated abundance of poor people of
small sums, pretending to make over plantations in the said

1 Love of Presbytery. ^ The whore of Babylon, or the Pope.


islands ; but when the poor wretches came there with Jack's
grant, they were beat, mocked, and turned out of doors.

I told you Peg was whimsical, and loved anything that was
particular ; in that way, Jack was her man, for he neither
thought, spoke, dressed, nor acted like other mortals : he was
for your bold strokes, he railed at fops, though he was himself
the most affected in the world ; instead of the common fashion,
he would visit his mistress in a mourning cloak, band, short
cuffs, and a peaked beard. He invented a way of coming into
a room backwards, which, he said, shewed more humility, and
less affectation ; where other people stood, he sat ; where they
sat, he stood ; when he went to court, he used to kick away
the state, and sit down by his prince cheek by jole : ' confound
these states, ' says he, ' they are a modern invention : ' when he
spoke to his prince, he always turned his br — ch upon him ;
if he was advised to fast for his health, he would eat roast-
beef ; if he was allowed a more plentiful diet, then he would
be sure that day to live upon water-gruel ; he would cry at a
wedding, laugh and make jests at a funeral.

He was no less singular in his opinions ; you would have
burst your sides to hear him talk of politics : ' All govern-
ment,' says he, ' is founded upon the right distribution of pun-
ishments ; decent executions keep the world in awe ; for that
reason the majority of mankind ought to be hanged eveiy year \

Online LibraryGeorge Atherton AitkenThe life and works of John Arbuthnot, M.D., fellow of the Royal College of Physicians → online text (page 21 of 47)