Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker: Ch. 68

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At midnight we were shewn to our different chambers, and in half an hour, I was fast asleep in bed; but about three o'clock in the morning I was waked with a dismal cry of Fire! and starting up, ran to the window in my shirt. — The night was dark and stormy; and a number of people half-dressed ran backwards and forwards thro' the court-yard, with links and lanthorns, seemingly in the utmost hurry and trepidation. — Slipping on my cloaths in a twinkling, I ran down stairs, and, upon enquiry, found the fire was confined to a back-stair, which led to a detached apartment where Lismahago lay. — By this time, the lieutenant was alarmed by bawling at his window, which was in the second story, but he could not find his cloaths in the dark, and his room-door was locked on the outside. — The servants called to him, that the house had been robbed; that, without all doubt, the villains had taken away his cloaths, fastened the door, and set the house on fire, for the stair-case was in flames. — In this dilemma the poor lieutenant ran about the room naked like a squirrel in a cage, popping out his bead at the window between whiles, and imploring assistance. — At length, the knight in person was brought out in his chair, attended by my uncle and all the family, including our aunt Tabitha, who screamed, and cried, and tore her hair, as if she had been distracted — Sir Thomas had already ordered his people to bring a long ladder which was applied to the captain's, window, and now he exhorted him earnestly to descend. — There was no need of much rhetoric to persuade Lismahago, who forthwith made his exit by the window, roaring all the time to the people below to hold fast the ladder.

Notwithstanding the gravity of the occasion, it was impossible to behold this scene without being seized with an inclination to laugh. The rueful aspect of the lieutenant in his shirt, with a quilted night-cap fastened under his chin, and his long lank limbs and posteriors exposed to the wind, made a very picturesque appearance, when illumined by the links and torches which the servants held up to light him in his descent. — All the company stood round the ladder, except the knight, who sat in his chair, exclaiming from time to time, 'Lord, have mercy upon us! — save the gentleman's life! — mind your footing, dear captain! softly! — stand fast! — clasp the ladder with both hands! — there! — well done, my dear boy! — O bravo! — an old soldier for ever! — bring a blanket bring a warm blanket to comfort his poor carcase — warm the bed in the green room — give me your hand, dear captain — I'm rejoiced to see thee safe and sound with all my heart.' Lismahago was received at the foot of the ladder by his inamorata, who snatching a blanket from one of the maids, wrapped it about his body; two men-servants took him under the arms, and a female conducted him to the green room, still accompanied by Mrs Tabitha, who saw him fairly put to bed. — During this whole transaction he spoke not a syllable, but looked exceeding grim, sometimes at one, sometimes at another of the spectators, who now adjourned in a body to the parlour where we had supped, every one surveying another with marks of astonishment and curiosity.

The knight being seated in an easy chair, seized my uncle by the hand, and bursting into a long and loud laugh, 'Matt (cried he), crown me with oak, or ivy, or laurel, or parsely, or what you will, and acknowledge this to be a coup de maitre in the way of waggery — ha, ha, ha! — Such a camisciata, scagliata, beffata! O, che roba! O, what a subject! — O, what caricatura! — O, for a Rosa, a Rembrandt, a Schalken! — Zooks, I'll give a hundred guineas to have it painted! — what a fine descent from the cross, or ascent to the gallows! what lights and shadows! — what a groupe below! what expression above! — what an aspect! — did you mind the aspect? ha, ha, ha! — and the limbs, and the muscles every toe denoted terror! ha, ha, ha! — then the blanket! O, what costume! St Andrew! St Lazarus! St Barrabas! — ha, ha, ha!' 'After all then (cried Mr Bramble very gravely), this was no more than a false alarm. — We have been frightened out of our beds, and almost out of our senses, for the joke's sake.' 'Ay, and such a joke! (cried our landlord) such a farce! such a denouement! such a catastrophe!'