Memoirs of Josef Boruwlaski - CHAP. XI.

Return to Sligo; relieved from the annoyance of vulgar curiosity by the opportune frolic of a run-away pig -- Loss and recovery of Miss Janson's ass, the advertising of which aided my concert -- Arrival at Londonderry, and description of that city; Count de Tantene and his book -- Visit to Belfast; kindness of Generals Drummond and Seddon -- Arrival at Portarlington; advantages of equanimity and cheerfulness of disposition -- Black powder and fasting a sovereign remedy for lowness of spirits and loss of appetite, exemplified in the case of a lady -- Arrival at Armagh; introduction to General and Mrs Nugent; lucrative benefit.

            IN my journey back to Sligo, I did not meet with any thing but bad roads; and it was with great difficulty I got on, for the horses, striking their feet into the ice to keep themselves from falling, could not draw them out again; therefore, to prevent any accident happening to me, I was resolved to walk as well as I could; but in the newly fallen snow I found it a work of great labour for my feet.

            During this violent exercise, I perceived at some distance a man riding upon an ass, who seemed to have no less trouble in his travelling than myself; but the ass getting better over the ground than the horses with the chaise after them, he soon reached me, and delivered me a letter from his mistress, Miss Janson, with a request to send her the music abovementioned. "This request has rather come at an unfortunate time," said I to the messenger, "return home and assure your mistress, on my arrival at Sligo, it will be my first care to send it to her." But he replied, he had orders not to return without the music, and if I would allow him he would accompany me to the town, which was not far off; consequently he went before my chaise till we arrived at the inn, where people began gathering more and more; and when we appeared in the Market-Place, I remember there was a great pig fair. On this occasion, many idle people joined those who followed me, and made an immense crowd and disorder in the fair, which set at defiance all the authority of the Mayor. In this confusion, the pigs contrived to deliver themselves from their confinement, and, breaking from their prison, ran about in several directions. The master of one of those rebels attempted to catch him, being afraid to lose his property; when the terrified animal, in the hurry of his flight, happening to encounter a woman selling eggs in a basket, ran between her legs, and carried her to the Mayor, at whose feet she fell down and broke her basket of eggs. This new object amused the eyes of the tumultuous spectators, and they soon disappeared' from me. This was the very thing I wanted, in order to give me an opportunity of driving to my lodgings, which were ready prepared for my reception. I no sooner got out of the chaise than I found some officers in my room, with whom I was acquainted. They had learnt the day of my arrival, and wanted me to dine with them; to which proposal I made no objection, but went immediately.

            But to return to the man and his ass:-- He called upon me the next day, when I confessed I had not yet done any thing concerning the music, but promised, the day after he should be dispatched with it. So, to fulfil my word, on the following morning I got the music ready and delivered it to him; when he announced to me an accident he had met with, namely, that he had lost Miss Janson's ass. He told me, he had made every enquiry after her, but in vain; and, therefore, he begged me to put her in the newspapers, with a ,particular account of her natural beauties, which he gave me. So I sent to the paper the. advertisement, with the description, which was a true one, for she was very handsome; and I was fortunate enough to succeed in restoring her to the man, and without delay sent him home. Now, in speaking of the success which attended my splendid conceit, I must attribute it greatly to the account in the papers of this elegant ass, which I must declare was not my own doing, but which gave rise to so much lively conversation and inquiry on the subject, that the inhabitants wanted to be particularly acquainted with me, and gave me a general invitation to their houses, where spent a pleasant time in their society. They sent me with a heavy purse to Londonderry, which city lies in a pleasant situation near the head of Lough Foyle: it has a very good port, into which ships of any size have a commodious access, and consequently a considerable trade. According to the historical account of it, it is well fortified; but to my recollection, only strong enough for those ancient warriors, who were not acquainted with the use of gunpowder: the city is well built, and the inhabitants, I can justly say, good Irish people. The gentlemen from their country seats joined with those of the city, who formed a great and respectable body in my concert room, and procured me a most fertile harvest for the winter season.

            During the time of my stay in this city, arrived a gentleman on his way from Scotland, who called himself Count de la Tantene; but his income appeared to me to be left behind, to support in France the title of his family, which I have no doubt is great. But, to maintain his situation, he .brought with him a good portion of industry, and a small one of ingenuity, by the help of which he got introduced into the first company, where he so far succeeded as to enjoy in profusion every luxury of an epicurean ,life, with the benefit of a liberal subscription, for publishing his remarks on his journey through Ireland and Scotland: therefore, it was expected this work would have been true, and favourable in its description to both nations. But the report I had of it from Mr. Maghee, was, that all the subscribers were so displeased with his book, that they put it into the flames, and made it vanish in smoke, finding it indigestible, and his account untrue. "Stop, Sir," said I to him, "and do not condemn the author; perhaps he means to write his confession, and declare his infancy in a manner similar to that of J. A. Rousseau." "Oh!" said he to me, "we may wait a long time, for you may be sure his materials are not yet ready for the press." "Then," I replied, "it will be too long for me to remain to read this new author's confession; for I have heard, a long time, that Belfast is the most considerable town of this part of the kingdom for its trade, and number of inhabitants, and I apprehend it will be commodious for carrying on my own affairs;" so I bid him adieu, and set out.

            On my arrival at Belfast, I soon found a good reception. I had the honour of meeting with General Drummond and General Seddon, who were both engaged with the trust of the national security. It has always been remarked of great men, that they never reject any thing proposed to them, as beneath their notice, where they perceive the motives to be good. On the contrary, they take the opportunity to show their elevated minds in the least, as well as in the greatest things.

            On my arrival, General Seddon, no doubt, heard I was a man that had to make my way round the world, to support my existence, and study the human mind; therefore, he honoured me with his visits, and I was glad to discover that he was active in many good things; for there is a pleasure in knowing each man's particular virtues, with whom we have to converse. While he was examining me, I admired the prudence of his questions. General Drummond soon joined his friend Seddon with his patronage, and they gave so powerful a support to my concert, that it would be ungrateful in me to omit mentioning their generosity. In the midst of settling public affairs, these great Generals found a moment to attend to mine; by which they indulged their noble dispositions, and called to my mind the story of Antisthenes. This Philosopher was, one day, bringing home, in his hand, fish from the market, at which many expressed their surprise. "It is for myself I carry this fish," said he, "but when I am calculating a quantity of stones or mortar, it is for my country." So General Drummond contributed to the welfare of his country, and was, at the same time, the bestower of happiness on many individuals who were honoured with his kindness.

            I afforded a very favourable specimen of the effects arising from the patronage of General Drummond and General Seddon; for I became like a lady of fashion, on whom all eyes are turned, for the surprising taste of her dress. My fame spread so widely, from the kindness of their patronage, that it reached to some prisoners of a particular description, from whom I received an invitation to dine. I did not reject their civil attention, but only made a polite retreat, and gave nay answer in the following manner: I told them that in consulting my wishes, my inclination directed me to accept the kind offer of their pleasant society; but there was one obstacle which presented itself, and I was with sorrow obliged to postpone my visit till I procured the consent of General Drummond, which I would endeavour, as far as was in my power, to obtain. This answered quite ? propos; for, the very same day, the General sent me a card to dine with him that day, when I was glad to have the opportunity of showing the unfortunate people's note. The General read it, smiling at their request, and, as soon as he had finished, asked me, if I had been instructed in my youth in political or ministerial affairs. This sudden demand made me immediately conjecture that, perhaps, those people were prisoners of state. "No," said I, "General, my master instructed me in what belonged to my comfort in life -- in the principles and practice of virtue, whence follows quietness of mind; and in aiming at being a good man: which is as simple an education as I could receive from a school." This reply pleased the General, and he desired me to dine with them, with an order to the Governor of the place to show me every civility. The next day, when I appeared, the prisoners were all well disposed to receive me heartily, and expressed their joy more than I could have expected, and forgot, for a while, that their liberty was lost. In this confusion, the sentinels left their posts to see me, at which time one of the prisoners set himself at large, perhaps to save the trouble of being judged by a Court Martial. This accident produced some kind of alarm, which could not fail to be reported to the General; so the officer with fear was obliged to declare what had happened. The General, with his usual good nature, said, "Have you seen my little friend lately, because I heard the man who had fled had put him in his pocket; if he has not, you know, my brother soldier, we are allowed to conquer, but not to be cruel, so let him go home to his children, and he will stop their crying." Such an unexpected answer astonished the officer, who was equally struck with the greatness of his mind. I never made the discovery of the cause for which these people were imprisoned, nor can it be of material consequence to the reader.

            I left Belfast, and passed quick as a shadow through Monaghan, Cavan, Mullingar, and Killbeggan, and stopped at Portarlington, where I found most of the inhabitants speaking a foreign language; and, what is more surprising, they had the manners and customs of Continental people. But I was soon informed by some of them, that they were French Huguenots; a set of people remarkable for their opinions, who made in France so great a change by their contests with a rival party, and who were at last compelled to take their departure from the kingdom. After their fall, having no prospect of any change in their favour, they all preferred to settle under the protection of liberal nations, who agree with their own sentiments in the modern doctrine of faith. Therefore, some of those good families took refuge in Ireland; and, to be useful to the kingdom, established a French academy, conducted by worthy and respectable members amongst themselves; which produced many learned pupils, and rendered great service to the nation. In short, I thought myself in the middle of France, from their politeness and attention, which are qualities familiar to the French nation.

            Those refugees inherited from their forefathers great animation of soul, and quick intellectual powers. They soon perceived the motive of my arrival in town, and gave a good help to my concert, which I found most lucrative from their patronage. The interest they were so kind as to take in my behalf; they declared, was owing to my cheerful disposition, which induced them to serve me. 'Tis true, it is unpleasant in society to meet with persons too reserved: it gives rise to many conjectures about them, and, after all, we find ourselves not at ease in their company. My gaiety and good spirits are fortunately always equal. I sometimes happen to meet with disappointments, which I take as a storm, and console myself with thinking that next day I shall have fine weather: therefore, it is not of any use to alarm my mind, since adversity must have an end as well as prosperity. I am perfectly astonished when I behold persons, whose situation would make life delightful, plunged into the deepest distress, because they want to stretch out their arms more than their coat will allow them, and, through false pride and a discontented mind, take a pleasure in tormenting themselves. My landlady at Portarlington will furnish an example:-- She enjoyed three hundred pounds a year, after the death of her husband; the rest of his effects her son took into his possession, but gave a most elegantly furnished house to his mother, where I lodged. This lady one morning graciously paid me a visit, when, indeed, I was not ready to receive her, having my night-cap on. The dishabille in which she found me, contrary to my wish, did not make her retire. She sat down: "Take your breakfast, Sir," she said to me, "I come to consult you on a very interesting affair." "What business could this be," I answered. Upon this, she explained to me the cause of her solicitude, and said: "Since my husband's death, I have been reduced to three hundred pounds a year, upon which it is impossible for me to live now, having been used to so much more, and this puts me into a miserable state of low spirits, and loss of appetite." I began to talk to her very gravely upon this comical illness; observing how many accidents happen from want, and mixing a little moral sentiment in my discourse, to prevent her perceiving I made game of her. "I cannot think," said I, "there is any great danger in your complaint, and I flatter myself I can restore your good spirits." "Oh!" she replied, "I will look upon such a cure as a miracle! I have applied to doctors, and not one could succeed, but your own gaiety convinces me that you are in possession of some mysterious secret, which you employ to have such wonderful spirits." "Yes, Madam," I replied, "I will not deny I take some black powders, given to me by a great philosopher." She answered, "Blessed be his name! I have been right when thought you had some help for your uncommon cheerfulness, and desire and beg of you to have mercy on my afflicted mind, and give me this powder." I was now sufficiently acquainted with her whimsical illness; therefore I said to her, by way of a joke, "Go to your tabernacle (for she was a strong Methodist), and give thanks for having discovered a secret for the cure of low spirits;" adding, that when she returned I would give her a black powder. She went, in fact, to her meeting-house, and Noad, having listened to her conversation, and adopting the principle of Socrates, that God ought to be worshipped according to the law of the society in which we live, accompanied her; he and she groaning and singing mournful hymns.

            But, now that I had seriously embarked in this arduous undertaking, I confess I beganto consult with myself, for some tine, what to do; and, at last, after ruminating a good while, I took some bread, which was lift on my table, and immediately secured the door, to prevent any body troubling me in my laborious work. I next put in order what was required for my chymical preparations, having tongs, fire, and shovel, upon which I put bread, and began a process, similar to that of making the tincture of antimony. First of all, the saline matter I found close to a very hot fire after the operation, in the form of a scoria, or combination of fixed salt, perhaps confounded with the crust, which partly calcined the bread by means of the acid, and altogether formed a neutral salt, which gave me a beautiful shining black powder, and I found it very good for my purpose. When I employed it for her use, I pulverized it, in which state it bore the name of Dasuma Metallorum: but, for want of a mortar, I was obliged to substitute my cup and saucer, with which I contrived to press it. It answered as well as possible, and gave a most excellent black powder, ready to be taken in some liquid. For her complaint I preferred water gruel, which I administered according to ,the rules of an eminent doctor. At first, looking at my watch, I felt her pulse, which I found irregular; though I cannot in conscience say, whether the irregularity lay in her pulse, or in my watch. I sent her to bed with orders to take, three times a day, the black powder in water gruel, most strictly prohibiting her from taking any nourishment whatever, because I recollected she told me she had not any appetite, therefore I did not want to go contrary to the wish of nature, but to perform my doctorship with knowledge, as far as I could understand. I thought it proper to put her in a good feather-bed, to make her perspire; a design which the weather (it being summer-time) helped me to put in execution. Her servant girl swore at me, and told .me that I would be the cause of her mistress's dissolution, she was in such, a violent perspiration, which I attributed to the virtue of the black powder, and assured her it was a symptom of her speedy recovery: Of this I entertained no doubt from my attention, and the merits of this noble powder; for at the end of three days she had got a wolf's appetite, and sent to me to give her leave to eat a beefsteak. But, as the general practice of doctors led me, from many considerations, not to allow my patient to have any thing that came under the name of solid food, till she was reduced in strength, and as I had yet in my possession ten more of the medicinal powders to administer (though she had already consumed a number of them); I sent her those to mix in water gruel; but, in order to be more merciful than, the rest of the faculty, in prescribing jalap, rhubarb, and laudanum; I permitted her, in case her appetite increased; to take one egg for her dinner. But she soon took advantage of me, and exceeded her allowance; for the next day, not waiting any longer, she eat half a yard of sausages, to the surprise of every one in the house, and her spirits were so much improved, that it was impossible to stop her prattle.

            I must say she was of a generous disposition; for she did not forget to ask me for my bill, wanting to pay me for my labour: in truth, she was not wrong in heridea, for how can doctors and apothecaries live without being rewarded? and if I had calculated my time in making the black powder, with attendance, feeling her pulse, and looking in her eyes, (which is the hereditary practice amongst the doctors, in order to find something, though I found in her large blue eyes nothing but a good deal of conversation),-- for the whole of my trouble on this occasion, if I had charged her twenty pounds, I should have thought myself as honest a man as possible. However, I was well rewarded by accepting of a writing-box from her son, as a memorandum that I cured his mother with a black powder, that could not do harm to anybody; and, to my satisfaction, I found myself a doctor, without being at the trouble of taking a degree for this sublime knowledge, not having any ambition to aspire to the height of this noble speculation.

            I therefore set out for Waterford, through which town I once passed rapidly, if my reader recollects my shipwreck with Captain Somerville. Here is the finest harbour I could find in Europe, and ships come up close to the quay. If I am correct in my recollection, this city carries on a great trade with many kingdoms, and more particularly with England: There are no low spirits to be found amongst the inhabitants of Waterford: quite the reverse, their minds are occupied in looking after pleasures, and in shewing kindness to strangers. I had the happiness of being introduced to their society; and their attentions and eagerness to find out amusements for me, give them a claim to be mentioned with the profoundest gratitude.

            After a few weeks spent in jollity amongst them, I changed my climate, and appeared at Armagh, where I had the honour to meet General Nugent, who was at that time Commander in Chief in Ireland. This amiable General, who, in whatever troublesome station he might be placed, was indefatigable in his duty, united, with a depth of understanding in his public, such dignity of sentiment in his private character, as to place his whole delight, in captivating the hearts of the nation. How simple a process it seemed to such a man as him, to inspire amazing reputation by his bounty; but, in truth, every thing 'he did was dictated by the same virtuous principle which he displayed, when he addressed the Judges of the Court-martial, and became the admiration of the whole kingdom. His high reputation led me to think, if such an illustrious man takes me under his patronage, it will procure good success to my benefit; but, unfortunately, I had no prospect of getting introduced to him. I therefore ordered my concert bills to be distributed at any rate, lose or win: but, as good luck would have it, the General got a bill; and, as great minds never sleep, but are watchful to do good, he sent me a card to invite me to dine with him, with express orders to bring an account of my politics. This gave me some uneasiness; and, said I to myself, "It is true, politics are in great vogue at present, but for my part I am not acquainted with them, neither have I any letters to show him concerning political affairs, or any desire to enter into such concerns;" wondering, at the same time, who could give such an unjust report of me, as to occasion such a demand. Knowing his upright mind, I considered that I might go without fear, ,as he would soon discover my innocence, and set me free from calumny. I then began to take a review Of my late and present actions, which suggested to my mind, what sort of report to give to the General; which was this:-- One morning a number of gentlemen came into my room, and were pleased to exhibit, extempore, a political drama, to exercise their wit. This strolling company of political players began with misrepresenting Pitt,, Fox, and Camden, and then amused themselves with giving their representations of other men in power. But I remarked that not one of them acted the part of the Lord Lieutenant Cornwallis, Which I concluded must be too difficult a task for them. During their performance, I could not help thinking these gentlemen stood in need of a surgeon or physician, to cure the disorder which had. possessed their brains with the imagination that all Europe ought to be changed according to their own fancy. Hearing such absurd dialogues, I thought it most prudent to keep a profound silence; but, at last having exhausted all their sense, they became quiet, and asked me for my decision of these matters. I excused myself, by saying, "I am not acquainted with any kind of politics, except one, which, from its advantage to me, I prefer above all others; and that is, the tickets in my pocket. May I venture to recommend my own plan? I look upon it as the first political doctrine, to look at home, to observe propriety of conduct, attend to your domestic affairs, and to direct your family in a peaceable and orderly manner: the nation, if you act thus, will look upon you as a true son of the mother kingdom."

            This account, which was not improbable, contributed greatly to my introduction to the General and Mrs Nugent, from whom I had a kind reception, with such polite and friendly manners, that I might have thought myself at home, had it not been for the deep sense I entertained of, the respect due to them. Their method of conducting the conversation was easy: every one was allowed a perfect freedom of reply, without the fear of being interrupted, which is a defect we often find in persons of little knowledge. In fact, I spent my time very pleasantly, talking on a variety of subjects, which General and Mrs Nugent supplied, and by degrees Mrs N. introduced those politics of my tickets, wishing me to repeat my account, which I did, having no objection to deliver them. The General took particular notice of what I said and from what I could observe in his countenance, it was to his satisfaction. At last, with some degree of precipitation, he asked me for my tickets; and I had the honours of presenting them to him. On receiving them, he said to me, "Your politics are truly pleasant, having the power to unite all parties in good harmony, and to inspire general pleasure; the rest are merely the effects of perverseness and. pride in a great part of mankind, which prevent them from ever experiencing such happiness as your own;-- a very just observation indeed! The next day was my concert, and I found the General's opinion of politics fully confirmed, when with astonishment I beheld a most brilliant society in my room. But this numerous company must be attributed to the patronage of Mrs Nugent, to whose powerful name the public wished to pay respect. The bounty of this amiable lady was already enough exerted to call for my warmest thanks; yet not satisfied with bringing me such a numerous assembly as would have defrayed every expense, she sent me money to defray the whole amount, as if she had thought I had not before sufficient cause to recollect her; though in truth, gratitude had impressed her image too strongly on my heart, ever to be obliterated.


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