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THE OLD BOY'S ADVICE TO YOUNG SWELLS.
little trouble in getting at the right sort, because such birds don't come lightly to your lure; but found they may be. Take, say, two out of the professions, lawyer, parson, doctor, which you will; one out of trade, and three or four out of the working classes, tailors, engineers, carpenters, engravers, — there's plenty of choice. Let them be men of your own ages, mind, and ask them to your homes; introduce them to your wives and sisters, and get introduced to theirs : give them good dinners, and talk to them about what is really at the bottom of your hearts, and box, and run, and row with them, when you have a chance. Do all this honestly as man to man, and by the time you come to ride old John, you'll be able to do something more than sit on his back, and may feel his mouth with some stronger bridle than a red-tape one.
Ah, if you only would! But you have got too far out of the right rut, I fear. Too much over-civilization, and the deceitfulness of riches. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. More's the pity. I never came across but two of you, who could value a man wholly and solely for what was in him, who thought themselves verily and indeed of the same flesh and blood as John Jones the attorney's clerk, and Bill Smith the costermonger and could act as if they thought so.
SUNDRY WARS AND ALLIANCES.
Poor old Benjy! the “rheumatiz” has much to answer for all through English country-sides, but it never played a scurvier trick than in laying thee by the heels, when thou wast yet in a green old age. The enemy, which had long been carrying on a sort of border warfare, and trying his strength against Benjy's on the battle-field of his hands and legs, now mustering all his forces began laying siege to the citadel, and overrunning the whole country. Benjy was seized in the back and loins; and though he made strong and brave fight, it was soon clear enough that all which could be beaten of poor old Benjy would have to give in before long.
It was as much as he could do now, with the help of his big stick and frequent stops, to hobble down to the canal with Master Tom, and bait his hook for him, and sit and watch his angling, telling him quaint old country stories; and when Tom had no sport, and detecting a rat some hundred yards or so off along the bank, would rush off with Toby the turnspit-terrier, his other faithful companion, in bootless pursuit, he might have tumbled in and been drowned twenty times over before Benjy could have got near him.
Cheery and unmindful of himself as Benjy was,
this loss of locomotive power bothered him greatly. He had got a new object in his old age, and was just beginning to think himself useful again in the world. He feared much, too, lest Master Tom should fall back again into the hands of Charity and the
So he tried every thing he could think of to get set up. He even went an expedition to the dwelling of one of those queer mortals, who, say what we will, and reason how we will, do cure simple people of diseases of one kind or another without the aid of physic, and so get to themselves the reputation of using charms, and inspire for themselves and their dwellings great respect, not to say fear, amongst a siinple folk such as the dwellers in the Vale of White Horse. Where this power, or whatever else it may be, descends upon the shoulders of a man whose ways are not straight, he becomes a nuisance to the neighbourhood, a receiver of stolen goods, giver of love-potions, and deceiver of silly women; the avowed enemy of law and order, of justices of the peace, head-boroughs, and gamekeepers.
Such a man in fact as was recently caught tripping, and deservedly dealt with by the Leeds justices, for seducing a girl who had come to him to get back a faithless lover, and has been convicted of bigamy since then. Sometimes, however, they are of quite a different stamp, men who pretend to nothing, and are with difficulty persuaded to exercise their occult arts in the sim cases.
Of this latter sort was old farmer Ives, as he was called, the “wise man” to whom Benjy resorted,
BENJY RESORTS TO A
taking Tom with him as usual, in the early spring of the year next after the feast described in the last chapter. Why he was called farmer I cannot say, unless it be that he was the owner of a a cow, a pig or two, and some poultry, which he maintained on about an acre of land enclosed from the middle of a wild common, on which probably his father had squatted before lords of manors looked as keenly after their rights as they do now. Here he had lived, no one knew how long, a solitary man. It was often rumoured that he was to be turned out, and his cottage pulled down, but somehow it never came to pass, and his pigs and cow went grazing on the common, and his geese hissed at the passing children, and at the heels of the horse of my lord's steward, who often rode by with a covetous eye on the enclosure, still unmolested. His dwelling was some miles from our village; so Benjy, who was half ashamed of his errand, and wholly unable to walk there, had to exercise much ingenuity to get the means of transporting himself and Tom thither without exciting suspicion. However, one fine May morning he managed to borrow the old blind pony of our friend the publican, and Tom persuaded Madam Brown to give him a holiday to spend with old Benjy, and to lend them the Squire's light cart, stored with bread and cold meat and a bottle of ale. And so the two in high glee started behind old Dobbin, and jogged along the deep-rutted plashy roads, which had not been mended after their winter's wear, towards the dwelling of the wizard. About noon they passed the gate which opened on to the
FARMER IVES THE
large common, and old Dobbin toiled slowly up the hill, while Benjy pointed out a little deep dingle on the left, out of which welled a tiny stream. As they crept up the hill the tops of a few birch trees came in sight, and blue smoke curling up through their delicate light boughs; and then the little white thatched home and patch of enclosed ground of farmer Ives, lying cradled in the dingle with the gay gorse common rising behind and on both sides, while in front, after traversing a gentle slope, the eye might travel for miles and miles over the rich vale. They now left the main road and struck into a green track over the common, marked lightly with wheel and horseshoe, which led down into the dingle, and stopped at the rough gate of farmer Ives. Here they found the farmer, an iron-gray old man, with a bushy eyebrow and strong aquiline nose, busied in one of his vocations.
He was a horse and cow doctor, and was tending a sick beast which had been sent up to be cured. Benjy hailed him as an old friend, and he returned the greeting cordially enough, looking however hard for a moment both at Benjy and Tom, to see whether there was more in their visit than appeared at first sight. It was a work of some difficulty and danger for Benjy to reach the ground, which, however, he managed to do without mishap; and then he devoted himself to unharnessing Dobbin, and turning him out for a graze (“a run one could not say of that virtuous steed) on the common. This done, he extricated the cold provisions from the cart, and they entered the farmer's wicket; and he, shutting up the