No. 86. Thursday, October 27. 1709.
From my own apartment, October 25.
When I came home last night, my servant delivered me the following letter.
I HAVE orders from Sir Harry Quickset, of Staf∣fordshire, Bar. to acquaint you, that his honour Sir Harry himself, Sir Giles Wheelbarrow Kt. Thomas Rentfree Esq justice of the Quorum, Andrew Wind∣mill Esq and Mr. Nicholas Doubt of the Inner-Tem∣ple, Sir Harry's grandson, will wait upon you at the hour of nine to-morrow morning, being Tuesday the 25th of October, upon business which Sir Harry will impart to you by word of mouth. I thought it pro∣per to acquaint you before-hand so many persons of quality came, that you might not be surprized there∣with. Which concludes, though by many years ab∣sence since I saw you at Stafford, unknown,
Your most humble servant, John Thrifty.
I received this message with less surprize than I be∣lieved Mr. Thrifty imagined; for I knew the good company too well to feel any palpitations at their ap∣proach: but I was in very great concern how I should adjust the ceremonial, and demean myself to all these great men, who perhaps had not seen any thing above themselves for these twenty years last past. I am sure that is the case of Sir Harry. Besides which, I was sen∣sible that there was a great point in adjusting my beha∣viour Page 20 to the simple 'squire, so as to give him satisfaction, and not disoblige the justice of the Quorum.
The hour of nine was come this morning, and I had no sooner set chairs (by the steward's letter) and fixed my tea-equipage, but I heard a knock at my door, which was opened, but no one entered; after which followed a long silence, which was broke at last by, Sir, I beg your pardon; I think I know better: and another voice, Nay, good Sir Giles—I looked out from my window, and saw the good company all with their hats off, and arms spread, offering the door to each other. After many offers, they entered with much solemnity, in the order Mr. Thrifty was so kind as to name them to me. But they are now got to my chamber-door, and I saw my old friend Sir Harry enter. I met him with all the respect due to so reverend a vegetable: for you are to know, that is my sense of a person who remains idle in the same place for half a century. I got him with great success into his chair by the fire, without throwing down any of my cups. The knight bachelor told me, he had a great respect for my whole family, and would, with my leave, place himself next to Sir Harry, at whose right hand he had sat at every quarter∣sessions this thirty years, unless he was sick. The stew∣ard in the rear whispered the young templer, that is true to my knowlege. I had the misfortune, as they stood cheek by jole, to desire the 'squire to sit down be∣fore the justice of the Quorum, to the no small satisfa∣ction of the former, and resentment of the latter: but I saw my error too late, and got them as soon as I could into their seats. Well, said I, gentlemen, after I have told you how glad I am of this great honour, I am to desire you to drink a dish of tea. They answered one and all, that they never drank tea in a morning. Not in a morning, said I! staring round me. Upon which the pert jackanapes Nick Doubt tipped me the wink, and put out his tongue at his grandfather. Here followed a profound silence, when the steward in his boots and Page 21 whip proposed, we should adjourn to some public∣house, where every body might call for what they pleas∣ed, and enter upon the business. We all stood up in an instant, and Sir Harry filed off from the left very dis∣creetly, countermarching behind the chairs towards the door: after him, Sir Giles in the same manner. The simple 'squire made a sudden start to follow; but the justice of the Quorum whipped between upon the stand of the stairs. A maid going up with coals made us halt, and put us into such confusion, that we stood all in a heap, without any visible possiblity of recovering our order: for the young jackanapes seemed to make a jest of this matter, and had so contrived, by pressing a∣mongst us under pretence of making way, that his grandfather was got into the middle, and he knew no∣body was of quality to stir a step, till Sir Harry moved first. We were fixed in this perplexity for some time, till we heard a very loud noise in the street; and Sir Harry asking what it was, I, to make them move, said it was fire. Upon this, all ran down as fast as they could, without order or ceremony, till we got into the street, where we drew up in very good order, and filed off down Sheer-Lane, the impertinent templer driving us before him, as in a string, and pointing to his ac∣quaintance who passed by.
I must confess, I love to use people according to their own sense of good breeding, and therefore whipped in between the justice and the simple 'squire. He could not properly take this ill; but I over-heard him whisper the steward, that he thought it hard that a common con∣jurer should take place of him, though an elder 'squire. In this order we marched down Sheer-lane, at the upper end of which I lodge. When we came to Temple-Bar, Sir Harry and Sir Giles got over; but a run of coaches kept the rest of us on this side the street: however we all at last landed, and drew up in very good order before Ben. Tooke's shop, who favoured our rallying with great humanity. From hence we proceeded again, till Page 22 we came to Dick's coffee-house, where I designed to carry them. Here we were at our old difficulty, and took up the street upon the same ceremony. We pro∣ceeded through the entry, and were so necessarily kept in order by the situation, that we were now got into the coffee-house itself, where, as soon as we arrived, we repeated our civilities to each other; after which, we marched up to the high table, which has an ascent to it inclosed in the middle of the room. The whole house was alarmed at this entry, made up of persons of so much state and rusticity. Sir Harry called for a mug of ale, and Dyer's letter. The boy brought the ale in an instant; but said, they did not take in the letter. No! (says Sir Harry;) then take back your mug; we are like indeed to have good liquor at this house! Here the templer tipped me a second wink, and if I had not look∣ed very grave upon him, I found he was disposed to be very familiar with me. In short, I observed, after a long pause, that the gentlemen did not care to enter up∣on business till after their morning-draught, for which reason I called for a bottle of mum; and finding that had no effect upon them, I ordered a second, and a third: after which, Sir Harry reached over to me, and told me in a low voice, that the place was too public for busi∣ness; but he would call upon me again to morrow∣morning at my own lodgings, and bring some more friends with him.—‡