King of the Beggars - Chapter XXII

Chapter XXII

He Returns to England and Resumes his Old Ways

            From this place he went to Camelford; thence to Great Torrington, where he met with his wife, and then proceeded to Biddeford: and on the next day, being Sunday, he strolled down to one Holmes, who kept a public-house between Biddeford and Appledore, where he passed great part of the day drinking pretty freely; and money being at a low ebb with him, he desired landlord Holmes to lend him a good suit of clothes, which he accordingly did. Being thus gallantly equipped, he went and planted himself at the church-door in Biddeford, and pretending to be the supercargo of a vessel which had been a few days before cast away near the Lizard, he got a very handsome contribution. From thence he travelled to Barnstaple, where he had great success, none suspecting him in his dress, as it was certainly known such a ship had been really cast away near the Lizard a few days before. Returning back, he called upon Squire Ackland, at Tremington, where he got half-a-crown of the lady upon the same story; then, steering to Appledore, he met with landlord Holmes, who had been in no little fear about his clothes; however, he would not disrobe till he got to Appledore, where also he added to his store, and then returning to Holmes, he restored him his clothes, and gave him some small part of the profit of the excursion.

            It was about this time Mr. Carew became acquainted with the Hon. Sir William Wyndham in the following manner.—Being at Watchet, in Somersetshire, near the seat of this gentleman, he was resolved to pay him a visit; putting on, therefore, a jacket and a pair of trowsers, he made the best of his way to Orchard Wyndham, Sir William's seat; and luckily met with him, Lord Bolingbroke, and several other gentlemen and clergy, with some commanders of vessels, walking in the park. Mr. Carew approached Sir William with a great deal of seeming fearfulness and respect; and with much modesty acquainted him he was a Silverton man, (which parish chiefly belonged to Sir William,) and that he was the son of one of his tenants, named Moore; that he had been at Newfoundland, and in his passage homeward, the vessel was run down by a French ship in a fog, and only he and two more saved; and, being put on board an Irish vessel, he was carried into Ireland, and from thence landed at Watchet. Sir William, hearing this, asked him a great many questions concerning the inhabitants of Silverton, who were most of them his own tenants, and of the principal gentlemen in the neighbourhood, all of whom Mr. Carew was perfectly well acquainted with, and therefore gave satisfactory answers. Sir William at last asked him if he knew Bickley, (which is but a small distance from Silverton,) and if he knew the parson there. Mr. Carew replied he knew him very well, and indeed so he might, as it was no other than his own father. Sir William then inquired what family he had, and whether he had not a son called Bampfylde, and what was become of him. Your honour, replied he, means the mumper and dog-stealer: I don't know what has become of him, but it is a wonder he is not hanged by this time. No, I hope not, replied Sir William; I should be very glad, for his family's sake, to see him at my house. Having satisfactorily answered many other questions, Sir William, generously relieved him with a guinea, and Lord Bolingbroke followed his example; the other gentlemen and clergy contributed according to their different ranks, which they were the more inclined to do, as the captains found he could give a very exact account of all the settlements, harbours, and most noted inhabitants of Newfoundland. Sir William then ordered him to go to his house, and tell the butler to see him well entertained, which he accordingly did; and he set himself down with great content and satisfaction; but our enjoyments are often so suddenly dashed, that it has become a proverb, that many things happen between the cup and the lip, and Mr. Carew found it so; for, while he was in the midst of his regale, he saw enter, not the ghost of bloody Banquo to take his seat from him, nor yet the much more tremendous figure of Mr. Tom Jones, in a light-coloured coat covered with streams of blood; no, but the foot-post from Silverton, with letters to Sir William.—Horace has rightly observed,

Destrictus ensis cui super impia
cervice pendet, non siculae dapes
dulcem elaborabunt saporem,
non avium citharaeque cantus
somnum reducent:

or, to speak to our English reader, "a man who has a drawn sword hanging over his head by a hair, has but very little stomach to eat, however sumptuous the treat." The foot-post, that we just now mentioned was little less than a very sharp sword hanging by a hair over Mr. Carew's head, for he thought it natural Sir William would ask him some questions about Mr. Moore; and as he did not choose, (though he had passed Sir William's strict examination) to undergo a fresh one; he made great haste to rise from table, and set out without using much ceremony. A few miles distant from hence he met Dr. Poole going from Dulverton to Sir William's, who, knowing Mr. Carew, stopped his horse to talk to him. Amongst other conversation at Sir William's, the Dr. happened to mention whom he had met that day (not knowing that he had been lately there;) it was soon known by the description he gave of his person and habit, to be no other than the unfortunate Silverton man, to whom Sir William and his friends had been so generous, which occasioned a great deal mirth.

            About two months after, Mr. Carew again ventured to pay his honour a second visit, in the habit and character of an unfortunate grazier; he met the worthy baronet and his lady taking the air in a chaise, in a meadow where some haymakers were then at work; he approached them with a great deal of modest simplicity, and began a very moving tale of the misfortunes he had met with in life. In the midst of his oration, Sir William called to the haymakers to secure him; which struck his eloquence dumb, or at least changed it from the pathetic to the tragic style, for he could not conceive what might be the end of this; however, the baronet soon gave him a choice of either a true confession of his name and profession, or a commitment to prison; he made choice of the former, and confessed himself to be Bampfylde-Moore Carew, sovereign of the whole community of mendicants. Sir William, with a great deal of good-nature, treated him with all that respect which is due to royalty; entertained him generously at his house, and made him a very handsome present at his departure, desiring him to call upon him as he came that way; and he was ever a constant friend and benefactor to him.

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