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- The Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom, Part II. - 1/39 -


by Tobias Smollett



With the Author's Preface, and an Introduction by G. H. Maynadier, Ph.D. Department of English, Harvard University.


CHAPTER XXXIX Our Adventurer is made acquainted with a new Scene of Life XL He contemplates Majesty and its Satellites in Eclipse XLI One Quarrel is compromised, and another decided by unusual Arms XLII An unexpected Rencontre, and a happy Revolution in the Affairs of our Adventurer XLIII Fathom justifies the Proverb, "What's bred in the Bone will never come out of the Flesh" XLIV Anecdotes of Poverty, and Experiments for the Benefit of those whom it may concern XLV Renaldo's Distress deepens, and Fathom's Plot thickens XLVI Our Adventurer becomes absolute in his Power over the Passions of his Friend, and effects one half of his Aim XLVII The Art of Borrowing further explained, and an Account of a Strange Phenomenon XLVIII Count Fathom unmasks his Battery; is repulsed; and varies his Operations without effect XLIX Monimia's Honour is protected by the Interposition of Heaven L Fathom shifts the Scene, and appears in a new Character LI Triumphs over a Medical Rival LII Repairs to the Metropolis, and enrols himself among the Sons of Paean LIII Acquires Employment in consequence of a lucky Miscarriage LIV His Eclipse, and gradual Declination LV After divers unsuccessful Efforts, he has recourse to the Matrimonial Noose LVI In which his Fortune is effectually strangled LVII Fathom being safely housed, the Reader is entertained with a Retrospect LVIII Renaldo abridges the Proceedings at Law, and approves himself the Son of his Father LIX He is the Messenger of Happiness to his Sister, who removes the film which had long obstructed his Penetration, with regard to Count Fathom LX He recompenses the Attachment of his Friend; and receives a Letter that reduces him to the Verge of Death and Distraction LXI Renaldo meets with a living Monument of Justice, and encounters a Personage of some Note in these Memoirs LXII His Return to England, and Midnight Pilgrimage to Monimia's Tomb LXIII He renews the Rites of Sorrow, and is entranced LXIV The Mystery unfolded--Another Recognition, which, it is to be hoped, the Reader could not foresee LXV A retrospective Link, necessary for the Concatenation of these Memoirs LXVI The History draws near a Period LXVII The Longest and the Last




Just as he entered these mansions of misery, his ears were invaded with a hoarse and dreadful voice, exclaiming, "You, Bess Beetle, score a couple of fresh eggs, a pennyworth of butter, and half a pint of mountain to the king; and stop credit till the bill is paid:--He is now debtor for fifteen shillings and sixpence, and d--n me if I trust him one farthing more, if he was the best king in Christendom. And, d'ye hear, send Ragged-head with five pounds of potatoes for Major Macleaver's supper, and let him have what drink he wants; the fat widow gentlewoman from Pimlico has promised to quit his score. Sir Mungo Barebones may have some hasty pudding and small beer, though I don't expect to see his coin, no more than to receive the eighteen pence I laid out for a pair of breeches to his backside--what then? he's a quiet sort of a body, and a great scholar, and it was a scandal to the place to see him going about in that naked condition. As for the mad Frenchman with the beard, if you give him so much as a cheese-paring, you b--ch, I'll send you back to the hole, among your old companions; an impudent dog! I'll teach him to draw his sword upon the governor of an English county jail. What! I suppose he thought he had to do with a French hang-tang-dang, rabbit him! he shall eat his white feather, before I give him credit for a morsel of bread."

Although our adventurer was very little disposed, at this juncture, to make observations foreign to his own affairs, he could not help taking notice of these extraordinary injunctions; especially those concerning the person who was entitled king, whom, however, he supposed to be some prisoner elected as the magistrate by the joint suffrage of his fellows. Having taken possession of his chamber, which he rented at five shillings a week, and being ill at ease in his own thoughts, he forthwith secured his door, undressed, and went to bed, in which, though it was none of the most elegant or inviting couches, he enjoyed profound repose after the accumulated fatigues and mortifications of the day. Next morning, after breakfast, the keeper entered his apartment, and gave him to understand, that the gentlemen under his care, having heard of the Count's arrival, had deputed one of their number to wait upon him with the compliments of condolence suitable to the occasion, and invite him to become a member of their society. Our hero could not politely dispense with this instance of civility, and their ambassador being instantly introduced by the name of Captain Minikin, saluted him with great solemnity.

This was a person equally remarkable for his extraordinary figure and address; his age seemed to border upon forty, his stature amounted to five feet, his visage was long, meagre, and weather-beaten, and his aspect, though not quite rueful, exhibited a certain formality, which was the result of care and conscious importance. He was very little encumbered with flesh and blood; yet what body he had was well proportioned, his limbs were elegantly turned, and by his carriage he was well entitled to that compliment which we pay to any person when we say he has very much the air of a gentleman. There was also an evident singularity in his dress, which, though intended as an improvement, appeared to be an extravagant exaggeration of the mode, and at once evinced him an original to the discerning eyes of our adventurer, who received him with his usual complaisance, and made a very eloquent acknowledgment of the honour and satisfaction he received from the visit of the representative, and the hospitality of his constituents. The captain's peculiarities were not confined to his external appearance; for his voice resembled the sound of a bassoon, or the aggregate hum of a whole bee-hive, and his discourse was almost nothing else than a series of quotations from the English poets, interlarded with French phrases, which he retained for their significance, on the recommendation of his friends, being himself unacquainted with that or any other outlandish tongue.

Fathom, finding this gentleman of a very communicative disposition, thought he could not have a fairer opportunity of learning the history of his fellow-prisoners; and, turning the conversation on that subject, was not disappointed in his expectation. "I don't doubt, sir," said he, with the utmost solemnity of declamation, "but you look with horror upon every object that surrounds you in this uncomfortable place; but, nevertheless, here are some, who, as my friend Shakespeare has it, have seen better days, and have with holy bell been knolled to church; and sat at good men's feasts, and wiped their eyes of drops that sacred pity hath engendered. You must know, sir, that, exclusive of the canaille, or the profanum vulgus, as they are styled by Horace, there are several small communities in the jail, consisting of people who are attracted by the manners and dispositions of each other; for this place, sir, is quite a microcosm, and as the great world, so is this, a stage, and all the men and women merely players. For my own part, sir, I have always made it a maxim to associate with the best of company I can find. Not that I pretend to boast of my family or extraction; because, you know, as the poet says, Vix ea nostra voco. My father, 'tis true, was a man that piqued himself upon his pedigree, as well as upon his politesse and personal merit; for he had been a very old officer in the army, and I myself may say I was born with a spontoon in my hand. Sir, I have had the honour to serve his Majesty these twenty years, and have been bandied about in the course of duty through all the British plantations, and you see the recompense of all my service. But this is a disagreeable subject, and therefore I shall waive it; however, as Butler observes:

My only comfort is, that now My dubbolt fortune is so low, That either it must quickly end, Or turn about again and mend.

"And now, to return from this digression, you will perhaps be surprised to hear that the head or chairman of our club is really a sovereign prince; no less, I'll assure you, than the celebrated Theodore king of Corsica, who lies in prison for a debt of a few hundred pounds. Heu! quantum mutatus ab illo. It is not my business to censure the conduct of my superiors; but I always speak my mind in a cavalier manner, and as, according to the Spectator, talking to a friend is no more than thinking aloud, entre nous, his Corsican majesty has been scurvily treated by a certain administration. Be that as it will, he is a personage of a very portly appearance, and is quite master of the bienseance. Besides, they will find it their interest to have recourse again to his alliance; and in that case some of us may expect to profit by his restoration. But few words are best.

"He that maintains the second rank in our assembly is one Major Macleaver, an Irish gentleman, who has served abroad; a soldier of fortune, sir, a man of unquestionable honour and courage, but a little overbearing, in consequence of his knowledge and experience. He is a person of good address,--to be sure, and quite free of the mauvaise honte, and he may have seen a good deal of service. But what then? other people may be as good as he, though they have not had such opportunities;

The Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom, Part II. - 1/39

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