Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker: Ch. 79

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Upon an accurate enquiry into the state of his affairs, I find his debts amount to twenty thousand pounds, for eighteen thousand pounds of which sum his estate is mortgaged; and as he pays five per cent. interest, and some of his farms are unoccupied, he does not receive above two hundred pounds a year clear from his lands, over and above the interest of his wife's fortune, which produced eight hundred pounds annually. For lightening this heavy burthen, I devised the following expedient. His wife's jewels, together with his superfluous plate and furniture in both houses, his horses and carriages, which are already advertised to be sold by auction, will, according to the estimate, produce two thousand five hundred pounds in ready money, with which the debt will be immediately reduced to eighteen thousand pounds — I have undertaken to find him ten thousand pounds at four per cent. by which means he will save one hundred a-year in the article of interest, and perhaps we shall be able to borrow the other eight thousand on the same terms. According to his own scheme of a country life, he says he can live comfortably for three hundred pounds a-year; but, as he has a son to educate, we will allow him five hundred; then there will be an accumulating fund of seven hundred a-year, principal and interest, to pay off the incumbrance; and, I think, we may modestly add three hundred, on the presumption of new-leasing and improving the vacant farms: so that, in a couple of years, I suppose there will be above a thousand a-year appropriated to liquidate a debt of sixteen thousand.

We forthwith began to class and set apart the articles designed for sale, under the direction of an upholder from London; and, that nobody in the house might be idle, commenced our reformation without doors, as well as within. With Baynard's good leave, I ordered the gardener to turn the rivulet into its old channel, to refresh the fainting Naiads, who had so long languished among mouldring roots, withered leaves, and dry pebbles — The shrubbery is condemned to extirpation; and the pleasure ground will be restored to its original use of corn-field and pasture — Orders are given for rebuilding the walls of the garden at the back of the house, and for planting clumps of firs, intermingled with beech and chestnut, at the east end, which is now quite exposed to the surly blasts that come from that quarter. All these works being actually begun, and the house and auction left to the care and management of a reputable attorney, I brought Baynard along with me in the chaise, and made him acquainted with Dennison, whose goodness of heart would not fail to engage his esteem and affection. — He is indeed charmed with our society in general, and declares that he never saw the theory of true pleasure reduced to practice before. I really believe it would not be an easy task to find such a number of individuals assembled under one roof, more happy than we are at present.

I must tell you, however, in confidence, I suspect Tabby of tergiversation. — I have been so long accustomed to that original, that I know all the caprices of her heart, and can often perceive her designs while they are yet in embrio — She attached herself to Lismahago for no other reason but that she despaired of making a more agreeable conquest. At present, if I am not much mistaken in my observation, she would gladly convert the widowhood of Baynard to her own advantage. — Since he arrived, she has behaved very coldly to the captain, and strove to fasten on the other's heart, with the hooks of overstrained civility. These must be the instinctive efforts of her constitution, rather than the effects of any deliberate design; for matters are carried to such a length with the lieutenant, that she could not retract with any regard to conscience or reputation. Besides, she will meet with nothing but indifference or aversion on the side of Baynard, who has too much sense to think of such a partner at any time, and too much delicacy to admit a thought of any such connexion at the present juncture — Meanwhile, I have prevailed upon her to let him have four thousand pounds at four per cent towards paying off his mortage. Young Dennison has agreed that Liddy's fortune shall be appropriated to the same purpose, on the same terms. — His father will sell out three thousand pounds stock for his accommodation. — Farmer Bland has, at the desire of Wilson, undertaken for two thousand; and I must make an effort to advance what further will be required to take my friend out of the hands of the Philistines. He is so pleased with the improvements made on his estate, which is all cultivated like a garden, that he has entered himself as a pupil in farming to Mr Dennison, and resolved to attach himself wholly to the practice of husbandry.