Chapter XXXV

 

Further Adventures, and the End of our Story

            Mr. Carew being in Bristol, at a time when there was a hot press, wherein they not only impressed seamen, but able-bodied landsmen they could anywhere meet with, which made some fly one way, and some another, putting the city into a great rout and consternation, he, among the rest, knowing himself to have a body of rather a dangerous bigness, he was willing to secure himself as effectually as he possibly could, greatly preferring his own ease to the interest and honour of his king. He therefore set his wife and landlady to work, who with all speed, and proper attention to cleanliness, made a great number of small mutton-pies, plum-puddings, cheesecakes, and custards, which our hero, in the ordinary attire of a female vender of these commodities, hawked about the city, crying, Plum-pudding, plum-pudding, plum-pudding; hot plum-pudding; piping hot, smoking hot, hot plum-pudding. Plum-pudding echoed in every street and corner, even in the midst of the eager press-gang, some of whom spent their penny with this masculine pie-woman, and seldom failed to serenade her with many a complimentary title, such as b— and w—.

            Arriving at Squire Rhodes's seat, near King's-bridge in Devonshire, and knowing the squire had married a Dorsetshire lady, he thought proper also to become a Dorsetshire man, and of Lyme, which was the place of the lady's nativity, and applied himself to the squire and his lady, whom he met both together, giving them to understand that he was lost in a vessel belonging to Lyme. The squire and his lady gave him five shillings each, for country's sake, and entertained him very well at their own house. This was early in the forenoon, and he wished to put off his time a little, before proceeding upon another adventure.

            Going from hence, he went to a public-house, called Malston-cross, about a quarter of a mile from the squire's; he there fell into company with Squire Reynolds, Squire Ford, Dr. Rhodes, brother to the squire, and several other gentlemen, who were met there to make happy after a hunting-match, in which they had been uncommonly successful, and were much inclined to be jovial. In the afternoon there was a terrific storm of rain, thunder, and lightning, that continued with great violence for several hours: in the midst of this tempestuous weather, he (having a great mind to clear his afternoon's expenses) stripped off all his apparel, except his nightcap, shoes, and breeches, and went to Squire Rhodes's. Nothing could possibly look with a more deplorable appearance than this naked and wretched spectacle, in such dreadful weather: the landlord with pity regarding his destitute appearance, fetched him a shirt, as he thought, to cover his nakedness; but upon his endeavouring to put it on, it proved to be a smock belonging to the good woman of the house, which afforded a great deal of diversion to the good squire and his benevolent lady, who happened to be looking from their window enjoying the mistake; when, calling to him, and inquiring from whence he came, he pretended to have been cast away at Bigbury-bay, during the late violent tempest, in a vessel belonging to Poole. Squire Rhodes ordered a fine Holland shirt, and a suit of good clothes to be given to him, as also a hearty refreshing dram; and then, throwing him half-a-crown, dismissed him, not in the least suspecting him to be the poor Lyme man, to whom he and his lady were so liberal in the morning. Having got this contribution, he returned to the public-house, where the gentlemen waited for him (for they were the principal occasion of this last adventure); and being informed how he had fared, diverted themselves exceedingly with the stratagem; and shortly after, meeting with Squire Rhodes, they discovered the various impositions that had been practised upon him, and very heartily bantered him thereupon.

            Some time after this, Mr. Carew, exercising his profession at Modbury (where squire Rhodes's father lived), among other houses made his application to Legassick's, where he by chance was visiting. Mr. Carew knocked at the kitchen door, which being opened, he saw his old friend the squire, who was then alone, and in a careless manner swinging his cane about. As soon as he began to tell his lamentable tale, Mr. Rhodes said, "I was twice in one day imposed on by that rogue, Bampfylde Carew, to whose gang you may very likely belong; furthermore, I do not live here, but am a stranger." Meantime in comes Mr. Legassick, with a bottle of wine in his hand, giving Mr. Carew a private wink, to let him understand that he knew him, and then very gravely inquired into the circumstances of his misfortune, as also of the affairs and inhabitants of Dartmouth, from whence he pretended to have sailed several times; of all which he gave a full and particular account; upon which Mr. Legassick gave him half-a-crown, and recommended him as a real object to Mr. Rhodes, who also made the same present; upon which Mr. Legassick burst out laughing; and, being asked the reason thereof, he could not forbear telling him, even in Mr. Carew's presence; when Mr. Rhodes, finding himself a third time imposed on, with a great deal of good nature made himself very merry therewith.

            Mr. Carew being now advanced in years, and his strength beginning to fail, he was seized with a violent fever, which confined him to his bed for several weeks; on recovering he reflected how idly he had spent his life, and came to the resolution of resigning the Egyptian sceptre.? The assembly finding him determined, reluctantly complied, and he departed amidst the applause, as well as the regrets of his subjects, who despaired of ever again having such a king.

            Our hero returned home to the place of his nativity, but finding the air of the town not rightly to agree with him, and the death of some of his relations rendering his circumstances quite easy, he retired to the west country, where he purchased a neat cottage, which he embellished in a handsome style, and lived in a manner becoming a good old English gentleman, respected by his neighbours, and beloved by the poor, to whom his doors were ever open.? Here he died, full of years and honours, regretted by all.

            Having left his daughter a handsome fortune, she was married to a neighbouring gentleman of good family, by whom she had a numerous family of promising children.

            Here we shall put an end, for the present, to this true history of our hero, and we hope, the gentle reader is convinced that he has as good, if not a better, claim to fame and immortality than most of the present heroes of the age. We acknowledge he has his faults, but everybody knows a perfect character is quite out of fashion, and that the present excellent writers of the age hold it a solecism and absurdity to draw even a fictitious hero without plenty of faults. To draw after nature is the criterion; that is, an equal quantity of virtue and vice; or, if the latter preponderate a little, no matter, so their heroes do not fall without temptation, and feel some compunctions of repentance when their passions are cooled; this is perfection enough, for this is pure nature. Upon this account, we acknowledge we have been at no little pains in writing this true history, to throw a veil over some of the virtues of hero, lest he should be found to exceed the present standard of heroism, and be thought a character out of nature.

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