L O I T E R E R.
"Speak of us as we are."
PRINTED FOR THE AUTHOR,
And sold by C. S. RANN, OXFORD;
Mess. EGERTONS, Whitehall, LONDON; Mess. PEARSON
And ROLLASON, BIRMINGHAM; Mr. W. MEYLER, Grove,
BATH; AND Mess. COWSLADE and SMART, READING.
L O I T E R E R.
SATURDAY, October 10, 1789.
THOSE of my Readers who have perused my last three papers, are sufficiently acquainted both with my Journey to Town, and the reason which induced me to undertake it: How far they, in their hearts, approved of either the one or the other, I can not presume to determine, but I humbly hope that they will not be sorry to hear that I arrived in good health and spirits at my own Rooms On Tuesday last; and event which gave myself, at least, most unfeigned satisfaction, as I had for some time been not a little alarmed for the situation of the University which I had deprived of my presence, well knowing how necessary my weekly distributions are now become, to direct the Taste, and improve the Manners of my fellow Academicians; which idea, joined to a consciousness of what they must inwardly suffer whilst labouring under so cruel a suspense as my long Absence must inevitably occasion, rendered me completely miserable during the latter part of my stay in London. I had, indeed, repeatedly made some serious efforts towards getting out of Town, for four or five days successively, previous to my actual departure; but as regularly as I got to the White Horse Cellar, I was informed that all the Coaches has been gone by nearly an Hour, — a disappointment which I might have laboured under, perhaps, till the present moment, had I not met my friend SENSITIVE by chance, as I was looking at a print Shop in Bond Street, who was himself returning to Oxford the next day, and who offered me a place in his Chaise; a mode of conveyance which was to me more agreeable, as he meant not to set out till after Breakfast; for I make a rule of never hurrying myself if I can possibly avoid it, and my friend likewise is fond of taking things coolly. Having therefore met at a Coffee-House, by agreement, and swallowed a sufficient quantity of Chocolate, Tea, Bread and Butter, we bid adieu to the Metropolis, not a little elated, I believe, with the idea of seeing our common friend Dr. Villars, and again inhabiting a place, where we were of much more consequence than when trudging along Fleet Street, or mobbing at the Haymarket. And here I cannot avoid expressing the infinite pleasure I felt at the idea of entering Oxford incog: A pleasure which I observe is common to all distinguished characters, since the Emperor of Germany, as well as myself, seems prodigiously fond of putting off his dignity, like a Great Coat which does not fit him.
To be sure I was a little afraid, lest Mr. RANN should have given too public a notice of my being expected, and so have induced either the Vice- Chancellor, or the Mayor, or perhaps both, to have walked in procession to meet me; an event which really would have given me some uneasiness, as I could not at present make the one a Prebendary, or the other a Knight; besides, after such distinguishing marks of Honour, I could never in conscience have met the former Without a low Bow, or have bought my Stockings of the latter without paying for them; two ceremonies which are exceedingly troublesome to one whose Memory and whose Money often fail him. But to return to our Journey. As soon as we had Passed Hyde-Park Corner, Mr. Sensitive let down the fore Glasses, and muttered something between his Teeth, which sounded very much like “I thank God”, and which I interpreted into “Thank God that we have left the Atmosphere of Ceremony and Smoke behind us, and have immerged into Freedom and fine Weather;” for I know it to be one of Mr. Sensitive’s strongest tenets, that the Sun never shines over London; indeed, from the whole air of his Countenance and disposition of his Muscles, I began to promise myself some exquisite Satire o the Follies and the Vices of our Metropolis; but I was for a while disappointed, for on a sudden, the enjoyment of the present freedom, and the anticipation of his pleasure, put him into a most provoking good humour, and made him scorn to waste a thought upon the past. Now, unfortunately, I hate good humour in a Post Chaise, as I can never keep my own temper in one; the rapid motion of the Wheels, the frequent Jolts, the incessant Crack of the Post-Boy’s Whip, and the continual succession of Objects, which glare without amusing the Eye, put my whole frame into such a fidget, that my thoughts seemed to be plagued by St. Vitus’s Dance, and I wish to dispute with any body on any subject. “We go very uneasily, methinks.” “We go very fast,” said Sensitive, “and shall be in Oxford by Tea-time.” His eyes brightened as he spoke, and I saw the name of Villars trembled on his tongue; at this moment an old decrepit Sailor, leaning on a Crutch, put forth something, which had once been a hat, with one hand, whilst with the other he his face; he did not speak, bur Sensitive read his history in the attitude; “Poor Man! Necessity compels thee to do what honest sham and a remembrance of better days, blush but to think of.” Sensitive’s hand was on his Purse, but — he had forgotten to let down the side Glass, and the Post-Boy, at the same instant, giving his Horses some inhuman Strokes with his Whip, we in a moment left the unfortunate Beggar far behind. One who would have been blessed with feelings less fine than Sensitive, would, most probably have stopped the Carriage, or at least sworn at the Post-Boy, and rested content with the luxury of having meant well. Sensitive did neither the one or the other, he sighed, blushed, bit his lips, and sighed again. A Fly pitched upon his Leg, he struck it off with all his force, but it escaped, and presently settled on his Face; “Pish!” said Sensitive, and sunk back in a sullen silence on a corner of the Chaise; I saw that he was now in the most delightful passion with himself and every one round him, and I resolved to avail myself of the opportunity. — “That’s a very handsome House on our right hand,” said I, “whom does it belong to?” Sensitive turned away his head, and groaned most delightfully. “Oh, I recollect it is the property of Sir * * * * * — aye, his father got an immense fortune.” “Yes, exclaimed Sensitive, he cheated Government of a Million!” “Sir * * * * * however, I think, behaved well abroad during the late War.” “Tolerably, replied Sensitive, he was not defeated so often as our other Commanders.” “And his conduct in Parliament, I believe, was highly approved of, for his Constituents applauded him in a very distinguished manner.” “Very much so, retorted Sensitive, they burnt him in Effigy three times.” Sir * * * * * would certainly have been damned to everlasting fame, as Sensitive finished his last Philippic, turned into the Inn where we were to change Horses: The Landlord began to be very importunate in entreating us to alight, and Sensitive, merely to avoid being talked to, consented to be shewn into a room. The Waiter was desiring us to walk up Stairs, when Sensitive exclaimed, “Can’t you let us have a front room below?” “Please your Honour, Lord Premium has taken up both the front parlours” “Lord who” said Sensitive. “Lord Premium,” replied the Waiter. “Umph, Lord Premium, it may be so, but I don’t remember his name in the Red Book.” “No Sir, he has been created only three weeks, he was a Jew an please your Honour,” “and is a Lord, replied Sensitive: very well, shew me up Stairs.” Sensible accompanied this last observation with such an ineffable look of contempt, that had the M —— r offered me a Blue Ribbon at the moment, I should have refused it, We had scarce seated ourselves, when a most alarming hue-and-cry in the Street Summoned us to the Window, from whence we saw the whole Town of Hounslow, some on foot, some on horseback, pursuing a poor terrified wretch who was scarce fifty yards before them, spurring and whipping, with all his might, a half starved Horse which appeared each moment to be sinking under him; “What in the name of goodness are all those people collected together for,” said I. “They are in pursuit of a Nobleman, I suppose,” sullenly replied Sensitive. “Pursuit of a Nobleman, are you mad, Sensitive?” “Pugh, pugh, you know I mean a Highwayman; no, no, there goes the Nobleman.” Lord Premium’s Carriage drove from the door. — At this instant, John (Sensitive’s Servant) came into the room to ask me whether or not I had any luggage, as he could not find so much as smallest parcel in any part of the Chaise. “No luggage, John, surely you are mistaken. I have a large Portmanteau and a small Sac de nuit.’ “Indeed Sir, they are not here.” “Then I have left them behind me in town.” The case was exactly so. I had forgot to pack up a single thing, and Upon second thoughts, began to doubt whether I had even discharged my Lodgings; the fact is, that through life, I have always trusted the management of my person and property to the direction of people who have as regularly brought me into the most cruel dilemmas by their Neglect.
These friend are neither more nor less than the pronoun They: If I have a Cloak-bag to pack up, a Parcel to sent out, or Papers to arrange, I always expect They will do it, but somehow or other, They are very treacherous friends, and seldom, if ever, deserve the trust which I repose in them. But to return to my Story. Sensitive no sooner perceived my distress, than he insisted upon sending John back to discharge my debt and bring down my Clothes the next day by the Coach. As I hate talking when I have nothing to say, and despise refusing a favour which I mean to accept, I consented to this plan, and we all walked down Stairs to set John off when I was got to the last step, I looked round, and saw that Sensitive had detained his Servant to give him some private directions, and was at that moment putting a Half-Guinea into his hand; as soon as Sensitive saw he was observed, he began blushing, and blowing his Nose with great perseverance to conceal his confusion; “What’s in the Wind now? Some Assignation I suppose; tell me, Sensitive, who is the Lady? John, what’s her name?” John, who cannot bear to have his Master laughed at, even for a Moment, answered hastily, “it’s only the poor Sailor.” — “Hold your tongue, Sir,” said Sensitive, with more asperity than I ever heard him speak with to a Servant before, “and do you hear, make all the haste you can.” John, who knew that his Master must be very much offended to call him Sir, disappeared in a Moment; and a few minutes afterwards, the Chaise being quite ready, we pursued our Journey over Hounslow Heath, — The few words which had escaped from poor John were as good as a Volume to me; Sensitive perceived it, for we proceeded near five miles before he opened his lips; however, in due time and by degrees he began to re-assume something like confidence, and before we got to Maidenhead-Bridge ventured to look me in the face, and appeared not so much distressed at having been detected in a virtuous action. — As I think that I cannot possibly impress my Readers with a better opinion of my Judgment in the choice of my friends, or the claim which they have to their esteem, I shall conclude this paper with only mentioning that nothing else material happened to us till our arrival at Oxford, when we found that Magdalen Tower stood just where we left it, and that I shall continue (as above mentioned) to amuse, instruct, and improve my fellow Students, as long as I have matter to write, or they inclination to peruse.
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