The Squire holds Jack in very high esteem, and shows him to all his visitors, as a specimen of old English “heart of oak.” He frequently calls at his house, and tastes some of his homebrewed, which is excellent. He made Jack a present of old Tusser’s “Hundred Points of good Husbandrie,” which has furnished him with reading ever since, and is his text-book, and manual in all agricultural and domestic concerns. He has made dog’s ears at the most favourite passages, and knows many of the poetical maxims by heart.
Tibbets, though not a man to be daunted or flattered by high acquaintances; and though he cherishes a sturdy independence of mind and manner, yet is evidently gratified by the attentions of the Squire, whom he has known from boyhood, and pronounces “a true gentleman every inch of him.” He is also on excellent terms with Master Simon, who is a kind of privy counsellor to the family; but his great favourite is the Oxonian, whom he taught to wrestle and play at quarter-staff when a boy, and considers the most promising young gentleman in the whole country.
The Bachelor most joyfully
In pleasant plight doth pass his dales,
Good fellowship and companie
He doth maintain and keep alwaies.
—EVEN’S Old Ballads.
There is no character in the comedy of human life that is more difficult to play well, than that of an old Bachelor. When a single gentleman, therefore, arrives at that critical period when he begins to consider it an impertinent question to be asked his age, I would advise him, to look well to his ways. This period, it is true, is much later with some men than with others; I have witnessed more than once the meeting of two wrinkled old lads of this kind, who had not seen each other for several years, and have been amused by the amicable exchange of compliments on each other’s appearance, that takes place on such occasions. There is always one invariable observation: “Why, bless my soul! you look younger than when I last saw you!” Whenever a man’s friends begin to compliment him about looking young, he may be sure that they think he is growing old.
I am led to make these remarks by the conduct of Master Simon and the general, who have become great cronies. As the former is the younger by many years, he is regarded as quite a youthful blade by the general, who moreover looks upon him as a man of great wit and prodigious acquirements. I have already hinted that Master Simon is a family beau, and considered rather a young fellow by all the elderly ladies of the connexion; for an old bachelor, in an old family connexion, is something like an actor in a regular dramatic corps, who seems to “flourish in immortal youth,” and will continue to play the Romeos and Rangers for half a century together.