Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker: Ch. 74

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'Thus encouraged, I began the execution of my scheme without further delay, and plunged into a sea of expence, though I had no fund in reserve, and the whole produce of the estate did not exceed three hundred pounds a year — In one week, my house was made weather-tight, and thoroughly cleansed from top to bottom; then it was well ventilated by throwing all the doors and windows open, and making blazing fires of wood in every chimney from the kitchen to the garrets. The floors were repaired, the sashes new glazed, and out of the old furniture of the whole house, I made shift to fit up a parlour and three chambers in a plain yet decent manner. — The court-yard was cleared of weeds and rubbish, and my friend Wilson charged himself with the dressing of the garden; bricklayers were set at work upon the barn and stable; and labourers engaged to restore the fences, and begin the work of hedging and ditching, under the direction of farmer Bland, at whose recommendation I hired a careful hind to lie in the house, and keep constant fires in the apartments.

'Having taken these measures, I returned to London, where I forthwith sold off my household-furniture, and, in three weeks from my first visit, brought my wife hither to keep her Christmas. — Considering the gloomy season of the year, the dreariness of the place, and the decayed aspect of our habitation, I was afraid that her resolution would sink under the sudden transition from a town life to such a melancholy state of rustication; but I was agreeably disappointed. — She found the reality less uncomfortable than the picture I had drawn. — By this time indeed, things were mended in appearance — The out-houses had risen out of their ruins; the pigeon-house was rebuilt, and replenished by Wilson, who also put my garden in decent order, and provided a good stock of poultry, which made an agreeable figure in my yard; and the house, on the whole, looked like the habitation of human creatures. — Farmer Bland spared me a milch cow for my family, and an ordinary saddle-horse for my servant to go to market at the next town. — I hired a country lad for a footman, the hind's daughter was my house-maid, and my wife had brought a cook-maid from London.

'Such was my family when I began house-keeping in this place, with three hundred pounds in my pocket, raised from the sale of my superfluous furniture. — I knew we should find occupation enough through the day to employ our time; but I dreaded the long winter evenings; yet, for those too we found a remedy: The curate, who was a single man, soon became so naturalized to the family, that he generally lay in the house; and his company was equally agreeable and useful. He was a modest man, a good scholar, and perfectly well qualified to instruct me in such country matters as I wanted to know. — Mr Wilson brought his wife to see us, and she became so fond of Mrs Dennison, that she said she was never so happy as when she enjoyed the benefit of her conversation. — She was then a fine buxom country lass, exceedingly docile, and as good-natured as her husband Jack Wilson; so that a friendship ensued among the women, which hath continued to this day.

'As for Jack, he hath been my constant companion, counsellor, and commissary. — I would not for a hundred pounds you should leave my house without seeing him. — Jack is an universal genius — his talents are really astonishing: — He is an excellent carpenter, joiner, and turner, and a cunning artist in iron and brass. — He not only superintended my oeconomy, but also presided over my pastimes — He taught me to brew beer, to make cyder, perry, mead, usquebaugh, and plague-water; to cook several outlandish delicacies, such as ollas, pepper-pots, pillaws, corys, chabobs, and stufatas. — He understands all manner of games from chess down to chuck-farthing, sings a good song, plays upon the violin, and dances a hornpipe with surprising agility. — He and I walked, and rode, and hunted, and fished together, without minding the vicissitudes of the weather; and I am persuaded, that in a raw, moist climate, like this of England, continual exercise is as necessary as food to the preservation of the individual. — In the course of two and twenty years, there has not been one hour's interruption or abatement in the friendship subsisting between Wilson's family and mine; and, what is a rare instance of good fortune, that friendship is continued to our children. — His son and mine are nearly of the same age and the same disposition; they have been bred up together at the same school and college, and love each other with the warmest affection.