Memoirs of Josef Boruwlaski - CHAP. IX.
Return to England -- Visit to Hereford and Warwick -- Digression -- Singular demand at Coventry -- Birmingham -- Imposition of an innkeeper -- Visit to Mr. Boulton's manufactory at Soho -- Eulogy on Freemasonry -- Arrival at Derby; inundation there -- Voyage from Liverpool to Dublin -- Noble conduct of the captain of the packet -- Serious reflections -- Melancholy history of a black cat -- Visit to Cork; successful concert there -- The butcher's lady and the marrow bone -- Excursion to Kinsale; productive and brilliant concert -- Voyage to Cork, and turbulence of the sea -- Impression made upon me by a lady's nose.
I SAILED from Guernsey in a larger vessel than that which conveyed me to the island; and, on my return to England, visited some towns where I had not been before, especially Hereford, where I gave a concert. It was attended by the most distinguished families of the town and neighbourhood, by whom I was loaded with kindness; and, in a more peculiar manner, by the worthy family of Mr. Cam. I must say, Herefordshire, in my opinion, is one of the most fertile counties in England, and celebrated for its cyder. From thence I set out to Coventry, passing through Warwick. The last-mentioned town I found a curious place: I therefore stopped one day to examine it. I beheld a, town, situated upon a rock, having the appearance of great antiquity. It may be approached by four ways cut through the rock. All those roads meet four streets, and I found myself conducted to the centre of the town; the walls and houses of which have cellars in the rock, as dry as possible, and surprisingly neat.
The town of Warwick makes me recollect, that, in my return from Little Tartary, I took the road nearest adjoining my native country of Kiow, and passed round a mountain in the deserts of Podolia, under which I found some curious grottos. A little further on, a gentleman stopped me, and politely requested me to take my dinner with him. I accepted his obliging invitation with pleasure, and he kindly conducted me to his house, through enchanting groves, and cut rocks, which, throughout, were extraordinarily brilliant, displaying a number of different colours, of the nature of crystallized mines. I inquired, if metals were found there. He answered me, that those rocks produced precious stones, such as crystal, topaz, jasper, opal, onyx, sapphire, ruby, and spar.
Next, I found a variety of fruit trees planted like a forest, which led to a beautiful cottage, with spacious gardens adjoining to it. At the top of these was a monstrous rock, with a spring of good water, which formed a gentle rivulet, and fell into the river Dniester, with a noise that caused sensations which would be pleasing to such as like solitude; or to writers of novels, fond of purling streams. On the other side of the rock was a grand cave, dignified with a most magnificent temple, having in altar richly adorned with wonderful and beautiful stones; and round the sides and top of the temple were spar, crystal, and stones of various kinds; so that, at the time of divine service, when it was illuminated, the reflection of the light upon those glittering stones, gave an air of magnificent splendour, which, I confess, filled my heart with amazement; finding, in such a place, so noble a house of God. My host said to me, "If those who are warped in their reason from the truth of facts, could attend solemn service in this temple, they would believe what they, have rejected, and ripen in faith; and not let their ideas wander in clouds, like the Mahometans and some other nations, unfit to be called Christians, who pick up their system of morals, partly from the Pagan philosophers, and partly from our Holy Book, the best of which they reject, and adopt that which is most consistent with their own loose principles. The monarchs and nobles of those unfortunate people, take example from the pride and the mean sentiments of Holofernes, who confirmed the errors of his master, saying, that there was no other God but Nabuchodonosor."
Pursuing the religious subject into which he had entered, I replied in the following manner: "It has, in general, been observed, that there is much presumption in those whom the Supreme Being has allowed to be above their fellow creatures. We frequently see them blinded by ambition, which is next to folly: but we ought to admire, and should take example from, such great men as David, and his son Solomon; both of whom walked humbly in the sight of God, and were blessed with victory, riches, and wisdom. There are, however, too many like Nabuchodonosor, who adopt their own imaginary gods and fantastic gospel; who have reason to blush at hearing the name of David, because the Lord was with him, and he glorified his Maker." With these words, I bid him farewell.
To return from my digression: No sooner had I arrived in the city of Coventry, than a messenger from the Mayor appeared, with a demand for me to pay five pounds, for granting permission to give a concert. By this time I found my pocket rather begin to be low, and sent the following answer by the Mayor's servant: "To-morrow, at one o'clock, you may come, and I will comply with your request." I immediately ordered a post chaise, to be ready at five o'clock next morning, and set out for Birmingham, eighteen miles off, where the ,worshipful Mayor might find me at the hour appointed.
On my arrival at Birmingham, not having a lodging provided, I was obliged to drive to the inn. Mr. Sharp, the innkeeper, being a man in the constant practice of receiving strangers, seemed to me to use no ceremony with his newly-arrived friends, but kindly made his appearance in my room, with a bill of his excellent ragouts for dinner; but, to my great disappointment, it was the time of Lent, and I made choice only of a bread pudding. This raised his curiosity, and he asked me, if I were under the Holy Father. "Yes," said I to him. He replied, "I am of the sect of John Wesley;" and at the same time promised, that next day I should have a different kind of pudding. I had now provided myself with lodgings, before I left his house, where I had been five days. I received my bill, in which I found five puddings charged five pounds. I must say, his bill stupefied me; but, at last, I recovered from my astonishment, and asked him, if the new gospel of this Apostle Wesley furnished him with this lucrative inspiration; because, in our Sacred Books, we are prohibited from making such an attack on the pockets of our fellow-creatures. But he would not hear what I said, nor accept of any other terms; so I was obliged to put my money upon the table, and very gladly took my leave of this holy gentleman.
At my new lodgings, a few days after, I fortunately met with a brother Mason, Mr. Bisset, a Scotch gentleman, of genuine politeness, and an open heart. He was secretary and treasurer to the Debating Society, and, through the interest of this worthy man, I was made a member of the same, and honoured with a silver medal, with which Mr. Baddoes, the president, was at that time the only gentleman decorated. Some time after this I was invited to Mr. Boulton's, of Soho, not far from the town, where I spent an agreeable day in his company; during which time he was pleased to inform me, that Birmingham was originally a village, belonging to a gentleman of the same name, whose monument I saw next day, in the old church. He gave me a still further account of this extraordinary village, the extension and improvement of which were solely owing to the industry of a man, who introduced the manufacture of gilt buttons. Such a speculation certainly deserves our admiration; but I found Mr. Boulton's machines for coining money, a still more wonderful invention. each of which is capable of striking off one hundred pieces per minute.
Birmingham has the appearance of the first town in Europe, for the invention of every sort of mechanics. I observed, that the inhabitants have no other amusement, but that of employing their whole ingenuity in contriving new machinery. The population is very numerous and opulent. I tried to give a concert, thinking I might succeed; but it turned out like a frosty night upon the blossom of a tree. So finding this was a bad climate to ripen my fruit, I prepared to depart. But the next day, I had an invitation to go to Henley, to attend the establishment and consecration of a new Free-Masons' Lodge. The particulars of this I cannot give. Meantime, I may be allowed to say, that there is nothing in the world can be compared to the sublime law of Masonry. However its members may differ in their religious professions, there is no dispute, no jealousy among them: all are tolerated, and every thing governed with the greatest harmony and love, no less beneficial to inward virtue, than to external order. Upon such a basis of reason stands the noble law of Free-Masonry. Further information on this subject it would be improper to give; and those who pretend to publish our concerns, must not be relied on, for certainly those authors never professed Masonry.
Writers have thought fit to exercise their wit upon this subject, as they have been in the constant practice of doing upon all others, of which we have many proofs. By this means, we find most profound philosophers falling into errors; having merely written a heap of conjectures, and obstinately endeavoured to establish their own obscure ideas. As an example, we may take Epicurus's system of the origin of man, and of all other animals, sprung, as he asserts, from the vigorous seeds of the earth. It is a pity, that such a man had so gloomy a prospect of the future state of the soul; but, to conclude the matter in a word, Epicurus should have been sent to the Divine Author of the world, and the Writer on Masonry, to the Master of the Lodge. Then would they have been able to give a perfect account of the facts: otherwise, we can find nothing in their works that can be relied on; for, all truth being concealed from them, both authors must remain full of perplexity and confusion.
I now took my road to Derby, and, on my arrival, procured lodgings on the south side of the town, situated near the little rivulet called Martin Brook. So far as I can recollect, the situation was pleasant, and the house commodious, having a shop furnished with many good things, luxurious enough to regale the greatest duke; therefore, I determined to treat myself according to my circumstances. Next day, just at the beginning of day-break, my illusion of a feast was turned to a fast. I heard the cry of the watchmen, and found the whole town in alarm and confusion, caused by the unexpected appearance of the deceitful Martin Brook, from whose angry mouth gushed forth torrents of water, which filled whole houses. You may guess the surprise I was thrown into by this deluge, when I found our shop transformed into a lake, in the middle of which was the master in a boat, fishing out isinglass, tea, and coffee. Upon my asking for sugar, they answered me, there were no remains of it to be found. So completely did Martin Brook defeat us, that every thing was destroyed in the shop; and we remained in sorrow. I was obliged to be a partner in the business, and lost jubilee. But the sensations of hunger prevailing over those of fear, I requested some milk and bread, which was contrived to be tied upon a long stick, and conveyed in a boat to the window, by the street. By this means, I obtained a humble breakfast, for which I was very thankful to the donor. After such a victory over the town of Derby, obtained by Martin Brook, we must admire his spirit; but, at the same time, lament his ambition in passing over his limits. I was a witness, from my own window, of the great member of precious things which he swept off in his retreat, and of the piteous lamentations of the inhabitants; and, as I found that it would not repay my time to remain in this distressed place, I determined not to wait for a second visit of Martin Brook.
I now undertook a journey to Ireland, flying like a bird that looks where he can build. his nest; and, passing through Cheshire to Lancashire, I reached Liverpool, where I made a bargain with the Captain of a ship, and next day sailed for Dublin. But, to avoid a traveller's story, which often supplies the want of truth, I shall merely relate this simple fact. The Captain, having rather an unpleasant enemy in a contrary wind, and March assisting with his waves, prevented our speedy landing. I saw, with a transport of joy, the village called Black Rock, at a little distance from Dublin. But here is a most dreadful bar, over which we were obliged to pass: we beheld a vessel, that went before us, dashed on that rock, and a woman on the deck, with an infant in her arms, crying to the Lord for mercy. Her voice was beard: our Captain resisted the greatest fury of the sea, approached the vessel, and saved her and the rest of the people; but the vessel sunk to the bottom, and we, in our ship, remained merely in a state of hope, which I called a poor chance.
After this scene of melancholy was over, and we were approaching the harbour, the Captain, good soul, asked us if we were all well, and recovered from our fear. "Fear!" said I, "how could you think we could be affected with fear, when our minds were occupied with your good action?" He appeared to understand my bad English; for what I said seemed to make some impression upon him, as he expressed, with the greatest zeal, his wish to serve me upon any occasion whatever, and shewed himself worthy the name of a true Englishman, by the proof he gave me of the sincerity of his professions. At our landing, he conducted me to the Royal Marine Hotel, and strictly charged the landlord to pay every attention to my person. The day following, he engaged handsome lodgings near the College Green, and settled everything, for fear the people should impose on me; and took me there in such a cheerful manner, as announced the liberal sentiments of his mind. This proceeding reminded me of his humane action above-mentioned; which, no doubt, was heroic in its way, and convinced me, that he deserved to be considered on an equality with those great warriors, who, as soon as they have humbled their enemies, become fathers to their people. In short, Captain Fairwood, after having settled my little affairs, bade me farewell, and so disappeared.
Now, that I was left to my solitary reflections on the pilgrimage in which I was engaged, so severely did I feel the disappointments I had experienced, that I could not help thinking, it was well that Providence had blessed me with such a firm determination to act like an upright man; as the world, by the small estimation in which honesty is often held, afforded so strong an inducement to travellers, like myself, to better their circumstances, by acting like a knave. In the midst of these conflicting thoughts and mournful reflections, a black cat made his appearance, by entering my room. This interruption to my reverie, gave me a new turn of thinking. I could not help admiring the confidence of this creature, in putting his trust in me. I next thought, it must be the principle of his practice to pursue good living, having no other ambition in his nature. On this account, I had no objection to appoint him Cur? of my parish, and by so doing, he became my constant visitor. About this time, a lady of rank honoured me with a visit, who immediately perceived the black cat sitting on the sofa. She strongly expressed her admiration of his natural beauty; and, touching him with a hand as white as snow, made him proudly stretch himself with joy. In this position, he appeared two feet long, and proportionably fat, as he enjoyed good living: in fact, she was delighted with him beyond measure, and promised to procure me a number of customers to see him. She kept her word, and in a few days I found my room rather too small, to contain so numerous a company.
Amongst this crowd of amateurs, I met with a gentleman, who was closely inquisitive about the place of his birth; and, although I possessed no information on this point, I yet conferred on him the honour of being a native of Prussia, born at Berlin, and son of the favourite cat of Frederick the Great. I found this rod and artificial fly catch fish from the deepest rivers: his reputation soon spread, he derived an additional lustre from his noble origin, and rapidly became a favourite of the whole town.
This favourable circumstance suggested to me a new project, and I wished to seize the moment of this enthusiasm and rapture of the public, and give him some lessons in tricks; for, said I, when I consider the natural sharpness of such animals, and their docility when young, I may expect that, with such advantages, he will become as celebrated as the learned pig, so much admired in England. But, however well digested this plan might be, I could not arrive at such a degree of perfection in it, as to procure any amelioration of my situation; for my pupil was found to be of a voracious disposition, which these animals have not the sagacity to perceive, must, one day or other, bring their lives to a tragic conclusion. With a treacherous and ambitious design of improving his manner of living, he slyly insinuated himself into the room where some canary birds were kept, and committed murder, with such a cruel mind and premeditated barbarity, that it was almost impossible to find any remains of them. The cat, being found guilty of this heinous crime, without respect to the merciful principles of wholesome law, had sentence passed on him, by his own master, to be hanged; and which, without delay, was put in execution.
After this unexpected event, it was not of any use for me to remain longer where I was. I, therefore, took my route through the whole of Ireland, beginning with Cork, which is reckoned the second city in that kingdom, for its splendour, opulence, and trade. Small vessels only can approach the city, which stands seven miles up the river Lee. According to my recollection, this is the chief port of merchants in Ireland; and, in truth, there is more beef, tallow, and butter, shipped from hence, than from all the other ports of the kingdom put together.
On my arrival, I found lodgings, most advantageously situated for my purpose, upon the parade, which is a public walk, where are to be seen thousands of the most beautiful women; a number of whom inspire respect and love, equal to that with which Diotime, who taught Socrates the principles of nature, inspired that philosopher. Whatever may be said, this is indisputably true. Their appearance in society forms a sort of heaven on earth. By them I was first noticed; and their example and kindness to me, were followed by the noble spirit of the citizens, who shewed their liberal mind and concern for my welfare. Among other instances of their bounty, the gentlemen, who were amateurs in music, graciously offered their assistance at my concert; and, to prove the extent of their good dispositions, performed themselves on that night. This act of generosity, which I did not expect, rendered my benefit brilliant and numerous. Amongst the company was observed a lady, that excited the curiosity of the public to know who she was, by the elegance of her dress, and the sweetness of her conversation, together with the quickness of her repartee; but, unsuccessful in their attempt at a discovery, they were obliged to remain satisfied with obscure conjectures, and the late hour of the night forced them to depart.
This lady, of whom I speak, bade me farewell, with a promise to send me a marrow bone. I confess, I understood English imperfectly at that time, and, therefore, I thought she said Mirabeau, not the celebrated one who died during my residence at Paris, but his brother; consequently I gave orders to my servant, should he call, not to admit him. At dinner-time, I heard a loud rap at the hall door, and was eagerly anxious to know who it was; expecting Mirabeau's visit. I opened the door, leading to the staircase, from whence I heard mentioned the name of marrow bone; and, still listening, I heard my servant coming up with another person; in consequence of which, I slipped off to my room, cursing his imprudence, for not obeying the orders of his master. I crept to the closet, peeping through the key-hole, and perceiving a soup dish upon the table, and the master of the house laughing, probably at my misunderstanding, I came out of my hiding-place. On my appearance, he could not keep his countenance, but said, "There" is your Frenchman put into a soup dish." "What is it?" I asked." "They are bones with marrow in them," he replied. "Who is the lady that sent them, and what is her name?" "Mrs. McLennel," he answered, "and she is a butcher's wife." Finding my mistake cleared up with a good dinner, "Sit down," said I, and take some marrow-bone with me;" but he politely refused, telling me, he was obliged to go immediately with a wig, and dress a lady for a masked ball. When I considered his occupation, in a moment it came into my mind, that this man will no doubt discharge the duties of his profession as a hairdresser; he will inform his customers what has passed in his house, and I must expect some fun at my expense. So it happened; for the next day the Worshipful the Mayor sent me a polite invitation to dinner. In his card, he gave a witty turn to the incident of the marrow-bone. This circumstance amused the public; and they carried on the joke in a very agreeable manner, probably with a view to afford me a good table: so that marrow-bone became my constant food; and, if I had continued amongst those liberal and generous people, I should not have been surprised, if I had become as fat as marrow. But I was reluctantly obliged to change my place, in compliance with the circumstances of my situation; so I made an excursion to Kinsale, a place beautifully situated at the mouth of the river Bandon, strongly fortified, the town neat and handsomely built, well supplied with provisions, but rather inferior to Cork in point of marrow-bones. I had the honour to be introduced to Lord and Lady Kinsale, whose influence procured me a numerous and select party of their friends to my concert, which terminated with a most brilliant ball.
After a long stay in this opulent city, the inhabitants of which I found amiable and polite, I set out for Youghall, where I met with a friendly and warm reception from the inhabitants. I had an overflowing concert of the best society, and their attention to me I must ever remember with gratitude. But an unexpected business called me to Cork; and, luckily for me, it was not more than twenty miles distant for me to return. At this time, Captain Somerville of the Navy, intending to sail, kindly proposed to me to take a voyage with him, saying, There is no difference whether you go by sea or by land, as we shall reach Cork by dinner-time. So I accepted his polite offer, and we sailed; but we had no sooner quitted the harbour, than we perceived a grumbling sea, and lowering sky, announcing a dirge to be sung with a chorus. For my part, I had often met with those rough receptions, and did not think any thing of it; but I really felt for the situation of the ladies, who are sent to us as a blessing, and I was uneasy on their account.
After all the painful reflections that tormented my mind, considering that the greatest Monarch, had he been on board, would have been treated with the same contempt, I determined to retire to my bed, where I thought to be alone; but the Captain had taken the greatest part of it to himself, and left only a small share to me. However, I settled myself as well as I could, being obliged to keep him behind me. But, to my still greater discomfort, we were both of us soon driven from our quarters; for the fury of the angry sea besieged us with its highest waves, and gave such a blow to the vessel, that the Captain, tumbling me out of bed on the floor, fell upon me; so that I should certainly have been smothered, had not another no less violent motion of the vessel delivered me from him. I now thought myself secure from any accident, not perceiving I was so near the ladies; but the vessel at that moment gave such a jump, that the Captain, who had just risen, was thrown down a second time, and in his fall knocked down some of the ladies that were next him; one of whom tumbling upon me, gave me, with her big nose, a monstrous black eye. I must confess, I did not expect such a donation, which I was obliged to keep for some time, having no chance of being soon at Cork, to procure a plaster for it.
We now found ourselves on the coast of Giant's Causeway, and afterwards at the Mull of Cantyre in Scotland, where the wind changed, and drove us to Port Patrick. Meantime, our joy was restored, by the expectation of seeing Cork; and, in the interval of a calm, I proposed to give, a feast to my fellow-travellers, by preparing them coffee. As soon as it was ready, we sat down round the table, in great spirits, singing "Rule Britannia." I asked, who that lady "Britannia" was? The Captain replied, "She is the favourite of the whole nation;" and the lady next me observed, "This great lady is fond of a little flattery like ourselves." During the time of my inquiry, and while our cups were filled with coffee, Neptune, envious of our joy, began groaning; and the insolent waves gave answer to our song, forcing the vessel to bow down in a most humiliating manner, and throwing us to the ground, with the table and its contents upon our heads. To close this wonderful voyage of twelve days, I must be allowed to declare, that it was chiefly owing to the imprudence of the Captain, who had it in his power to land safe at Donaghadee, a short distance from Port Patrick; but, boldly venturing to go to Cork, he exposed his life, with that of many of his friends. Fortunately, however, the wind conducted us close to Waterford, and, with the help of ropes tied to boats, we were brought safe into port. I shall only observe, with regard to this distress, that any man, however great his courage may be, would, when in the midst of danger, ardently wish to be out of it; and probably would have no hesitation in declaring his wishes, did not his lofty mind direct him to conceal that fear, which the natural love of life so powerfully excites.
I was not sorry to set my feet upon the ground; and, leaving the Captain in his swimming coach, I took a more solid one, and arrived safe at Cork, where they all thought I was drowned. However, the people no sooner perceived me coming to the town, than their hearts overflowed with joy they surrounded the coach, not with mere curiosity, as I saw by their countenance, but with the rapture of real friendship, and with the greatest care brought me to the hotel. Indeed, I put my trust in them, as in their principles I found they truly deserved the name of good Irish.