Mr. Kneebone and his Friends.
Mrs. Wood was scarcely seated before Mr. Kneebone made his appearance. To her great surprise and mortification he was not alone; but brought with him a couple of friends, whom he begged to introduce as Mr. Jeremiah Jackson, and Mr. Solomon Smith, chapmen, (or what in modern vulgar parlance would be termed bagmen) travelling to procure orders for the house of an eminent cloth manufacturer in Manchester. Neither the manners, the looks, nor the attire of these gentlemen prepossessed Mrs. Wood in their favour. Accordingly, on their presentation, Mr. Jeremiah Jackson and Mr. Solomon Smith received something very like a rebuff. Luckily, they were not easily discomposed. Two persons possessing a more comfortable stock of assurance could not be readily found. Imitating the example of Mr. Kneebone, who did not appear in the slightest degree disconcerted by his cool reception, each sank carelessly into a chair, and made himself at home in a moment. Both had very singular faces; very odd wigs, very much pulled over their brows; and very large cravats, very much raised above their chins. Besides this, each had a large black patch over his right eye, and a very queer twist at the left side of his mouth, so that if their object had been disguise, they could not have adopted better precautions. Mrs. Wood thought them both remarkably plain, but Mr. Smith decidedly the plainest of the two. His complexion was as blue as a sailor’s jacket, and though Mr. Jackson had one of the ugliest countenances imaginable, he had a very fine set of teeth. That was something in his favour. One peculiarity she did not fail to notice. They were both dressed in every respect alike. In fact, Mr. Solomon Smith seemed to be Mr. Jeremiah Jackson’s double. He talked in the same style, and pretty nearly in the same language; laughed in the same manner, and coughed, or sneezed at the same time. If Mr. Jackson took an accurate survey of the room with his one eye, Mr. Smith’s solitary orb followed in the same direction. When Jeremiah admired the Compasses in the arms of the Carpenter’s Company over the chimney-piece, or the portraits of the two eminent masters of the rule and plane, William Portington, and John Scott, Esquires, on either side of it, Solomon was lost in wonder. When Mr. Jackson noticed a fine service of old blue china in an open japan closet, Mr. Smith had never seen anything like it.