George Atherton Aitken.

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

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phlet. kirk.


a great steadiness of mind to pursue his own interest through
all impediments that were thrown in the way : he began to
leave off some of his old acquaintance, his roaring and bullying
about the streets ; he put on a serious an*, knit his brows, and,
for the time, had made a veiy considerable progress in politics,
considering that he had been kept a stranger to his own affairs.
However, he could not help discovering some remains of his
nature, when he happened to meet with a football, or a match
at cricket ; for which Su' Eoger was sure to take him to task.
John was walking about his room, with folded arms, and a
most thoughtful countenance ; his servant brought him word,
that one Lewis Baboon below wanted to speak with him. John
had got an impression, that Lewis was so deadly cunning a man,
that he was afraid to venture himself alone with him ; at last
he took heai-t of grace ; ' let him come uj), ' quoth he, ' it is but
sticking to my point, and he can never over-reach me.'

Lewis Baboon. Monsieur Bull, I will frankly acknowledge
that my behaviour to my neighbours has been somewhat uncivil,
and I believe you will readily grant me that I have met with
usage accordingly. I was fond of back-sword and cudgel-play
from my youth, and I now bear in my body many a black and
blue gash and scar, God knows. I had as good a warehouse,
and as fan* possessions, as any of my neighbours, though I say
it ; but a contentious temper, flattering servants, and unfortunate
stars, have brought me into chcumstances that are not unknown
to you. These my misfortunes are heightened by domestic
calamities, that I need not relate. I am a poor battered old
fellow, and I would willingly end my days in peace ; but alas !
I see but small hopes of that, for eveiy new circumstance affords
an argument to my enemies to pursue their revenge ; formerly
I was to be hanged, because I was too strong, and now because
I am too weak to resist ; I am to be brought down when too
rich, and oppressed when too poor. Nic. Frog has used me
like a scoundrel ; you are a gentleman, and I freely put myself
in your hands to dispose of me as you think fit.

J. Bull. Look you. Master Baboon, as to your usage of your
neighbours, you had best not dwell too much upon that chapter ;
let it suffice at present, that you have been met with : you have
been rolling a great stone up hill all your life, and at last it has
come tumbling down till it is like to crush you to pieces : plain-
dealing is best. If you have any particular mark, Mr. Baboon,


whereby one may know when you fib, and when you speak truth,
you had best tell it me, that one may proceed accordingly ; but,
since at present I know of none such, it is better that you should
ti'ust me, than that I shall trust you.

L. Baboon. I know of no particular mark of veracity amongst
us tradesmen, but interest ; and it is manifestly mine not to
deceive you at this time ; you may safely trust me, I can assure

J. HuV.. The trust I give is in short this ; I must have
something in hand before I make the bargain, and the rest
before it is concluded.

L. Bahoon. To shew you I deal faii'ly, name your something.

J. Bull. I need not tell thee, old boy ; thou canst guess.

L. Baboon. Ecclesdown Castle \ I'll warrant you, because it
has been formerly in your family ! Say no more, you shall
have it.

J. Bull. I shall have it to my own self?

L. Baboon. To thy own self.

J. Bull. Every wall, gate, room, and inch of Ecclesdown
Castle, you say !

L. Baboon. Just so.

J. Bull. Every single stone of Ecclesdown Castle, to my own
self, speedily !

L. Baboon. "When you please ; what needs more words ?

J. Bull. But tell me, old boy, hast thou laid aside all thy
equivocals and mentals in this case ?

L. Baboon. There's nothing like matter of fact ; seeing is

J. Bull. Now thou talkest to the puipose ; let us shake hands,
old boy. Let me ask thee one question more ; what hast thou
to do to meddle with the affairs of my family? to dispose of
my estate, old boy ?

L. Bahoon. Just as much as you have to do with the affairs
of Lord Strutt.

J. Bull. Ay, but my trade, my very being, was concerned in

L. Bahoon. And my interest was concerned in the other.
But let us both drop our pretences ; for I believe it is a moot
point, w^hether I am more likely to make a Master Bull, or you
a Lord Strutt.

^ Dunkirk.


J. B^ill. Agreed, old boy ; but then I must have security,
that I shall carry my broad-cloth to market, old boy.

L. Baboon. That you shall : Ecclesdown Castle ! Ecclesdown !
remember that ; why wouldest thou not take it, when it was
offered thee some years ago ?

J. Bull. I would not take it, because they told me thou
wouldst not give it me.

L. Baboon. How could Monsieur Bull be so grossly abused by
downright nonsense? they that advised you to refuse, must
have believed I intended to give, else why would they not
make the experiment ? but I can tell you more of that matter
than perhaps you know at present.

J. Bull. But what sayest thou as to the Esquire, Nic. Frog,
and the rest of the tradesmen ! I must take care of them.

L. Baboon. Thou hast but small obligation to Nic, to my
certain knowledge : he has not used me like a gentleman.

J. Bull. Nic. indeed is not very nice in your punctUios of
ceremony ; he is clownish, as a man may say ; belching and
calling of names have been allowed him time out of mind, by
prescrij^tion : but, however, we are engaged in one common
cause, and I must look after him.

L. Baboon. All matters that relate to him, and the rest of
the plaintiffs in this lawsuit, I will refer to your justice.


Nic. Fkog's letter to John Bull ; wherein he endeavours
to vindicate all his conduct with relation to john
Bull and the lawsuit.

Nic. perceived now that his cully had elojjed, that John
intended henceforth to deal without a broker ; but he was
resolved to leave no stone unturned to recover his bubble:
amongst other artifices he wrote a most obliging letter, which
he sent him printed in a fair character.

Dear Friend,
"When I consider the late ill usage I have met with from you,
I was reflecting what it was that could provoke you to it ; but,
upon a narrow inspection into my conduct, I can find nothing
to reproach myself with, but too partial a concern for your
interest. You no sooner set this composition afoot, but I was
ready to comply, and prevented your very wishes ; and the


affair might have been ended before now, had it not been for
tlie greater concerns of Esquire South, and the other poor
creatures embarked in the same common cause, whose safety
touches me to the quick. You seemed a little jealous that I
had dealt unfairly with you in money matters, till it appeared
by your own account that there was something due to me
upon the balance. Having nothing to answer to so plain a
demonstration, you began to complain, as if I had been familiar
with your reputation ; when it is well known not only I, but
the meanest servants in my family, talk of you with the utmost
respect. I have always, as far as in me lies, exhorted your
servants and tenants to be dutiful ; not that I any way meddle
in your domestic affairs, which were veiy unbecoming for me to
do. If some of your servants express their great concern for
you in a manner that is not so very polite, you ought to impute
it to their extraordinary zeal, which desei-ves a reward, rather
than a rej^roof. You cannot reproach me for want of success at
the 'Salutation,' since I am not master of the passions and
interests of other folks. I have beggared myself with this law-
suit, undertaken merely in complaisance to you ; and, if you
would have had but a little patience, I had still greater things
in resen^e, that I intended to have done for you. I hope what
I have said will prevail with you to lay aside your vmreasonable
jealousies, and that we may have no more meetings at the
' Salutation,' spending our time and money to no purpose. My
concern for your welfare and prosperity almost makes me mad.
You may be assured I will continue to be

Your affectionate friend and servant,

Nic. Frog.

John received this with a good deal of sang froid : * transeat,'
quoth John, ' cum caetcris errorihus.' He was now at his ease ; he
saw he could now make a very good bargain for himself, and a
very safe one for other folks. ' My shirt, ' quoth he, * is near me,
but my skin is nearer : whilst I take care of the welfare of
other folks, nobody can blame me to apply a little balsam
to my own sores. It's a pretty thing, after all, for a man to
do his own business ; a man has such a tender concern for
himself, there's nothing like it. This is something better,
I ti'ow, than for John Bull to be standing in the market like

a great dray-horse, with Frog's paws upon his head, 'What

will you give me for this beast ? ' Serviteur Nic. Frog, you may
kiss my backside, if you please. Though John Bull had not


read your Aristotles, Platos, and Macliiavels, he can see as
far into a mill-stone as another.' With that John began to
chuckle and laugh, till he was like to have burst his sides.


The discourse that passed between Nic. Frog and Esquire
South, which John Bull overheard \

John thought eveiy minute a year, till he got into
Ecclesdown Castle ; he repaired to the ' Salutation,' with a design
to break the matter gently to his partners ; before he entered,
he overheard Nic. and the Esquire in a very pleasant con-

T!isq. South. Oh the ingratitude and injustice of mankind !
that John Bull, whom I have honoured with my friendship
and protected so long, should flinch at last, and pretend that
he can disburse no more money for me ! that the family of
the Souths, by his sneaking temper, should be kept out of
their own !

Nic. Frog. An't like your worshij), I am in amaze at it ;
I think the rogue shovild be compelled to his duty.

Esq. South. That he should prefer his scandalous pelf, the
dust and dregs of the earth, to the prosperity and grandeur
of my family.

Nic. Frog. Nay, he is mistaken there too ; for he would
quickly lick himself whole again by his vails. It's strange
he should prefer Philip Baboon's custom to Esquire South 's.

Esq. South. As you say, that my clothier, that is to get
so much by the pvirchase, should refuse to put me in posses-
sion ! Did you ever know any man's tradesman serve him
so before ?

Nic. Frog. No, indeed, an't please your worship, it is a
very unusual proceeding ; and I would not have been guilty
of it for the world. If your honour had not a great stock of
moderation and patience, you would not bear it so well as
you do.

Esq. South. It is most intolerable, that's certain, Nic, and
I will be revenged.

Nic. Frog. Methinks it is strange that Philip Baboon's

' Negociations between the Em- the war, and getting the property
poror and the Dutch for continuing of Flanders.


tenants do not all take your honour's part, considering how
good and gentle a master you are.

^sq. South. True, Nic, but few are sensible of merit in
this world ; it is a great comfort to have so faithful a fiiend
as thyself in so critical a juncture.

Nic. Frog. If all the world should forsake you, be assured
Nic. Frog never will ; let us stick to our point, and we'll
manage Bull, I'll warrant ye.

Esq. South. Let me kiss thee, dear Nic. ; I have found one
honest man among a thousand at last.

Nic. Frog. If it were possible, your honour has it in your
power to wed me still closer to your interest.

Esq. South. Tell me quickly, dear Nic.

Nic. Frog. You know I am your tenant ; the difference
between my lease and an inheritance is such a trifle as I am
sure you will not grudge your poor friend ; that will be an
encouragement to go on ; besides it will make Bull as mad
as the devil : you and I shall be able to manage him then to
some purpose.

Esq. South. Say no more, it shall be done, Nic, to thy heart's

John all this while was listening to this comical dialogue,
and laughed heartily in his sleeve at the pride and simi^licity
of the Esquu-e, and the sly roguery of his friend Nic. Then
of a sudden bolting into the room, be began to tell them, that
be believed he had brought Lewis to reasonable terms, if they
would please to hear them.

Then they all bawled out aloud, 'no composition, long Hve
Esquire South and the law ! ' As John was going to proceed,
some roared, some stamped with their feet, others stopped their
ears with their fingers.

' Nay, gentlemen, ' quoth John, ' if you will but stop proceeding
for a while, you shall judge yourselves whether Lewis's pro-
posals are reasonable.'

All. Veiy fine indeed, stop proceeding, and so lose a term.

J. Bull. Not so neither, we have something by way of
advance ; he will pvit us in possession of his manor and castle
of Ecclesdown.

Nic. Frog. What dost thou talk of us ? thou meanest thyself.

J. Bull. When Frog took possession of anything, it was
always said to be for us, and why may not John Bull be


us, as well as Nic. Frog was us? I hope John Bull is no
more confined to singulai-ity than Nic. Frog ; or, take it so,
the constant doctrine, that thou hast preached up for many
years, was, that thou and I are one ; and why must we be
supposed two in this case, that were always one before? it's
impossible that thou and I can fall out, Nic, we must trust one
another ; I have trusted thee with a great many things, prithee
trust me with this one trifle.

l^ic. Frog. That principle is true in the main, Ijut there
is some speciality in this case, that makes it highly incon-
venient for us both.

J. Bull. Those are your jealousies, that the common enemies
sow between us ; how often hast thou warned me of
those rogues, Nic, that would make us mistrustful of one
another !

Nic. Frog. This Ecclesdown Castle is only a bone of conten-

J. Bull. It depends upon you to make it so ; for my part
I am as peaceable as a lamb.

Nic. Frog. But do you consider the unwholesomeness of
the air and soil, the expenses of reparations and servants ? I
would scorn to accept of such a quagmire.

J. Bull. You are a great man, Nic, but, in my circumstances,
I must be even content to take it as it is.

Nic. Frog. And you are really so silly as to beheve the
old cheating rogue will give it you ?

J. Ball. I believe nothing but matter of fact ; I stand and
fall by that ; I am resolved to put him to it.

Nic. Frog. And so relinquish the hopefuUest cause in the
world, a clami that will certamly in the end make thy fortune
for ever !

J. Bull, Wilt thou purchase it, Nic. ? thou shalt have a
lumping pennj'w^orth ; nay, rather than we should diffei',
I'll give thee something to take it off my hands.

Nic. Frog. If thou Avouldest but moderate that hasty, im-
patient temper of thine, thou shouldest quickly see a better
thing than all that. What shouldest thou think to find old
Lewis turned out of his paternal estates, and the mansion
house of Clay-pooP? Would not that do thy heai-t good, to
see thy old iriend, Nic. Frog, Lord of Clay-pool? Then thou

' Clay-pool, Paris (Lutetia.)


and thy wife and children should walk in my gardens, buy
toys, drink lemonade, and now and then we should have a
countiy dance.

J. Bull. I love to be plain ; I'd as lief see myself in Eccles-
down Castle, as thee in Clay-pool. I tell you again, Lewis gives
this as a pledge of his sincerity ; if you won't stop proceeding
to hear him, I will.


The best of Nic.'s fetches to keep John out of
EccLESDOWN Castle \

"When Nic. could not dissuade John by argument, he tried to
move his pity ; he pretended to be sick and like to die, that he
should leave his wife and children in a starving condition, if
John did abandon him ; that he was hardly able to crawl about
the room, far less capable to look after such a troublesome
business as this lawsuit, and therefore begged that his good
friend would not leave him. When he saw that John was still
inexorable, he pulled out a case-knife, with which he used to
snicker-snee, and threatened to cut his own throat. Thrice he
aimed the knife to his wind-pipe with a most determined
threatening air. 'What signifies life,' quoth he, 'in this
languishing condition? It will be some pleasure, that my
friends will revenge my death upon this barbarous man, that
has been the cause of it.' All this while John looked sedate
and calm, neither offering in the least to snatch the knife, nor
stop his blow, ti'usting to the tenderness Nic. had for his own
person. When he perceived that John was mimoveable in his
purpose, he applied himself to Lewis.

'Art thou,' quoth he, 'turned bubble in thy old age, from
being a sharper in thy youth? Wliat occasion hast thou to
give up Ecclesdown Castle to John BuU ? his friendship is not
worth a rush ; give it me, and I'll make it worth thy while.
If thou dislikest that proposition, keep it thyself ; I'd rather
thou shouldest have it than he. If thou hearkenest not to my
advice, take what follows ; Esquire South and I will go on with
our lawsuit in spite of John Bull's teeth.'

L. Baboon. Monsieur Bull has used me like a gentleman, and
I am resolved to make good my promise, and trust him for the

1 Attempts to hinder the cessation, and taking possession of Dunkirk.


Nie. Frog. Then I tell thee thou art an old doating fool

With that, Nic. bounced iij:) with a spring equal to that of one
of your nimhlest tumblers or rope-dancers, and fell foul upon
John Bull, to snatch the cudgeP he had in his hand, that he
might thwack Lewis with it : John held it fast, so that there
was no wrenching it from him. At last Esquire South buckled
to, to assist his friend Nic. ; John hauled on one side, and they
two on the other ; sometimes they were like to pull John over ;
then it went all of a sudden again on John's side ; so they went
see-sawing up and down, from one end of the room to the other.
Down tumbled the tables, bottles, glasses, and tobacco-pipes ;
the wine and the tobacco were all spilt about the room, and the
little fellows were almost trod under foot, till, more of the
tradesmen joining with Nic. and the Esquire, John was hardly
able to pull against them all, yet would be never quit hold of
his trusty cudgel ; which by the contrary force of two so great
powers^ broke short in his hands. Nic. seized the longer end ^,
and with it began to bastinado old Lewis, who had slunk into a
corner, waiting the event of this squabble. Nic. came up to
him with an insolent menacing air, so that the old fellow was
forced to scuttle out of the room, and retire behind a dung-cart.
He called to Nic, ' Thou insolent jackanapes ! Time was when
thou durst not have used me so ; thou now takest me unprovided,
but, old and infirm as I am, I shall find a wea^^on by and by to
chastise thy impudence.'

When John Bull had recovered his breath, he began to parley
with Nic. ' Friend Nic. I am glad to find thee so strong after
thy great complaints : really thy motions, Nic, are pretty
vigorous for a consumptive man. As for thy worldly aifairs,
Nic, if it can do thee any service, I freely make over to thee
this profitable lawsuit, and I desire all these gentlemen to bear
witness to this my act and deed. Yours be all the gain, as
mine has been the charges ; I have brought it to bear finely :
however, all I have laid out upon it goes for nothing, thou
shalt have it with all its appurtenances, I ask nothing but leave
to go home.'

Nic. Frog. The counsel are feed, and all things prepared for a
trial ; thou shalt be forced to stand the issue : it shall be j^leaded

* The army. '' The portion of the army which

^ The separation of the army. revolted from the Duke of Ormond.


in thy name as well as mine. Go home if thou canst, the gates
are shut, the turnpikes ' locked, and the roads barricaded '^.

John Bull. Even these very ways, Nic, that thou toldest me
were as open to me as thyself ? if I can't pass with my own
equipage, what can I expect for my goods and waggons? I
am denied passage through those veiy grounds that I have
purchased with my own money ; however, I am glad I have
made the experiment, it may sei'\'e me in some stead.

John Bull was so overjoyed that he was going to take
possession of Ecclesdown, that nothing could vex him. ' Nic..'
quoth he, 'I am just a going to leave thee, cast a kind look
upon me at parting.'

Nic. looked sour and grum, and would not open his mouth.

J. Bull. I ^vish thee all the success that thy heart can
desire, and that these honest gentlemen of the long robe may
have their bellyfull of law.

Nic. could stand it no longer, but flung out of the room A\'ith
disdain, and beckoned the lawyers to follow him.

John Bull. Bye, bye, Nic, not one poor smile at parting?
won't you shake your day-day? Nic, bye, Nic.

"With that John marched out of the common road cross the
eountiy to take possession of Ecclesdown.


Of the gkeat joy that John expressed when he got
POSSESSION of Ecclesdown.

When John had got into his castle, he seemed like Ulysses
upon his plank after he had been well soused in salt water ;
who (as Homer says) was as glad as a judge going to sit down
to dinner, after hearing a long cause upon the bench. I dare
say John Bidl's joy was equal to that of either of the two ; he
skipped from room to room ; ran up stairs and down stairs,
from the kitchen to the garrets, and from the garrets to the
kitchen ; he peeped into every cranny ; sometimes he admired
the beauty of the architecture, and the vast solidity of the
mason's work ; at other times he commended the symmetiy
and proportion of the rooms. He walked about the gardens ;
he bathed himself in the canal, swimming, diving, and beating

* Garrisoned towns.

^ DifiBculty of the march of part of the army to Dunkirk.


the liquid element, like a milk-white swan. The hall resounded
with the sprightly violin, and the martial hautboy. The family
tripped it about and capered, like hailstones bounding from a
marble floor. Wine, ale and October flew about as plentifully
as kennel-water : then a frolic took John in the head to call up
some of Nic. Frog's pensioners, that had been so mutinous in
his family.

J. Bull. Ax-e you glad to see your master in Ecclesdown Castle ?

All. Yes, indeed. Sir.

John Bull. Extremely glad ?

All. Extremely glad, Sir.

J. Bull. Swear to me, that you are so.

Then they began to damn and sink their souls to the lowest
pit of hell, if any person in the world rejoiced more than they

Jolm Bull. Now hang me if I don't believe you are a parcel
of perjured rascals ; however take this bumper of October to
your master's health.

Then John got upon the battlements, and, looking over, he
called to Nic. Frog :

' How d'ye do, Nic. ? D'ye see where I am, Nic. ? I hoj)e
the cause goes on swdmmingly, Nic. "When dost thou intend
to go to Clay-pool, Nic. ? Wilt thou buy there some high heads
of the newest cut for my daughters ? How comest thou to go
with thy arm tied up ? Has old Lewis given thee a rap over
thy finger-ends ^ ? Thy weapon was a good one, when I wielded
it, but the butt-end ^ remains in my hands. I am so busy in
packing up my goods, that I have no time to talk with thee any
longei'. It would do thy heart good to see what waggon-loads
I am preparing for market. If thou wantest any good office of
mine, for all that has happened, I will use thee well, Nic,
Bye, Nic'

* The defeat at Denain. ^ The English troops.



It has been disputed amongst the literati of Grub Street,
whether Sir Humphiy proceeded any farther into the history of
John Bull. By diligent inquiry we have found the titles of
some chapters, which appear to be a continuation of it ; and are
as follow :

Chap. I. How John was made angiy with the articles of agree-
ment. How he kicked the parchment through the house,
up stairs and down stairs, and put himself in a great heat

Chap. II. How in his passion he was going to cut off Sir Eoger's
head with a cleaver. Of the strange manner of Sir Eoger's
escaping the blow, by laying his head upon the dresser.

Chap. III. How some of John's servants attempted to scale his
house with rope-ladders ; and how many unfortunately
dangled in the same.

Online LibraryGeorge Atherton AitkenThe life and works of John Arbuthnot, M.D., fellow of the Royal College of Physicians → online text (page 26 of 47)