« AnteriorContinuar »
'near the town of Mans my leg was broke, and so 'shattered, that it was forced to be cut off.
'I was now disabled from serving longer in the army; 'and accordingly, being discharged from the service, 'I retired to the place of my nativity, where, in extreme 'poverty, and frequent bad health from the many 'wounds I had received, I dragged on a miserable life 'to the age of sixty-three; my only pleasure being to 'recount the feats of my youth, in which narratives I 'generally exceeded the truth.
'It would be tedious and unpleasant to recount to 'you the several miseries I suffered after my return to 'Caen; let it suffice, they were so terrible, that they 'induced Minos to compassionate me, and notwith'standing the barbarities I had been guilty .of in 'Northumberland, to suffer me to go once more back 'to earth.'
CHAPTER XXII. What happened to Julian in the person of a Tailor.
'Fortune now stationed me in a character, which the 'ingratitude of mankind hath put them on ridiculing, 'though they owe to it not only a relief from the 'inclemencies of cold, to which they would otherwise be 'exposed, but likewise a considerable satisfaction of 'their vanity. The character I mean was that of a 'tailor; which, if we consider it with due attention, 'must be confessed to have in it great dignity and 'importance. For, in reality, who constitutes the dif'ferent degrees between men but the tailor? the prince 'indeed gives the title, but it is the tailor who makes the man. To his labours are owing the respect of crowds, and the awe which great men inspire into their beholders, though these are too often unjustly attributed to other motives. Lastly, the admiration of the fair is most commonly to be placed to his account.
'I was just set up in my trade when I made three suits of fine clothes for King Stephen's coronation. I question whether the person, who wears the rich coat, hath so much pleasure and vanity in being admired in it as we tailors have from that admiration; and perhaps a philosopher would say he is not so well entitled to it. I bustled on the day of the ceremony through the crowd, and it was with incredible delight I heard several say, as my clothes walked by, Bless me, was ever any thing so fine as the Earl of Devonshire! Sure he and Sir Hugh Bigot are the two best dressed men I ever saw. Now both those suits were of my making.
'There would indeed be infinite pleasure in working for the courtiers, as they are generally genteel men, and show one's clothes to the best advantage, was it not for one small discouragement; this is, that they never pay. I solemnly protest, though I lost almost as much by the court in my life as I got by the city, I never carried a suit into the latter with half the satisfaction which I have done to the former; though from that I was certain of ready money, and from this almost as certain of no money at all.
'Courtiers may, however, be divided into two sorts, very essentially different from each other; into those who never intend to pay for their clothes; and those who do intend to pay for them, but never happen to be able. Of the latter sort are many of those young gentlemen whom we equip out for the army, and who are, unhappily for us, cut off before they arrive at pre'ferment. This is the reason that tailors in time of war 'are mistaken for politicians by their inquisitiveness into 'the event of battles, one campaign very often proving 'the ruin of half a dozen of us. I am sure I had 'frequent reason to curse that fatal battle of Cardigan, 'where the Welch defeated some of King Stephen's 'best troops, and where many a good suit of mine, 'unpaid for, fell to the ground.
'The gentlemen of this honourable calling have 'fared much better in later ages than when I was of 'it; for now it seems the fashion is, when they appre'hend their customer is not in the best circumstances, 'if they are not paid as soon as they carry home the 'suit, they charge him in their book as much again as 'it is worth, and then send a gentleman with a small 'scrip of parchment to demand the money. If this be 'not immediately paid, the gentleman takes the beau 'with him to his house, where he locks him up till the 'tailor is contented: but in my time these scrips of 'parchment were not in use; and if the beau disliked 'paying for his clothes, as very often happened, we had 'no method of compelling him.
'In several of the characters which I have related to 'you I apprehend I have sometimes forgot myself, and 'considered myself as really interested as I was when I 'personated them on earth. I have just now caught 'myself in the fact; for I have complained to you as 'bitterly of my customers as I formerly used to do 'when I was the tailor: but, in reality, though there 'were some few persons of very great quality, and some 'others, who never paid their debts; yet those were but 'a few, and I had a method of repairing this loss. My 'customers I divided under three heads: those who paid 'ready money, those who paid slow, and those who 'never paid at all. The first of these, I considered apart by themselves, as persons by whom I got a certain but small profit. The two last I lumped together, making those who paid slow contribute to repair my losses by those who did not pay at all. Thus, upon the whole, I was a very inconsiderable loser, and might have left a fortune to my family, had. I not launched forth into expenses which swallowedup all my gains. I had a wife, and two children. These indeed I kept frugally enough; for I half starved them; but I kept a mistress in a finer way, for whom I had a country house, pleasantly situated on the Thames, elegantly fitted up and neatly furnished. This woman might very properly be called my mistress; for she was most absolutely so; and though her tenure was no higher than by my will, she domineered as tyrannically as if my chains had been rivetted in the strongest manner. To all this I submitted, not through any adoration of her beauty, which was indeed but indifferent. Her charms consisted in little wantonnesses, which she knew admirably well to use in hours of dalliance, and which, I believe, are of all things the most delightful to a lover.
'She was so profusely extravagant, that it seemed as if she had an actual intent to ruin me. This I am sure of, if such had been her real intention, she could have taken no properer way to accomplish it; nay, I myself might appear to have had the same view: for, besides this extravagant mistress, and my country house, I kept likewise a brace of hunters, rather for that it was fashionable so to do than for any great delight I took in the sport, which I very little attended; not for want of leisure, for few noblemen had so much. All the work I ever did was taking measure, and that only of my greatest and best customers. I scarce ever cut a piece of cloth in my life, nor was indeed much more able to fashion a coat than any gentleman in the kingdom. This made a skilful servant too necessary to me. He knew I must submit to any terms with, or any treatment from, him. He knew it was easier for him to find another such a tailor as me, than for me to procure such another workman as him: for this reason, he exerted the most notorious and cruel tyranny, seldom giving me a civil word: nor could the utmost condescension on my side, though attended with continual presents and rewards, and raising his wages, content or please him. In a word, he was as absolutely my master as was ever an ambitious, industrious prime minister over an indolent and voluptuous king. All my other journeymen paid more respect to him than to me; for they considered my favour as a necessary consequence of obtaining his. 'These were the most remarkable occurrences while I acted this part. Minos hesitated a few moments, and then bid me get back again, without assigning any reason.'
The life of Alderman Julian.
'I Now revisited England, and was born at London. 'My father was one of the magistrates of that city. He 'had eleven children, of whom I was the eldest. He 'had great success in trade, and grew extremely rich, 'but the largeness of his family rendered it impossible 'for him to leave me a fortune sufficient to live well on, 'independent of business. I was accordingly brought VOL. iv. o G