Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker: Ch. 46

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Two days ago we went across the country to visit 'squire Burdock, who married a first cousin of my father, an heiress, who brought him an estate of a thousand a-year. This gentleman is a declared opponent of the ministry in parliament; and having an opulent fortune, piques himself upon living in the country, and maintaining old English hospitality — By the bye, this is a phrase very much used by the English themselves both in words and writing; but I never heard of it out of the island, except by way of irony and sarcasm. What the hospitality of our forefathers has been I should be glad to see recorded, rather in the memoirs of strangers who have visited our country, and were the proper objects and judges of such hospitality, than in the discourse and lucubrations of the modern English, who seem to describe it from theory and conjecture. Certain it is, we are generally looked upon by foreigners, as a people totally destitute of this virtue; and I never was in any country abroad, where I did not meet with persons of distinction, who complained of having been inhospitably used in Great Britain. A gentleman of France, Italy, or Germany, who has entertained and lodged an Englishman at his house, when he afterwards meets with his guest at London, is asked to dinner at the Saracen's-head, the Turk's-head, the Boar's-head, or the Bear, eats raw beef and butter, drinks execrable port, and is allowed to pay his share of the reckoning.

But to return from this digression, which my feeling for the honour of my country obliged me to make — our Yorkshire cousin has been a mighty fox-hunter before the Lord; but now he is too fat and unwieldy to leap ditches and five-bar gates; nevertheless, he still keeps a pack of hounds, which are well exercised; and his huntsman every night entertains him with the adventures of the day's chace, which he recites in a tone and terms that are extremely curious and significant. In the mean time, his broad brawn is scratched by one of his grooms. — This fellow, it seems, having no inclination to curry any beast out of the stable, was at great pains to scollop his nails in such a manner that the blood followed at every stroke. — He was in hopes that he would be dismissed from this disagreeable office, but the event turned out contrary to his expectation. — His master declared he was the best scratcher in the family; and now he will not suffer any other servant to draw a nail upon his carcase.

The 'squire's lady is very proud, without being stiff or inaccessible. She receives even her inferiors in point of fortune with a kind of arrogant civility; but then she thinks she has a right to treat them with the most ungracious freedoms of speech, and never fails to let them know she is sensible of her own superior affluence. In a word, she speaks well of no living soul, and has not one single friend in the world. Her husband hates her mortally; but, although the brute is sometimes so very powerful in him that he will have his own way, he generally truckles to her dominion, and dreads, like a school-boy, the lash of her tongue. On the other hand, she is afraid of provoking him too far, lest he should make some desperate effort to shake off her yoke. — She, therefore, acquiesces in the proofs he daily gives of his attachment to the liberty of an English freeholder, by saying and doing, at his own table, whatever gratifies the brutality of his disposition, or contributes to the case of his person. The house, though large, is neither elegant nor comfortable. — It looks like a great inn, crowded with travellers, who dine at the landlord's ordinary, where there is a great profusion of victuals and drink, but mine host seems to be misplaced; and I would rather dine upon filberts with a hermit, than feed upon venison with a hog. The footmen might be aptly compared to the waiters of a tavern, if they were more serviceable and less rapacious; but they are generally insolent and inattentive, and so greedy, that, I think, I can dine better, and for less expence, at the Star and Garter in Pall mall, than at our cousin's castle in Yorkshire. The 'squire is not only accommodated with a wife, but he is also blessed with an only son, about two and twenty, just returned from Italy, a complete fidler and dillettante; and he slips no opportunity of manifesting the most perfect contempt for his own father.