George Atherton Aitken.

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

. (page 24 of 47)
Online LibraryGeorge Atherton AitkenThe life and works of John Arbuthnot, M.D., fellow of the Royal College of Physicians → online text (page 24 of 47)
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some were for emollient poultices, others for opening his arm
with an incision-knife ^.

' The Archduke had now become ^ The original pamphlet ends as

Emperor of Germany, being iman- follows : ' I could not obtain from

iniously elected ujjon the death of Sir Humphry, at this time, a copy

J< seph the First. of John's letter, which he sent to

- Some attempts at secret nego- his nephew by the young Necro-

ciation between the French and the mancer, wherein he advises him

Dutch. not to eat butter, ham, and drink



The apprehending, examination, and imprisonment of
Jack for suspicion of poisoning ^

The attentive reader cannot have forgot, that the stoiy of
Yan Ptschii'nsooker's powder was interrupted by a message
from Frog. I have a natural compassion for curiosity, being
much troubled with the distemper myself ; therefore, to gratify
that uneasy itching sensation in my reader, I have procured
the following account of that matter.

Yan Ptschirnsooker came off (as rogues usually do upon such
occasions) by peaching his paiiner, and being extremely forward
to bring him to the gallows. Jack was accused as the con-
triver of all the rogueiy. And indeed it happened unfortunately
for the poor fellow, that he was known to bear a most in-
veterate spite against the old gentlewoman ; and consequently,
that never any ill accident hapi^ened to her, but he was sus-
pected to be at the bottom of it. If she pricked her finger,
Jack, to be sure, laid the pm in the way ; if some noise in the
street disturbed her rest, who could it be but Jack in some of
his nocturnal rambles? If a servant ran away, Jack had de-
bauched him : every idle tittle-tattle that went about. Jack was
always suspected for the author of it ; however, all was nothing
to this last affair of the temperating, moderating powder.

The hue and cry went after Jack to apprehend him dead or
alive, wherever he could be found. The constables looked out
for him in all his usual haunts, but to no pui-pose. Where d'ye

old Hock in a morning with tlie But the Earl of Nottingham having

Esquire and Frog, for fear of giving brought it in a fourth time under

him a sour breath.' anotlier name, and with the addi-

^ Here the fourth pamphlet, An tion of such clauses as were said to

Appendix to John Bull still in Ms Senses, enlarge the toleration, and to be a

commenced. further security to the Protestant

' The i-eceiving the holy sacra- succession, the Whigs, whose cause

ment as administered by the Church the Earl then appeared to espouse,

of England, once at least in every were persuaded to concur ; some,

year, having been made a necessary because they were indeed willing

qualification for places of trust and that the bill should jiass, and

profit, many of the Dissenters came others, because they believed the

to the altar merely for this purpose. Earl of Oxford would at last procure

A bill to prevent this practice had it to be thrown out. The four ful-

been three times brought into the lowing chapters contain the liistory

House and rejected, under the title of this transaction.
of .4 bill to prevent Occasional Conformity.


think they found him at last? Even smoking his pipe veiy
quietly at his brother Martin's ; from whence he was carried
with a vast mob at his heels before the worshipful Mr. Justice
Overdo. Several of his neighbours made oath, that of late the
prisoner had been observed to lead a very dissolute life, re-
nouncing even his usual hypocrisy, and pretences to sobriety ;
that he frequented taverns and eating-houses, and had been
often guilty of drunkenness and gluttony at my Lord Mayor's
table ; that he had been seen in the company of lewd women ;
that he had transferred his usual care of the engrossed copy
of his father's will to Ixink bills, orders for tallies, and de-
bentures ' : these he now affirmed, with more litei'al truth,
to be meat, drink, and cloth, the philosopher's stone, and the
universal medicine '" : that he was so far from shewing his cus-
tomaiy reverence to the will, that he kept company with those
that called his father a cheating rogue, and his will a forgery '^ :
that he not only sat quietly and heard his father railed at, but
often chimed in with the discourse, and hugged the authors
as his bosom friends : that, instead of asking for blows at the
corners of the streets *, he now bestowed them as plentifully
as he begged theni before. In short, that he was grown a mere
rake, and had nothing left in him of old Jack, excej)t his spite
to John Bull's mothei.

Another witness made oath, that Jack had been overheard
liragging of a trick he had found out to manage the old formal
jade, as he used to call her\ 'Damn this numskull of mine,'
quoth he, * that I could not light on it sooner. As long as I go
in this ragged tattered coat, I am so well known that I am
hunted away from the old woman's door by every barking cur
a))out the house ; they bid me defiance. There's no doing
mischief as an open enemy, I must find some way or other of
getting within doors, and then I shall have better opportunities
of playing my pranks, besides the benefit of good keeping, '

Two witnesses swore ", that, several years ago, there came to
their mistress's door a young fellow in a tattered coat, that
went by the name of Timothy Trim, whom they did in their
conscience believe to be the very prisoner, resembling him in

' Dealing much in stock-jobbing. ^ Getting into places and church

^ TaU of a Tub, Sect. XI. preferments by occasional con-

' Herding with Deists and Athe- formity.

ists. ° Betraying the interests of the

* Tale of a Tub, Sect. XI. church, when in preferments.


shape, siaiure, and the features of his countenance : that the
said Timothy Trim, being taken into the family, claj^ped their
mistress's livery over his own tattered coat : that the said
Timothy was extremely officious aboiit their mistress's person,
endeavouring by flattery and tale-bearing to set her against the
rest of the servants ; nobody was so ready to fetch any thing
that was wanted, to reach what was dropt : that he used to
shove and elbow his fellow-servants to get near his mistress,
especially when money was a paying or receiving ; then he was
never out of the way : that he was extremely diligent about
eveiy body's business, but his own : that the said Timothy,
while he was in the family, used to be playing roguish tricks ;
when his mistress's back was turned, he would loll out his
tongue, make mouths, and laugh at her, walking behind her
like Harlequin, ridiculing her motions and gestures ; but, if his
mistress looked about, he put on a grave, demure countenance,
as if he had been in a fit of devotion : that he used often to
trip up stairs so smoothly, that you could not hear him ti'ead,
and pvit all things out of order : that he would pinch the
children and servants, when he met them in the dark, so hard,
that he left the print of his fore-finger and his thumb in black
and blue, and then slink into a corner, as if nobody had done it :
out of the same malicious design he used to lay chairs and
joint-stools in their way, that they might break their noses by
falling over them : the more young and unexperienced he used
to teach to talk saucily, and call names : during his stay in the
family, there was much plate missing ; being catched with a
couple of silver spoons in his pocket, with their handles
wrenched off, he said, he was only going to carry them to the
goldsmith's to be mended : that the said Timothy was hated by
all the honest servants for his ill-conditioned, splenetic tricks,
but especially for his slanderous tongue ; traducing them to
their mistress as drunkards, thieves, and whore-masters : that
the said Timothy by lying stories used to set all the family
together l^y the ears, taking delight to make them fight and
quarrel ; particularly ' one day sitting at table, he spoke words
to this eifect : ' I am of opinion, ' quoth he, ' that little short
fellows, such as we are, have better hearts, and could beat the
tall fellows ; I wish it came to a fail' trial ; I believe these long

^ The original of the distinction in the names of Low Churchmen

S 2

and High Churchmen


fellows, as sightly as they are, should find their jackets well

A parcel of tall fellows, who thought themselves affronted by
the discourse, took up the quarrel, and to't they went, the tall men
and the low men, which continues still a faction in the family,
to the great disorder of our mistress's affairs. The said Tunothy
carried this frolic so far, that he proposed to his mistress that
she should entertain no servant that was above four feet seven
inches high ; and for that purpose had prepared a gauge, by
which they were to be measured. The good old gentlewoman
was not so simple as to go into his project ; she began to smell
a rat, 'This Trun,' quoth she, 'is an odd sort of a fellow;
methinks he makes a strange figure with that ragged, tattered
coat, appearing under his livery ; can't he go spruce and clean,
like the rest of the servants ? The fellow has a roguish leer with
him, which I don't like by any means ; besides, he has such a
twang in his discourse, and an ungraceful way of speaking
through the nose, that one can hardly understand him ; I wish
the fellow be not tainted with some bad disease.' The witnesses
further made oath, that the said Timothy lay out a-nights, and
went abroad often at unseasonable hours ; and it was credibly
reported, he did business in another family ; that he pretended
to have a squeamish stomach, and could not eat at table with
the rest of the servants, though this was but a pretence to
provide some nice bit for himself ; that he refused to dine upon
salt-fish, only to have an opportunity to eat a calf s head (his
favourite dish) in private ; that for all his tender stomach, when
he was got by himself, he could devour capons, turkeys, and
surloins of beef, like a cormorant.

Two other witnesses gave the following evidence : that, in
his officious attendance upon his mistress, he had tried to slip
a powder into her drink ; and that he was once catched endeavour-
ing to stifle her with a pillow, as she was asleep : that he and
Ptschirnsooker were often in close conference, and that they
used to drink together at the Eose, where it seems he was well
enough known by his true name of Jack.

The prisoner had little to say in his defence ; he endeavoured
to prove himself allhi ; so that the trial turned upon this single
question, whether the said Timothy Trim and Jack were the
same person ; which was proved by such plain tokens, and par-
ticularly l)y a mole under the left pap, that there was no with-


standing the evidence ; therefore the worshipful Mr. Justice
committed liim, in order to his trial.


How Jack's friends came to visit him in prison, and what


Jack hitherto had passed in the world for a poor, simple,
well-meaning, half-witted, crack-brained fellow. People were
strangely sui'prised to find him in such a rogueiy ; that he
should disguise himself under a false name, hire himself out
for a servant to an old gentlewoman, onlj- for an opportunity
to poison her. They said that it was more generous to profess
open enmity, than under a profound dissmiulation to be guilty
of such a scandalous breach of trust, and of the sacred rights
of hospitality. In short, the action was universally condemned
by his best friends ; they told him in plain terms, that this was
come as a judgment upon him for his loose life, his gluttony,
drunkenness, and avarice, for laying aside his father's will in
an old mouldy trunk, and turning stock-jobber, news-monger,
and busy-body, meddling with other people's affaii-s, shaking
off his old serious friends, and keeping company with buffoons
and pick-pockets, his father's sworn enemies ; that he had best
throw liimself upon the mercy of the court, repent, and change
his manners. To say ti'uth. Jack heard these discourses with
some compunction ; however, he resolved to try what his new
acquaintance would do for him : they sent Habbakkuk Slyboots \
who delivered him the following message, as the peremptory
commands of his trusty companions.

Hubhakliiik. Dear Jack, I am soriy for tby misfortune ; mattei-s
have not been carried on with due secrecy ; however, we must
make the best of a bad bargain : thou ai-t in the utmost
jeopardy, that's certain ; hang, draw, and quarter, are the
gentlest things they talk of. However, thy faithful friends,
ever watchful for thy security, bid me tell thee, that they have
one infallible expedient left to save thy life : thou must know,
we have got into some understanding with the enemy, by the
means of Don Diego ; he assures us there is no mercy for thee,
and that there is only one way left to escape ; it is indeed some-

' Lord Somers, who persuaded bill against Occasional Conformity,
the Dissenters to consent to the as being for their interest.


what out of the common road ; however, be assured it is the
result of most mature delilieration.

Jach Prithee tell me quickly, for my heait is sunk down
into the very bottom of my belly.

Hah. It is the unanimous opinion of your friends, that you
make as if you hanged yourself; they will give it out that
you are quite dead, and convey your body out of prison in a
bier ; and John Bull, being busied with his lawsuit, will not
inquire fui-ther into the matter.

Jack. How d'ye mean, make as if I hanged myself ?
Hob. Nay, you must really hang yourself up, in a true
genuine rope, that there may appear no trick in it, and leave
the rest to your friends.

Jach Truly this is a matter of some concern ; and my friends,
I hope, won't take it ill, if I enquire into the means by which
they intend to deliver me : a rope and a noose are no jesting
matters !

Hah. Why so mistrustful ? hast thou ever found us false to
thee ? I tell thee, there is one ready to cut thee down.

Jaclx. May I presume to ask who it is, that is intinisted with
so important an office ?

Hob. Is there no end of thy hows and thy whys ? That's a

JacTi. A secret, perhaps, that I may be safely trusted with,
for I am not like to tell it again. I tell you plainly, it is no
strange thing for a man, before he hangs himself up, to inquu'e
who is to cut him down.

Hah. Thou suspicious creature ! if thou must needs know it,
I tell thee it is Sir Eoger ^ ; he has been in tears ever since thy
misfortune. Don Diego and we have laid it so, that he is to
be in the next room, and, before the rope is well about thy
neck, rest satisfied, he will break in and cut thee down : fear
not, old boy ; we'll do it, I'll warrant thee.

Jacli. So I must hang myself up, upon hopes Sir Roger will
cut me down, and all this upon the credit of Don Diego : a fine
stratagem indeed to save my life, that depends uj)on hanging.
Don Diego, and Su' Roger !

Hah. I tell thee there is a mysteiy in all this, my friend, a

' Consent to the bill against Oc- sional Bill, and so lose his credit

casional Conformity. with the Tories ; and the Dissenters

'' It was given out that the Earl believed he would not sufler it to

of Oxford would oppose the Occa- pass.


piece of profound policy ; if thou knewest what good this will
do to the common cause, thy heart would leap for joy ; I am
sure thou wouldst not delay the experiment one moment.

Jack. This is to the tune of, All for the better. What's your
cause to me, when I am hanged ?

Hob. Refractory mortal ! If thou wilt not trust thy friends,
take what follows ; know assuredly, before next full moon, that
thou wilt be hung up in chains, or thy quarters perching upon
the most conspicuous places of the kingdom. Nay, I don't
believe they will be contented with hanging ; they talk of im-
paling, or breaking on the wheel ; and thou ehoosest that, before
a gentle suspending of thyself for one minute. Hanging is not
so painful a thing as thou imaginest. I have spoke with several
that have undergone it ; they all agree it is no manner of un-
easiness ; be sure thou take good notice of the symptoms, the
relation will be curious. It is but a kick or two with thy heels,
and a wry mouth or so ; Su' Roger will be with thee in the
twinkling of an eye.

Jack. But what if Sir Roger should not come ? will my
friends be there to succour me ?

Hob. Doubt it not ; I will provide every thing against to-
morrow morning ; do thou keep thy own secret ; say nothing :
I tell thee, it is absolutely necessary for the common good that
thou shouldst go through this operation.


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

Jack was a professed enemy to implicit faith, and yet I dare
say it was never more strongly exerted, nor more basely abused,
than upon this occasion. He was now with his old friends, in
the state of a poor disbanded officer after a peace, or rather a
wounded soldier after a battle ; like an old favourite of a
cunning minister after the job is over, or a decayed beauty to
a cloyed lover in quest of new game ; or like a hundred such
things that one sees every day. There were new intrigues,
new views, new projects on foot ; Jack's life was the purchase of
Diego's friendship \ much good may it do them. The interest

^ The Earl of Nottingham made the concm-rence of the Whigs to


of Hocus and Sir William Crawley \ which was now more at
heart, made this operation upon poor Jack absolutely necessaiy.
You may easily guess that his rest that night was but small,
and much disturbed ; however, the remaining part of liLs time
he did not employ (as his custom was formerly) in prayer,
meditation, or singing a double verse of a psalm ; but amused
hunself with disposing of liis bank stock. Many a doubt, many
a qualm, overspread his clouded imagination : ' Must I then, '
quoth he, ' hang up my own personal, natural, individual self,
with these two hands ! Durus Sermo ! What if I should be
cut down, as my friends tell me? There is something in-
famous in the very attempt; the world will conclude, I had
a guilty conscience. Is it possible that good man. Sir Eoger,
can have so much pity upon an unfortunate scoundrel, that has
persecuted hun so many years ? No, it cannot be ; I don't love
favours that pass through Don Diego's hands. On the other
side, my blood chills about my heaii; at the thought of these
rogues, with their bloody hands grabbling in my guts, and
pulling out my veiy entrails : hang it, for once I'll trust my
friends.' So Jack resolved ; but he had done more wisely to
have put himself upon the trial of his country, and made his
defence in form ; many things happen between the cup and
the lip ; witnesses might have been bribed, juries managed, or
prosecution stopped. But so it was. Jack for this time had a
sufficient stock of implicit faith, which led hmi to his loiin, as
the sequel of the story shews.

And now the fatal day was come, in wliich he was to tiy
this hanging experiment. His friends did not fail him at the
appointed hour to see it put in practice. Habbakkuk brought
him a smooth, strong, tough rope, made of many a ply of
wholesome Scandina^dan hemp, compactly twisted together,
with a noose that slipt as glib as a bird-catcher's gin. Jack
shrunk and grew j^ale at first sight of it ; he handled it, he
measured it, stretched it, fixed it against the ii-on bar of the
window to tiy its strength ; but no familiarity could reconcile
him to it. He found fault with the length, the thickness, and
the twist ; nay, the very colour did not please him. ' Will
nothing less than hanging serve,' quoth Jack; 'won't nay
enemies take bail for my good behaviour? Will they accept

bring in and carry this bill one of their cause.

the conditions of his engaging in ^ The Earl of Sunderland.


of a fine, or be satisfied with the i)illory and imprisonment,
a good round whipping, or burning in the cheek ? '

Hah. Nothing but your blood will appease their rage ; make
haste, else we shall be discovered. There's nothing like sur-
prising the rogues ; how they will be disappointed, when they
hear that thou hast prevented their revenge, and hanged thine
own self !

Jack. That's true ; but what if I should do it in effigies ?
Is there never an old Pope or Pretender to hang up in my
stead ? we are not so unlike, but it may pass.

Hob. That can never be put upon Sir Eoger.

Jack. Are you sure he is in the next room ? Have you pro-
vided a very sharp knife, in case of the worst ?

Hah. Dost take me for a common liar? be satisfied, no
damage can happen to your person ; your friends will take
care of that.

Jacli. Mayn't I quilt my rope ? It galls my neck strangely :
besides, I don't like tliis running knot, it holds too tight ; I may
be stifled all of a sudden.

Hah. Thou hast so many ifs and ands ; i)rithee despatch ;
it might have been over before this time.

Jack. But now I think on't, I would fain settle some affairs,
for fear of the worst ; have a little patience.

Hah. There's no having patience, thou art such a faintling,
silly creature.

Jack. thou most detestable, abominable passive obedience !
did I ever imagine I should become thy votary in so pregnant
an instance ! How will my brother Martin laugh at this story,
to see himself outdone in his own calling ? He has taken the
doctrine, and left me the j^ractice.

No sooner had he uttered th^se words, but, like a man of
true courage, he tied the fatal cord to the beam, fitted the
noose, and mounted upon the bottom of a tub, the inside of
which he had often graced in his prosperous days. This foot-
stool Habbakkuk kicked away, and left poor Jack swinging,
like the pendulvun of Paul's clock. The fatal noose performed
its office, and with the most strict ligature squeezed the blood
into his face, till it assumed a purple dye. While the poor man
heaved from the very bottom of his belly for breath, Habbakkuk
walked with great deliberation into Ijoth the upper and lower
room to acquaint his friends, who received the news with great


temper, and with jeers and scoffs instead of pity. 'Jack has
hanged himself,' quoth they, 'let us go and see how the rogue
swings, ' Then they called Sir Roger. ' Sir Roger, ' quoth
Habbakkuk, 'Jack has hanged himself, make haste and cut
him down.' Sir Roger turned first one ear, and then t'other,
not understanding what he said.

Hah. I tell you. Jack has hanged himself up.

Sir Itoger. Who's hanged ?

Hob. Jack.

Sir Bogcr. I thought this had not been hanging day.

Hob. But the poor fellow has hanged himself.

Sir lioger. Then let him hang. I don't wonder at it, the
fellow has been mad these twenty years. With this he slunk

Then Jack's friends began to hunch and push one another,
' Why don't you go, and cut the poor fellow down ? ' ' Why
don't you?' 'And why don't you?' 'Not I,' quoth one;
'Not I,' quoth another ; 'Not I,' quoth a thu'd ; 'he may hang
till doomsday before I relieve hun.' Nay, it is credibly re-
poi-ted, that they were so far from succourmg their poor friend
in this his dismal circumstance, that Ptschirnsooker and several
of his companions went in and pulled him by the legs, and
thumped hmi on the breast. Then they began to rail at him
for the veiy thuig wliieh they had advised and justified before,
viz. his getting into the old gentlewoman's family, and putting
on her liveiy. The keeper, who performed the last office,
coming up, found Jack swinging with no life m him ; he took
down the body gently, and laid it on a bulk, and brought out
the rope to the company : ' This, gentlemen, is the rope that
hanged Jack ; what must be done with it ? ' Upon which they
ordered it to be laid among the curiosities of Gresham College,
and it is called Jack's rope to this veiy day. However, Jack
after all had some small tokens of life in him, but lies at this
time past hope of a total recovery, with his head hanging on
one shoulder, without speech or motion. The coroner's inquest,
sujDposing him to be dead, brought hmi in Non compos.

The conference between Don Diego and John Bull.
During the time of the foregoing transactions, Don Diego
was entertaining John Bull.


D. JDicgo. I hope, Sir, this day's proceeding will convince
you of the sincerity of your old fiiend Diego, and the treacliery

Online LibraryGeorge Atherton AitkenThe life and works of John Arbuthnot, M.D., fellow of the Royal College of Physicians → online text (page 24 of 47)