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Chapter 35


We are not worst at once--the course of evil
Begins so slowly, and from such slight source,
An infant's hand might stem its breach with clay;
But let the stream get deeper, and philosophy--
Ay, and religion too--shall strive in vain
To turn the headlong torrent.
_Old Play._

The Templars had been regaled by our friend Richie Moniplies in a
private chamber at Beaujeu's, where he might be considered as good
company; for he had exchanged his serving-man's cloak and jerkin for a
grave yet handsome suit of clothes, in the fashion of the times, but
such as might have befitted an older man than himself. He had
positively declined presenting himself at the ordinary, a point to
which his companions were very desirous to have brought him, for it
will be easily believed that such wags as Lowestoffe and his companion
were not indisposed to a little merriment at the expense of the raw
and pedantic Scotsman; besides the chance of easing him of a few
pieces, of which he appeared to have acquired considerable command.
But not even a succession of measures of sparkling sack, in which the
little brilliant atoms circulated like motes in the sun's rays, had
the least effect on Richie's sense of decorum. He retained the gravity
of a judge, even while he drank like a fish, partly from his own
natural inclination to good liquor, partly in the way of good
fellowship towards his guests. When the wine began to make some
innovation on their heads, Master Lowestoffe, tired, perhaps, of the
humours of Richie, who began to become yet more stoically
contradictory and dogmatical than even in the earlier part of the
entertainment, proposed to his friend to break up their debauch and
join the gamesters.

The drawer was called accordingly, and Richie discharged the reckoning
of the party, with a generous remuneration to the attendants, which
was received with cap and knee, and many assurances of--"Kindly
welcome, gentlemen."

"I grieve we should part so soon, gentlemen," said Richie to his
companions,--"and I would you had cracked another quart ere you went,
or stayed to take some slight matter of supper, and a glass of
Rhenish. I thank you, however, for having graced my poor collation
thus far; and I commend you to fortune, in your own courses, for the
ordinary neither was, is, nor shall be, an element of mine."

"Fare thee well, then," said Lowestoffe, "most sapient and sententious
Master Moniplies. May you soon have another mortgage to redeem, and
may I be there to witness it; and may you play the good fellow, as
heartily as you have done this day."

"Nay, gentlemen, it is merely of your grace to say so--but, if you
would but hear me speak a few words of admonition respecting this
wicked ordinary--"

"Reserve the lesson, most honourable Richie," said Lowestoffe, "until
I have lost all my money," showing, at the same time, a purse
indifferently well provided, "and then the lecture is likely to have
some weight."

"And keep my share of it, Richie," said the other Templar, showing an
almost empty purse, in his turn, "till this be full again, and then I
will promise to hear you with some patience."

"Ay, ay, gallants," said Richie, "the full and the empty gang a' ae
gate, and that is a grey one--but the time will come."

"Nay, it is come already," said Lowestoffe; "they have set out the
hazard table. Since you will peremptorily not go with us, why,
farewell, Richie."

"And farewell, gentlemen," said Richie, and left the house, into which
they had returned.

Moniplies was not many steps from the door, when a person, whom, lost
in his reflections on gaming, ordinaries, and the manners of the age,
he had not observed, and who had been as negligent on his part, ran
full against him; and, when Richie desired to know whether he meant
"ony incivility," replied by a curse on Scotland, and all that
belonged to it. A less round reflection on his country would, at any
time, have provoked Richie, but more especially when he had a double
quart of Canary and better in his pate. He was about to give a very
rough answer, and to second his word by action, when a closer view of
his antagonist changed his purpose.

"You are the vera lad in the warld," said Richie, "whom I most wished
to meet."

"And you," answered the stranger, "or any of your beggarly countrymen,
are the last sight I should ever wish to see. You Scots are ever fair
and false, and an honest man cannot thrive within eyeshot of you."

"As to our poverty, friend," replied Richie, "that is as Heaven
pleases; but touching our falset, I'll prove to you that a Scotsman
bears as leal and true a heart to his friend as ever beat in English
doublet."

"I care not whether he does or not," said the gallant. "Let me go--why
keep you hold of my cloak? Let me go, or I will thrust you into the
kennel."

"I believe I could forgie ye, for you did me a good turn once, in
plucking me out of it," said the Scot.

"Beshrew my fingers, then, if they did so," replied the stranger. "I
would your whole country lay there, along with you; and Heaven's curse
blight the hand that helped to raise them!--Why do you stop my way?"
he added, fiercely.

"Because it is a bad one, Master Jenkin," said Richie. "Nay, never
start about it, man--you see you are known. Alack-a-day! that an
honest man's son should live to start at hearing himself called by his
own name!" Jenkin struck his brow violently with his clenched fist.

"Come, come," said Richie, "this passion availeth nothing. Tell me
what gate go you?"

"To the devil!" answered Jin Vin.

"That is a black gate, if you speak according to the letter," answered
Richie; "but if metaphorically, there are worse places in this great
city than the Devil Tavern; and I care not if I go thither with you,
and bestow a pottle of burnt sack on you--it will correct the
crudities of my stomach, and form a gentle preparative for the leg of
a cold pullet."

"I pray you, in good fashion, to let me go," said Jenkin. "You may
mean me kindly, and I wish you to have no wrong at my hand; but I am
in the humour to be dangerous to myself, or any one."

"I will abide the risk," said the Scot, "if you will but come with me;
and here is a place convenient, a howff nearer than the Devil, whilk
is but an ill-omened drouthy name for a tavern. This other of the
Saint Andrew is a quiet place, where I have ta'en my whetter now and
then, when I lodged in the neighbourhood of the Temple with Lord
Glenvarloch.--What the deil's the matter wi' the man, garr'd him gie
sic a spang as that, and almaist brought himself and me on the
causeway?"

"Do not name that false Scot's name to me," said Jin Vin, "if you
would not have me go mad!--I was happy before I saw him--he has been
the cause of all the ill that has befallen me--he has made a knave and
a madman of me!"

"If you are a knave," said Richie, "you have met an officer--if you
are daft, you have met a keeper; but a gentle officer and a kind
keeper. Look you, my gude friend, there has been twenty things said
about this same lord, in which there is no more truth than in the
leasings of Mahound. The warst they can say of him is, that he is not
always so amenable to good advice as I would pray him, you, and every
young man to be. Come wi' me--just come ye wi' me; and, if a little
spell of siller and a great deal of excellent counsel can relieve your
occasions, all I can say is, you have had the luck to meet one capable
of giving you both, and maist willing to bestow them."

The pertinacity of the Scot prevailed over the sullenness of Vincent,
who was indeed in a state of agitation and incapacity to think for
himself, which led him to yield the more readily to the suggestions of
another. He suffered himself to be dragged into the small tavern which
Richie recommended, and where they soon found themselves seated in a
snug niche, with a reeking pottle of burnt sack, and a paper of sugar
betwixt them. Pipes and tobacco were also provided, but were only used
by Richie, who had adopted the custom of late, as adding considerably
to the gravity and importance of his manner, and affording, as it
were, a bland and pleasant accompaniment to the words of wisdom which
flowed from his tongue. After they had filled their glasses and drank
them in silence, Richie repeated the question, whither his guest was
going when they met so fortunately.

"I told you," said Jenkin, "I was going to destruction--I mean to the
gaming-house. I am resolved to hazard these two or three pieces, to
get as much as will pay for a passage with Captain Sharker, whose ship
lies at Gravesend, bound for America--and so Eastward, ho!--I met one
devil in the way already, who would have tempted me from my purpose,
but I spurned him from me--you may be another for what I know.--What
degree of damnation do you propose for me," he added wildly, "and what
is the price of it?"

"I would have you to know," answered Richie, "that I deal in no such
commodities, whether as buyer or seller. But if you will tell me
honestly the cause of your distress, I will do what is in my power to
help you out of it,--not being, however, prodigal of promises, until I
know the case; as a learned physician only gives advice when he has
observed the diagnostics."

"No one has any thing to do with my affairs," said the poor lad; and
folding his arms on the table, he laid his head upon them, with the
sullen dejection of the overburdened lama, when it throws itself down
to die in desperation.

Richard Moniplies, like most folk who have a good opinion of
themselves, was fond of the task of consolation, which at once
displayed his superiority, (for the consoler is necessarily, for the
time at least, superior to the afflicted person,) and indulged his
love of talking. He inflicted on the poor penitenta harangue of
pitiless length, stuffed full of the usual topics of the mutability of
human affairs--the eminent advantages of patience under affliction--
the folly of grieving for what hath no remedy--the necessity of taking
more care for the future, and some gentle rebukes on account of the
past, which acid he threw in to assist in subduing the patient's
obstinacy, as Hannibal used vinegar in cutting his way through rocks.
It was not in human nature to endure this flood of commonplace
eloquence in silence; and Jin Vin, whether desirous of stopping the
flow of words--crammed thus into his ear, "against the stomach of his
sense," or whether confiding in Richie's protestations of friendship,
which the wretched, says Fielding, are ever so ready to believe, or
whether merely to give his sorrows vent in words, raised his head, and
turning his red and swollen eyes to Richie--

"Cocksbones, man, only hold thy tongue, and thou shall know all about
it,--and then all I ask of thee is to shake hands and part.--This
Margaret Ramsay,--you have seen her, man?"

"Once," said Richie, "once, at Master George Heriot's in Lombard
Street--I was in the room when they dined."

"Ay, you helped to shift their trenchers, I remember," said Jin Vin.
"Well, that same pretty girl--and I will uphold her the prettiest
betwixt Paul's and the Bar--she is to be wedded to your Lord
Glenvarloch, with a pestilence on him!"

"That is impossible," said Richie; "it is raving nonsense, man--they
make April gouks of you cockneys every month in the year--The Lord
Glenvarloch marry the daughter of a Lonnon mechanic! I would as soon
believe the great Prester John would marry the daughter of a Jew
packman."

"Hark ye, brother," said Jin Vin, "I will allow no one to speak
disregardfully of the city, for all I am in trouble."

"I crave your pardon, man--I meant no offence," said Richie; "but as
to the marriage, it is a thing simply impossible."

"It is a thing that will take place, though, for the Duke and the
Prince, and all of them, have a finger in it; and especially the old
fool of a king, that makes her out to be some great woman in her own
country, as all the Scots pretend to be, you know."

"Master Vincent, but that you are under affliction," said the
consoler, offended on his part, "I would hear no national
reflections."

The afflicted youth apologised in his turns, but asserted, "it
was true that the king said Peg-a-Ramsay was some far-off sort of
noblewoman; and that he had taken a great interest in the match, and
had run about like an old gander, cackling about Peggie ever since he
had seen her in hose and doublet--and no wonder," added poor Vin, with
a deep sigh.

"This may be all true," said Richie, "though it sounds strange in my
ears; but, man, you should not speak evil of dignities---Curse not the
king, Jenkin; not even in thy bed-chamber--stone walls have ears--no
one has a right to know better than I."

"I do not curse the foolish old man," said Jenkin; "but I would have
them carry things a peg lower.--If they were to see on a plain field
thirty thousand such pikes as I have seen in the artillery gardens, it
would not be their long-haired courtiers would help them, I trow."
[Footnote: Clarendon remarks, that the importance of the military
exercise of the citizens was severely felt by the cavaliers during the
civil war, notwithstanding the ridicule that had been showered upon it
by the dramatic poets of the day. Nothing less than habitual practice
could, at the battle of Newbury and elsewhere, have enabled the
Londoners to keep their ranks as pikemen, in spite of the repeated
charge of the fiery Prince Rupert and his gallant cavaliers.]

"Hout tout, man," said Richie, "mind where the Stewarts come frae, and
never think they would want spears or claymores either; but leaving
sic matters, whilk are perilous to speak on, I say once more, what is
your concern in all this matter?"

"What is it?" said Jenkin; "why, have I not fixed on Peg-a-Ramsay to
be my true love, from the day I came to her old father's shop? and
have I not carried her pattens and her chopines for three years, and
borne her prayer-book to church, and brushed the cushion for her to
kneel down upon, and did she ever say me nay?"

"I see no cause she had," said Richie, "if the like of such small
services were all that ye proffered. Ah, man! there are few--very few,
either of fools or of wise men, ken how to guide a woman."

"Why, did I not serve her at the risk of my freedom, and very nigh at
the risk of my neck? Did she not--no, it was not her neither, but that
accursed beldam whom she caused to work upon me--persuade me like a
fool to turn myself into a waterman to help my lord, and a plague to
him, down to Scotland? and instead of going peaceably down to the ship
at Gravesend, did not he rant and bully, and show his pistols, and
make me land him at Greenwich, where he played some swaggering pranks,
that helped both him and me into the Tower?"

"Aha!" said Richie, throwing more than his usual wisdom into his
looks, "so you were the green-jacketed waterman that rowed Lord
Glenvarloch down the river?"

"The more fool I, that did not souse him in the Thames," said Jenkin;
"and I was the lad who would not confess one word of who and what I
was, though they threatened to make me hug the Duke of Exeter's
daughter."[Footnote: A particular species of rack, used at the Tower
of London, was so called.]

"Wha is she, man?" said Richie; "she must be an ill-fashioned piece,
if you're so much afraid of her, and she come of such high kin."

"I mean the rack--the rack, man," said Jenkin. "Where were you bred
that never heard of the Duke of Exeter's daughter? But all the dukes
and duchesses in England could have got nothing out of me--so the
truth came out some other way, and I was set free.--Home I ran,
thinking myself one of the cleverest and happiest fellows in the ward.
And she--she--she wanted to pay me with _money_ for all my true
service! and she spoke so sweetly and so coldly at the same time, I
wished myself in the deepest dungeon of the Tower--I wish they had
racked me to death before I heard this Scottishman was to chouse me
out of my sweetheart!"

"But are ye sure ye have lost her?" said Richie; "it sounds strange in
my ears that my Lord Glenvarloch should marry the daughter of a
dealer,--though there are uncouth marriages made in London, I'll allow
that."

"Why, I tell you this lord was no sooner clear of the Tower, than he
and Master George Heriot comes to make proposals for her, with the
king's assent, and what not; and fine fair-day prospects of Court
favour for this lord, for he hath not an acre of land."

"Well, and what said the auld watch-maker?" said Richie; "was he not,
as might weel beseem him, ready to loop out of his skin-case for very
joy?"

"He multiplied six figures progressively, and reported the product--
then gave his consent."

"And what did you do?"

"I rushed into the streets," said the poor lad, "with a burning heart
and a blood-shot eye--and where did I first find myself, but with that
beldam, Mother Suddlechop--and what did she propose to me, but to take
the road?"

"Take the road, man? in what sense?" said Richie.

"Even as a clerk to Saint Nicholas--as a highwayman, like Poins and
Peto, and the good fellows in the play--and who think you was to be my
captain?--for she had the whole out ere I could speak to her--I fancy
she took silence for consent, and thought me damned too unutterably to
have one thought left that savoured of redemption--who was to be my
captain, but the knave that you saw me cudgel at the ordinary when you
waited on Lord Glenvarloch, a cowardly, sharking, thievish bully about
town here, whom they call Colepepper."

"Colepepper--umph--I know somewhat of that smaik," said Richie; "ken
ye by ony chance where he may be heard of, Master Jenkin?--ye wad do
me a sincere service to tell me."

"Why, he lives something obscurely," answered the apprentice, "on
account of suspicion of some villainy--I believe that horrid murder in
Whitefriars, or some such matter. But I might have heard all about him
from Dame Suddlechop, for she spoke of my meeting him at Enfield
Chase, with some other good fellows, to do a robbery on one that goes
northward with a store of treasure."

"And you did not agree to this fine project?" said Moniplies.

"I cursed her for a hag, and came away about my business," answered
Jenkin.

"Ay, and what said she to that, man? That would startle her," said
Richie.

"Not a whit. She laughed, and said she was in jest," answered Jenkin;
"but I know the she-devil's jest from her earnest too well to be taken
in that way. But she knows I would never betray her.'

"Betray her! No," replied Richie; "but are ye in any shape bound to
this birkie Peppercull, or Colepepper, or whatever they call him, that
ye suld let him do a robbery on the honest gentleman that is
travelling to the north, and may be a kindly Scot, for what we know?"

"Ay--going home with a load of English money," said Jenkin. "But be he
who he will, they may rob the whole world an they list, for I am
robbed and ruined."

Richie filled his friend's cup up to the brim, and insisted that he
should drink what he called "clean caup out." "This love," he said,
"is but a bairnly matter for a brisk young fellow like yourself,
Master Jenkin. And if ye must needs have a whimsy, though I think it
would be safer to venture on a staid womanly body, why, here be as
bonny lasses in London as this Peg-a-Ramsay. You need not sigh sae
deeply, for it is very true--there is as good fish in the sea as ever
came out of it. Now wherefore should you, who are as brisk and trig a
young fellow of your inches as the sun needs to shine on--wherefore
need you sit moping this way, and not try some bold way to better your
fortune?"

"I tell you, Master Moniplies," said Jenkin, "I am as poor as any Scot
among you--I have broke my indenture, and I think of running my
country."

"A-well-a-day!" said Richie; "but that maunna be, man--I ken weel, by
sad experience, that poortith takes away pith, and the man sits full
still that has a rent in his breeks. [Footnote: This elegant speech
was made by the Earl of Douglas, called Tineman after being wounded
and made prisoner at the battle of Shrewsbury, where

"His well labouring sword
Had three times slain the semblance of the king,"]

But courage, man; you have served me heretofore, and I will serve you
now. If you will but bring me to speech of this same captain, it will
be the best day's work you ever did."

"I guess where you are, Master Richard--you would save your
countryman's long purse," said Jenkin. "I cannot see how that should
advantage me, but I reck not if I should bear a hand. I hate that
braggart, that bloody-minded, cowardly bully. If you can get me
mounted I care not if I show you where the dame told me I should meet
him--but you must stand to the risk, for though he is a coward
himself, I know he will have more than one stout fellow with him."

"We'll have a warrant, man," said Richie, "and the hue and cry, to
boot."

"We will have no such thing," said Jenkin, "if I am to go with you. I
am not the lad to betray any one to the harmanbeck. You must do it by
manhood if I am to go with you. I am sworn to cutter's law, and will
sell no man's blood."

"Aweel," said Richie, "a wilful man must have his way; ye must think
that I was born and bred where cracked crowns were plentier than whole
ones. Besides, I have two noble friends here, Master Lowestoffe of the
Temple, and his cousin Master Ringwood, that will blithely be of so
gallant a party."

"Lowestoffe and Ringwood!" said Jenkin; "they are both brave gallants-
-they will be sure company. Know you where they are to be found?"

"Ay, marry do I," replied Richie. "They are fast at the cards and
dice, till the sma' hours, I warrant them."

"They are gentlemen of trust and honour," said Jenkin, "and, if they
advise it, I will try the adventure. Go, try if you can bring them
hither, since you have so much to say with, them. We must not be seen
abroad together.--I know not how it is, Master Moniplies," continued
he, as his countenance brightened up, and while, in his turn, he
filled the cups, "but I feel my heart something lighter since I have
thought of this matter."

"Thus it is to have counsellors, Master Jenkin," said Richie; "and
truly I hope to hear you say that your heart is as light as a
lavrock's, and that before you are many days aulder. Never smile and
shake your head, but mind what I tell you--and bide here in the
meanwhile, till I go to seek these gallants. I warrant you, cart-ropes
would not hold them back from such a ploy as I shall propose to them."

Sir Walter Scott