Tobias George Smollett.

The adventures of Sir Launcelot Greaves ; and, The history and adventures of an atom online

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Online LibraryTobias George SmollettThe adventures of Sir Launcelot Greaves ; and, The history and adventures of an atom → online text (page 1 of 37)
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Tn which certain Personages of this delightful History are introduced to the

Reader's acquaintance ... ... ... ... ... ... '


In which the Hero of these Adventures makes his First Appearance on the

Stage of Action .. ... ... ... ... ... ... 8

Which the Reader, on perusal, may wish were Chapter the last ... ... 18


In which it appears that the Knight, when heartily set in for sleeping, was not

easily disturbed ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 32

In which this Recapitulation draws to a close ... ... ... ... 44

In which the Reader will perceive that in some cases Madness is catching ... 54

In which the Knight resumes his Importance ... ... ... ... 59


Which is within a hair'sbreadth of proving highly interesting ... . 68




Which may serve to show, that true Patriotism is of no Party ... ... 75


Which showeth that he who plays at Bowls, will sometimes meet with Rubbers S ;


Description of a Modern Magistrate ... ... ... ... ... 92

Which shows there are more ways to kill a Dog than Hanging ... ... 101

In which our Knight is tantalised with a transient Glimpse of Felicity ... i 1 1

Which shows that a man cannot always sip, when the Cup is at his Lip ... 120


Exhibiting an Interview, which, it is to be hoped, will interest the Curiosity of

the Reader ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 128


Which, it is to be hoped, the Reader wifl find an agreeable medley of Mirth

and Madness, Sense and Absurdity ... ... ... ... ... 137

Containing Adventures of Chivalry equally new and surprising ... ... 146

In which the rays of Chivalry shine with renovated Lustre... ... ... 156

Containing the achievements of the Knights of the Griffin and Crescent .. 164




Iii which our Hero descends into the Mansions of the damned ... .. 173


Containing further Anecdotes relating to the Children of Wretchedness ... 180

In which Captain Crowe is sublimed into the Regions of Astrology ... ... 189


In which the Clouds that cover the Catastrophe begin to disperse ... ... 198


The Knot that puzzles human Wisdom, the hand of Fortune sometimes will

untie familiar as her Garter ... ... ... ... ... 206


Which, it is to be hoped, will be, on more accounts than one, agreeable to the

Reader ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 217





In which certain Personages of this delightful History are introduced to the
Reader's acquaintance.

IT was on the great northern road from York to London, about
the beginning of the month of October, and the hour of eight in
the evening, that four travellers were, by a violent shower of
rain, driven for shelter into a little public-house on the side of
the highway, distinguished by a sign which was said to exhibit
the figure of a black lion. The kitchen, in which they assembled,
was the only room for entertainment in the house, paved with
red bricks, remarkably clean, furnished with three or four Windsor
chairs, adorned with shining plates of pewter, and copper sauce-
pans, nicely scoured, that even dazzled the eyes of the beholder ;
while a cheerful fire of sea-coal blazed in the chimney. Three
of the travellers, who arrived on horseback, having seen their
cattle properly accommodated in the stable, agreed to pass the
time, until the weather should clear up, over a bowl of rumbo,
which was accordingly prepared. But the fourth, refusing to
join their company, took his station at the opposite side of the
chimney, and called for a pint of two-penny, with which he
indulged himself apart. At a little distance, on his left hand,



there was another group, consisting of the landlady, a decent
widow, her two daughters, the elder of whom seemed to be about
the age of fifteen, and a country lad, who served both as waiter
and ostler.

The social triumvirate was composed of Mr. Fillet, a country
practitioner in surgery and midwifery, Captain Crowe, and his
nephew Mr. Thomas Clarke, an attorney. Fillet was a man of
some education, and a great deal of experience, shrewd, sly, and
sensible. Captain Crowe had commanded a merchant ship in the
Mediterranean trade for many years, and saved some money by
dint of frugality and traffic. He was an excellent seaman, brave,
active, friendly in his way, and scrupulously honest ; but as little
acquainted with the world as a sucking child ; whimsical, im-
patient, and so impetuous, that he could not help breaking in
upon the conversation, whatever it might be, with repeated inter-
ruptions, that seemed to burst from him by involuntary impulse.
When he himself attempted to speak he never finished his period ;
but made such a number of abrupt transitions, that his discourse
seemed to be an unconnected series of unfinished sentences, the
meaning of which it was not easy to decipher.

His nephew, Tom Clarke, was a young fellow, whose goodness
of heart, even the exercise of his profession had not been able to
corrupt. Before strangers he never owned himself an attorney
without blushing, though he had no reason to blush for his own
practice, for he constantly refused to engage in the cause of any
client whose character was equivocal, and was never known to
act with such industry as when concerned for the widow and
orphan, or any other object that sued in forma pauperis. Indeed,
he was so replete with human kindness, that as often as an affect-
ing story or circumstance was told in his hearing, it overflowed
at his eyes. Being of a warm complexion, he was very suscep-
tible of passion, and somewhat libertine in his amours. In other
respects, he piqued himself on understanding the practice of the
courts, and in private company he took pleasure in laying down
the law ; but he was an indifferent orator, and tediously circum-
stantial in his explanations. His stature was rather diminutive ;
but, upon the whole, he had some title to the character of a
pretty, dapper, little fellow.


The solitary guest had something very forbidding in his aspect,
which was contracted by an habitual frown. His eyes were
small and red, and so deep set in the sockets, that each appeared
like the unextinguished snuff of a farthing candle, gleaming
through the horn of a dark lanthorn. His nostrils were elevated
in scorn, as if his sense of smelling had been perpetually offended
by some unsavoury odour ; and he looked as if he wanted to
shrink within himself from the impertinence of society He
wore a black periwig as straight as the pinions of a raven, and
this was covered with a hat flapped, and fastened to his head by
a speckled handkerchief tied under his chin. He was wrapped
in a greatcoat of brown frieze, under which he seemed to conceal
a small bundle. His name was Ferret, and his character dis-
tinguished by three peculiarities. He was never seen to smile;
he was never heard to speak in praise of any person whatsoever ;
and he was never known to give a direct answer to any question
that was asked ; but seemed, on all occasions, to be actuated by
the most perverse spirit of contradiction.

Captain Crowe having remarked that it was squally weather,
asked how far it was to the next market town ; and understand-
ing that the distance was not less than six miles, said he had a
good mind to come to an anchor for the night, if so be as he
could have a tolerable berth in this here harbour. Mr. Fillet,
perceiving by his style that he was a seafaring gentleman,
observed that their landlady was not used to lodge such com-
pany ; and expressed some surprise that he, who had no doubt
endured so many storms and hardships at sea, should think much
of travelling five or six miles a-horseback by moonlight. " For
my part," said he, " I ride in all weathers, and at all hours, with-
out minding cold, wet, wind, or darkness. My constitution is so
case-hardened that I believe I could live all the year at Spitz-
bergen. With respect to this road, I know every foot of it so
exactly, that I'll engage to travel forty miles upon it blindfolded,
without making one false step ; and if you have faith enough to
put yourselves under my auspices, I will conduct you safe to an
elegant inn, where you will meet with the best accommodation."
"Thank you, brother," replied the captain, "we are much
beholden to you for your courteous offer ; but howsomever, you


must not think I mind foul weather more than my neighbours.
I have worked hard aloft and alow in many a taut gale ; but
this here is the case, d'ye see ; we have run down a long day's
reckoning ; our beasts have had a hard spell ; and as for my own
hap, brother, I doubt my bottom-planks have lost some of their
sheathing, being as how I a'n't used to that kind of scrubbing."

The doctor, who had practised aboard a man-of-war in his
youth, and was perfectly well acquainted with the captain's
dialect, assured him that if his bottom was damaged he would
new pay it with an excellent salve, which he always carried about
him to guard against such accidents on the road. But Tom
Clarke, who seemed to have cast the eyes of affection upon the
landlady's eldest daughter, Dolly, objected to their proceeding
further without rest and refreshment, as they had already travelled
fifty miles since morning ; and he was sure his uncle must be
fatigued both in mind and body, from vexation, as well as from
hard exercise, to which he had not been accustomed. Fillet then
desisted, saying, he was sorry to find the captain had any cause
of vexation ; but he hoped it was not an incurable evil. This
expression was accompanied with a look of curiosity, which Mr.
Clarke was glad of an occasion to gratify ; for, as we have hinted
above, he was a very communicative gentleman, and the affair
which now lay upon his stomach interested him nearly."

" I'll assure you, sir," said he, " this here gentleman, Captain
Crowe, who is my mother's own brother, has been cruelly used
by some of his relations. He bears as good a character as any
captain of a ship on the Royal Exchange, and has undergone a
variety of hardships at sea. What d'ye think, now, of his
bursting all his sinews, and making his eyes start out of his
head, in pulling his ship off a rock, whereby he saved to his
owners " Here he was interrupted by the captain, who exclaimed,
" Belay, Tom, belay; pr'ythee, don't veer out such a deal of jaw.
Clap a stopper on thy cable and bring thyself up, my lad what
a deal of stuff thou hast pumped up concerning bursting and
starting, and pulling ships ; Laud have mercy upon us ! look
ye here, brother look ye here mind these poor crippled joints ;
two fingers on the starboard, and three on the larboard hand;
crooked, d'ye see, like the knees of a bilander. I'll tell you


what, brother, you seem to be a ship deep laden rich cargo
current setting into the bay hard gale lee shore all hands in
the boat tow round the head-land self pulling for dear blood,
against the whole crew snap go the finger-braces crack went
the eye-blocks. Bounce day-light flash star-light down I
foundered, dark as hell whiz went my ears, and my head spun
like a whirligig. That don't signify I'm a Yorkshire boy, as
the saying is all my life at sea, brother, by reason of an old
grandmother and maiden aunt, a couple of old stinking kept me
these forty years out of my grandfather's estate. Hearing as
how they had taken their departure, came ashore, hired horses,
and clapped on all my canvas, steering to the northward, to
take possession of my But it don't signify talking these two
old piratical had held a palaver with a lawyer an attorney,
Tom, d'ye mind me, an attorney and by his assistance hove me
out of my inheritance. That is all, brother hove me out of
five hundred pounds a-year that's all what signifies but such
windfalls we don't every day pick up along shore. Fill about,
brother yes, by the L d ! those two smuggling harridans, with
the assistance of an attorney an attorney, Tom hove me out
of five hundred a-year." " Yes, indeed, sir," added Mr. Clarke,
" those two malicious old women docked the intail, and left the
estate to an alien."

Here Mr. Ferret thought proper to intermingle in the conver-
sation with a "pish, what, dost talk of docking the intail ? Dost
not know that by the statute of Westm. 2. 13 Ed. the will and
intention of the donor must be fulfilled, and the tenant in tail
shall not alien after issue had, or before." " Give me leave, sir,"
replied Tom, " I presume you are a practitioner in the law.
Now, you know, that in the case of a contingent remainder, the
intail may be destroyed by levying a fine, and suffering a re-
covery, or otherwise destroying the particular estate, before the
contingency happens. If feoffees, who possess an estate only
during the life of a son, where divers remainders are limited
over, make & fcoffment in fee to him, by the feoffinent all the future
remainders are destroyed. Indeed, a person in remainder may
have a writ of intrusion, if any do intrude after the death of a
tenant for life, and the writ ex gravi querela lies to execute a


devise in remainder after the death of a tenant in tail without
issue." " Spoke like a true disciple of Geber," cries Ferret.
" No, sir/' replied Mr. Clarke, " Counsellor Caper is in the con-
veyancing way I was clerk to Sergeant Croker." "Ay, now
you may set up for yourself," resumed the other ; " for you can
prate as unintelligibly as the best of them."

" Perhaps," said Tom, " I do not make myself understood ; if
so be as how that is the case, let us change the position, and
suppose that this here case is a tail after a possibility of issue ex-
tinct. If a tenant in tail after a possibility make a feoffment of
his land, he in reversion may enter for the forfeiture. Then we
must make a distinction between general tail and special tail. It
is the word body that makes the intail : there must be a body in
the tail, devised to heirs male or female, otherwise it is a fee-
simple, because it is not limited of what body. Thus a corpora-
tion cannot be seized in tail. For example, here is a young
woman What is your name, my dear ? " " Dolly," answered
the daughter, with a curtsey. " Here's Dolly I seize Dolly in
tail Dolly, I seize you in tail" " Sha't then," cried Dolly,
pouting. " I am seized of land in fee I settle on Dolly in

Dolly, who did not comprehend the nature of the illustration,
understood him in a literal sense, and, in a whimpering tone,
exclaimed, " Sha't then, I tell thee, cursed tuoad ! " Tom, how-
ever, was so transported with his subject, that he took no notice of
poor Dolly's mistake, but proceeded in his harangue upon the
different kinds of tails, remainders, and seisins, when he was in-
terrupted by a noise that alarmed the whole company. The rain
had been succeeded by a storm of wind that howled around the
house with the most savage impetuosity, and the heavens were
overcast in such a manner that not one star appeared, so that all
without was darkness and uproar. This aggravated the horror
of divers loud screams, which even the noise of the blast could
not exclude from the ears of our astonished travellers. Captain
Crowe called out, " Avast, avast ! " Tom Clarke sat silent,
staring wildly, with his mouth still open ; the surgeon himself
seemed startled, and Ferret's countenance betrayed evident marks
of confusion. The ostler moved nearer the chimney, and the


good woman of the house, with her two daughters, crept closer
to the company.

After some pause, the captain starting up, " These," said he,
" be signals of distress. Some poor souls in danger of founder-
ing let us bear up a-head, and see if we can give them any
assistance." The landlady begged him, for Christ's sake, not to
think of going out, for it was a spirit that would lead him astray
into fens and rivers, and certainly do him a mischief. Crowe
seemed to be staggered by this remonstrance, which his nephew
reinforced, observing, that it might be a stratagem of rogues to
decoy them into the fields, that they might rob them under the
cloud of night. Thus exhorted, he resumed his seat, and Mr.
Ferret began to make very severe strictures upon the folly and
fear of those who believed and trembled at the visitation of
spirits, ghosts, and goblins. He said he would engage with
twelve pennyworth of phosphorus to frighten a whole parish
out of their senses ; then he expatiated on the pusillanimity
of the nation in general, ridiculed the militia, censured the
government, and dropped some hints about a change of hands,
which the captain could not, and the doctor would not, compre-

Tom Clarke, from the freedom of his discourse, concluded he
was a ministerial spy, and communicated his opinion to his uncle
in a whisper, while this misanthrope continued to pour forth his
invectives with a fluency peculiar to himself. The truth is, Mr.
Ferret had been a party writer, not from principle, but employ-
ment, and had felt the rod of power, in order to avoid a second
exertion of which, he now found it convenient to skulk about in
the country, for he had received intimation of a warrant from the
secretary of state, who wanted to be better acquainted with his
person. Notwithstanding the ticklish nature of his situation, it
was become so habitual to him to think and speak in a certain
manner, that even before strangers whose principles and connec-
tions he could not possibly know, he hardly ever opened his
mouth, without uttering some direct or implied sarcasm against
the government.

He had already proceeded a considerable way in demonstrating,
that the nation was bankrupt and beggared, and that those, who,


stood at the helm were steering full into the gulf of inevitable
destruction, when his lecture was suddenly suspended by a violent
knocking at the door, which threatened the whole house with
inevitable demolition. Captain Crowe, believing they should be
instantly boarded, unsheathed his hanger, and stood in a posture
of defence. Mr. Fillet armed himself with the poker, which
happened to be red hot ; the ostler pulled down a rusty firelock,
that hung by the roof, over a flitch of bacon. Tom Clarke,
perceiving the landlady and her children distracted with terror,
conducted them, out of mere compassion, below stairs into the
cellar, and as for Mr. Ferret, he prudently withdrew into an
adjoining pantry.

But as a personage of great importance in this entertaining
history was forced to remain some time at the door before he
could gain admittance, so must the reader wait with patience for
the next chapter, in which he will see the cause of this disturb-
ance explained, much to his comfort and edification.


In which the Hero of these Adventures makes his First Appearance on the

Stage of Action.

THE outward door of the Black Lion had already sustained two
dreadful shocks, but at the third it flew open, and in stalked an
apparition that smote the hearts of our travellers with fear and
trepidation. It was the figure of a man armed cap-a-pie, bearing
on his shoulders a bundle dropping with water, which afterwards
appeared to be the body of a man that seemed to have been
drowned, and fished up from the bottom of the neighbouring

Having deposited his burden carefully on the floor, he ad-
dressed himself to the company in these word : " Be not surprised,
good people, at this unusual appearance, which I shall take an
opportunity to explain, and forgive the rude and boisterous
manner in which I have demanded, and indeed forced admittance ;


the violence of my intrusion was the effect of necessity. In
crossing the river, my squire and his horse were swept away by
the stream, and, with some difficulty, I have been able to drag
him ashore, though I am afraid my assistance reached him too
late, for since I brought him to land he has given no signs of

Here he was interrupted by a groan, which issued from the
chest of the squire, and terrified the spectators as much as it
comforted the master. After some recollection, Mr. Fillet began
to undress the body, which was laid in a blanket on the floor, and
rolled from side to side by his direction. A considerable quantity
of water being discharged from the mouth of this unfortunate
squire, he uttered a hideous roar, and, opening his eyes, stared
wildly around. Then the surgeon undertook for his recovery ;
and his master went forth with the ostler in quest of the horses,
which he had left by the side of the river. His back was no
sooner turned, than Ferret, who had been peeping from behind
the pantry-door, ventured to rejoin the company ; pronouncing
with a smile, or rather grin of contempt, " Hey-day : what
precious mummery is this ? What, are we to have the farce of
Hamlet's ghost ? " " Adzooks," cried the captain, " my kinsman
Tom has dropped a-stern hope in God a-has not bulged to, and
gone to bottom." " Pish," exclaimed the misanthrope, " there's
no danger ; the young lawyer is only seizing Dolly in tail."

Certain it is, Dolly squeaked at that instant in the cellar ; and
Clarke appearing soon after in some confusion, declared she had
been frightened by a flash of lightning. But this assertion was not
confirmed by the young lady herself, who eyed him with a sullen
regard, indicating displeasure, though not indifference ; and when
questioned by her mother, replied, " A doan't maind what a-says,
so a doan't, vor all his goalden jacket, then."

In the meantime the surgeon had performed the operation of
phlebotomy on the squire, who was lifted into a chair, and sup-
ported by the landlady for that purpose ; but he had not as yet
given any sign of having retrieved the use of his senses. And
here Mr. Fillet could not help contemplating, with surprise, the
strange figure and accoutrements of his patient, who seemed in
age to be turned of fifty, His stature was below the middle


size; he was thick, squat, and brawny, with a small protuber-
ance on one shoulder, and a prominent belly, which, in conse-
quence of the water he had swallowed, now strutted beyond its
usual dimensions. His forehead was remarkably convex, and so
very low, that his black bushy hair descended within an inch of
his nose ; but this did not conceal the wrinkles of his front,
which were manifold. His small glimmering eyes resembled
those of the Hampshire porker, that turns up the soil with his
projecting snout. His cheeks were shrivelled and puckered at
the corners, like the seams of a regimental coat as it comes from
the hands of the contractor. His nose bore a strong analogy in
shape to a tennis-ball, and in colour to a mulberry ; for all the
water of the river had not been able to quench the natural fire
of that feature. His upper jaw was furnished with two long
white sharp-pointed teeth or fangs, such as the reader may have
observed in the chaps of a wolf, or full-grown mastiff, and an ana-
tomist would describe as a preternatural elongation of the denies
canini. His chin was so long, so peaked, and incurvated, as to
form in profile, with his impending forehead, the exact resemblance
of a moon in the first quarter. With respect to his equipage,
he had a leathern cap upon his head, faced like those worn by
marines, and exhibiting in embroidery the figure of a crescent.
His coat was of white cloth, faced with black, and cut in a very
antique fashion ; and, in lieu of a waistcoat, he wore a buff
jerkin. His feet were cased with loose buskins, which, though
they rose almost to his knee, could not hide that curvature,
known by the appellation of bandy legs. A large string of
bandaliers garnished a broad belt that graced his shoulders, from
whence depended an instrument of war, which was something

Online LibraryTobias George SmollettThe adventures of Sir Launcelot Greaves ; and, The history and adventures of an atom → online text (page 1 of 37)