L O I T E R E R.
"Speak of us as we are."
PRINTED FOR THE AUTHOR,
And sold by Messrs. PRINCE and COOKE, 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, February 13, 1790.
To the AUTHOR of the LOITERER.
SIR,THE early insertion of my former letter having convinced me, that, though averse to dreaming yourself, you have no objection to y correspondents undertaking that office for you, I shall, without further apology, lay before you the following account of my sleeping thoughts.
I had scarce closed my eyes, when the idea, which had so much occupied my mind, returned with redoubled force; and I was perfectly convinced, that the Legislature had adopted the plan recommended in my last, and had actually stationed proper officers at every avenue of the Metropolis, with strict orders to admit none who could not give a proper account of themselves, or, in the legal words, shew cause for their journey. Of these the Western extremity was allotted, Mr. Loiterer, to you and myself; and I imagined, we took our post at Hyde Park Turnpike, with a fixed resolution of stopping that crowd of emigrants, who, like a second inundation of Goths and Vandals, were pouring in from all quarters upon the Capital of the World. The earlier hours of the morning afforded us but little employment; the only people who presented themselves were either gardeners, nursery men, or others of the same rank, who were stupid enough to be minding their business; and excepting a pretty fresh looking country girl, who declared she was going to London to better herself few or none were sent back. At last, however, the road began to fill, and an equipage soon approached, whose appearance promised us a better opportunity of exercising our function. This chaise, which was preceded by a very smart servant, and followed by several others, exhibited a curious specimen of what may be called the art of packing. Trunks, portmanteaus, and cloak bags of various sizes, were piled UP both behind and before. The top was almost bent in by the weight of an imperial, on which an immense hat box, lashed tight with cords, had the appearance of a watch tower of an old castle, and the inside was so stuffed with band boxes, that there seemed but little room for any other passengers. On a closer examination we found there were two ladies, neither of whom at first appeared disposed to be very communicative; but, on being informed of the necessity of answering our interrogatories, the eldest informed us, that “the other lady (her daughter) notwithstanding she was a person of the very first rank and fashion, had lately done Mr. H——, a commoner of large fortune, the honour of taking his name; that the said Mr. H——, entirely forgetting the aforesaid obligation, had barbarously, inhumanely and maliciously endeavoured to keep the said lady at an old mansion house in the country; and that she herself had, at the request of her daughter, been obliged to interfere; in consequence of which, he had at last consented to the journey.” “And pray, Madam,” replied I, “where is Mr. H —— all this while?” “Here, Sir, here,” answered a little diminutive figure of man, whom we had before overlooked, and who then with difficulty popped his head from between two band boxes; “and though I am here much against my will, yet if you have any regard to my future peace and quiet, you will not send us home again; I am sure if you are a married man you will not.” — The case was, indeed, perplexing; to send him back into the country with two such companions seemed not a little cruel, and to let them pass was impossible. After some hesitation therefore, we came to the following resolution: That the mother-in-law should be set down on the other side of the gate, and the remaining couple turn their horses heads towards the country. This difficulty was scarce settled before another of at least equal importance arose. A neat chariot, driven by a servant in handsome livery, now drove up; it contained two ladies, whose looks sufficiently testified what the lozenge on their carriage at first suggested; that they were either from choice, or chance, still in a state of celibacy. The characteristic traits of their faces were however different, for while the placid features and plump rotundity, of one seemed to prove that she had entirely given up all matrimonial Schemes, and wisely reconciled herself to the prospect of an old age of Cards; the care worn countenance of the other (little mended by a profusion of youthful ornaments) equally convinced us, that this unfortunate maiden was exactly in that state of Betweenit , which is supposed least favourable to the improvement of female temper. In this opinion we were not mistaken; for, in answer to our interrogatories, the eldest informed us, “that they were the daughters of a country gentleman, by whom they were left in the possession of an easy independence; that being extremely nice in their choice, they had never yet been induced to change their situation; and that they were now going to town partly in order to amuse themselves, and partly with the expectation of finding in the elegant circles of the Metropolis, some person more worthy their acceptance than any who had hitherto offered;” and concluding with hoping, “that we would not think of turning them back, since it might have a fatal effect on their future fortune.” To this request, however, we could not, without breach of trust, accede; but, after some little deliberation, qualified our refusal, by telling them, that London was a very improper place for girls to be in without the protection of some friends or relations; and more particularly dangerous to those who had the misfortune to be young and handsome. This compliment was not without its effect; the frown which had begun to overspread their faces relaxed into a faint smile, and they drove off in tolerable good humour with themselves. The next who applied for admittance was a young man of about two and twenty, who drove a most fashionable phaeton with four cropped greys. The usual question being put to him, he replied, that he went to town to kill time, and because he was tired of the country. On being closer examined, he allowed, that there were many amusements in the country of which he was particularly fond, while there was not one diversion in town for which he cared a farthing. On our expressing our astonishment at this account, he at last added, with some degree of passion, “Why, zounds, Sir, I am married!” In short, we soon discovered, that a very few months after coming into possession of an immense fortune, he had, in a moment of passion, or caprice, united himself to a beautiful girl of mean birth, who had either virtue or artifice sufficient to refuse to be his on easier terms; and that he was actually flying the country, in order to get rid of a companion of whose person he was cloyed, and whose manners he was ashamed of. This case admitted of no doubt, and he was sent back, with orders not to appear there again; at least till he could bring himself to let his wife be of the party. After this gentleman’s dismission we were for some time without any employment; at length, however, a chaise and four appeared in the distance, driving with a velocity which seemed to threaten instant destruction to every man, woman, and child who stood in the way. But all this extraordinary rapidity we found, on a nearer approach, to be very unequal to the wishes of the travellers, one of whom, by rapping the window and other means, continued to make various signs to the postilions to redouble their efforts, and make the horses go faster than they could. As soon as they came within hearing, or rather sooner, the same gentleman throwing himself half out of the carriage, ordered the gate to be thrown open in a peremptory tone, swearing at the same time, that he could not possibly stay a minute. But finding, after some little altercation, that passion was of no service, he condescended to inform us, that he was then running away with a lady to whom he had been long attached, and whose friends, on the most mercenary motives, refused their consent; and conjured us, in a somewhat softer accent, not to stop them, as the least delay might be fatal. In this request he was joined by the lady, who assured us, that nothing but the most absolute necessity should have induced her to take so rash a step, as she had, in every other respect, been a most obedient daughter. What answer I, as a father, should have made, I know not; but I thought that you, Mr. Loiterer, either convinced by her reasoning, or won by her beauty, ordered the gate to be immediately thrown open, and they proceeded on their journey with an inconceivable rapidity. We were interrupted in the reflections which the abovementioned scene gave rise to, by the arrival of those numerous conveyances, which, under the names of Diligences, Stages, Mercurys, and Flys, carry the inhabitants of Great Britain to the most distant parts of the island in less time than their grandfathers would have gone from one country town to another. Various were the characters and the business of those that travelled in them; none, however worth noticing, except a genteel young man, who, on being questioned on the cause of his journey, informed us, “that having no fortune, or chance of preferment in the country, he was going to town in hopes of obtaining some creditable employment, for which his education had qualified him; and that he was not without hopes of reaping benefits from the patronage of Lord ——, to whom he was distantly related.” “This, Sir,” replied I, “is certainly a good reason; but I must beg leave to put a few questions to you relative to your acquirements, and I shall soon be able to judge by your answers, whether your chance at preferment is really so good as you imagine. In the first place, Sir, do you understand Play? No, Sir. Are you an adept at Horse Racing? No, Sir. Have you thoroughly studied the Science of Boxing? No, Sir. Can you write Election Songs, canvas Votes, and head Mobs? No, Sir. And lastly, Sir, can you eat a live cat? No, Sir, indeed, I cannot. — Then let me recommend it to you, Sir, to return into the country, and get a little more information as to these particulars, or depend on it, you will never be a Companion for the Great.” As it now began to grow dark, we imagined our labours for the day to be over, when a party of men on horseback attracted our notice, whom, from the peculiar smartness of their dress, and the miserable appearance of their horses, I should have been at a loss to have known what to think of, had not you, Mr. Loiterer, at one view, informed me, that they were Oxford men going on a Scheme to Town. I had scarce time to enquire into the nature and purport of their expedition, when the forwardest of them rode up, and ordered us to make haste and let them through, with an air which promised no very quiet acquiescence in a refusal. Upon being told he must first inform us what was his business in London, he replied, “Why, what the devil’s that to you, my old buck?” Then, turning to the rest of his party, who by dint of whipping and spurring were now come up, exclaimed, “Here, Careless, is a damn’d Quiz won’t let us go through till we tell him what is our business in Town .“ — “Oh, won’t he,” answered Careless, “we’ll see that presently.” — “Damn him, let’s row him, Racket,” exclaimed a third; upon which they unanimously turned their horses against me, and, with uplifted sticks (none of the smallest) made so desperate an attack, that I was not sorry to wake, and find it was only a dream.
I am, Sir, your’s, &c,
As this Work will soon be concluded, such of our Correspondents who may be inclined to favour us with any farther Contributions, are requested to do so as early s possible; and we should esteem it an additional obligation, if they would make us acquainted with their names, that we may have it in our power to thank them in our last number.
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