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ment was the care of his property. He examined samples of grain, handled pigs, and on market days made bargains over a tankard with drovers and hop merchants. His chief pleasures were commonly derived from field sports and from an unrefined sensuality. His language and pronunciation were such as we should now expect to hear only from the most ignorant clowns. His oaths, coarse jests, and scurrilous terms of abuse, were uttered with the broadest accents of his province. It was easy to discern from the first word which he spoke, whether he came from Somersetshire or Yorkshire. He troubled himself little about decorating his abode, and, if he attempted decoration, seldom produced any thing but deformity. The litter of a farm-yard gathered under the windows of his bedchamber, and the cabbages and gooseberry bushes grew close to his hall door. His table was loaded with coarse plenty, and guests were cordially welcomed to it; but, as the habit of drinking to excess was general in the class to which he belonged, and as his fortune did not enable him to intoxicate large assemblies daily with claret or canary, strong beer was the ordinary beverage. The quantity of beer consumed those days was indeed enormous; for beer then was to the middle and lower classes, not only all that beer now is, but all that wine, tea, and ardent spirits, now are. It was only at great houses or on great occasions that foreign drink was placed on the board. The ladies of the house, whose business it had commonly been to cook the repast, retired as soon as the dishes had been devoured, and left the gentlemen to their ale and tobacco. The coarse jollity of the afternoon was often prolonged till the revellers were laid under the table.
Few esquires came to the capital thrice in their lives. When the lord of a Lincolnshire or Shropshire manor appeared in Fleet-street, he was as easily distinguished from the resident population as a Turk or a Lascar. His dress, his gait, his accent, the manner in which he stared at the shops, stumbled into the gutters, ran against porters, and stood under the water spouts, marked him out as an excellent subject for the operations of swindlers and banterers. Bullies jostled him into the kennel. Hackney coachmen splashed him from head to foot. Thieves explored with perfect security the huge pockets of his horseman's coat, while he stood entranced by the splendor of the lord mayor's show. Money-droppers, sore from the cart's tail, introduced themselves to him, and appeared to him the most honest, friendly gentlemen that he had
If he went into a shop, he was instantly discerned to be a fit purchaser of every thing that nobody else would buy, of second-hand embroidery, copper rings, and watches that would not go. If he rambled into any fashionable coffeehouse, he became a mark for the insolent derision of fops, and the grave waggery of templars. Enraged and mortified, he soon returned to his mansion, and there, in the homage of his tenants and the conversation of his boon companions, found consolation for the vexations and humiliations which he had undergone. There he once more felt himself a great man; and he saw nothing above him except when at the assizes he took his seat on the bench near the judge, or when at the muster of the militia he saluted the lord lieutenant.
It was, therefore, seldom that the country gentleman caught glimpses of the great world, and what he saw of it tended rather to confuse than to enlighten his understanding. His opinions respecting religion, government, foreign countries, and former times, having been derived, not from study, from observation, or from conversation with enlightened companions, but from such traditions as were current in his own small circle, were the opinions of a child. He adhered to them, however, with the obstinacy which is generally found in ignorant men accustomed to be fed with flattery. His animosities were numerous and bitter. He hated Frenchmen and Italians, Scotchmen and Irishmen, Papists and Presbyterians, Independents and Baptists, Quakers and Jews. On the other hand, he was devotedly attached to hereditary monarchy, and still more to the Church of England. This love of Church was not, indeed, the effect of study or meditation. Few among them could have given any reason, drawn from scripture or ecclesiastical history, for adhering to her doctrines, her ritual, and her polity; nor were they, as a class, by any means strict observers of that code of morality which is common to all Christian sects. But the experience of many ages proves that men may be ready to fight to the death, and to persecute without pity, for a religion whose creed they do not understand, and whose precepts they habitually disobey. /
It is hardly necessary to say that books were then very scarce. Few knights of the shire had libraries so good as may now perpetually be found in a servants' hall, or in the back parlor of a small shopkeeper. An esquire passed among his neighbors for a great scholar if Hudibras and Baker's Chronicle, Tarlton's Jests and the Seven Champions of
Christendom, lay in his hall window among the fishing-rods and fowling-pieces. As to the lady of the manor and her daughters, their literary stores generally consisted of a prayer book and a receipt book. But, in truth, they lost little by living in rural seclusion; for even in the highest ranks, and in those situations which afforded the greateat facilities for mental improvement, the English women of that generation were decidedly worse educated than they have been at any other time since the revival of learning. At an earlier period they had studied the master-pieces of ancient genius. In the present day they seldom bestow much attention on the dead languages; but they are familiar with the tongue of Pascal and Molière, with the tongue of Dante and Tasso, with the tongue of Goethe and Schiller; nor is there any purer or more graceful English than that which accomplished women now speak and write. But during the latter part of the seventeenth century, the culture of the female mind seems to have been almost entirely neglected. If a damsel had the least smattering of literature, she was regarded as a prodigy. Ladies highly born, highly bred, and naturally quickwitted, were unable to write a line in their mother tongue without solecisms and faults of spelling such as a charity-girl would now be ashamed to commit. In the country they generally did not know how to write at all, and most of them were, in tastes and acquirements, below a housekeeper or a still-room maid of the present day. They stitched and spun, brewed gooseberry wine, cured marigolds, and made the crust for the venison pasty.
From this description it might be supposed that the English esquire of the seventeenth century did not materially dif fer from a rustic milier or alehouse keeper of our time. There are, however, some important parts of his character still to be noted, which will greatly modify this estimate. Unlettered as he was and unpolished, he was a member of a proud and powerful aristocracy, and was distinguished by many, both of the good and bad qualities which belong to aristocrats. His family pride was beyond that of a Talbot or a Howard. He was a magistrate, and as such administered gratuitously to those who dwelt around him a rude patriarchal justice, which, in spite of innumerable blunders and of occasional acts of tyranny, was yet better than no justice at all. He was an officer of the trainbands; and his military dignity, though it might move the mirth of gallants who had served a campaign in Flanders, raised his character in his own eyes and in the eyes of his
neighbors. Nor, indeed, was his soldiership justly a subject of derision. In every county there were elderly gentlemen. who had seen service which was no child's play. One had been knighted by Charles the First after the battle of Edgehill. Another still wore a patch over the scar which he had received at Naseby. A third had defended his house till Fairfax had blown in the door with a petard. The presence of these old cavaliers, with their old swords and holsters, and with their old stories about Goring and Lunsford, gave to the musters of militia an earnest and warlike aspect which would otherwise have been wanting. Even those country gentlemen who were too young to have themselves exchanged blows with the cuirassiers of the Parliament, had, from childhood, been surrounded by the traces of recent war, and fed with stories of the martial exploits of their fathers and uncles.
Thus the character of the English esquire of the seventeenth century was compounded of two elements which we are not accustomed to find united. His ignorance and uncouthness, his low tastes and gross phrases, would, in our time, be considered as indicating a nature and a breeding thoroughly plebeian; yet he was essentially a patrician, and had, in large measure, both the virtues and the vices which flourish among men set from their birth in high place, and accustomed to authority, to observance, and to self-respect. It is not easy for a generation which is accustomed to find chivalrous sentiments only in company with liberal studies and polished manners, to image to itself a man with the deportment, the vocabulary and the accent of a carter, yet punctilious on matters of genealogy and precedence, and ready to risk his life rather than to see a stain cast on the honor of his house. It is only, however, by thus joining together things seldom or never found together in our own experience, that we can form a just idea of that rustic aristocracy which constituted the main strength of the armies of Charles the First, and which long supported with strange fidelity the interest of his descendants.
LXXXIV.-A PARVENU OF 1712.
I AM a person of no extraction, having begun the world with a small parcel of rusty iron, and was for some years commonly known by the name of Jack Anvil. I have naturally a very happy genius for getting money, insomuch, that by the
age of twenty-five I had scraped together 4,200 pounds, five shillings, and a few odd pence. I then launched out into considerable business, and became a bold trader by sea and land, which in a few years raised me a very considerable fortune. For these my good services, I was knighted in the thirty-fifth year of my age, and lived with great dignity among my city neighbors by the name of Sir John Anvil. Being in my temper very ambitious, I was now bent upon making a family; and accordingly resolved that my descendants should have a dash of good blood in their veins. In order to this, I made love to the Lady Mary Oddly, an indigent young woman of quality. To cut short the marriage treaty, I threw her a carte blanche, as our newspapers call it, desiring her to write upon it her own terms. She was very concise in her demands, insisting only that the disposal of my fortune and the regulation of my family should be entirely in her hands. Her father and brothers appeared exceedingly averse to this match, and would not see me for some time, but at present are so well reconciled, that they dine with me almost every day, and have borrowed considerable sums of me; which my Lady Mary very often twits me with, when she would show me how kind her relations are to me. She had no portion, as I said before, but what she wanted in fortune, she makes up in spirit. She at first changed my name to Sir John Enville, and at present, writes herself Mary Enville.. I have had some children by her, whom she has christened with the surnames of her family, in order, as she tells me, to wear out the homeliness of their parentage by the father's side. Our eldest son, is the honorable Oddly Enville, Esq.; and our eldest daughter, Harriot Enville. Upon her first coming into my family, she turned off a parcel of very careful servants, who had been long with me, and introduced in their stead a couple of blackamoors, and three or four very genteel fellows in laced liveries, besides her French woman, who is perpetually making a noise in the house in a language which nobody understands, except my Lady Mary. She next herself to reform every room house, having glazed all my chimney-pieces with looking-glass, and planted every corner with such heaps of china, that I am obliged to move about my own house, with the greatest caution and circumspection, for fear of hurting some of our brittle furniture. She makes an illumination once a week with waxcandles, in one of the largest rooms, in order, as she phrases it, to see company. At which time she always desires me to