A Rogue who became a pretty Soldier and saw much of Europe, finally dying by the Rope at home in 1666
THE following is the life and adventures of an arch-villain born in the first year of the reign of King James I:
I suppose, according to custom, the reader will expect some account of my genealogy, and as I was always a mighty admirer of fashions, I will follow the mode, and give some account of my parents and relations, beginning with my grandfather, who had the great fortune to marry a woman excellently skilled in vaulting and rope-dancing, and would play her part with any man. She, though above fifty years of age, and troubled with the phthisis, died in the air. Her husband would not marry again —- to avoid seeing other women fly as she had done —- but kept a puppet-show in Moorfields, and it was reckoned the most curious that ever had been seen in the city. Besides, my grandfather was so little that the only difference between him and his puppets was, that they spoke through a trunk and he without one. He made such speeches before his shows that the audience would wish he had never done, for he had a tongue like a parrot. All the apple-women, hawkers and fish-women were so charmed with his wit among his puppets that they would run to hear him without leaving any guard upon their goods but their straw hats. Unfortunate man! being so like a cock-sparrow, he took to so many hens that, when they had devoured his money, clothes and puppets, they consumed his health, and left him like a naked baby in. a hospital.
When he thought to have died soberly, he fell into a frenzy, to such a degree that one day he fancied he was a bull in a puppet-show, and was to encounter a stone cross that stood near the hospital gate; and after several essays he made at the same cross, crying: "Now I have you!" This said, he ran his head so furiously against the cross that he dropped down and said no more. A good hospital nurse, who was one of the family of the Innocents, seeing him die in that manner, cried: "O the precious soul! he died at the foot of the Cross, and directing his discourse to it."
My father had two trades, or two strings to his bow, for he was a painter and a gamester, and a master much alike at both; for his paintings would hardly rise so high as a signpost, and his sleight-of-hand at play was of such an ancient date that it would hardly pass upon the mob. He had one misfortune, which he entailed on all his children, like original sin; and that was his being born a gentleman, which is as bad as a poet, few of whom escape eternal poverty, or are above perpetual want.
My mother died, unluckily, of a longing for mushrooms when they were not to be had, being then with child by my father, as she said, and departed as quiet as a bird. She left two daughters, great devotees of Venus, though they were Christians, just at the age the doctors prescribe they are fit to eat; both very handsome and very young; and I was left very little, but much better skilled in sharping than my age seemed to promise. When the funeral ceremonies were over, and the tears dried up, which were not very many, my father fell again to his daubing, my sisters to stitching, and I returned to my little-frequented school, where my posteriors paid for the slowness of my feet and the lightness of my hands.
I had such an excellent memory, that though my wicked idle temper was the same it has ever since continued, yet I soon learned to read, write and cast accounts well enough to have taken a better course than I have done. I put so many unlucky tricks upon my master, and so often set the boys together by the ears, that everybody called me the little Judas. It was hard for any book to escape me; and if once I cast my eye on a picture, it was surely my own, which cost me many a boxing bout every day, or else the complaints were carried home to my father and sisters. The eldest of them had it in charge to reprove and convert me; she would sometimes give me a soft cuff with her delicate white hand, at other times she would tell me I should be a disgrace to the family.
All this nonsense, and her reproof, signified no more to me than the barking of a dog; it went in at one ear and out at the other; so that, in short, I played so many unlucky pranks, and was so full of roguery, that I was expelled the school in as solemn a manner as if it had been by beat of drum. My father, after currying my hide very well, carried me to a friend of his, who was barber to Count Gondemar, the Spanish Ambassador, then residing here, with whom he left me upon trial, in order to be bound apprentice. Having delivered his hopeful son he returned home, and my master ordered me into the kitchen to my mistress, who presently found me employment, giving me a basket full of children's blankets, clouts, slabberring-bibs, barrows, etc., and opening the yard door, furnished me with about an ounce of soap; then showing me the cistern, with a great trough under it —- "Jemmy," says she, "mind your wits, there's a good boy; for this work belongs to the apprentices." I hung down my head, and tumbled all the filthy clouts from the basket into the trough and washed them as well as I could, and hung the linen to dry. I managed it very well for myself, since I was soon discarded from my office, which, had it continued longer, there had been an end of Jemmy in less than a fortnight.
The next day I went over my task again, and what I wanted in washing of clouts was made up in running errands.
The third day, my master having just given me a small note to receive, there came into the shop a bully ruffian with a pair of whiskers that covered his face, and would have been worth money to have made brushes on. He told my master he would have his whiskers turned up. It being then so early that the journeyman he kept was not come, he was going to turn them up himself, and bid me light a fire and heat the irons. I did as I was ordered; and just as my master had turned up one whisker there happened to be a quarrel in the street, and my master, being always a busy man, must needs step out to see what was the matter, leaving the stern bravo with one whisker hanging quite down, and the other turned up. The scuffle lasting long, and my master staying to see the end of it, the furious kill-crow never ceased swearing and cursing. He asked me in a harsh tone whether I understood my trade; and I, thinking it an undervaluing to myself to say I did not, boldly answered I did. "Why then, you son of a whore," says he, "turn up this whisker for me, or I shall go into the street as I am and kick your master." I was unwilling to be found in a lie, and, thinking it no hard matter to turn up a whisker, never showed the least concern, but took up one of the irons that was at the fire, which had been heating ever since the first alarm of the fray, and having nothing to try it on, but desiring to be thought expeditious, I took a comb, stuck it into his bristly bush, and clapped the iron to it. No sooner did they meet but there arose a smoke as if it had been out of a chimney, with a whizzing noise, and all the hair vanished. He cried out furiously: "Thou son of a thousand dogs and ten thousand whores, dost thou take me for Saint Laurence, that thou burnest me alive?" With that he let fly such a bang at me that, the comb dropping out of my hand, I could not avoid in the fright laying the hot iron close along his cheek, and cauterising him on one side of his face. This made him give such a shriek as shook the very house, and at the same time he drew his sword to send me to the other world; but I, remembering the proverb that "One pair of heels is worth two pairs of hands," got so nimbly into the street, and so swiftly scoured out of that part of the town, that, though I was a good runner, I was amazed when I found myself above a mile from home, with the iron in my hand and the spark's whisker sticking to it. As good luck would have it, I was near the person who was to pay the note my master gave me to receive for him. I carried it, and received the money; but thought fit to apply it to my own use, not daring to return home again.
My money lasted me for about a month, when I began to think of returning to my father, but I understood he was gone into the country to receive some money owing to him. I rejoiced at the news, and went very boldly into the house as sole lord and master of it. My sisters received me very coldly, giving me many a sour look, and upbraiding me with the money my father was forced to pay for my pranks. We had a thousand squabbles every day, particularly about their giving me small instead of strong beer.
These animosities ran so high that, perceiving they did not mend, I resolved to make them know me. Accordingly one day, they having brought me sour beer, and the meat being on the table, I threw the dish at my elder sister and the pot with the beer at the younger, overthrew the table, and marched out of doors on a ramble; but accidentally met a messenger from the country, who informed me of my father's death by a fever. At this news I quickly went back to my sisters, who were more compliable, finding by my father's will I was left executor without restraint of age. I sold the goods, got in what debts I could, and led a merry life whilst the money lasted, keeping all the rakes about the town company, who at last drained me of every farthing.
They obliged me one night to go abroad with them; though much against my will, and one of them having the keys, like St Peter, opened the door of a house, whence they took several trunks, to ease the owner of lumber. A cur dog, who was upon guard, gave the alarm, and the people of the house came running into the street, which compelled my companions to lay down their burdens and act upon the defensive with their swords. For my part, I stood quaking for fear before the robbery, at the time of the robbery, and after the robbery; and always kept at a distance, repenting that I had not been acquainted with their way of living before I came out of my lodging, that I might have avoided that danger. So that, seeing my companions fly, and the wounded men return to their houses, I kept my post all in a cold sweat, lest I should be taken up as a party concerned; and when I should have gone away had not the power to stir one foot. At the noise the watch came in, who, finding three trunks in the street, besides two men dangerously wounded, and me not far off, came up to see who I was. By the disorder they found me in they concluded I was one of those who had done the mischief. They took care of me that night, and the next day I was ordered to a place where I had occasion to try all my friends and acquaintance, who all proved as I deserved. In about ten days I was called to my trial, and my excuses being very frivolous, and my answers contradictory, I was condemned to be hoisted up by the neck, and go to heaven in a string. However, just as I was singing the last stave, a reprieve came, and in about two months after I got a full pardon.
Frightened at this last disaster, I was resolved to associate myself no more with anyone, but went about the streets selling wash balls, toothpicks and tooth powder. I played the merry-Andrew myself, cried up my rubbish, extolled the virtues of it, and sold very dear. For whoever has a mind to put off his trumpery, and make a good hand of it, must pretend his trash comes from Japan, Peru or Tartary, because all nations undervalue their own product and workmanship, though never so excellent, and set a great rate on foreign trifles.
All my ware tending to make fine teeth and white hands, the ladies were my best customers, but especially the actresses. There was at that time one of the best companies of players that ever diverted England, and a man at the head of them famed for his excellency that way. By virtue of my scurvy ware I became acquainted with his imaginary queens and pretended princesses, one of whom, about eighteen years of age, and married to one of the actors, told me one day that she had taken a liking to me, because I was a confident, sharp, forward youth, and therefore if I would serve her, she would entertain me with all her heart; and that when the company went strolling I might beat the drum and stick up the bills. I fancied that was an easier sort of a life, so consented at first word, desiring only two days to sell my wares off, which she courteously granted; and to encourage me gave me a crown.
Having sold off my trumpery, I waited on my mistress, who appointed me four several employments: the first was tiresome, the second uneasy, the third sluggish and the fourth dangerous. At home I was her valet de chambre, folding and laying up all her clothes. Abroad I was her porter, fetching and carrying her clothes to the playhouse. I was her gentleman usher in her attiring room, and her trusty secretary and ambassador in all places. My master quarrelled with her every night about me, because he supposed I was no eunuch, saw I had a tolerably good face, and thought me not so young but that I knew what was what; for which reason he was looking out for another servant, that he might turn me off. Such a multitude of young beaux resorted daily to my mistress's house that it looked like a fair. They all told me their secrets, and acquainted me with their sufferings. Some made me presents, others promised mountains, and others delivered me copies of verses, which being gathered in the morning on Parnassus, were buried at night in the necessary house. I played the part of a Prime Minister, and Secretary of State and War, receiving those memorials and the fees, promising every one my favour and interest. Some of them I dispatched with my mistress, and many more, considering she was so dilatory, I answered of my own head, after this manner: If the petitioner was poor or niggardly, rejected. If he was a young spark near coming to his estate, he shall be heard another time. If rich and generous, granted. Thus I kept them all in hand, absolutely dismissing none, but rather feeding them with hopes.
When I happened to lose at play —- for it is impossible a scoundrel should ever be wise —- as I took out or laid up her clothes I filled my pocket with ribbons and garters, and giving them, in her name, as favours to the gallants, they requited me so plentifully that I could make what I had filched, and enough left to game all the week after.
The devil, who they say never sleeps, so ordered it that, my master and mistress being gone a visiting, and I left at home, two of the servants belonging to the playhouse and the wardrobe keeper came to call me out to take a walk, it being a leisure day. I went away with them. We dropped in to a tavern, drank six bottles of the best, played at cards for the reckoning, and that falling upon me, I was so nettled that I challenged the wardrobe keeper to play with me at putt; and he, being no fool at that sport, soon stripped me of all I had. This provoked me so highly that I told him, if he would but stay, I would go fetch more money. He consented. I ran home with all speed, took out a rich laced petticoat my mistress had, and carried it to a pastrycook I was acquainted with, desiring him to lend me three jacobuses upon it, pretending they were for my mistress, who wanted so much to make up a sum to pay for a ring she had bought, assuring him of his money when my master returned home, with something for the favour. The pastry cook, finding the pawn sufficient, delivered me the money, with which I hurried back to play, and lost as I had done before. I got one jacobus back again off the winner, by way of wrangling with him as if he had not played fair, with which I turned out into the street, full of vexation that I had lost so beneficial a place. I went to an inn, where I supped and lay that night, but with little rest or satisfaction. As soon as ever I discovered the first dawn of day I got up, full of sorrow to think what a base return I had made my mistress for all her kindness; and, considering the danger I should be in when she missed her petticoat, I left London, directing my course towards Colchester.
Travelling somewhat hastily, for fear of being followed, I overtook two of those sort of soldiers called decoy ducks, who serve to draw in others when there are levies. After some discourse, they told me they were going my way, being informed that at Colchester there was a captain raising men, and that none who listed under him would ever want. I travelled on with them very fairly, every one paying his club by the way. The next day we got to that town, and being kindly received by the captain, and listed, we lived in clover for a fortnight, making our landlords furnish us with dainties, and demanding impossibilities. At last we received orders to march, and having left the town, our captain moved like a snail, still leaving the quarters appointed us on one side, and taking the contrary way, because the towns paid him to be exempted. He continued this cheat three days; but on the fourth, as we were passing by a wood, all his men, about thirty in number, left him with only the colours, drum, sergeant and ensign, and five wenches, who went with the baggage; for he is not likely to keep up a company who contrives only how to make his advantage of them, without considering that it is very easy to find a captain, and no less difficult to get thirty soldiers.
However, I liked my captain well enough, for he was civil to me. I stuck by him, and came to London with him, where he was so laughed at that he resolved to quit the kingdom, and, having a good estate, intended to go abroad a volunteer, and desired my company. He embarked for Barcelona, and in a little time got a company, which was ordered, with several others, to sail for Alicant. I being a good accountant, and writing a fair hand, stuck close all the while we were at sea to the steward of the ship, to help him deliver out the allowances to the sailors and land men. He, to keep up a good old custom, and avoid being blamed by others of his trade, gave the soldiers all the broken biscuits, and kept that which was whole; and so for the fish, they had what was rotten. As for the bacon, he stuck a knife into it, and if it stunk, the soldiers had it; if otherwise, he put it up carefully. However he took care to make much of the officers, which made them all keep council and see nothing; and whilst the poor soldiers fared hard, we lived well. At length we arrived at Alicant, where we were quartered, and had a mixture of good and bad; for as soon as they had shown us any favour they were over us with a Cap de Dieu! - which is that country's oath and out came two or three cases of pistols. My captain and I were at variance, because he had cheated me of my pay, and I had made my complaint to recover it. For this reason he bore me ill will, there being nothing so certain as that if a soldier does not put up with any wrong in point of interest, but pretends to complain, or to stand upon terms with his officers, all that he says, though never so true, will pass for a lie. He will never be advanced, but rather slighted and hated. My quarters were in a tavern, where I was one day drinking with a soldier, and happened to fall out about a lie given, and my sword unluckily running into his throat, he kicked up his heels, through his own fault, for he ran upon my point; so that he may thank his own hastiness. To prevent my captain's taking revenge, or giving him an opportunity of satisfying his malice, by taking upon himself to make an example of me, I went away to Barcelona, and took refuge in a monastery. My captain, as if I had murdered his father, stolen his goods, or taken away his mistress, sent after me to have me secured, and a little whippersnapper of his, who was the tale carrier of the company, followed his business so close that, in despite of the fathers, and in contempt of the Church, he had me taken out of the sanctuary and cast into the prison of the arsenal. They put me into irons, bolted my hands and feet, and so left me. I was prosecuted as a murderer, deserter and raiser of mutinies; and without any regard to the pain my mother endured when she brought me into the world, they put me into a fright with these terrible words: "You shall return to the place from whence you came, and from thence to the place of execution," etc.
In short, as if it had been a thing of nothing, or but a matter of pastime, they gave sentence that I should be led in state along the streets, then mount upon a ladder, kick up my heels before all the people, and take a swing in the open air, as if I had another life in my snapsack. I was made acquainted with it by a public notary, who was so nice a Christian that he never asked any gratuity for the good news, nor any fees for the trial. It was impossible to avoid making some wry faces when I heard it; some sighs broke loose in spite of my manhood, and the salt tears trickled down my cheeks. The jailer bid me make peace with God, without the least supply from Bacchus to raise my spirits; and I, considering what I had to go through, gently squeezed my throat with my hand; and though it was done very tenderly, I did not like the test, but said to myself, "If the hand, which is soft flesh, hurts so much, what will it be when a hard hempen rope is there." I kneeled down, and cried to Heaven for mercy, solemnly protesting, if I regained my liberty, that I would do penance for my sins, and begin a new life; but these were like vows made in storms. The news was quickly spread, and several friends came to see me, others to condemn me. Some said it was a pity I should lose my life in the prime of my age; others that I looked like a rank knave; and some, that I was not come to that for my goodness. At last, in came a Franciscan friar, all in a sweat, and full of zeal, asking, "Where is the condemned person?" I answered: "Father, I am the man, though you don't know me." He said: "Dear child, it is now time for you to think of another world, since sentence is passed; and therefore you must employ this short time allowed you in confessing your sins, and asking forgiveness for your offences." I answered: "Reverend Father, in obedience to the commands of the Church, I confess but once a year, and that is in Lent. But if, according to human laws, I must atone with my life for the crime I've committed, your reverence being so learned must be truly sensible that there is no divine precept which says, 'Thou shalt not eat or drink '; and therefore, since it is not contrary to the law of God, I desire that you will give order that I have meat and drink, and then we will discourse of what is best for us both; for I am in a Christian country, and plead the privilege of sanctuary." The good father, much disturbed to hear me talk so wildly at a time when I should be serious, took a small crucifix out of his bosom and began to make a sermon to me on the text of the lost sheep and the repentance of the good thief; and this with such an audible voice that he might be heard all over the arsenal. I turned pale, my heart failed me, and my tongue was numbed when I heard the charity bells, which ring when criminals are executed. I cleared my apartment and, kneeling down before my ghostly father, disgorged a wonderful budget of sins, and cleared my storehouse of iniquity; and having received his blessing and absolution, found myself so changed, that it only troubled me to die because I thought myself so truly contrite that all the bells would ring out of themselves, the whole city would be in an uproar, and the poor people would lose their day's work to come and see me.
In the height of this fright, which I would freely bestow on anyone that could be fond of it, the Marquis D'Este, then commanding officer, ordered me to be brought before him, I having got a petition presented to him. He, like a merciful man, being informed that I pleaded the privilege of sanctuary, ordered the execution to be respited, the sentence of death reversed, and me sent to the galleys for ten years. My master was so much my friend that he opposed it, alleging my constitution was too dainty to make a water thresher, and therefore it were better to send me out of this wicked world, that I might serve as an example to all the army; and that it would have been never the worse had it been done three or four years sooner. Not withstanding all this, I took a little courage, finding myself backed by some friends, and told the marquis it was malice, spite and hatred made my master so much my enemy, that he had detained my pay, upon which I threatened to com plain, and he vowed revenge, and now would have it by my death. The general said it was strange that two countrymen could not agree; that he would not trouble himself with my complaints, but ordered me to be immediately discharged without paying any fees. I threw myself at his feet for the kindness he had done me, to the disappointment of the mob, and the loss of the executioner. I presently departed the palace, and went to be blooded to prevent any ill consequence of the fright I had been in.
When the bodily fear I had been put into was over, the danger I had escaped forgotten, and the blood I let out recruited in a tavern, I went out one day to take a walk upon the Mole, and understanding there was a new regiment to be raised, I inquired after the officers, and by accident met one of them, who asked me to list. I easily consented for the sake of a little ready money. My new master seemed to take a fancy to me, and ordered me to his own quarters, where it was not long before I got a new place; for the cook going away, I was asked if I understood anything that way, and I, always resolved to answer in the affirmative, declared I did understand cookery to the greatest perfection; so that I was both soldier and cook.
After several voyages by sea to Rosas, and other places, we were ordered to succour Alsace, and for our winter residence had the woods of Bavaria. My master took up his residence in the house of one of the richest men in those parts, though he pretended to be very poor, because he had driven away all his cattle, and removed the best of his goods. This contrivance did not serve his turn. I got information from the servants. With this, in a very stately manner, I acquainted him that I was my master's steward, quartermaster and cook, and as such must inform him that he had a captain of horse in his house, who was a person of considerable quality, and therefore must take care to make very much of him and his servants; that my master was very much fatigued, and it was dinner time, and he must order all things that were necessary. He answered I need only tell him what provision I wanted for the kitchen, and he would order his servants to fetch it immediately. I told him we always kept three tables, the first for the gentlemen and pages, the second for the butler and under officers, and the third for the footmen, grooms, and other liveries; for all which tables he must furnish one ox, two calves, four sheep, twelve pullets, six capons, two dozen pigeons, six pounds of bacon for larding, four pounds of sugar, two of all sorts of spice, a hundred eggs, half a dozen dishes of fish, a pot of wine to every plate, and six hogsheads to stand by. He blessed himself, as if he had seen all the devils in hell, and answered: "If all that your worship speaks of be only for the servants' tables, the whole village will not be able to furnish the master's." I replied: "My master is such a worthy person that he had rather see the servants made much of than please himself; and therefore he and his friends never put their landlords to any more charge than a dish of imperial stuffed meat, with an egg in it." He asked me what that stuffed meat was made of, and I bid him order me a new laid egg, a squab pigeon, and two loads of coals, and to send for a cobbler with his nawl and ends, and a gravedigger with his spade, and then he should know what else was wanting, that he might provide it whilst we were at work. The landlord went and fetched what I demanded except the two loads of coals. I took the egg and the pigeon, which I gutted, and cutting it open enough with my knife (for I had all my tools about me) I clapped the egg into the belly of it; then said I to him: Sir, take notice this egg is in the pigeon, the pigeon is to be put into a partridge, the partridge into a pheasant, the pheasant into a pullet, the pullet into a turkey, the turkey into a kid, the kid into a sheep, the sheep into a calf, the calf into a cow; all these creatures are to be pulled, flead and larded, except the cow, which is to have her hide on; and as they are thrust one into another, like a nest of boxes, the cobbler is to sew every one of them with an end, that they may not slip out; and when they are all fast sewed into the cow's belly, the gravedigger is to throw up a deep trench, into which one load of coals is to be cast, and the cow laid on top of it; the other load upon her, the fuel set on fire to burn about four hours, more or less, when the meat being taken out, is incorporated, and becomes such a delicious dish that formerly the emperors used to dine upon it on their coronation day; for which reason, and because an egg is the foundation of all that curious mess, it was called the imperial egg stuffed meat."
The landlord, who stood listening to me with his mouth open, and no more motion than a statue, gave such entire credit to all I said, because I spoke so seriously, and was very earnest to have the ingredients, that, squeezing me by the hand, he said, "Sir, I am very poor "; and I, under standing what he would be at, answered, "Fear nothing." Then leading him into the kitchen, we agreed the matter very well between us, and I told my master he was very poor indeed, and ruined by our troops, having had all his cattle stolen. My master ordered he should not be oppressed, and left the management of him to me.
The other servants, observing that I had plenty of wine in the kitchen, and was supplied with choice bits, suspected the fraud, and informed my master, who upon inquiry found just the contrary to what I had told him. He sent for my landlord and discovered all my roguery. My master upon this paid me a visit in the kitchen and, taking up one of the nearest cudgels he found about it, dusted my jacket so furiously that he wanted a cook for a fortnight.
During our stay here we were attacked by a parcel of French scoundrels. My master ordered me out with the rest, but I kept back, fearing a chance bullet might mistake me for somebody else. But when I heard the French were beaten, I ventured into the field with my drawn sword, hacking and hewing the dead carcasses in a furious manner. It happened, as a special instance of my valour, that as I came up to one of the enemies to give him half a dozen good gashes, thinking he was as dead as the rest, at the first stroke I let fall he gave such a dreadful groan that I was quite terrified, and thinking he made a motion to get up to be revenged on me, I had not the courage to stay so long to draw my sword out again, but faced about, and ran as fast as I could to the place our baggage was, looking back a thousand times for fear he should overtake me. I bought a good sword of one who had been in the pursuit, and some other booty, boasting all about the army that I had gained it in the fight. I met my master, who, being brought along desperately wounded, and past all hopes, said to me: "You scoundrel! why did you not do as I ordered you?" I answered: "Because, sir, I was afraid to be in your condition." He was carried into the town, where he soon ended his days, for want of being so discreet as I. He left me, rather out of his own innate goodness and generosity than for any good service I had done him, a horse and fifty ducats. God grant him fifty thousand ages of bliss for his kindness, and double that term to anyone who shall hereafter so far oblige me as to do the like.
By this time you may suppose I was pretty remarkable, for I had got the name of the merry Englishman, and being out of place spent my money like a lord. My purse being exhausted, I got into the service of Count Picolomeni; and a little afterwards we were ordered to march towards Hainault, and in a few days encamped under the walls of Mons.
A comical adventure befell me one day in this place. I happened to go abroad, after dining in the town, with my head so full that I took children for men and blue for black. Staggering along in this condition, I came up to a chandler's shop, which was all hung about with rows of tallow candles, and I, taking them for bunches of radishes, asked the owner why he pulled the leaves off. He not understanding what I meant, and perceiving the pickle I was in, made me no answer, but fell a laughing very heartily; but I, who had doubtless a drunken longing for radishes, put out my hand to one of the rows that hung upon a long stick, and laying hold of two candles pulled so hard that all the range came down. The shopkeeper, seeing his goods broken, took up a cudgel and exercised it so, you would have thought he had been beating off stock fish. Though drunk, I was so sensible of the pain that, drawing my sword, I charged him as my mortal enemy. He, seeing me void of fear and reason, fled into a room behind the shop, and shut the door after him. Finding that, though I made a hundred passes at the door, the smart of my bones did nothing abate, I vented my spleen against the candles and, laying about me, left the whole shop strewed with grease.
It happened a gang of soldiers were passing by, and they, at the request of the neighbours, carried me out into the street by force, I still crying: "What! cudgel me for a radish or two which are not worth a farthing." A complaint was carried to my master, who ordered me to be sent to jail, and the next day, when I awoke, I found myself in irons.
There I suffered for the radish fray, there I fasted though it was not Lent, and there was dieted, without any liberty of getting drunk. At length my mistress took pity on me, and. begged my master to forgive me, who, seeing me protected by such an angel, ordered me to be set free, on my paying for the damage done to the candles. I left the jail with a full resolution never more to disoblige my master. I lived so sedate and modest for a little time after this that it surprised my master, who continually heaped new favours upon me, and I, leaving off drinking for the present, grew amorous. To this purpose I made choice of a waiting maid, a country lass in dress, but a courtier in keeping her word. She was young in years, but old in cunning, carried all her fortune about her, and, being fatherless, for the more decency and security of her person served an aunt of hers, who kept a tavern, where I was acquainted. I set my heart on this virgin pullet, and one day, putting my hand upon her soft bubbies, she gave me such a kick that I defy the best Flanders mare to have outdone her. She withdrew into her chamber, and from that time fled from me as if I had been the devil. I was up to the ears in love, and knew not what to do. However, at last, I wrote a billet doux, and accompanied it with a present. The poor harmless creature, who had been several times upon trial before, and still pleaded, "Lord, I know not what you mean," bit at the bait, received the present, heard the message, and gave me leave, under the pretence of quenching my thirst, to pay her a visit, which I did, and from that moment she began to fleece me, and her aunt to pluck my feathers. Our love grew so hot that the customers who used the tavern took notice of it; therefore, to save her reputation, for she passed for a maid, I took lodgings for her, and by that means got her from her aunt. My lady was so nice that she could not eat snails, because they had horns; nor fish, because of the bones; nor rabbits, because they had tails. She swooned away at the sight of a mouse; but rejoiced to see a company of grenadiers. Before me she fed by ounces and in my absence by pounds. She hated to be confined, and loved liberty; and, under colour of melancholy, was never from the window or door. At first she used to receive abundance of visitors, pretending that all the men were her cousins; but I being informed they were carnal kindred put her into an enclosure, taking a room that had no window to the street, and when I went abroad left a spy upon her actions.
Every now and then she would be lost, and rise again the third day, as drowned bodies do. Though she shed abundance of tears, and swore a thousand oaths to persuade me that my ill nature made her withdraw herself to her aunt's, and that she had never been out of her doors, nor seen by anybody, yet I did not forbear thrashing her so severely that she did not for a good while show any more of her tricks.
I was confoundedly jealous of this creature, and not without a reason, for I had her not in keeping above four months, before she very civilly tipped me a distemper very common in Naples. Enraged at this, I beat her unmercifully, took away all her clothes but a few rags, and kicked her out of doors. I advised with a surgeon and a physician about my case, who both condemned me to be anointed like a witch, and to slabber like a natural. But I, hoping to find some way to avoid enduring the pains of hell in this world, went to every doctor of note. I told them of my distemper, and they all unanimously told me that if I designed to live I must forbear drinking (and they had as good have bid me cut my own throat), and that the wine I had so plentifully swallowed was to be distilled out of my body in water. Perceiving they all agreed in the same story, I resolved to get into the hospital, and take a gentle salivation.
I was kindly received, those good people being willing to entertain one madman more in their godly house, and, treating me like a soul in purgatory, they scalded my entrails and stifled me for want of breath, keeping me always, like Dives, with my tongue hanging out of my mouth a quarter of a yard, still begging a drop of wine off some poor Lazarus, and preaching up the works of mercy; but they told me that patience was a virtue, and would carry me to heaven, and that I must suffer for my former excesses. At the end of two months I had been in the hospital I was dismissed perfectly cured, but my legs looked like trap sticks, my body like a shotten herring, and my voice like a eunuch. The first inquiry I made was for the next tavern, and there I ate everything I could come at, as if I had been a man in perfect health, making a jest of the doctor, and laughing at the surgeon, bestowing a thousand blessings on the good man that first found out the vine, and double the number on those who plant and prune it. After I had got a good refreshment, I inquired after my kind mistress and her aunt, both of whom had left the place just after I had entered the hospital. I was not at all sorry for it; but went to find out some of my old comrades, whom I found merrily carousing. At last a dispute arose among them, and swords were drawn. I was fool enough to concern myself, and one of the party against me gave me such a blow with his sword (but as it happened it was the flat part) that he made me void a flood of claret at my mouth. All the skip-kennel troop took to their heels, thinking I was killed, and I, believing myself not far from it, bawled out for a surgeon, who was called, and he feeling my pulse beat very unregular, and observing how I retched and sweated, never inquired into the cause of my distemper, but bid the landlord get a priest to prepare me for death. The good man, being unwilling I should die like a heathen in a Christian country, ran in all haste and brought one, who, being curious to see the wound, took off my hat, and found my head clear from blood, and without any other hurt but a bump raised by the stroke I had received. He asked those who had seen the fray whether I had any other wounds besides that; and being informed I had not says to the master of the house: "If this man was to make his confession every time he is troubled with this distemper he ought always to have a chaplain along with him. Sleep is the only thing will cure this disorder; therefore carry him to bed, and I will answer for his life." His orders were obeyed, and the next morning I found myself out of danger, and went to wait on my master, who received me with a frowning brow, and bid me be gone about my business; that he discarded me his service, and left me at liberty to go where I pleased. This was a terrible blow to me; but I was comforted the next morning by my generous master sending me a handsome present in gold, with a command from him to leave the place, which I did the next morning, resolving to go to France, and from thence to my native country. The carrier with whom I set out was a great gamester, and the second night invited me to his room, which was next the stable, and there by the light of a scurvy lamp I won all his money. Enraged at his ill fortune, he threw the cards in my face, and I in return wiped him across the face with my hat. He ran to a corner to lay hold of a rusty sword, and I discharged the lamp at him so furiously that he was oil all over, and I half dead with fear, being in the dark, and the door shut. However, I was fortunate to find the sally port, and fled to the watch, whither my greasy carrier followed me with his rusty tilter. A corporal met and disarmed him, after giving each of us half a dozen bangs, and then inquired into the affair, and endeavoured to reconcile us, but in vain, the carrier refusing to consent till I paid the damage done to his coat. I gave him half his money again, and the other part I spent on the corporal, watchmen, myself and the carrier, drowning the quarrel, and forgetting all wrongs.
After travelling many a tedious mile I at last got to Calais, and from thence to London. Being come to the metropolis, I went directly to my father's house that had been, which upon inquiry I found in the hands of a stranger. I asked for my sisters, and was told they were removed into another world. I found they had both been married, and had left children; so that my hopes of getting anything by their deaths proved abortive. Destitute of friends, I knew not what to do, especially finding the gout come upon me. At last, by the advice of an acquaintance, I took a public house and, understanding several languages, have now very good custom from foreigners. I intend to leave off my foolish pranks; and as I have spent my juvenile years and money in keeping company, hope to find some fools as bad as myself, who delight in throwing away their estates and impairing their healths.
This is all the account he gives of himself and all the information we can get further of him is that he kept an inn in Smithfield, and got a considerable fortune. But being eager to be rich at once, he, jointly with his ostler, committed a most barbarous and cruel murder; for a gentleman who had purchased an estate in the country was obliged to pay the money in London, and accordingly came to town for that purpose, putting up at Batson's inn. The ostler, in taking the gentleman's bags off, perceived they were very heavy, and acquainted his master with it, and they two soon agreed to murder the gentleman, and divide the booty, the first of which was barbarously executed by the ostler, who cut the guest's throat, and then they removed the body into a closet. But a dispute arose in dividing the money, which made the ostler leave his master with what he could get; and he getting drunk the same night discovered the inhuman deed, producing several pieces of gold as a confirmation. The neighbours at first thought it was all fiction, until the fellow often calling God to witness of the truth, and vowing revenge on his master (thinking by his discovery to save himself), a stander-by more penetrating than the rest sent for a constable and got him secured, who being carried, before a magistrate persisted in it, and desired the house of his master might be searched, which was accordingly done, and the body found. In a small time after they were both arraigned and convicted. The ostler died just after that but Batson was deservedly executed, dying penitent, and in the communion of the Church of Rome, the principles of which he had imbibed by going into foreign parts. And thus ended the life of this detestable villain about a year before the restoration of King Charles II.