AFTER my lucrative benefit at
On the following morning, at breakfast, the Captain made his appearance. I cannot describe how much I was gratified by his presence. He called Noad to make some buttered. toast, having not yet breakfasted, and being accustomed to take that meal with me. While we were drinking our coffee with good cream, and fresh butter upon the toast, Noad brought me a card of invitation from Lord Ormond to dine with him. I was rather inclined to refuse, and said to my friend, I was tired with my journey but he telling me he was invited there himself, and that it would be more pleasant for him to meet me, I could not refuse, and wrote an answer, that I would be there. After breakfast, he left me with a promise to return and accompany me to his Lordship, which he did. On my introduction to his Lordship, an unexpected scene presented itself to my view, I found in my unknown. friend the Captain, the son of the illustrious Lord Ormond. This spectacle was indeed curious, for at my surprise both were delighted, and his Lordship could not conceive how I could be unacquainted with his son's name. I replied, that a name did not give title to friendship; and besides, I never inquired, more or less, concerning the affairs of a friend who wished to put trust in me; so that, as the Captain thought proper not to mention his name, I had not thought right to ask it. However, it seems the Captain had only wished to keep me in the dark till he found a time to introduce me to his amiable father, who did me the honour to receive me, not as a stranger, but as the distinguished friend of his son. In consequence, I was treated with great attention, and he patronized my concert, which succeeded admirably well.
Notwithstanding the good benefits and generous reception I met with in many towns, finding the times in some degree unfavourable, and the public in general to be occupied rather with political affairs than with pleasure, I determined, without delay, to carry my speculation, of making an alliance with the military, into execution.
Though I had heard that Athlone itself was but an indifferent town, my project was to meet a great many military gentlemen, who had something to spare out of their income received from the national purse. Consequently, I set out to make experiments; and on nay arrival at Athlone, my first occupation was to provide myself a lodging. Among all that offered themselves to my choice, I could not find a better than a small thatched house, belonging to the first Apothecary of the place, where I found the walls of my room bent on one side, so as to threaten an immediate fall; but in some respects they were very convenient, as the door shut of itself , without the assistance of the hand. When I found that the whole town consisted of such description of buildings, I became reconciled to my own, and employed my time in making a large acquaintance amongst the officers. Colonel Chapman took particular notice of me, and kindly gave me a general invitation to dine with him at the barracks; I did not refuse his polite offer, but accepted it with the warmest thanks. There I spent my time in the greatest luxury, turning day into night, and night into day; in fact, I became an imitator of their dissipated life, and found, by this contrivance, I should have a famous Concert, as I saw the ladies of the neighbourhood ordering new gowns for that evening, when I had no doubt the attention and politeness of my friends the officers would attract a great company.
Colonel Chapman appointed the night for my concert, and all was fixed according to his pleasure; but after we had been enjoying ourselves the evening and part of the night preceding my benefit, an express arrived, at three o'clock in the morning, that the French Fleet with General Hoche, had taken advantage of the opportunity afforded by a thick fog,. and landed at Bantry Bay. Consequently the whole garrison was obliged to march to meet the enemy; and left me alone with my bills in my hand, like the Methodist preacher, whom I robbed of his flock. General Hoche's impolitic act swept off at once all the fine harvest I had expected to reap from my benefit night. On hearing this dreadful news, I had the pleasure to see that the whole town professed great loyalty, as all the inhabitants shut their houses, and their favourite dish of bread pudding was not to be seen in the street, on its way to the baker's oven, for fear of meeting a Frenchman. As to my landlord, he was making great preparation, expecting to have much practice among the wounded soldiers. This put the in mind to make enquiry about a number of articles, whether his shop was provided with them, as cream of tartar, flour of sulphur, plaster of betony, distillation of soot, sal volatile of vipers, sal ammoniac, and many other things that came into my head. The answer he delivered was extremely proper, and contained a good deal more information than I expected. As I had not the knowledge of sal ammoniac, he instructed me in this manner:-- "Now, Sir," he said to me, "there has a remarkable surname been given to this salt, that is, ammoniac. Some centuries ago the authors of chemistry were pleased to invent a variety of names, which there is no need for me to acquaint you with; only I must tell you of the origin of this, which is as follows: There was a temple of Jupiter Ammon, situated in the middle of the deserts of Lybia; and a number of caravans, passing over those sands, in their pilgrimage to that temple, we are indebted. to the urine of the camels for this precious salt of nature. But at present we are quite at a loss, as pilgrimages have ceased, .and we have nothing but an imitation from the manufactory of Venice or Anvers, where they prepare it with five parts of some stronger salts, and one part of sal marine, with one-half part of soot, baked together to reduce it into a mass, and make it appear like the original from our good friends the camels."
When he had finished his relation of sal ammoniacs, he asked me if I understood what he said: "Partly," said I. "If not entirely," said he, "it is because you are a stranger to Our tongue, for it is impossible to give you a clearer account." But, in truth, I paid little attention during the whole time he related the generation of his ammoniacs, having been occupied with thinking of my departure from Athlone; but that I might not give him cause to think me unpolite, I bade him shew me the sal ammoniac. "I have not any," he replied, "I keep only James's salt, which is more beneficial than any of those you have mentioned." I then said to him, "Let me see this excellent salt." "You cannot get better," said he; "to cure beef or pork, it is from the manufactory Of Mr James at Ballast." I replied, "I admire your ability in curing beef and pork; how proud must the University be to produce such a clever scholar!" I would not enter farther into conversation, finding all his knowledge consisted in the art of pickling beef.
To save time in my own concerns, I examined my map, to find which was the nearest town for me to go to, as I perceived my income beginning to be rather low. This I found to be Longford, the chief town of the county of that name, which, I had also heard, was a pleasant city; so I set out immediately. On my arrival, I did not fail to meet with a good reception, though, in, some degree, depressed by the gloom upon their countenances, arising from the false alarm the French General had given them. Notwithstanding this, however, I became as fashionable as a new dress just arrived for the ladies. The novelty of my person prevailed over everything else; no more was mentioned of General Hoche. Their houses were hospitably opened to receive me, and my name spread so far, that it reached the whole neighbourhood. I soon received a polite invitation to dine with a gentleman in the country; and finding the distance to his house no more than one mile, I accepted it with pleasure. Some of the gentleman's friends came for me in a chaise, and we set out together. We soon arrived, and met a pleasant society, who were by no means remiss in circulating merry conversation. The lively repartee and sensible remarks of an enchanting circle of ladies, induced us to forget home, and we did not think of the late hour, till the ladies put us in mind of our departure. We then all got ready to go; but it was in vain, for the servant informed us, that a message had come from the master of the inn to say, there was not a chaise to be got in the town, they being all engaged with passengers; therefore, some of the party wanted to walk, but the darkness of the night and the heavy rain prevented this: so a good. deal of confusion ensued amongst us, which at last put the master of the house in a state of uneasiness, and he declared his best jaunting car was broken, and the one he had at home he was ashamed to offer, but they begged of him to make it ready.
Mr Macguire, the master of the house, then provided from his neighbours pelisses for his friends the ladies, also great coats for the gentlemen, and for me his own spencer, in which my little figure cut so droll an appearance, that no one could stand for laughing; but, in spite of this caricature, I was very well pleased with being so snug. When all was ready and disposed to move, Mr Macguire gave orders to put his favourite mare to the cart, which had the reputation of being a quiet beast: so at last we went with lanthorns to take possession of our seats. I was favoured with being near the driver, and close behind the mare. I admired her long tail, and it seemed to me, her keepers had not been at all sparing of their oats. But when we began our trip, I found myself in an awkward situation; and, being without experience in such expeditions, I confess, I could not find any method to keep myself steady; and I received such violent shakes, sudden tosses, and pulls, that I was near falling to the ground. Obliged, therefore, to lie down, I accidentally found something to keep hold of with my hand, and thus secured myself; but another inconvenience arose; for, if I moved in the least, I was in danger of losing my life. Whilst I was in this very awkward situation, the mare, giving full scope to her natural disposition, kept beating my face with her tail, which prevented me from opening my eyes, for fear of being blinded; for this exercise of patience, I was amply rewarded by bringing upon my head great plenty of such materials as are Useful to improve mushrooms, turnips, and cabbage. However, the ladies and gentlemen had their share of the dirty road; for, their appearance at home, the servants did not know their masters, and were obliged to prepare baths for them, as Noad had done for me. After our purification from this dirty condition, I next day found the ladies in my concert room, the beautiful bloom of whose faces had sustained no injury, and who did me the honour to be the ornaments of the last night I spent in that good city.
Next day I took my departure for Drogheda. My principal object was to reach good winter quarters, as I considered that the bad season was advancing: therefore, I passed through many places where I only changed horses, and at last came to Slone. According to my recollection, it was a dark night, and bitterly cold. At a distance from the town I perceived an Aurora Borealis, or flame in the sky, with which my eyes were so delighted, that I could not withdraw them from it,. Whilst my mind was completely buried in humbly reflecting on the works of our great Creator, I did not notice where I was, and found myself close to the flame, when a guard stopped the chaise with an order to go no further. An officer on duty soon appeared, inquiring who was in the chaise, and finding from his language he was no common man, I took the opportunity of begging to speak to him. On hearing my voice, he approached the chaise; and, opening the door, very friendly shook hands with me, saying, in French, he was acquainted with my name, and immediately wrote a note, with a request that I would deliver it to the Colonel, and gave directions to the driver, in English, where to go. During this conversation, we were provided with a light; and, from the appearance which this gentleman made, I took him for a Russian officer, as he had on a green uniform. At this time his Russian Majesty was upon friendly terms with Great Britain, and I imagined that his troops had landed to prevent an invasion from the enemy, who had been again expected. With this strange idea I was persuaded that I should find some uncultivated Kalmucks; but my false notion was soon removed, when I met with the essence of Irish politeness, and such sweetness of manners and attention as are far beyond my ability to describe.
We supped very late; and after that, my eyes becoming rather heavy from the fatigue of my journey, the Colonel ordered my bed to be made ready, and in a few minutes, with the rest of the officers, conducted me to it, desiring me not to put off my clothes, that I might be ready to set out at five o'clock. Of the reasons for this, I am not able to give an explanation; but it is certain, the Colonel with some of the officers came at the hour appointed, and made me rise, and conducted me to a room where breakfast was waiting for me, and immediately after, put me into a chaise, when I took my last farewell, for I have never met with them again.
On my arrival at Drogheda, I did not find any thing worthy of remark, but the handsome harbour, which I compared to the Liffey in the bay of Dublin. My stay in these winter quarters was but short, as I perceived the citizens involved in deep gloom, rejecting all kind of amusements, and without any sign of recovering their good spirits, the minds of the whole town being in a state of alarm, with the idea of a second visit from the French. Whatever their uneasiness might be, it did not make any impression on my mind; for when I reflected on the refined knowledge and politeness of the French nation, I considered that if it were possible they should become masters of the kingdom, when they felt their own superiority, it would be their interest not to oppress the people, or be savage; otherwise, they would show how ill-founded and hollow was the reputation they enjoyed of being a civilized nation. I thus persuaded myself, to indulge a good opinion of them; otherwise, perhaps, I should have shrunk into a corner like the inhabitants of Drogheda, but I would not allow their spreading fears to influence me, and boldly changed my asylum.
Fickle fortune now frustrated all the exertions I made for my welfare; for when I visited Enniskillen, Kerry, Bandon, and Fermanagh, the benefit I received was precisely such as if I had sown peas, and the caterpillars had destroyed them. The French General Humbert landing at Killalla, became master of the town, and of Tuam which lay in his route. Elated by his rapid progress, he rashly advanced to Castlebar, where he met General Lake, a man of great understanding in the art of war, and whose measures were no doubt wisely taken; but the battle which ensued, made no impression upon Humbert, and he directed his way to Dublin. But the Marquis Cornwallis, a man of great natural sweetness Of disposition, and much knowledge, coming up, eight hundred French laid down their arms to him without resistance.
The motives which occasioned this invasion of General Humbert, are to me unknown; but such actions, however they may be in request with the lovers a war, and admirers of heroic exploits, are nevertheless odious to a quiet and feeling mind. But who is to be blamed, Humbert or his master, by whose orders he acted? -- that master whom I may perhaps be allowed to compare to Nebuchadnezzar, ordained from above as a powerful instrument to carry into captivity the whole of the Israelites.
I confess I have no great knowledge in these matters, and shall therefore content myself with mentioning what I can remember of a story of the King of the Mice, whose rapacious disposition induced him to plunder many things from the farmer's stores, the acquisition of the booty increased his covetousness, and the fullness of his pride still tempted him to grasp at more of his neighbour's goods, he therefore committed fresh depredations; and assembled, from the remotest provinces, his wise subjects, and disclosed his eager desire to take into his possession a delightful place, and make himself absolute master of it. The whole council not only approved, but highly admired his Majesty's project, and agreed to send ambassadors to the rats and weasels, inviting their Monarchs to join his tribe, with a promise to divide the spoil, and to immortalize their race. An alliance soon took place between them, and the war ended in their taking possession of the rich granaries of the mole, putting to desolation whatever they could find, and dividing the cheese amongst themselves. These animals, whose natures were corrupted by ambition, spreading as fast as possible, increased their insolence so far, that they became insupportable, oppressing numbers of the commonwealth, though they could have no just title to claim possession of another's right. But this success, the baneful fruit of their false glory, impelled the King of the Ichneumons, who perceived their rapacious inclination, and their endeavours to devour his property, to rise against them. This Monarch accordingly declared war against them, and coming into the field, proved himself a most formidable enemy. His proclamation was treated by those little animals with contempt, and all their combined force rushed furiously from their holes to swallow him. But, notwithstanding this, they could make no impression on the Ichneumon, as that Prince was continually upon his watch, and ready to receive them, carrying on his attacks without dread, and in remarkably good order, falling on the back of the enemy's army with amazing swiftness, seizing with the greatest dexterity all their chief commanders, and pressing closely to regain the cheese which had been taken from his friend the mole; a part of which, that had not been consumed, he succeeded in recovering.
The rest of this little story, I am sorry to say, has escaped my memory. I must therefore return to General Humbert, who made such an impression on the whole Irish nation, as proved particularly distressing to my strong box: so that I retreated as quickly as my horses could carry me to Newtown, where I could not find a ship, and was obliged to take a fishing boat, in which I went to the Isle of Man, and landed without accident at Peele. I did not think it worth my while to make any stay in this little naked town, nor did curiosity induce me to examine the castle and monastery near the sea, which had been destroyed by some renowned warrior, as I had seen in Great Britain more remarkable ancient ruins.
Castletown I understood to be the chief place of the island, and the seat of the governor's residence; notwithstanding which, it is far from being so populous as Douglas, on account of its harbour. I thought it would answer my purpose better to visit Douglas, and quit Castletown, which I accordingly did, and arrived at Douglas, where I was received with the utmost hospitality by the worthy inhabitants; and I can never forget my obligations to them, nor the powerful claim which they have upon my warmest gratitude.
This island attracts a number of strangers of every kind, who resort to it on account of debts contracted in their own country, as this is a general refuge for such persons as are not disposed to pay a visit to a gaol. Those people seemed to me to have neglected the principles of good management at home, and to have acquired a habit of living upon the public industry.
A performer from the Dublin stage arrived soon after me, who made an addition to the number of those who professed themselves enemies to the cares and labours of life. I have often seen those people form a cheerful society, and have beheld their tables furnished with luxuries. The last-mentioned gentleman, being well known in public, wanted to prove his abilities in private, by collecting those gentry who professed the same principles as himself; amongst whom he thought me of the number, and honoured me with an invitation to dine. I was at first inclined not to accept this favour, thinking he might employ his money to a better purpose, namely, to pay his creditors; but the Mayor of the town, who was present when I received this invitation, prevented my sending a message to that effect, by the introduction of some remarks on the imprudence of those persons, who having the enjoyment of many thousands per annum, and being sufficiently entitled to be called rich, act contrary to the rules of good order, and contract such enormous debts, that it is impossible to think on their conduct without laughing at their folly. In his observations, however, the worthy Mayor had forgotten to distinguish the case of those who are dissolute, idle, and extravagant, from that of those rich persons who are often to be found gifted by nature with brilliant powers and extraordinary talents; but, living in kingdoms governed nearly on principles of equality, are consequently obliged to expose their fortune amongst the general mass of the people, in order to become useful members of their nation; so that before they are brought forward to shew their zeal in serving the kingdom, they find themselves deprived of their income.
On further consideration, the situation of this performer of the stage excited my curiosity, and I accepted his invitation, merely to see what sort of persons he and his friends were; and, to my astonishment, I found his table covered with delicacies: his manners, I could perceive, were such as did not betoken a solid mind; nor was his situation calculated to afflict a man of sensibility. I enjoyed a sort of gratification, in being admitted to a close inspection of persons who led a dissipated life, yet preserved a specious shew of honesty, the reality of which only belongs to a good roan, in the continual exercise of virtue. My performer celebrated his birthday in so splendid a manner, and assumed such personal dignity, that you would have supposed him a Prince of the greatest fortune. He was reported to be a learned man; and possibly he might be so. There was, however, an air of melancholy in his countenance, which might be perceived even in the midst of his gaiety, and which, like soap in hard water, could never be thoroughly blended with that sprightly quality.
The unfortunate situation of this man brought to my recollection an observation of our eminent writer, Kobylanski, that he had found many learned in different branches of science, yet unsteady in their actions, which wise from the defects of their natural dispositions having been overlooked, and from their giving way to hurtful inclinations, which administered constant fuel to a corrupt life, and subdued all the active principles of their mind. Experience has taught me the correctness of this author's ideas.
I was highly disgusted with listening to a variety of empty conversation, which at last terminated with the greatest spirit, produced by the influence of the bottle. I bade them good night, and very gladly retreated to my quiet room. I was very well satisfied that was not present at a tragic scene, which I since learned was performed by the master of the feast, after my departure, in the part of the cruel Tyrrel, when he announced to Richard the Third, that he had executed his orders, and put to death both the young Princes. It happened at that time, that one of the company, being much in liquor, took it in earnest, and thinking he had killed those innocent infants, without further explanation, approached him with fury, and gave him a blow, which produced a black eye, hallooing at the same time out of the window, for a constable to take him into custody. The people in the street hearing the alarm, and not knowing the real state of the affair, procured a constable, who finding nothing but a drunken man, left the room with contempt. Next day, one of those fellows did not fail to bring me the news, with all the particulars of the affront received by this actor; in consequence of which, he was determined to fight a duel, as soon as he could find a second, but he found it difficult to obtain one.
In the course of this conversation, we were interrupted by two officers of my acquaintance, with whom I have often spent a pleasant day. After the usual ceremony of shaking hands, I made an apology to the man for the interruption which had been given to his interesting and serious narrative, and begged of him to continue his story, which he very politely did; and the officers, on hearing the insult which had been offered to the performer, engaged themselves to be seconds to the parties. Meantime, I used my endeavours to reconcile, if possible, both parties; but the officers obstinately rejected my proposal. I was surprised at their inhumanity, until, at the departure of the man, they declared to me the trick they intended to play upon them. They soon found out their lodgings, which were in appearance tolerably neat rooms, and might be distinguished by the nose as well as by the eye; for the one was at a butcher's, the other at a fishmonger's, house. My performer did not refuse to behave like a man of courage; but his adversary, on the proposal being made to him, appeared not at all to relish it, as he replied, with a hollow voice, that he was an emigrant, a French master, from Dieppe; that he understood drawing a little, and had already made a map of England, with all the country seats of the great lords, accompanied with remarks, so that no traveller could mistake them; from which work he expected to gain considerable profit. But, as to fighting, he had a very slight knowledge of it; and it was not at all convenient to him to exhibit talents which he had cultivated so little: besides this, there was another obstacle; for his feelings would not allow him to fight against a man belonging to a nation from which he received a pension as an emigrant.
This excuse, according to my judgment, was sufficient; but my friends the officers, wishing to enjoy some fun, persuaded him to appear in the field of battle. But when he was near the appointed spot, we perceived no small terror in his countenance, while with a confused voice he said, "That unfortunate evening there must have been a malicious and evil spirit in the wine, which introduced madness and mischief, whose effects are too visible in the eyes of my adversary: if I only escape from this disaster, it shall be a warning to me to keep my hands and tongue quiet ever after, and to retire to a solitary state of life, where I may find peace of mind, and a freedom from such snares as this in which am now caught." No doubt he was so far right: retirement has a variety of resources, and affords a perfect security for study and meditation, and a harbour from those tremendous storms of the passions which often overwhelm minds un-able to bear them.
One of the greatest advantages arising from a retired life I may illustrate, by comparing it to the inoculation of infants, to prevent in a future age the many serious disorders which arise from the small-pox. It will be seen from this comparison, that I mean the care of children's education, which I think is the first duty of parents, and no difficult matter to be put into execution. Of course, religious principles of any kind may easily be instilled into, and strongly impressed upon, their minds. We have an example in the case of Perigune, the daughter of Sinnis, the famous pine-bender, who, after her father was killed, took refuge in a remote place, where she was found in a spot overgrown with shrubs; and, according to the author's account who relates the story, she addressed her prayers to the wild asparagus and other plants: and her descendants, in process of time, venerated and worshipped the plants which had afforded an asylum to their ancient mother. When once a religious persuasion is fixed by education, it strenuously resists every other form of belief, as if custom were the criterion of the true faith. Similar pains and trouble in other branches of education, will, where the understanding is naturally good, produce a great fund of knowledge but the main object must always be, to instil the principles of virtue, and teach scholars to know themselves and the world, which will afford them the means of enjoying a happy life: thus instructed, they will always have materials ready to engage their attention, which is of great benefit; and they may therefore, at any time, enjoy a perfect independence, and the opportunity of improving their minds in a happy retirement.
But to return to my Frenchman: Who could possibly expect that he would adopt such a quiet life as this, for himself as well as for his companions, as professors of a dissipated life? And, very probably, he had arrived at the degree of doctor in that profession of dissipation. Such a man would find himself in a deplorable situation in the solitude he talked of, stretching his inactive limbs in his arm chair, and anxiously wishing for the time when he might retire to his bed, which is the grand luxury of such insignificant beings. So that, when I consider his speech more closely, the anxiety which he expressed for such a tranquil life, seems to me to have been merely the effects of his fright and cowardly disposition, which manifested itself by very strong symptoms at the place appointed for the duel; for he trembled like the leaf of a tree in a high wind, and his head shook like its branches, whilst he declared, that he wished he could guess what would be the consequence, before he gave the blow, and that this was a more painful tribute to pay than the income tax, looking all the time he spoke, to see if he could make a safe retreat.
We found no less consternation in the face of the player, who would have drawn back from the combat, had not the officers insisted on his going through the business without delay. They then presented to them balls, which in fact were large pills ingeniously prepared, so that no one could discover they were artificial, and a small quantity of powder, and obliged them both to fire. At the discharge of the pistols, their ideas became confused, so that they ran from each other in different directions: one fell into a hole full of water, the other against a stone, which bruised his nose in such a manner, that Lavater, the great observer of that organ, could have made nothing of it. When he perceived the blood, he was in despair, thinking it was occasioned by the ball passing through his head. In fact, both the champions were terribly alarmed; whilst the officers employed themselves in acquainting the public with the joke, and in shewing the pretended balls; which excited great merriment among the spectators. The appearance of the combatants was truly ludicrous, and afforded a fine subject for mirth, when the one was drawn out from the hole, with his clothes covered with dirt, his face besmeared, and his head like one of the mops they wash rooms with; and the other with his eyes patched, and his nose bruised, looked like a beggar scraping ballad tunes on the violin.
Both those worthy gentlemen, whose abilities only served them to pamper their bodies with good living, and who might justly be considered a discredit to their own country, and not fit to be admitted into a foreign kingdom, were driven with disgrace and with the hootings of the mob to their lodgings.