Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker: Ch. 34

[+] | [-] | reset

Letter XXXIV

To Mrs MARY JONES, at Brambleton-hall.


Lady Griskin's botler, Mr Crumb, having got 'squire Barton to frank me a kiver, I would not neglect to let you know how it is with me, and the rest of the family.

I could not rite by John Thomas, for because he went away in a huff, at a minutes' warning. He and Chowder could not agree, and so they fitt upon the road, and Chowder bitt his thumb, and he swore he would do him a mischief, and he spoke saucy to mistress, whereby the squire turned him off in gudgeon; and by God's providence we picked up another footman, called Umphry Klinker; a good sole as ever broke bread; which shews that a scalded cat may prove a good mouser, and a hound be staunch, thof he has got narro hare on his buttocks; but the proudest nose may be bro't to the grinestone, by sickness and misfortunes.

0 Molly! what shall I say of London? All the towns that ever I beheld in my born-days, are no more than Welsh barrows and crumlecks to this wonderful sitty! Even Bath itself is but a fillitch, in the naam of God — One would think there's no end of the streets, but the land's end. Then there's such a power of people, going hurry skurry! Such a racket of coxes! Such a noise, and haliballoo! So many strange sites to be seen! O gracious! my poor Welsh brain has been spinning like a top ever since I came hither! And I have seen the Park, and the paleass of Saint Gimses, and the king's and the queen's magisterial pursing, and the sweet young princes, and the hillyfents, and pye bald ass, and all the rest of the royal family.

Last week I went with mistress to the Tower, to see the crowns and wild beastis; and there was a monstracious lion, with teeth half a quarter long; and a gentleman bid me not go near him, if I wasn't a maid; being as how he would roar, and tear, and play the dickens — Now I had no mind to go near him; for I cannot abide such dangerous honeymils, not I — but, mistress would go; and the beast kept such a roaring and bouncing, that I tho't he would have broke his cage and devoured us all; and the gentleman tittered forsooth; but I'll go to death upon it, I will, that my lady is as good a firchin, as the child unborn; and, therefore, either the gentleman told a fib, or the lion oft to be set in the stocks for bearing false witness agin his neighbour; for the commandment sayeth, Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

I was afterwards of a party at Sadler's-wells, where I saw such tumbling and dancing upon ropes and wires, that I was frightened and ready to go into a fit — I tho't it was all inchantment; and, believing myself bewitched, began for to cry — You knows as how the witches in Wales fly upon broom-sticks: but here was flying without any broom-stick, or thing in the varsal world, and firing of pistols in the air, and blowing of trumpets, and swinging, and rolling of wheel-barrows upon a wire (God bless us!) no thicker than a sewing-thread; that, to be sure, they must deal with the devil! — A fine gentleman, with a pig's-tail, and a golden sord by his side, come to comfit me, and offered for to treat me with a pint of wind; but I would not stay; and so, in going through the dark passage, he began to shew his cloven futt, and went for to be rude: my fellow-sarvant, Umphry Klinker, bid him be sivil, and he gave the young man a dowse in the chops; but, I fackins, Mr Klinker wa'n't long in his debt — with a good oaken sapling he dusted his doublet, for all his golden cheese toaster; and, fipping me under his arm, carried me huom, I nose not how, being I was in such a flustration — But, thank God! I'm now vaned from all such vanities; for what are all those rarities and vagaries to the glory that shall be revealed hereafter? O Molly! let not your poor heart be puffed up with vanity.

I had almost forgot to tell you, that I have had my hair cut and pippered, and singed, and bolstered, and buckled, in the newest fashion, by a French freezer — Parley vow Francey — Vee madmansell — I now carries my head higher than arrow private gentlewoman of Vales. Last night, coming huom from the meeting, I was taken by lamp-light for an iminent poulterer's daughter, a great beauty — But as I was saying, this is all vanity and vexation of spirit — The pleasures of London are no better than sower whey and stale cyder, when compared to the joys of the new Gerusalem.

Dear Mary Jones! An please God when I return, I'll bring you a new cap, with a turkey-shell coom, and a pyehouse sermon, that was preached in the Tabernacle; and I pray of all love, you will mind your vriting and your spilling; for, craving your pardon, Molly, it made me suet to disseyffer your last scrabble, which was delivered by the hind at Bath — 0, voman! voman! if thou had'st but the least consumption of what pleasure we scullers have, when we can cunster the crabbidst buck off hand, and spell the ethnitch vords without lucking at the primmer. As for Mr Klinker, he is qualified to be a clerk to a parish — But I'll say no more — Remember me to Saul — poor sole! it goes to my hart to think she don't yet know her letters — But all in God's good time — It shall go hard, but I will bring her the A B C in gingerbread; and that, you nose, will be learning to her taste.

Mistress says, we are going a long gurney to the North; but go where we will, I shall ever be,

Dear Mary Jones,
Yours with true infection
LONDON, June 3.