Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

Free. His private fortune, as one of the younger branches of a wealthy family, was no more than three thousand pounds, and from this comparatively small sum, either by his hoardings as a miser, or by his gettings as a lawyer, he is now supposed to be worth fifty times that sum.

Wor. It seems he was never married.

Free. Report says, he never thought of marrying but once, and that was to a rich widow, who was nearly as frugal as himself. The marriage articles were accordingly drawn out by himself: but when he came to lecture her on his methods of economy, and especially that he could never allow but one sheet to the bed, as lying upon the blankets is the most wholesome, she begged to be off. Upon this he threatened to prosecute her for a breach of contract, and thereby picked her pocket of two hundred pounds.

Wor. What a strange trick! But all this was no great sum to begin with, if what Mr. George Lovely says be true, that he is now worth upwards of five thousand pounds a year.

Free. Sir, I don't doubt it. Hoarding and saving are all his delight. He is an excellent arithmetician ; and this talent he always exercises in the old proverb, " A penny saved is a penny got.” He was so well acquainted with the consequences of simple interest and compound interest, that report says, it was he who recommended that plan to the late prime minister, to pay off the national debt; and as on that occasion, he feigned himself a man of property, he got a good slice of the secret service money for his advice, another addition to bis useless hoard.

Wor. As to his personal expenses, it seems he is stingy beyond any thing.

Free. Sir, report says, he wore the same suit of clothes, of a dark grey mixture, for full fourteen

a years; and which most people remembered from childhood : so that he was known by the name of the grey alderman. And as he was under the necessity of appearing decent, that he might pick up a few of those precious things called guineas, which he was in the habit of receiving, upon being consulted for his advice; and when he appeared abroad upon his business, it is said, that to keep his best suit in a state of proper preservation, he adhered strictly to the following rules.-First, he never wore them but as he was professionally consulted; and then if at home; when any came for his advice, he 'would slip off his morning gown, and put on his coat and waistcoat, and next cover his old patched tattered smallclothes with a silk handkerchief, which was always at hand for that purpose.

Secondly. As soon as he had given his advice, these clothes were immediately slipt off, and returned to the chest, that they might be preserved from dust, wind, and weather, till wanted again.

Thirdly. Whenever he was called abroad, and when seated in an elbow chair in these clothes, he would always sit like a trussed turkey, with his arms close to bis body, that he might not damage the elbows by any wasteful rubs; the same care he also took not to lean back, but sat as upright as a dart, that the shoulder bones might not have the same effect on the back of his coat.

Wor. What an astonishing instance of frugality, and care!

Free. Yes Sir; and his old morning gown was another piece of curious antiquity, the real age of which could never be correctly ascertained. It was originally fabricated out of some old curtains, which he bought as a bargain at a sale, and designed as hangings for his bed. But having discovered that these would be unwholesome, as they were likely to prevent the free circulation of the air, they were by himself, who for the same frugal purposes, had pretty well learnt the use of the needle, transmogrified into this morning gown. His wig also, was another piece of valuable antiquity, which had been in existence upwards of nine years, and which gave him a very respectable and alderman-like appearance.

This also

.

was worn with the same frugality and economy, aad. when done with, returned into its band-box with re. inarkable care, when its place would be supplied by an old Welsh wig, which he luckily procured for a bad debt, together with some sheets and blankets, which he claimed in lieu of fees, from the executors of an old man, who died a few pounds in his debt leaving bis grand-daughter behind him to execrate such a rapacious wretch; who could thereby deprive her of the small gratuities she expected for her attendance, and not even leave her a sufficiency to carry her grandfather with decency to the grave.

Wor, What a horrid wretch! And is he as frugal in his house-keeping, as he is in his clothing ?

Free. Sir, he ever insists upon it, that if people are troubled with rats or mice, it is their own fault; for that it is a sure proof they keep too good a house; that as he has never been pestered with such sort of intruders, he has always saved himself the expense of keeping a cat; so that if ever a rat or a mouse through mistake, should steal into his premises, one could almost feign to oneself the idea, how they would stand with tears in their eyes, lamenting their sad mistake, that ever they should have found the unfortuvate hole into that horrid land of famine?

Wor. Though none of us wish to be molested with such guests, yet I should be very sorry if the same fraternity had the same cause of sorrow in peeping into my pantry; yet there can be no doubt, but that his housekeeping was all of a piece, if rats and mice were so alarmed at the sight of it.

Free. He was in the habit of remarking, that his expenses for himself and an old woman, who occasionally waits on him, formerly amounted to about ninepence a day, but that of late they had been nearly doubled. The common black tea he prefers, as being the most wholesome; for where he can save a penny, he wonderfully stadies the wholesomes; and treacle and water, be adopts as his beverage, on the same account ; though now and then, he allows a pint of small beer, as a treat between him and his maid.

Wor. It is a wonder he has not starved himself to death.

Free. Sir, from the same principles he never allows the use of mustard, pepper, and scarcely any salt, as they are very expensive articles, and stimulate people's appetites to eat more than nature requires; while The little scraps he buys at the market, are pretty high scented, before they are reduced to the price he chooses to give. Sometimes he will even indulge himself with a little poultry, provided it has been rendered cheap through an untimely death.

Wor. I never lieard of such a filthy old hog in all

iny life.

Free. But Sir, this strange old economist after all, while he is thus frugal at his own table, can be voracious enough when he enjoys his repast at the tables of others; and though he always says, it is a sure sign a man is a toper when be can uncork the bottle for his own indulgence ; yet at the table of others, the pop of an uncorking bottle, is not less pleasant to his ears, than the taste of the wine is grateful to his palate.

Wor. Such curious instances of astonishing trugality and meanness, I think I never heard of before.

Free. Sir, I can give you other instances of the same sort : whenever he attends any of the corporation feasts, made at the public expense, they say, he will not only half starve himself the day before, that he may then satisfy his voracious appetite with as much as ever it will dispense with ; but after dinner, if he sees any thing that is moveable, such as biscuits, oranges, apples, almonds and raisins, dried sweetmeats, and other such rarities, these will find their way into his pocket in considerable abundance.

Wor. I wonder he is not ashamed of himself.

Free. Shame Sir! why there is no shame in hira. For though the town is filled with misers, yet he is so much worse than the worst of them, that he is the butt of general ridicule and contempt among them all. On one of these occasions, an artful wag, contrived to cut a hole in his pocket, whereby his intended hoard was found scattered about the room as fast as he could pocket it. At another time, he was treated with the intermixture of a nearly tasteless powder of a certain root, that acts as a powerful cathartic, which they say, had a very rapid effect after a most plentiful repast. Really Sir, I am almost ashamed to tell you these strange stories, but that you may understand how he would submit to any thing sooner than forego the advantages resulting from his covetous pranks.

Wor. Whas ever such a creature heard of before ? He surely never could find it in his heart to ask a friend to partake of a meal with him : if he begrudged himself, he certainly begrudged his friends. But in his line, how could he avoid all acts of apparent hospitalities of this sort ?

Free. Now and then he was under the painful necessity of inviting a person to his table, and giving them a dinner, but never unless under the expectation of securing their custom, or for some other lucrative motive, and then he and his old servant would live upon the scraps that were left till quite musty. On one of these occasions, he treated his guest with a roasting pig, which unfortunately lost its life by being overlaid by the sow, and which was not discovered till above a day after its death.-- And then it proved such a savory repast to his guest, that it made him so very ill, that he thought it necessary to employ Mr. Greedy ļo alter his will, lest he should die; whereby he not only procured a couple of guineas for himself, but another guinea for a physician, who was nearly as covetous as himself, that he might obtain a proper recipe to dislodge the portion of the aforesaid pig, which had made him so ill.

However on the next market day, as report says, Mr. Greedy had the misfortune to be well paid off in return; for having agreed on the purchase of the dead pig for a shilling, the woman who sold it called

a

« ÎnapoiContinuă »