Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker: Ch. 72

[+] | [-] | reset

This accident happened about three o'clock in the afternoon, and in little more than an hour the hurricane was all over; but as the carriage was found to be so much damaged, that it could not proceed without considerable repairs, a blacksmith and wheelwright were immediately sent for to the next market-town, and we congratulated ourselves upon being housed at an inn, which, though remote from the post-road, afforded exceeding good lodging. The women being pretty well composed, and the men all a-foot, my uncle sent for his servant, and, in the presence of Lismahago and me, accosted him in these words — 'So, Clinker, I find you are resolved I shan't die by water — As you have fished me up from the bottom at your own risque, you are at least entitled to all the money that was in my pocket, and there it is' — So saying, he presented him with a purse containing thirty guineas, and a ring nearly of the same value — 'God forbid! (cried Clinker), your honour shall excuse me — I am a poor fellow, but I have a heart O! if your honour did but know how I rejoice to see — Blessed be his holy name, that made me the humble instrument — But as for the lucre of gain, I renounce it — I have done no more than my duty — No more than I would have done for the most worthless of my fellow-creatures — No more than I would have done for captain Lismahago, or Archy Macalpine, or any sinner upon earth — But for your worship, I would go through fire as well as water' — 'I do believe it, Humphry (said the 'squire); but as you think it was your duty to save my life at the hazard of your own, I think it is mine to express the sense I have of your extraordinary fidelity and attachment — I insist upon your receiving this small token of my gratitude; but don't imagine that I look upon this as an adequate recompence for the service you have done me — I have determined to settle thirty pounds a-year upon you for life; and I desire these gentlemen will bear witness to this my intention, of which I have a memorandum in my pocketbook.' 'Lord make me thankful for all these mercies! (cried Clinker, sobbing), I have been a poor bankrupt from the beginning — your honour's goodness found me, when I was — naked when I was — sick and forlorn — I understand your honour's looks — I would not give offence — but my heart is very full — and if your worship won't give me leave to speak, — I must vent it in prayers to heaven for my benefactor.' When he quitted the room, Lismahago said, he should have a much better opinion of his honesty, if he did not whine and cant so abominably; but that he had always observed those weeping and praying fellows were hypocrites at bottom. Mr Bramble made no reply to this sarcastic remark, proceeding from the lieutenant's resentment of Clinker having, in pure simplicity of heart, ranked him with M'Alpine and the sinners of the earth — The landlord being called to receive some orders about the beds, told the 'squire that his house was very much at his service, but he was sure he should not have the honour to lodge him and his company. He gave us to understand that his master who lived hard by, would not suffer us to be at a public house, when there was accommodation for us at his own; and that, if he had not dined abroad in the neighbourhood he would have undoubtedly come to offer his services at our first arrival. He then launched out in praise of that gentleman, whom he had served as butler, representing him as a perfect miracle of goodness and generosity. He said he was a person of great learning, and allowed to be the best farmer in the country: — that he had a lady who was as much beloved as himself, and an only son, a very hopeful young gentleman, just recovered from a dangerous fever, which had like to have proved fatal to the whole family; for, if the son had died, he was sure the parents would not have survived their loss — He had not yet finished the encomium of Mr Dennison, when this gentleman arrived in a post-chaise, and his appearance seemed to justify all that had been said in his favour. He is pretty well advanced in years, but hale, robust, and florid, with an ingenuous countenance, expressive of good sense and humanity. Having condoled with us on the accident which had happened, he said he was come to conduct us to his habitation, where we should be less incommoded than at such a paultry inn, and expressed his hope that the ladies would not be the worse for going thither in his carriage, as the distance was not above a quarter of a mile. My uncle having made a proper return to this courteous exhibition, eyed him attentively, and then asked if he had not been at Oxford, a commoner of Queen's college? When Mr Dennison answered, 'Yes,' with some marks of surprise — 'Look at me then (said our squire) and let us see if you can recollect the features of an old friend, whom you have not seen these forty years.' — The gentleman, taking him by the hand, and gazing at him earnestly, — 'I protest (cried he), I do think I recall the idea of Matthew Loyd of Glamorganshire, who was student of Jesus.' 'Well remembered, my dear friend, Charles Dennison (exclaimed my uncle, pressing him to his breast), I am that very identical Matthew Loyd of Glamorgan.' Clinker, who had just entered the room with some coals for the fire, no sooner heard these words, than throwing down the scuttle on the toes of Lismahago, he began to caper as if he was mad, crying — 'Matthew Loyd of Glamorgan! — O Providence! — Matthew Loyd of Glamorgan!' — Then, clasping my uncle's knees, he went on in this manner — 'Your worship must forgive me — Matthew Loyd of Glamorgan! — O Lord, Sir! I can't contain myself! — I shall lose my senses' — 'Nay, thou hast lost them already, I believe (said the 'squire, peevishly), prithee, Clinker, be quiet — What is the matter?' — Humphry, fumbling in his bosom, pulled out an old wooden snuff-box, which he presented in great trepidation to his master, who, opening it immediately, perceived a small cornelian seal, and two scraps of paper — At sight of these articles he started, and changed colour, and casting his eye upon the inscriptions — 'Ha! — how! — what! where (cried he) is the person here named?' Clinker, knocking his own breast, could hardly pronounce these words — 'Here — here — here is Matthew Loyd, as the certificate sheweth — Humphry Clinker was the name of the farrier that took me 'prentice' — 'And who gave you these tokens?' said my uncle hastily — 'My poor mother on her death-bed' — replied the other — 'And who was your mother?' 'Dorothy Twyford, an please your honour, heretofore bar-keeper at the Angel at Chippenham.' — 'And why were not these tokens produced before?' 'My mother told me she had wrote to Glamorganshire, at the time of my birth, but had no answer; and that afterwards, when she made enquiry, there was no such person in that county.' 'And so in consequence of my changing my name and going abroad at that very time, thy poor mother and thou have been left to want and misery — I am really shocked at the consequence of my own folly.' — Then, laying his hand on Clinker's head, he added, 'Stand forth, Matthew Loyd — You see, gentlemen, how the sins of my youth rise up in judgment against me — Here is my direction written with my own hand, and a seal which I left at the woman's request; and this is a certificate of the child's baptism, signed by the curate of the parish.' The company were not a little surprised at this discovery, upon which Mr Dennison facetiously congratulated both the father and the son: for my part, I shook my new-found cousin heartily by the hand, and Lismahago complimented him with the tears in his eyes, for he had been hopping about the room, swearing in broad Scotch, and bellowing with the pain occasioned by the fall of the coalscuttle upon his foot. He had even vowed to drive the saul out of the body of that mad rascal: but, perceiving the unexpected turn which things had taken, he wished him joy of his good fortune, observing that it went very near his heart, as he was like to be a great toe out of pocket by the discovery — Mr Dennison now desired to know for what reason my uncle had changed the name by which he knew him at Oxford, and our 'squire satisfied him, by answering to this effect — 'I took my mother's name, which was Loyd, as heir to her lands in Glamorganshire; but when I came of age, I sold that property, in order to clear my paternal estate, and resumed my real name; so that I am now Matthew Bramble of Brambleton-hall in Monmouthshire, at your service; and this is my nephew, Jeremy Melford of Belfield, in the county of Glamorgan.' At that instant the ladies entering the room, he presented Mrs Tabitha as his sister, and Liddy as his niece. The old gentleman saluted them very cordially, and seemed struck with the appearance of my sister, whom he could not help surveying with a mixture of complacency and surprize — 'Sister (said my uncle), there is a poor relation that recommends himself to your good graces — The quondam Humphry Clinker is metamorphosed into Matthew Loyd; and claims the honour of being your carnal kinsman — in short, the rogue proves to be a crab of my own planting in the days of hot blood and unrestrained libertinism.' Clinker had by this time dropt upon one knee, by the side of Mrs Tabitha, who, eyeing him askance, and flirting her fan with marks of agitation, thought proper, after some conflict, to hold out her hand for him to kiss, saying, with a demure aspect, 'Brother, you have been very wicked: but I hope you'll live to see the folly of your ways — I am very sorry to say the young man, whom you have this day acknowledged, has more grace and religion, by the gift of God, than you with all your profane learning, and repeated opportunity — I do think he has got the trick of the eye, and the tip of the nose of my uncle Loyd of Flluydwellyn; and as for the long chin, it is the very moral of the governor's — Brother, as you have changed his name pray change his dress also; that livery doth not become any person that hath got our blood in his veins.' — Liddy seemed much pleased with this acquisition to the family. — She took him by the hand, declaring she should always be proud to own her connexion with a virtuous young man, who had given so many proofs of his gratitude and affection to her uncle. — Mrs. Winifred Jenkins, extremely fluttered between her surprize at this discovery, and the apprehension of losing her sweet-heart, exclaimed in a giggling tone, — 'I wish you joy Mr Clinker — Floyd — I would say — hi, hi, hi! — you'll be so proud you won't look at your poor fellow servants, oh, oh, oh!' Honest Clinker owned he was overjoyed at his good fortune, which was greater than he deserved — 'But wherefore should I be proud? (said he) a poor object conceived in sin, and brought forth in iniquity, nursed in a parish workhouse, and bred in a smithy. Whenever I seem proud, Mrs Jenkins, I beg of you to put me in mind of the condition I was in, when I first saw you between Chippenham and Marlborough.'