John_Pilkington - CHAPTER VII.

CHAPTER VII.

I return to Dublin in Great Style

††††††††††† And now drew on the melancholy period wherein I was to leave this dear spot, which contained all that I prized upon earth, in the person of Miss Broderick. We set out from Ballyannan for the North, after I had obtained a promise from the lady, that she would honour me with a literary correspondence as soon as we were settled in any place. As Mr. O'Neill intended to pay a visit to Sir Charles Moore on our way, Sir John Freke accompanied us. The first inn we set up at on the road the conversation turned on the family we had left, and, to my no small surprise, I found the worthy Baronet traduce almost every one of them, without being opposed by Mr. O'Neill: this was the first instance I had seen of the insincerity of the great, I wish to God it had been the last.

††††††††††† Sir Charles Moore had a most elegant house, at which we arrived the next day, and were indeed splendidly entertained; nor was there anything mean or contemptible about the place, except the little worthless possessor of it, who reluctantly forced me to be an eyewitness of one of the greatest pieces of brutality I ever beheld. There was a poor woman came to ask charity from him, and besought his honour very earnestly to bestow something for the support of her family. On pretence of enquiring into the reality of her distress, he brought her into a garden; now, said he, here is a couple of guineas, which I'll give you, but not for God's sake, no, you must gratify my curiosity in one respect, which is that of letting me see you quite naked: I'll give you my word and honour, added, he, I will not touch you. The moment I heard the proposition I would have retired, but he absolutely insisted on my staying. The poor creature made all the apologies modesty and decency could suggest, but it was to no purpose, he would give the money on no terms but those of her compliance. Two guineas seemed two thousand to a person in her situation, and at last got the better of her scruples, and she did what he desired, though I assure my readers I turned my eyes a different way. The moment she had suffered herself to be so imposed on, instead of giving her the money, he called all his footmen, and. desired them to turn the whore out of doors. This he thought a finished piece of wit, and repeated it as such at supper; but he could find none to join him in the laugh. The company, except himself, were lovers of women, and his untimely fate since has proved his passions were for a different sex. I was quite impatient, and perfectly teased Mr. O'Neill to leave this place, where nothing prevailed but drinking debauched toasts, and all the vices that poison the mind.

††††††††††† Soon after we set out for Dublin, where Mr. O'Neill's gentleman had taken for us very grand lodgings, and Mr. O'Neill, according to his promise, provided me with an appearance suitable to the company he did me the honour to bring me amongst, which were the first persons in the kingdom.

††††††††††† Shakespeare observes, that

 

There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
But slighted the residue of their lives,
Is bound in shallows and in misery.

††††††††††† I believe my time was now in the flood; and if I had sense enough to make a proper use of it, I might have arrived at a better fortune, than tagging of rhymes, or writing adventures, will procure for me: but, alas! I wanted the principal ingredients of a great man's dependant: I could not flatter, nor could I speak any matter contrary to my own judgment, not considering that a poor man never has any such thing: in short, as I was quite sincere in everything I spoke, I imagined everyone I conversed with equally so. I looked on myself as a man of fortune and independency, from Mr. O'Neill's friendship, which I imagined no time could alter; therefore I made no advantages of the frequent interviews had with the great and powerful, all my hopes were centred in the one point of preserving his good opinion.

††††††††††† I should have observed, that before we left Ballyannan, Mr. O'Neill addressed me one morning after breakfast to this effect: That as the dispositions of men were as variable as the winds, and that the object they most delighted in at one time, might be displeasing to them at another, it was possible, that though he now had so thorough an esteem for me, he might hereafter be tired of my company; and that, in order to secure me from any distress, he thought it the best way, while he found his heart warm in my cause, to make a settlement on me for life, that would put it out of the power of himself or the world to hurt me. I think, said he, two hundred pounds a year will do that; and if you choose, you shall have it not only while you continue with me, but even if ever we should part you may make yourself happy. Would any but the most infatuated dunce have rejected this as I did? I told him, that while I was his companion, I wanted no money and, besides, a salary of that kind would make me a servant; that I hoped we never would part; but that if we did, I should be very indifferent whether I lived or died, as I could not think Mr. O'Neill would ever part with me except I transgressed in some shape, and that if I was capable of doing that I was unfit to live. He liked my argument and my spirit, and told me I should not repent the confidence I placed in his generosity: but to return.

††††††††††† When we had been some time in Dublin, I took an opportunity to remind Mr O'Neill of his promise, with regard to my mother, whose absence from me was ever a pang to my heart, and an anxiety for whose welfare was ever foremost in my thoughts. He told me he would endeavour to find out where she was and how situated; and if he found that she had occasion for money, would give me a handsome sum to remit to her. He likewise advised me to take his equipage and go pay my respects to my father, and to invite him and my brother to dine with us. I knew my father too well to imagine this would be any advantage to me, but was notwithstanding infinitely pleased with an occasion to call on him in a coach and six.

††††††††††† The next morning I dressed myself very fine, and went in great state to Lazar's-Hill, the footman knocked a loud peal at the door, and my father opened it himself: as soon as ever he saw me descend from the coach, he ran upstairs; upon which I walked into a street parlour, and rung the bell. The servants, it seemed, were out, so that my brother was obliged to come to me. As I had never wrote a word to him about my condition, to which he was entirely a stranger, as well as my being in town, it appeared like magic to him, to see me come in a flaming coach, and the servants with laced liveries. He stood silent some time, till I said, What brother don't you know me? Know you, says he, I know Jack Pilkington very well, but I can hardly think he is so grand a gentleman; but yet I'm glad to see you with all my heart, and I wish you would unriddle yourself a little. I told him I was come with Mr. O'Neill's compliments, to desire my father and himself would do us the favour to come and dine, and appoint their day. He said, that my father was out of town (though I had seen him) but for himself, if it would be agreeable, he would come. I pressed him to use his entreaties with my father to accompany him, but he gave me a sign that he was listening, and then assured me loudly he was out of town. I took the hint, and departed extremely satisfied at my adventure.

††††††††††† At my return Mr. O'Neill was impatient to know the event: I told him all the particulars: he said, that if my father had condescended to come, it would have been both to his and my advantage; but that as he thought such an invitation beneath his acceptance, I might order what I pleased to entertain my brother, but he would not see him. I was confounded at this, and said, Sir, I thought you knew my father before; am I accountable for his disposition? No, Sir, said he, nor am I for my own sometimes, I cannot be pleased at this treatment.

††††††††††† The entrance of a very silly Baronet, who is a relation to Mr. O'Neill broke our further discourse. He entertained us with all the nonsense of the town, at which he himself laughed very hearty; and any one disposed for mirth, would have found him a sufficient subject for laughter. When he heard me sing, he was quite captivated with it, which did not make me in the least vain, as I would even then rather have had the serious attention of one true connoisseur, than all the fulsome compliments of a coxcomb. This gentleman was with us every morning, and used frequently to take me out with him: these opportunities he embraced, to endeavour to persuade me to leave Mr. O'Neill, and go abroad with him. I asked him how he thought my friend would like to be used so? or whether it was consistent with his regard for Mr. O'Neill to make such a proposal? Damn regard, said he, every man is to do what pleases him best; and if you go with me, I'll make your fortune. I told him, if he gave me his title and estate, I would not part from Mr. O'Neill, whom I held in greater estimation than any one upon earth.

††††††††††† Though Mr. O'Neill persevered in his good-manners, or rather increased his politeness to me, yet I could plainly perceive there did not subsist the same cordial and easy regard I had formerly experienced, in his words and actions, since that unlucky invitation; however, I was still extremely happy: and though Mr. O'Neill was not at home when my brother came, yet everything was carried on with equal decorum, and nothing wanting to give him the highest idea of my felicity. After dinner I related my whole story to my brother; and after displaying all my eloquence on Mr. O'Neilló's goodness, generosity and affability, I told him how much he was displeased at my father's not coming, and likewise that it was for that reason I could not have the pleasure to introduce my brother to him. He was justly concerned, but told me he had said so much to my father upon it, that he had not spoke to him for three days; and were I, said he, as happy as you, I did not care if he never spoke to me more, for it is an Herculean labour to humour the caprice and peevishness of his disposition. He would have been glad to see Mr. O'Neill on his own account, but could not think of making an acquaintance through your means. This, my dear Jack is the honest truth, and you, who know him so well, must pity my condition.

††††††††††† My brother and I parted, after mutual assurances of inviolable affection, and a promise to correspond with each other. Mr. O'Neill now prepared for our Northern expedition, and we were accompanied out of town by Arthur Hill, Esq. brother to the Earl of Hillsborough, who is, perhaps, the most accomplished gentleman in Europe. There is in his conversation, ease, accuracy, and true humour; blended with the most refined delicacy, and all the ornaments of education. A person of the smallest capacity might, from one twelve-months conversation with Mr. Hill, be made acquainted with all that is necessary to constitute the character of a great man. I can never sufficiently thank Mr. O'Neill for introducing me to this great and good man, and to another whom I shall hereafter mention, whose friendship I have carried through all the rubbish of my misfortunes, which I esteem as great an honour as I can possibly boast of.

 

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