From A Gallery or Eccentrics, by Morris Bishop, New York: Minton, Balch & Company, 1928; pp. 149-172.
THE Rev. Joseph Glanvill, Arnold’s Scholar Gypsy, the distinguished author of The Vanity of Dogmatizing and Sadducismus Triumphatus, left his studies in Oxford to join a vagabond gypsy band. “Among these extravagant people, by the insinuating subtilty of his carriage, he quickly got so much of their love and esteem as that they discovered to him their mystery.” His adventure is still common talk among the lettered; all reading people know as well of George Borrow’s adventures among the Zincali. A gypsy convert less familiar to our own day is Bampfylde-Moore Carew, that young gentleman of family who joined the maunders and who came in time to be the King of the Gypsies.
Mr. Bampfylde-Moore Carew was descended from the ancient family of the Carews. His father was rector of the parish of Brickley, near Tiverton in Devon. I shall quote from the life of our hero by an anonymous author, and indeed I think I shall do a deal of quoting before I make an end, for I love his old-fashioned magniloquence. “Mr. Carew was born in the month of July 1693; and never was there known a more splendid appearance of gentlemen and ladies of the first rank and quality at any baptism in the west of England, than at his; the honourable Hugh Bampfylde, Esq. (who afterwards died of an unfortunate fall from his horse) and the honourable Major Moore, were both 150 his illustrious godfathers, both of whose names he bears; who some time contending who should be the president (doubtless presaging the honour that should redound to them from the future actions of our hero) the affair was determined by throwing up a piece of money, which was won by Mr. Bampfylde; who upon this account presented a large piece of plate, whereon was engraved in large letters, BAMPFYLDE-MOORE CAREW.” By this happy turn of fate was the babe blessed with a name which falls more sweetly on the ear than the inventions of any novel-writer.
Being as a boy in Tiverton school, he attained a very considerable knowledge in the Latin and Greek tongues. His scholarly progress was, however, diminished by an excessive pleasure in hunting. “Our hero, by indefatigable study and application, contrived a remarkable cheering halloo to the dogs, of very great service to the exercise, and which we believe is peculiar to himself; and besides this, found out a secret hitherto unknown but to himself, of enticing any dogs whatever to follow him.” The Tiverton scholars possessing a fine cry of hounds, young Mr. Carew came to spend many of those hours in the chase which might better have been employed in mastering the tongues of antiquity. It was indeed his devotion to this sport that brought his abandonment of civil life.
A group of these Tiverton scholars perceived one day a fine deer with a collar about his neck. Notwithstanding that they took him to be the tame favorite of some gentleman, they gave chase and ran him many miles before the kill, doing a great deal of damage to the corn in their passage. His owner, Colonel Nutcombe of Clayhanger parish, thereupon so severely 151 threatened the schoolmaster that the young gentlemen absented themselves from school upon the following day. They took refuge in an ale-house, and fell into company with a society of gypsies, who were there feasting and carousing. “After a plentiful meal upon fowls, ducks, and other dainty dishes, the flowing cups of October cider, &c, when most cheerfully round, and merry songs and country dances crowned the jovial banquet. In short, so great an air of freedom, mirth, and pleasure appeared in the faces and gestures of this society, that our youngsters from that time conceived a sudden inclination to enlist into their company.” The offer was at length accepted by the gypsies, and the boys were admitted to their band, with all proper oaths and ceremonials.
In this way of life they continued for a year and a half, with much satisfaction in their roving existence and in their company with these merry and ancient people. At the end of this time, drawn by some homesickness, they returned to their own kinsfolk. “The whole neighborhood, particularly the two parishes of Cadley and Brickley, partook of this joy; and there was nothing for some time but ringing of bells, with public feasting, and other marks of festive joy.” Yet, though all his friends strove who should most entertain him, Carew was not happy. The oaths he had taken, and more, the regret for the wet roads and the smoke of camps in wayside dingles, would not leave him at ease among the parishioners of Brickley. Again he fled, and took himself to the general assembly of the gypsies, where he renewed his vows.
For a time now he gave himself to marauding cruses upon all established folk, enemies of the gypsies. He 152 would disguise himself as a shipwrecked seaman, “equipping of himself with an old pair of trowsers, enough of a jacket to cover his nakedness, stockings such as nature gave, shoes which had leaks enough to sink a first-rate man of war, and a woollen cap so black, that one might more safely swear it had not been washed since Noah’s flood, than many electors can, that they have received no bribes.” This personation he would alternate with that of a plain honest country farmer who had had the misfortune to have his lands overflowed, and all his cattle drowned. When these two characters came to weary him, he played the part of poor Mad Tom, “whom the foul fiend has led through fire and through flame, through ford and whirlpool, over bog and quagmire, that hath laid knives under his pillow, and halters in his pew, set ratsbane by his porridge, made him proud at heart to ride on a bay trotting horse over four-inch bridges, to curse his own shadow for a traitor; who eats the swimming frog, the toad, the tadpole, the wall-newt, and the water-newt; that in the fury of his heart, when the foul fiend rages, swallows the old rat and ditch dog, drinks the green mantle of the standing pool. . . . In this character our hero entered the house of great and small, claiming kindred to them, an committing all manner of frantic actions, such as beating himself, offering to eat coals of fire, running against the wall, and tearing to pieces whatever garments were given him to cover his nakedness; by which means he raised very considerable contributions.”
Eager of learning, he did not squander these contributions on ephemeral joys. He gave a handsome gratuity to an expert and famous rat-catcher, who assumed 153 the honor of being rat-catcher to the King; he was initiated into the hermetic cunning of that craft, as too into the secrets of curing madness in dogs and cattle. Eager also to improve himself by the advantages of travel, he with his school-fellow Escott, a companion of his first escapade and still an occasional gypsy, embarked on a ship bound for Newfoundland, a large island off the coast of North America. In that uncomfortable country he visited all the settlements, made careful note of the remarkable features of the region, and made a complete inspection of the cod fisheries. Having taken a store of profitable observations, he returned to Dartmouth, “bringing with him a surprising fierce and large dog, which he had enticed to follow him, and made as gentle as a lamb, by an art which is peculiar to himself. . . .
“It was about this time that our hero became sensible of the power of love; we mean of that sort which has more of the mind than the body, and which is tender, delicate, and constant; the object of which remains constantly fixed in the mind, like the arrow in the wounded deer. It was in the town of Newcastle, so famous for its coal-works, which our hero visited out of curiosity, appearing there undisguised, and making a very genteel appearance, that he became enamoured with the daughter of Mr. G——, an eminent apothecary and surgeon there.” As it may be apprehended that the daughter of an eminent apothecary and surgeon would have prejudices against a member of the gypsy band, he was driven by love’s ingenious counselling to present himself as the mate of a collier’s vessel then lying in harbor; and in this merry shift he was abetted by the captain, a good friend of his. Carew’s 4 uncommon faculties of persuasion quickly won the young lady, and she embarked with him on the collier, the captain still supporting his passenger’s comical imposture. At the revelation of his true estate, she was not a little troubled; yet more ample reflection upon her loved one’s condition, and the imperious shafts of Cupid, removed all hesitancy from her mind. The pair disembarked at Dartmouth, and journeyed thence to Bath, where the nuptials were celebrated with great gayety and splendor. We have the assurance of our hero himself that on this prothalamian journey “not the least indignity was offered to the innocence or modesty of his dear Miss Gray.”
The hymenæal bliss of the happy pair was only interrupted by the stern summons of duty. They were the guests of the bridegroom’s uncle, a clergyman of distinguished merit and character. He labored in vain to convert young Bampfylde-Moore from his way of life. All the effect of his example was to suggest to the nephew an appropriate character for his next expedition. “He equips himself in a long loose black gown, puts on a band, a large white peruke, and a broad brimmed hat; his whole deportment was agreeable to his dress; his pace was solemn and slow, his countenance thoughtful and grave, his eyes turned on the ground, but now and then raised in seeming ejaculation to heaven.” Thus as a Welsh clergyman, dispossessed of his cure through conscience’ mandate, he made a very satisfactory garnering from the godly. Then, hearing of a vessel full of Quakers being cast away on the coast, “he laid aside his gown, cassock, and band, clothes himself in a plain suit, pulls the button from his hat, and flaps it on every side; his countenance was 155 now demure, his language unadorned with any flowers of speech, and the words You and Sir he seemed to hold in abomination; his hat was moved to none, for though under misfortunes, he would not think of bowing the knee to Baal.”
But how to tell of all his jolly pranks and witty devices? He loved to befuddle those who knew him well by appearing before them in disguises they could not penetrate. It was thus he came to Squire Portman’s, at Brinson, near Blandford, as a rat-catcher, with a hairy cap upon his head, a buff girdle about his waist, and a tame rat in a little box by his side. After many mystifications he revealed himself, and Mr. Pleydell, there present, laid him a guinea that he would recognize Carew in whatever disguise he might show himself. The next day the rat-catcher jumped into petticoats, pinned a large dowde under his chin, and put a high crowned hat on his head. He then borrowed three deformed children from his community, tying two to his back, and carrying the other in his arms. He marched, thus hung with infants, to Mr. Pleydell’s. When come to the door, he shrewdly pinched the children to set them roaring; and by the excellence of his imposture he utterly deceived all the gentlemen. Departing with a good pocket-full of shillings, he suddenly halloo’d with a tantivy, tantivy to the dogs; and thereupon he returned and received his guinea at the hands of the discomfited Mr. Pleydell. Of his other triumphs there is no space to tell. Those who will seek out the biography by his, alas, unnamed friend, will find there how he was honorably received by his Grace the Duke of Bolton, how in one day he levied three contributions in three different disguises upon his good 156 friend Sir William Courtney, and many another pleasant adventure.
“It was about this time the good old King of the mendicants, named Clause Patch, well known in the city of London, and most parts of England, finished a life of true glory, being spent in promoting the welfare of his people. A little before his death, finding the decays of nature increase every day, and his final dissolution approach, he called together all his children, to the number of eighteen, and summoned as many of his subjects as were within any convenient distance.” He was brought in a high chair, and placed in the midst of them, his children standing next to him, and his subjects behind them. He addressed to them a long, wise, and moral discourse, and resigned his kingship, adjuring them to have all care in choosing the most worthy to be his successor.
Before the day of the election a vast concourse of mendicants flocked to the city of London from all parts of the kingdom. This function, conducted with all sobriety and decorum, might well serve as a model for the elections of larger polities. “The candidates are obliged, ten days before the election, to fix up in some place of their public resort an account of those actions, upon the merit of which they found their pretensions: to which they must add their opinions on liberty, and the office and duties of a king; they must during these ten days appear every day at the place of election, that their electors may have an opportunity of forming some judgment from the lineaments and prognostics of their countenance.” Our hero offered himself as one of the candidates, and such was the distinction of his record and the charm of his presence that he was elected King 157 over ten contestants. Homage was done to him by the whole assembly, and the ceremony was concluded with great feasting and jollity.
The sweet beckonings of indolence might have allured another man thus raised to high estate. Carew, for all his kingship, did not cease to ply his trade with every diligence throughout the south and west of England. At length, on an ill day, he was treacherously apprehended by Mr. Leighbride, a Justice of the Peace, or queer cufin in the cant language. Notwithstanding that the Gypsy King was innocent of all crime, this inexorable justice obtained for him a sentence of banishment to Maryland for seven years. Mr. Carew heard the pronouncement with Stoic calm, vowing only that he would be home in England before the ship which should bear him away. He was, with a throng of other convicts, conducted on board the Julian, Captain Froad.
The account of our hero’s sojourn in the colonies, in the year, it would seem, of 1740, combines with much instruction upon the state of society in those parts an edifying narrative of man’s steadfastness under misfortune. The vessel cast anchor in Miles River, in Talbot County. “The captain ordered a gun to be fired as a signal for the planters to come down, and then went ashore; he soon after sent on board a hogshead of rum, and ordered all the men prisoners to be close shaved against the next morning, and the women to have their best head-dresses put on, which occasioned no little hurry on board, for between the trimming of beards, and putting on of caps, all hands were fully employed. Early in the morning the captain ordered pubic notice to be given of the day of sale; and the prisoners, 158 who were pretty near a hundred, were all ordered upon deck, where a large bowl of punch was made, and the planters flocked on board. . . . Their inquiry was, if the captain had brought them a good store of joiners, carpenters, blacksmiths, weavers, and tailors; upon which the captain called out one Griffy, a tailor, who had lived at Chumleigh, in the county of Devon; and was obliged to take a voyage to Maryland, for making too free with his neighbour’s sheep; two planters, who were parson Nicholas and Mr. Rolls, asked him, if he was sound in wind and limb? and told him, it would be worse for him if he told them an untruth, and at last purchased him of the captain. The poor tailor cried and bellowed like a bellwether, cursing his wife who had betrayed him. Mr. Carew like a brave man, to whom every soil is his own country, ashamed of his cowardice, gave the tailor to the devil. . . . Wherefore all these wailings, says our hero, have we not a fine glorious country before us? . . . When all the best tradesmen were bought up, a planter came to Mr. Carew, and asked him what trade he was of? Mr. Carew, to satisfy him of his usefulness, told him he was a rat-catcher, a mendicant, and a dog-merchant: what the d——l trades are these, replied the planter in astonishment.” The sad captain, despairing of turning Mr. Carew to any good purpose, concluded that he was fit only to be a schoolmaster. To make such profit of him he took our hero to a tavern, and discussed his merits over a bowl of punch. While the haggling went on, Mr. Carew slipped away from a controversy in which he took no interest, taking with him a pint of brandy and some biscuit cakes. Shortly after apprehended, he was cast into New Town gaol. He contrived to 159 apprize certain sea-captains with whom he was acquainted of his immurement. And here we read one of the most noble decisions of his exemplary life. His friends the captains offered to buy him and to restore him to society in England; but “dame Honour, with a majestic mien, forbade him, sounding loudly in his ears how it would read in future story, that the ingenious Mr. Carew had no contrivance left to regain his lost liberty, but meanly to purchase it as his friends’ expense.” He refused the amazed captains’ proffer, and desired only that they should inform Captain Froad of his being there. This done, the tyrannic captain repossessed himself of his property, and bade the boatswain give the unfortunate Mr. Carew many ignominious stripes with a cot-o’-nine-tails. Captain Froad then led him to a blacksmith, and had fitted to him a heavy iron collar, called a pot-hook, which in Maryland is usually put about the necks of runaway slaves. Mr. Carew was then put to the meanest and most galling of the ship’s drudgeries. From this situation he was aided to escape by his friends the captains, they warning him however that he must avoid all the settlers, for there was forty pounds penalty and half a year’s imprisonment for any who should remove his iron collar. They counseled him that he should make his way to the friendly Indians, bewaring as of the whites of the two tribes of hostile, ferocious, and pestilent savages. They warned him likewise of the rattlesnakes, horn-snakes, black-snakes, lions, leopards, bears, wolves, and wild-cats, and gave him his directions and as well a pocket-compass, a steel and tinderbox, a bag of cakes, a cheese, and some rum. Thus equipped he slipped away from the ship and took refuge in the 160 recesses of the forest. During the night, his ears were assailed with the dismal yells and cryings of wild beasts; he was able to fend them of only by swinging a firebrand round his head the whole night through. By day he slept in trees, and traveled by night until he was well quit of inhabited country, meeting many terrifying adventures by the way.
At length he came upon five Indians; his terror lest they be of the hostile sort was allayed when he perceived them to be carrying guns in their hands, “a sure sign they were the friendly Indians. He approached them in a suppliant manner, making signs that he craved their assistance. The Indians accosted him with clapping their hands on their heads, and crying, Hush me a top, which in their language signifies, good-morrow; then taking hold of his collar, they repeated to one another, in broken English, a run-away! a run-away!” Presently an Indian of majestic mien approached, their king or prince. Taking the steel of Mr. Carew’s tinderbox, he jagged it into a kind of saw, and cut off the victim’s collar, “but not without much labour, his majesty sweating heartily at the work.” This noble savage was by name George Lillycraft, and was son of one of those kings who were in England in the reign of Queen Anne. He received Mr. Carew with every evidence of affection, had him eat at the king’s table, and presented him to the wisos, or chief men of the town. Ere long Mr. Carew, by his natural gifts, came to be held in the highest esteem, and consulted in all matters of difficulty. He was grown into so great a respect among them, that they offered him a wife out of the principal families of the place. “But our hero, notwithstanding these honours, could not forget his native 161 country, the love of which glowed within his breast.” He therefore formed the design of leaving them; and one day during a great festivity by Duck Creek in what is now Delaware, he took a canoe and slipped away, coming ere long to the town of Newcastle.
To one who has been long in the hands of savage Indians, it is indeed an occasion of great felicity to resume the humdrum duties of civilization. Mr. Carew now being got among the settlements of Quakers, naturally took on the semblance and speech of those people, for your true mendicant must ever be ready to submit his own convictions to the duties of his calling. With a dismal tale of kidnapings and hardships he obtained a great deal of money from the worthy Friends of Newcastle, Castile, and Chester. In the town of Darby, hearing men cry that “the second Christ is come!” he followed the throng and heard the celebrated Mr. Whitefield preaching in an orchard. He was deeply affected with it, and “strictly imitated the Quakers in all their sighs, groans, lifting up of the eyes, etc.” Being eager to shake the hand of this holy man, he drew up a petition, in the name of John Moor, the son of a clergyman, who had been carried into the Havannah and, having got his redemption, was now in the most deplorable circumstances. Mr. Whitefield was much moved by this petition, and gave our hero three or four pounds of paper money. Mr. Whitefield then “went away singing psalms with those that were about him, and we make no doubt that Mr. Carew joined with them in the melody of his heart, for the good success he had.”
He came then to the stately city of Philadelphia, the pious inhabitants of which he found not loath to do 162 good and to distribute. He applied at the home of Proprietor Penn himself. “The door was opened to him by a negro, with a silver collar round his neck.” From Mr. Penn he levied a guinea, and he had a like success with the Governor, Mr. Thomas. He then visited Burlington, Perth Amboy, Elizabeth Town, New York, Long Island, Seabroke, Seaford, and New London, in each place testing the generosity of the inhabitants and making many observations of interest on the character and noteworthy monuments of the country. In New York “he was surprised at the sight of a great number of gibbets, with blacks hanging upon them; but upon inquiring he found the negroes had not long before entered into a conspiracy of burning the whole city; but the plot being timely discovered, great numbers were executed, and hung up to terrify others.”
Now feeling a strong desire to see again his native land, his faithful subjects, and his sorrowing wife and daughters, he took passage in a ship bound for Bristol. When not far from land, “our hero, who knew that fortune, like a common jilt, often puts on the fairest smiles when she is about to discard you, thought it prudent to provide against her slippery tricks as much as lay in his power. He therefore pricked his arms and breast with a needle, and then rubbed it with salt and gunpowder, which made it appear like the smallpox coming out; in the night time he groaned very dismally, till at length the captain called to him to know the reason of his groaning so in his sleep. Alas! sir, replied he, I have been dreaming my poor wife was dead, and that she died of the smallpox. Be of good cheer, man, says the captain, dreams are but fables.” With this comfort he passed the night, and in the morning they 163 made Lundy Island and shipped a pilot to take them up to Bristol. This pilot brought the bad news that the Ruby man of war, Captain Goodyre (who later murdered his brother, Sir John Goodyre, Bart., and was hanged) lay in King Road, and was pressing all the men he could lay hold of. “Mr. Carew, hearing this, immediately comes upon deck, and with his blanket upon his shoulders, and pretended to vomit over the ship’s side.” The captain gave his wise opinion that poor John’s frightful dream had brought the smallpox out upon him, and the pilot, inspecting him, fell in accord. Coming to King Road the next morning, Mr. Carew “thought it advisable to take a pretty large quantity of warm water into his belly, and quickly after, to their great concern, they saw the Ruby man of war lying in the road, with jack, ensign, and pendant hoisted.” At this the sailors, who had been so jovial before, were struck with a dreadful panic, which was not diminished when a lieutenant came on board in a man-of-war’s boat. The captain, wishing him at the d—l, none the less asked him aft politely to take a dram of rum. After some courteous conversation, “I must have your hands, sir, said the lieutenant: come in, barge crew, and do your duty. No sooner were the words spoken, than the crew leaped upon the deck, and the lieutenant ordered all the ship’s company aft, saying he wanted to talk with them. He then accosted them with an oratorical harangue: ‘Gentlemen sailors,’ said he, ‘I make no doubt but you are willing to enter voluntarily, and not as pressed men: if you go like brave men freely you will have your bounty money, and liberty to go on shore and kiss your landladies.’ Though this oration was pronounced with as much self-applause 164 as Cicero felt, when by the force of his eloquence he made Caesar, the master of the world, to tremble; or as the vehement Demosthenes, when he used to thunder against King Philip; yet we are not quite certain whether it was the power of eloquence alone that persuaded the men to enter voluntarily; or whether, being seated between the two rocks of Scylla and Charybdis, it was indifferent to them which they dashed upon; however this was, all but one of the men entered (though with sad hearts) without being pressed: which we make no doubt, the lieutenant attributed to the eloquence of his oration.
“The lieutenant observing a stout fellow in a frock and trowsers, who did not come aft with the other men, asked the captain who he was? the captain replied, he was an Indian, and a brave sailor, so called him by his name. Wat ye want wit mee, replies the Indian, mee won’t come, dammee. Upon which the lieutenant sent some of the barge crew to bring him forwards, which the brave Indian perceiving, caught hold of a handspike, and put himself in a posture of defence, crying out to the barge crew who came towards him, Damme, ye meddle with mee, mee dash your brains out. The crew finding him resolute, did not think proper to attack him: upon which the lieutenant asked him, if he would serve king George: Dam king George, mee know no king George: mee be an Indian, mee have a king in my own country, whom mee loves and fightee for, because he be de very good king; at which the lieutenant and captain fell a laughing and left him.
“Are these all your men, says the lieutenant? Yes, replied the captain, except one old man who dreamed the other night that his wife died of the smallpox, and 165 was so much frighted, that the smallpox is come out upon him. The captain then ordered the bills to be made out for what was due to the men, and asked his lieutenant in the mean while to walk down and taste his rum. Accordingly down comes the lieutenant, humming a tune. Mr. Carew, hearing this, prepared himself, and taking an opportunity of putting his finger down his throat, discharges his stomach just under the lieutenant’s feet, crying out in a most lamentable tone at the same time, O, my head! O, my back! What! cries the lieutenant very hastily, is this the fellow who has the smallpox? No, no, replies he, I have had the smallpox many years ago, and have been with sir Charles Wager and sir George Walton up the Baltic, and do, for God’s sake take me on board your ship, noble captain, for I only want to be blooded. The lieutenant ships out his snuff-box, and claps it to his nose, swearing that he would not take him on board for five hundred pounds, for he was enough to infect a whole ship’s crew; that the devil should take him before he would, hurrying at the same time as fast he could into the great cabin. When he came there, Mr. Carew heard him complaining how unfortunate it was that he should come on board then, as he never had the smallpox himself. When the rest of the men had had their bills made out, the captain said, come, old John, I will have your bill made out too; which was accordingly done, and amounted to seven pounds ten shillings, for which the captain gave him a draught on merchant Lidiate of Bristol. The captain then ordered the boat to put him on shore; he beseeched the captain to let him die on board; No, no, says the captain, by all means take him on shore: Ay, ay, says the 166 lieutenant, take him on shore. Then the captain called to some of the sailors, to help the poor old man over the side of the ship, and out came Mr. Carew, and so well did he counterfeit, that he seemed a most deplorable object of compassion. The boat being got a little distance from the ship, was called back again, and the lieutenant tossed him half a guinea, and charged him not to go into the city of Bristol, for that he was enough to infect the whole city.”
Our hero, having thus set foot once more in his own beloved country, made good use of his smallpox sores to profit him in his progress toward his home county. He was soon happily reunited with his wife and daughters, amid the greatest of rejoicing, and paid a visit to his friends and kin of the parish of Brickley. The region sounded with his praises, and not least because he had returned to England before his erstwhile oppressor, Captain Froad, as he had vowed on the occasion of his being transported.
Of Mr. Carew’s thousand other diverting adventures: how he comically laid a ghost in a haunted house; how he himself appeared as a ghost and terrified a bellman who had ill-used him; how he taught his tiny daughter to reply “Drowned in a boat” to any who should ask her what had become of her mammy; how he visited Ireland and was received with a thousand civilities by the Irish gentry; how he persuaded the excisemen to search in every out-house and kennel of an unoffending country squire for a great quantity of run goods; how he was impressed into His Majesty’s navy, and, deserting his ship at Reval in Muscovy, walked overland to Riga and Dantzig, and returned home only after having visited Stockholm; how he 167 fobbed off a troublesome baby upon a gay bachelor “who was a great admirer of that order of female travelers called Cousin Betties”; how he journeyed to Paris in a business way; how a second time he was infamously apprehended, clapped in a convict ship, and again carried to Maryland, whence again escaping, he made his way even to Boston, making many interesting observations by the way (as that the presses of Boston are generally full of work owing to the number of colleges and schools of useful learning, while in New York there was but one bookseller’s shop, and as that the goodness of the pavement of Boston may compare with most in London, and that to gallop a horse on it is three shillings and fourpence forfeit); how he returned again to England before the ship which had borne him away; and how the mayor of Bridgewater caused the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and the lame to walk; and to be brief how our hero and his fellow mumpers roved the ways of England with their jolly dimbermorts, making a jest of all sober men and finding delight at every day’s end; all of this you may read in that book of Mr. Carew’s life and adventures from which I have already copied so many pages. I shall tell you only one more story, and that because it will introduce you to a gentleman whose extravagance is not to be set down to mere singularity, but to a rare delight in philosophy, the love of wisdom, as he might attain to it by the study of his fellows.
“One day as Mr. Carew was begging in the town of Maiden Bradley, from door to door, as a shipwrecked seaman, he saw on the other side of the street a mendicant brother sailor, in a habit as forlorn as his own, a begging for God’s sake, just like himself; who seeing 168 Mr. Carew, crossed over the way and came up to him, and in the cant language, asked him where he lay last night, what road he was going, and several other questions; then whether he would brush into a boozing-ken and be his thrums; to this he consented.” Begging the town on the following day, they came at length to Lord Weymouth’s and were there very hardly received. So eloquent were however their entreaties, that at last the housekeeper gave them the greatest part of a cold shoulder of mutton, half a fine wheaten loaf, and a shilling, and from the butler they got a copper of good ale. The victuals encumbered them, and Mr. Carew was for throwing them into the hedge, “but the other urged that it was both a sin and a shame to waste good victuals in that manner: so they both agreed to go to the Green Man, about a mile from my lord’s, and there exchange it for liquor. After snacking the argot, and taking a parting glass, each went his separate way.”
Now this mendicant sailor was none other than Lord Weymouth himself, who was wont to assume such a habit in order to sound the tempers and dispositions of the gentlemen and other inhabitants of the neighborhood. He repaired straightway to his own seat, and resuming his embroidered apparel, sent his servants post-haste to bring in the two shipwrecked sailors of whom he had heard reports. Mr. Carew being brought in, “his Lordship accosted him in a very rough stern manner, asks where the other fellow was, and told him he would be made to find him. . . . After having terrified and threatened him for a considerable time, away goes his Lordship, and divested himself of his habit and character of a nobleman, again puts on his rags, and is by his trusty valet de chambre ushered into 169 the room where his brother beggar stood sweating for fear. They confer notes together, in order that their accounts might agree when examined apart.” But when Lord Weymouth in his own person examined Mr. Carew, he pretended that the other sailor’s account contradicted his, threatened him with prison, and indeed omitted nothing that might strike Mr. Carew with the greatest terror and confusion. When his Lordship had sufficiently diverted himself, he discovered himself merrily, and very nobly entertained Mr. Carew for three days, and gave him an excellent good suit of clothes and ten guineas.
From this adventure we should learn not to give victuals to beggars, but alms in money only, “as more acceptable and serviceable to beggars than the best of provisions, the greatest part of which they either waste, give away or exchange for an inconsiderable quantity of drink.”
Of the latter end of Mr. Carew we have but little knowledge. Mr. John Fyvie1 quotes a Mr. Thomas Price of Poole, who stated, in 1810, that our hero had been deeply affected by the sermon of a right reverend bishop, and resolving to follow a better way of life, had resigned his gypsy scepter. Providence manifested its favor at this repentance; Mr. Carew soon gained so much money by speculating in the London lotteries that he was enabled to retire to a neat and comfortable estate in the west country, where he “ended his days beloved and esteemed by all.” This edifying death took place, according to one account, in 1758; according to another, in 1770.
1 Noble Dames and Notable Men of the Georgian Era. New York, 1911.
EDWARD WORTLEY MONTAGU, jun.