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Now Scot and English are agreed,
And Saunders hastes to cross the Tweed,
Where, such the splendours that attend him,
His very mother scarce had kend him.
His metamorphosis behold,
From Glasgow frieze to cloth of gold;
His back-sword, with the iron hilt,
To rapier, fairly hatch'd and gilt;
Was ever seen a gallant braver!
His very bonnet's grown a beaver.
The long-continued hostilities which had for centuries separated the
south and the north divisions of the Island of Britain, had been
happily terminated by the succession of the pacific James I. to the
English Crown. But although the united crown of England and Scotland
was worn by the same individual, it required a long lapse of time, and
the succession of more than one generation, ere the inveterate
national prejudices which had so long existed betwixt the sister
kingdoms were removed, and the subjects of either side of the Tweed
brought to regard those upon the opposite bank as friends and as
These prejudices were, of course, most inveterate during the reign of
King James. The English subjects accused him of partiality to those of
his ancient kingdom; while the Scots, with equal injustice, charged
him with having forgotten the land of his nativity, and with
neglecting those early friends to whose allegiance he had been so much
The temper of the king, peaceable even to timidity, inclined him
perpetually to interfere as mediator between the contending factions,
whose brawls disturbed the Court. But, notwithstanding all his
precautions, historians have recorded many instances, where the mutual
hatred of two nations, who, after being enemies for a thousand years,
had been so very recently united, broke forth with a fury which
menaced a general convulsion; and, spreading from the highest to the
lowest classes, as it occasioned debates in council and parliament,
factions in the court, and duels among the gentry, was no less
productive of riots and brawls amongst the lower orders.
While these heart-burnings were at the highest, there flourished in
the city of London an ingenious but whimsical and self opinioned
mechanic, much devoted to abstract studies, David Ramsay by name, who,
whether recommended by his great skill in his profession, as the
courtiers alleged, or, as was murmured among the neighbours, by his
birthplace, in the good town of Dalkeith, near Edinburgh, held in
James's household the post of maker of watches and horologes to his
Majesty. He scorned not, however, to keep open shop within Temple Bar,
a few yards to the eastward of Saint Dunstan's Church.
The shop of a London tradesman at that time, as it may be supposed,
was something very different from those we now see in the same
locality. The goods were exposed to sale in cases, only defended from
the weather by a covering of canvass, and the whole resembled the
stalls and booths now erected for the temporary accommodation of
dealers at a country fair, rather than the established emporium of a
respectable citizen. But most of the shopkeepers of note, and David
Ramsay amongst others, had their booth connected with a small
apartment which opened backward from it, and bore the same resemblance
to the front shop that Robinson Crusoe's cavern did to the tent which
he erected before it.
To this Master Ramsay was often accustomed to retreat to the labour of
his abstruse calculations; for he aimed at improvements and
discoveries in his own art, and sometimes pushed his researches, like
Napier, and other mathematicians of the period, into abstract science.
When thus engaged, he left the outer posts of his commercial
establishment to be maintained by two stout-bodied and strong-voiced
apprentices, who kept up the cry of, "What d'ye lack? what d'ye lack?"
accompanied with the appropriate recommendations of the articles in
which they dealt.
This direct and personal application for custom to those who chanced
to pass by, is now, we believe, limited to Monmouth Street, (if it
still exists even in that repository of ancient garments,) under the
guardianship of the scattered remnant of Israel. But at the time we
are speaking of, it was practised alike by Jew and Gentile, and
served, instead of all our present newspaper puffs and advertisements,
to solicit the attention of the public in general, and of friends in
particular, to the unrivalled excellence of the goods, which they
offered to sale upon such easy terms, that it might fairly appear that
the venders had rather a view to the general service of the public,
than to their own particular advantage.
The verbal proclaimers of the excellence of their commodities, had
this advantage over those who, in the present day, use the public
papers for the same purpose, that they could in many cases adapt their
address to the peculiar appearance and apparent taste of the
passengers. [This, as we have said, was also the case in Monmouth
Street in our remembrance. We have ourselves been reminded of the
deficiencies of our femoral habiliments, and exhorted upon that score
to fit ourselves more beseemingly; but this is a digression.] This
direct and personal mode of invitation to customers became, however, a
dangerous temptation to the young wags who were employed in the task
of solicitation during the absence of the principal person interested
in the traffic; and, confiding in their numbers and civic union, the
'prentices of London were often seduced into taking liberties with the
passengers, and exercising their wit at the expense of those whom they
had no hopes of converting into customers by their eloquence. If this
were resented by any act of violence, the inmates of each shop were
ready to pour forth in succour; and in the words of an old song which
Dr. Johnson was used to hum,--
"Up then rose the 'prentices all,
Living in London, both proper and tall."
Desperate riots often arose on such occasions, especially when the
Templars, or other youths connected with the aristocracy, were
insulted, or conceived themselves to be so. Upon such occasions, bare
steel was frequently opposed to the clubs of the citizens, and death
sometimes ensued on both sides. The tardy and inefficient police of
the time had no other resource than by the Alderman of the ward
calling out the householders, and putting a stop to the strife by
overpowering numbers, as the Capulets and Montagues are separated upon
At the period when such was the universal custom of the most
respectable, as well as the most inconsiderable, shopkeepers in
London, David Ramsay, on the evening to which we solicit the attention
of the reader, retiring to more abstruse and private labours, left the
administration of his outer shop, or booth, to the aforesaid sharp-
witted, active, able-bodied, and well-voiced apprentices, namely,
Jenkin Vincent and Frank Tunstall.
Vincent had been educated at the excellent foundation of Christ's
Church Hospital, and was bred, therefore, as well as born, a Londoner,
with all the acuteness, address, and audacity which belong peculiarly
to the youth of a metropolis. He was now about twenty years old, short
in stature, but remarkably strong made, eminent for his feats upon
holidays at foot-ball, and other gymnastic exercises; scarce rivalled
in the broad-sword play, though hitherto only exercised in the form of
single-stick. He knew every lane, blind alley, and sequestered court
of the ward, better than his catechism; was alike active in his
master's affairs, and in his own adventures of fun and mischief; and
so managed matters, that the credit he acquired by the former bore him
out, or at least served for his apology, when the latter propensity
led him into scrapes, of which, however, it is but fair to state, that
they had hitherto inferred nothing mean or discreditable. Some
aberrations there were, which David Ramsay, his master, endeavoured to
reduce to regular order when he discovered them, and others which he
winked at--supposing them to answer the purpose of the escapement of a
watch, which disposes of a certain quantity of the extra power of that
mechanical impulse which puts the whole in motion.
The physiognomy of Jin Vin--by which abbreviation he was familiarly
known through the ward--corresponded with the sketch we have given of
his character. His head, upon which his 'prentice's flat cap was
generally flung in a careless and oblique fashion, was closely covered
with thick hair of raven black, which curled naturally and closely,
and would have grown to great length, but for the modest custom
enjoined by his state in life and strictly enforced by his master,
which compelled him to keep it short-cropped,--not unreluctantly, as
he looked with envy on the flowing ringlets, in which the courtiers,
and aristocratic students of the neighbouring Temple, began to indulge
themselves, as marks of superiority and of gentility.
Vincent's eyes were deep set in his head, of a strong vivid black,
full of fire, roguery, and intelligence, and conveying a humorous
expression, even while he was uttering the usual small-talk of his
trade, as if he ridiculed those who were disposed to give any weight
to his commonplaces. He had address enough, however, to add little
touches of his own, which gave a turn of drollery even to this
ordinary routine of the booth; and the alacrity of his manner--his
ready and obvious wish to oblige--his intelligence and civility, when
he thought civility necessary, made him a universal favourite with his
His features were far from regular, for his nose was flattish, his
mouth tending to the larger size, and his complexion inclining to be
more dark than was then thought consistent with masculine beauty. But,
in despite of his having always breathed the air of a crowded city,
his complexion had the ruddy and manly expression of redundant health;
his turned-up nose gave an air of spirit and raillery to what he said,
and seconded the laugh of his eyes; and his wide mouth was garnished
with a pair of well-formed and well-coloured lips, which, when he
laughed, disclosed a range of teeth strong and well set, and as white
as the very pearl. Such was the elder apprentice of David Ramsay,
Memory's Monitor, watchmaker, and constructor of horologes, to his
Most Sacred Majesty James I.
Jenkin's companion was the younger apprentice, though, perhaps, he
might be the elder of the two in years. At any rate, he was of a much
more staid and composed temper. Francis Tunstall was of that ancient
and proud descent who claimed the style of the "unstained;" because,
amid the various chances of the long and bloody wars of the Roses,
they had, with undeviating faith, followed the House of Lancaster, to
which they had originally attached themselves. The meanest sprig of
such a tree attached importance to the root from which it derived
itself; and Tunstall was supposed to nourish in secret a proportion of
that family pride, which had exhorted tears from his widowed and
almost indigent mother, when she saw herself obliged to consign him to
a line of life inferior, as her prejudices suggested, to the course
held by his progenitors. Yet, with all this aristocratic prejudice,
his master found the well-born youth more docile, regular, and
strictly attentive to his duty, than his far more active and alert
comrade. Tunstall also gratified his master by the particular
attention which he seemed disposed to bestow on the abstract
principles of science connected with the trade which he was bound to
study, the limits of which were daily enlarged with the increase of
Vincent beat his companion beyond the distance-post, in every thing
like the practical adaptation of thorough practice, in the dexterity
of hand necessary to execute the mechanical branches of the art, and
doubled-distanced him in all respecting the commercial affairs of the
shop. Still David Ramsay was wont to say, that if Vincent knew how to
do a thing the better of the two, Tunstall was much better acquainted
with the principles on which it ought to be done; and he sometimes
objected to the latter, that he knew critical excellence too well ever
to be satisfied with practical mediocrity.
The disposition of Tunstall was shy, as well as studious; and, though
perfectly civil and obliging, he never seemed to feel himself in his
place while he went through the duties of the shop. He was tall and
handsome, with fair hair, and well-formed limbs, good features, well-
opened light-blue eyes, a straight Grecian nose, and a countenance
which expressed both good-humour and intelligence, but qualified by a
gravity unsuitable to his years, and which almost amounted to
dejection. He lived on the best of terms with his companion, and
readily stood by him whenever he was engaged in any of the frequent
skirmishes, which, as we have already observed, often disturbed the
city of London about this period. But though Tunstall was allowed to
understand quarter-staff (the weapon of the North country) in a
superior degree, and though he was naturally both strong and active,
his interference in such affrays seemed always matter of necessity;
and, as he never voluntarily joined either their brawls or their
sports, he held a far lower place in the opinion of the youth of the
ward than his hearty and active friend Jin Vin. Nay, had it not been
for the interest made for his comrade, by the intercession of Vincent,
Tunstall would have stood some chance of being altogether excluded
from the society of his contemporaries of the same condition, who
called him, in scorn, the Cavaliero Cuddy, and the Gentle Tunstall.
On the other hand, the lad himself, deprived of the fresh air in which
he had been brought up, and foregoing the exercise to which he had
formerly been accustomed, while the inhabitant of his native mansion,
lost gradually the freshness of his complexion, and, without showing
any formal symptoms of disease, grew more thin and pale as he grew
older, and at length exhibited the appearance of indifferent health,
without any thing of the habits and complaints of an invalid,
excepting a disposition to avoid society, and to spend his leisure
time in private study, rather than mingle in the sports of his
companions, or even resort to the theatres, then the general
rendezvous of his class; where, according to high authority, they
fought for half-bitten apples, cracked nuts, and filled the upper
gallery with their clamours.
Such were the two youths who called David Ramsay master; and with both
of whom he used to fret from morning till night, as their
peculiarities interfered with his own, or with the quiet and
beneficial course of his traffic.
Upon the whole, however, the youths were attached to their master, and
he, a good-natured, though an absent and whimsical man, was scarce
less so to them; and when a little warmed with wine at an occasional
junketing, he used to boast, in his northern dialect, of his "twa
bonnie lads, and the looks that the court ladies threw at them, when
visiting his shop in their caroches, when on a frolic into the city."
But David Ramsay never failed, at the same time, to draw up his own
tall, thin, lathy skeleton, extend his lean jaws into an alarming
grin, and indicate, by a nod of his yard-long visage, and a twinkle of
his little grey eye, that there might be more faces in Fleet Street
worth looking at than those of Frank and Jenkin. His old neighbour,
Widow Simmons, the sempstress, who had served, in her day, the very
tip-top revellers of the Temple, with ruffs, cuffs, and bands,
distinguished more deeply the sort of attention paid by the females of
quality, who so regularly visited David Ramsay's shop, to its inmates.
"The boy Frank," she admitted, "used to attract the attention of the
young ladies, as having something gentle and downcast in his looks;
but then he could not better himself, for the poor youth had not a
word to throw at a dog. Now Jin Vin was so full of his jibes and
jeers, and so willing, and so ready, and so serviceable, and so
mannerly all the while, with a step that sprung like a buck's in
Epping Forest, and his eye that twinkled as black as a gipsy's, that
no woman who knew the world would make a comparison betwixt the lads.
As for poor neighbour Ramsay himself, the man," she said, "was a civil
neighbour, and a learned man, doubtless, and might be a rich man if he
had common sense to back his learning; and doubtless, for a Scot,
neighbour Ramsay was nothing of a bad man, but he was so constantly
grimed with smoke, gilded with brass filings, and smeared with lamp-
black and oil, that Dame Simmons judged it would require his whole
shopful of watches to induce any feasible woman to touch the said
neighbour Ramsay with any thing save a pair of tongs."
A still higher authority, Dame Ursula, wife to Benjamin Suddlechop,
the barber, was of exactly the same opinion.
Such were, in natural qualities and public estimation, the two youths,
who, in a fine April day, having first rendered their dutiful service
and attendance on the table of their master and his daughter, at their
dinner at one o'clock,--Such, O ye lads of London, was the severe
discipline undergone by your predecessors!--and having regaled
themselves upon the fragments, in company with two female domestics,
one a cook, and maid of all work, the other called Mistress Margaret's
maid, now relieved their master in the duty of the outward shop; and
agreeably to the established custom, were soliciting, by their
entreaties and recommendations of their master's manufacture, the
attention and encouragement of the passengers.
In this species of service it may be easily supposed that Jenkin
Vincent left his more reserved and bashful comrade far in the
background. The latter could only articulate with difficulty, and as
an act of duty which he was rather ashamed of discharging, the
established words of form--"What d'ye lack?--What d'ye lack?--Clocks--
watches--barnacles?--What d'ye lack?--Watches--clocks--barnacles?--
What d'ye lack, sir? What d'ye lack, madam?--Barnacles--watches--
But this dull and dry iteration, however varied by diversity of verbal
arrangement, sounded flat when mingled with the rich and
recommendatory oratory of the bold-faced, deep-mouthed, and ready-
witted Jenkin Vincent.--"What d'ye lack, noble sir?--What d'ye lack,
beauteous madam?" he said, in a tone at once bold and soothing, which
often was so applied as both to gratify the persons addressed, and to
excite a smile from other hearers.--"God bless your reverence," to a
beneficed clergyman; "the Greek and Hebrew have harmed your
reverence's eyes--Buy a pair of David Ramsay's barnacles. The King--
God bless his Sacred Majesty!--never reads Hebrew or Greek without
"Are you well avised of that?" said a fat parson from the Vale of
Evesham. "Nay, if the Head of the Church wears them,--God bless his
Sacred Majesty!--I will try what they can do for me; for I have not
been able to distinguish one Hebrew letter from another, since--I
cannot remember the time--when I had a bad fever. Choose me a pair of
his most Sacred Majesty's own wearing, my good youth." "This is a
pair, and please your reverence," said Jenkin, producing a pair of
spectacles which he touched with an air of great deference and
respect, "which his most blessed Majesty placed this day three weeks
on his own blessed nose; and would have kept them for his own sacred
use, but that the setting being, as your reverence sees, of the purest
jet, was, as his Sacred Majesty was pleased to say, fitter for a
bishop than for a secular prince."
"His Sacred Majesty the King," said the worthy divine, "was ever a
very Daniel in his judgment. Give me the barnacles, my good youth, and
who can say what nose they may bestride in two years hence?--our
reverend brother of Gloucester waxes in years." He then pulled out his
purse, paid for the spectacles, and left the shop with even a more
important step than that which had paused to enter it.
"For shame," said Tunstall to his companion; "these glasses will never
suit one of his years."
"You are a fool, Frank," said Vincent, in reply; "had the good doctor
wished glasses to read with, he would have tried them before buying.
He does not want to look through them himself, and these will serve
the purpose of being looked at by other folks, as well as the best
magnifiers in the shop.--What d'ye lack?" he cried, resuming his
solicitations. "Mirrors for your toilette, my pretty madam; your head-
gear is something awry--pity, since it is so well fancied." The woman
stopped and bought a mirror.--"What d'ye lack?--a watch, Master
Sergeant--a watch that will go as long as a lawsuit, as steady and
true as your own eloquence?"
"Hold your peace, sir," answered the Knight of the Coif, who was
disturbed by Vin's address whilst in deep consultation with an eminent
attorney; "hold your peace! You are the loudest-tongued varlet betwixt
the Devil's Tavern and Guildhall."
"A watch," reiterated the undaunted Jenkin, "that shall not lose
thirteen minutes in a thirteen years' lawsuit.--He's out of hearing--A
watch with four wheels and a bar-movement--a watch that shall tell
you, Master Poet, how long the patience of the audience will endure
your next piece at the Black Bull." The bard laughed, and fumbled in
the pocket of his slops till he chased into a corner, and fairly
caught, a small piece of coin.
"Here is a tester to cherish thy wit, good boy," he said.
"Gramercy," said Vin; "at the next play of yours I will bring down a
set of roaring boys, that shall make all the critics in the pit, and
the gallants on the stage, civil, or else the curtain shall smoke for
"Now, that I call mean," said Tunstall, "to take the poor rhymer's
money, who has so little left behind."
"You are an owl, once again," said Vincent; "if he has nothing left to
buy cheese and radishes, he will only dine a day the sooner with some
patron or some player, for that is his fate five days out of the
seven. It is unnatural that a poet should pay for his own pot of beer;
I will drink his tester for him, to save him from such shame; and when
his third night comes round, he shall have penniworths for his coin, I
promise you.--But here comes another-guess customer. Look at that
strange fellow--see how he gapes at every shop, as if he would swallow
the wares.--O! Saint Dunstan has caught his eye; pray God he swallow
not the images. See how he stands astonished, as old Adam and Eve ply
their ding-dong! Come, Frank, thou art a scholar; construe me that
same fellow, with his blue cap with a cock's feather in it, to show
he's of gentle blood, God wot--his grey eyes, his yellow hair, his
sword with a ton of iron in the handle--his grey thread-bare cloak--
his step like a Frenchman--his look like a Spaniard--a book at his
girdle, and a broad dudgeon-dagger on the other side, to show him
half-pedant, half-bully. How call you that pageant, Frank?"
"A raw Scotsman," said Tunstall; "just come up, I suppose, to help the
rest of his countrymen to gnaw old England's bones; a palmerworm, I
reckon, to devour what the locust has spared."
"Even so, Frank," answered Vincent; "just as the poet sings sweetly,--
'In Scotland he was born and bred,
And, though a beggar, must be fed.'"
"Hush!" said Tunstall, "remember our master."
"Pshaw!" answered his mercurial companion; "he knows on which side his
bread is buttered, and I warrant you has not lived so long among
Englishmen, and by Englishmen, to quarrel with us for bearing an
English mind. But see, our Scot has done gazing at St. Dunstan's, and
comes our way. By this light, a proper lad and a sturdy, in spite of
freckles and sun-burning.--He comes nearer still, I will have at him."
"And, if you do," said his comrade, "you may get a broken head--he
looks not as if he would carry coals."
"A fig for your threat," said Vincent, and instantly addressed the
stranger. "Buy a watch, most noble northern Thane--buy a watch, to
count the hours of plenty since the blessed moment you left Berwick
behind you.--Buy barnacles, to see the English gold lies ready for
your gripe.--Buy what you will, you shall have credit for three days;
for, were your pockets as bare as Father Fergus's, you are a Scot in
London, and you will be stocked in that time." The stranger looked
sternly at the waggish apprentice, and seemed to grasp his cudgel in
rather a menacing fashion. "Buy physic," said the undaunted Vincent,
"if you will buy neither time nor light--physic for a proud stomach,
sir;--there is a 'pothecary's shop on the other side of the way."
Here the probationary disciple of Galen, who stood at his master's
door in his flat cap and canvass sleeves, with a large wooden pestle
in his hand, took up the ball which was flung to him by Jenkin, with,
"What d'ye lack, sir?--Buy a choice Caledonian salve, _Flos sulphvr.
cum butyro quant. suff._"
"To be taken after a gentle rubbing-down with an English oaken towel,"
The bonny Scot had given full scope to the play of this small
artillery of city wit, by halting his stately pace, and viewing
grimly, first the one assailant, and then the other, as if menacing
either repartee or more violent revenge. But phlegm or prudence got
the better of his indignation, and tossing his head as one who valued
not the raillery to which he had been exposed, he walked down Fleet
Street, pursued by the horse-laugh of his tormentors.
"The Scot will not fight till he see his own blood," said Tunstall,
whom his north of England extraction had made familiar with all manner
of proverbs against those who lay yet farther north than himself.
"Faith, I know not," said Jenkin; "he looks dangerous, that fellow--he
will hit some one over the noddle before he goes far.--Hark!--hark!--
they are rising."
Accordingly, the well-known cry of, "'Prentices--'prentices--Clubs--
clubs!" now rang along Fleet Street; and Jenkin, snatching up his
weapon, which lay beneath the counter ready at the slightest notice,
and calling to Tunstall to take his bat and follow, leaped over the
hatch-door which protected the outer-shop, and ran as fast as he could
towards the affray, echoing the cry as he ran, and elbowing, or
shoving aside, whoever stood in his way. His comrade, first calling to
his master to give an eye to the shop, followed Jenkin's example, and
ran after him as fast as he could, but with more attention to the
safety and convenience of others; while old David Ramsay, with hands
and eyes uplifted, a green apron before him, and a glass which he had
been polishing thrust into his bosom, came forth to look after the
safety of his goods and chattels, knowing, by old experience, that,
when the cry of "Clubs" once arose, he would have little aid on the
part of his apprentices.
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