Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker: Ch. 24

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Here he was interrupted by my uncle; who asked peevishly if he was Don Quixote enough, at this time of day, to throw down his gauntlet as champion for a man who had treated him with such ungrateful neglect. 'For my part (added he) I shall never quarrel with you again upon this subject; and what I have said now, has been suggested as much by my regard for you, as by my contempt of him' — Mr Serle, then pulling off his spectacles, eyed uncle very earnestly, saying, in a mitigated tone, 'Surely I am much obliged — Ah, Mr Bramble! I now recollect your features, though I have not seen you these many years.' 'We might have been less strangers to one another (answered the squire) if our correspondence had not been interrupted, in consequence of a misunderstanding, occasioned by this very —, but no matter — Mr Serle, I esteem your character; and my friendship, such as it is, you may freely command.' 'The offer is too agreeable to be declined (said he); I embrace it very cordially; and, as the first fruits of it, request that you will change this subject, which, with me, is a matter of peculiar delicacy.'

My uncle owned he was in the right, and the discourse took a more general turn. Mr Serle passed the evening with us at our lodgings; and appeared to be intelligent, and even entertaining; but his disposition was rather of a melancholy hue. My uncle says he is a man of uncommon parts, and unquestioned probity: that his fortune, which was originally small, has been greatly hurt by a romantic spirit of generosity, which he has often displayed, even at the expence of his discretion, in favour of worthless individuals — That he had rescued Paunceford from the lowest distress, when he was bankrupt, both in means and reputation — That he had espoused his interests with a degree of enthusiasm, broke with several friends, and even drawn his sword against my uncle, who had particular reasons for questioning the moral character of the said Paunceford: that, without Serle's countenance and assistance, the other never could have embraced the opportunity, which has raised him to this pinnacle of wealth: that Paunceford, in the first transports of his success, had written, from abroad, letters to different correspondents, owning his obligations to Mr Serle, in the warmest terms of acknowledgement, and declared he considered himself only as a factor for the occasions of his best friend: that, without doubt, he had made declarations of the same nature to his benefactor himself, though this last was always silent and reserved on the subject; but for some years, those tropes and figures of rhetoric had been disused; that, upon his return to England, he had been lavish in his caresses to Mr Serle, invited him to his house, and pressed him to make it his own: that he had overwhelmed him with general professions, and affected to express the warmest regard for him, in company of their common acquaintance; so that every body believed his gratitude was liberal as his fortune; and some went so far as to congratulate Mr Serle on both.

All this time Paunceford carefully and artfully avoided particular discussions with his old patron, who had too much spirit to drop the most distant hint of balancing the account of obligation: that, nevertheless, a man of his feelings could not but resent this shocking return for all his kindness: and, therefore, he withdrew himself from the connexion, without coming to the least explanation or speaking a syllable on the subject to any living soul; so that now their correspondence is reduced to a slight salute with the hat, when they chance to meet in any public place; an accident that rarely happens, for their walks lie different ways. Mr Paunceford lives in a palace, feeds upon dainties, is arrayed in sumptuous apparel, appears in all the pomp of equipage, and passes his time among the nobles of the land. Serle lodges in Stall-street, up two pair of stairs backwards, walks a-foot in a Bath-rug, eats for twelve shillings a-week, and drinks water as preservative against the gout and gravel — Mark the vicissitude. Paunceford once resided in a garret; where he subsisted upon sheep's-trotters and cow-heel, from which commons he was translated to the table of Serle, that ever abounded with good-chear; until want of economy and retention reduced him to a slender annuity in his decline of years, that scarce affords the bare necessaries of life. — Paunceford, however, does him the honour to speak of him still, with uncommon regard; and to declare what pleasure it would give him to contribute in any shape to his convenience: 'But you know (he never fails to add) he's a shy kind of a man — And then such a perfect philosopher, that he looks upon all superfluities with the most sovereign contempt. Having given you this sketch of squire Paunceford, I need not make any comment on his character, but leave it at the mercy of your own reflection; from which I dare say, it will meet with as little quarter as it has found with

Yours always,
J. MELFORD
BATH, May 10.