Midnight Mishaps by Edward Mayhew

Oh the rural suburbs of London!—the filthy suburbs!—where nothing is green but the water, nothing natural but the dirt,—where the trees are clipt into poles, and the hedges grow behind palings,—where "no thoroughfare" forbids you to walk in one place, and the dust prevents you from walking in another,—the filthy suburbs!

It was these delightful precincts of peace and "caution," retirement and "handsome rewards," that Mr. Jacob Tweasle honoured with his decided preference. This gentleman had inhabited a small shop at the foot of Snow-hill for more than forty years, retailing tobacco to the tradesmen, and cigars to the apprentices; and, having by supplying other people's boxes gradually filled his own, he, how in his sixtieth year, declined the manufacture of weeds for the cultivation of exotics.

An "Italian villa," beautifully situated in a back lane near Hornsey, was pointed out to the tobacconist by a house-agent as particularly "snug and retired." Before the ostentatious white front of this "enviable residence" were exactly twenty square yards of lawn, "delightfully wooded" by a solitary laburnum, which was approached over a highly "ornamental Chinese bridge," crossing "a convenient stream of water." The interior of the building it was "impossible for the most fastidious to object to;" the rooms were so low, and the windows so small, that the happy occupant always imagined himself a hundred miles from the metropolis; the prospect, too, from the upper stories "revelled in all the luxuries of the picturesque;" the dome of St. Paul's lent magnificence to the distance, while the foreground was enlivened by a brick-field.

Mr. Tweasle saw, approved, yet doubted. He did not know what to say to it. There was, he acknowledged, everything that heart of man could desire; the garden was walled in, and the steel-traps and cabbages might be taken as fixtures; nevertheless he reached the bridge without having made up his mind. There he paused, and gazed in anxious meditation upon the black and heavy liquid that stagnated beneath. "Can one fish here?" suddenly asked the tobacconist, at the same time leaning over and disturbing the "convenient stream of water" with his cane.

"I never do myself," replied the agent, in such a manner as to imply that other people frequently did; for Tweasle instantly inquired,

"What do they catch?"

The agent was puzzled. Was the Londoner really ignorant, or was this a design to test the truth of all his former assertions? It was a case which required extreme caution. "I am no angler myself,—I have no time for that delightful recreation; but—I should think—that eels—eels—probably—eels—might——"

"Stewed eels make a nice supper," interrupted Tweasle with gluttonous simplicity. "Fish arn't to be got fresh in London."

"Fish ought to be eaten the moment it is taken from the water," cried the agent with decision.

"My boy's got a fishing-rod," said Tweasle; and he took the Italian villa on a repairing lease.

The announcement of this event created a "sensation" at the foot of Snow-hill; the Rubicon was past; the business was to be disposed of; and, that no time might be lost, Mr. Tweasle, without taking off his gloves, began to scribble an advertisement, while Mrs. Tweasle waddled into the shop and insulted a customer.

All was confusion. To fly from the paternal protection of the Lord Mayor, and emigrate off the stones, was no casual event to him who had hitherto proudly exulted in the freedom of the city. Much was necessary to reconcile the mind to so bold a measure. The lady undertook to pack up everything that could be got in London, and purchase everything that could not be got in the country. The gentleman, acting as a man should, wholly neglected the domestic. He gave his attention to the noble arts of agriculture and self-defence, botanical theories, treatises, and directories. Horticultural implements, instruments, and improvements, swords and pistols, guns and blunderbusses, detonating crackers for the shutters, and alarums for the bedrooms, he spared neither trouble nor expense to procure.

"Now, Hanney, dear," said Tweasle to his wife, surveying the weapons which had just been sent home, "I thinks here's everything a contented mind could desire: the thieves will know better than to come where we are."

But the timid woman's ideas of defence were concentrated in a flannel gown and a rattle; she looked more terrified than assured:—fire-arms and accidents were, in her mind, synonymous; and her only answer was an urgent entreaty that "those nasty things might be always so locked up that nobody could get at them."

In due time everything that the family thought they could possibly want was procured; and when, to render the whole complete, Master Charles, only son and heir, was commissioned to procure live stock from St. Giles's, the boy returned with almond tumblers for pigeon-pies, and bantam-cocks for poultry.

"New-laid eggs for breakfast!" chuckled his papa.

All being at length ready for starting on the following day, and as the house was dismantled even to the junction of the bed-posts, the family determined to pass their last evening in London, whispering soft adieus to their more intimate acquaintance. At first Tweasle conducted himself with becoming hypocrisy. He lamented his separation from the "friends of his youth," and ate cake and drank wine with imposing solemnity; but, as the ceremony was repeated, he committed himself by an occasional smile, and at last slipped out something about "poor devils, who were smoked to death like red herrings." Mrs. Tweasle was shocked, and hurried her husband away; who, however, warmed into truth, would not acknowledge his error or go to bed, but insisted on saying good-b'ye to his old friend Gingham. They found the Ginghams preparing for supper; and, on company arriving, the servant was whispered "to bring up the beef," which Tweasle overhearing, he turned to the hostess, and exultingly cried,

"Come and see us in the country, and I'll give you stewed eels and chicken for supper."

"I'm very sorry we've nothing better than cold beef to offer you, sir," replied the lady with a look; "but I can send out."

"Not for the world!" shouted Mrs. Tweasle, who was rejoiced when a request to be seated relieved her from reiterating her conciliatory wishes that no one would mind her good man, who during supper would converse on no other subject than the pleasures of new-laid eggs and the country, till, having finished one glass of gin and water, he undertook to explain to his friend how it was that he also could leave off business like a squire. Nor was this personal investigation of private family affairs rendered less unpleasant by the indelicate egotism which induced the exhibitor to illustrate his friend's faults by his own virtues; till, though repeatedly requested to "drop it," Tweasle wound up his harangue by calling his host a fool.

"You're a fool, Gingham. You might ha' been as well off as I am at the present moment, if you hadn't lived at such a rate, like a fool."

The lady of the house instantly arose, and left the room in company with her daughters, telling Mr. Tweasle "they were going to bed;" and Mr. Gingham leant over the table to inform his guest, "he had no wish to quarrel."

Of the rest of that evening Tweasle the next day retained a very confused recollection. He thought some one pushed him about in a passage, and remembered his wife's assisting him to put on his great-coat in the middle of the street.

At the appointed hour, the glass-coach which was to convey the family from London stopped at the foot of Snow-hill. Mr. Tweasle was the first to jump in; the person to whom the business had been advantageously disposed of, gave his hand to Mrs. Tweasle, and then turned to say farewell to her husband.

"All I've got in this blessed world I made in that shop," said Tweasle, anxious to give his successor a high opinion of the bargain, and leave a good name behind him. "The many—many—happy—peaceful days I've seen in it!—I can't expect to see them again!—On a Saturday and on a Monday I've often been fit to drop behind my own counter, quite worn out with customers. I'm afraid I've done a rash thing; but I've this consolation, I've left the business in good hands."

"Come, don't look dull, Tweasle," cried his wife, who was imposed on by her husband's pathetics: "cheer up! You know trade ain't what it was, and I'm sure the two last years must have been a 'losing game.'"

It is impossible to say whether he who had bought or he who had sold the business looked most appalled by this untimely truth. However, Tweasle was the first to recover himself: he took his victim affectionately by the hand, and, leaning forward, whispered in propitiatory confidential accents, "Always put a little white pepper in Alderman Heavyside's Welsh, or he'll think you've adulterated it."

But the successor was hurt past such slender consolation. With lofty integrity he spurned the advice of his deceiver; for, jerking his hand away, and looking Tweasle sternly in the face, he said, "Sir, I shall do my duty!" and he strutted into the shop; whereupon the coach began to move.

Disposed by this little incident to sadness, its late occupant looked at the house till his eyes watered. He was no longer a "public man;" his opinion of the weather was now of no importance; he might henceforth loiter over his dinner undisturbed by any thought of the shop! Feelings such as these could not be suppressed, and Tweasle was about to apostrophise, when his gentle partner startled him by exclaiming,

"Thank our stars, we're off at last!" and, catching a glimpse of the house as the coach turned into Hatton-garden, she added, "there's the last of it, I hope; I never wish to set eyes on the hole again!"

"Don't be ungrateful," said Tweasle, chidingly. "That roof has sheltered me near forty years."

"Well, it was a nuisance to live in it,—no place to dry a rag in but the servant's bed-room."

"And Martha made you give her rum and water, mother, or else she would catch cold," added the son.

"Stop there!—stop there!—stop!" a voice was heard to cry.

"That can't be for us," observed Mrs. Tweasle.

As if in the spirit of matrimonial contradiction, her husband the next moment exclaimed, "By George! it is though!"

It proved to be a debtor, who had journeyed to London in consequence of some information which had been afforded him by an attorney. Three hundred and odd pounds were in his pocket ready for disbursement, if Mr. Tweasle would accompany him to an inn in the Borough, and there go through the account This was vexatious. The fear of losing the money had long disturbed the late tobacconist's mental monotony, and now the certainty of its payment absolutely angered him. He turned to his lady, and said to her in a voice of positive wrath,

"Hanney, I shall go. Don't you wait for me, do you hear? I shall walk probably in the evening down to Hornsey,—when I've given a receipt for the money. Now, sir, I'm at your service. Will you show the way?"

"Please to remember a poor fellow who wants works," said a florid muscular mendicant, thrusting his huge hand close to the late tobacconist's face.—"The fellow must have overheard the arrangement," thought Tweasle; and an undefined feeling of alarm took the roses from his cheeks. As he hastily threw the man a few pence, he delivered some very profound remarks upon the Vagrant Act.

"Hanney, dear," cried he in a loud voice, while the beggar was stooping for the money, "don't make yourself uneasy, but set the steel-traps. I have pistols,—mind that, love,—I have pistols!" for, afraid to acknowledge his own terror, he found relief in supposing that others were more timid than himself.

Leaving his wife, Tweasle walked to the inn, where he remained till all the items of a long bill had been discussed, when the clock announced the hour of nine, and then the debtor insisted on being asked to supper, so that it was fairly half-past ten before Tweasle left the Borough.

So long as the lights of London illumined his way, he proceeded in comparative composure, only occasionally feeling at his coat-pockets to assure himself that the pistols were safe; but when the unaided darkness announced that he had quitted the extremest outskirts of the metropolis, Mr. Tweasle paused, and audibly informed himself that "he was not afraid:" on receiving which information, he buttoned his coat closer, slapped his hat firmer on his cranium, frowned, and shook his head; and, endeavouring to act bravery, took a pistol in either hand as he marched onward with every symptom of excessive alarm.

He had not more than two miles farther to proceed, when the distant notes of St. Paul's cathedral announced the hour of midnight. At this time Tweasle was creeping along a lane rendered gloomy by high and parallel hedges, which inclosed fruitful pastures, and prevented grazing cattle from being impounded; at a little distance from him, behind one of these "leafy screens," stood a "pensive brother,"—a fine he-ass, which had retired thither to nibble the tender shoots of the mellifluous hawthorn.

As the last vibration died away, he stumbled into a cart-rut. On recovering his perpendicular, panting from the unnecessary exertion he had used, the poor traveller stared around him, and endeavoured to survey the place whereon he was standing. It was a gloomy spot,—one unrelieved mass of shade, in which the clouded heavens seemed to harmonize; everything was in awful repose,—the night was cold, but not a zephyr was abroad. Painfully oppressed by the utter loneliness of his position, a sense of extreme lassitude gradually crept over Tweasle,—he closed his eyes, and shuddered violently; he could have wept, but the fear of being afraid made him suppress the desire.

"This is a dreadful place!" he said aloud, with much gravity; "just such a spot as a murder might be committed in. I'm very glad I'm armed."

Scarcely had he uttered the words, when the donkey thrust forward his "pensive nose," and shook the hedge by pulling at a switch of more than common luxuriance. "I'll sell my life dearly!" was Tweasle's first sensation,—it could hardly be called idea, it was too confused,—as, preparing for attack, he instinctively clapped one hand upon his money, while with the other he presented a pistol towards the spot whence the noise proceeded. Not being, as he expected, immediately assaulted, he by a violent exertion of his mental powers so far mastered his bodily alarm as to gulp first and then breathe. He listened,—all was still. "They didn't know I was armed," thought Tweasle; "it was lucky I showed them my determination:" and, in something bordering upon confidence in the effects of his own courage, he ventured to whisper "Who's there?" when, receiving no answer, he increased his demand to "Who's there, I say?" in a somewhat louder voice. He was anxiously waiting the result of this boldness on his part when the animal, probably attracted by the sound, slowly moved towards the spot where Tweasle was standing. "Ah! come—d—n—don't—now—I—I'm armed, you know!" screamed the traveller, running about and wildly striking right and left with the pistol, confident that the action this time had positively commenced; but after some interval, becoming gradually convinced that he remained unhurt, he was quite satisfied that nothing but the extraordinary courage he had displayed could have saved him from this second desperate attempt upon his life; and, somewhat anxious to support the first dawn of his heroism, he said, or rather stammered, in a voice not always distinct, "Now—now,—whoever you are,—don't go too far, because it's no pleasure to me to shoot you;—but I will, if you do:—so, in the King's name, who are you?—I must fire if you won't speak!"

The last appeal was made more in the tone of entreaty than command, for Tweasle beheld a black mass thrust itself against the hedge, evidently inspecting him. A rush of confused ideas, a tumult of strange suspicions and surmises, a "regular row" of contending emotions, deprived him of all self-control; and, if the pistol had not just at that moment accidentally exploded, he had probably fallen to the ground. As it was, the noise revived him; and, taking advantage of the circumstance, with a ready conceit he cried out "There!" for he had seen the object disappear, and heard a faint cry as of one in agony,—whereon he walked from the place with every appearance of impertinent composure.

But this simulation did not long continue. As he became more conscious, he grew more agitated: he had probably shot a robber. For this he felt no remorse, and was persuading himself he would repeat the act, when he discovered that he had lost his pistols. This discovery gave him a fearful shock,—he was unarmed! Now came another dread.—Was the miscreant he had killed alone? or had he companions? Did not robbers usually congregate in bands; and might he not be pursued? But Tweasle was adopting the very best mode of avoiding such a danger, as, long before he asked himself the question, his walk had quickened into a sort of hand-gallop, which this fresh terror increased to the wild speed of utter despair. Without slackening his pace, the affrighted man had nearly reached his home, when a sharp blow across the shins brought him to the ground, and, looking up, Tweasle perceived the mendicant of the afternoon, and two other suspicious-looking fellows standing over him. He could not speak; but, turning his face downwards, stretched himself upon the earth.

"Are you going to sleep there?" inquired the beggar with a kick that was violently anti-soporific; and, seeing that Tweasle naturally writhed under the infliction, the fellow vociferated, "Come, that didn't hurt you. It's no use shamming here."

"I shan't wait about, all night for him," cried a diminutive gentleman disguised in a coalheaver's hat worn jockey-fashion, who, seizing Tweasle by the collar, lifted him from the ground, and giving him a shake that was sufficient to render any human nerves unsteady for eternity, asked the tottering man in a voice of angry expostulation, "Why the devil he couldn't stand still?"

Too terrified to offer the slightest opposition, the unhappy Tweasle endeavoured to obey, which spirit of accommodation was repaid by the most scrupulous attentions. With a delicate dexterity that scarcely acquainted the owner of the abstraction, everything that his pockets contained was removed without unnecessary delay; and Tweasle was beginning to hope that the robbers would be content with their booty, when one of the fellows, anxious to have his clothes also, told him in the slang phraseology to undress, by shouting,

"Come, skin yourself."

"Skin myself!" cried Tweasle, understanding the words literally, and bounding from the place in horror of what appeared to him a refinement on even fictitious barbarity. "Skin myself!—You can't mean it. I couldn't do it, if you'd give me the world.—It's impossible!—Oh, heavens!"

"No flash,—it won't do,—you'll undress," said the taller of the three with a calmness that thrilled his auditor.

"Oh! good gentlemen," continued Tweasle, wishing to touch their hearts by saying something pathetic, "do consider I'm a married man!—think of my poor wife!—think of my poor wife!"

"Carry her that 'ere with my compliments," cried the beggar, dashing his fist into Tweasle's face; an act which was received by the rest as an excellent joke.

"It will do you no good to ill-use a fellow-creature," replied Tweasle distinctly, as though the blow had refreshed him. "Don't think I shall resist; take what you please; only, as you are a man—in human form—in this world and in the next——"

"Sugar me! You're just agoing it nicely!" interrupted the mendicant. "I'm blowed if we pads don't teach more vartey than a bench of bishops. Never in all my born life borrowed on a friend that the beggar didn't funk pious and grunt gospel."

"But it is a natural impossibility for any man to skin himself."

"We'll do it for you, if you don't begin."

"Oh my heart! No!—Think of something else;—I'm willing to do anything but that."

"Stow that! Skin yourself,—shake them rags off your ugly pig of a body;—undress, and be d—d to you!"

Mr. Tweasle, who from this last speech gathered enough to remove his more horrible misgivings, delicately hinted at the inappropriateness of the place for such a purpose, the coolness of the night, the dislike he had to spectators at his toilet, and other things objectionable, but without effect: his opposition only confirmed the robbers' resolution, till a smart blow on the left cheek showed that they were inclined to silence, if they could not convince him.

Reluctantly the old man began to unrobe, parting with his garments one by one, and begging as a favour he might be allowed to retain only his waistcoat, on the worthlessness of which he expatiated till he convinced the plunderers it was of more value than its outside promised, as proved to be the case, notes to the amount of several hundreds being found pinned to the lining. They made many mock apologies for depriving him of this; sarcastically complimenting him for his modesty, which easily parted with other coverings, but blushed to expose his bosom: then, kicking him till he fell to the earth, there they left him.

Mrs. Tweasle reached the Italian villa as it was getting dusk, and the family sat up till midnight expecting Mr. Tweasle's arrival. As the hours advanced, the lady became alarmed, and sent Charles with a tumbler of rum and water into the kitchen, who, on his return, announced that Martha had declined the kitchen chair in favour of John's knee. "Never mind," cried the lady, made considerate by her fears; "such things are thought nothing of in the country." Whereupon she proceeded, with a strange concatenation of ideas, to state her opinion of second marriages; lamented that widows' caps were so difficult to get up; drank a little more rum and water; endeavoured to divert her mind with the Newgate Calendar, but could not enjoy it for thinking how cruel it was of Mr. Tweasle not to come home earlier, and openly protested against sleeping alone in a strange house; then took upon herself, in Mr. Tweasle's absence, to read prayers and lock up for the night. The signal for retiring being given, each took a candlestick; but, before they separated, the mistress entreated all of them to be very watchful in their sleep for fear of robbers, as she was certain Mr. Tweasle would not be home that night, and did not know what his absence might bring about.

The subject being once started, every one tarried to relate some tale of midnight assassination; and all of them selected a strange uninhabited dwelling as the scene of their agitating incidents. The straw and half-opened packages which strewed the apartment gave the place where they were congregated a cheerless aspect; and they were excited to a degree of listening silence, and staring inquisitively at one another, while John recounted how a lady of high respectability chanced to be sitting by herself in the kitchen of a dilapidated mansion about two hours after midnight, and looking thoughtfully, not knowing what ailed her, at a round hole where a knot in the wainscot had been thrust out, when she saw the large dark sparkling eye of a most ferocious assassin peeping at her through the opening.

Just as John had reached this point of painful interest, the heavy foot of a man was heard to pass hastily over the bridge, and the next moment the front-door was violently shaken. The two females instantly pinioned John by clinging round him with all the tenacity of terror, while at the same time they were loud in their demands for that protection which, had they needed it, he was by them effectually disabled from affording; while Master Tweasle, seizing the rattle, and aiding its noise with his voice, in no small degree increased the family distraction; above which, however, was plainly heard some one without, using his best endeavours to force the entrance. Whoever that some one was, he appeared wholly unmindful of secrecy; which palpable contempt of caution, and open disregard of whatever resistance the inhabitants might be able to make, greatly increased their fear of the villain's intentions. At each shock the door sustained, shrieks were uttered by the women, accompanied by a very spirited movement by the boy upon the rattle; and the interval between these assaults Mrs. Tweasle employed in murmuring prayers and complaints to Heaven and John for the protection of her life and property.

At last the assailant appeared to get exhausted; his attempts gradually became weaker and less frequent. Emboldened by this, the family ventured to the first-floor window, whence they could plainly see what all agreed was a countryman in a white smock-frock pacing to and fro in front of the house in all the bitterest rage of excessive disappointment.

"Oh, the wretch!" cried Mrs. Tweasle. "What a good door that is! I make no doubt he knew the furniture was not unpacked; and, if he could only have got in, he would have carried it all off before morning: he must have known Mr. Tweasle was not at home. Oh dear me!"

Soon after she had spoken, the man seemed to have conquered his vexation, and, approaching the door, he gave a very decent double knock; but, not receiving an answer, he knocked again somewhat louder, and then with all his former violence frequently returned, making actions as if he were vowing vengeance against the family, or calling imprecations down upon their heads for their resistance: but of what he said nothing could be heard, for this conduct so terrified the women that they screamed and shrieked, and Master Tweasle, as before, accompanied them on the rattle.

At length the robber, as if despairing of entrance, was seen to retire, but it was only to change the point of assault; they watched the villain move towards the back of the house; saw him, with a lofty courage that disdained at broken bottles, scale the garden-wall; and to their extreme delight, just as they were certain the back-door would not hold out, beheld him approach the jessamine bower where John had on the previous evening set one of the man-traps—and there he stayed.

A council of war was now held, which would have lasted till morning had it not been interrupted by Master Charles's firing a blunderbuss out of the window, thus bravely endeavouring to bring down the robber at a long shot; and he would have repeated his aim till he had hit his object, who might be distinctly seen making various strange contortions near the jessamine bower, had not his mother forbidden him. The boy, vexed by the check he received, mistook his ill-humour for bravery, and pettishly volunteered to advance to the thief, if John would accompany him on the expedition; but Mrs. Tweasle asked in surprise, "Was she to be left alone at the mercy of Heaven, without protection?" and John, with strong moral courage preferring duty to honour, rejected the proposal.

"Well, then," said the lad, "come along, Martha."

"Oh!—me?" cried the girl: "oh, Master Charles!" for the boy, when he requested her company, only thought that the exchange of a woman for a man was a vast sacrifice on his part; he never once considered how the substitution might affect the party it principally concerned.

Thus abandoned, he had stayed within, had not his mother insisted that he should not stir out: filial obedience supplied the place of resolution; he unbolted the back-door, and in a state of obstinate alarm issued into the garden.

Advancing cautiously, and by a most circuitous way, the boy approached the jessamine bower, and there discovered his father writhing and moaning, with one leg fast in a trap, which, according to his own orders, had been set for the protection of the cabbages.

"Oh! my dear boy, don't fire any more. It's me, Charles! let me out of this—I'm dying!"

"Why, if it isn't you, father!—only wait a bit——"

"Wait!—don't talk nonsense!" cried Tweasle, looking at his unfortunate leg, which was held in the trap, and feeling his condition aggravated by the supposition that it was one of choice.

"Yes, I'll fetch mother,"

"Hang your mother!—let me out of this!" ejaculated the poor man, who was no ways desirous of continuing his agony that it might be made a kind of domestic exhibition of; but, deaf to his parent's entreaties, the boy ran away, quite full of his discovery. On the steps he met the maid-servant, whom he rebuked with much coarseness for appearing alarmed, and presently returned, marching like a conqueror at the head of a triumph.

All were much surprised at beholding Mr. Tweasle in such a situation, unrobed and wounded, shivering from cold and terror, and deprived of all self-command by exhaustion and a man-trap. Mrs. Tweasle was quite overpowered by the sight: her feelings rather claimed pity than bestowed it; for while John was removing the steel trap from his master's legs, she kept moaning, and entreating her husband only to consider how his conduct had pained her. The poor maid-servant displayed great goodness of heart; she tenderly bound her master's naked legs, gently lifted him into the chair that was brought to convey him into the house, and appeared quite to overcome the natural delicacy of her sex in the praiseworthy endeavour to render a fellow-creature every possible assistance; while John and Master Tweasle seemed more inclined to converse on what had happened than to mingle in what was taking place, repeatedly putting questions which the sufferer was incapable of answering, as to wherefore he did that, or why he did not do this.

Tweasle's injuries were rather painful than dangerous: in a few days he was convalescent, and was beginning to grow valiant in his descriptions of his midnight mishaps, when the following hand-bill was submitted to his notice.

"Whereas a valuable male donkey, the property of Stephen Hedges, was on the night of the 6th of May last maliciously shot at and killed by some person or persons unknown; this is to give notice, that whoever will render such information as shall lead to the conviction of the offender or offenders, shall receive Five Pounds reward."

For some time after reading this, Tweasle appeared full of thought, when he surprised his family by a sudden resolution to send Stephen Hedges five pounds; nor could any remonstrance on the part of his wife change his charitable purpose. No one could account for this: in pence the late tobacconist had always been a pattern of benevolence; but to give pounds was not in the ordinary scale of his charity. None could assign a reason for so boundless a beneficence, more than they could comprehend why Tweasle should, whenever the subject was mentioned, expatiate with so much feeling on "What the poor ass must have suffered!"