Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker: Ch. 40

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By this declaration, she made her own peace with Jery; but the hot-headed boy is more than ever incensed against Wilson, whom he now considers as an impostor, that harbours some infamous design upon the honour of his family — As for Barton he was not a little mortified to find his present returned, and his addresses so unfavourably received; but he is not a man to be deeply affected by such disappointments; and I know not whether he is not as well pleased with being discarded by Liddy, as he would have been with a permission to prosecute his pretensions, at the risque of being every day exposed to the revenge or machinations of Tabby, who is not to be slighted with impunity. — I had not much time to moralize on these occurrences; for the house was visited by a constable and his gang, with a warrant from Justice Buzzard, to search the box of Humphry Clinker, my footman, — who was just apprehended as a highwayman. This incident threw the whole family into confusion. My sister scolded the constable for presuming to enter the lodgings of a gentleman on such an errand, without having first asked, and obtained permission; her maid was frightened into fits, and Liddy shed tears of compassion for the unfortunate Clinker, in whose box, however, nothing was found to confirm the suspicion of robbery.

For my own part, I made no doubt of the fellow's being mistaken for some other person, and I went directly to the justice, in order to procure his discharge; but there I found the matter much more serious than I expected — Poor Clinker stood trembling at the bar, surrounded by thief-takers; and at a little distance, a thick, squat fellow, a postilion, his accuser, who had seized him on the street, and swore positively to his person, that the said Clinker had, on the 15th day of March last, on Blackheath, robbed a gentleman in a post-chaise, which he (the postilion) drove — This deposition was sufficient to justify his commitment; and he was sent accordingly to Clerkenwell prison, whither Jery accompanied him in the coach, in order to recommend him properly to the keeper, that he may want for no convenience which the place affords.

The spectators, who assembled to see this highwayman, were sagacious enough to discern something very villainous in his aspect; which (begging their pardon) is the very picture of simplicity; and the justice himself put a very unfavourable construction upon some of his answers, which, he said, savoured of the ambiguity and equivocation of an old offender; but, in my opinion, it would have been more just and humane to impute them to the confusion into which we may suppose a poor country lad to be thrown on such an occasion. I am still persuaded he is innocent; and, in this persuasion, I can do no less than use my utmost endeavours that he may not be oppressed — I shall, to-morrow, send my nephew to wait on the gentleman who was robbed, and beg; he will have the humanity to go and see the prisoner; that, in case he should find him quite different from the person of the highwayman, he may bear testimony in his behalf — Howsoever it may fare with Clinker, this cursed affair will be to me productive of intolerable chagrin — I have already caught a dreadful cold, by rushing into the open air from the justice's parlour, where I had been stewing in the crowd; and though I should not be laid up with the gout, as I believe I shall, I must stay at London for some weeks, till this poor devil comes to his trial at Rochester; so that, in all probability, my northern expedition is blown up.

If you can find any thing in your philosophical budget, to console me in the midst of these distresses and apprehensions, pray let it be communicated to

Your unfortunate friend,
MATT. BRAMBLE
LONDON, June 12.