The Ingoldsby Legends, volume II




    You tell me that "a generous and enlightened Public" has given a favourable reception to those extracts from our family papers, which, at your suggestion, were laid before it some two years since;— and you hint, with all possible delicacy, that a second volume might not be altogether unacceptable at a period of the year when "auld warld stories" are more especially in request. With all my heart,—the old oak chest is not yet empty; in addition to which I have recently laid my hand upon a long MS. correspondence of my great uncle, Sir Peregrine Ingoldsby, a cadet of the family, who somehow contrived to attract the notice of George the Second, and received from his "honour-giving hand" the accolade of knighthood. To this last-named source I am indebted for several of the accompanying histories, while my inestimable friend Simpkinson has bent all the powers of his mighty mind to the task. From Father John's stores I have drawn largely. Our "Honourable" friend Sucklethumbkin—by the way, he has been beating our covers lately, when he shot a woodcock, and one of the Governor's pointers—gives a graphic account of the Operatic "row" in which he was heretofore so conspicuous; while even Mrs. Barney Maguire (neé Mademoiselle Pauline), whose horror of Mrs. Botherby's cap has no jot diminished, furnishes me with the opening Legend of the series from the historiettes of her own belle France.

    Why will you not run down to Tappington this Christmas?—We have been rather busy of late in carrying into execution the enclosure of Swingfield Minnis under the auspices of my Lord Radnor, and Her Majesty's visit to the neighbourhood has kept us quite alive: the Prince in one of his rides pulled up at the end of the avenue, and, as A * * told Sucklethumbkin, was much taken with the picturesque appearance of our old gable-ends. Unluckily we were all at Canterbury that morning, or proud indeed should we have been to offer his Royal Highness the humble hospitalities of the Hall,—and then—fancy Mrs. Botherby's "My Gracious!" By the way, the old lady tells me you left your night-cap here on your last visit; it is laid up in lavender for you;—come and reclaim it. The Yule log will burn bright as ever in the cedar room. Bin No. 6 is still one liquid ruby—the old October yet smiles like mantling amber, in utter disdain of that vile concoction of camomile which you so pseudonymously dignify with the title of "Bitter Ale"—Make a start, then;—pitch printer's-ink to old Harry,—and come and spend a fortnight with

Yours, till the crack of doom,

                       Dec. 16th, 1842.