Odd Volume online

. (page 5 of 13)
Online LibraryVariousOdd Volume → online text (page 5 of 13)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

enraged Sally, who, under the influence of the teetotum delusion, was
firmly persuaded that she was justly inflicting wholesome discipline
upon her husband, whom she had, as she conceived, caught in the act of
making love to the maid. Sally was active and strong, and Jacob Philpot
was, as before hinted, somewhat obese, and, withal, not in excellent
“wind;” consequently it was some time ere he could disengage himself;
and then he stood panting and blowing, and utterly lost in astonishment,
while Sally saluted him with divers appellations, which it would not be
seemly here to set down.

When Jacob did find his tongue, however, he answered her much in the
same style; and added, that he had a great mind to lay a stick about
her back. “What,” strike a woman! “Eh - would you, you coward?” - and
immediately she darted forward, and, as she termed it, put her mark
upon him with her nails, whereby his rubicund countenance was greatly
disfigured, and his patience entirely exhausted: but Sally was too
nimble, and made her escape up stairs. So the landlord of the Red Lion,
having got rid of the two mad or drunken women, very philosophically
resolved to sit down for half an hour by himself, to think oyer the
business, while he took his “night cap.” He had scarcely brewed the
ingredients, when he was roused by a rap at the window; and, in
answer to his inquiry of “Who’s there?” he recognised the voice of his
neighbour, George Syms, and, of course, immediately admitted him; for
George was a good customer, and, consequently, welcome at all hours. “My
good friend,” said Syms, “I dare say you are surprised to see me here at
this time of night; but I can’t get into my own house. My wife is drunk,
I believe.” - “And so is mine,” quoth the landlord; “so sit you down
and make yourself comfortable. Hang me if I think I’ll go to bed to
night!” - “No more will I,” said Syms; “I’ve got a job to do early in the
morning, and then I shall be ready for it.” So the two friends sat down,
and had scarcely begun to enjoy themselves, when another rap was heard
at the window, and mine host recognised the voice of Peter Brown, who
came with the same complaint against his wife, and was easily persuaded
to join the party, each declaring that the women must have contrived
to meet, during their absence from home, and all got fuddled together.
Matters went on pleasantly enough for some time, while they continued
to rail against the women; but, when that subject was exhausted, George
Syms, the shoe-maker, began to talk about shoeing horses; and Peter
Brown, the Blacksmith, averred that he could make a pair of jockey boots
with any man for fifty miles round. The host of the rampant Red Lion
considered these things at first as a sort of joke, which he had no
doubt, from such good customers, was exceedingly good, though he could
not exactly comprehend it. But when Peter Brown answered to the name of
George Syms, and George Syms responded to that of Peter Brown, he was
somewhat more bewildered, and could not help thinking that his guests
had drunk quite enough. He, however, satisfied himself with the
reflection that that was no business of his, and that “a man must live
by his trade.” With the exception of these apparent occasional cross
purposes, conversation went on as well as could be expected under
existing circumstances, and the three unfortunate husbands sat and
talked, and drank, and smoked, till tired nature cried, “hold, enough!”

Leaving them to their slumbers, we must now say a word or two about the
teetotum, the properties of which were to change people’s characters,
spinning the mind of one man or woman into the body of another.
The duration of the delusion, caused by this droll game of the old
gentleman’s, depended upon the length of time spent in the diversion;
and five minutes was the specific period for causing it to last till
the next sun-rise or sun-set _after_ the change had been effected.
Therefore, when the morning came, Mrs. Philpot and Sally, and Peter
Brown and George Syms, all came to their senses. The two latter went
quietly home with aching heads and very confused recollections of the
preceding evening; and shortly after their departure Mrs. Philpot awoke
in great astonishment at finding herself in the garret; and Sally was
equally surprised and much alarmed, at finding herself in her mistress’s
room, from which she hastened in quick time, leaving all things in due

The elderly stranger made his appearance soon after, and appeared to
have brushed up his shabby genteel clothes, for he really looked
much more respectable than on the preceding evening. He ordered
his breakfast, and sat down thereto very quietly, and asked for the
newspaper, and pulled out his spectacles, and began to con the politics
of the day much at his ease, no one having the least suspicion that he
and his teetotum had been the cause of all the uproar at the Red Lion.
In due time the landlord made his appearance, with sundry marks of
violence upon his jolly countenance, and, after due obeisance made to
his respectable-looking guest, took the liberty of telling his spouse
that he should insist upon her sending Sally away, for he had never been
so mauled since he was born; but Mrs. Philpot told him that he ought to
be ashamed of himself, and she was very glad the girl had spirit enough
to protect herself, and that she wouldn’t part with her on any account.
She then referred to what had passed in the back kitchen, taking to
herself the credit of having inflicted that punishment which had been
administered by the hands of Sally.

Jacob Philpot was now more than ever convinced that his wife had been
paying her respects to a huge stone bottle of rum which stood in the
closet; and he “made bold” to tell her his thoughts, whereat Mrs.
Philpot thought fit to put herself into a tremendous passion, although
she could not help fearing that, perhaps, she might have taken a drop
too much of something, for she was unable, in any other manner, to
account for having slept in the garret.

The elderly stranger now took upon himself to recommend mutual
forgiveness, and stated that it was really quite pardonable for any one
to take a little too much of such very excellent ale as that at the Red
Lion. “For my own part,” said he, “I don’t know whether I didn’t get a
trifle beyond the mark myself last night. But I hope, madam, I did not
annoy you.”

“Oh dear, no, not at all, Sir,” replied Mrs. Philpot, whose good-humour
was restored at this compliment, paid to the good cheer of the Lion,
“you were exceeding pleasant, I assure you, just enough to make you
funny; we had a hearty laugh about the teetotum, you know.” - “Ah!” said
the stranger, “I guess how it was then. I always introduce the teetotum
when I want to be merry.”

Jacob Philpot expressed a wish to understand the game, and after
spinning it two or three times, proposed to take his chance, for five
minutes, with the stranger; but the latter, laughing heartily, would
by no means agree with the proposition, and declared that it would be
downright cheating, as he was an overmatch for any beginner. “However,”
he continued, “as soon as any of your neighbours come in, I’ll put you
in the way of it, and we’ll have some of your ale, now, just to pass the
time. It will do neither of us any harm after last night’s affair, and I
want to have some talk with you about the coal trade.”

They accordingly sat down together, and the stranger displayed
considerable knowledge in the science of mining; and Jacob was so much
delighted with his companion, that an hour or two slipped away, as he
said, “in no” and then there was heard the sound of a horse’s feet
at the door, and a somewhat authoratative hillo!

“It is our parson,” said Jacob, starting up, and he ran to the door to
enquire what might be his reverence’s pleasure. “Good morning,” said the
Reverend Mr. Stanhope. “I’m going over to dine with our club at the Old
Boar, and I want you just to cast your eye on those fellows in my home
close; you can see them out of your parlour window.” - “Yes, to be
sure, Sir,” replied Jacob “Hem!” quoth Mr. Stanhope, “have you any body
indoors?” - “Yes, Sir, we have,” replied Jacob, “a strange gentleman,
who seems to know a pretty deal about mining and them sort of things. I
think he’s some great person in disguise, he seems regularly edicated,
up to every thing.” - “Eh, ah! a great person in disguise!” exclaimed Mr.
Stanhope; “I’ll just step in a minute. It seems as if there was a shower
coming over, and I’m in no hurry, and it is not worth while to get wet
through for the sake of a few minutes.” So he alighted from his horse,
soliloquizing to himself. “Perhaps the Lord Chancellor! Who knows?
However, I shall take care to show my principles;” and straightway he
went into the house, and was most respectfully saluted by the elderly
stranger; and they entered into a conversation upon the standing English
topics of weather, wind, crops, and the coal trade; and Mr. Stanhope
contrived to introduce therein sundry unkind things against the Pope and
all his followers; and avowed himself a staunch “church and king” man,
and spake enthusiastically of our “glorious constitution,” and lauded
divers individuals then in power, but more particularly those who
studied the true interests of the church, by seeking out and preferring
men of merit and talent to fill vacant benefices. The stranger thereat
smiled significantly, as though he could, if he felt disposed, say
something to the purpose; and Mr. Stanhope felt more inclined than ever
to think the landlord might have conjectured very near the truth, and
consequently, redoubled his efforts to make the agreeable, professing
his regret at being obliged to dine out that day, &c. The stranger
politely thanked him for his polite consideration, and stated that he
was never at a loss for employment, and that he was then rambling, for a
few days, to relax his mind from the fatigues of an overwhelming mass of
important business, to which his duty compelled him to attend early and
late. “Perhaps,” he continued, “you will smile when I tell you that I
am now engaged in a series of experiments relative to the power of the
centrifugal force, and its capacity of overcoming various degrees of
friction.” (Here he produced the teetotum.) “You perceive the different
surfaces of the under edge of this little thing. The outside, you see,
is all of ivory, but indented in various ways; and yet I have not been
able to decide whether the roughest or smoothest more frequently arrest
its motions. The colours, of course, are merely indications. Here is my
register, and he produced a book, wherein divers mathematical abstruse
calculations were apparent.

“I always prefer other people to spin it, as then I obtain a variety of
impelling power. Perhaps you will do me the favour just to twirl it
round a few times alternately with the landlord? Two make a fairer
experiment than one. Just for five minutes. I’ll not trouble you a
moment longer, I promise you.” - “Hem!” thought Mr. Stanhope -

“Learned men, now and then,
Have very strange vagaries!”

However, he commenced spinning the teetotum, turn and turn with Jacob
Philpot, who was highly delighted both with the drollery of the thing,
and the honour of playing with the parson of the parish, and laughed
most immoderately, while the stranger stood by, looking at his
stop-watch as demurely as on the preceding evening, until the five
minutes had expired; and then, in the middle of the Reverend Mr.
Stanhope’s spin, he took up the little toy and put it into his pocket.

Jacob Philpot immediately arose, and shook the stranger warmly by the
hand, and told him, that he should be happy to see him whenever he came
that way again; and then nodding to Mr. Stanhope and the landlady, went
out at the front door, mounted the horse that stood there, and rode
away. “Where’s the fellow going?” cried Mrs. Philpot; “Hillo! Jacob, I
say!” - “Well mother,” said the Reverend Mr. Stanhope, “what’s the
matter now?” - but Mrs. Philpot had reached the front of the house, and
continued to shout. “Hillo! hillo, come back, I tell you!” - “That woman
is always doing some strange thing or other,” observed Mr. Stanhope
to the stranger “What on earth can possess her to go calling after the
parson in that manner?” - “I declare he’s rode off with squire Jones’s
horse,” cried Mrs. Philpot, re-entering the house. “To be sure he
has,” said Mr. Stanhope; “he borrowed it on purpose to go to the Old
Boar.” - “Did he?” exclaimed the landlady; “and without telling me a word
about it! But I’ll Old Boar him I promise you!” - “Don’t make such a fool
of yourself, mother,” said the parson; “it can’t signify twopence to you
where he goes.” - “Can’t it?” rejoined Mrs. Philpot. “I’ll tell you
what, your worship-” - “Don’t worship me woman,” exclaimed the teetotum
landlord parson; “worship, what nonsense now! Why, you’ve been taking
your drops again this morning, I think. Worship, indeed! To be sure, I
did once, like a fool, promise to worship _you_; but if my time was to
come over again, I know what-. But, never mind now - don’t you see it’s
twelve o’clock? Come, quick, let us have what there is to eat, and then
we’ll have a comfortable pipe under the tree. What say you, Sir?” - “With
all my heart,” replied the elderly stranger. The latter hoped they
should have the pleasure of Mrs. Philpot’s company; but she looked
somewhat doubtfully till the parson said, “Come, come, mother, don’t
make a bother about it.” Therefore she smoothed her apron and made one
at the dinner table, and conducted herself with so much precision, that
the teetotum parson looked upon her with considerable surprise,
while she regarded him with no less, inasmuch as he talked in a very
unclerical manner; and, among other strange things, swore, that his
wife was as “drunk as blazes” the night before, and winked at her, and
behaved altogether in a style very unbecoming a minister in his own

At one o’clock there was a great sensation caused in the village of
Stockwell, by the appearance of their reverend pastor and the elderly
stranger, sitting on the bench which went round the tree, which stood
before the sign of the roaring rampant Red Lion, each with a long pipe
in his mouth, blowing clouds, which would not have disgraced the most
inveterate smoker of the “black diamond” fraternity, and ever and anon
moistening their clay with “heavy wet,” from tankards placed upon a
small table, which Mrs. Philpot had provided for their accommodation.
The little boys and girls first approached within a respectful distance,
and then ran away giggling to tell their companions; and they told their
mothers, who came and peeped likewise; and many were diverted, and many
were scandalized at the sight; yet the parson seemed to care for none of
these things, but cracked his joke, and sipped his ale, and smoked
his pipe, with as much easy nonchalance as if he had been in his own
arm-chair at the rectory. Yet it must be confessed that now and then
there was a sort of equivocal remark made by him, as though he had some
faint recollection of his former profession, although he evinced not
the smallest sense of shame at the change which had been wrought in him.
Indeed this trifling imperfection in the change of identity appears to
have attended such transformations in general, and might have arisen
from the individual bodies retaining their own clothes (for the mere
fashion of dress hath a great influence on some minds), or, perhaps,
because a profession or trade, with the habits thereof, cannot be
entirely shaken off, nor a new one perfectly learned, by spinning a
teetotum for five minutes. The time had now arrived when George Syms,
the shoemaker, and Peter Brown, the blacksmith, were accustomed to take
their “pint and pipe after dinner,” and greatly were they surprised to
see their places so occupied; and not a little was their astonishment
increased, when the parson lifted up his voice, and ordered Sally to
bring out a couple of chairs, and then shook them both warmly by
the hand, and welcomed them by the affectionate appellation of “my

[Illustration: 145]

He then winked, and in an under tone began to sing -

“Though I’m tied to a crusty old woman,
Much given to scolding and jealousy,
I know that the case is too common,
And so I will ogle each girl I see.
Toi de roi, loi, &c.

“Come, my lads!” he resumed, “sit you down, and clap half a yard of
clay into your mouths.” The two worthy artisans looked at each other
significantly, or rather insignificantly, for they knew not what to
think, and did as they were bid. “Come, why don’t you talk?” said the
teetotum parson landlord, after a short silence. “You’re as dull as a
couple of tom cats with their ears cut off - talk, man, talk - there’s no
doing nothing without talking.” This last part of his speech seemed
more particularly addressed to Peter Brown, who, albeit a man of a sound
head, and well skilled in such matters as appertained unto iron and the
coal trade, had not been much in the habit of mixing with the clergy;
therefore he felt, for a moment, as he said, “nonplushed;” but
fortunately he recollected the Catholic question, about which most
people were then talking, and which every body professed to understand.
Therefore, he forthwith introduced the subject; and being well aware of
the parson’s bias, and having, moreover, been told that he had written
a pamphlet; therefore (though to do Peter Brown justice, he was not
accustomed to read such publications) he scrupled not to give his
opinion very freely, and concluded by taking up his pint and drinking a
very unchristian-like malediction against the Pope. George Syms followed
on the same side, and concluded in the same manner, adding thereunto,
“Your good healths, gemmen.” - “What a pack of nonsense!” exclaimed the
parson, “I should like to know what harm the Pope can do us! I tell you
what, my lads, it’s all my eye and Betty Martin. Live and let live,
I say. So long as I can get a good living, I don’t care the toss of a
halfpenny who’s uppermost. The Pope’s an old woman, and so are they that
are afraid of him.” The elderly stranger here seemed highly delighted,
and cried, “Bravo!” and clapped the speaker on the back, and said,
“That’s your sort! Go it, my hearty!” But Peter Brown took the liberty
of telling the parson, in a very unceremonious way, that he seemed to
have changed his opinions very suddenly. “Not I,” said the other; “I was
always of the same way of thinking.” - “Then words have no meaning,”
observed George Syms, angrily, “for I heard you myself. You talked as
loud about the wickedness of ‘mancipation as ever I heard a man in my
life, no longer ago than last Sunday.” - “Then I must have been
drunk - that’s all I can say about the business,” replied the other,
coolly; and he began to fill his pipe with the utmost nonchalance, as
though it was a matter of course. Such apparently scandalous conduct
was, however, too much for the unsophisticated George Syms and Peter
Brown, who simultaneously threw down their reckoning, and, much to their
credit, left the turncoat reprobate parson to the company of the elderly

If we were to relate half the whimsical consequences of the teetotum
tricks of this strange personage, we might fill volumes; but as it is
not our intention to allow the detail to swell even into one, we must
hastily sketch the proceedings of poor Jacob Philpot, after he left the
Red Lion to dine with sundry of the gentry and clergy of the Old
Boar, in his new capacity of an ecclesiastic, in the outward form of a
somewhat negligently dressed landlord. He was accosted on the road by
divers of his coal-carrying neighbours with a degree of familiarity
which was exceedingly mortifying to his feelings. One told him to
be home in time to take part of a gallon of ale that he had won of
neighbour Smith; a second reminded him that to-morrow was club-night at
the Nag’s Head; and a third asked him where he had stolen his horse. At
length he arrived, much out of humour, at the Old Boar, an inn of a very
different description from the Red Lion, being a posting house of
no inconsiderable magnitude, wherein that day was to be holden the
symposium of certain grandees of the adjacent country, as before hinted.

The landlord, who happened to be standing at the door, was somewhat
surprised at the formal manner with which Jacob Philpot greeted him, and
gave his horse into the charge of the hostler; but, as he knew him only
by sight, and had many things to attend to, he went his way without
making any remark, and thus, unwittingly, increased the irritation of
Jacob’s new teetotum sensitive feelings. “Are any of the gentlemen come
yet?” asked Jacob, haughtily, of one of the waiters. - “What gentlemen?”
quoth the waiter. “Any of them,” said Jacob, “Mr. Wiggins, Doctor White,
or Captain Pole?” At this moment a carriage drove up to the door, and
the bells all began ringing, and the waiters rah to see who had arrived,
and Jacob Philpot was left unheeded. - “This is very strange conduct!”
observed he; “I never met with such incivility in my life! One would
think I was a dog!” Jacob walked into the open air to cool himself, and
strolled round the garden of the inn, till the calls of hunger forced
him to return to the house, where the odour of delicate viands was quite
provoking; so he followed the guidance of his nose, and arrived in
the large dining-room, where he found, to his great surprise and
mortification, that the company were assembled, and the work of
destruction had been going on for some time, as the second course had
just been placed on the table. Jacob felt that the neglect with which
he had been treated was “enough to make a parson swear;” and perhaps he
would have sworn, but that he had no time to spare and, therefore, as
all the seats at the upper end of the table were engaged, he deposited
himself on a vacant chair about the centre, between two gentlemen with
whom he had no acquaintance, and, spreading his napkin on his lap,
demanded of a waiter what fish had gone out. The man replied only by a
stare and a smile, a line of conduct which was by no means surprising,
seeing that the most stylish part of Philpot’s dress was, without
dispute, the napkin aforesaid. “What’s the fellow gaping at?” cried
Jacob, in an angry voice; “go and tell your master I want to speak
to him directly. I don’t understand such treatment. Tell him to come
immediately! Do you hear?” The loud tone in which this was spoken
aroused the attention of the company; and most of them cast a look of
inquiry, first at the speaker, and then round at the table, as if to
discern by whom the strange gentleman in the scarlet and yellow plush
waistcoat and the dirty shirt might be patronized but there were others
who recognized the landlord of the Red Lion at Stockwell. The
whole, however, were somewhat startled when he addressed them as
follows: - “Really, gentlemen, I must say, that a joke may be carried too
far; and, if it was not for my cloth (here he handled the napkin),
I declare I don’t know how I might act. Mr. Chairman, we have known each
other now for a good many years, and you must be convinced that I can
take a joke as well as any man; but human nature can endure this no
longer. Mr. Wiggins! Captain Pole! my good friend Doctor White! I appeal
to you.” Here the gentlemen named looked especially astounded. “What!
can it be possible that you have _all_ agreed to cut me! Oh, no! I will
not believe that political differences of opinion can run _quite_ so
high. Come - let us have no more of this nonsense!” - No, no, we’ve had
quite enough of it,” said the landlord of the Old Boar, pulling the
chair from beneath the last speaker, who was consequently obliged again
to be upon his legs, while there came, from various parts of the table,
cries of “Chair! chair! Turn him out!” - “Man!” roared the teetotum
par-soned landlord of the Red Lion, to the landlord of the Old Boar,
“Man! you shall repent of this! If it wasn’t for my cloth, I’d soon-” -

1 2 3 5 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Online LibraryVariousOdd Volume → online text (page 5 of 13)