King of the Beggars - Chapter XX

Chapter XX

More Adventures in Beggary and Imposture

            About this time Mr. Carew met with one Mr. Philips, a celebrated limner in Porlock, who showed him a great many pictures of different likenesses, and asked him if he knew any of them. He pointed out his old school-fellow, Edward Dyke, Esq., and Sir Thomas Carew. Mr. Philips then asked him if he would sit for his picture, as he had been desired to draw it for Mr. Copplestone Bampfylde; which our hero agreeing to, he went the next day, and the following, to sit for the picture, undisguised. When it was finished, Mr. Philips desired him to come again another time in his mumping dress, which he accordingly promised to do.

            After this he went to Minehead, and called on several of his old acquaintance, viz. Dr. Bell, Parson Beer, and the Collector, who all treated him very kindly. Having raised contributions from these gentlemen, he repaired to his quarters, and desired them to lend him a pair of trowsers. Having a mind to try some of the neighbouring country parishes, he pretended to be a cast-away seaman, 3500 miles from home, and picked up a great deal of money, and seven or eight pounds of bacon, which he brought to his quarters, and gave as a recompense for the loan of the trowsers.

            Some days after he met with an old female acquaintance, who had a young child with her, at a place called Embercombe, with whom joining company, they came into Dunster, and lay at private lodgings. The next day, being willing to indulge his companion, he borrowed her child, a gown, and one of her petticoats. Thus accoutred, with the child in his arms, he returned to Minehead among the gentlemen he had so lately received contributions from; and pretending to be an unfortunate woman, whose house had been burnt at Chadleigh, and giving a good account of that place and its inhabitants to those who questioned him, coughing very violently, and making the child cry, he got a great deal of money, clothes for the child, and victuals. On his return to Dunster, he gave the mother of the child the clothes, and the greatest part of the money he had obtained in his trip; neither was this method new to him, for he had long before this taught his own daughter, a little infant, to say, Drowned in a boat, as often as he or any other person asked her what was become of her mother, or mammy. Having made her perfect in this lesson, he set out with her upon his back, and pretended to have been a sailor on board a vessel that had been lately lost on the coast of Wales, when most of the ship's crew and passengers were drowned, among whom, he said, was the mother of the tender infant at his back, and that he had saved himself and the infant by swimming. By this story he pocketed a great deal of money everywhere, especially, as by way of confirmation, when he was telling of it, he would turn and ask the babe, where is your poor mammy, my dear, my jewel? To which the babe would reply, drowned in the boat; which so affected all that heard it, that it not only drew their purse but their tears also.

            From Dunster he went through the country to Ilfracombe, where he inquired for a passage to Ireland. He was told there was no vessel going to Ireland, but that he might have a passage for Wales, which he soon resolved upon, and, after waiting upon the collector and some other friends in Ilfracombe, set sail for Swansea. He had no sooner landed there, than he repaired to the Rev. Mr. Griffy of that place, in the character of a cast-away seaman, a native of Devonshire; and, as he gave a particular account of Mr. Griffy's son, the minister of Bishop's Nympton, he was made very welcome, and handsomely relieved, and by his recommendations obtained a great deal of money in the town.

            From thence he went in the same character to Lord Mansell's, at Cowbridge, and other places, and returned to Swansea. Thence he set out again, travelling through the country to Tenby, where, hearing of one Captain Lott, he waited upon him with the same story, but with the addition of his name being John Lott, whereby he soon got half-a-crown and a good welcome. [Note: Mr. Carew had some time before this enlisted himself to Captain Lott. and left him the next day, taking with him an extraordinary fine spaniel of the Captain's.] He next set out for Carmarthen, and raised a great deal of money from the Welsh gentry, pretending now to be an unfortunate sailor belonging to Ireland, who had been cast away near Portland Race, coming from Bilbao. He proceeded upon the same story to Aberystwyth and Port Ely, where he chanced to meet with a brother of the mendicant order, to whom he was well known; they inquired of each other's success, and many other particulars, and agreed to join company for some time. Mr. Carew now got a cere-cloth of pitch, which he laid to his arms, with a raw beef-steak at the top, covered over with white bread and tar, which has the exact appearance of a green wound. They still continued in the same story of being cast away, but, added to it, that he had fallen off the rigging, and wounded his arm in that manner. They travelled together with good success as far as Shadwell, where they parted company.

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