Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker: Ch. 16

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Letter XVI

To Mrs MARY JONES, at Brambleton-hall.


Heaving got a frank, I now return your fever, which I received by Mr Higgins, at the Hot Well, together with the stockings, which his wife footed for me; but now they are of no survice. No body wears such things in this place — O Molly! you that live in the country have no deception of our doings at Bath. Here is such dressing, and fidling, and dancing, and gadding, and courting and plotting — O gracious! if God had not given me a good stock of discretion, what a power of things might not I reveal, consarning old mistress and young mistress; Jews with beards that were no Jews; but handsome Christians, without a hair upon their sin, strolling with spectacles, to get speech of Miss Liddy. But she's a dear sweet soul, as innocent as the child unborn. She has tould me all her inward thoughts, and disclosed her passion for Mr Wilson; and that's not his name neither; and thof he acted among the player-men, he is meat for their masters; and she has gi'en me her yallow trollopea; which Mrs Drab, the mantymaker, says will look very well when it is scowred and smoaked with silfur — You knows as how, yallow fitts my fizzogmony. God he knows what havock I shall make among the mail sex, when I make my first appearance in this killing collar, with a full soot of gaze, as good as new, that I bought last Friday of madam Friponeau, the French mullaner — Dear girl, I have seen all the fine shews of Bath; the Prades, the Squires, and the Circlis, the Crashit, the Hottogon, and Bloody Buildings, and Harry King's row; and I have been twice in the Bath with mistress, and na'r a smoak upon our backs, hussy. The first time I was mortally afraid, and flustered all day; and afterwards made believe that I had got the heddick; but mistress said, if I didn't go I should take a dose of bumtaffy; and so remembering how it worked Mrs Gwyllim a pennorth, I chose rather to go again with her into the Bath, and then I met with an axident. I dropt my petticoat, and could not get it up from the bottom.—But what did that signify; they mought laff but they could see nothing; for I was up to the sin in water. To be sure, it threw me into such a gumbustion, that I know not what I said, nor what I did, nor how they got me out, and rapt me in a blanket — Mrs Tabitha scoulded a little when we got home; but she knows as I know what's what Ah Laud help you! — There is Sir Yury Micligut, of Balnaclinch, in the cunty of Kalloway — I took down the name from his gentleman, Mr 0 Frizzle, and he has got an estate of fifteen hundred a year — I am sure he is both rich and generous—But you nose, Molly, I was always famous for keeping secrets; and so he was very safe in trusting me with his flegm for mistress; which, to be sure is very honourable; for Mr 0 Frizzle assures me, he values not her portion a brass varthing — And, indeed, what's poor ten thousand pounds to a Baron Knight of his fortune? and, truly, I told Mr 0 Frizzle that was all she had trust to — As for John Thomas, he's a morass fellor — I vow, I thought he would a fit with Mr 0 Frizzle, because he axed me to dance with him at Spring Garden — But God he knows I have no thoughts eyther of wan or t'other.

As for house news, the worst is, Chowder has fallen off greatly from his stomick — He cats nothing but white meats, and not much of that; and wheezes, and seems to be much bloated. The doctors think he is threatened with a dropsy — Parson Marrofat, who has got the same disorder, finds great benefit from the waters; but Chowder seems to like them no better than the squire; and mistress says, if his case don't take a favourable turn, she will sartinly carry him to Aberga'ny, to drink goat's whey — To be sure, the poor dear honymil is lost for want of axercise; for which reason, she intends to give him an airing once a-day upon the Downs, in a post-chaise — I have already made very creditable connexions in this here place; where, to be sure, we have the very squintasense of satiety — Mrs Patcher, my lady Kilmacullock's woman, and I are sworn sisters. She has shewn me all her secrets, and learned me to wash gaze, and refrash rusty silks and bumbeseens, by boiling them with winegar, chamberlye, and stale beer. My short sack and apron luck as good as new from the shop, and my pumpydoor as fresh as a rose, by the help of turtle-water — But this is all Greek and Latten to you, Molly — If we should come to Aberga'ny, you'll be within a day's ride of us; and then we shall see wan another, please God — If not, remember me in your prayers, as I shall do by you in mine; and take care of my kitten, and give my kind sarvice to Sall; and this is all at present, from your beloved friend and sarvent,

BATH, April 26.