Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker: Ch. 61

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Letter LXI

To Mrs MARY JONES, at Brambleton-hall.


Sunders Macully, the Scotchman, who pushes directly for Vails, has promised to give it you into your own hand, and therefore I would not miss the opportunity to let you know as I am still in the land of the living: and yet I have been on the brink of the other world since I sent you my last letter. — We went by sea to another kingdom called Fife, and coming back, had like to have gone to pot in a storm. — What between the frite and sickness, I thought I should have brought my heart up; even Mr Clinker was not his own man for eight and forty hours after we got ashore. It was well for some folks that we scaped drownding; for mistress was very frexious, and seemed but indifferently prepared for a change; but, thank God, she was soon put in a better frame by the private exaltations of the reverend Mr Macrocodile. — We afterwards churned to Starling and Grascow, which are a kiple of handsome towns; and then we went to a gentleman's house at Loff-Loming, which is a wonderful sea of fresh water, with a power of hylands in the midst on't. — They say as how it has n'er a bottom, and was made by a musician and, truly, I believe it; for it is not in the coarse of nature. — It has got waves without wind, fish without fins, and a floating hyland; and one of them is a crutch-yard, where the dead are buried; and always before the person dies, a bell rings of itself to give warning.

O Mary! this is the land of congyration — The bell knolled when we were there — I saw lights, and heard lamentations. — The gentleman, our landlord, has got another house, which he was fain to quit, on account of a mischievous ghost, that would not suffer people to lie in their beds. The fairies dwell in a hole of Kairmann, a mounting hard by; and they steal away the good women that are in the straw, if so be as how there a'n't a horshoe nailed to the door: and I was shewn an ould vitch, called Elspath Ringavey, with a red petticoat, bleared eyes, and a mould of grey bristles on her sin. — That she mought do me no harm, I crossed her hand with a taster, and bid her tell my fortune; and she told me such things descriving Mr Clinker to a hair — but it shall ne'er be said, that I minchioned a word of the matter. — As I was troubled with fits, she advised me to bathe in the loff, which was holy water; and so I went in the morning to a private place along with the house-maid, and we bathed in our birth-day soot, after the fashion of the country; and behold whilst we dabbled in the loff, sir George Coon started up with a gun; but we clapt our hands to our faces, and passed by him to the place where we had left our smocks — A civil gentleman would have turned his head another way. — My comfit is, he new not which was which; and, as the saying is, all cats in the dark are grey — Whilst we stayed at Loff-Loming, he and our two squires went three or four days churning among the wild men of the mountings; a parcel of selvidges that lie in caves among the rocks, devour young children, speak Velch, but the vords are different. Our ladies would not part with Mr Clinker, because he is so stout and so pyehouse, that he fears neither man nor devils, if so be as they don't take him by surprise. — Indeed, he was once so flurried by an operition, that he had like to have sounded. — He made believe as if it had been the ould edmiral; but the old edmiral could not have made his air to stand on end,, and his teeth to shatter; but he said so in prudence, that the ladies mought not be afear'd. Miss Liddy has been puny, and like to go into a decline — I doubt her pore art is too tinder — but the got's-fey has set her on her legs again. — You nows got's-fey is mother's milk to a Velch woman. As for mistress, blessed be God, she ails nothing. — Her stomick is good, and she improves in grease and godliness; but, for all that, she may have infections like other people, and I believe, she wouldn't be sorry to be called your ladyship, whenever sir George thinks proper to ax the question — But, for my part, whatever I may see or hear, not a praticle shall ever pass the lips of,

Dear Molly,
Your loving friend,
GRASCO, Sept. 7.

Remember me, as usual, to Sall. — We are now coming home, though not the nearest road. — I do suppose, I shall find the kitten a fine boar at my return.