The only person that is in any way a match for this redoubtable politician, is Ready-Money Jack Tibbets, who maintains his stand in the tap-room, in defiance of the radical and all his works. Jack is one of the most loyal men in the country, without being able to reason about the matter. He has that admirable quality for a tough arguer, also, that he never knows when he is beat. He has half-a-dozen old maxims which he advances on all occasions, and though his antagonist may overturn them never so often, yet he always brings them anew to the field. He is like the robber in Ariosto, who, though his head might be cut off half-a-hundred times, yet whipped it on his shoulders again in a twinkling, and returned as sound a man as ever to the charge.
Whatever does not square with Jack’s simple and obvious creed, he sets down for “French politics;” for, notwithstanding the peace, he cannot be persuaded that the French are not still laying plots to ruin the nation, and to get hold of the Bank of England. The radical attempted to overwhelm him, one day, by a long passage from a newspaper; but Jack neither reads nor believes in newspapers. In reply, he gave him one of the stanzas which he has by heart from his favourite, and indeed only author, old Tusser, and which he calls his Golden Rules:
Leave princes’ affairs undescanted
And tend to such doings as stand thee upon;
Fear God, and offend not the king nor his laws,
And keep thyself out of the magistrate’s claws.
When Tibbets had pronounced this with great emphasis, he pulled out a well-filled leathern purse, took out a handful of gold and silver,—paid his score at the bar with great punctuality, returned his money, piece by piece, into his purse, his purse into his pocket, which he buttoned up; and then, giving his cudgel a stout thump upon the floor, and bidding the radical “good-morning, sir!” with the tone of a man who conceives he has completely done for his antagonist, he walked with lion-like gravity out of the house. Two or three of Jack’s admirers who were present, and had been afraid to take the field themselves, looked upon this as a perfect triumph, and winked at each other when the radical’s back was turned. “Ay, ay!” said mine host, as soon as the radical was out of hearing, “let old Jack alone; I’ll warrant he’ll give him his own!”
But cawing rooks, and kites that swim
In still repeated circles, screaming loud;
The jay, the pie, and e’en the boding owl,
That hails the rising moon, have charms for me.
In a grove of tall oaks and beeches, that crowns a terrace-walk just on the skirts of the garden, is an ancient rookery, which is one of the most important provinces in the Squire’s rural domains. The old gentleman sets great store by his rooks, and will not suffer one of them to be killed: in consequence of which, they have increased amazingly; the tree-tops are loaded with their nests; they have encroached upon the great avenue, and have even established, in times long past, a colony among the elms and pines of the church-yard, which, like other distant colonies, has already thrown off allegiance to the mother country.