« НазадПродовжити »
the good. There is however one observation of yours I approve, which is, “ That there are men of wit and good sense among all orders of men, and that servants report most of the good or ill which is spoken of their masters.” That there are men of sense who live in servitude, I have the vanity to say I have felt to my woful experience. You attribute very justly the source of our general iniquity to board-wages, and the manner of living out of a domestic way: but I cannot give you my thoughts on this subject any way so well, as by a short account of my own life to this the forty-fifth year of my age; that is to say, from my being first a footboy at fourteen, to my present station of a nobleman's porter in the year of my age above mentioned.
• Know then, that my father was a poor tenant to the family of Sir Stephen Rackrent. Sir Stephen put me to school, or rather made me follow his son Harry to school, from my ninth year; and there, though Sir Stephen paid something for my learning, I was used like a servant, and was forced to get what
scraps of learning I could by my own industry, for the school-master took very little notice of me. My young master was a lad of very sprightly parts ; and my being constantly about him, and loving him, was no small advantage to me. My master loved me extremely, and has often been whipped for not keeping me at a distance. He used always to say, that when he came to his estate I should have a lease of my father's tenement for nothing. I came up to town with him to Westminster-school; at which time he taught me at night all he learnt; and put me to find out words in the dictionary when he was about his exercise. It was the will of Providence that master Harry was taken very ill of a fever, of which he died within ten days after his first falling sick. Here was the first sorrow I ever knew; and I assure you, Mr. Spectator, I remember the beautiful action of the sweet youth in his fever, as fresh as if it were yesterday. If he wanted any thing, it must be given him by Tom. When I let any thing fall through the grief I was under, he would cry,“ Do not beat the poor boy: give him some more julep for me, no body else shall give it me. He would strive to hide his being so bad, when he saw I could not bear his being in so much danger, and comforted me, saying, “ Tom, Tom, have a good heart." When I was holding a cup at his mouth, he fell into convulsions; and at this very time I hear my dear master's last groan. I was quickly turned out of the room, and left to sob and beat my head against the wall at my leisure. The grief I was in was inexpressible; and every body thought it would have cost me my life. In a few days my old lady, who was one of the housewives of the world, thought of turning me out of doors, because I put her in mind of her son. Sir Stephen proposed putting me to prentice; but my lady, being an excellent manager, would not let her husband throw away his money in acts of charity. I had sense enough to be under the utmost indignation, to see her discard with so little concern one her son had loved so much; and went out of the house to ramble wherever my feet would carry me.
· The third day after I left Sir Stephen's family, I was strolling up and down the walks in the Temple. A young gentleman of the house, who (as I heard him say afterwards), seeing me half-starved and well-dressed, thought me an equipage ready to his hand, after very little inquiry more than “ Did I want a master ?” bid me follow him ; I did so, and in a very little while thought myself the hapa piest creature in this world. My time was taken up in carrying letters to wenches, or messages to young ladies of my master's acquaintance. We rambled from tavern to tavern, to the play house, the Mulberry-garden”, and all places of resort ; where my master engaged every night in some new amour, in which and drinking he spent all his time when he had money. During these extravagancies I had the pleasure of lying on the stairs of a tavern half a night, playing at dice with other servants, and the like idlenesses. When my master was moneyless, I was generally employed in transcribing amorous pieces of poetry, old songs and new lampoons. This life held till my master married, and he had then the prudence to turn me off, because I was in the secret of his intrigues.
• I was utterly at a loss what course to take next; when at last I applied myself to a fellow-sufferer, one of his mistresses, a woman of the town. She happening at that time to be pretty full of money, clothed me from head to foot; and, knowing me to be a sharp fellow, employed me accordingly. Sometimes I was to go abroad with her; and when she had pitched upon a young fellow she thought for her turn, I was to be dropped as one she could not trust. She would often cheapen goods at the New Exchanges; and when she had a mind to be attack
2 This was a place of entertainment near Buckingham House ; somewhat like our Vauxhall. Sir Charles Sedley has named one of his plays after it, the incidents of which chiefly arise there.
3 Situated in the Strand, between Durham Yard and York Buildings. It was the fashionable part of the town
ed, she would send me away on an errand. When an humble servant and she were beginning a parley, I came immediately, and told her Sir John was come home; then she would order another coach to prevent being dogged. The lover makes signs to me as I get behind the coach, I shake my head it was impossible: I leave my lady at the next turning, and follow the cully to know how to fall in his way on another occasion. Besides good offices of this nature, I writ all my mistress's love-letters; some from a lady that saw such a gentleman at such a place in such a coloured coat, some shewing the terror she was in of a jealous old husband, others explaining that the severity of her parents was such (though her fortune was settled) that she was willing to run away with such a one, though she knew he was but a younger brother. In a word, my half education, and love of idle books, made me outwrite all that made love to her by way of epistle; and, as she was extremely cunning, she did well enough in company by a skilful affectation of the greatest modesty. In the midst of all this I was surprised with a letter from her, and a ten pound noté.
HONEST TOM, “You will never see me more. I am married to a very cunning country gentleman, who might possibly guess something if I kept you still ; therefore farewell.”
• When this place was lost also in marriage, I was resolved to go among quite another people, for the
at that time for milliner's shops. In 1737, it was taken down, and dwelling-houses erected on the spot. There still, however, remains a coffee-house bearing the name.
future, and got in butler to one of those families where there is a coach kept, three or four servants, a clean house, and a good general outside, upon a small estate. Here I lived very comfortably for some time, until I unfortunately found my master, the very gravest man alive, in the garret with the chamber
maid. I knew the world too well to think of staying there; and the next day pretended to have received a letter out of the country that my father was dying, and got my discharge with a bounty for my discretion.
• The next I lived with was a peevish single man, whom I stayed with for a year and a half. Most part of the time I passed very easily; for when I began to know him, I minded no more, than he meant, what he said ; so that one day in a good humour he said " I was the best man he ever had, by my want of respect to him.”
These, Sir, are the chief occurrences of my life, and I will not dwell upon very many other places I have been in, where I have been the strangest fellow in the world, where no body in the world had such servants as they, where sure they were the unluckiest people in the world in servants and so forth. All I mean by this representation is, to show you that we poor servants are not (what you called us too generally) all rogues; but that we are what we are, according to the example of our superiors. In the family I am now in, I am guilty of no one sin but lying; which I do with a grave face in my gown and staff every day I live, and almost all day long, in denying my lord to impertinent suitors, and my lady to unwelcome visitants. But, Sir, I am to let you know that I am, when I can get abroad, a leader of the servants: