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Near port, I hope,” answered Cleveland ; but Halcro was too determined a narrator to be interrupted by the broadest hint.
O ay,” he resumed, with the self-satisfied air of one who has recovered the thread of a story, “ I was in my old lodgings in Russelstreet, with old Timothy Thimblethwaite, the Master Fashioner, then the best known man about town. He made for all the wits, and for the dull boobies of fortune besides, and made the one pay for the other. He never denied a wit credit save in jest, or for the sake of getting a repartee; and he was in correspondence with all that was worth knowing about town. He had letters from Crowne, and Tate, and Prior, and Tom Brown, and all the famous fellows of the time, with such pellets of wit, that there was no reading them without laughing ready to die, and all ending with craving a further term for payment." · "I should have thought the tailor would have found that jest rather serious," said Mordaunt.
“ Not a bit - not a bit-Tim Thimblethwaite (he was a Cumberland-man by birth,”) replied his eulogist, “ had the soul of a prince --ay, and died with the fortune of one; for woe betide the custard-gorged alderman that came under Tim's goose, after he had got one of these letters --egad, he was sure to pay the kain. Why, Thimblethwaite was thought to be the original of little Tom Bibber, in glorious John's comedy of the Wild Gallant; and I know that he has trusted, ay, and lent John money to boot out of his own pocket, at a time when all his fine court friends blew cold enough. He trusted me too, and I have been two months on the score at a time for my upper room.
To be sure, I was obliging in his way - not that I exactly could shape or sew, nor would that have been decorous for a gentleman of good descent; but I-eh, eh- I drew bills — summed up the books"
“ Carried home the clothes of the wits and aldermen, and got lodging for your labour," interrupted Cleveland.
“No, no - damn it, no,” replied Halcro; “no such thing- you put me out in my story-- where
was I ?"
“Nay, the devil help you to the latitude," said the Captain, extricating his button from
the gripe of the unmerciful bard's finger and thumb, “ for I have no time to make an observation.” So saying, he bolted from the room.
“ A silly ill-bred conceited fool,” said Halcro, looking after him; “ with as little manners as wit in his empty coxcomb. I wonder what Magnus and these silly wenches can see in him — he tells such damnable long-winded stories, too, about his adventures and sea-fights -every
second word a lie, I doubt not. Mordaunt, my dear boy, take example by that man - that is, take warning by him – never tell long stories about yourself. You are sometimes given to talk too much about your own exploits on craigs and skerries, and the like, which only breaks conversation, and prevents other folks from being heard. Now I see you are impatient to hear out what I was saying - Stop, where about was I ?”
“I fear we must put it off, Mr Halcro, until after dinner,” said Mordaunt, who also meditated his escape, though desirous of effecting it with more delicacy towards his old acquaintance than Captain Cleveland had thought it necessary to :
“Nay, my dear boy,” said Halcro, seeing himself about to be utterly deserted; “ do not you leave me too-never take so bad an example as to set light by old acquaintance, Mordaunt. I have wandered many a weary step in my day; but they were always lightened when I could get hold of the arm of an old friend like yourself.”
So saying, he quitted the youth's coat, and, sliding his hand gently under his arm, grappled him more effectually, to which Mordaunt submitted, a little moved by the poet's observation upon the unkindness of old acquaintances, under which he himself was an immediate sufferer. But when Halcro renewed his formidable question, "Whereabouts was I ?” Mordaunt, preferring his poetry to his prose, reminded him of the song which he said he had written upon his first leaving Zetland,-a song to which, indeed, the inquirer was no stranger, but which, as it must be new to the reader, we shall here insert as a favourable specimen of the poetical powers of this tuneful descendant of Haco the Golden-mouthed; for, in the opinion of many tolerable judges, he held a respectable rank
among the inditers of madrigals of the period, and was as well qualified to give immortality to his Nancies of the hills or dales, as many a gentle sonnetteer of wit and pleasure about town. He was something of a musician also, and on the present occasion seized upon a sort of lute, and, quitting his victim, prepared the instrument for an accompaniment, speaking all the while that he might lose no time.
I learned the lute,” he said, “ from the same man who taught honest Shadwell-plump Tom, as they used to call him-somewhat roughly treated by the glorious John, you rememberMordaunt, you remember
Methinks I see the new Arion sail,
Come, I am indifferently in tune now-what was it to be?-ay, I remember—nay, The Lass of Northmaven is the ditty-poor Bet Stimbister! I have called her Mary in the verses. Betsy does well for an English song; but Mary is more