Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker: Ch. 54

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Letter LIV

To Mrs MARY JONES, at Brambleton-hall.


The 'squire has been so kind as to rap my bit of nonsense under the kiver of his own sheet — O, Mary Jones! Mary Jones! I have had trials and trembulation. God help me! I have been a vixen and a griffin these many days — Sattin has had power to temp me in the shape of van Ditton, the young 'squire's wally de shamble; but by God's grease he did not purvail — I thoft as how, there was no arm in going to a play at Newcastle, with my hair dressed in the Parish fashion; and as for the trifle of paint, he said as how my complexion wanted touch, and so I let him put it on with a little Spanish owl; but a mischievous mob of colliers, and such promiscous ribble rabble, that could bare no smut but their own, attacked us in the street, and called me hoar and painted Issabel, and splashed my close, and spoiled me a complete set of blond lace triple ruffles, not a pin the worse for the ware — They cost me seven good sillings, to lady Griskin's woman at London.

When I axed Mr Clinker what they meant by calling me Issabel, he put the byebill into my hand, and I read of van Issabel a painted harlot, that vas thrown out of a vindore, and the dogs came and licked her blood. But I am no harlot; and, with God's blessing, no dog shall have my poor blood to lick: marry, Heaven forbid, amen! As for Ditton, after all his courting, and his compliment, he stole away an Irishman's bride, and took a French leave of me and his master; but I vally not his going a farting; but I have had hanger on his account — Mistriss scoulded like mad; thof I have the comfit that all the family took my part, and even Mr Clinker pleaded for me on his bended knee; thof, God he knows, he had raisins enuff to complain; but he's a good sole, abounding with Christian meekness, and one day will meet with his reward.

And now, dear Mary, we have got to Haddingborrough, among the Scots, who are civil enuff for our money, thof I don't speak their lingo — But they should not go for to impose upon foreigners; for the bills in their houses say, they have different easements to let; and behold there is nurro geaks in the whole kingdom, nor any thing for poor sarvants, but a barrel with a pair of tongs thrown a-cross; and all the chairs in the family are emptied into this here barrel once a-day; and at ten o'clock at night the whole cargo is flung out of a back windore that looks into some street or lane, and the maids calls gardy loo to the passengers which signifies Lord have mercy upon you! and this is done every night in every house in Haddingborrough; so you may guess, Mary Jones, what a sweet savour comes from such a number of profuming pans; but they say it is wholesome, and, truly, I believe it is; for being in the vapours, and thinking of Issabel and Mr Clinker, I was going into a fit of astericks, when this fiff, saving your presence, took me by the nose so powerfully that I sneezed three times, and found myself wonderfully refreshed; and this to be sure is the raisin why there are no fits in Haddingborrough.

I was likewise made believe, that there was nothing to be had but oatmeal and seeps-heads; but if I hadn't been a fool, I mought have known there could be no heads without kerkasses — This very blessed day I dined upon a delicate leg of Velsh mutton and cully-flower; and as for the oat-meal, I leave that to the sarvants of the country, which are pore drudges, many of them without shoes or stockings — Mr Clinker tells me here is a great call of the gospel; but I wish, I wish some of our family be not fallen off from the rite way — O, if I was given to tailbaring, I have my own secrets to discover — There has been a deal of huggling and flurtation betwixt mistress and an ould Scotch officer, called Kismycago. He looks for all the orld like the scare-crow that our gardener has set up to frite away the sparrows; and what will come of it, the Lord knows; but come what will, it shall never be said that I menchioned a syllabub of the matter — Remember me kindly to Saul and the kitten — I hope they got the horn-buck, and will put it to a good yuse, which is the constant prayer of,

Dear Molly,
Your loving friend,