King of the Beggars - Chapter XXIX

Chapter XXIX

He Deceives the Queen, and Fools Squire Morrice for a Bet; Going to Oxford, he Poses as a Deranged Scholar

            It was about this time, that one of the greatest personages in the kingdom being at Bath, Mr. Carew was drawn thither with the rest of the world to see her, but to more advantage indeed to himself than most others reaped from it; for making himself as much an Hanoverian as he could in his dress, &c., he presented a petition to her as an unfortunate person of that country; and as everyone is inclined to be kind to their own countryfolks, he had from her a very princely benefaction.

            Some time after this, Squire Morrice, who succeeded to the fine seat and estate of Sir William Morrice, near Launceston, in Cornwall, coming to reside there, and hearing much talk of Mr. Carew, was very desirous of seeing him; and he happening to come soon after into that neighbourhood, some of the servants, who knew their master's inclinations, chancing to see him, soon conducted him to the house, and showed him immediately into the parlour, where Mr. Morrice was with a good deal of company. Mr. Carew was made very welcome, and the company had a great deal of conversation with him, during which Mr. Morrice very nicely examined every feature in his countenance, and at last declared, that he would lay any wager that he should know him again, come in what shape he would, so as not to be imposed upon by him. One of the company took Mr. Morrice up, and a wager was laid that Mr. Carew should do it within such a limited time; this being agreed upon, Mr. Carew took his leave. He soon began to meditate in what shape he should be able to deceive the circumspection of Mr. Morrice; and in a few days came to the house, and endeavoured in two or three different shapes, and with as many different tales, to obtain charity from Mr. Morrice, but he, remembering his wager, would hearken to none. At last, understanding that Mr. Morrice was to go out a hunting one morning with several of the company who were present when the wager was laid, he dressed himself like a neat old woman, and walking in the road where they were riding along, all of a sudden he fell down, and so well counterfeited all the distortion of the most violent fits in such a terrible manner, that Mr. Morrice was greatly affected with the poor creature's condition, ordering his servants to get down and assist her, staying himself till she was brought a little to herself, then gave her a piece of money, and ordered one of his servants to show her his house, that she might have some refreshment there; but Mr. Carew, having obtained what he desired, flung off the old woman, and discovered himself to Mr. Morrice and the rest of the company, wishing them all a good-morrow: upon which he owned that he had fairly lost the wager.

            Mr. Carew, some time after this, steered his course for Oxford, where he visited Messrs. Treby, Stanford, Cooke, and other collegians, his particular friends, of whom he got a trencher-cap.—Having staid at Oxford as long as was agreeable to his inclinations, he set out for Abington, and from thence to Marlborough, having put on a pair of white stockings, a grey waistcoat, and the trencher-cap. Thus equipped, he pretended to be disordered in his mind; and, as his knowledge of the Latin tongue enabled him to intermix a few Latin phrases in his discourse, which he made very incoherent, he was in no fear of being discovered. Under this character he, therefore, went to the minister of Marlborough, who, seeing his dress, and finding he could talk Latin, made no doubt but he was an Oxford scholar, whose brain was turned, either by too much study or some misfortune; he therefore talked to him a good deal, endeavouring to find out the cause; telling him, that, though he was unfortunate now, things might go better with him hereafter; but he could get nothing but incoherent answers from him: however, he gave him half-a-crown. From hence he went to Market-Lavington, where he likewise deceived the minister; and going forward to Warminster, he met with Dr. Squire, and his brother, the Archdeacon of Bath, who both took him for an Oxford scholar whose brain was turned, and relieved him as such.

            The next morning he went in the same dress to Mrs. Groves, at Wincanton, and from thence to the Rev. Mr. Birt's, at Sutton, at both of which places he was much pitied, and handsomely relieved. He then steered for Somerton, and visited the Rev. Mr. Dickenson; but this mask would not avail him here, for the parson discovered him through it; but he desired him to keep it secret till he was gone out of town, which he accordingly did: he therefore went boldly to the Rev. Mr. Keat, and pretended to be a scholar of Baliol College, which Mr. Keat believing, and pitying his condition, he gave him a crown.

            Next day he went to Bridgewater in the same habit, and from thence to Sir Charles Tynte's, at Haswell: going into the court, he was met by the Rev. Mr. Standford, who immediately knew him, and accosted him with, How do you do, friend Carew! Soon after that came Sir Charles, who accosted him also in the same manner. Mr. Standford and he made themselves very merry at the character he had assumed. Well, said Sir Charles, we will make you drink, but unless you can deceive my Bess, (so he was pleased to call his lady,) you shall have nothing of me; but whatever she gives, I'll double. He was then ordered into the hall, and exchanged his cap for a hat with one of the servants; after waiting some time lady Tynte came down. It will here be proper to observe, that this lady, though of a very charitable disposition to her poor neighbours, having been often deceived by mendicants, and finding few of them deserving of her charity, had resolved to relieve no unknown objects, however plausible their tale; but our hero, depending upon his art, was not afraid to accept of Sir Charles's challenge. From the servants' hall he watched a proper opportunity of accosting the lady, and she passed and repassed several times before he could speak to her. At last, seeing her standing in the hall talking with Sir Charles, he came behind her, and accosted her with—God bless you, most gracious lady. The lady turned about and asked him pretty hastily from whence he came? I am a poor unfortunate man, replied he, who was taken by two French privateers coming from Boston, and carried into Boulogne, where we were teased day and night to enter into the French service, but refused to do it. And how got you from thence? asked the lady. We took an opportunity of breaking out of the prison, and seized upon a fishing-boat in the harbour, with which we got safe to Lymington, being in all twenty-five of us, where we sold our boat. What do you beg for then? if you sold your boat, you must have money. Several of us were sick, replied he, which was very expensive. But what countryman are you? I am an Old England man, please you, my lady, but I have my wife in Wales. From what part? says the lady, who was a native of Wales herself. I married, replied he, one Betty Larkey, who lived with Sir John Morgan, and afterwards with parson Griffy, at Swansea. Ay, did you marry Betty Larkey?—how many children have you by her? Only one daughter, replied he. In the meantime Sir Charles and the parson were ready to burst with containing their laughter, to see how he managed my lady to bring her to; for his assertion of having married Betty Larkey, who was a country-woman of my lady's, and formerly known to her, was a loadstone which presently drew my lady's hand to her purse; then turning to Sir Charles, she asked him if he had any small money about him? I have none, replied Sir Charles, pretty bluntly, being scarce able to contain himself from bursting out into laughter; so she went upstairs, and soon returning, gave him five shillings, and asked him to eat and drink, going out herself to call the butler. In the meantime Sir Charles stepped nimbly into the servant's hall, and fetched the Oxford cap, which he put on Mr. Carew's head. The lady and butler came in immediately after, and she, seeing the cap upon his head, cried out, God bless me! what, did you bring that from France? It is just like one of our Oxford scholar's caps. Ay, so it is indeed, my lady, replied Sir Charles; why don't you know who it is? It is Bampfylde-Moore Carew. Ay, ay, this is your doings, Sir Charles, said the lady; and went away somewhat disgusted at the trick that had been put upon her. Sir Charles, however, was as good as his word, in doubling the money his lady gave, and parson Standford gave him half-a-crown.

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