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Conversion of the Foxhunter.
I QUESTION not but most of my readers will be very well pleased to hear, that my friend the foxhunter, of whose arrival in town I gave notice in my last paper, is become a convert to the present establishment, and a good subject to King George. The motives to his conversion shall be the subject of this paper, as they may be of use to other persons who labour under those prejudices and prepossessions, which hung so long upon the mind of my worthy friend. These I had an opportunity of learning the other day, when, at his request, we took a ramble together, to see the curiosities of this great town.
The first circumstance, as he ingenuously confessed to me, (while we were in the coach together,) which helped to disabuse him, was seeing King Charles I. on horseback, at Charing Cross ; for he was sure that prince could never have kept his seat there, had the stories been true he had heard in the country, that forty-one was come about again.
He owned to me that he looked with horror on the new church that is half built in the Strand, as taking it, at first sight, to be half demolished: but upon inquiring of the workmen, was agreeably surprised to find, that instead of pulling it down, they were building it up; and that fifty more were raising in other parts of the town.
To these I must add a third circumstance, which I find had no small share in my friend's conversion. Since his coming to town, he chanced to look into the church of St. Paul, about the middle of sermon-time, where, having first examined the dome, to see if it stood safe, (for the screw-plot still ran in his head,) he observed, that the lord mayor, aldermen, and city sword, were a part of the congregation. This sight had the more weight with him, as, by good luck, not above two of that venerable body were fallen asleep.
This discourse held us till we came to the Tower ; for our first visit was to the lions. My friend, who had a great deal of talk with their keeper, inquired very much after their health, and whether none of them had fallen sick upon the taking of Perth, and the flight of the Pretender? and hearing they were never better in their lives, I found he was extremely startled : for he had learned from his cradle, that the lions in the Tower were the best judges of the title of our British kings, and always sympathized with our sovereigns.
After having here satiated our curiosity, we repaired to the Monument, where my fellow-traveller, being a well-breathed man, mounted the ascent with much speed and activity. I was forced to halt so often in this perpendicular march, that, upon my joining him on the top of the pillar, I found he had counted all the steeples and towers which were discernible from this advantageous situation, and was endeavouring to compute the number of acres they stood upon. We were both of us very well pleased with this part of the prospect ; but I found he cast an evil eye upon
several warehouses, and other buildings, that looked like barns, and seemed capable of receiving great multitudes of people. His heart misgave him that these were so many meeting-houses, but, upon communicating his suspicions to me, I soon made him easy in this particular.
We then turned our eyes upon the river, which gave me an occasion to inspire him with some favourable thoughts of trade and merchandise, that had filled the Thames with such crowds of ships, and covered the shore with such swarms of people.
We descended very leisurely, my friend being careful to count the steps, which he registered in a blank leaf of his new almanack. Upon our coming to the bottom, observing an English inscription upon the basis, he read it over several times, and told me he could scarce believe his own eyes, for that he had often heard from an old attorney, who lived near him in the country, that it was the Presbyterians who burned down the city ; whereas, says he, this pillar positively affirms in so many words, that 'the burning of this ancient city was begun and carried on by the treachery and malice of the Popish faction, in order to the carrying on their horrid plot for extirpating the Protestant religion and old English liberty, and introducing Popery and slavery.' This account, which he looked upon to be more authentic than if it had been in print, I found, made a very great impression upon him.
We now took coach again, and made the best of our way for the Royal Exchange, though I found he did not much care to venture himself into the throng of that place ; for he told me he had heard they were, generally speaking, republicans, and was afraid of
having his pocket picked amongst them. But he soon conceived a better opinion of them, when he spied the statue of King Charles II. standing up in the middle of the crowd, and most of the kings in Baker's Chronicle ranged in order over their heads ; from whence he very justly concluded, that an antimonarchical assembly could never choose such a place to meet in once a day.
To continue this good disposition in my friend, after a short stay at Stock's Market, we drove away
directly for the Mews, where he was not a little edified with the sight of those fine sets of horses which have been brought over from Hanover, and with the care that is taken of them. He made many good remarks upon this occasion, and was so pleased with his company, that I had much ado to get him out of the stable.
In our progress to St. James's Park (for that was the end of our journey) he took notice, with great satisfaction, that, contrary to his intelligence in the country, the shops were all open and full of business ; that the soldiers walked civilly in the streets; that clergymen, instead of being affronted, had generally the wall given them; and that he had heard the bells ring to prayers from morning to night in some part of the town or another.
As he was full of these honest reflections, it happened very luckily for us, that one of the king's coaches passed by with the three young princesses in it, whom by an accidental stop we had an opportunity of surveying for some time ; my friend was ravished with the beauty, innocence, and sweetness that appeared in all their faces. He declared several times, that they were the finest children he had ever seen in
all his life ; and assured me that, before this sight, if any one had told him it had been possible for three such pretty children to have been born out of England, he should never have believed them.
We were now walking together in the Park, and as it is usual for men who are naturally warm and heady, to be transported with the greatest flush of good nature when they are once sweetened ; he owned to me very frankly, he had been much imposed upon by those false accounts of things he had heard in the country; and that he would make it his business, upon his return thither, to set his neighbours right, and give them a more just notion of the present state of affairs.
What confirmed my friend in this excellent temper of mind, and gave him an inexpressible satisfaction, was a message he received, as we were walking together, from the prisoner for whom he had given his testimony in his late trial. This person having been condemned for his part in the late rebellion, sent him word that his Majesty had been graciously pleased to reprieve him, with several of his friends, in order, as it was thought, to give them their lives; and that he hoped before he went out of town they should have a cheerful meeting, and drink health and prosperity to King George.