Book XII - Chapter XIII
A dialogue between Jones and Partridge.
The honest lovers of liberty will, we doubt not, pardon that long digression into which we were led at the close of the last chapter, to prevent our history from being applied to the use of the most pernicious doctrine which priestcraft had ever the wickedness or the impudence to preach.
We will now proceed with Mr Jones, who, when the storm was over, took leave of his Egyptian majesty, after many thanks for his courteous behaviour and kind entertainment, and set out for Coventry; to which place (for it was still dark) a gypsy was ordered to conduct him.
Jones having, by reason of his deviation, travelled eleven miles instead of six, and most of those through very execrable roads, where no expedition could have been made in quest of a midwife, did not arrive at Coventry till near twelve. Nor could he possibly get again into the saddle till past two; for post-horses were now not easy to get; nor were the hostler or post-boy in half so great a hurry as himself, but chose rather to imitate the tranquil disposition of Partridge; who, being denied the nourishment of sleep, took all opportunities to supply its place with every other kind of nourishment, and was never better pleased than when he arrived at an inn, nor ever more dissatisfied than when he was again forced to leave it.
Jones now travelled post; we will follow him, therefore, according to our custom, and to the rules of Longinus, in the same manner. From Coventry he arrived at Daventry, from Daventry at Stratford, and from Stratford at Dunstable, whither he came the next day a little after noon, and within a few hours after Sophia had left it; and though he was obliged to stay here longer than he wished, while a smith, with great deliberation, shoed the post-horse he was to ride, he doubted not but to overtake his Sophia before she should set out from St Albans; at which place he concluded, and very reasonably, that his lordship would stop and dine.
And had he been right in this conjecture, he most probably would have overtaken his angel at the aforesaid place; but unluckily my lord had appointed a dinner to be prepared for him at his own house in London, and, in order to enable him to reach that place in proper time, he had ordered a relay of horses to meet him at St Albans. When Jones therefore arrived there, he was informed that the coach-and-six had set out two hours before.
If fresh post-horses had been now ready, as they were not, it seemed so apparently impossible to overtake the coach before it reached London, that Partridge thought he had now a proper opportunity to remind his friend of a matter which he seemed entirely to have forgotten; what this was the reader will guess, when we inform him that Jones had eat nothing more than one poached egg since he had left the alehouse where he had first met the guide returning from Sophia; for with the gypsies he had feasted only his understanding.
The landlord so entirely agreed with the opinion of Mr Partridge, that he no sooner heard the latter desire his friend to stay and dine, than he very readily put in his word, and retracting his promise before given of furnishing the horses immediately, he assured Mr Jones he would lose no time in bespeaking a dinner, which, he said, could be got ready sooner than it was possible to get the horses up from grass, and to prepare them for their journey by a feed of corn.
Jones was at length prevailed on, chiefly by the latter argument of the landlord; and now a joint of mutton was put down to the fire. While this was preparing, Partridge, being admitted into the same apartment with his friend or master, began to harangue in the following manner.
"Certainly, sir, if ever man deserved a young lady, you deserve young Madam Western; for what a vast quantity of love must a man have, to be able to live upon it without any other food, as you do? I am positive I have eat thirty times as much within these last twenty-four hours as your honour, and yet I am almost famished; for nothing makes a man so hungry as travelling, especially in this cold raw weather. And yet I can't tell how it is, but your honour is seemingly in perfect good health, and you never looked better nor fresher in your life. It must be certainly love that you live upon."
"And a very rich diet too, Partridge," answered Jones. "But did not fortune send me an excellent dainty yesterday? Dost thou imagine I cannot live more than twenty-four hours on this dear pocket-book?"
"Undoubtedly," cries Partridge, "there is enough in that pocket-book to purchase many a good meal. Fortune sent it to your honour very opportunely for present use, as your honour's money must be almost out by this time."
"What do you mean?" answered Jones; "I hope you don't imagine that I should be dishonest enough, even if it belonged to any other person, besides Miss Western----"
"Dishonest!" replied Partridge, "heaven forbid I should wrong your honour so much! but where's the dishonesty in borrowing a little for present spending, since you will be so well able to pay the lady hereafter? No, indeed, I would have your honour pay it again, as soon as it is convenient, by all means; but where can be the harm in making use of it now you want it? Indeed, if it belonged to a poor body, it would be another thing; but so great a lady, to be sure, can never want it, especially now as she is along with a lord, who, it can't be doubted, will let her have whatever she hath need of. Besides, if she should want a little, she can't want the whole, therefore I would give her a little; but I would be hanged before I mentioned the having found it at first, and before I got some money of my own; for London, I have heard, is the very worst of places to be in without money. Indeed, if I had not known to whom it belonged, I might have thought it was the devil's money, and have been afraid to use it; but as you know otherwise, and came honestly by it, it would be an affront to fortune to part with it all again, at the very time when you want it most; you can hardly expect she should ever do you such another good turn; for fortuna nunquam perpetuo est bona. You will do as you please, notwithstanding all I say; but for my part, I would be hanged before I mentioned a word of the matter."
"By what I can see, Partridge," cries Jones, "hanging is a matter non longe alienum a Scaevolae studiis." "You should say alienus," says Partridge,--"I remember the passage; it is an example under communis, alienus, immunis, variis casibus serviunt." "If you do remember it," cries Jones, "I find you don't understand it; but I tell thee, friend, in plain English, that he who finds another's property, and wilfully detains it from the known owner, deserves, in foro conscientiae, to be hanged, no less than if he had stolen it. And as for this very identical bill, which is the property of my angel, and was once in her dear possession, I will not deliver it into any hands but her own, upon any consideration whatever, no, though I was as hungry as thou art, and had no other means to satisfy my craving appetite; this I hope to do before I sleep; but if it should happen otherwise, I charge thee, if thou would'st not incur my displeasure for ever, not to shock me any more by the bare mention of such detestable baseness."
"I should not have mentioned it now," cries Partridge, "if it had appeared so to me; for I'm sure I scorn any wickedness as much as another; but perhaps you know better; and yet I might have imagined that I should not have lived so many years, and have taught school so long, without being able to distinguish between fas et nefas; but it seems we are all to live and learn. I remember my old schoolmaster, who was a prodigious great scholar, used often to say, Polly matete cry town is my daskalon. The English of which, he told us, was, That a child may sometimes teach his grandmother to suck eggs. I have lived to a fine purpose, truly, if I am to be taught my grammar at this time of day. Perhaps, young gentleman, you may change your opinion, if you live to my years: for I remember I thought myself as wise when I was a stripling of one or two and twenty as I am now. I am sure I always taught alienus, and my master read it so before me."
There were not many instances in which Partridge could provoke Jones, nor were there many in which Partridge himself could have been hurried out of his respect. Unluckily, however, they had both hit on one of these. We have already seen Partridge could not bear to have his learning attacked, nor could Jones bear some passage or other in the foregoing speech. And now, looking upon his companion with a contemptuous and disdainful air (a thing not usual with him), he cried, "Partridge, I see thou art a conceited old fool, and I wish thou art not likewise an old rogue. Indeed, if I was as well convinced of the latter as I am of the former, thou should'st travel no farther in my company."
The sage pedagogue was contented with the vent which he had already given to his indignation; and, as the vulgar phrase is, immediately drew in his horns. He said, he was sorry he had uttered anything which might give offence, for that he had never intended it; but Nemo omnibus horis sapit.
As Jones had the vices of a warm disposition, he was entirely free from those of a cold one; and if his friends must have confest his temper to have been a little too easily ruffled, his enemies must at the same time have confest, that it as soon subsided; nor did it at all resemble the sea, whose swelling is more violent and dangerous after a storm is over than while the storm itself subsists. He instantly accepted the submission of Partridge, shook him by the hand, and with the most benign aspect imaginable, said twenty kind things, and at the same time very severely condemned himself, though not half so severely as he will most probably be condemned by many of our good readers.
Partridge was now highly comforted, as his fears of having offended were at once abolished, and his pride completely satisfied by Jones having owned himself in the wrong, which submission he instantly applied to what had principally nettled him, and repeated in a muttering voice, "To be sure, sir, your knowledge may be superior to mine in some things; but as to the grammar, I think I may challenge any man living. I think, at least, I have that at my finger's end."
If anything could add to the satisfaction which the poor man now enjoyed, he received this addition by the arrival of an excellent shoulder of mutton, that at this instant came smoaking to the table. On which, having both plentifully feasted, they again mounted their horses, and set forward for London.Next