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Chapter 22

He is insulted by his Tutor, whom he lampoons — Makes a considerable Progress in Polite Literature; and, in an Excursion to Windsor, meets with Emilia by accident, and is very coldly received.

Among those who suffered by his craft and infidelity was Mr. Jumble, his own tutor, who could not at all digest the mortifying affront he had received, and was resolved to be revenged on the insulting author. With this view he watched the conduct of Mr. Pickle with the utmost rancour of vigilance, and let slip no opportunity of treating him disrespect, which he knew the disposition of his pupil could less brook than any other severity it was in his power to exercise.

Peregrine had been several mornings absent from chapel; and as Mr. Jumble never failed to question him in a very peremptory style about his non-attendance, he invented some very plausible excuses; but at length his ingenuity was exhausted: he received a very galling rebuke for his proffigacy of morals; and, that he might feel it the more sensibly, was ordered, by way of exercise, to compose a paraphrase in English verse upon these two lines in Virgil:—

Vane Ligur, frustraque animis elate superbis,
Nequicquam patrias tentasti lubricus artes.

The imposition of this invidious theme had all the desired effect upon Peregrine, who not only considered it as a piece of unmannerly abuse leveled against his own conduct, but also a retrospective insult on the memory of his grandfather, who, as he had been informed, was in his lifetime more noted for his cunning than candour in trade.

Exasperated at this instance of the pedant’s audacity, he had well nigh, in his first transports, taken corporal satisfaction on the spot; but, foreseeing the troublesome consequences that would attend such a flagrant outrage against the laws of the university, he checked his indignation, and resolved to revenge the injury in a more cool and contemptuous manner. Thus determined, he set on foot an inquiry into the particulars of Jumble’s parentage and education. He learnt that the father of this insolent tutor was a brick-layer, that his mother sold pies, and that the son, in different periods of his youth, had amused himself in both occupations, before he converted his views to the study of learning. Fraught with this intelligence, he composed the following ballad in doggerel rhymes; and next day, presented it as a gloss upon the text which the tutor had chosen:—

Come, listen, ye students of every degree;
I sing of a wit and a tutor perdie,
A statesman profound, a critic immense,
In short a mere jumble of learning and sense;
And yet of his talents though laudably vain,
His own family arts he could never attain.

His father, intending his fortune to build,
In his youth would have taught him the trowel to wield,
But the mortar of discipline never would stick,
For his skull was secured by a facing of brick;
And with all his endeavours of patience and pain,
The skill of his sire he could never attain.

His mother, a housewife neat, artful, and wise,
Renown’d for her delicate biscuit and pies,
soon alter’d his studies, by flattering his taste,
From the raising of walls to the rearing of paste!
But all her instructions were fruitless and vain;
The pie-making mystery he ne’er could attain.

Yet true to his race, in his labours were seen
A jumble of both their professions, I ween;
For, when his own genius he ventured to trust,
His pies seemed of brick, and his houses of crust.
Then good Mr. Tutor, pray be not so vain,
Since your family arts you could never attain.

This impudent production was the most effectual vengeance he could have taken on his tutor, who had all the supercilious arrogance and ridiculous pride of a low-born pedant. Instead of overlooking this petulant piece of satire with that temper and decency of disdain that became a person of his gravity and station, he no sooner cast his eye over the performance, than the blood rushed into his countenance, and immediately after exhibited a ghastly pale colour. With a quivering lip, he told his pupil, that he was an impertinent jackanapes; and he would take care that he should be expelled from the university, for having presumed to write and deliver such a licentious and scurrilous libel. Peregrine answered, with great resolution, that when the provocation he had received should be known, he was persuaded that he should be acquitted by the opinion of all impartial people; and that he was ready to submit the whole to the decision of the master.

This arbitration he proposed, because he knew the master and Jumble were at variance; and, for that reason, the tutor durst not venture to put the cause on such an issue. Nay, when this reference was mentioned, Jumble, who was naturally jealous, suspected that Peregrine had a promise of protection before he undertook to commit such an outrageous insult; and this notion had such an effect upon him, that he decided to devour his vexation, and wait for a more proper opportunity of gratifying his hate. Meanwhile, copies of the ballad were distributed among the students, who sang it under the very nose of Mr. Jumble, to the tune of “A Cobbler there was” etc.; and the triumph of our hero was complete. Neither was his whole time devoted to the riotous extravagancies of youth. He enjoyed many lucid intervals, during which he contracted a more intimate acquaintance with the classics, applied himself to the reading of history, improved his taste for painting and music, in which he made some progress; and, above all things, cultivated the study of natural philosophy. It was generally after a course of close attention to some of these arts and sciences, that his disposition broke out into those irregularities and wild sallies of a luxuriant imagination, for which he became so remarkable; and he was perhaps the only young man in Oxford who, at the same time, maintained an intimate and friendly intercourse with the most unthinking, as well as the most sedate students at the university.

It is not to be supposed that a young man of Peregrine’s vanity, inexperience, and profusion, could suit his expense to his allowance, liberal as it was — for he was not one of those fortunate people who are born economists, and knew not the art of withholding his purse when he saw his companion in difficulty. Thus naturally generous and expensive, he squandered away his money, and made a most splendid appearance upon the receipt of his quarterly appointment; but long before the third month was elapsed, his finances were consumed: and as he could not stoop to ask an extraordinary supply, was too proud to borrow, and too haughty to run in debt with tradesmen, he devoted those periods of poverty to the prosecution of his studies, and shone forth again at the revolution of quarter-day.

In one of these eruptions he and some of his companions went to Windsor, in order to see the royal apartments in the castle, whither they repaired in the afternoon; and as Peregrine stood contemplating the picture of Hercules and Omphale, one of his fellow-students whispered in his car, “Zounds! Pickle, there are two fine girls!” He turned instantly ab............

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