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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Tobias George Smollett (1721–1771)

Tabitha on Domestic Economy

From “Humphrey Clinker”

I AM astonished that Dr. Lewis should take upon him to give away Alderney, without my privity and concurrants. What signifies my brother’s order? My brother is little more than noncompush. He would give away the shirt off his back, and the teeth out of his head. Nay, as for that matter, he would have ruinated the family with his ridiculous charities, if it had not been for my four quarters. What between his wilfulness and his waste, his trumps and his frenzy, I lead the life of an indented slave. Alderney gave four gallons a day ever since the calf was sent to market. There is so much milk out of my dairy, and the press must stand still; but I won’t lose a cheese-paring; and the milk shall be made good if the sarvents should go without butter. If they must needs have butter, let them make it of sheep’s milk; but then my wool will suffer for want of grace; so that I must be a loser on all sides. Well, patience is like a stout Welsh poney: it bears a great deal, and trots a great way, but it will tire at the long run. Before it’s long, perhaps I may show Matt that I was not born to be the household drudge to my dying day. Gwyn writes from Crickhowell, that the price of flannel has fallen three farthings an ell; and that’s another good penny out of my pocket. When I go to market to sell, my commodity stinks; but when I want to buy the commonest thing, the owner pricks it up under my nose, and it can’t be had for love nor money. I think everything runs cross at Brambleton Hall. You say the gander has broke the eggs; which is a phinumenon I don’t understand; for when the fox carried off the old goose last year, he took her place, and hatched the eggs, and partected the goslings like a tender parent. Then you tell me the thunder has soured two barrels of beer in the seller. But how the thunder should get there, when the seller was double-locked, I can’t comprehend. Howsomever, I won’t have the beer thrown out till I see it with my own eyes. Perhaps it will recover; at least it will serve for vinegar to the sarvents. You may leave off the fires in my brother’s chamber and mine, as it is unsartin when we return. I hope, Gwyllim, you’ll take care there is no waste; and have an eye to the maids, and keep them to their spinning. I think they may go very well without beer in hot weather; it serves only to inflame the blood, and set them agog after the men. Water will make them fair, and keep them cool and tamperit. Don’t forget to put up in the port-mantel, that cums with Williams, along with my riding-habit, hat, and feather, the viol of purl-water, and the tincktur for my stomach, being as how I am much troubled with flutterencies.