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

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Not a little nettled at this arrogant remark, I told her, I had the honour to sit in parliament with her father, when he had little more than half that income; and I believed there was not a more independent and incorruptible member in the house. 'Ay; but times are changed (cried the 'squire) — Country gentlemen now-a-days live after another fashion. My table alone stands me in a cool thousand a quarter, though I raise my own stock, import my own liquors, and have every thing at the first hand. — True it is, I keep open house, and receive all corners, for the honour of Old England.' 'If that be the case (said I), 'tis a wonder you can maintain it at so small an expence; but every private gentleman is not expected to keep a caravanserai for the accommodation of travellers: indeed, if every individual lived in the same stile, you would not have such a number of guests at your table, of consequence your hospitality would not shine so bright for the glory of the West Riding.' The young 'squire, tickled by this ironical observation, exclaimed, 'O che burla!' — his mother eyed me in silence with a supercilious air; and the father of the feast, taking a bumper of October, 'My service to you, cousin Bramble (said he), I have always heard there was something keen and biting in the air of the Welch mountains.'

I was much pleased with the count de Melville, who is sensible, easy, and polite; and the countess is the most amiable woman I ever beheld. In the afternoon they took leave of their entertainers, and the young gentleman, mounting his horse, undertook to conduct their coach through the park, while one of their servants rode round to give notice to the rest, whom they had left at a public house on the road. The moment their backs were turned, the censorious daemon took possession of our Yorkshire landlady and our sister Tabitha — The former observed, that the countess was a good sort of a body, but totally ignorant of good breeding, consequently aukward in her address. The squire said, he did not pretend to the breeding of any thing but colts; but that the jade would be very handsome, if she was a little more in flesh. 'Handsome! (cried Tabby) she has indeed a pair of black eyes without any meaning; but then there is not a good feature in her face.' 'I know not what you call good features in Wales (replied our landlord); but they'll pass in Yorkshire.' Then turning to Liddy, he added, 'What say you, my pretty Redstreak? — what is your opinion of the countess?' 'I think (cried Liddy, with great emotion), she's an angel.' Tabby chid her for talking with such freedom in company; and the lady of the house said, in a contemptuous tone, she supposed miss had been brought up at some country boarding-school.

Our conversation was suddenly interrupted by the young gentleman, who galloped into the yard all aghast, exclaiming, that the coach was attacked by a great number of highwaymen. My nephew and I rushed out, found his own and his servant's horse ready saddled in the stable, with pistols in the caps — We mounted instantly, ordering Clinker and Dutton to follow with all possible expedition; but notwithstanding all the speed we could make, the action was over before we arrived, and the count with his lady, safe lodged at the house of Grieve, who had signalized himself in a very remarkable manner on this occasion. At the turning of a lane, that led to the village where the count's servants remained, a couple of robbers a-horseback suddenly appeared, with their pistols advanced: one kept the coachman in awe, and the other demanded the count's money, while the young 'squire went off at full speed, without ever casting a look behind. The count desiring the thief to withdraw his pistol, as the lady was in great terror, delivered his purse without making the least resistance; but not satisfied with this booty, which was pretty considerable, the rascal insisted upon rifling her of her car-rings and necklace, and the countess screamed with affright. Her husband, exasperated at the violence with which she was threatened, wrested the pistol out of the fellow's hand, and turning it upon him, snapped it in his face; but the robber knowing there was no charge in it, drew another from his bosom, and in all probability would have killed him on the spot, had not his life been saved by a wonderful interposition. Grieve, the apothecary, chancing to pass that very instant, ran up to the coach, and with a crab-stick, which was all the weapon he had, brought the fellow to the ground with the first blow; then seizing his pistol, presented it at his colleague, who fired his piece at random, and fled without further opposition. The other was secured by the assistance of the count and the coachman; and his legs being tied under the belly of his own horse, Grieve conducted him to the village, whither also the carriage proceeded. It was with great difficulty the countess could be kept from swooning; but at last she was happily conveyed to the house of the apothecary, who went into the shop to prepare some drops for her, while his wife and daughter administered to her in another apartment.