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Chapter 66

Peregrine delivers his Letters of Recommendation at London, and returns to the Garrison, to the unspeakable joy of the Commodore and his whole Family.

Now that our hero found himself on English ground, his heart dilated with the proud recollection of his own improvement since he left his native soil. He began to recognise the interesting ideas of his tender years; he enjoyed, by anticipation, the pleasure of seeing his friends in the garrison, after an absence of eighteen months; and the image of his charming Emily, which other less worthy considerations had depressed, resumed the full possession of his breast. He remembered, with shame, that he had neglected the correspondence with her brother, which he himself had solicited, and in consequence of which he had received a letter from that young gentleman, while he lived at Paris. In spite of these conscientious reflections. he was too self-sufficient to think he should find any difficulty in obtaining forgiveness for such sins of omission; and began to imagine that his passion would be prejudicial to the dignity of his situation, if it should not be gratified upon terms which formerly his imagination durst not conceive.

Sorry I am, that the task I have undertaken, lays me under the necessity of divulging this degeneracy in the sentiment of our imperious youth, who was now in the heyday of his blood, flushed with the consciousness of his own qualifications, vain of his fortune, and elated on the wings of imaginary expectation. Though he was deeply enamoured of Miss Gauntlet, he was far from proposing her heart as the ultimate aim of his gallantry, which, he did not doubt, would triumph over the most illustrious females of the land, and at once regale his appetite and ambition.

Meanwhile, being willing to make his appearance at the garrison equally surprising and agreeable, he cautioned Mr. Jolter against writing to the commodore, who had not heard of them since their departure from Paris, and hired a post-chaise and horses, for London. The governor, going out to give orders about the carriage, inadvertently left a paper book open upon the table; and his pupil, casting his eyes upon the page, chanced to read these words: “Sept. 15. Arrived in safety, by the blessing of God, in this unhappy kingdom of England. And thus concludes the journal of my last peregrination.” Peregrine’s curiosity being inflamed by this extraordinary conclusion he turned to the beginning, and perused several sheets of a diary such as is commonly kept by that class of people known by the denomination of travelling governors, for the satisfaction of themselves and the parents or guardians of their pupils, and for the edification and entertainment of their friends.

That the reader may have a clear idea of Mr. Jolter’s performance, we shall transcribe the transactions of one day, as he had recorded them; and that abstract will be a sufficient specimen of the whole plan and execution of the work.

“May 3. At eight o’clock, set out from Boulogne in a post-chaise: the morning hazy and cold. Fortified my stomach with a cordial. Recommended ditto to Mr. P. as an antidote against the fog. Mem. He refused it. The hither horse greased in the off-pastern of the hind leg. Arrived at Samers. Mem. This last was a post and a half, i.e. three leagues, or nine English miles. The day clears up. A fine champaign country, well stored with corn. The postillion says his prayers in passing by a wooden crucifix upon the road. Mem. The horses staled in a small brook that runs in a bottom, betwixt two hills. Arrived at Cormont. A common post. A dispute with my pupil, who is obstinate, and swayed by an unlucky prejudice. Proceed to Montreuil, where we dine on choice pigeons. A very moderate charge. No chamber-pot in the room, owing to the negligence of the maid. This is an ordinary post. Set out again for Nampont. Troubled with flatulences and indigestion. Mr. P. is sullen, and seems to mistake an eructation for the breaking of wind backwards. From Nampont depart for Bernay, at which place we arrive in the evening, and propose to stay all night. N.B. The two last a redouble posts, and our cattle very willing, though not strong. Sup on a delicate ragout and excellent partridges, in company with Mr. H. and his spouse. Mem. The said H. trod upon my corn by mistake. Discharge the bill, which is not very reasonable. Dispute with Mr. P. about giving money to the servant. He insists upon my giving a twenty-four sols piece, which is too much by two-thirds, in all conscience. N.B. She was a pert baggage, and did not deserve a liard.”

Our hero was so much disobliged with certain circumstances of this amusing and instructing journal, that, by way of punishing the author, he interlined these words betwixt two paragraphs, in a manner that exactly resembled the tutor’s handwriting:” Mem. Had the pleasure of drinking myself into a sweet intoxication, by toasting our lawful king, and his royal family, among some worthy English fathers of the Society of Jesus.”

Having taken this revenge, he set out for London, where he waited upon those noblemen to whom he had letters of recommendation from Paris; and was not only graciously received, but even loaded with caresses and proffers of service, because they understood he was a young gentleman of fortune, who, far from standing in need of their countenance or assistance, would make a useful and creditable addition to the number of their adherents. He had the honour of dining at their tables, in consequence of pressing invitations, and of spending several evenings with the ladies, to whom he was particularly agreeable, on account of his person, address, and bleeding freely at play.

Being thus initiated in the beau monde, he thought it was high time to pay his respects to his generous benefactor, the commodore; and, accordingly, departed one morning, with his train, for the garrison, at which he arrived in safety the same night. When he entered the gate, which was opened by a new servant that did not know him, he found his old friend, Hatchway, stalking in the yard, with a nightcap on his head, and a pipe in his mouth; and, advancing to him, took him by the hand before he had any intimation of his approach. The lieutenant, thus saluted by a stranger, stared at him in silent astonishment, till he recollected his features, which were no sooner known, than, dashing his pipe upon the pavement, he exclaimed, “Smite my cross-trees! th’art welcome to port”; and hugged him in his arms with great affection. He then, by a cordial squeeze, expressed his satisfaction at seeing his old shipmate, Tom, who, applying his whistle to his mouth, the whole castle echoed with his performance.

The servants, hearing the well-known sound, poured out in a tumult of joy; and, understanding that their young master was returned, raised such a peal of acclamation, as astonished the commodore and his lady, and inspired Julia with such an interesting presage, that her heart began to throb with violence. Running out in the hurry and perturbation of her hope, she was so much overwhelmed at sight of her brother, that she actually fainted in his arms. But from this trance she soon awaked; and Peregrine, having testified his pleasure and affection, went upstairs, and presented himself befor............

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