The Project Gutenberg eBook, Tales from "Blackwood," Volume 2, by Various

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Title: Tales from "Blackwood," Volume 2

Author: Various

Release Date: April 30, 2010 [eBook #32186]

Language: English

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Contents of this Volume

Lazaro’s Legacy. By Colonel E. B. Hamley

A Story without a Tail. By Dr Maginn

Faustus and Queen Elizabeth

How I became a Yeoman. By Professor Aytoun

Devereux Hall. By Mrs Southey

The Metempsychosis. By Dr Robert Macnish

College Theatricals




[Pg 1]






[MAGA. December 1851.]


The note-book of my grandfather, Major Flinders, contains much matter relative to the famous siege of Gibraltar, and he seems to have kept an accurate and minute journal of such of its incidents as came under his own observation. Indeed, I suspect the historian Drinkwater must have had access to it, as I frequently find the same notabilia chronicled in pretty much the same terms by both these learned Thebans. But while Drinkwater confines himself mostly to professional matters—the state of the fortifications, nature of the enemy’s fire, casualties [Pg 2]to the soldiery, and the like—and seldom introduces an anecdote interesting to the generality of readers without apologising for such levity, my grandfather’s sympathies seem to have been engrossed by the sufferings of the inhabitants deprived of shelter, as well as of sufficient food, and helplessly witnessing the destruction of their property. Consequently, his journal, though quite below the dignity of history, affords, now and then, a tolerably graphic glimpse of the beleaguered town.

From the discursive and desultory nature of the old gentleman’s style, as before hinted, it would be vain to look for a continuous narrative in his journal, even if it contained materials for such. But here and there a literary Jack Horner might extract a plum or two from the vast quantity of dough—of reflections, quotations, and all manner of irrelevant observations, surrounding them. The following incidents, which occurred at the most interesting period of the long and tedious siege, appear to me to give a fair idea of some of the characteristics of the time, and of the personages who figured in it; and accordingly, after subjecting them to a process analogous to gold-washing, I present them to the reader.

After a strict blockade of six months, reducing the garrison to great extremity for want of provisions, Gibraltar was relieved by Sir George Rodney, who landed a large quantity of stores. But about a year after his departure, no further relief having [Pg 3]reached them except casual supplies from trading vessels that came at a great risk to the Rock, their exigencies were even worse than before. The issue of provisions was limited in quantity, and their price so high, that the families, even of officers, were frequently in dismal straits. This has given rise to a wooden joke of my grandfather’s, who although he seldom ventures on any deliberate facetiousness, has entitled the volume of his journal relating to this period of the siege, The Straits of Gibraltar. He seems to have estimated the worth of his wit by its rarity, for the words appear at the top of every page.

The 11th of April 1781 being Carlota’s birthday, the Major had invited Owen (now Lieutenant Owen) to dine with them in honour of the occasion. Owen was once more, for the time, a single man; for Juana, having gone to visit her friends in Tarifa just before the commencement of the siege, had been unable to rejoin her husband. In vain had Carlota requested that the celebration might be postponed till the arrival of supplies from England should afford them a banquet worthy of the anniversary—the Major, a great stickler for ancient customs, insisted on its taking place forthwith. Luckily, a merchant-man from Minorca had succeeded in landing a cargo of sheep, poultry, vegetables, and fruit the day before, so that the provision for the feast, though by no means sumptuous, was far better than any they [Pg 4]had been accustomed to for many months past. The Major’s note-book enables me to set the materials for the dinner, and also its cost, before the reader—viz. a sheep’s head, price sixteen shillings (my grandfather was too late to secure any of the body, which was rent in pieces, and the fragments carried off as if by wolves, ere the breath was well out of it)—a couple of fowls, twenty shillings (scraggy creatures, says my ancestor in a parenthesis)—a ham, two guineas—raisins and flour for a pudding, five shillings—eggs (how many, the deponent sayeth not), sixpence each—vegetables, nine and sixpence—and fruit for dessert, seven and tenpence. Then, for wine, a Spanish merchant, a friend of Carlota’s, had sent them two bottles of champagne and one of amontillado, a present as generous then as a hogshead would have been in ordinary times; and there was, moreover, some old rum, and two lemons for punch. Altogether, there was probably no dinner half so good that day in Gibraltar.

At the appointed hour, the Major was reading in his quarters (a tolerably commodious house near the South Barracks, and at some distance outside the town) when Owen appeared.

“You’re punctual, my boy; and punctuality’s a cardinal virtue about dinner-time,” said my grandfather, looking at his watch; “three o’clock exactly. And now we’ll have dinner. I only hope the new cook is a tolerable proficient.”

[Pg 5]

“What’s become of Mrs Grigson?” asked Owen. “You haven’t parted with that disciple of Apicius, I should hope?”

“She’s confined again,” said my grandfather, sighing; “a most prolific woman that! It certainly can’t be above half-a-year since her last child was born, and she’s just going to have another. ’Tis certainly not longer ago than last autumn,” he added, musingly.

“A wonderful woman,” said Owen; “she ought to be purchased by the Government, and sent out to some of our thinly-populated colonies. And who fills her place?”

“Why, I’ll tell you,” responded the Major. “Joe Trigg, my old servant, is confined too—in the guardroom, I mean, for getting drunk—and I’ve taken a man of the regiment, one Private Bags, for a day or two, who recommended his wife as an excellent cook. She says the same of herself; but this is her first trial, and I’m a little nervous about it.”

“Shocking rascal that Bags,” said Owen.

“Indeed!” said my grandfather; “I’m sorry to hear that. I didn’t inquire about his character. He offered his services, saying he came from the same part of England as myself, though I don’t recollect him.”

“Terrible work this blockade,” said the Major after a pause. “Do you know, if I was a general in command of a besieging army, I don’t think I [Pg 6]could find it in my heart to starve out the garrison. Consider now, my dear boy” (laying his forefinger on Owen’s arm)—“consider now, several thousand men with strong appetites, never having a full meal for months together. And just, too, as my digestion was getting all right—for I never get a nightmare now, though I frequently have the most delicious dreams of banquets that I try to eat, but wake before I get a mouthful. ’Tis enough to provoke a saint. And as if this was not enough, the supply of books is cut off. The Weekly Entertainer isn’t even an annual entertainer to me. The last number I got was in ’79, and I’ve been a regular subscriber these twelve years. There’s the Gentleman’s Magazine, too. The last one reached me a year since, with a capital story in it, only half-finished, that I’m anxious to know the end of; and also a rebus that I’ve been longing to see the answer to. ‘The answer in our next,’ says the tantalising editor. It’s a capital rebus—just listen now. ‘Two-thirds of the name of an old novelist, one-sixth of what we all do in the morning, and a heathen deity, make together a morsel fit for a king.’ I’ve been working at it for upwards of a year, and I can’t guess it. Can you?”

“Roast pig with stuffing answers the general description,” said Owen. “That, you’ll admit, is a morsel fit for a king.”

“Pooh!” said my grandfather. “But you must [Pg 7]really try now. I’ve run through the mythology, all that I know of it, and tried all the old novelists’ names, even Boccaccio and Cervantes. Never were such combinations as I have made—but can’t compound anything edible out of them. Again, as to what we do in the morning: we all shave (that is, all who have beards)—and we yawn, too; at least I do, on waking; but it must be a word of six letters. Then, who can the heathen deity be?”

“Pan is the only heathen deity that has anything to do with cookery,” said Owen. “Frying-pan, you know, and stew-pan.”

My grandfather caught at the idea, but had not succeeded in making anything of it, or in approximating to the solution of the riddle, when Carlota entered from an inner room.

“I wish, my dear, you would see about the dinner,” said the Major; “’tis a quarter past three.”

Si, mi vida” (yes, my life), said Carlota, who was in the habit of bestowing lavishly on my grandfather the most endearing epithets in the Spanish language, some of them, perhaps, not particularly applicable—niño de mi alma (child of my soul), luz de mis ojos (light of my eyes), and the like; none of which appeared to have any more effect on the object of them than if they had been addressed to somebody else.

Carlota rung the bell, which nobody answered. “Nurse is busy with de niña,” she said, when nobody [Pg 8]answered it; “I go myself to de cocina” (kitchen)—she spoke English as yet but imperfectly.

“There’s one comfort in delay,” said the Major; “’tis better to boil a ham too much than too little—and yet I shouldn’t like it overdone either.”

Here they were alarmed by an exclamation from Carlota. “Ah Dios! Caramba! Ven, ven, mi niño!” cried she from the kitchen.

The Major and Owen hastened to the kitchen, which was so close at hand that the smell of the dinner sometimes anticipated its appearance in the dining-room. Mrs Bags, the new cook, was seated before the fire. On the table beside her was an empty champagne bottle, the fellow to which protruded its neck from a pail in one corner, where the Major had put it to cool; and another bottle of more robust build, about half-full, was also beside her. The countenance of Mrs Bags wore a pleasant and satisfied, though not very intelligent smile, as she gazed steadfastly on the ham that was roasting on a spit before the fire—at least one side of it was done quite black, while the other oozed with warm grease; for the machinery which should have turned it was not in motion.

Caramba!” exclaimed Carlota, with uplifted hands. “Que picarilla!”—(What a knave of a woman!)

“Gracious heavens!” said my grandfather, “she’s roasting it! Who ever heard of a roast ham?”

[Pg 9]

“A many years,” remarked Mrs Bags, without turning her head, and still smiling pleasantly, “have I lived in gentlemen’s families—” Here this fragment of autobiography was terminated by a hiccup.

“And the champagne bottle is empty,” said Owen, handling it. “A nice sort of cook this of yours, Major. She seems to have constituted herself butler, too.”

My grandfather advanced and lifted the other bottle to his nose. “’Tis the old rum,” he ejaculated with a groan. “But if the woman has drunk all this ’twill be the death of her. Bags,” he called, “come here.”

The spouse of Mrs Bags emerged from a sort of scullery behind the kitchen—a tall bony man, of an ugliness quite remarkable, and with a very red face. He was better known by his comrades as Tongs, in allusion probably to personal peculiarities; for the length of his legs, the width of his bony hips, and the smallness of his head, gave him some distant resemblance to that article of domestic iron-mongery; but as his wife called herself Mrs Bags, and he was entered in the regimental books by that name, it was probably his real appellation.

“Run directly to Dr Fagan,” said the Major, “and request him to come here. Your wife has poisoned herself with rum.”

“’Tisn’t rum,” said Bags, somewhat thickly—“’tis fits.”

[Pg 10]

“Fits!” said my grandfather.

“Fits,” doggedly replied Mr Bags, who seemed by no means disturbed at the alleged indisposition of his wife—“she often gets them.”

“Don’t alarm yourself, Major,” said Owen, “I’ll answer for it she hasn’t drunk all the rum. The scoundrel is half-drunk himself, and smells like a spirit-vault. You’d better take your wife away,” he said to Bags.

“She can leave if she ain’t wanted,” said Private Bags, with dignity: “we never comes where we ain’t wanted.” And he advanced to remove the lady. Mrs Bags at first resisted this measure, proceeding to deliver a eulogium on her own excellent qualities, moral and culinary. She had, she said, the best of characters, in proof of which she made reference to several persons in various parts of the United Kingdom, and, as she spoke, she smiled more affably than ever.

La picarilla no tiene verguenza” (the wretch is perfectly shameless), cried Carlota, who, having hastily removed the ham from the fire, was now looking after the rest of the dinner. The fowls, cut up in small pieces, were boiling along with the sheep’s head, and, probably to save time, the estimable Mrs Bags had put the rice and raisins destined for a pudding into the pot along with them—certainly, as Owen remarked, a bold innovation in cookery.

[Pg 11]

Still continuing to afford them glimpses of her personal history, Mrs Bags was at length persuaded to retire along with her helpmate.

“What astonishing impudence,” said the Major, shutting the door upon her, “to pretend to be a cook, and yet know no better than to roast a ham!”

Carlota, meanwhile, was busy in remedying the disaster as far as she could; cutting the ham into slices and frying it, making a fricassee of the fowls, and fishing the raisins out of the pot, exclaiming bitterly all the while, in English and Spanish, against the tunanta (equivalent to female scoundrel or scamp) who had spoilt the only nice dinner her pobrecito, her niño, her querido (meaning my grandfather), had been likely to enjoy for a long time, stopping occasionally in her occupations to give him a consolatory kiss. However, my grandfather did not keep up the character of a martyr at all well: he took the matter really very patiently; and when the excellent Carlota had set the dinner on the table, and he tasted the fine flavour of the maltreated ham, he speedily regained his accustomed good-humour.

“It is very strange,” he said presently, while searching with a fork in the dish before him, “that a pair of fowls should have only three wings, two legs, and one breast between them.”

It certainly was not according to the order of [Pg 12]nature; nevertheless the fact was so, all my grandfather’s researches in the dish failing to bring to light the missing members. This, however, was subsequently explained by the discovery of the remains of these portions of the birds in the scullery, where they appeared to have been eaten after being grilled; and Mrs Bags’ reason for adopting this mode of cooking them was also rendered apparent—viz. that she might secure a share for herself without immediate detection.

However, all this did not prevent them from making the best of what was left, and the Major’s face beamed as he drank Carlota’s health in a glass of the remaining bottle of champagne, as brightly as if the dinner had been completely successful.

“It is partly my fault, Owen,” said the Major, “that you haven’t a joint of mutton instead of this sheep’s head. I ought to have been sharper. The animal was actually sold in parts before he was killed. Old Clutterbuck had secured a haunch, and he a single man, you know—’tis thrown away upon him. I offered him something handsome for his bargain, but he wouldn’t part with it.”

“We’re lucky to get any,” returned Owen. “Never was such a scramble. Old Fiskin, the commissary, and Mrs O’Regan, the Major’s wife, both swore the left leg was knocked down to them; neither would give in, and it was put up again, when the staff doctor, Pursum, who had just [Pg 13]arrived in a great hurry, carried it off by bidding eightpence more than either. Not one of the three has spoken to either of the others since; and people say,” added Owen, “Mrs O’Regan avers openly that Fiskin didn’t behave like a gentleman.”

“God knows!” said my grandfather, “’tis a difficult thing in such a case to decide between politeness and a consciousness of being in the right. Fiskin likes a good dinner.”

The dinner having been done justice to, Carlota removed the remains to a side-table, and the Major was in the act of compounding a bowl of punch, when there was a knock at the door. “Come in,” cried Carlota.

A light and timid step crossed the narrow passage separating the outer door from that of the room they sat in, and there was another hesitating tap at this latter. “Come in,” again cried Carlota, and a young girl entered with a basket on her arm.

“’Tis Esther Lazaro,” said Carlota in Spanish. “Come in, child; sit here and tell me what you want.”

Esther Lazaro was the daughter of a Jew in the town, whose occupations were multifarious, and connected him closely with the garrison. He discounted officers’ bills, furnished their rooms, sold them everything they wanted—all at most exorbitant rates. Still, as is customary with military [Pg 14]men, while perfectly aware that they could have procured what he supplied them with elsewhere at less expense, they continued to patronise and abuse him rather than take the trouble of looking out for a more liberal dealer. As the difficulties of the garrison increased, he had not failed to take advantage of them, and it was even said he was keeping back large stores of provisions and necessaries till the increasing scarcity should enable him to demand his own terms for them.

His daughter was about fifteen years old—a pretty girl, with hair of the unusual colour of chestnut, plaited into thick masses on the crown of her head. Her skin was fairer than is customary with her race—her eyes brown and soft in expression, her face oval, and her figure, even at this early age, very graceful, being somewhat more precocious than an English girl’s at those years. She was a favourite with the ladies of the garrison, who often employed her to procure feminine matters for them. Carlota, particularly, had always treated her with great kindness—and hence the present visit. She had come, she said timidly, to ask a favour—a great favour. She had a little dog that she loved. (Here a great commotion in the basket seemed to say she had brought her protégé with her.) He had been given to her by a young school friend who was dead, and her father would no longer let her keep it, because, he said, these were no times to keep [Pg 15]such creatures, when provisions, even those fit for a dog, were so dear. He was a very good little dog—would the Señora take him?

“Let us look at him, Esther,” said Owen—“I see you have brought him with you.”

“He is not pretty,” said Esther, blushing as she produced him from the basket. He certainly was not, being a small cur, marked with black and white, like a magpie, with a tail curling over his back. He did not appear at all at his ease in society, for he tried to shrink back again into the basket.

“He was frightened,” she said, “for he had been shut up for more than a month. She had tried to keep him in her bedroom, unknown to her father, feeding him with part of her own meals; but he had found it out, and had beaten her, and threatened to kill the dog if ever he saw it again.”

Pobrecito!” (poor little thing) said the good Carlota—“we shall take good care of it. Toma” (take this), offering him a bit of meat. But he crept under her chair, with his tail so depressed, in his extreme bashfulness, that the point of it came out between his forelegs.

Carlota would have made the young Jewess dine there forthwith, at the side-table still spread with the remains of the dinner, for social differences of position were lost in the general misery; but she refused to take anything, only sipping once from a [Pg 16]glass of wine that Carlota insisted on making her drink of. Then she rose, and, having tied the end of a string that was fastened to the dog’s collar to the leg of the table, to prevent his following her, took her leave, thanking Carlota very prettily.

A Dios, Sancho!” she said to the little dog, who wagged his tail and gave her a piteous look as she turned to go away—“A Dios, Sancho,” she repeated, taking him up and kissing him very affectionately. The poor child was ready to cry.

“Come and see him every day, my child,” said Carlota, “and when better times come you shall have him again.”


Lazaro the Jew was seated towards dusk that evening in a sort of office partitioned off by an open railing from a great store filled with a most motley collection of articles. Sofas, looking-glasses, washing-stands—bales of goods in corded canvass—rows of old boots purchased from officers’ servants—window curtains lying on heaps of carpeting and matting—bedsteads of wood and iron—crockery and glass—were all piled indiscriminately. Similar articles had also overflowed along the passage down the wooden steps leading to the square stone court below, which was lumbered with barrels, [Pg 17]packing-cases, and pieces of old iron. This court was entered from the street, and an arched door on one side of it, barred and padlocked, opened on a large warehouse, which nobody except the Jew had set foot in for many months.

The Jew himself was a spare, rather small man, with a thin eager face, small sharp features, and a scanty beard. Being by descent a Barbary Jew, he wore the costume peculiar to that branch of his race—a black skull-cap; a long-skirted, collarless, cloth coat, buttoned close, the waist fastened with a belt; loose light-coloured trousers and yellow slippers—altogether he looked somewhat like an overgrown Blue-coat Boy. He was busied in turning over old parchment-covered ledgers, when an officer entered.

Von Dessel was a captain in Hardenberg’s Hanoverian regiment. He was a square, strong-built man, about forty, with very light hair, as was apparent since the governor’s order had forbidden the use of powder to the troops, in consequence of the scarcity of flour. His thick, white, overhanging eyebrows, close lips, and projecting under jaw, gave sternness to his countenance.

“Good afternoon, captain,” said the Jew; “what I do for you to-day, sare?”

“Do for me! By Gott, you have done for me already, with your cursed Hebrew tricks,” said the [Pg 18]captain. The German and the Jew met on a neutral ground of broken English.

“I always treat every gentleman fair, sare,” said the Jew. “I tell you, captain, I lose by that last bill of yours.”

Der teufel! who gains, then?” said Von Dessel, “for you cut me off thirty per cent.”

The Jew shrugged his shoulders.

“I don’t make it so, sare; the siege makes it so. When the port is open, you shall have more better exchange.”

“Well, money must be had,” said the German. “What will you give now for my bill for twenty pounds?”

The Jew consulted a book of figures—then made some calculations on paper—then appeared to consider intently.

“Curse you, speak!” said the choleric captain. “You have made up your mind about how much roguery long ago.”

“Captain, sare, I give you feefty dollars,” said the Jew.

The captain burst forth with a volley of German execrations.

“Captain,” said the Jew presently, “I like to please a gentleman if I can. I give you one box of cigars besides—real Cubans—one hundred and feefty in a box.”

The captain at this broke forth again, but checked [Pg 19]himself presently on the entrance of the Jew’s daughter, who now returned from the Major’s. She advanced quietly into the room, made a little bow to the captain, took off and laid aside her shawl, and, taking up some work, sat down and began to sew.

Von Dessel resumed his expostulation in a milder tone. The Jew, however, knew the money was necessary to him, and only yielded so far as to increase his box of cigars to two hundred; and the captain, finding he could get no better terms from him, was forced to agree. While the Jew was drawing out the bills, the German gazed attentively at Esther, with a good deal of admiration expressed in his countenance.

“I can’t take the money now,” said he, after signing the bills. “I am going on duty. Bring it to me to-morrow morning, at nine o’clock.”

“I’m afraid I can’t, sare,” said Lazaro; “too much business. Couldn’t you send for it, captain?”

“Not possible,” said the German; “but you must surely have somebody that might bring it—some trustworthy person you know.” And his eye rested on Esther.

“There’s my dater, sare,” said the Jew—“I shall send her, if that will do.”

“Good,” said the captain, “do not forget,” and quitted the room forthwith.

He was scarcely gone when a pair with whom the reader is already slightly acquainted, Mr and [Pg 20]Mrs Bags, presented themselves. The effects of their morning conviviality had in a great measure disappeared.

“Your servant, sir,” said Bags. The Jew nodded.

“We’ve got a few articles to dispose of,” pursued Mr Bags, looking round the room cautiously. “They was left us,” he added in a low tone, “by a deceased friend.”

“Ah!” said the Jew, “never mind where you got ’em. Be quick—show them.”

Mrs Bags produced from under her cloak, first a tin tea-kettle, then a brass saucepan; and Mr Bags, unbuttoning his coat, laid on the table three knives and a silver fork. Esther, passing near the table at the time, glanced accidentally at the fork, and recognised the Flinders crest—a talbot, or old English bloodhound.

“Father,” said she hastily, in Spanish, “don’t have anything to do with that—it must be stolen.” But the Jew turned so sharply on her, telling her to mind her work, that she retreated.

The Jew took up the tea-kettle, and examined the bottom to see that it was sound—did the same with the saucepan—looked at the knives narrowly, and still closer at the fork—then ranged them before him on the table.

“For dis,” said he, laying his hand on the tea-kettle, “we will say one pound of rice; for dis (the saucepan) two pounds of corned beef; for de knives, [Pg 21]a bottle of rum; and for de fork, six ounces of the best tea.”

“Curse your tea!” said Mr Bags.

“Yes!” said Mrs Bags, who had with difficulty restrained herself during the process of valuation, “we doesn’t want no tea. And the things is worth a much more than what you say: the saucepan’s as good as new, and the fork’s silver—”

“Plated,” said the Jew, weighing it across his finger.

“A many years,” said Mrs Bags, “have I lived in gentlemen’s families, and well do I know plate from silver. I’ve lived with Mrs Milson of Pidding Hill, where everything was silver, and nothing plated, even to the handles of the doors; and a dear good lady she was to me; many’s the gown she give me. And I’ve lived with—”

Here the Jew unceremoniously interrupted the train of her recollections by pushing the things from before him. “Take what I offer, or else take your things away,” said he, shortly.

Mr and Mrs Bags grumbled considerably. The tea they positively refused at any price: Mr Bags didn’t like it, and Mrs Bags said it disagreed with her. So the Jew agreed to give them instead another bottle of rum, a pound of onions, and two pounds of beef; and with these terms they at length closed, and departed with the results of their barter.

[Pg 22]

During the altercation, a soldier of another regiment had entered, and stood silently awaiting his turn to be attended to. He was a gaunt man, with want written legibly in the hollows of his face and the dismal eagerness of his eye. He now came forward, and with trembling hands unfolded an old gown, and handed it to the Jew.

“’Tis no good to me,” said the latter, giving it back, after holding it against the light; “nothing but holes.”

“But my wife has no other,” said the man: “’tis her last stitch of clothes, except her petticoat and a blanket. I’ve brought everything else to you.”

The Jew shrugged his shoulders and spread out his hands, in token that he could not help it.

“I swear ’tis her last!” reiterated the man, as if he really fancied this fact must give the garment as much value in the Jew’s eyes as in his own.

“I tell you I won’t have it!” said the Jew, testily.

“Give me only a loaf for it, or but one pound of potatoes,” said the soldier: “’tis more than my wife and four children have had among them for two days. Half-rations for one, among six of us, is too hard to live.”

“A pound of potatoes,” said the Jew, “is worth four reals and a half—eighteenpence; your wife’s gown is worth—nothing!”

“Then take this,” said the man, beginning frantically [Pg 23]to pull off his uniform coat; “anything is better than starving.”

The Jew laughed. “What!” said he, “you think I don’t know better than to buy a soldier’s necessaries, eh? Ah, ah! no such a fool, I think, my friend. What your captain say?—eh?”

The man struck his hand violently on the table. “Then give me—or lend me,” said he, “some food, much or little, and I’ll work for you every hour I’m off duty till you’re satisfied. I will, Mr Lazaro, so help me God!”

“I got plenty of men to work for me,” said Lazaro; “don’t want any more. Come again, when you’ve got something to sell, my friend.”

The man rolled up the gown without speaking, then lifted it over his head, and dashed it into the furthest corner of the store. He was hurrying from the place, when, as if unwilling to throw away his last chance, he turned back, gathered it up, and, thrusting it under his arm, quitted the store with lingering steps, as if he even yet hoped to be called back. No such summons reached him, however; but, immediately after he was gone, Esther rose and stole softly down the stairs. She overtook him at the street-door opening from the court before mentioned, and laid her hand on his arm. The man turned and glared on her. “What!—he’ll buy it, will he?” said he.

“Hush!” said Esther—“keep it for your poor [Pg 24]wife. Look; I have no money, but take these,” and she placed in his hand two earrings hastily detached from her ears.

The man stood looking at her for a space, as if stupified, without closing his hand on the trinkets that lay on the palm; then, suddenly rousing himself, he swore, with tears in his eyes, that for this service he would do for her anything on earth she should require from him; but she only begged him to go away at once, and say nothing, lest her father should overhear the transaction, who would certainly be angry with her for it.

Bags and his wife had stopt in a corner of the court to pack up their property in a commodious form for conveyance, and had witnessed this scene in silence. As soon as the soldier had, in compliance with Esther’s entreaties, disappeared, Bags came forward.

“And your father would be angry, would he, my dear?” said he.

“Oh, very—oh, so angry! Please don’t stop me,” she said, trying to pass him.

“And what’ll ye give me not to tell him, now?” asked Mr Bags. “Ain’t ye got nothing for me?”

“No—oh, no—indeed, nothing. Do let me pass.”

“Yes, you have; you’ve got this, I think,” said Bags, snatching at a silver-mounted comb glistening in her hair, which, thus loosened, all fell down on her shoulders as she darted past him. “And [Pg 25]now,” said Mr Bags, inspecting his prize, “I think me and that ’ere cheating Jew is quits for the silver fork. I’ll allow it’s plated now.”


Early the next morning (the 12th of April) a rumour went through the town that an English fleet was signalled as in sight. The news roused the starving people like electricity. The pale spectres of men that, on the previous day, had stalked so gauntly through the dreary streets—the wretched, sinking women, and children careworn as grandfathers—poured forth, with something like a natural light in their hollow eyes, to witness the joyful spectacle. The sea-wall of the city was like the margin of a vast pool of Bethesda, thronged with hopeful wretches awaiting the coming of the angel.

The streets were instantly deserted. Those who could not leave their homes got on the housetops, but the great mass of the population spread itself along the line-wall, the Grand Parade and Alameda, and the heights skirting the chief slopes of the Rock. Moors and Jews, Spaniards and English, citizens and soldiers, men, women, and children, of all ages, grades, and nations, ranged themselves indiscriminately wherever they could obtain a view of the sea.

[Pg 26]

For some time the wished-for sight was delayed by a thick fog that spread itself across the Straits and the entrance of the bay. A murmur rose from each successive rank of people that forced itself into a front place on the line-wall. Terrible doubts flew about, originating no one knew where, but gaining strength and confirmation as they passed from mouth to mouth. On the summit of the Rock behind them the signal for a fleet flew steadily from the mast at Middle Hill; but still in this, as in all crowds, were some of little faith, who were full of misgivings. Many rushed up to the signal-station, unable to bear the pain of the delay. My grandfather noticed the Jew Lazaro among the throng, watching the event with an anxious eye, though his anxiety was from the opposite cause to that of most of the spectators. The arrival of supplies would at once bring down the price of provisions, and rob him, for the present, of his expected profits; and as each successive rumour obtained credence with the crowd, his countenance brightened as their hopes fell, and sank as they again emerged from despondency.

Not far from him was an old Genoese woman, wearing the quaint red cloak, trimmed with black velvet, that old Genoese women usually wear in Gibraltar. She hovered round the skirts of the crowd, occasionally peering beneath an uplifted arm, or thrusting it between two obstructing figures [Pg 27]to catch a glimpse, though it was evident that her dim eyes would fail to discern the fleet when it should come in view. Her thin shrivelled features, relieved against her black hood, were positively wolfish from starvation. She frequently drew one hand from beneath her cloak, and gazed at something she held in it—then, muttering, she would again conceal it. My grandfather’s curiosity was roused. He drew near and watched for the reappearance of the object that so engrossed her. It was a blue mouldy crust of bread.

The wished-for spectacle was at length revealed. “As the sun became more powerful,” says Drinkwater, rising into positive poetry with the occasion, “the fog gradually rose, like the curtain of a vast theatre, discovering to the anxious garrison one of the most beautiful and pleasing scenes it is possible to conceive. The convoy, consisting of near a hundred vessels, were in a compact body, led by several men-of-war—their sails just filled enough for steerage, while the majority of the line-of-battle ships lay to under the Barbary shore, having orders not to enter the bay, lest the enemy should molest them with their fireships.”

Then rose a great shout—at once the casting-off of long-pressing anxiety and the utterance of delight. Happy tears streamed down haggard faces overgrown with hair, and presently men turned to one another, smiling in the face of a stranger neighbour [Pg 28]as in that of an old friend, while a joyful murmur, distilled from many languages, rose upward. Assuredly, if blessings are of any avail, the soul of Admiral Darby, who commanded the relieving fleet, is at this moment in Paradise.

Friends and relations now began to search for one another in the crowd, which broke quickly into knots, each contriving how to enjoy together the plenty that was to descend upon them. My grandfather’s eye at this juncture was again attracted by the old Genoese woman. When the crowd shouted, she screened her eyes with her withered hand, and, with her nostril spread, her chin fallen, in her eagerness gazed towards the sea—but presently shook her head, discerning nothing. Then she plucked by the arm a joyful Spaniard.

Es verdad? Por Dios, es verdad?” she cried; “jura! jura!”—(Is it true? Swear by Heaven it is true.)

Si, si,” said the Spaniard, pointing; “es verdad” (’tis true). “You may see them yourself.”

Instantly the old woman, for the last time, drew forth her treasured crust, and began to devour it, muttering, as she tore away each mouthful, “Mas mañana! mas mañana!” (I shall have more to-morrow—more to-morrow!)

After the crowd had partially dispersed, Owen was returning to his quarters to breakfast, when, as he paused to open the door, he heard a voice he [Pg 29]thought he knew crying out in affright in the rooms opposite, where Von Dessel resided. Presently the door of the quarters was opened, and the flushed and frightened face of Esther Lazaro appeared, as she struggled to escape from Von Dessel, who held her arm.

“Señor, señor, speak to the gentleman!” she cried to Owen.

“Leetle foolish girl,” said Von Dessel, grinning a smile on seeing him; “she frightens at nothing. Come in, child”—trying to shut the door.

“Why don’t you let her alone?” said Owen; “don’t you see she doesn’t like you?”

“Pouf!” said the captain. “We all have trouble with them sometimes—you must know that well.”

“No, by Jupiter!” cried Frank Owen. “If I couldn’t gain them willingly, they might go to the devil for me. But you hurt her—pray let her go—you must indeed.”

“Do you mind your own affair,” said the captain, “and don’t meddle;” and, exerting his strength, he drew Esther in, and partially succeeded in shutting the door—she calling the while again on Owen to help her. Frank stepped forward, and, putting his foot against the door, sent it into the room, causing Captain Von Dessel, who was behind it, to stagger back with some violence, and to quit his hold of Esther, who ran down stairs.

“Very good, sir,” said the captain, stalking [Pg 30]grimly out of his room, pale with rage. “You have thought right to interfere with me, and to insult me. By Gott! I will teach you better, young man. Shall we say in one hour, sir, in the Fives’ Court?”

Owen nodded. “At your pleasure,” said he, and, entering his own quarters, shut the door.

Meanwhile my grandfather walked about with the telescope he had brought with him to look after the fleet under his arm, enjoying the unusual sight of happy faces around him. And he has remarked it as a singular feature of humanity, that this prospect of relief from physical want inspired a far more deep and universal joy than he had witnessed in any public rejoicings arising from such causes as loyalty or patriotism evinced at a coronation or the news of a great victory, or the election of a popular candidate; and hence my grandfather takes occasion to express a fear that human nature is, except among the rarer class of souls, more powerfully and generally influenced by its animal propensities than by more refined causes.

He was so engrossed with the philanthropic pursuit of enjoying the joy of the multitude, and the philosophic one of extracting moral reflections therefrom, that he quite forgot he had not breakfasted. He was just beginning to be reminded of the circumstance by a feeling of hollowness in the [Pg 31]region of the stomach, and to turn his steps homeward, when a light hand was laid on his arm. My grandfather turned, and beheld the face of the young Jewess looking wistfully in his.

She began at first to address him in Spanish—the language she spoke most naturally; but, quickly perceiving her mistake on hearing the extraordinary jargon in which he replied (for it is a singular fact that nobody but Carlota, who taught him, could understand my grandfather’s Spanish), she exchanged it for his own tongue. She told him in a few hurried words of the quarrel Owen had incurred on her account with Von Dessel, and of the challenge she had overheard given by the latter, beseeching the Major to hasten to prevent the result.

“In the Fives’ Court! in an hour!” said my grandfather. “When did this happen?”

Esther thought nearly an hour ago—she had been almost so long seeking my grandfather.

“I’ll go, child—I’ll go at once,” said the Major. “With Von Dessel, too, as if he could find nobody else to quarrel with but the best swordsman in the garrison. ‘Souls and bodies,’ quoted my grandfather, ‘hath he divorced three.’”

With every stride he took, the Major’s uneasiness was augmented. At any time his anxiety would have been extreme while peril threatened Frank; but now, when he was calculating on him as a companion at many a well-spread table, when they [Pg 32]might forget their past miseries, it peculiarly affected him.

“To think,” muttered my grandfather, “that these two madmen should choose a time when everybody is going to be made so happy, by getting plenty to eat, to show their gratitude to Providence by cutting one another’s throats!”

The danger to Owen was really formidable; for, though a respectable swordsman, he was no unusual proficient in the graceful art, while his opponent was not only, as my grandfather had said, the best swordsman in the garrison, but perhaps the best at that time in the army. As a student in Germany he had distinguished himself in some sanguinary duels; and since his arrival in Gibraltar, a Spanish gentleman, a very able fencer, had fallen beneath his arm.

“God grant,” said my grandfather to himself, as he neared the Fives’ Court, “that we may settle this without the perdition of souls. Frank, my dear boy, we could better spare a better man!”

On attempting to enter the Fives’ Court he was stopped by the marker, posted at the door. “It was engaged,” he said, “for a private match.”

“Ay, ay,” said my grandfather, pushing past him; “a pretty match, indeed! Ay, ay—pray God we can stop it!”

Finding the inner door locked, the Major, who was well acquainted with the locality—for, when [Pg 33]he had nothing else particular to do, he would sometimes mark for the players for a rubber or two—ascended the stairs to the gallery.

About the centre of the court stood the combatants. All preliminaries had been gone through—for they were stripped to their shirts—and the seconds (one a German, the adjutant of Hardenberg’s regiment—the other, one Lieutenant Rushton, an old hand at these affairs, and himself a fire-eater) stood by, each with a spare sword in his hand. In a corner was the German regimental surgeon, his apparatus displayed on the floor, ready for an emergency. Rushton fully expected Owen to fall, and only hoped he might escape without a mortal wound. Von Dessel himself seemed of the same opinion, standing square and firm as a tower, scarcely troubling himself to assume an attitude, but easy and masterly withal. Both contempt and malice were expressed for his antagonist in his half-shut eyes and the sardonic twist of the corners of his mouth.

“Owen, Owen, my boy!” shouted my grandfather, rushing to the front of the gallery, and leaning over, as the swords crossed—“stop, for God’s sake. You mustn’t fight that swash-buckler! They say he hath been fencer to the Sophy,” roared the Major, in the words of Sir Toby Belch.

The combatants just turned their heads for a moment, to look at the interrupter, and again crossed swords.

[Pg 34]

Immediately on finding his remonstrance disregarded, the Major descended personally into the arena—not by the ordinary route of the stairs, but the shorter one of a perpendicular drop from the gallery, not effected with the lightness of a feathered Mercury. But the clatter of his descent was lost in the concussion of a discharge of artillery that shook the walls. Instantly the air was alive with shot and hissing shells; and before the echoes of the first discharge had ceased, the successive explosion of the shells in the air, and the crashing of chimneys, shattered doors, and falling masonry, increased the uproar. One shell burst in the court, filling it with smoke. My grandfather felt, for a minute, rather dizzy with the shock. When the smoke cleared, by which time he had partially recovered himself, the first object that caught his eye was Von Dessel lying on the pavement, and the doctor stooping over him. The only other person hurt was Rushton, a great piece of the skin of whose forehead, detached by a splinter, was hanging over his right eye. Von Dessel had sustained a compound fracture of the thigh, while the loss of two fingers from his right hand had spoiled his thrust in tierce for ever.

“What can be the matter?” said my grandfather, looking upward, as a second flight of missiles hurtled overhead.

“Matter enough,” quoth Rushton, mopping the [Pg 35]blood from his eye with his handkerchief; “those cursed devils of Spaniards are bombarding the town.”

The Major went up to Owen, and squeezed his hand. “We won’t abuse the Spaniards for all that,” said he—“they’ve saved your life, my boy.”


Enraged at seeing their blockade evaded by the arrival of Darby’s fleet, the Spaniards revenged themselves by directing such a fire upon Gibraltar, from their batteries in the Neutral Ground, as in a short time reduced the town to a mass of ruins. This misfortune was rendered the more intolerable to the besieged, as it came in the moment of exultation and general thanksgiving. While words of congratulation were passing from mouth to mouth, the blow descended, and “turned to groans their roundelay.”

The contrast between the elation of the inhabitants when my grandfather entered the Fives’ Court, and their universal consternation and despair when he quitted it, was terrible. The crowd that had a few minutes before so smilingly and hopefully entered their homes, now fled from them in terror. Again the streets were thronged by the unhappy people, who began to believe themselves the sport [Pg 36]of some powerful and malevolent demon. Whole families, parents, children, and servants, rushed together into the streets, making their way to the south to escape the missiles that pursued them. Some bore pieces of furniture snatched up in haste, and apparently seized because they came first to hand; some took the chairs they had been sitting on; one man my grandfather noticed bearing away with difficulty the leaf of a mahogany table, leaving behind the legs which should have supported it; and a woman had a crying child in one hand, and in the other a gridiron, still reeking with the fat of some meat she had been cooking. Rubbish from the houses began to strew the streets; and here and there a ragged breach in a wall rent by the cannon afforded a strange incongruous glimpse of the room inside, with its mirrors, tables, and drapery, just as the inhabitants left them. Armed soldiers were hastening to their different points of assembly, summoned by bugles that resounded shrilly amid the din, and thrusting their way unceremoniously through the impeding masses of fugitives.

The house of the Jew Lazaro was one of the first that was seriously injured. The blank wall of the great warehouse before mentioned, that faced the street, had, either from age or bad masonry, long before exhibited several cracks. A large segment, bounded by two of these cracks, had been knocked [Pg 37]away by a shot, and the superincumbent mass falling in consequence, the great store, and all its hoarded treasures, appeared through the chasm.

The Jew’s instincts had, at first, led him to save himself by flight. But, on returning timorously to look after his property, the sight of the ruined wall, and the unprotected hoards on which he had so securely reckoned as the source of wealth, obliterated in his mind, for the time, all sense of personal danger. Seeing a party of soldiers issuing from a wine-house near, he eagerly besought them to assist him in removing his property to a place of safety, promising to reward them largely for their risk and trouble.

One of the soldiers thus appealed to was Mr Bags.

“Ho, ho!” said Mr Bags; “here’s a chance—here’s a pleasure, comrades. We can help Mr Lazaro, who is always so good to us—this here Jewish gentleman, that gives such liberal prices for our things. Certainly—we’ll remove ’em all, and not charge him nothing. Oh—oh—ah!” And, to give point to his irony, Mr Bags distorted his face hideously, and winked upon his friends.

The idea of giving Lazaro any assistance was considered a capital joke, and caused a great deal of mirth as they walked towards the store, to which the Jew eagerly led the way.

“If there’s anything good to eat or drink in the [Pg 38]store, we may remove some of it, though it won’t be on our backs—eh, boys?” said Bags, as he stept in advance, over a heap of rubbish, into the store.

“These first—these, my friends,” cried the Jew, going up to a row of barrels, standing a little apart from the crowded masses of articles.

“Oh, these first, eh?” said Bags; “they’re the best, be they? Thank you, Mr Lazaro; we’ll see what’s in ’em;” and, taking up a gimlet that lay near, he proceeded to bore a hole in one of the barrels, desiring a friend, whom he addressed as Tim, to tap the next one.

“Thieves!” screamed the Jew, on witnessing this proceeding, seizing Bags’ arm; “leave my store—go out—let my goods alone!” Bags lent him a shove that sent him into a corner, and perceiving liquor flowing from the hole he had drilled, applied his mouth to the orifice.

“Brandy,” said he, as he paused for breath; “real Cognac. Comrades, here’s luck to that ’ere shot that showed us the way in;” and he took another diligent pull at the hole.

Meantime his comrades had not been idle; other barrels were opened, and their contents submitted to a critical inspection.

The Jew tried various modes to induce them to relinquish their booty; first threats—then offers of reward—then cajolery; and, at last, attempted to interpose and thrust them from their spoil. He [Pg 39]would probably have experienced rough treatment in addition to the spoliation of his goods, but for other interruption too potent to be disregarded. A shot from the enemy entering the store, enfiladed a long line of barrels, scattering the staves and their contents. The place was instantly flooded with liquor—wine, molasses, spirits, and oil, ran in a mingled stream, soaking the debris of biscuit and salt provisions that strewed the floor. One soldier was struck dead, and Mr Bags only escaped destruction by the lucky accident of having his head at that moment apart from the barrel which had engrossed his attention, and which was knocked to pieces.

The Jew, partly stunned by a wound in the forehead from the splinter of a barrel, and partly in despair at the destruction of his property, came to the entrance of the store, seating himself among the rubbish. Other plunderers speedily followed the example of the marauding soldiers, but he made no attempt to stop them as they walked past him. My grandfather, passing at the time on his way home, was horrified at the sight of him. Flour from a splintered barrel had been scattered over his face, and blood from the wound in his forehead, trickling down, had clotted it on his cheeks and scanty beard, giving him an aspect at once appalling and disgusting. His daughter had waited at the door of the Fives’ Court till she saw Owen [Pg 40]come forth in safety, and had then availed herself of the protection of the Major as far as her own home. Shrieking at the dismal sight, she sprang forward and threw herself before the Jew, casting her arms around him. This seemed to rouse him. He arose—looked back into the store; and then, as if goaded by the sight of the wreck into intolerable anguish, he lifted his clenched hands above his head, uttering a sentence of such fearful blasphemy, that a devout Spaniard, who was emerging from the store with some plunder, struck him on the mouth. He never heeded the blow, but continued to rave, till, suddenly overcome by loss of blood and impotent rage, he dropt senseless on the ground.

My grandfather, calling some soldiers of his regiment who were passing, desired them to convey him to the hospital at the South Barracks, and, again taking the terrified and weeping Esther under his protection, followed to see the unfortunate Jew cared for.

At the various parades that day Mr Bags was reported absent, being in fact engaged in pursuits of a much more interesting nature than his military duties. A vast field of enterprise was opened to him and other adventurous spirits, of which they did not fail to avail themselves, in the quantity of property of all kinds abandoned by the owners, in houses and shops where locks and bolts were no longer a protection; and although the firing, which [Pg 41]ceased for an hour or two in the middle of the day, was renewed towards evening, and continued with great fury, the ardour of acquisition by no means abated.

About midnight a sentry on the heights of Rosia (the name given to a portion of the rugged cliffs towards the south and near the hospital) observed, in the gloom, a figure lurking about one of the batteries, and challenged it. Receiving no answer, he threatened to fire, when Bags came forward reluctantly, with a bundle in his hand.

“Hush, Bill,” said Bags, on finding the sentry was a personal friend—“don’t make a row: it’s only me, Bags—Tongs, you know,” he added, to insure his recognition.

“What the devil are you doing there, you fool?” asked his friend in a surly tone—“don’t you know the picket’s after you?”

“I’ve got some little things here that I want to lay by, where nobody won’t see ’em, in case I’m catched,” returned Bags. “Don’t you take no notice of me, Bill, and I’ll be off directly.”

“What have ye got?” asked Bill, whose curiosity was awakened by the proceedings of his friend.

“Some little matters that I picked up in the town,” returned Bags. “Pity you should be on guard to-day, Bill—there was some pretty pickings. I’ll save something for you, Bill,” added Bags, in an unaccountable access of generosity.

[Pg 42]

The sentry, however, who was a person in every way worthy of the friendship of Mr Bags, expressed no gratitude for the considerate offer, but began poking at the bundle with his bayonet.

“Hands off, Bill,” said Bags; “they won’t abear touching.”

“Let’s see ’em,” said Bill.

“Not a bit on it,” said Bags; “they ain’t aworth looking at.”

“Suppose I was to call the sergeant of the guard,” said Bill.

“You wouldn’t do such a action?” said Bags, in a tone strongly expressive of disgust at such baseness. “No, no, Bill, you ain’t that sort of fellow, I’m sure.”

“It’s my dooty,” said the sentry, placing the butt of his musket on the ground, and leaning his elbow on the muzzle. “You see that what you said, Tongs, was very true, about its being hard upon me to be carrying about this here damnable weppin” (slapping the barrel of the musket) “all day for fourpence ha’penny, while you are making your fortin. It is, Tongs, d——d hard.”

“Never mind; there’ll be plenty left to-morrow,” said Bags in a consolatory tone.

“What shall we say, now, if I lets ye hide it?” said Bill, pointing to the bundle. “Half-shares?”

“This ain’t like a friend, Bill,” returned Tongs, highly disgusted with this ungenerous proposal. [Pg 43]“Nobody ever knowed me interfere with a comrade when I was on sentry. How long ago is it since I let ye stay in my box an hour, till ye was sober enough to walk into barracks, when I was sentry at the gate? Why, the whole bundle ain’t worth eighteenpence—and I’ve worked hard for it.”

“Half-shares?” reiterated Bill, not melted in the least by the memory of ancient benefits.

“No, by G——!” said Bags in great wrath.

“Serg——,” began Bill in an elevated voice, porting his arms at the same time.

“Stop!” said Bags; “don’t call the sergeant. Half is better nor nothing, if ye’re going to behave like that. We’ll say half, then.”

“Ah,” said Bill, returning to his former position—“I thought we should agree. And now let’s see ’em, Tongs.”

Muttering still his disapprobation of this unworthy treatment, Bags put his bundle on the stone embrasure of the battery, and began to unfold it.

Eighteenpence was certainly a low valuation. Bags appeared to have visited a jeweller’s shop. Watches, rings, bracelets, gold chains, and brooches glittered on the dingy surface of the handkerchief.

“My eye!” said Bill, unable to repress a low laugh of delight—“why, we’ll turn bankers when we’ve sold ’em. Tongs and Co.—eh?” said Bill with considerable humour.

Bags, however, told him he was altogether mistaken [Pg 44]in his estimate—most of the things were pinchbeck, he said, and the stones all glass; and, to save Bill any trouble, he offered to dispose of them himself to the best possible advantage, and bring his partner his share of the proceeds, which would certainly be at least ninepence, and might perhaps be half-a-dollar. This arrangement did not, however, meet the approbation of the astute William, who insisted on dividing the spoils by lot. But here, again, there was a slight misunderstanding, for both fixed their affections on a gigantic watch, which never could have been got into any modern pocket, and whose face was ornamented with paintings from the heathen mythology. Both of them supposed, from the size and the brilliancy of the colours, that this must be of immense value. Finding they were not likely to come to a speedy arrangement on this point, they agreed to postpone the division of the spoils till morning.

“I’ll tell ye where to put it, Bags,” said Bill. “These here guns in this battery haven’t been fired for years, nor ain’t likely to be, though they loaded ’em the other day. Take out the wad of this one, and put in the bundle.”

Bags approved of the idea, withdrew the wad from the muzzle of the gun, put in the bundle as far as his arm would reach, and then replaced the wad.

“Honour bright?” said Bags, preparing to depart.

[Pg 45]

“Honour bright,” returned Bill; and Bags disappeared.

Nevertheless he did not feel sufficient confidence in the brightness of his confederate’s integrity to justify his quitting the place and leaving him to his own devices. He thought Bill might perhaps avail himself of his absence to remove the treasure, or be guilty of some other treachery. He therefore crept back again softly, till he got behind a crag from whence he had a full view of the battery.

For some time Bill walked sternly to and fro on his post. Bags observed, however, that he always included the gun where the deposit lay in his perambulations, which became shorter and shorter. At last he halted close to it, laid down his musket against the parapet, and, approaching the muzzle of the gun, took out the wad.

At this moment a neighbouring sentry gave an alarm. The guard turned out, and Bill, hastily replacing the wad, resumed his arms and looked about for the cause of the alarm. About a mile out in the bay several red sparks were visible. As he looked there were a corresponding number of flashes, and then a whistling of shot high overhead told that the guns from which they had been discharged had been laid too high. The Spanish gunboats were attacking the south.

The drums beat to arms, and in a few minutes the battery was manned with artillerymen. To the [Pg 46]inconceivable horror of Bags and Bill, the whole of the guns in the battery were altered in position, and a gunner took post at the rear of each with a lighted portfire. Then a flushed face might be seen, by the blue light of the portfires, rising from behind a neighbouring piece of rock, the eyes staring, the mouth open in agonised expectation.

“Number one—fire!” said the officer in command, to the gunner in rear of the gun in which Mr Bags had invested his capital.

“No, no!” shouted Bags, rising wildly from behind the rock.

The portfire touched the vent—there was a discharge that seemed to rend Mr Bags’ heartstrings and blow off the roof of his skull—and the clever speculation on which he had counted for making his fortune ended, like many others, in smoke. He gazed for a moment out in the direction of the flash, as if he expected to see the watches and rings gleaming in the air; then he turned and disappeared in the darkness.

After a few ineffectual discharges, the Spaniards seemed to become aware of the badness of their aim, and to take measures to amend it. Several shot struck the hospital; and some shells falling through the roof, exploded in the very wards where the sick lay. The unhappy Jew, Lazaro, lying in a feverish and semi-delirious state from his former hurt and agitation, was again struck by a splinter [Pg 47]of a shell which burst in the ward where the Major’s care had seen him deposited, blowing up the ceiling and part of the wall. In the midst of the confusion, the Jew, frantic with terror, rushed unrestrained from the building, followed only by his daughter, who was watching by his bed. He was not missed for some time, and the attempts to discover him, made after his disappearance became known, were of no avail. A neighbouring sentry had seen a white figure, followed by another crying after it, dash across the road and disappear in the bushes; but the search made about the vicinity of the spot failed in detecting any traces of them, and those who troubled themselves to think of the matter at all, surmised that they had fallen into the sea.


For some pages, my grandfather’s note-book is filled with memoranda of singular casualties from the enemy’s shot, wonderful escapes, and hasty moments of quietude and attempted comfort snatched “even in the cannon’s mouth.” The fire from the Spanish batteries shortly reduced the town to ruins, and the gunboats at night precluded all hope of peace and oblivion after the horrors of the day. Dreams, in which these horrors were reproduced, were interrupted by still more frightful nocturnal [Pg 48]realities. One of the curious minor evils that my grandfather notices, as resulting from an incessant cannonade, to those not engaged in it actively enough to withdraw their attention from the noise, is the extreme irritation produced by its long continuance, amounting, in persons of nervous and excitable temperament, to positive exasperation.

Some of the numerous incidents he chronicles are also recorded by Drinkwater, especially that of a man who recovered after being almost knocked to pieces by the bursting of a shell. “His head was terribly fractured, his left arm broken in two places, one of his legs shattered, the skin and muscles torn off his right hand, the middle finger broken to pieces, and his whole body most severely bruised and marked with gunpowder. He presented so horrid an object to the surgeons, that they had not the smallest hopes of saving his life, and were at a loss what part to attend to first. He was that evening trepanned; a few days afterwards his leg was amputated, and other wounds and fractures dressed. Being possessed of a most excellent constitution, nature performed wonders in his favour, and in eleven weeks the cure was completely effected. His name,” continues Mr. Drinkwater, with what might be deemed irony—if the worthy historian ever indulged in that figure of rhetoric—“is Donald Ross, and he” (i.e. the remaining fragment of the said [Pg 49]Donald Ross) “now enjoys his sovereign’s bounty in a pension of ninepence a-day for life.” One might almost suppose that Mr Hume had some hand in affixing the gratuity; but in those days there was a king who knew not Joseph.

My grandfather appears to have had also an adventure of his own. During a cessation of the cannonade, he was sitting one morning on a fragment of rock, in the garden behind his quarters, reading his favourite author. The firing suddenly recommenced, and a long-ranged shell, striking the ground at some distance, rolled towards him. He glanced half-absently at the hissing missile; and whether he actually did not for a moment recollect its character, or whether, as was often the case on such occasions, the imminence of the danger paralysed him, he sat immovably watching it as it fizzed within a couple of yards of him. Unquestionably in another three seconds my grandfather’s earthly tabernacle would have been resolved into its original atoms, had not the intrepid Carlota (who was standing near gathering flowers to stick in her hair) darted on him, and, seizing him by the arm, dragged him behind a wall. They were scarce under shelter when the shell exploded—the shock laying them both prostrate, though unhurt but for a few bruises—while the stone on which the Major had been sitting was shivered to atoms. To the description of this incident in the Major’s journal are [Pg 50]appended a pious reflection and a short thanksgiving, which, being entirely of a personal nature, I omit.

The stores landed from the fleet were in a very precarious position. Owing to the destruction of the buildings, there were no means of placing them where they might be sheltered at once from the fire of the enemy and from rain. Some were piled under sails spread out as a sort of roof to protect them, and some, that were not likely to sustain immediate injury from the damp air of such a depository, were ordered to be conveyed to St Michael’s Cave.

This cave is one of the most curious features of the Rock. Its mouth—an inconsiderable opening in the slope of the mountain—is situated many hundred feet above the sea. Within, it expands into a spacious hall, the roof, invisible in the gloom, supported by thick pillars formed by the petrified droppings of the rock. From this principal cavern numerous smaller ones branch off, leading, by dark, broken, and precipitous passages, to unknown depths. Along one of these, according to tradition, Governor O’Hara advanced farther than ever man had gone before, and left his sword in the inmost recess to be recovered by the next explorer who should be equally adventurous. But whether it is that the tradition is unfounded, or that the weapon has been carried off by some gnome, or that the [Pg 51]governor’s exploit is as yet unrivalled, the sword has never been brought to light.

For the duty of placing the stores here, the name of Lieutenant Owen appeared in the garrison orders. My grandfather having nothing particular to do, and being anxious to escape as much as possible for a short time from the din of the bombardment, offered to accompany Frank in the execution of this duty.

The day was dark and gloomy, and the steep path slippery from rain, so that the mules bearing the stores toiled with difficulty up the ascent. At first, my grandfather and Owen indulged in cheerful conversation; but shortness of breath soon reduced the Major to monosyllables, and the latter part of the journey was accomplished in silence. Frequently the Major paused and faced about, at once to look at the prospect and to take breath. Far below, on his right, was seen the southern end of the town, consisting partly of a heap of ruins, with here and there a rafter sticking out of the mass, partly of roofless walls, among which was occasionally heard the crashing of shot; but the guns that discharged them, as well as those that replied from the town, were invisible from this point. Directly beneath him the ground afforded a curious spectacle, being covered with tents, huts, and sheds, of all sorts and sizes, where the outcast population of the ruined town obtained a precarious and insufficient [Pg 52]shelter. The only building visible which still retained its former appearance was the convent—the governor’s residence—which was protected by bomb-proofs, and where working-parties were constantly engaged in repairing the injuries. The bay, once thickly wooded with masts and dotted with sails, was now blank and cheerless; only the enemy’s cruisers were visible, lying under the opposite shore of Spain.

Owen and my grandfather arrived at the mouth of the cave somewhat in advance of the convoy. To their surprise a smoke was issuing from it; and, as they approached nearer, their nostrils were greeted by an odour at once savoury and spicy. Going softly up they looked in.

Mr Bags and a couple of friends were seated round a fire, over which was roasting a small pig, scientifically butchered and deprived of his hair, and hung up by the heels. The fire, in the absence of other fuel (of which there was an extreme scarcity in Gibraltar), was supplied by bundles of cinnamon plundered from the store of some grocer, and, as the flame waxed low, Mr Bags took a fresh bundle from a heap of that fragrant spice by his side, and laid it on the embers. Mrs Bags was occupied in basting the pig with lard, which she administered from time to time with an iron ladle.

Presently Mr Bags tapped on the pig’s back [Pg 53]with his knife. It sent forth a crisp crackling sound, that made my grandfather’s mouth water, and caused Mr Bags to become impatient.

“Polly,” said he, “it’s my opinion it’s been done these three minutes. I can’t wait much longer.”

And he cast a glance at the other two soldiers (in whom, as well as in Bags, Owen recognised men of his company who had been reported absent for some days, and were supposed to have gone over to the enemy), to ascertain if their opinions tallied with his own on this point.

“It can’t be no better,” said one, taking hold of the pig’s neck between his finger and thumb, which he afterwards applied to his mouth.

“I can’t abear my meat overdone,” said the third. “What I say is, let them that likes to wait, wait, and let them that wants to begin, begin.” So saying, he rose, and was about to attack the ribs of the porker with his knife.

“Do stop a minute—that’s a dear,” said Mrs Bags; “another bundle of cinnament will make it parfect. I’ll give ye something to stay your stomach;” and stepping to a nook in the wall of the cavern, where stood a large barrel, she filled a pewter measure, and handed it to the impatient advocate for underdone pork, who took a considerable dram, and passed it to his companions.

“Cinnament’s better with pork nor with most things,” said Bags. “It spoils goose, because it [Pg 54]don’t agree with the inions, and it makes fowls wishy-washy; but it goes excellent with pig.”

“What’s left in the larder?” asked one of the party.

“There’s a week’s good eating yet,” said Mrs Bags, “and we might make it do ten days or a fortnight.”

“Well!” said the other, “they may say what they like about sieges, but this is the jolliest time ever I had.”

“It’s very well by day,” said Bags, “but the nights is cold, and the company of that ghost ain’t agreeable—I see’d it again last night.”

“Ah!” said his friend, “what was it like, Tongs?”

“Something white,” returned Bags in an awful whisper, “with a ghost’s eyes. You may allays know a ghost by the eyes. I was just rising up, and thinking about getting a drink, for my coppers was hot, when it comes gliding up from that end of the cave. I spoke to you, and then I couldn’t see it no more, because it was varnished.”

“Ghosts always varnishes if you speak,” said Mrs Bags. “But never mind the spirit now—let’s look after the flesh,” added the lady, who possessed a fund of native pleasantry: “the pig’s done to a turn.”

At this interesting juncture, and just as they were about to fall to, the footsteps of the approaching [Pg 55]mules struck on their ears. Owen went to meet the party, and hastily selecting six men from it, advanced, and desired them to secure the astounded convivialists.

On recovering from their first astonishment, Bags begged Owen would overlook the offence; they were only, he pleaded, having a little spree—times had been hard lately. Mrs Bags, as usual, displayed great eloquence, though not much to the purpose. She seemed to have some idea that an enumeration of the gentlemen’s families she had lived in, and the high estimation in which she had been held in all, would really tell powerfully in favour of the delinquents, and persevered accordingly, till they were marched off in custody of the escort, when she made a final appeal to my grandfather, as the last gentleman whose family she had lived in—with what advantage to the household the reader knows. The Major, who could not forgive the roasting of his ham, called her, in reply, a “horrible woman,” but, at the same time, whispered to Owen that he hoped the fellows would not be severely punished. “If we had caught them after dinner,” said he, “I shouldn’t have pitied them so much.”

“Never mind them,” said Owen; “let us proceed to business. We must select the driest spot we can find to put the stores in.”

[Here, by way of taking leave of Mr Bags, I may [Pg 56]remark, that he narrowly escaped being hanged as a plunderer—failing which, he was sentenced by a court-martial to receive a number of lashes, which I refrain from specifying, because it would certainly make the hair of a modern humanitarian turn white with horror.]

“Come along, Major,” said Owen; “perhaps we may find more of these scoundrels in the course of our researches.”

The Major did not move; he was earnestly regarding the carcass of the pig, that steamed hissing above the embers.

“Queer idea that of the cinnamon fire,” said he. “I wonder how the meat tastes.”

Owen did not hear him, having walked forward.

“Have you got a knife about you, Frank?” said the Major. “Do you know I have a curious desire to ascertain the flavour. It may be a feature in cookery worth knowing.”

Owen had not a knife, nor had any of the men, but one of them suggested that the Major’s sword would answer the purpose.

“To be sure,” said the Major. “A good idea! I don’t see why swords shouldn’t be turned into carving-knives as well as into pruning-hooks.” So saying he drew it from the sheath, and, straddling across the fire, detached a crisp brown mouthful from the pig’s ribs, and putting a little salt on it, he conveyed it to his mouth.

[Pg 57]

“Excellent!” cried the Major. “I give you my word of honour, Owen, ’tis excellent! The cinnamon gives it a sort of a——”

Here a second and larger mouthful interrupted the criticism.

“It must be very near lunch-time,” said the Major, pausing, sword in hand, when he had swallowed it; then, pretending to look at his watch—“Bless me, it only wants half-an-hour of it. Do you think this business will take you long, Owen?”

“About a couple of hours,” said Owen.

“Ah, why, there you see,” returned the Major, “we shan’t get home till long past lunch-time. I really don’t see why we shouldn’t take a snack now. Nothing can be better than that pig. I only wish the woman had dressed my dinner half as well. Corporal Hodson, would you oblige me with a piece of that biscuit near you?” And, detaching a large fragment of pork, he placed it on the biscuit, and sprinkling it with pepper and salt, which condiments had not been forgotten in the gastronomic arrangements of Mr Bags, he proceeded to follow Owen into the interior of the cave, taking huge bites as he went.

The path slopes at first steeply downward from the mouth to the interior of the cavern, where it becomes more level. Light being admitted only at the entrance, the gloom of the interior is almost impenetrable to the eye. The men had brought [Pg 58]torches to assist them in their work, and, a suitable spot having been selected, these were stuck on different points and abutments of the rocky wall, when the party proceeded to unload the mules at the entrance, conveying their burdens into the cave.

In the midst of the bustle and noise attending the operation, the little dog given by Esther to Carlota, which had that morning followed the Major, to whom it had speedily attached itself, began barking and howling dismally in a dark recess behind one of the great natural pillars before spoken of. As the noise continued, intermixed with piteous whinings, one of the men took a torch from the wall, and stepped forward into the darkness, to see what ailed the animal. Presently he cried out that “there was a man there.”

My grandfather, who was next him, immediately followed, and five paces brought him to the spot. The soldier who held the torch was stooping, and holding it over a figure that lay on the ground on its back. In the unshaven, blood-stained countenance, my grandfather, at first, had some difficulty in recognising Lazaro the Jew. Some fiery splashes of pitch from the torch dropping at the moment on his bare throat, produced no movement, though, had he been living, they must have scorched him to the quick.

On the body was nothing but the shirt he wore the night of his flight from the hospital, but his [Pg 59]legs were wrapt in a woman’s dress. Across his breast, on her face, lay Esther, in her white undergarments—for the gown that wrapt the Jew’s legs was hers. The glare of the torch was bright and red on the two prostrate figures, and on the staring appalled countenance of the man who held it—the group forming a glowing spot in the vast, sombre, vaulted space, where dim gleams of light were caught and repeated on projecting masses of rock, more and more faintly, till all was bounded by darkness.

Years afterwards my grandfather would sometimes complain of having been revisited, in dreams of the night, by that ghastly piece of Rembrandt painting.

The rest quickly flocked to the spot, and Esther was lifted and found to breathe, though the Jew was stiff and cold. Some diluted spirit, from the cellar of Bags, being poured down her throat, she revived a little, when my grandfather caused two of the men to bear her carefully to his house; and the body of the Jew, being wrapt in a piece of canvass, was placed on a mule and conveyed to the hospital for interment.

Medical aid restored Esther to consciousness, and she told how they came to be found in the cave.

Her father, on leaving the hospital, had fled by chance, as she thought, to this cave, for he did not [Pg 60]reach it by the usual path, but climbed, in his delirious fear, up the face of the rock, and she had followed him as well as she could, keeping his white figure in sight. They had both lain exhausted in the cave till morning, when, finding that her father slept, she was on the point of leaving him to seek assistance. But, unhappily, before she could quit the place, Bags and his associates entered from their plundering expedition into the town, and, frightened at their drunken language, and recognising in Bags the man who had robbed her of her comb, she had crept back to her concealment. The party of marauders never quitted the cavern from the moment of establishing themselves in it. They spent the day in eating, drinking, singing songs, and sometimes quarrelling. Twice, at night, she ventured forth; but she always found one of them asleep across the entrance, so that she could not pass without waking him, and once one of them started up, and seemed about to pursue her—doubtless Bags, on the occasion when he thought he saw a ghost. Nevertheless, she had mustered courage twice to take some fragments of food that were lying near the fire, leaving each time a piece of money in payment; and she had also taken a lighted candle, the better to ascertain her father’s situation. He had never spoken to her since the first night of their coming, and, during all these dark and weary hours (for they were three nights [Pg 61]and two days in the cavern), she had remained by him listening to his incoherent mutterings and moans. The candle had showed her that he had lost much blood, from the wound in his forehead breaking out afresh, as well as from the other received in the hospital, though the latter was but a flesh wound. These she had bandaged with shreds of her dress, and had tried to give him some of the nourishment she had procured, but could force nothing on him except some water. Some hours, however—how long she did not know, but it was during the night—before Owen’s party found her, the Jew had become sensible. He told her he was dying; and, unconscious of where he was, desired her to fetch a light. This she had procured in the same way as before, lighting the candle at the embers of the fire round which Bags and his friends reposed. Then the Jew, who seemed to imagine himself still in the hospital, bid her say whom, among those she knew in Gibraltar, she would wish to have charge of her when he was no more; and, on her mentioning Carlota, had desired her to take pen and paper and write his will as he should dictate it. Pen she had none, but she had a pencil and a scrap of paper in her pocket, and with these she wrote, leaning over to catch the whispered syllables that he with difficulty articulated.

From this paper it would appear that the Jew had some fatherly feelings for Esther concealed [Pg 62]beneath his harsh deportment towards her. I can describe the will, for I have often seen it. It is written on a piece of crumpled writing-paper, about the size of a bank-note, very stained and dirty. It is written in Spanish; and in it the Jew entreats “the Señora, the wife of Sr. Don Flinder, English officer, to take charge of his orphan child, in requital whereof he leaves her the half of whatsoever property he dies possessed of, the other half to be disposed of for the benefit of his daughter.” Then follows a second paragraph, inserted at Esther’s own desire, to the effect that, should she not survive, the whole was to be inherited by the aforesaid Señora. It is dated “Abril 1781,” and signed in a faint, straggling hand, quite different from the clear writing of the rest—“José Lazaro.”

Esther would now have gone, at all hazards, to obtain assistance, but the Jew clutched her arm, and would not permit her to quit him. He breathed his last shortly after, and Esther remembered nothing more till she came to herself in the Major’s house. The paper was found in her bosom.

Some days after this event, my grandfather went with Owen into the town, during a temporary lull in the enemy’s firing, to visit the house of Lazaro, in order to ascertain whether anything valuable was left that might be converted to Esther’s benefit. They had some difficulty in finding the exact locality, owing to the utter destruction of all the landmarks.[Pg 63] The place was a mass of ruins. Some provisions and goods had been left by the plunderers, but so mixed with rubbish, and overflowed with the contents of the casks of liquor and molasses, as to be of no value even in these times of dearth.

Owen, poking about among the wreck, observed an open space in the middle of one of the shattered walls, as if something had been built into it. With the assistance of my grandfather’s cane, he succeeded in dislodging the surrounding masonry, already loosened by shot, and they discovered it to be a recess made in the thickness of the wall, and closed by a small iron door. At the bottom was lying a small box, also of iron, which they raised, not without difficulty, for its weight was extraordinary in proportion to its dimensions. This being conveyed to my grandfather’s, and opened, was found to contain more than six hundred doubloons (a sum in value about two thousand pounds), and many bills of exchange and promissory notes, mostly those of officers. The latest was that of Von Dessel. These the Major, by Esther’s desire, returned to the persons whose signatures they bore.

Esther never completely recovered from the effects of her sojourn in the cave, but remained always pale and of weak health. My grandfather took good care of her inheritance for her, and on leaving Gibraltar, at the conclusion of the siege, invested the whole of it safely for her benefit, placing her, [Pg 64]at the same time, in the family of some respectable persons of her own religion. She afterwards married a wealthy Hebrew; and, in whatever part of the world the Major chanced to be serving, so long as she lived, valuable presents would constantly arrive from Gibraltar—mantillas and ornaments of jewellery for Carlota, and butts of delicious sherry for my grandfather. These, however, ceased with her death, about twenty years afterwards.

This is, I believe, the most connected and interesting episode to be found in the Major’s note-book; and it is, I think, the last specimen I shall offer of these new “Tales of my Grandfather.”

As a child I used to listen, with interest ever new, to the tale of the young Jewess, which the narrator had often heard from the lips of Carlota and her husband. St Michael’s cave took rank in my mind with those other subterranean abodes where Cassim, the brother of Ali Baba, who forgot the words “Open Sesame,” was murdered by the Forty Thieves; where Aladdin was shut by the magician in the enchanted garden; and where Robinson Crusoe discovered the dying he-goat. And when, at the conclusion of the tale, the scrap of paper containing the Jew’s will was produced from a certain desk, and carefully unfolded, I seemed to be connected by some awful and mysterious link with these departed actors in the scenes I had so breathlessly listened to.

[Pg 65]



[MAGA. April 1834.]



So it was finally agreed upon that we should dine at Jack Ginger’s chambers in the Temple, seated in a lofty story in Essex Court. There was, besides our host, Tom Meggot, Joe Macgillicuddy, Humpy Harlow, Bob Burke, Antony Harrison, and myself. As Jack Ginger had little coin and no credit, we contributed each our share to the dinner. He himself provided room, fire, candle, tables, chairs, tablecloth, napkins—no, not napkins; on second thoughts we did not bother ourselves with napkins—plates, dishes, knives, forks, spoons (which he borrowed from the wig-maker), tumblers, lemons, sugar, water, glasses, decanters—by the by, I am not sure that there were decanters—salt, pepper, [Pg 66]vinegar, mustard, bread, butter (plain and melted), cheese, radishes, potatoes, and cookery. Tom Meggot was a cod’s head and shoulders, and oysters to match—Joe Macgillicuddy, a boiled leg of pork, with pease-pudding—Humpy Harlow, a sirloin of beef roast, with horse-radish—Bob Burke, a gallon of half-and-half, and four bottles of whisky, of prime quality (“Potteen,” wrote the Whiskyman, “I say, by Jupiter, but of which many-facture He alone knows”)—Antony Harrison, half-a-dozen of port, he having tick to that extent at some unfortunate wine-merchant’s—and I supplied cigars à discretion, and a bottle of rum, which I borrowed from a West Indian friend of mine as I passed by. So that, on the whole, we were in no danger of suffering from any of the extremes of hunger and thirst for the course of that evening.

We met at five o’clock—sharp—and very sharp. Not a man was missing when the clock of the Inner Temple struck the last stroke. Jack Ginger had done everything to admiration. Nothing could be more splendid than his turn-out. He had superintended the cooking himself of every individual dish with his own eyes—or rather eye—he having but one, the other having been lost in a skirmish when he was midshipman on board a pirate in the Brazilian service. “Ah!” said Jack, often and often, “these were my honest days. Gad! did I ever think when I was a pirate that I was at the end to [Pg 67]turn rogue, and study the law!”—All was accurate to the utmost degree. The tablecloth, to be sure, was not exactly white, but it had been washed last week, and the collection of the plates was miscellaneous, exhibiting several of the choicest patterns of delf. We were not of the silver-fork school of poetry, but steel is not to be despised. If the table was somewhat rickety, the inequality in the legs was supplied by clapping a volume of Vesey under the short one. As for the chairs—but why weary about details? Chairs being made to be sat upon, it is sufficient to say that they answered their purposes; and whether they had backs or not—whether they were cane-bottomed, or hair-bottomed, or rush-bottomed, is nothing to the present inquiry.

Jack’s habits of discipline made him punctual, and dinner was on the table in less than three minutes after five. Down we sate, hungry as hunters and eager for the prey.

“Is there a parson in company?” said Jack Ginger, from the head of the table.

“No,” responded I, from the foot.

“Then, thank God,” said Jack, and proceeded, after this pious grace, to distribute the cod’s head and shoulders to the hungry multitude.

[Pg 68]



The history of that cod’s head and shoulders would occupy but little space to write. Its flakes, like the snow-flakes on a river, were for one moment bright, then gone for ever; it perished unpitiably. “Bring hither,” said Jack, with a firm voice, “the leg of pork.” It appeared, but soon to disappear again. Not a man of the company but showed his abhorrence of the Judaical practice of abstaining from the flesh of swine. Equally clear in a few moments was it that we were truly British in our devotion to beef. The sirloin was impartially destroyed on both sides, upper and under. Dire was the clatter of the knives, but deep the silence of the guests. Jerry Gallagher, Jack’s valet-de-chambre, footman, cook, clerk, shoeblack, aide-de-camp, scout, confidant, dun-chaser, bum-defyer, and many other offices in commendam, toiled like a hero. He covered himself with glory and gravy every moment. In a short time a vociferation arose for fluid, and the half-and-half—Whitbread quartered upon Chamyton—beautiful heraldry!—was inhaled with the most savage satisfaction.

“The pleasure of a glass of wine with you, Bob Burke,” said Joe Macgillicuddy, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.

[Pg 69]

“With pleasure, Joe,” replied Bob. “What wine do you choose? You may as well say port, for there is no other; but attention to manners always becomes a gentleman.”

“Port, then, if you please,” cried Joe, “as the ladies of Limerick say, when a man looks at them across the table.”

“Hobnobbing wastes time,” said Jack Ginger, laying down the pot out of which he had been drinking for the last few minutes; “and, besides, it is not customary now in genteel society—so pass the bottle about.”

[I here pause in my narrative to state, on more accurate recollection, that we had not decanters; we drank from the black bottle, which Jack declared was according to the fashion of the Continent.]

So the port was passed round, and declared to be superb. Antony Harrison received the unanimous applause of the company; and, if he did not blush at all the fine things that were said in his favour, it was because his countenance was of that peculiar hue that no addition of red could be visible upon it. A blush on Antony’s face would be like gilding refined gold.

Whether cheese is prohibited or not in the higher circles of the West End, I cannot tell; but I know it was not prohibited in the very highest chambers of the Temple.

“It’s double Gloucester,” said Jack Ginger; [Pg 70]“prime, bought at the corner—Heaven pay the cheesemonger, for I shan’t—but, as he is a gentleman, I give you his health.”

“I don’t think,” said Joe Macgillicuddy, “that I ought to demean myself to drink the health of a cheesemonger; but I’ll not stop the bottle.”

And, to do Joe justice, he did not. Then we attacked the cheese, and in an incredibly short period we battered in a breach of an angle of 45 degrees, in a manner that would have done honour to any engineer that directed the guns at San Sebastian. The cheese, which on its first entry on the table presented the appearance of a plain circle, was soon made to exhibit a very different shape, as may be understood by the subjoined diagram:—

[A, original cheese; EBD, cheese after five minutes standing on the table; EBC, angle of 45°.]

With cheese came, and with cheese went, celery. It is unnecessary to repeat what a number of puns were made on that most pun-provoking of plants.

“Clear the decks,” said Jack Ginger to Jerry Gallagher. “Gentlemen, I did not think of getting pastry, or puddings, or dessert, or ices, or jellies, [Pg 71]or blancmange, or anything of the sort, for men of sense like you.”

We all unanimously expressed our indignation at being supposed even for a moment guilty of any such weakness; but a general suspicion seemed to arise among us that a dram might not be rejected with the same marked scorn. Jack Ginger accordingly uncorked one of Bob Burke’s bottles. Whop! went the cork, and the potteen soon was seen meandering round the table.

“For my part,” said Antony Harrison, “I take this dram because I ate pork, and fear it might disagree with me.”

“I take it,” said Bob Burke, “chiefly by reason of the fish.”

“I take it,” said Joe Macgillicuddy, “because the day was warm, and it is very close in these chambers.”

“I take it,” said Tom Meggot, “because I have been very chilly all the day.”

“I take it,” said Humpy Harlow, “because it is such strange weather that one does not know what to do.”

“I take it,” said Jack Ginger, “because the rest of the company takes it.”

“And I take it,” said I, winding up the conversation, “because I like a dram.”

So we all took it for one reason or another—and there was an end of that.

[Pg 72]

“Be off, Jerry Gallagher,” said Jack—“I give to you, your heirs and assigns, all that and those which remains in the pots of half-and-half—item for your own dinners what is left of the solids—and when you have pared the bones clean, you may give them to the poor. Charity covers a multitude of sins. Brush away like a shoeblack—and levant.”

“Why, thin, God bless your honour,” said Jerry Gallagher, “it’s a small liggacy he would have that would dippind for his daily bread for what is left behind any of ye in the way of the drink—and this blessed hour there’s not as much as would blind the left eye of a midge in one of them pots—and may it do you all good, if it ain’t the blessing of heaven to see you eating. By my sowl, he that has to pick a bone after you, won’t be much troubled with the mate. Howsomever—”

“No more prate,” said Jack Ginger. “Here’s twopence for you to buy some beer—but, no,” he continued, drawing his empty hand from that breeches-pocket into which he had most needlessly put it—“no,” said he, “Jerry—get it on credit wherever you can, and bid them score it to me.”

“If they will—” said Jerry.

“Shut the door,” said Jack Ginger, in a peremptory tone, and Jerry retreated.

“That Jerry,” said Jack, “is an uncommonly honest fellow, only he is the d——dest rogue in London. But all this is wasting time—and time is [Pg 73]life. Dinner is over, and the business of the evening is about to begin. So, bumpers, gentlemen, and get rid of this wine as fast as we can. Mr Vice, look to your bottles.”

And on this, Jack Ginger gave a bumper toast.



This being done, every man pulled in his chair close to the table, and prepared for serious action. It was plain that we all, like Nelson’s sailors at Trafalgar, felt called upon to do our duty. The wine circulated with considerable rapidity; and there was no flinching on the part of any individual of the company. It was quite needless for our president to remind us of the necessity of bumpers, or the impropriety of leaving heel-taps. We were all too well trained to require the admonition, or to fall into the error. On the other hand, the chance of any man obtaining more than his share in the round was infinitesimally small. The Sergeant himself, celebrated as he is, could not have succeeded in obtaining a glass more than his neighbours. Just to our friends, we were also just to ourselves; and a more rigid circle of philosophers never surrounded a board.

[Pg 74]

The wine was really good, and its merits did not appear the less striking from the fact that we were not habitually winebibbers, our devotion generally being paid to fluids more potent or more heavy than the juice of the grape, and it soon excited our powers of conversation. Heavens! what a flow of soul! More good things were said in Jack Ginger’s chambers that evening, than in the Houses of Lords and Commons in a month. We talked of everything—politics, literature, the fine arts, drama, high life, low life, the opera, the cockpit—everything from the heavens above to the hells in St James’s Street. There was not an article in a morning, evening, or weekly paper for the week before, which we did not repeat. It was clear that our knowledge of things in general was drawn in a vast degree from these recondite sources. In politics, we were harmonious—we were Tories to a man, and defied the Radicals of all classes, ranks, and conditions. We deplored the ruin of our country, and breathed a sigh over the depression of the agricultural interest. We gave it as our opinion that Don Miguel should be King of Portugal—and that Don Carlos, if he had the pluck of the most nameless of insects, could ascend the throne of Spain. We pitched Louis Philippe to that place which is never mentioned to ears polite, and drank the health of the Duchess of Berri. Opinions differed somewhat about the Emperor of Russia—some thinking that [Pg 75]he was too hard on the Poles—others gently blaming him for not squeezing them much tighter. Antony Harrison, who had seen the Grand Duke Constantine, when he was campaigning, spoke with tears in his eyes of that illustrious prince—declaring him, with an oath, to have been a d——d good fellow. As for Leopold, we unanimously voted him to be a scurvy hound; and Joe Macgillicuddy was pleased to say something complimentary of the Prince of Orange, which would have, no doubt, much gratified his Royal Highness, if it had been communicated to him, but I fear it never reached his ears.

Turning to domestic policy—we gave it to the Whigs in high style. If Lord Grey had been within hearing, he must have instantly resigned—he never could have resisted the thunders of our eloquence. All the hundred and one Greys would have been forgotten—he must have sunk before us. Had Brougham been there, he would have been converted to Toryism long before he could have got to the state of tipsyfication in which he sometimes addresses the House of Lords. There was not a topic left undiscussed. With one hand we arranged Ireland—with another put the Colonies in order. Catholic Emancipation was severely condemned, and Bob Burke gave the glorious, pious, and immortal memory. The vote of £20,000,000 to the greasy blacks was much reprobated, and the [Pg 76]opening of the China trade declared a humbug. We spoke, in fact, articles that would have made the fortunes of half a hundred magazines, if the editors of those works would have had the perspicacity to insert them; and this we did with such ease to ourselves, that we never for a moment stopped the circulation of the bottle, which kept running on its round rejoicing, while we settled the affairs of the nation.

Then Antony Harrison told us all his campaigns in the Peninsula, and that capital story how he bilked the tavern-keeper in Portsmouth. Jack Ginger entertained us with an account of his transactions in the Brazils; and as Jack’s imagination far outruns his attention to matters of fact, we had them considerably improved. Bob Burke gave us all the particulars of his duel with Ensign Brady of the 48th, and how he hit him on the waistcoat pocket, which, fortunately for the Ensign, contained a five-shilling piece (how he got it was never accounted for), which saved him from grim death. From Joe Macgillicuddy we heard multifarious narrations of steeple-chases in Tipperary, and of his hunting with the Blazers in Galway. Tom Meggot expatiated on his college adventures in Edinburgh, which he maintained to be a far superior city to London, and repeated sundry witty sayings of the advocates in the Parliament House, who seem to be gentlemen of great facetiousness. As for me, [Pg 77]I emptied out all Joe Miller on the company; and if old Joe could have burst his cerements in the neighbouring churchyard of St Clement Danes, he would have been infinitely delighted with the reception which the contents of his agreeable miscellany met with. To tell the truth, my jokes were not more known to my companions than their stories were to me. Harrison’s campaigns, Ginger’s cruises, Burke’s duel, Macgillicuddy’s steeple-chases, and Tom Meggot’s rows in the High Street, had been told over and over—so often indeed, that the several relaters begin to believe that there is some foundation in fact for the wonders which they are continually repeating.

“I perceive this is the last bottle of port,” said Jack Ginger; “so I suppose that there cannot be any harm in drinking bad luck to Antony Harrison’s wine-merchant, who did not make it the dozen.”

“Yes,” said Harrison, “the skinflint thief would not stand more than the half, for which he merits the most infinite certainty of non-payment.”

(You may depend upon it that Harrison was as good as his word, and treated the man of bottles according to his deserts.)

The port was gathered to its fathers, and potteen reigned in its stead. A most interesting discussion took place as to what was to be done with it. No doubt, indeed, existed as to its final destination; but various opinions were broached as to the manner [Pg 78]in which it was to make its way to its appointed end. Some wished that every man should make for himself; but that Jack Ginger strenuously opposed, because he said it would render the drinking unsteady. The company divided into two parties on the great questions of bowl or jug. The Irishmen maintained the cause of the latter. Tom Meggot, who had been reared in Glasgow, and Jack Ginger, who did not forget his sailor propensities, were in favour of the former. Much erudition was displayed on both sides, and I believe I may safely say, that every topic that either learning or experience could suggest, was exhausted. At length we called for a division, when there appeared—

Bob Burke, Jack Ginger,
Joe Macgillicuddy, Humpy Harlow,
Antony Harrison, Tom Meggot,
Majority 1, in favour of the jug.

I was principally moved to vote as I did, because I deferred to the Irishmen, as persons who were best acquainted with the nature of potteen; and Antony Harrison was on the same side from former recollections of his quarterings in Ireland. Humpy Harlow said that he made it a point always to side with the man of the house.

“It is settled,” said Jack Ginger, “and, as we [Pg 79]said of Parliamentary Reform, though we opposed it, it is now law, and must be obeyed. I’ll clear away these marines, and do you, Bob Burke, make the punch. I think you will find the lemons good—the sugar superb—and the water of the Temple has been famous for centuries.”

“And I’ll back the potteen against any that ever came from the Island of Saints,” said Bob, proceeding to his duty, which all who have the honour of his acquaintance will admit him to be well qualified to perform. He made it in a couple of big blue water-jugs, observing that making punch in small jugs was nearly as great a bother as ladling from a bowl; and as he tossed the steamy fluid from jug to jug to mix it kindly, he sang the pathetic ballad of Hugger-mo-fane—

“I wish I had a red herring’s tail,” &c.

It was an agreeable picture of continued use and ornament, and reminded us strongly of the Abyssinian maid of the Platonic poetry of Coleridge.



The punch being made, and the jug revolving, the conversation continued as before. But it may have been observed that I have not taken any [Pg 80]notice of the share which one of the party, Humpy Harlow, took in it. The fact is, that he had been silent for almost all the evening, being outblazed and overborne by the brilliancy of the conversation of his companions. We were all acknowledged wits in our respective lines, whereas he had not been endowed with the same talents. How he came among us I forget; nor did any of us know well who or what he was. Some maintained he was a drysalter in the City; others surmised that he might be a pawnbroker at the West End. Certain it is that he had some money, which perhaps might have recommended him to us, for there was not a man in the company who had not occasionally borrowed from him a sum, too trifling, in general, to permit any of us to think of repaying it. He was a broken-backed little fellow, as vain of his person as a peacock, and accordingly we always called him Humpy Harlow, with the spirit of gentlemanlike candour which characterised all our conversation. With a kind feeling towards him, we in general permitted him to pay our bills for us whenever we dined together at tavern or chop-house, merely to gratify the little fellow’s vanity, which I have already hinted to be excessive.

He had this evening made many ineffectual attempts to shine, but was at last obliged to content himself with opening his mouth for the admission, not for the utterance, of good things. He was [Pg 81]evidently unhappy, and a rightly constituted mind could not avoid pitying his condition. As jug, however, succeeded jug, he began to recover his self-possession; and it was clear, about eleven o’clock, when the fourth bottle of potteen was converting into punch, that he had a desire to speak. We had been for some time busily employed in smoking cigars, when, all on a sudden, a shrill and sharp voice was heard from the midst of a cloud, exclaiming, in a high treble key—

Humphries told me”——

We all puffed our Havannahs with the utmost silence, as if we were so many Sachems at a palaver, listening to the narration which issued from the misty tabernacle in which Humpy Harlow was enveloped. He unfolded a tale of wondrous length, which we never interrupted. No sound was heard save that of the voice of Harlow, narrating the story which had to him been confided by the unknown Humphries, or the gentle gliding of the jug, an occasional tingle of a glass, and the soft suspiration of the cigar. On moved the story in its length, breadth, and thickness, for Harlow gave it to us in its full dimensions. He abated it not a jot. The firmness which we displayed was unequalled since the battle of Waterloo. We sat with determined countenances, exhaling smoke and inhaling punch, while the voice still rolled onward. At last Harlow came to an end; and a Babel of conversation burst [Pg 82]from lips in which it had been so long imprisoned. Harlow looked proud of his feat, and obtained the thanks of the company, grateful that he had come to a conclusion. How we finished the potteen—converted my bottle of rum into a bowl—(for here Jack Ginger prevailed)—how Jerry Gallagher, by superhuman exertions, succeeded in raising a couple of hundred of oysters for supper—how the company separated, each to get to his domicile as he could—how I found, in the morning, my personal liberty outraged by the hands of that unconstitutional band of gens-d’armes created for the direct purposes of tyranny, and held up to the indignation of all England by the weekly eloquence of the Despatch—how I was introduced to the attention of a magistrate, and recorded in the diurnal page of the newspaper—all this must be left to other historians to narrate.



At three o’clock on the day after the dinner, Antony Harrison and I found ourselves eating bread and cheese—part of the cheese—at Jack Ginger’s. We recapitulated the events of the preceding evening, and expressed ourselves highly gratified with the entertainment. Most of the good things we [Pg 83]had said were revived, served up again, and laughed at once more. We were perfectly satisfied with the parts which we had respectively played, and talked ourselves into excessive good-humour. All on a sudden Jack Ginger’s countenance clouded. He was evidently puzzled; and sat for a moment in thoughtful silence. We asked him, with Oriental simplicity of sense, “Why art thou troubled?” and till a moment he answered—

“What was the story which Humpy Harlow told us about eleven o’clock last night, just as Bob Burke was teeming the last jug?”

“It began,” said I, “with ‘Humphries told me.’”

“It did,” said Antony Harrison, cutting a deep incision into the cheese.

“I know it did,” said Jack Ginger; “but what was it that Humphries had told him? I cannot recollect it if I was to be made Lord Chancellor.”

Antony Harrison and I mused in silence, and racked our brains, but to no purpose. On the tablet of our memories no trace had been engraved, and the tale of Humphries, as reported by Harlow, was as if it were not, so far as we were concerned.

While we were in this perplexity, Joe Macgillicuddy and Bob Burke entered the room.

“We have been just taking a hair of the same dog,” said Joe. “It was a pleasant party we had last night. Do you know what Bob and I have been talking of for the last half-hour?”

[Pg 84]

We professed our inability to conjecture.

“Why, then,” continued Joe, “it was about the story that Harlow told last night.”

“The story begins with ‘Humphries told me,’” said Bob.

“And,” proceeded Joe, “for our lives we cannot recollect what it was.”

“Wonderful!” we all exclaimed. “How inscrutable are the movements of the human mind.”

And we proceeded to reflect on the frailty of our memories, moralising in a strain that would have done honour to Dr Johnson.

“Perhaps,” said I, “Tom Meggot may recollect it.”

Idle hope! dispersed to the winds almost as soon as it was formed. For the words had scarcely passed “the bulwark of my teeth,” when Tom appeared, looking excessively bloodshot in the eye. On inquiry, it turned out that he, like the rest of us, remembered only the cabalistic words which introduced the tale, but of the tale itself, nothing.

Tom had been educated at Edinburgh, and was strongly attached to what he calls metapheesicks; and, accordingly, after rubbing his forehead, he exclaimed—

“This is a psychological curiosity, which deserves to be developed. I happen to have half a sovereign about me” (an assertion which, I may remark in passing, excited considerable surprise in his audience), [Pg 85]“and I’ll ask Harlow to dine with me at the Rainbow. I’ll get the story out of the Humpy rascal—and no mistake.”

We acquiesced in the propriety of this proceeding; and Antony Harrison, observing that he happened by chance to be disengaged, hooked himself on Tom, who seemed to have a sort of national antipathy to such a ceremony, with a talent and alacrity that proved him to be a veteran warrior, or what, in common parlance, is called an old soldier.

Tom succeeded in getting Harlow to dinner, and Harrison succeeded in making him pay the bill, to the great relief of Meggot’s half sovereign, and they parted at an early hour in the morning. The two Irishmen and myself were at Ginger’s shortly after breakfast; we had been part occupied in tossing halfpence to decide which of us was to send out for ale, when—Harrison and Meggot appeared. There was conscious confusion written in their countenances. “Did Humpy Harlow tell you that story?” we all exclaimed at once.

“It cannot be denied that he did,” said Meggot. “Precisely as the clock struck eleven, he commenced with ‘Humphries told me.’”

“Well—and what then?”

“Why, there it is,” said Antony Harrison, “may I be drummed out if I can recollect another word.”

“Nor I,” said Meggot.

The strangeness of this singular adventure made [Pg 86]a deep impression on us all. We were sunk in silence for some minutes, during which Jerry Gallagher made his appearance with the ale, which I omitted to mention had been lost by Joe Macgillicuddy. We sipped that British beverage, much abstracted in deep thought. The thing appeared to us perfectly inscrutable. At last I said, “This never will do—we cannot exist much longer in this atmosphere of doubt and uncertainty. We must have it out of Harlow to-night, or there is an end of all the grounds and degrees of belief, opinion, and assent. I have credit,” said I, “at the widow’s, in St Martin’s Lane. Suppose we all meet there to-night, and get Harlow there if we can?”

“That I can do,” said Antony Harrison, “for I quartered myself to dine with him to-day, as I saw him home, poor little fellow, last night. I promise that he figures at the widow’s to-night at nine o’clock.”

So we separated. At nine every man of the party was in St Martin’s Lane, seated in the little back parlour; and Harrison was as good as his word, for he brought Harlow with him. He ordered a sumptuous supper of mutton kidneys, interspersed with sausages, and set to. At eleven o’clock precisely, the eye of Harlow brightened, and putting his pipe down, he commenced with a shrill voice—

Humphries told me——”

“Ay,” said we all, with one accord, “here it [Pg 87]is—now we shall have it—take care of it this time.”

“What do you mean?” said Humpy Harlow, performing that feat which by the illustrious Mr John Keeve is called “flaring up.”

“Nothing,” we replied, “nothing, but we are anxious to hear that story.”

“I understand you,” said our broken-backed friend. “I now recollect that I did tell it once or so before in your company, but I shall not be a butt any longer for you or anybody else.”

“Don’t be in a passion, Humpy,” said Jack Ginger.

“Sir,” replied Harlow, “I hate nicknames—it is a mark of a low mind to use them—and as I see I am brought here only to be insulted, I shall not trouble you any longer with my company.”

Saying this, the little man seized his hat and umbrella, and strode out of the room.

“His back is up,” said Joe Macgillicuddy, “and there’s no use of trying to get it down. I am sorry he is gone, because I should have made him pay for another round.”

But he was gone, not to return again—and the story remains unknown. Yea, as undiscoverable as the hieroglyphical writings of the ancient Egyptians. It exists, to be sure, in the breast of Harlow; but there it is buried, never to emerge into the light of day. It is lost to the world—and [Pg 88]means of recovering it, there, in my opinion, exist none. The world must go on without it, and states and empires must continue to flourish and to fade without the knowledge of what it was that Humphries told Harlow. Such is the inevitable course of events.

For my part, I shall be satisfied with what I have done in drawing up this accurate and authentic narrative, if I can seriously impress on the minds of my readers the perishable nature of mundane affairs—if I can make them reflect that memory itself, the noblest, perhaps the characteristic, quality of the human mind, will decay, even while other faculties exist—and that, in the words of a celebrated Lord of Trade and Plantations, of the name of John Locke, “we may be like the tombs to which we are hastening, where, though the brass and marble remain, yet the imagery is defaced, and the inscription is blotted out for ever!”

[Pg 89]



“I do not say it is possible—I only say it is true.”

[MAGA. August 1822.]

Elizabeth was a wonderful princess for wisdom, learning, magnificence, and grandeur of soul. All this was fine,—but she was as envious as a decayed beauty—jealous and cruel—and that spoiled all. However, be her defects what they may, her fame had pierced even to the depths of Germany, whence the Enchanter Faustus set off for her court, that great magician wishing to ascertain by his own wits, whether Elizabeth was as gifted with good qualities as she was with bad. No one could judge this for him so well as himself, who read the stars like his A B C, and whom Satan obeyed like his dog—yet, withal, who was not above a thousand pleasant tricks, that make people laugh, and hurt no one: such, for instance, as turning an [Pg 90]old lord into an old lady, to elope with his cook-maid—exchanging a handsome wife for an ugly one, &c. &c.

The Queen, charmed with the pretty things which she heard of him, wished much to see him—and from the moment that she did, became quite fascinated. On his side, he found her better than he had expected; not but that he perceived she thought a great deal too much of her wit—though she had a tolerable share of it; and still more of her beauty—of which she had rather less.

One day that she was dressed with extraordinary splendour, to give audience to some ambassadors, she retired into her cabinet at the close of the ceremony, and sent for the Doctor. After having gazed at herself in all the mirrors in the room, and seeming very well pleased with their reflection,—for her roses and lilies were as good as gold could buy, her petticoat high enough to show her ankle, and her frill low to expose her bosom,—she sat down en attitude, in her great chair. It was thus the Enchanter Faustus found her. He was the most adroit courtier that you could find, though you searched the world over. For though there are good reasons why a courtier may not be a conjuror, there are none why a conjuror may not be a courtier; and Faustus, both in one—knowing the Queen’s foible as to her imaginary beauty—took care not to let slip so fine an opportunity of paying his court. He [Pg 91]was wonderstruck, thunderstruck, at such a blaze of perfection. Elizabeth knew how to appreciate the moment of surprise. She drew a magnificent ruby from her finger, which the Doctor, without making difficulties about it, drew on his.

“You find me then passable for a Queen?” said she, smiling. On this he wished himself at the devil (his old resting-place), if, not alone that he had ever seen, but if anybody else had ever seen, either queen or subject to equal her.

“Oh, Faustus, my friend,” replied she, “could the beauties of antiquity return, we should soon see what a flatterer you are!”

“I dare the proof,” returned the Doctor. “If your Majesty will it—but speak, and they are here.”

Faustus, of course, never expected to be taken at his word; but whether Elizabeth wished to see if magic could perform the miracle, or to satisfy a curiosity that had often tormented her, she expressed herself amazingly pleased at the idea, and begged it might be immediately realised.

Faustus then requested her Majesty to pass into a little gallery near the apartment, while he went for his book, his ring, and his large black mantle.

All this was done nearly as soon as said. There was a door at each end of the gallery, and it was decided that the beauties should come in at one, and go out at the other, so that the Queen might have [Pg 92]a fair view of them. Only two of the courtiers were admitted to this exhibition; these were the Earl of Essex and Sir Philip Sydney.

Her Majesty was seated in the middle of the gallery, with the Earl and the Knight standing to the right and left of her chair. The enchanter did not forget to trace round them and their mistress certain mysterious circles, with all the grimaces and contortions of the time. He then drew another opposite to it, within which he took his own station, leaving a space between for the actors.

When this was finished, he begged the Queen not to speak a word while they should be on the stage; and, above all, not to appear frightened, let her see what she might.

The latter precaution was needless, for the good Queen feared neither angel nor devil. And now the Doctor inquired what belle of antiquity she would first see.

“To follow the order of time,” she answered, “they should commence with Helen.”

The magician, with a changing countenance, now exclaimed, “Sit still!”

Sydney’s heart beat quick. The brave Essex turned pale. As to the Queen, not the slightest emotion was perceptible.

Faustus soon commenced some muttered incantations and strange evolutions, such as were the fashion of the day for conjurors. Anon the gallery [Pg 93]shook, so did the two courtiers, and the Doctor, in a voice of anger, called out,

“Daughter of fair Leda, hear!
From thy far Elysian sphere;
Lovely as when, for his fee,
To Paris Venus promised thee—

Accustomed to command, rather than to be commanded, the fair Helen lingered to the last possible moment; but when the last moment came, so did she, and so suddenly, that no one knew how she got there. She was habited a la Grecque,—her hair ornamented with pearls and a superb aigrette. The figure passed slowly onwards—stopped for an instant directly opposite the Queen, as if to gratify her curiosity, took leave of her with a malicious smile, and vanished. She had scarcely disappeared when her Majesty exclaimed—“What! that the fair Helen! I don’t pique myself on beauty, but may I die if I would change faces with her!”

“I told your Majesty how it would be,” remarked the enchanter; “and yet there she is, as she was in her best days.”

“She has, however, very fine eyes,” observed Essex.

“Yes,” said Sydney, “they are large, dark, and brilliant—but after all, what do they say?” added he, correcting himself.

“Nothing,” replied the favourite.

[Pg 94]

The Queen, who was this day extravagantly rouged, asked if they did not think Helen’s tint too China-white.

“China!” cried the Earl; “Delf rather.”

“Perhaps,” continued the Queen, “it was the fashion of her time; but you must confess that such turned-in toes would have been endured in no other woman. I don’t dislike her style of dress, however, and probably I may bring it round again, in place of these troublesome hoops, which have their inconveniences.”

“O, as to the dress,” chimed in the favourite—“let it pass; it is well enough, which is more than can be said for the wearer.”

A conclusion, in which Sydney heartily joined, rhapsodying—

“O Paris, fatal was the hour,
When, victim to the blind god’s power,
Within your native walks you bore
That firebrand from a foreign shore;
Who—ah, so little worth the strife!—
Was fit for nothing, but a wife.”

“’Od’s my life now,” said her Majesty, “but I think she looks fitter for anything else, Sydney!—My Lord of Essex, how think you?”

“As your Majesty does,” returned he; “there is a meaning in that eye.”

“And a minute past they said there was none,” thought Faustus.

[Pg 95]

This liberal critique on the fair Helen being concluded, the Queen desired to see the beautiful and hopeless Mariamne.

The enchanter did not wait to be twice asked; but he did not choose to invoke a Princess who had worshipped at holy altars in the same manner as he had summoned the fair Pagan. It was then, by way of ceremony, that, turning four times to the east, three to the south, two to the west, and only once to the north, he uttered, with great suavity, in Hebrew—

“Lovely Mariamne, come!
Though thou sleepest far away,
Regal spirit! leave thy tomb!
Let the splendours round thee play,
Silken robe and diamond stone,
Such as, on thy bridal-day,
Flash’d from proud Judea’s throne.”

Scarcely had he concluded, when the spouse of Herod made her appearance, and gravely advanced into the centre of the gallery, where she halted, as her predecessor had done. She was robed nearly like the high-priest of the Jews, except that instead of the Tiara, a veil, descending from the crown of the head, and slightly attached to the cincture, fell far behind her. Those graceful and flowing draperies threw over the whole figure of the lovely Hebrew an air of indescribable dignity. After having stopped for several minutes before the company, she pursued her way,—but without paying the [Pg 96]slightest parting compliment to the haughty Elizabeth.

“Is it possible,” said the Queen, before she had well disappeared—“is it possible that Mariamne was such a figure as that?—such a tall, pale, meagre, melancholy-looking affair, to have passed for a beauty through so many centuries!”

“By my honour,” quoth Essex, “had I been in Herod’s place, I should never have been angry at her keeping her distance.”

“Yet I perceived,” said Sydney, “a certain touching languor in the countenance,—an air of dignified simplicity.”

Her Majesty looked grave.

“Fye, fye,” returned Essex, “it was haughtiness; her manner is full of presumption,—ay, and even her height.”

The Queen having approved of Essex’s decision, on her own part condemned the Princess for her aversion to her spouse, which, though the world alleged to have been caused by his being the cut-throat of her family, she saw nothing to justify, whatever a husband might be. A wife was a wife; and Herod had done quite right in cutting off the heads of the offenders.

Faustus, who affected universal knowledge, assured her Majesty that all the historians were in error on that point; for he had had it himself from a living witness, that the true cause of Herod’s [Pg 97]vengeance was his spiteful old-maid of a sister—Salome’s overhearing Mariamne, one day at prayers, beg of Heaven to rid her of her worthless husband.

After a moment of thought, the Queen, with the same indifference with which she would have called for her waiting-maid, desired to see Cleopatra; for the Egyptian queen not having been quite as comme il faut as the British, the latter treated her accordingly. The beautiful Cleopatra quickly made her appearance at the extremity of the gallery,—and Elizabeth expected that this apparition would fully make up for the disappointment which the others had occasioned. Scarcely had she entered, when the air was loaded with the rich perfumes of Arabia.

Her bosom (that had been melting as charity) was open as day; a loop of diamonds and rubies gathered the drapery as much above the left knee as it might as well have been below it; and a woven wind of transparent gauze softened the figure which it did not conceal.

In this gay and gallant costume, the mistress of Antony glided through the gallery, making a similar pause as the others. No sooner was her back turned, than the courtiers began to tear her person and frippery to pieces,—the Queen calling out, like one possessed, for paper to burn under her nose, to drive away the vapours occasioned by the gums with which the mummy was filled,—declared her insupportable [Pg 98]in every sense, and far beneath even the wife of Herod or the daughter of Leda,—shocked at her Diana drapery, to exhibit the most villanous leg in the world,—and protested that a thicker robe would have much better become her.

Whatever the two courtiers might have thought, they were forced to join in these sarcasms, which the frail Egyptian excited in peculiar severity.

“Such a cocked nose!” said the Queen.

“Such impertinent eyes!” said Essex.

Sydney, in addition to her other defects, found out that she had too much stomach and too little back.

“Say of her as you please,” returned Faustus—“one she is, however, who led the Master of the World in her chains. But, madam,” added he, turning to the Queen, “as these far-famed foreign beauties are not to your taste, why go beyond your own kingdom? England, which has always produced the models of female perfection—as we may even at this moment perceive—will furnish an object perhaps worthy of your attention in the Fair Rosamond.” Now Faustus had heard that the Queen fancied herself to resemble the Fair Rosamond; and no sooner was the name mentioned, than she was all impatience to see her.

“There is a secret instinct in this impatience,” observed the Doctor, craftily; “for, according to tradition, the Fair Rosamond had much resemblance [Pg 99]to your Majesty, though, of course, in an inferior style.”

“Let us judge—let us judge,” replied the Queen, hastily; “but from the moment she appears, Sir Sydney, I request of you to observe her minutely, that we may have her description, if she is worth it.” This order being given, and some little conjuration made, as Rosamond was only a short distance from London, she made her appearance in a second. Even at the door, her beauty charmed every one, but as she advanced she enchanted them; and when she stopped to be gazed at, the admiration of the company, with difficulty restrained to signs and looks, exhibited their high approbation of the taste of Henry II. Nothing could exceed the simplicity of her dress—and yet in that simplicity she effaced the splendours of day—at least to the spectators. She waited before them a long time—much longer than the others had done; and as if aware of the command the Queen had given, she turned especially towards Sydney, looking at him with an expressive smile. But she must go at last; and when she was gone,—“My lord,” said the Queen, “what a pretty creature! I never saw anything so charming in my life. What a figure! what dignity without affectation! what brilliancy without artifice!—and it is said that I resemble her. My lord of Essex, what think you?” My lord thought, would to Heaven you did; I would give [Pg 100]the best steed in my stable that you had even an ugly likeness to her. But he said, “Your majesty has but to make the tour of the gallery in her green robe and primrose petticoat, and if our magician himself would not mistake you for her, count me the greatest —— of your three kingdoms.”

During all this flattery with which the favourite charmed the ears of the good Queen, the poet Sydney, pencil in hand, was sketching the vision of the Fair Rosamond.

Her Majesty then commanded it should be read, and when she heard it, pronounced it very clever: but as it was a real impromptu, not one of those born long before, and was written for a particular audience, as a picture is painted for a particular light—we think it but justice to the celebrated author not to draw his lines from the venerable antiquity in which they rest, even if we had the MSS. copy; but we have not—which at once finishes the business.

After the reading, they deliberated on the next that should succeed Rosamond. The enchanter, still of opinion that they need not leave England when beauty was the object in question, proposed the famous Countess of Salisbury, who gave rise to the institution of the Garter. The idea was approved of by the Queen, and particularly agreeable to the courtiers, as they wished to see if the cause were worthy of the effect,—i.e., the leg of the garter; [Pg 101]but her Majesty declared that she should particularly like a second sight of her lovely resemblance, the Fair Rosamond. The Doctor vowed that the affair was next to impracticable in the order of conjuration,—the recall of a phantom not depending on the powers submitted to the first enchantments. But the more he declared against it, the more the Queen insisted, until he was obliged at last to submit, but with the information that, if Rosamond should return, it would not be by the way in which she had entered or retired already, and that they had best take care of themselves, as he could answer for no one.

The Queen, as we have elsewhere observed, knew not what fear was—and the two courtiers were now a little reassured on the subject of apparitions. The Doctor then set about accomplishing the Queen’s wishes. Never had conjuration cost him so much trouble; and after a thousand grimaces and contortions, neither pretty nor polite, he flung his book into the middle of the gallery, went three times round it on his hands and feet, then made the tree against the wall, head down and heels up; but nothing appearing, he had recourse to the last and most powerful of his spells. What that was must remain for ever a mystery, for certain reasons; but he wound it up by three times summoning with a sonorous voice—“Rosamond! Rosamond! Rosamond!” At the last of these magic cries, the [Pg 102]grand window burst open with the sudden crash of a tempest, and through it descended the lovely Rosamond into the middle of the room.

The Doctor was in a cold sweat, and while he dried himself, the Queen, who thought her fair visitant a thousand times the fairer for the additional difficulty in procuring this second sight, for once let her prudence sleep, and, in a transport of enthusiasm, stepping out of her circle with open arms, cried out, “My dear likeness!” No sooner was the word out, than a violent clap of thunder shook the whole palace; a black vapour filled the gallery, and a train of little fantastic lightnings serpentined to the right and left in the dazzled eyes of the company.

When the obscurity was a little dissipated, they saw the magician, with his four limbs in air, foaming like a wild boar, his cap here, his wig there—in short, by no means an object of either the sublime or beautiful. But though he came off the worst, yet no one in the adventure escaped quite clear, except Rosamond. The lightning burned away my Lord of Essex’s right brow; Sir Sidney lost the left mustachio; her majesty’s head-dress smelt villanously of the sulphur, and her hoop-petticoat was so puckered up with the scorching, that it was ordered to be preserved among the royal draperies, as a warning, to all maids of honour to come, against curiosity.

[Pg 1]



[MAGA. September 1846.]


Had the royal army of Israel been accoutred after the colour and fashion of the British battalions, I am quite satisfied that another enigma would have been added by King Solomon to his special list of incomprehensibilities. The extraordinary fascination which a red coat exercises over the minds and optics of the fair sex, appears to me a greater phenomenon than any which has been noticed by Goethe in his Theory of the Development of Colours. The same fragment of ensanguined cloth will irritate a bull, charm a viper, and bewitch the heart of a woman. No civilian, however good-looking or clean-limbed—and I rather pique myself upon my pins—has the ghost of a chance when opposed in the lists of love to an officer, a mail-guard, a whipper-in, or a postman. You may be as clever a fellow as ever coopered up [Pg 2]an article for the Magazine, as great a poet as Byron, in beauty an Antinous, in wit a Selwyn, in oratory a Canning—you may dance like Vestris, draw like Grant, ride like Alexander; and yet, with all these accomplishments, it is a hundred chances to one that your black coat, although fashioned by the shears and polished by the goose of Stultz, will be extinguished by the gaudy scarlet habiliments of a raw-boned ensign, emancipated six months ago, for the first time in his life, from the wilderness of a Highland glen, and even now as awkward a cub as ever presumed to plunge into the perils of a polka.

Let no man, nor woman either, consider these observations flummery or verbiage. They are my calm deliberate opinions, written, it is true, under circumstances of considerable irritation, but nevertheless deliberate. I have no love to the army, for I have been sacrificed for a dragoon. My affections have been slighted, my person vilified, my professional prospects damaged, and my constitution fearfully shaken in consequence of this military mania. I have made an idiot of myself in the eyes of my friends and relatives. I have absolutely gone upon the turf. I have lost some valuable inches of epidermis, and every bone of my body feels at the present moment as sore as though I were the sole survivor of a terrific railway collision. A more injured individual than myself never mounted [Pg 3]upon a three-legged stool, and from that high altitude I now hurl down defiance and anathemas upon the regulars, be they horse or foot, sappers or miners, artillery, pioneers, or marines!

It was my accursed fate to love, and love in vain. I do not know whether it was the eye or the instep, the form or the voice, of Edith Bogle, which first drew my attention, and finally fascinated my regards, as I beheld her swimming swan-like down the Assembly Rooms at the last Waverley Ball. A more beautiful representative of Die Vernon could not have been found within the boundary of the three kingdoms. Her rich auburn hair flowed out from beneath the crimson network which strove in vain to confine within its folds that bright luxuriant sea—on her brow there lay one pearl, pure as an angel’s tear—and oh! sweet even to bewilderment was the smile that she cast around her, as, resting upon the arm of the moody Master of Ravenswood, she floated away—a thing of light—in the mazy current of the waltz! I shall not dwell now upon the circumstances of the subsequent introduction; on the delicious hour of converse at the supper-table; or on the whispered, and—as I flattered myself—conscious adieux, when, with palpitating heart, I veiled her fair shoulders with the shawl, and felt the soft pressure of her fingers as I tenderly assisted her to her chair. I went home that night a love-sick Writer to the Signet. One [Pg 4]fairy form was the sole subject of my dreams, and next morning I woke to the conviction, that without Edith Bogle earth would be a wilderness, and even the bowers of Paradise damp, chilly, and uncomfortable.

There is no comfort in looking back upon a period when hope was high and unchecked. I have met with men who, in their maudlin moments—usually towards the close of the evening—were actuated by an impulse similar to that which compelled the Ancient Mariner to renew his wondrous tale: and I have heard them on such occasions recount the whole circumstances of their unfortunate wooing, with voices choked by grief, and with tears of tender imbecility. I have observed, however, that, on the morrow succeeding such disclosures, these gentlemen have invariably a shy and sheepish appearance, as though inwardly conscious that they had extended their confidence too far, and rather dubious as to the sincerity of their apparent sympathisers. Warned by their example, I hold it neither profitable nor wise to push my own confessions too far. If Edith gave me at the outset more encouragement than she ought to have done—if she systematically led me to believe that I had made an impression upon her heart—if she honoured me with a preference so marked, that it deceived not only myself, but others—let the blame be hers. But why should I go minutely into the courtship of half a year? [Pg 5]As difficult, indeed, and as futile, would it be to describe the alternations of an April day, made up of sunshine and of shower, of cloud and rainbow and storm—sometimes mild and hopeful, then ominous of an eve of tempest. For a long time, I had not the slightest suspicion that I had a rival. I remarked, indeed, with somewhat of dissatisfaction, that Edith appeared to listen too complacently to the commonplace flatteries of the officers who are the habitual haunters of private ball and of public assembly. She danced too often with Ensign Corkingham, flirted rather openly with Major Chawser, and certainly had no business whatever to be present at a military fête and champagne luncheon given at the Castle by these brave defenders of their country. I was not invited to that fête, and the circumstance, as I well remember, was the cause of a week’s coolness between us. But it was not until Lieutenant Roper of the dragoons appeared in the field that I felt any particular cause for uneasiness.

To give the devil his due, Roper was a handsome fellow. He stood upwards of six feet in his boots, had a splendid head of curling black hair, and a mustachio and whiskers to match. His nose was beautifully aquiline, his eyes of the darkest hazel, and a perpetual smile, which the puppy had cultivated from infancy, disclosed a box of brilliant dominoes. I knew Roper well, for I had twice [Pg 6]bailed him out of the police-office, and, in return, he invited me to mess. Our obligations, therefore, to each other might be considered as nearly equal—in fact, the balance, if any, lay upon his side, as upon one occasion he had won from me rather more than fifty pounds at ecarté. He was not a bad fellow either, though a little slap-dash in his manner, and somewhat supercilious in his cups; on which occasions—and they were not unfrequent—he was by far too general in his denunciation of all classes of civilians. He was, I believe, the younger son of a Staffordshire baronet, of good connections, but no money—in fact, his patrimony was his commission, and he was notoriously on the outlook for an heiress. Now, Edith Bogle was rumoured to have twenty thousand pounds.

Judge then of my disgust, when, on my return from a rent-gathering expedition to Argyllshire, I found Lieutenant Roper absolutely domiciled with the Bogles. I could not call there of a forenoon on my way from the Parliament-House, without finding the confounded dragoon seated on the sofa beside Edith, gabbling away with infinite fluency about the last ball, or the next review, or worsted-work, or some similar abomination. I question whether he had ever read a single book since he was at school, and yet there he sat, misquoting Byron to Edith—who was rather of a romantic turn—at no allowance, and making wild work with passages out of Tom [Pg 7]Moore’s Loves of the Angels. How the deuce he got hold of them, I am unable up to this day to fathom. I suspect he had somehow or other possessed himself of a copy of the “Beauties,” and dedicated an hour each morning to committing extracts to memory. Certainly he never opened his mouth without enunciating some rubbish about bulbuls, gazelles, and chibouques; he designated Edith his Phingari, and swore roundly by the Koran and Kiebaubs. It was to me perfectly inconceivable how any woman of common intellect could listen to such egregious nonsense, and yet I could not disguise from myself the consciousness of the fact, that Miss Bogle rather liked it than otherwise.

Roper had another prodigious advantage over me. Edith was fond of riding, an exercise to which, from my earliest years, I have had the utmost abhorrence. I am not, I believe, constitutionally timid, and yet I do not know almost any ordeal which I would not cheerfully undergo, to save me from the necessity of passing along a stable behind the heels of half-a-dozen stationary horses. Who knows at what moment the concealed demon may be awaked within them? They are always either neighing, or pulling at their halters, or stamping, or whisking their tails, in a manner which is absolutely frightful; and it is impossible to predict the exact moment they may select for lashing out, and, it may be, scattering your brains [Pg 8]by the force of a hoof most murderously shod with half a hundredweight of iron. The descent of Hercules to Hades seems to me a feat of mere insignificance compared with the cleaning out of the Augean stables, if, as I presume, the inmates were not previously removed.

Roper, on the contrary, rode like a Centaur, or the late Ducrow. He had several brutes, on one or other of which you might see him every afternoon prancing along Princes Street, and he presently contrived to make himself the constant companion of Edith in his daily rides. What took place on these occasions, of course I do not know. It was, however, quite clear to me, that the sooner this sort of thing was put an end to the better; nor should I have cared one farthing had a civil war broke out, if that event could have insured to me the everlasting absence of the pert and pestilential dragoon.

In this dilemma I resolved to make a confidante of my cousin Mary Muggerland. Mary and I were the best possible friends, having flirted together for five successive seasons, with intermissions, on a sort of general understanding that nothing serious was meant, and that either party was at liberty at any time to cry off in case of an extraneous attachment. She listened to the history of my sorrows with infinite complacency.

“I am afraid, George,” she said, “that you have [Pg 9]no chance whatever; I know Edith well, and have heard her say, twenty times over, that she never will marry any man unless he belongs to the army.”

“Then I have been exceedingly ill-used!”

“O fie, George—I wonder at you! Do you think that nobody besides yourself has a right to change their mind? How often, I should like to know, have you varied your attachments during the last three years?”

“That is a very different matter, Mary.”

“Will you have the kindness to explain the difference?”

“Pshaw! is there no distinction between a mere passing flirtation and a deep-rooted passion like mine?”

“I understand—this is the first time there has been a rival in the case. Well—I am sorry I cannot help you. Rely upon it that Roper is the man; and, to be plain with you, I am not at all surprised at it.”

“Mary!—what do you mean?”

“Do you really know so little of the sex as to flatter yourself that a lively girl like Edith, with more imagination than wit, would prefer you, who—pardon me, dear cousin—are rather a commonplace sort of personage, to a gay young officer of dragoons? Why, don’t you see that he talks more to her in one hour than you do in four-and-twenty? [Pg 10]Are not his manners more fascinating—his attentions more pointed—his looks”—

“Upon my word, Miss Mary!” I exclaimed, “this is going rather too far. Do you mean to say that in point of personal appearance”—

“I do, indeed, George. You know I promised you to be candid.”

“Say no more. I see that you women are all alike. These confounded scarlet coats”—

“Are remarkably becoming; and really I am not sure that in one of them—if it were particularly well made—you might not look almost as well as Roper.”

“I have half a mind to turn postman.”

“Not a bad idea for a man of letters. But why don’t you hunt?”

“I dislike riding.”

“You stupid creature! Edith never will marry you: so you may just as well abandon the idea at once.”

So ended my conference with my cousin. I had made it a rule, however, never to believe above one half of what Miss Mary Muggerland said; and, upon the whole, I am inclined to think that was a most liberal allowance of credulity. A young lady is not always the safest depositary of such secrets, or the wisest and most sound adviser. A little spice of spite is usually intermingled with her counsels; and I doubt whether in one case out of ten they sincerely wish success to their simple and confiding [Pg 11]clients. On one point, however, I was inclined to think her right. Edith certainly had a decided military bias.

I begin to hold the doctrine that there is more in judicial astrology than most people are inclined to admit. To what other mysterious fount than the stars can we trace that extraordinary principle which regulates men in the choice of their different professions? Take half-a-dozen lads of the same standing and calibre; give them the same education; inculcate them with the same doctrines; teach them the identical catechism; and yet you will find that in this matter of profession there is not the slightest cohesion among them. Had I been born under the influence of Mars, I too might have been a dragoon—as it was, Saturn, my planetary godfather, had devoted me to the law, and here I stood a discomfited concocter of processes, and a botcher of deeds and titles. Pondering these things deeply, I made my way to the Parliament-House, then in the full hum attendant upon the close of the Session. The usual groups of the briefless were gathered around the stoves. As I happened to have a paper in my hand, I was instantly assailed by half-a-dozen unemployed advocates.

“Hallo, M’Whirter, my fine fellow—d’ye want a counsel? Set you down cheap at a condescendence,” cried Mr Anthony Whaup, a tall barrister of considerable facetiousness.

[Pg 12]

“I say, M’Whirter, is it a semiplena? Hand it over to Randolph; he has lots of experience in that line.”

“Get out, you heretical humbug! Never mind these fellows, George. Tip, and I’m your man,” said Randolph.

“Can anybody tell me who is pleading before the Second Division just now?” asked a youth, looking rather white in the gills.

“Old Windlass. He’s good for three quarters of an hour at least, and then the judges have to give their opinions.”

“I’m devilish glad to hear it. I think I shall bolt. This seems a fine afternoon. Who’s for Musselburgh?”

“I can’t go to-day,” said Whaup. “I was tempted yesterday with a shilling, and sold myself.”

“Who is the unfortunate purchaser?”

“Tom Hargate, crimp-general to the yeomanry.”

“I’m delighted to hear it, old fellow! We have been wanting you for two years back in the corps. ’Gad! won’t we have fun when we go into quarters. I say, M’Whirter—why don’t you become a yeoman?”

I started at the suggestion, which, strange to say, had never crossed my mind before. There was a way then open to me—a method left by which I might satisfy, without compromising my [Pg 13]professional character, the scruples of Edith, and become a member of the military service without abandoning the pen. The man that hesitates is lost.

“I don’t know,” I replied. “I think I should rather like it. It seems a pretty uniform.”

“Pretty!” said Randolph. “By the Lord Harry, it’s the splashest affair possible! I’ll tell you what, M’Whirter, I’ll back you in the yeoman’s jacket and pantaloons against the Apollo Belvidere.”

“It is regular Queen’s service, isn’t it?”

“Of course it is. Only we have no flogging.”

“That’s no great disadvantage. Well, upon my word, I have a great mind”——

“Then, by Jove, there goes the very man! Hallo—Hargate, I say—Tom Hargate!”

“What’s the row?”

“Here’s a new recruit for you. George M’Whirter, W.S. Book him down, and credit me with the bounty money.”

“The Edinburgh squadron, of course,” said Hargate, presenting me with a shilling.

“Don’t be in a hurry,” said one of my friends. “There are better lancers than the Templars. The Dalmahoy die, but they never surrender!”

“Barnton à la rescousse!” cried another.

“No douking in the Dalkeith!” observed a third.

“Nonsense, boys! you are confounding him. M’Whirter and Anthony Whaup shall charge side [Pg 14]by side, and woe betide the insurgent who crosses their path!” said Randolph. “So the sooner you look after your equipments the better.”

In this identical manner was I enrolled as a full private in the Edinburgh squadron of the Mid-Lothian Yeomanry Cavalry.


I confess that a thrill of considerable exultation pervaded my frame, as I beheld one morning on my dressing-table a parcel which conscience whispered to me contained the masterpiece of Buckmaster. With palpitating hand I cut the cord, undid the brown paper foldings, and feasted my eyes in a trance of ecstasy upon the pantaloons, all gorgeous with the red stripe; upon the jacket glittering with its galaxy of buttons, and the polished glory of the shoulder-scales. Not hurriedly, but with a protracted sense of keen enjoyment, I cased myself in the military shell, slung on the pouch-belt, buckled the sabre, and finally adjusted the magnificent helmet on my brows. I looked into the mirror, and scarcely could recognise the counterpart of Mars which confronted me.

“’Od’s scimitars!” cried I, unsheathing my Bilboa, and dealing, with a reckless disregard to expense, a terrific cut at the bed-post—“Let me [Pg 15]catch any fellow saying that the yeomanry is not a constitutional force!”

And so I strode into the breakfast-room, where my old housekeeper was adjusting the materials for the matutinal meal.

“Lord save us a’!” cried Nelly, dropping in her astonishment a platter of finnans upon the floor—“Lord save us a’, and keep us frae the sin o’ bluid-shed! Dear-a-me, Maister George, can that really be you! Hae ye turned offisher, and are ye gaun oot to fecht!”

“To be sure, Nelly. I have joined the yeomanry, and we shall turn out next week. How do you like the uniform?”

“Dinna speak to me o’ unicorns! I’m auld enough to mind the days o’ that bluidy murderin’ villain Bonyparty, wha was loot loose upon huz, as a scourge and a tribulation for the backslidings o’ a sinfu’ land: and, wae’s me! mony a mither that parted frae her son, maybe as bonny, or a hantle bonnier than yoursel’, had sair een, and a broken heart, when she heard that her laddie was streekit cauld and stiff on the weary field o’ Waterloo! Na—for gudeness sake, dinna draw yer swurd or I’ll swarff! O, pit it aff—pit it aff, Maister George—There’s a dear bairn, bide at hame, and dinna gang ye a sodgerin’! Think o’ the mither that lo’es ye, forbye yer twa aunties. Wad ye bring doun their hairs—I canna ca’ them a’ grey, for [Pg 16]Miss Kirsty’s is as red as a lobster—in sorrow to the grave?”

“Why, you old fool, what are you thinking of? We are not going out to fight—merely for exercise.”

“Waur and waur! Can ye no tak’ yer yexerceese at hame, or doun at the Links wi’ golf, or gang awa’ to the fishin’? Wadna that be better than stravagin’ through the streets, wi’ a lang swurd harlin’ ahint ye, and consortin’ wi’ deboshed dragoons, and drinkin’ the haill nicht, and rinnin’ wud after the lasses? And if ye’re no gaun out to fecht, what’s the use o’ ye? Are ye gaun to turn anither Claverse, and burn and hang puir folk like the wicked and bluid-thirsty troopers lang syne? Yexerceese indeed! I wonder, Maister George, ye’re no just ashamed o’ yoursel’!”

“Hold your tongue, you old fool, and bring the tea-pot.”

“Fule! ’Deed I’m maybe just an auld fule to gang on clattering that gate, for I never kent ye tak’ gude advice sin’ ye were a wean. Aweel! He that will to Cupar maun to Cupar. Ye’se hae it a’ yer ain way; but maybe we’ll see some day sune, when ye’re carried hame on a shutter wi’ a broken leg, or a stab in the wame, or a bullet in the harns, whilk o’ us twa is the greater fule!”

“Confound that woman!” thought I, as I pensively buttered my roll. “What with her Cameronian [Pg 17]nonsense and her prophecies, she is enough to disband a regiment.”

And, to say the truth, her last hint about a broken leg was not altogether foreign to my own apprehensions. I had recollected of late, with no slight uneasiness, that for this sort of service a horse was quite as indispensable as a man; and, as already hinted, I had more than doubts as to my own equestrian capabilities. However, I comforted myself with the reflection, that out of the fifty or sixty yeomen whom I knew, not one had ever sustained any serious injury; and I resolved, as a further precaution against accident, to purvey me the very quietest horse that could be found anywhere. Steadiness, I have always understood, is the characteristic feature of the British cavalry.

My correspondence that morning was not of the legal kind. In the first place, I received a circular from the commanding-officer, extremely laudatory of the recruits, whose zeal for the service did them so much credit. We were called upon, in an animated address, to maintain the high character of the regiment—to prove ourselves worthy successors of those who had ridden and fought before us—to turn out regularly and punctually to the field, and to keep our accoutrements in order. Next came a more laconic and pithy epistle from the adjutant, announcing the hours of drill, and the different [Pg 18]arrangements for the week; and finally, a communication from the convener of the mess committee.

To all these I cordially assented, and having nothing better to do, bethought me of a visit to the Bogles. I pictured to myself the surprise of Edith on beholding me in my novel character.

“She shall see,” thought I, “that years of dissipation in a barrack or guardroom are not necessary to qualify a high-minded legal practitioner for assuming his place in the ranks of the defenders of his country. She shall own that native valour is an impulse, not a science. She shall confess that the volunteer who becomes a soldier, simply because the commonwealth requires it, is actuated by a higher motive than the regular, with his prospects of pay and of promotion. What was Karl Theodore Körner, author of the Lyre and Sword, but a simple Saxon yeoman? and yet is there any name, Blucher’s not excepted, which stirs the military heart of Germany more thrillingly than his? And, upon my honour, even as a matter of taste, I infinitely prefer this blue uniform to the more dashing scarlet. It is true they might have given us tails to the jacket,” continued I soliloquising, as a young vagabond who passed, hazarded a contumelious remark regarding the symmetry of my nether person. “But, on the whole, it is a manly and a simple garb, and Edith cannot be [Pg 19]such a fool as not to appreciate the motives which have led me to assume it.”

So saying, I rung the Bogles’ bell. Edith was in the drawing-room, and there also, to my no small mortification, was Lieutenant Roper. They were sitting together on the sofa, and I rather thought Miss Bogle started as I came in.

“Goodness gracious! Mr M’Whirter,” cried she with a giggle—Edith never looked well when she giggled—“What have you been doing with yourself?”

“I am not aware, Miss Bogle, that there is anything very extraordinary”——

“O dear, no! I beg your pardon for laughing, but really you look so funny! I have been so used, you know, to see you in a black coat, that the contrast is rather odd. Pray forgive my ignorance, Mr M’Whirter, but what is that dress?”

“The uniform of the Mid-Lothian Yeomanry Cavalry, madam. We are going into quarters next week.”

“How very nice! Do you know it is one of the prettiest jackets I ever saw? Don’t you think so, Mr Roper?”

“Veway much so,” replied Roper, reconnoitring me calmly through his eyeglass. “A veway handsome turn-out indeed. ’Pon my honour, I had no idea they got up things so cleverly in the fencibles”——

[Pg 20]

“Yeomanry, if you please, Lieutenant Roper!”

“Ah, yes! Yeomanry—so it is. I say, M’Whirter, ’pon my soul, do you know, you look quite killing! Do, like a good fellow, just march to the corner of the room, and let us have a look at you on the other side.”

“Oh do, Mr M’Whirter!” supplicated, or rather supplemented Edith.

I felt as if I could have shot him.

“You’ll excuse me, Roper, for not going through drill just now. If you like to come to the review, you shall see how our regiment can behave. At any rate, we shall be happy to see you at mess.”

“Oh suttingly, suttingly! Veway good things those yeomanry messes. Always a deal of claret, I believe.”

“And pray, Mr M’Whirter, what rank do you hold in that distinguished corps?” asked Edith.

“A full private, Miss Bogle.”

“Goodness gracious!—then you’re not even an officer!”

“A private of the yeomanry, Miss Bogle, is, let me inform you, totally independent of rank. We enrol ourselves for patriotism, not for pay. We are as honourable a body as the Archers of the Scots Guard, the Cavaliers of Dundee, or the Mousquetaires”——

“How romantic and nice! I declare, you are quite a D’Artagnan!” said Edith, who had just read the Trois Mousquetaires.

[Pg 21]

“Don’t they pay you?” said Roper. “’Pon my honour that’s too bad. If I were you I’d memorialise the Horse Guards. By the way, M’Whirter, what sort of a charger have you got?”

“Why, to say the truth,” replied I, hesitatingly, “I am not furnished with a horse as yet. I am just going to look out for one at some of the livery stables.”

“My dear friend,” said Roper, with augmented interest, “I strongly recommend you to do nothing of the kind. These fellows will, to a dead certainty, sell you some sort of a brute that is either touched in the wind or dead lame; and I can tell you it is no joke to be spilt in a charge of cavalry.”

I felt a sort of sickening sensation as I recalled the lines of Schiller—

“Young Piccolomini, known by his plume
And his long hair, gave signal for the trenches;
Himself leapt first, the regiment all plunged after.
His charger, by a halbert gored, reared up,
Flung him with violence off, and over him
The horses, now no longer to be curbed”——

The fate of Max might be mine, and Edith might be left, a mournful Thekla, to perform a moonlight pilgrimage to my grave in the solitary churchyard of Portobello!

“Do you really think so, Roper?” said I.

“Think so! I know it,” replied the dragoon. “Never while you live trust yourself to the tender [Pg 22]mercies of a livery stable. It’s a wegular maxim in the army. Pray, are you a good rider?”

“Pretty—fairish—tolerable. That is, I can ride.”

“Ah! I see—want of practice merely—eh?”

“Just so.”

“Well, then, it’s a lucky thing that I’ve seen you. I have just the sort of animal you want—a wegular-bred horse, sound as a roach, quiet as a lamb, and quite up to the cavalry movements. Masaniello will suit your weight to an ounce, and you shall have him for seventy guineas.”

“That’s a very long price, Roper!”

“For Masaniello? I assure you he’s as cheap as dirt. I would not sell him for twice the sum: only, you see, we are limited in our number, and my father insists upon my keeping other two which he bred himself. If you like to enter Masaniello for the races, I’ll insure your winning the cup.”

“Oh do, Mr M’Whirter, take Mr Roper’s advice!” said Edith. “Masaniello is such a pretty creature, and so quiet! And then, after the week is over, you know you can come and ride with us.”

“Won’t you take sixty, Roper?”

“Not a penny less than seventy,” replied the dragoon.

“Well, then, I shall take him at that Pounds?”

“Guineas. Call down to-morrow forenoon at Piershill, and you shall have delivery. Now, Miss Bogle, what do you say to a canter on the sands?”

[Pg 23]

I took my leave rather satisfied than otherwise with the transaction. Edith evidently took a warm interest in my welfare, and her suggestion as to future expeditions was quite enchanting. Seventy guineas, to be sure, was a deal of money, but then it was something to be assured of safety for life and limb. On the street I encountered Anthony Whaup.

“Well, old fellow,” quoth Anthony, “how are you getting on? Pounding away at drill, eh?”

“Not yet.”

“Faith, you had better look sharp about it, then. I’ve been down twice at Canonmills of a morning, and I can tell you the facings are no joke. Have you got a horse yet?”

“Yes; a regular dragoon charger—and you?”

“A beast from Wordsworth. He’s been out regularly with the squadron for the last ten years; so it is to be presumed he knows the manœuvres. If not, I’m a spilt yeoman!”

“I say, Anthony—can you ride?”

“No more than yourself, but I suppose we shall contrive to stick on somehow.”

“Would it not be as well to have a trial?” said I, with considerable intrepidity. “Suppose we go together to the riding-school, and have an hour or two’s practice.”

“I have no earthly manner of objection,” said Anthony. “I presume there’s lots of sawdust there and the exhibition will, at any rate, be a private [Pg 24]one. Allons!” and we departed for the amphitheatre.

We inquired for a couple of peaceable hacks, which were forthwith furnished us. I climbed up with some difficulty into the saddle, and having submitted to certain partial dislocations of the knee and ankle, at the hands of the master of the ring (rather a ferocious Widdicomb, by the way), and having also been instructed in the art of holding the reins, I was pronounced fit to start. Anthony, whose legs were of a parenthetical build, seemed to adapt himself more easily to his seat.

“Now then, trot!” cried the sergeant, and away we went with a wild expenditure of elbow.

“Toes in, toes in, gentlemen!” bellowed our instructor; “blowed but you’d drive them wild if you had spurs on! You ain’t been at the dancing-school lately, have you? Steady—steady—very good. Down your elbows, gentlemen, if you please! them bridles isn’t pumps. Heads up! now gallop! Bravo! very good. Screw in the knees a little. Hold on—hold on, sir, or damme you’ll be off!”

And sure enough I was within an ace of canting over, having lost a stirrup, when the sergeant caught hold of me by the arm.

“I’ll tell you what, gents,” he said, “you’ll never learn to ride in this ’varsal world, unless you tries it without the irons. Nothing like that for giving a man a sure seat So, Bill, take off the stirrups, will [Pg 25]you! Don’t be afeard, gentlemen. I’ll make riders of you yet, or my name isn’t Kickshaw.”

Notwithstanding the comforting assurances of Kickshaw, I felt considerably nervous. If I could not maintain my seat with the assistance of the stirrups, what the mischief was I to do without them? I looked rebelliously at Anthony’s stirrup, but that intrepid individual seemed to have nerved himself to meet any possible danger. His enormous legs seemed calculated by nature to embrace the body of his charger, and he sat erect like an overgrown Bacchus bestriding a kilderkin of beer.

“Trot, gentlemen!” and away we went. I shall never forget the agony of that hour! The animal I rode was peculiarly decided in his paces; so much so that at each step my os coccygis came down with a violent thump upon the saddle, and my teeth rattled in my head like dice in a backgammon-box. How I managed to maintain my posture I cannot clearly understand. Possibly the instinct of self-preservation proved the best auxiliary to the precepts of Sergeant Kickshaw; for I held as tight a hold of the saddle as though I had been crossing the bridge of Al Sirat, with the flames of the infernal regions rolling and undulating beneath.

“Very good, gentlemen—capital!—you’re improving vastly!” cried the complimentary sergeant. “Nothing like the bare saddle after all—damme but [Pg 26]I’ll make you take a four-barred gate in a week! Now sit steady. Gallop!”

Croton oil was a joke to it! I thought my whole vitals were flying to pieces as we bounded round the oval building, the speed gradually increasing, until my diseased imagination suggested that we were going at the pace of Lucifer. My head began to grow dizzy, and I clutched convulsively at the pommel.

“An-tho-ny!” I gasped in monosyllables.



“Monstrous—shakey,” replied Anthony in dis-syllables.

“I’m off!” cried I; and, losing my balance at the turn, I dropped like a sack of turnips.

However, I was none the worse for it. Had it not been for Anthony, and the dread of his report, I certainly think I should have bolted, and renounced the yeomanry for ever. But a courageous example does wonders. I persevered, and in a few days really made wonderful progress. I felt, however, considerably sore and stiff—straddled as I walked along the street, and was compelled to have recourse to diachylon. What with riding and the foot-drill I had hard work of it, and earnestly longed for the time when the regiment should go into quarters. I almost forgot to mention that Masaniello turned out to be an immense black brute, rather aged, [Pg 27]but apparently sound, and, so far as I could judge, quiet. There was, however, an occasional gleam about his eye which I did not exactly like.

“He’ll carry you, sir, famously—no doubt of it,” said Kickshaw, who inspected him; “and, mind my words, he’ll go it at the charge!”


It was a brilliant July morning when I first donned my regimentals for actual service. Dugald M’Tavish, a caddy from the corner of the street, had been parading Masaniello, fully caparisoned for action, before the door at least half an hour before I was ready, to the no small delectation of two servant hizzies who were sweeping out the stairs, and a diminutive baker’s boy.

“Tak’ a cup o’ coffee afore ye get up on that muckle funking beast, Maister George,” said Nelly; “and mind ye, that if ye are brocht hame this day wi’ yer feet foremost, it’s no me that has the wyte o’t.”

“Confound you, Nelly! what do you keep croaking for in that way?”

“It’s a’ ane to me; but, O man, ye’re unco like Rehoboam! Atweel ye needna flounce at that gate. Gang yer wa’s sodgerin’, and see what’ll come o’t. It’s ae special mercy that there’s a hantle o’ lint in [Pg 28]the hoose, and the auld imbrocation for broken banes; and, in case o’ the warst, I’ll ha’e the lass ready to rin for Doctor Scouther.”

This was rather too much; so, with the reverse of a benediction on my gouvernante, I rushed from the house, and, with the assistance of Dugald, succeeded in mounting Masaniello, a task of no small difficulty, as that warlike quadruped persisted in effecting a series of peripherical evolutions.

“And whan wull ye be back, and what wall ye ha’e for denner?” were the last words shouted after me as I trotted off to the rendezvous.

It was still early, and there were not many people abroad. A few faces, decorated with the picturesque mutch, occasionally appeared at the windows, and one or two young rascals, doubtless descendants of the disaffected who fell at Bonnymuir, shouted “Dook!” as I rode along. Presently I fell in with several of my comrades, amongst whom I recognised with pleasure Randolph and Anthony Whaup.

“By Jove, M’Whirter!” said the former, “that’s a capital mount of yours. I don’t think there is a finer horse in the troop; and I say, old chap, you sit him as jauntily as a janissary!”

“He has had hard work to do it though, as I can testify,” remarked Anthony, whose gelding seemed to be an animal of enviable placidity. “I wish you had seen us both at Kickshaw’s a week ago.”

“I dare say, but there’s nothing like practice. [Pg 29]Hold hard, M’Whirter! If you keep staring up that way, you may have a shorter ride of it than you expect. Easy—man—easy! That brute has the mettle of Beelzebub.”

The remark was not uncalled for. We were passing at that moment before the Bogles’ house, and I could not resist the temptation of turning round to gaze at the window of Edith, in the faint hope that she might be a spectator of our expedition. In doing so, my left spur touched Masaniello in the flank, a remembrancer which he acknowledged with so violent a caper, that I was very nearly pitched from the saddle.

“Near shave that, sir!” said Hargate, who now rode up to join us; “we’ll require to put you into the rear rank this time, where, by the way, you’ll be remarkably comfortable.”

“I hope,” said Anthony, “I may be entitled to the same privilege.”

“Of course. Pounset, I think, will be your front-rank man. He’s quite up to the whole manœuvre, only you must take care of his mare. But here we are at Abbey-hill gate, and just in time.”

I was introduced in due form to the officers of the squadron, with none of whom I was previously acquainted, and was directed to take my place as Randolph’s rear-rank man, so that in file we marched together. Before us were two veteran yeomen, and behind were Anthony and Pounset.

[Pg 30]

Nothing particular occurred during our march to Portobello sands. Masaniello behaved in a manner which did him infinite credit, and contributed not a little to my comfort. He neither reared nor plunged, but contented him at times with a resolute shake of the head, as if he disapproved of something, and an occasional sniff at Randolph’s filly, whenever she brought her head too near.

On arriving at the sands we formed into column, so that Anthony and I were once more side by side. The other squadrons of the regiment were already drawn up, and at any other time I should no doubt have considered the scene as sufficiently imposing. I had other things, however, to think of besides military grandeur.

“I say, Anthony,” said I, somewhat nervously, “do you know anything about these twistified manœuvres?”

“Indeed I do not!” replied Whaup, “I’ve been puzzling my brains for the last three days over the Yeomanry Regulations, but I can make nothing out of their ‘Reverse flanks’ and ‘Reforming by sections of threes?’”

“And I’m as ignorant as a baby! What on earth are we to do? That big fellow of a sergeant won’t let us stand quietly, I suppose.”

“I stick to Pounset,” said Whaup. “Whatever he does I do, and I advise you to do the same by Randolph.”

[Pg 31]

“But what if they should ride away? Isn’t there some disgusting nonsense about forming from threes?”

“I suppose the horses know something about it, else what’s the use of them? That brute of yours must have gone through the evolutions a thousand times, and ought to know the word of command by heart—Hallo!—I say, Pounset, just take care of that mare of yours, will ye! She’s kicking like the very devil, and my beast is beginning to plunge!”

“I wouldn’t be Pounset’s rear-rank for twenty pounds,” said a stalwart trooper to the left. “She has the ugliest trick of using her heels of any mare in Christendom.”

“Much obliged to you, sir, for the information,” said Whaup, controlling, with some difficulty, the incessant curveting of his steed. “I say, Pounset, if she tries that trick again I’ll hamstring her without the slightest ceremony.”

“Pooh—nonsense!” replied Pounset. “Woa, Miss Frolic—woa, lass!—she’s the gentlest creature in the creation—a child might ride her with a feather. Mere playfulness, my dear fellow, I assure you!”

“Hang her playfulness!” cried Anthony; “I’ve no idea of having my brains made a batter pudding for the amusement of a jade like that.”

“Are you sure, Whaup, that you did not tickle her tail?” asked Pounset, with provoking coolness. “She’s a rare ’un to scatter a crowd.”

[Pg 32]

“Hang me if I’d come within three yards of her if I possibly could help it,” quoth Anthony. “If any gentleman in the neighbourhood has a fancy to exchange places, I’m his man.”

“Threes right!” cried the commanding-officer, and we executed a movement of which I am wholly unconscious; for, to the credit of Masaniello be it said, he took the direction in his own mouth, and performed it so as to save his rider from reproach.

Then came the sword exercise, consisting of a series of slashes, which went off tolerably well—then the skirmishing, when one of our flank men was capsized—and at last, to my great joy, we were permitted to sit at ease; that is, as easily as our previous exertions would allow. I then learned to appreciate the considerate attention of the authorities in abrogating the use of pistols. In each man’s holsters were a soda-water bottle, filled for the nonce with something more pungent than the original Schweppe, and a cigar-case. These were now called into requisition, and a dense wreath of smoke arose along the lines of the squadron. The officer then in command embraced the opportunity of addressing us in a pithy oration.

“Gentlemen!” said he, “I would not be performing my duty to my Queen and my country, (cheers), if I did not express to you my extreme surprise and satisfaction at the manner in which the new recruits have gone through the preliminary [Pg 33]drill. Upon my honour I expected that more than one half of you would have been spilt—a spectacle which might possibly have been pleasing to those veteran warriors of Dalmahoy, but which I should have witnessed with extraordinary pain. As it is, you rode like bricks. However, it is my duty to inform you, that a more serious trial of your fortitude is about to come. The squadrons will presently form together, and you will be called upon to charge. Many of you know very well how to do that already”—

“Especially the Writers to the Signet,” muttered Anthony.

“But there are others who are new to the movement. To those gentlemen, therefore, I shall address a few words of caution; they are short and simple. Screw yourselves tight in your saddles—hold hard at first—keep together as you best can—think that the enemy are before you—and go at it like blazes!”

A shout of approval followed this doughty address, and the heart of every trooper burned with military ardour. For my own part, I was becoming quite reconciled to the thing. I perfectly coincided with my commanding-officer in his amazement at the adhesive powers of myself and several others, and with desperate recklessness I resolved to test them to the utmost. The bugle now sounded the signal to fall in. Soda bottles and cigar-cases were [Pg 34]returned to their original concealment, and we once more took our respective places in the ranks.

“Now comes the fun,” said Randolph, after the leading squadron had charged in line. “Mind yourselves, boys!”


On we went like waves of the sea, regularly enough at first, then slightly inclining to the line of beauty, as some of the weaker hacks began to show symptoms of bellows.


“Go ahead!” cried Randolph, sticking his spurs into his Bucephalus. Masaniello, with a snort, fairly took the bridle into his teeth, and dashed off with me at a speed which threatened to throw the ranks into utter confusion. As for Pounset, he appeared to be possessed with the fury of a demon. His kicking mare sent up at every stride large clods of sand in the teeth of the unfortunate Anthony Whaup, whose presence of mind seemed at last to have forsaken him.

“What the mischief are you after, Whaup?” panted the trooper on his left. “Just take your foot out of my stirrup, will you?”

“Devil a bit!” quoth Anthony, “I’m too glad to get anything to hold on by.”

“If you don’t, you’re a gone ’coon. There!—I told you.” And the steed of Anthony was rushing riderless among the press.

[Pg 35]

I don’t know exactly how we pulled up. I have an indistinct notion that I owed my own arrest to Neptune, and that Masaniello was chest deep in the sea before he paid the slightest attention to my convulsive tugs at the bridle. Above the rush of waves I heard a yell of affright, and perceived that I had nearly ridden over the carcass of a fat old gentleman, who, in puris naturalibus, was disporting himself in the water, and who now, in an agony of terror, and apparently under the impression that he was a selected victim for the tender mercies of the yeomanry, struck out vigorously for Inchkeith. I did not tarry to watch his progress, but returned as rapidly as possible to the squadron.

By this time the shores of Portobello were crowded with habitual bathers. There is a graceful abandon, and total absence of prudery, which peculiarly characterise the frequenters of that interesting spot, and reminds one forcibly of the manners of the Golden Age. Hirsute Triton and dishevelled Nereid there float in unabashed proximity; and, judging from the usual number of spectators, there is something remarkably attractive in the style of these aquatic exercises.

The tide was pretty far out, so that of course there was a wide tract of sand between the shingle and the sea. Our squadron was again formed in line, when a bathing-machine was observed leisurely [Pg 36]bearing down upon our very centre, conveying its freight towards the salubrious waters.

“Confound that boy!” cried the commanding-officer; “he will be among the ranks in a minute. Sergeant! ride out, and warn the young scoundrel off at his peril.”

The sergeant galloped towards the machine.

“Where are you going, you young scum of the earth? Do you not see the troops before you? Get back this instant!”

“I’ll do naething o’ the kind,” replied the urchin, walloping his bare legs, by way of encouragement, against the sides of the anatomy he bestrode. “The sands is just as free to huz as to ony o’ ye, and I would like to ken what richt ye have tae prevent the foulks frae bathin’.”

“Do you dare to resist, you vagabond?” cried the man of stripes, with a terrific flourish of his sabre. “Wheel back immediately, or”——and he went through the first four cuts of the sword exercise.

“Eh man!” said the intrepid shrimp, “what wull ye do? Are ye no ashamed, a great muckle fellie like you, to come majoring, an’ shakin’ yer swurd at a bit laddie? Eh, man, if I was ner yer size, I’d gie ye a licking mysel’. Stand oot o’ the gate, I say, an’ I’ll sune run through the haill o’ ye. I’m no gaun to lose a saxpence for yeer nonsensical parauds.”

[Pg 37]

“Cancel my commission!” said the lieutenant, “if the brat hasn’t bothered the sergeant! The bathing-machine is coming down upon us like the chariot of Queen Boadicea! This will never do. Randolph—you and M’Whirter ride out and reinforce. That scoundrel is another Kellerman, and will break us to a dead certainty!”

“Twa mair o’ ye!” observed the youth with incredible nonchalance, as we rode up with ferocious gestures. “O men, but ye’re bauld bauld the day! Little chance the Frenchies wad hae wi’ the like o’ you ’gin they were comin’! Gee hup, Bauldy!”

“Come, come, my boy,” said Randolph, nearly choking with laughter, “this is all very well, but you must positively be off. Come, tumble round, my fine fellow, and you shall have leave to pass presently.”

“Aum no gaun to lose the tide that way,” persevered the urchin. “The sands is open to the haill o’ huz, and I’ll no gang back for nane o’ ye. Gin ye offer tae strike me, I’ll hae the haill squad o’ ye afore the Provost o’ Portobelly, and, ma certie, there’ll be a wheen heels sune coolin’ in the jougs!”

“By heavens! this is absolutely intolerable!” said the sergeant—“M’Whirter, order the man in the inside to open the door, and come out in Her Majesty’s name.”

I obeyed, as a matter of course.

[Pg 38]

“I say—you, sir, inside—do you know where you are going? Right into the centre of a troop of the Royal Yeomanry Cavalry! If you are a gentleman and a loyal subject, you will open the door immediately, and desire the vehicle to be stopped.”

In order to give due effect to this remonstrance, and also to impress the inmate with a proper sense of the consequences of interference with martial discipline, I bestowed cut No. Seven with all my might upon the machine. To my horror, and that of my companions, there arose from within a prolonged and double-voiced squall.

“Hang me, if it isn’t women!” said the sergeant.

“Yer mither wull be proud o’ ye the nicht,” said the Incubus on the atomy, “when it’s tell’t her that ye hae whanged at an auld machine, and frichtet twa leddies to the skirlin’! Ony hoo, M’Whirter, gin that’s your name, there’ll be half-a-croun to pay for the broken brodd!”

The small sliding-panel at the back of the machine was now cautiously opened.

“Goodness gracious, Mr M’Whirter!” said a voice which I instantly recognised to be that of Edith Bogle, “is it possible that can be you? Is it the custom, sir, of the Scottish yeomen to break in upon the privacy of two young defenceless females, and even to raise their weapons against [Pg 39]the place which contains them? Fie, sir! is this your boasted chivalry?”

“O George—go away, do! I am really quite ashamed of you!” said the voice of my cousin, Mary Muggerland.

I thought I should have dropped from my saddle.

“Friends of yours, eh, M’Whirter?” said Randolph. “Rather an awkward fix, I confess. What’s to be done?”

“Would the regulars have behaved thus?” cried Edith, with increased animation. “Would they have insulted a woman? Never. Begone, sir—I am afraid I have been mistaken in you”——

“By my honour, Edith!—Miss Bogle, I mean—you do me gross injustice! I did not know—I could not conceive that you, or Mary, or any other lady, were in the machine, and then—consider my orders”——

“Orders, sir! There are some orders which never ought to be obeyed. But enough of this. If you have delicacy enough to feel for our situation, you will not protract this interview. Drive on, boy! and you, Mr M’Whirter, if you venture to interrupt us further, never expect my pardon.”

“Nor mine!” added Mary Muggerland.

“Who the mischief cares for yours, you monkey!” muttered I sotto voce. “But Edith—one other word”——

“Don’t call me Edith, sir! This continued [Pg 40]importunity is insufferable! If you have any explanation to make, you must select a fitter time,” and the sliding-panel was instantly closed.

“Ye’ve cotohed it ony hoo!” said the shrimp, with a malignant leer. “Wauken up, Bauldy, my man, and let’s see how cleverly ye’ll gae through them!”

A few words of explanation satisfied our commanding-officer, and the victorious machine rolled insultingly through the lines. I have not spirits to narrate the further proceedings of that day. My heart was not in the squadron; and my eyes, even when ordered to be directed to the left, were stealthily turned in the other direction towards two distant figures in bathing-gowns, sedulously attempting to drown one another in fun. Shortly afterwards we dispersed, and returned to Edinburgh. I attempted a visit of explanation, but Miss Bogle was not at home.

I messed that evening for the first time with the squadron. Judging from the laughter which arose on all sides, it was a merry party; but my heart was heavy, and I could hardly bring myself to enter cordially into the festivities. I was also rather uneasy in person, as will happen to young cavalry soldiers. I drank, however, a good deal of wine, and, as I was afterwards informed, recovered amazingly towards the close of the sederunt. They also told me, next morning, that I had entered Masaniello to run for the Squadron Cup.

[Pg 41]


“And so you really forgive me, Edith!” said I, bending over the lady of my love, as she sate creating worsted roses in a parterre of gossamer canvass: “You are not angry at what happened the other day at that unlucky encounter on the sands?”

“Have I not said already that I forgive you?” replied Edith. “Is it necessary that I should assure you twice?”

“Charming Miss Bogle! you do not know how happy you have made me.”

“Pray, don’t lean over me so, or you’ll make me spoil my work. See—I have absolutely put something like a caterpillar into the heart of this rosebud!”

“Never, dearest Edith, may any caterpillar prey upon the rosebud of your happiness. How curious! Do you know, the outline of that sketch reminds me forcibly of the countenance of Roper?”

“Mr M’Whirter!”

“Nay, I was merely jesting. Pray, Miss Bogle, what are your favourite colours?”

“Peach-blossom and scarlet; but why do you ask?”

“Do not press me for an explanation—it will come early enough. And now, Edith, I must bid you adieu.”

[Pg 42]

“So soon? Cannot you spare a single hour from your military duties? Bless me, how pale you are looking! Are you sure you are quite well?”

“Quite—that is to say a little shaken in the nerves or so. This continued exertion”—

“Do you mean at mess? Mr Roper told me sad stories about your proceedings two nights ago.”

“Oh, pooh—nonsense! You will certainly then appear at the races?”

“You may depend upon me.”

And so I took my leave.

The reader will gather from this conversation, which took place four days after the events detailed in last chapter, that I had effectually made my peace with Miss Bogle. For this arrangement Mary Muggerland took much more credit than I thought she was entitled to; however, it is of no use quarrelling with the well disposed, especially if they are females, as, in that case, you are sure to have the worst of it in the long run. I did not feel quite easy, however, regarding, the insinuations thrown out upon my unusually pallid appearance. The fact is, that the last week had rather been a fast one. The mess was remarkably pleasant, and all would have been quite right had we stopped there. But I had unfortunately yielded to the fascinations of Archy Chaffinch and some of the younger hands, who, being upon the loose, resolved [Pg 43]to make the very most of it, and the consequence was, that, to the great scandal of Nelly, we kept highly untimeous hours. In fact, one night I made a slight mistake, which I have not yet, and may never hear, the last of, by walking, quite accidentally, into the house of my next-door neighbour—a grave and reverend signior—instead of my own, and abusing him like a pickpocket for his uncalled-for presence within the shade of my patrimonial lobby. It therefore followed that sometimes of a morning, after mounting Masaniello, I had a strong suspicion that a hive of bees had taken a fancy to settle upon my helmet—a compliment which might have been highly satisfactory to the infant Virgil, but was by no means suited to the nerves or taste of an adult Writer to the Signet.

Roper had been my guest at one of the late messes. His speech in returning thanks for the health of his regiment was one of the richest specimens of oratory I ever had the good fortune to hear, and ought to be embalmed for the benefit of an aspiring posterity. It ran somewhat thus—

“I assure you, sir, that the honour you have just conferred upon ours, is—yas—amply appweciated, I assure you, sir, by the wegular army. It gives us, sir—yas—the hiwest gwatification to be pwesent at the mess of such a loyal body as the South-Lothian Yeomanry Cavalry. The distinguished services of that gallant corps, both at home and [Pg 44]abwoad, are such as—yas—to demand the admiwation of their country, and—yas—in short, I feel compwetely overpowared. The bwoad banners of Bwitain floating over land and sea—chalk cliffs of old Albion, if I may be allowed the simile—wight hand of the service and left—wegulars and yeomanry—and the three corners of the world may come at once in arms, and be considewably shocked for their pains. Permit me again to expwess my extweme thanks for the honour you have done to ours.”

Now, on that evening, as I can conscientiously vouch, Roper contrived to deposit at least two bottles of claret beneath his belt. Any revelations, therefore, of what took place at our hospitable board, amounted to a gross breach of confidence, and were quite unpardonable; more especially when our relative situations with regard to the affections of Miss Bogle are considered. But Punic faith is the very least that one can expect from a rival.

On the review day, the whole regiment turned out under auspices of unusual smartness. We were to be inspected by a veteran officer of high rank and reputation, and, under those circumstances, we all thought ourselves bound in honour to support the credit of the corps. That was not remarkably difficult. You will hardly see anywhere a finer-looking set of fellows than the Mid-Lothian [Pg 45]yeomanry, and our discipline, considering the short period of exercise, was really praiseworthy. In the words of our commanding-officer, he was justly proud of his recruits, and I can answer for it, that the recruits most cordially reciprocated the sentiment.

“Now, Anthony,” said Pounset, as we formed into line, “I shall really be obliged to you to make less clatter with that scabbard of yours when we charge. My mare is mad enough with the music, without having the additional impetus of supposing that a score of empty kettles are tied to her tail.”

“By jove, that’s a good one!” replied Anthony. “Here have you been bunging up my eyes and making attempts upon my ribs for the last week, and yet you expect me to have no other earthly consideration beyond your personal comfort! How the deuce am I to manage my scabbard when both hands are occupied?”

“Can’t you follow the example of Prince Charles, and throw it away?”

“Thank you for nothing! But, I say that sort of madness seems contagious. Here’s M’Whirter’s horse performing a fandango, which is far more curious than agreeable.”

“What’s the matter with Masaniello?” cried Archy Chaffinch; “he looks seriously inclined to bolt.”

I had awful suspicions of the same nature. No sooner had the regimental band struck up, than my [Pg 46]charger began to evince disagreeable signs of impatience; he pawed, pranced, snorted, curveted, and was utterly deaf to the blandishments with which I strove to allay his irritability. I was even thankful when we were put into motion preparatory to the charge, in the belief that action might render him less restive; and so it did for a time. But no sooner had we broke into a gallop, than I felt it was all up with me. I might as well have been without a bridle. The ungovernable brute laid back his ears like a tiger, and I shot past Randolph in an instant, very nearly upsetting that judicious warrior in my course.

Nor was I alone. Pounset’s mare, who never brooked a rival, and who, moreover, had taken umbrage at the sonorous jolting of Anthony, was resolved not to be outstripped; and, taking the bridle between her teeth, came hard and heavy on my flank. The cry of “halt!” sounded far and faint behind us. We dashed past a carriage, in which, from a momentary glimpse, I recognised the form of Edith; while a dragoon officer—I knew intuitively it was Roper—had drawn up his horse by the side. They were laughing—yes! by heavens they were laughing—at the moment I was borne away headlong, and perhaps to destruction. My sword flew out of my hand—I had need of both to hold the reins. I shouted to Pounset to draw in, but an oath was the only reply!

[Pg 47]

I heard the blast of the recall bugle behind us, but Masaniello only stretched out more wildly. We splashed through the shallow pools of water, sending up the spray behind us; and onwards—onwards we went towards Joppa, with more than the velocity of the wind.

“Have a care, M’Whirter!” shouted Pounset. “Turn his head to the sea if you can. There’s a quicksand right before you!”

I could as easily have converted a Mussulman. I saw before me a dark streak, as if some foul brook were stagnating on the sands. There was a dash, a splash, a shock, and I was catapulted over the ears of Masaniello.

I must have lost consciousness, I believe, for the next thing I remember was Pounset standing over me, and holding my quadruped by the bridle.

“We may thank our stars it is no worse,” said he; “that stank fairly took the shine out of your brute, and brought him to a stand-still. Are you hurt?”

“Not much. But I say, what a figure I am!”

“Not altogether adapted for an evening party, I admit. But never mind. There’s a cure for everything except broken bones. Let’s get back again as fast as we can, for the captain will be in a beautiful rage!”

We returned. A general acclamation burst from the squadron as we rode up, but the commanding officer looked severe as Draco.

[Pg 48]

“Am I to conclude, gentlemen,” said he, “that this exhibition was a trial of the comparative merits of your horses preparatory to the racing? Upon such an occasion as this I must say”——

“Just look at M’Whirter, captain,” said Pounset, “and then judge for yourself whether it was intentional. The fact is, my mare is as hot as ginger, and that black horse has no more mouth than a brickbat!”

“Well, after all, he does seem in a precious mess. I shall pass it over as a mere accident, but don’t let it happen again. Fall in, gentlemen.”

There was, however, as regarded myself, considerable opposition to this order.

“Why, M’Whirter, you’re not going to poison us to death, are you?” said Anthony Whaup. “Pray keep to the other side, like a good fellow—you’re not just altogether a bouquet.”

“Do they gut the herrings down yonder, M’Whirter?” asked Archy Chaffinch. “Excuse me for remarking that your flavour is rather full than fragrant.”

“I wish they had allowed smoking on parade!” said a third. “It would require a strong Havannah to temper the exhalations of our comrade.”

“Hadn’t you better go home at once?” suggested Randolph. “My horse is beginning to cough.”

“Yes—yes!” cried half-a-dozen. “Go home at once.”

[Pg 49]

“And if you are wise,” added Hargate, “take a dip in the sea—boots, helmet, pantaloons, and all.”

I obtained permission to fall out, and retired in a state of inconceivable disgust. Towards the carriage where Edith was seated I dared not go; and with a big and throbbing heart I recollected that she had witnessed my disgrace.

“But she shall yet see,” I mentally exclaimed, “that I am worthy of her! Once let me cast this foul and filthy slough—let me don her favourite colours—let me win the prize, as I am sure I ought to do, and the treasure of her heart may be mine!—You young villain! if you make faces at me again, I shall fetch you a cut over the costard!”

“Soor dook!” shouted the varlet. “Eh! see till the man that’s been coupit ower in the glaur!”

I rode home as rapidly as possible. I throw a veil over the triumphant ejaculations of Nelly at the sight of my ruined uniform, and the personal allusions she made to the retreat and discomfiture of the Philistines. That evening I avoided mess, and courted a sound sleep to prepare me for the fatigues of the ensuing day.

[Pg 50]


“Here is a true, correct, and particular account, of the noblemen, gentlemen, and yeomen’s horses, that is to run this day over the course of Musselburgh, with the names, weights, and liveries of the riders, and the same of the horses themselves!”

Such were the cries that saluted me, as next day I rode up to the race-course of Musselburgh. I purchased a card, which, among other entries, contained the following:—

Edinburgh Squadron Cup, 12 Stone.

Mr A. Chaffinch’s br. g. GroggyboyGreen and White Cap.
Mr Randolph ns. b. g. CapsicumGeranium and French Grey.
Mr M’Whirter’s bl. g. MasanielloPeach-blossom and Scarlet.
Mr Hargate ns. ch. m. LoupowerherFawn and Black Cap.
Mr Pounset’s b. m. Miss FrolicOrange and Blue.
Mr Shakerley ns. b. g. Spontaneous CombustionWhite body
and Liver-coloured Sleeves.

I made my way to the stand. Miss Bogle and Mary Muggerland were there, but so also was the eternal Roper.

“Ah, M’Whirter!” said the latter. “How do you feel yourself this morning? None the worse of your tumble yesterday, I hope? Mere accident, you know. Spiwited cweature Masaniello, it must be confessed. ’Gad, if you can make him go the pace as well to-day, you’ll distance the whole of the rest of them.”

[Pg 51]

“Oh, Mr M’Whirter! I’m so glad to see you!” said Edith. “How funny you looked yesterday when you were running away! Do you know that I waved my handkerchief to you as you passed, but you were not polite enough to take any notice?”

“Indeed, Miss Bogle, I had something else to think of at that particular moment.”

“You were not thinking about me, then?” said Edith. “Well, I can’t call that a very gallant speech.”

“I’ll lay an even bet,” said Roper, “that you were thinking more about the surgeon.”

“Were you ever wounded, Mr Roper?” said I.

“Once—in the heart, and incurably,” replied the coxcomb, with a glance at Edith.

“Pshaw! because, if you had been, you would scarce have ventured to select the surgeon as the subject of a joke. But I forgot. These are times of peace.”

“When men of peace become soldiers,” retorted Roper.

“I declare you are very silly!” cried Edith; “and I have a good mind to send both of you away.”

“Death rather than banishment!” said Roper.

“Well, then, do be quiet! I take such an interest in your race, Mr M’Whirter. Do you know I have two pairs of gloves upon it? So you must absolutely contrive to win. By the way, what are your colours?”

[Pg 52]

“Peach-blossom and scarlet.”

“How very gallant! I take it quite as a compliment to myself.”

“M’Whirter! you’re wanted,” cried a voice from below.

“Bless me! I suppose it is time for saddling. Farewell, Edith—farewell, Mary! I shall win if I possibly can.”

“Good-by!” said Roper. “Stick on tightly and screw him up, and there’s no fear of Masaniello.”

“Where the deuce have you been, M’Whirter?” said Randolph. “Get into the scales as fast as you can. You’ve been keeping the whole of us waiting.”

“I’ll back Masaniello against the field at two to one,” said Anthony Whaup.

“Done with you, in ponies,” said Patsey Chaffinch, who was assisting his brother from the scales.

“Do you feel nervous, M’Whirter?” asked Hosier, a friend who was backing me rather heavily. “You look a little white in the face.”

“To tell you the truth—I do.”

“That’s awkward. Had you not better take a glass of brandy?”

“Not a bad idea;” and I took it.

“That’s right. Now canter him about a little, and you’ll soon get used to it.”

I shall carefully avoid having any future occasion [Pg 53]to make use of my dear-bought experience. I felt remarkably sheepish as I rode out upon the course, and heard the observations of the crowd.

“And wha’s yon in the saumon-coloured jacket?”

“It’ll be him they ca’ Chaffinch.”

“Na, man—yon chield wad make twa o’ Chaffinch. He’s but a feather-wecht o’ a cratur.”

“Wow, Jess! but that’s a bonnie horse!”

“Bonnier than the man that’s on it, ony how.”

“Think ye that’s the beast they ca’ Masonyellow?”

“I’m thinkin’ sae. That man can ride nane. He’s nae grupp wi’ his thees.”

These were the kind of remarks that met my ears as I paced along, nor, as I must confess, was I particularly elated thereby. Pounset now rode up.

“Well, M’Whirter, we are to have another sort of race to-day. I half fear, from the specimen I have seen of Masaniello, that my little mare runs a poor chance; but Chaffinch will give you work for it—Groggyboy was a crack horse in his day. But come, there goes the bell, and we are wanted at the starting-post.”

The remainder of my story is short.

“Ready, gentlemen?—Off!” and away we went, Spontaneous Combustion leading, Miss Frolic and Groggyboy next, Randolph and myself following, and Hargate bringing up the rear on Loupowerher, who never had a chance. After the first few seconds, when all was mist before my eyes, I felt considerably [Pg 54]easier. Masaniello was striding out vigorously, and I warmed insensibly to the work. The pace became terrific. Spon. Bus. gradually gave way, and Groggyboy took the lead. I saw nothing more of Randolph. On we went around the race-course like a crowd of motley demoniacs, whipping, spurring, and working at our reins as if thereby we were assisting our progression. I was resolved to conquer or to die.

Round we came in sight of the assembled multitude. I could even hear their excited cries in the distance. Masaniello was now running neck and neck with Groggyboy—Miss Frolic half-a-length before!

And now we neared the stand. I thought I could see the white fluttering of Edith’s handkerchief—I clenched my teeth, grasped my whip, and lashed vigorously at Masaniello. In a moment more I should have been ahead—but there was a crash, and then oblivion.

Evil was the mother that whelped that cur of a butcher’s dog! He ran right in before Masaniello, and horse and man were hurled with awful violence to the ground. I forgive Masaniello. Poor brute! his leg was broken, and they had to shoot him on the course. He was my first and last charger.

As for myself, I was picked up insensible, and conveyed home upon a shutter, thereby fulfilling to the letter the ominous prophecies of Nelly, who cried [Pg 55]the coronach over me. Two of my ribs were fractured, and for three weeks I was confined to bed with a delirious fever.

“What noise is that below stairs, Nelly?” asked I on the second morning of my convalescence.

“’Deed, Maister George, I’m thinking it’s just the servant lass chappin’ coals wi’ yer swurd.”

“Serve it right. And what parcel is that on the table?”

“I dinna ken: it came in yestreen.”

“Give it me.”

“Heaven and earth! Wedding-cake and cards! Mr and Mrs Roper!

[Pg 56]



[MAGA. October 1832.]


Do you remember that pretty cottage we passed in our ride round Silvermead, last Tuesday?” inquired my friend L——, some days ago, as we were mounting our horses for an equestrian lounge. “We were pressed for time that evening, or I should have liked to show you the interior of the little dwelling, and to have introduced you to its worthy humble owners, who are old friends of mine, and not the least respected on my list. What say you, shall we take the ‘Peasant’s Nest’ in our round to-day?” The proposal met my willing acquiescence, and an hour’s quiet amble through a richly wooded and beautifully diversified part of the country brought us to a short straight lane, half-embowered by luxuriant hedges on either side, and (except a half-worn cart-track) carpeted with the greenest and softest turf, which terminated in a [Pg 57]gateway to a small meadow, and in a low green wicket in the centre of a sweet-brier hedge; behind which, and two intervening flower-knots on either side the neat gravel-walk, stood the little dwelling which had attracted my attention on a former day by its air of peculiar neatness and comfort, and even rustic elegance. Its thatched roof (a masterpiece of rural art) had just acquired the rich mellowness of tone which precedes the duller hue of decay, and when the last rays of a golden sunset touched it in flickering patches through the dark foliage of overhanging elms, it harmonised, and almost blended in brilliancy of colour, with the brightest blossoms of the buddlea, which, overtopping its fellow-trailers, seemed aspiring to meet and dally with the sunbeams, and almost to rival them with its topaz stars.

Moss-roses were budding round each of the wide low casements on either side the door, over which a slight arch of rustic trellis-work supported a mass of rich dark foliage, soon to be starred with the pale odorous flowers so typical of virgin purity; and far along the low-projecting eaves on one side of the cottage, ran the flexile stems and deep verdure of the beautiful luxuriant plant, till it reached and formed a bowery pent-house over a long open lattice, through the wire-work of which brown glazed pans were discernible, half-filled with rich creaming milk, and pats of neatly printed butter—yellow [Pg 58]as the flower which gilds our summer meadows—ranged with dairy-woman’s pride on the wet slab of whitest deal.

The master of the cottage—a respectable-looking old man—was so intently occupied in tying up some choice pheasant-eyed pinks in one of the flower-knots, that he had not heard the quiet pacing of our steeds down the green bowery lane, and was only roused from his floral labours by the salutation of my friend, as we dismounted before the low wicket-gate, and, hooking our bridles to its side-posts, prepared to enter the little territory. Starting from his flower-bed, the old man, at sight of us, respectfully uncovered his grey head, and came forward as quickly as was compatible with the state of limbs crippled by rheumatic gout, to admit and welcome his visitors with something beyond rustic courtesy.

“Ah, Hallings!” said my friend, cordially shaking hands with his humble acquaintance, whose countenance brightened with pleasure at the kind greeting—“here you are at your favourite work; no wonder your garden is celebrated for the most beautiful flowers in the neighbourhood, for you and Celia tend them, I verily believe, night and day; and as for those pinks—which are, I know, the pride of your heart—you may rest content, for they are the pride of the country. Remember, Mrs L—— has your promise of a few slips at the proper season.”

“Be pleased to look, sir at these few plants I have [Pg 59]made free to pot for Mrs L——,” answered the venerable Hallings, with a glance of conscious pleasure, not unmingled with pride, as he directed my friend’s attention to some perfect specimens of the choice flowers in question: “I will send them down to the lady to-morrow morning by my brother’s cart, and Celia and I shall be proud to think madam will accept them, and set some store, may be, on our poor offering, for the remembrance of old times, and the sake of those who are gone. You may remember, sir, how our dear lady prized this particular sort?”

“Well do I remember it, and those old times you allude to, my good Hallings. Methinks at this moment I can see your worthy venerable master, and his faithful companion and friend, the dear sister of whom you speak;—he, with one of these, her choice flowers, in his button-hole when he came into the drawing-room dressed for dinner, and she often assisted to her seat during her slight attacks of gout by Mrs Hallings, her faithful Celia. I believe, Hallings, Mrs Eleanor used to send her brother a daily present, for his afternoon toilet, of one of these rare beauties—was it not so?” asked my friend, with a smile; the good-humoured archness of which soon, however, changed to a more serious expression, as he observed that the old man’s voice faltered in his attempted reply, and that he hastily drew his sleeve across his eyes, to [Pg 60]disperse the watery film which had gathered over them while Mr L—— was speaking.

“But come, Hallings,” said the latter, quickly changing the subject that had struck painfully on a too sensitive chord in the old man’s heart—“I am come not only to visit you and your flowers, but my old friend, Celia; and I have promised, in her name, a frothing glass of red cow’s milk, fresh from the pail, to this gentleman, Mr Hervey, who complained of thirst in our way hither.”

Recovering from his momentary emotion, the master of the cottage threw open its latched door, and respectfully made way for us to enter the little carpeted parlour, where his well-assorted partner (my friend’s friend, Celia) sat smoothing her apron, in expectation of the visitors, the sound of whose voices had reached her through the open casement.

The comely dame who rose up at our entrance, and dropt to each a curtsy that would not have dishonoured the patrician graces of her revered lady and prototype, the late Mrs Eleanor Devereux, was still comely for her years—“fat, fair, and sixty” and exhibiting, in her prim neatness of person, the antiquated but becoming fashion of her dress, and her profound respectfulness, untinctured by anything like cringing servility to those she considered her superiors, no unfavourable specimen of the housekeeper and waiting-woman of former days—of a class now almost extinct, as the times in which [Pg 61]it flourished are accounted obsolete—when better feelings, and more Christian principles than those which loosely huddle up our modern mercenary compacts, based and cemented the mutual obligations of masters and servants, of the great and their dependants—when there was dignity in the humblest servitude, and meekness in the most absolute authority—self-respect on both sides, and the fear of God above all.

The cottage parlour contained the unusual luxury of a sofa, from which Mrs Hallings affected to brush, with her snowy apron, the dust that could scarce have been perceptible to “microscopic eye,” as she courteously begged us to be seated; and her husband, as he shook up one of the end cushions to make the corner seat, into which L—— had thrown himself, more commodious, said, smiling, as he addressed himself to me,—“You may well wonder to see such a piece of furniture in a poor man’s house, sir, but my poor master had it put for me into my own room at the Hall, when I had my first fit of the gout there, and we made shift to buy it, and a few others of the old things that were so natural to us, when all was sold;” and the old man’s speech, that had begun cheerfully, ended in a deep sigh.

“Ah, Hallings! I wish with all my heart more had fallen to your share of the venerable relics that fell into far other hands at that revolting sale,” [Pg 62]observed L——, echoing the faithful servant’s sigh; “but I love to look at those few familiar things you have saved from the unhallowed hands of indifference. Look, Hervey,” he continued, turning to me, “at that beautiful shell-work basket on the bracket, yonder. It is the work of that dear and venerable friend whose loss, and that of her excellent brother, you have heard me lament so deeply and sincerely.”

The object to which my attention was so directed, was a beautiful specimen of female ingenuity, an elegantly formed corbeille of flowers, imitated from nature, with art little less than magical, considering the nature of the materials employed in its construction. The elegant trifle, now the boast of a poor cottage, might have been conceited by a fanciful gazer to have been the work of sea-nymphs, for the pearl grotto of their queen; but a nearer inspection must have assigned it to mortal fingers, for the name of “Eleanor Devereux” was inlaid with minute gold-coloured shells in a dark medallion, that formed the centre of the basket.

“That was not bought at the sale, sir,” said Mrs Hallings, drawing towards the precious relic I was inspecting, and regarding it herself with looks of almost devotional reverence. “Be pleased to read what is written there, sir,” she added, in a voice not sufficiently steady to have articulated the sentence to which she pointed, written apparently with a [Pg 63]trembling hand, in old Italian characters, on a slip of paper, laid within the glass cover of the basket. I looked as she directed, and read,

“The work of Eleanor Devereux.
Her last gift to her old and faithful servant, Celia Hallings.”

“This is indeed a precious relic,” I remarked, in a low voice, and with not unmoistened eyes. Those of the good woman to whom I spoke were filled to overflowing; but with that modesty of feeling which is a sure test of its deep sincerity, she quietly drew back, and left the room, on “hospitable cares intent,” in quest of the “brimming bowl,” for which my friend had preferred our joint petition. During her absence, L—— continued to talk with his old acquaintance on the subject so deeply interesting to both the speakers, and not a little so even to myself, a stranger in the neighbourhood, and uninformed of more than the general character of the deceased person of whom they discoursed with such affectionate and melancholy sympathy. My friend had noticed in the looks and tone of Hallings, and even in his wife’s, during the few moments she had remained with us, a troubled and sorrowful expression, far different from the placid cheerfulness with which they had been wont to receive him, since Time had mellowed their affliction for the loss of those they had served with life-long fidelity; and even from the tender seriousness of their manners, when reverting—as [Pg 64]it was their delight to do—to the revered memories of the departed, and the fond ones of days that were gone.

On L——’s gently hinting his fear that some recent cause had arisen to disturb the serenity of his worthy friends, the old man shook his head in mournful affirmation of the implied suspicion; and, after a moment’s pause to subdue the tremor of his voice, answered,—“Oh, sir! I am ashamed you should see how my poor wife and I are overcome by the work which has been going on for this last fortnight, and to which almost the finishing-stroke has been put this very day. And I, old fool that I am! have hardly been able to keep away from the place, sir! though every stroke of the masons seemed like a blow upon my heart, and every stone that fell, like a drop of blood from it. And poor Celia! though she kept at home, could hear the sounds even here. Grief has sharp ears, sir.”

“Ah, is it even so, my good friend?” said L——, affected even to tears. “I have been away from home almost this month, you know; I had not heard what was going on. So then the old Hall is no more? I have looked my last at its venerable walls. Would I had returned a few days earlier—in time to have seen but one fragment standing.”

“That you may do yet, sir! that you may do yet,” sobbed out the old servant, with a burst of now uncontrolled feeling; “one fragment is still standing, [Pg 65]half of the south gable, and a part of the north side wall,—just the corner of one chamber, with the bit of flooring hanging to it. My master’s own chamber, sir, and the chair in which he died stood in that very corner, on those crazy boards that will be down to-morrow.”

“Then, Hallings, I must go this very evening—this very moment, to take my farewell look at all that remains—that last remaining portion so sacred to my feelings and to yours.”

So saying, L—— started from his seat just as Celia entered, followed by her little handmaiden (an orphan relation of her husband’s, the adopted child of the worthy couple), and placed on the shining round table a collation of dairy luxuries and fresh-gathered strawberries, hastily arranged with a degree of simple good taste, too nearly approaching elegance to have been acquired by one accustomed only to provide for poor men’s tables.

Our kind hostess was in no present mood “gaily to press and smile,” but she did press us to partake of her rustic dainties, with such earnest yet modest importunity, that it would have been worse than churlish to have slighted her invitation, if even my parched and thirsty palate had not made the sight of the creaming milk-bowl, and a second of clear whey, irresistibly tempting. While I did ample justice to the merits of those refreshing fluids, and my friend partook more sparingly, he endeavoured [Pg 66]to persuade Hallings from accompanying us, as the old man prepared to do, to a scene, the recollection of which affected him so painfully. But the remonstrance was fruitless.

“I have not taken my own last look, sir,” was the touching and unanswerable reply; “and that I was minded, please God, to take, when all the workmen had left the place, and I could stand and look my fill at the crumbling wall, without being distracted by their noises, or scoffed at belike for giving way to an old man’s weakness. But my master’s friend will make allowance for his old servant, and it will do me good to go with you, sir.”

We both felt that he was right; that, as he expressed it, it would do him good to take that “last look,” accompanied by one who could so fully sympathise in all his feelings, and to whom he could pour out his full heart with the garrulous simplicity of age, and of a sorrow, heart-seated truly, but not “too deep for tears.” So he was allowed to secure our steeds in an adjoining cowshed, while we talked with Celia on the subject that day uppermost in her thoughts also; and having calculated with her that the nearly full moon would be up by our return, to light us on our homeward way, we left her standing on the threshold of the back door of her cottage, and followed her husband down the garden path which opened into a small orchard (a portion of his little property), and led through it to a narrow stile, [Pg 67]over which we passed into some beautiful meadows, appertaining, as Hallings informed me, to the Devereux Hall estate, three of them only intervening between his own little territory and the old mansion-house, or rather the site where it had stood. “Ay,” continued the old man, in a low under-tone, half communing with himself, and half addressing me,—“Ay, so it is—to think what changes I have lived to see! The Hall down in the dust before its time, and that hard man’s house raised (as one may say) upon its ruins! Blessed be the kind master who provided for his old servants’ age, and secured to them the shelter of their humble roof-tree, before misfortune fell on his own grey hairs, and would have made him houseless at fourscore years and upward, had he lived a few weeks longer! But—but—God is merciful!——” The old man devoutly aspirated after the abrupt pause, accompanied with a sort of inward shudder, which preceded those pious words; and he spoke no more during the remainder of our walk.

A shade of peculiar solemnity passed over my friend’s countenance, as Hallings concluded his brief soliloquy, and both of them became so profoundly silent, sympathetically affected as it seemed by the same shuddering recollections, that the infection partly extended itself to me, ignorant as I was of the particular circumstances of their painful retrospect, and the words died on my lips as [Pg 68]I was about to inquire Hallings’ meaning in alluding to the “hard man, whose house had been raised on the ruins of his master’s.” I could not for worlds have broken into the sacredness of their silent thoughts; so, without further interchange of words, we quietly pursued our pleasant path, till it brought us to a boundary of thick hazel copse, across a stile, and over a rustic bridge, which spanned a little trout-stream just glancing between the boughs of over-arching alders, to a green door in a high holly hedge. While Hallings stept before us to undo the temporary fastening with which the workmen had secured it for the night, my friend, aroused from his fit of abstraction, said, pointing to the hedge, “I remember the time when that verdant wall, now straggling into wild luxuriance, was as trimly kept as were those of Sayes Court, before the barbarous sport of Evelyn’s imperial guest destroyed his labour of years. Neglect is making progress here, destructive as that royal havoc, though more gradual.”

Our venerable conductor having unfastened the door while L—— was speaking, we passed into a square enclosure, or rather area; for though still bounded on three sides by the noble evergreen hedge, it was open on the fourth to a dreary site of demolished walls and heaps of rubbish, in place of what had been the ancient mansion of the Devereuxs. The small garden (for such it was, though [Pg 69]now a trampled field of desolation) had been called more especially Mr Devereux’s garden. The glass-door of his library, and its large bay-window, as well as that of his bed-chamber above, had opened into it, and in this small secluded but sunny and cheerful spot it was that the old man had loved best to spend his solitary and contemplative hours.

Under the hedge on the side we had entered, had stood a range of bee-hives, the ruins of which were still remaining, though little more than heaps of mildewing thatch, and long deserted by the industrious colonies, to watch whose labours had been among the innocent pleasures of Mr Devereux; and Hallings pointed out some fragments of green trellis-work, in the angle of the holly wall, which had formed part of the old man’s favourite arbour, where he would sit for hours with his book, or enjoying the ceaseless humming of the bees, as they gathered in their luscious harvest from the herbs and flowers he had collected in that quarter of the garden for their delight and sustenance.

“And they knew my master, sir,” said Hallings, turning to me, and appealing to L—— to confirm the truth of his assertion—“They knew my master, and, poor small creatures as they were, must have loved him too in their way, as every living thing did; for they used to buzz all round him as he sat there, and often pitch upon him, even upon his hands or head, and never one was known to [Pg 70]sting him, vengeful as they were if strangers made too free near their hives, or among the flower-beds my master used to call their pleasure-grounds.”

“What has become of old Ralph and the tortoise, Hallings?” asked L——, as he stopt to take a melancholy survey of the altered scene. “The gold-fish, of course, have been long destroyed, for I see the little basin with its small fountain is quite choked up with dead leaves and rubbish.”

“Mr Heneage Devereux took out the gold-fish, sir, the week after my master’s death,” replied the old butler; “but the tortoise had buried himself for the winter; and when he crawled out the spring afterwards, and took to his old haunt in the basin, one would have supposed he found out the change that had taken place, for the creature was quite restless; and I often found him out of the water, and making his way about the garden, as if in search of something; and for a long, long time, old Ralph and he—for Ralph is living, sir, and you will see him presently—he and the old raven were the only living creatures, beside the birds, that did not desert the poor old place—except myself indeed. I could never keep away from it a whole day together, and I used to come here to feed old Ralph too; for it was long before we could lure him to the cottage for his food, and now he is almost always here, and hides himself for the most part in the [Pg 71]great bay-tree there in the corner, where part of the north gable is still standing.”

As he spoke, we coasted leisurely along the hedge-side walk, as carefully (though almost unconsciously) avoiding to tread the beds it skirted, as if they were still filled with choice flowers, or fragrant and aromatic herbs, or matted hoops, or hand-glasses guarding the rarer or tenderer plants, bulbs, and auriculas, once (L—— observed) the pride of that small garden. The forms of those fair flower-knots were still discernible from their edgings of thrift, box, daisy, London pride, now grown, however, into perfect hedges, where still untrampled, or into ragged bushes, still indicating the once clipt line of geometrical exactness, as each bed radiated to a centre, where lay the little basin with its fairy fountain before alluded to. Some large stone flower-pots, green and discoloured with damp and weather-stains, were still standing round it in mockery of decoration. From two or three shot up a luxuriant growth of common weeds; in one, a beautiful foxglove, exulting as it were in plebeian pride and brilliancy over its aristocratical neighbour in an adjoining vase, a delicate and sickly Persian lilac, whose pensile sprays drooped languidly even under their scanty growth of yellow leaves and pale and stunted blossoms. Here and there, within the flower-knots, bloomed a tuft of double white narcissus, struggling through grass [Pg 72]and matted vegetation. Some tall fris’s, white lilies, and other hardy flowers, had also shot up into beauty or fair promise; but the elegant moss-rose drooped to the earth, as if in sorrow, and its half-blighted buds lay cankering on the moss-grown path. The scene, desolate as it was, would still have been one of beauty in decay, had the work of destruction been wrought by “Time’s defacing fingers” only; but man’s more desecrating touch was too perceptible there; and, independently of peculiar circumstances and associations, there is a wide difference between the pleasing melancholy which loves to meditate among ivied and moss-grown ruins, and that painful feeling with which we contemplate the newness of untimely desolation. It was a ghastly sight even to a stranger’s eye, that of the gaping void left along one entire side of the little garden by the demolition of the old mansion; and the dreary effect of that blank exposure was not a little heightened by the contrasting incongruity of the prospect beyond, where the great gateway to what had been the principal entrance-court stood perfectly isolated and entire. The beautiful gate of iron open work closed between the massy side-pillars, on each of which the lion couchant of the Devereuxs still kept watch and ward as proudly as when that gate had unclosed in the last reign of the Tudors to admit a royal visitant and her courtly train.

[Pg 73]

On either side, the ballustraded wall was wholly removed, so that the eye ranged on, unimpeded but by the solitary gateway, down a triple avenue of magnificent elms, in whose tall tops the dark people, who from generation to generation had built there unmolested, were fast assembling for the night; the mingled sounds of their hoarse cawing, and the rustling of innumerable wings, adding in no slight degree to the impressive sadness of that scene and hour.

We were now standing on the lime and brick-strewn site of what (L—— informed me) had been the Library. All around us, the vaults and cellarage below were laid open to view through the bare rafters, from whence the flooring and pavement had been removed; but the boards were not yet torn up from that one small spot—so small in its unwalled exposure, which had been so recently an apartment of noble dimensions, furnished with the collected wisdom of successive ages! At one end it was of those few square yards of flooring, that a part of the gable, including a stack of chimneys, was still standing. We stood on the hearthstone of what had been the Library fireplace; and high above us, in the naked wall, yawned a corresponding aperture, belonging to the upper chamber, which had been Mr Devereux’s bedroom, the flooring of which had been rent away with the side and partition walls, all but a small portion which hung slanting [Pg 74]from a few rafters still adhering to the remaining corner of the end gable. The eyes of my companions seemed drawn by sympathetic impulse towards that forlorn remnant; and, calling to mind the words of Hallings, I was at no loss to account for the deep and sorrowful interest with which they dwelt upon it. After a long pause, a look of intelligence passed between them; and the old man, first breaking silence, said, with a deep sigh,—“That is the very place, sir! The very spot where I stood by the easy-chair in which my dear master breathed his last, his head supported on my shoulder.”

“And it was there you found him, was it not, Hallings, when”——

“Yes, sir! yes! there, in that very spot, from whence, as you see, he could just reach the mantel-shelf, where stood”—But here the old servant stopt abruptly, glancing towards me a look of troubled consciousness; and L——, hastening to relieve his embarrassment, said, “Fear nothing, good Hallings, from my friend Hervey here! He is one from whom I have no secrets—who would feel as you and I do on the subject of your thoughts, if he were acquainted with it. But neither you nor I must now dwell on it longer. You have said it, Hallings—‘God is merciful!’ To Him we commit the issue. And now, a long farewell to Devereux Hall!”

[Pg 75]

So saying, my friend cast round him one long leisurely survey of the desolated spot, turning again, and lingering yet a moment on what had been the threshold of the glass door into the Library. The short twilight was already brightening into silvery moonlight, edging the dark glossy leaves of the old bay-tree by the ruined gable, towards which its tall spiral top (just agitated by a passing breeze) swayed with slow and melancholy motion, while a shivering sound ran through the crisped foliage and long rustling branches, like whisperings and lamentations of good genii departing from the scene of their long-delegated guardianship. As he gazed with these “thick-coming fancies” on the fine old evergreens, so magnificent in sombre beauty, I was startled by the sudden disturbance of its lower boughs, and by a sound proceeding from them more hoarse and deep, if not more ominous, than the low unearthly murmurs I had been listening to with such excited feelings. My exclamation roused Hallings from the abstraction he had fallen into while taking his farewell look at all that remained of the venerable mansion, and, turning towards the object at which I pointed, he said, with a sad smile, “It is my old fellow-servant, sir! the only one besides me that haunts the place now; but it is time he should leave it too, for even that tree, my master’s favourite tree, that he planted when a child with his own hands, will be cut down to-morrow.” [Pg 76]So saying, he gave a low whistle, and calling, “Ralph! Ralph!” the well-known signal was acknowledged by an answering croak, and a huge raven, hopping to the ground from his dark covert in the interior of the bay-tree, came towards Hallings with sedate and solemn gait, and, first eyeing the old man’s countenance with a look of almost human intelligence, perched upon his extended wrist, and suffered himself to be borne on it as we retraced our steps toward the cottage, discoursing (I could have fancied) by sidelong glances at his kind supporter, of the departed glories of their master’s house, and their last look at its untimely ruins.


Our ride home—our pleasant moonlight ride! was performed almost in silence. My friend’s thoughts were busy with sad and tender recollections, and mine with the scene from whence we came, and the persons and circumstances I had heard so tenderly spoken of, and mysteriously alluded to. “I must hear more before I sleep,” was my inward soliloquy, as we reined up our steeds at the lodge gate; and forthwith I obtained a promise from L—— that he would gratify my curiosity before we retired for the night. My fair hostess was able and willing to contribute her share [Pg 77]of information on a subject not less interesting to her than to her husband; and from their mutual reminiscences I made out a little history of the last Devereux, uneventful, indeed, for the most part, and not perfectly explanatory in its latter details, but such a one as may be listened to without impatience by the indulgent hearer, who has accompanied me unwearied in my pilgrimage to the cottage of Matthew Hallings, and to the desolated site where so lately stood the venerable fabric of Devereux Hall.

The late Mr Devereux and his sister, said my friend, were the only children of Roger Devereux, Esq., and Dame Ethelred, his wife, whose venerable and dignified old age I well remember, for it was extended to such a patriarchal term, that “the young folks” (as they were wont to term their son and daughter, “the young Squire and Miss,” as Mr Reginald and Miss Devereux were called by the servants and tenantry) had attained—the former to the mature age of fifty years—the latter to that of forty-eight, before the children were called on to pay the last duties to those dear and honoured parents, to whom they had been children indeed—in a sense of the word little understood in our day of enlightened liberality, when, for the most part, the obsolete virtues that were then thought beautiful and becoming in the filial character (deferential tenderness and submissive duty), are cast aside [Pg 78]with other antique trumpery, and triumphantly superseded by the improved system of familiar intercourse, on terms of perfect equality, friendly and confidential, or cold and ceremonious, according to the character and circumstances of the parties, whose filial and parental relations, like those of “the beasts that perish,” appear to cease with the flight of the young brood, or the sprouting of its pen-feathers. I can remember that when I was an idle boy, the antiquated fashions of Devereux Hall sometimes excited in me “a laughing devil,” that was scarcely repressed by the frowning of my anxious mother, or my own profound veneration for our excellent friends and neighbours—and that the wicked spirit had nearly got the better of me on more than one occasion, when Mrs Devereux would tenderly censure for “youthful heedlessness or imprudence” the sedate spinster, whose years outnumbered those of my own mother, or when Mr Reginald, while undergoing his seventh annual attack of gout, was alluded to as “the dear boy,” by his sympathising father. But if my boyish mirth was sometimes excited by these and suchlike innocent and natural incongruities, far other feelings—such as I firmly believe have been happily influential in the formation of my character—were oftener awakened in me, by the example, early witnessed at the dear old Hall, of tender union, pure morality, and genuine Christianity. And when I look back [Pg 79]upon those old times and antiquated manners (antiquated even in that long past day), and contrast them with our modern times and modern code, I am disposed to think we have gained less by exploding the stateliness and formality of our ancestors, than we have lost in degenerating from their high-toned politeness and true English hospitality into fashionable ease, often (in the higher ranks especially) amounting to vulgarity, and a style of living with which it would be absurd to connect the idea of social intercourse. But, in fact, the country gentry of England have been long a deteriorated, and will soon be an extinct species. The last perfect specimens within my knowledge were the late possessors of Devereux Hall.

I have told you that Mr Devereux and his sister were far advanced in life when their parents paid the debt of nature. Both were single, also, as they continued to the last hour of their inseparable companionship; for, though “the young Squire” had been early wedded to the choice of his heart, and the selected of his parents—a fair and gentle being, who was transplanted to her husband’s home, and taken to the bosom of his family, only to win for herself its tender affection and undying remembrance—before the expiration of the nuptial year, the young wife and her new-born son slept in the vault of the Devereuxs, and her sorrowing husband (in this instance only resisting the gently implied [Pg 80]wishes of his parents) could never be prevailed on to contract a second marriage.

His sister—the faithful sharer of all his joys and sorrows—was to him as a consoling angel in the season of his sore calamity. Her mind (the stronger of the two) was the support of his in its great trial, and her heart, tender as ever beat in a woman’s breast, was tuned to finer sympathy with his, by having also undergone the touchstone of affliction.

Eleanor Devereux had been wooed and won with the parental sanction—had loved tenderly—had trusted nobly—would have wedded splendidly in the world’s acceptation. But before the irrevocable knot was tied, the suspicions of her anxious father were awakened by certain unguarded expressions of his future son-in-law, which led to serious investigation on the part of Mr Devereux, and a reluctant, but unqualified avowal, of more than scepticism on the most sacred subject, from him to whom the truly Christian parent was about to commit the earthly welfare of his beloved child, and perhaps her eternal interests. Mr Devereux shrank not for a moment from the fulfilment of the duty imposed on him by this painful discovery. But when he imparted it to his darling, and required from her the sacrifice of those innocent hopes which had grown up under the fullest sanction of parental encouragement, the utmost exertions of manly fortitude, based [Pg 81]on Christian principle, alone enabled him to persevere in his painful duty. There was no passionate remonstrance, no resisting wilfulness, no ebullition of violent feeling, on the part of the mild and right-minded Eleanor; but the quivering lip, the swimming upraised eye, the voice that faltered and failed in its endeavour to articulate her acquiescence to the required sacrifice—this voiceless eloquence went to the father’s heart, and his tears mingled with hers as he clasped her to his breast, inwardly ejaculating, almost in the words of the prophet-king—“Would to God I could suffer alone for thee, my child! my child!” For a while the hopeful tenderness of woman’s nature delayed Eleanor’s final decision, speciously whispering to her heart the possible blessedness of converting darkness into light, by the influence of holy example, and love’s unwearying persuasiveness. But the parental guardian was near, to suggest to her the dangerous fallacy of that fond illusion, and Eleanor’s love, though true and tender as ever woman felt, was not the blinding, all-engrossing passion “which refuses to hear the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely.” She wept and spoke not, but retired to her chamber, and for that day was seen no more; but the next morning brought her to her parents’ feet, with a colourless cheek indeed, but a look of such heavenly composure, as seemed reflected from the source of light to which she had [Pg 82]resorted in her hour of mental darkness and distress; and though she hid her face on her mother’s lap, and her soft voice trembled in uttering the decisive words, they were spoken—the renunciation was made—and the sacrifice complete. How dear it cost her, was known only to God and her own heart; for, having renounced (as it then seemed to her) every view of earthly happiness for herself, she devoted herself the more assiduously to promote that of her parents and her brother, and of every living creature within the sphere of her benign influence, till at last, and by insensible degrees, she became blest in the consciousness of blessing, and never for one moment of her after life did she repent the act of that hour, the sharp agony of which had left behind it “Peace which passeth understanding.” But from thenceforth the lot of Eleanor Devereux was one of fixed celibacy. Hers were not transferable affections; and however, for her sake, the fond parents might have wished it otherwise, they could ill resist the pleading of the dutiful child, who only prayed to be allowed to cleave to them, and them only, and to her dear brother, in this life, as she hoped to be reunited to them in eternity. So it came to pass that the elder branch of the House of Devereux was destined to become extinct, when the bachelor brother and his maiden sister were removed from the Hall of their [Pg 83]ancestors to the family burying-place, in the chancel of their parish church.

After the year of mourning and seclusion, religiously observed by Mr Reginald and his sister, for the loss of their last surviving parent, all things at the Hall fell into their former course, and, save the diminution of the family circle, and that the places of the revered elders at the hospitable board were now filled by their filial successors, little change was perceptible to readmitted guests; and the brother and sister resumed those habits of social intercourse with the large and respectable surrounding neighbourhood, which it had been the pleasure and principle of their parents to maintain, as in like manner devolved upon them by the example of revered progenitors.

The Devereuxs had been at one time the wealthiest, as they continued to be the most ancient family, in their part of the country; and on the succession of the last lineal descendant to the inheritance of his forefathers, the same liberality, and even stately hospitality, characterised the general establishment and style of entertainment at Devereux Hall, as had distinguished it under the rule of many preceding generations. Far less did it enter into the contemplation of the last Devereux to diminish aught of the munificent charities which had so long dispensed comfort and gladness, not only among the dependants [Pg 84]of the family, and the peasantry on their estate, but in every poor man’s cottage for many miles around the venerable Hall. The bounteous stream flowed in its several channels with unabated regularity, and little was it suspected by any of those who shared as friends or dependants in its diffusive plenteousness, that the waters at the source were already shrunken, and threatened with fatal diversion from their ancient courses.

Yet such was the melancholy fact, though known only to Mr Devereux, his confidential man of law, and his distant relation, Mr Heneage Devereux, of whom you may remember Old Hallings made mention in terms of no special reverence, while we stood among the ruins of the demolished mansion. That man has been indeed a serpent in the bosom of his noble unsuspecting kinsman.

Very distantly related to the family of Devereux Hall, and still less akin by congeniality of character to its respected possessors, between them and Mr Heneage Devereux little social intercourse had at any time been kept up, though, unfortunately for my venerable friend, communication on matters of business became but too frequent between him and his wily kinsman, who acquired over him a strange and at the time inexplicable ascendancy; inexplicable even to Mrs Eleanor, whose stronger mind (had she been early aware of her brother’s circumstances) [Pg 85]might have counteracted the influence so banefully exerted on his feebler character.

But loving her, dearly as ever brother loved the dearest sister—cherishing her as the inestimable companion—the faithful friend—almost the guardian angel of his life, Mr Devereux’s affection lacked that perfect confidence which “casteth out fear;” for, strange as was the anomaly, from some instinctive sense of weakness and inferiority, he stood in awe of the opinion of that gentle being whose tenderness and devotion to him were almost deferential. Motives of tenderness towards her—a desire to spare her the participation of his corroding cares, had doubtless their share in his ill-starred system of concealment—and having no other confidential friend and adviser, so it was that he became the prey—alas! I fear the victim—of his calculating, unprincipled relation.

I cannot detail to you—for all such are unknown to me—the minute and particular circumstances of those pecuniary transactions between my old friend and Mr Heneage Devereux, which ended in results so fatal to the former; but I have reason to believe that Mr Heneage, who had accumulated considerable wealth in mercantile speculations, found means in the first place to possess himself of certain bond debts and considerable mortgages on the property, incurred by the father and grandfather of Mr Devereux, [Pg 86]as the pressure of the times or untoward casualties forced upon them the alternative of so burdening the family property, or the more energetic measure of wise and timely retrenchment. Mr Devereux’s legal adviser was undoubtedly in the interest of his speculating kinsman, whose primary object was to secure to himself the reversion of the family property, the entail of which ended with the late possessors. And Mr Heneage was well aware that he had no chance of being voluntarily selected as the heir of the Devereuxs.

Not only had there been a long-subsisting estrangement between the ancient stock and that distant branch from which Mr Heneage derived his descent, though a frigid intercourse was formally kept up by visits at stated periods, and letters of ceremony as occasion called for them; but on the part of the late Mr Devereux there was evidently a degree of instinctive repugnance towards his distant relation, which would have amounted to aversion, had his kindly and gentle nature been capable of so unchristian-like a feeling. No two characters could have been more dissimilar than these two kinsmen. I have already dwelt affectionately on the amiability of Mr Devereux. I have also touched on its slight alloy—a degree of moral weakness, in part doubtless inherent in his nature, but which, from the circumstances of his life and long indulgence of his tastes and feelings, had grown into constitutional infirmity, [Pg 87]which made him an easy prey to the bold and designing.

Mr Devereux’s manners and habits were those of refined elegance, his tastes and opinions nice even to fastidiousness; and his perceptions acute on some points to a degree of sickliness. His very person was cast as if for an appropriate mould to enshrine this fine frame of moral organisation. Small, delicate, beautifully proportioned, with hands and feet of almost feminine moulding—while those of Cousin Heneage!——How have I seen the slender fingers of my dear old friend shrink from the vice-like grasp of that coarse bony hand, that looked capable of crushing it to atoms, together with the large mourning ring on the little finger, the oval of which, set with diamonds, encircled a groundwork of fair silky hair, bearing the device of an urn and a weeping willow, in small brilliants.

During the last few years of Mr Devereux’s life, it became too evident to his old and true friends that, notwithstanding his ill-concealed repugnance to Cousin Heneage, the man had by some unaccountable means obtained an extraordinary influence over him—a baneful influence, that by degrees superseded that mild persuasive power hitherto exercised so beneficially for Mr Devereux, by the faithful companion of his life—the tenderest of sisters. His affection for her was evidently unabated. His tender solicitude for her, as the growing infirmities [Pg 88]of advanced life rendered her more feeble and delicate, was peculiarly affecting, from the circumstances of his own age, and more evident decay, and from the expression of anxious sadness with which he often regarded her. What, then, was the surprise of their mutual friends, when the wife of Mr Heneage Devereux accompanied her husband in one of his now frequent visits to the Hall, and was received by Mr Devereux as an invited guest!

Cousin Heneage had promoted this lady from the superintendence of his kitchen to that of his family, and the honours of a lawful wife, but he did not deem it requisite to notify the forming of so respectable a connection to the then surviving parents of Mr Devereux; neither did the birth of some half-score promising babes, with whom he was presented in yearly succession, form part of the formal communications addressed at stated periods to his kinsman at the Hall. And when he occasionally presented himself in person, no allusion was ever made on either side to the lady or her progeny, till the time I mentioned, about three years preceding the death of my venerable friend. Imagine, then, the consternation of Mrs Eleanor, when her brother, with an abruptness of manner very different from his usual address, requested her to prepare herself for the reception of Mrs Heneage Devereux, who, with her husband and three elder children, a son and two daughters, between the ages of fifteen and one-and-twenty, [Pg 89]would arrive the day following, to make some stay at the Hall. It so happened that I went over to pay a visit to my friends on the morning of this strange communication, and was ushered into Mrs Eleanor’s morning room, just as her brother left it, passing me with a hurried excuse, and in evident agitation. I found the sister flushed, and trembling with surprise and pain; and it was in vain that she endeavoured to welcome me with her usual serenity, and the kind sweet smile that was wont to light up her benevolent countenance at sight of those she loved and valued: when I took her hand with the inquiring look of affectionate concern it was impossible not to feel at the thought that any distressful circumstance should wound the heart of that gentle and heavenly-minded creature, the tears gushed from her eyes, and with a tremulous tone, she related to me the short and peremptory communication just made to her by her brother.

“And such a brother!” she exclaimed, while her voice trembled with emotion—“You knew him, Mr L——; you have known him from your childhood; the best and kindest of human beings—one from whose lips no living creature ever heard a harsh or an ungentle word. And to me, what has he not been!—in what perfect love and unity have we not dwelt together all our long lives!—But that fearful man!—that hard, coarse-minded Heneage Devereux! Is it to be believed that that man should step in between [Pg 90]my brother and myself—not sundering our hearts, for that is impossible; but causing reserve on the part of my dear brother, in lieu of that perfect confidence he ever placed in me? What can be the nature of the influence that has so changed him? and how has it been acquired? I am sure his heart bled but now, when, as if compelled by some dire necessity, he desired me to prepare for the reception of Mrs Heneage Devereux; but when I would have uttered—as well as the suddenness of my surprise permitted—a few words of gentle remonstrance, my brother stopt me, with an almost stern reiteration of his wishes, and turned from me as if in anger. But it was not so; it was in deep distress, I am certain, Mr L——, and therefore it is that you find me thus overpowered; for what fearful cause can so move my dear brother, and instigate his present determination?”

You may readily believe how tenderly I sympathised in the anxiety and distress of my venerable friend, though powerless to give her comfort, for my mind was painfully impressed with similar apprehensions; and vague surmises had for some time haunted me, that all was not well with the circumstances of Mr Devereux. As we talked together—forming various conjectures respecting the motives which could have led him to put such violence on his feelings, and even on his sense of propriety, as to require his respectable sister to receive, in the house of their ancestors, a person so every way unworthy [Pg 91]of admittance there as was the wife of Mr Heneage Devereux—the sad gleams of truth seemed to flash momentarily across the mind of Mrs Eleanor; and as I considered the matter, my previous suspicions became more definite. But still, save and except the late inconsistencies of Mr Devereux’s conduct in relation to his subtle and unprepossessing kinsman, there had been nothing—absolutely nothing—in his conduct and apparent circumstances, to warrant a doubt respecting the perfect order and prosperousness of his worldly affairs. And I felt a delicacy—or rather a difficulty—in discussing the subject with Mrs Eleanor, which restrained me from fully opening my mind to her. I have regretted more than once that I did not overcome this morbid feeling, and that, overstepping, in the zeal and truth of friendship, the shallow suggestions of false delicacy, I had not spoken openly even to Mr Devereux. I might have spoken in time. One friendly hand stretched out in time might have prevented.... But I cannot dwell on that conjecture—It is too painful.

Well! I know not how the reception day passed off, nor how dear Mrs Eleanor was supported through her distressing task. But when I called, a few days after, at the Hall, I found her apparently reconciled to the appointed trial, looking, indeed, more pale and serious than was usual with her, but not less serenely composed, and her manner, and [Pg 92]the expression of her countenance, when she addressed her brother, or looked towards him, was almost heavenly—so eloquent of the tenderest compassion and respect. But that brother! I—my old respected friend—how had a few days of mental misery—the truth was evident—how fearfully had those few days altered him! He was alone with his sister when I entered his morning room.

“A little indisposed,” he said, smiling; “and faint, from the unusual heat.” And she stood by him as he reclined in his easy-chair, to take back the wine-glass, in which she had just administered to him some drops of ether. The ancient handmaiden, with whom you have made acquaintance, was in attendance with the salver, and having received the empty glass from her lady, withdrew with a respectful curtsy to myself, and, as she passed me, and her eyes met mine, I saw they were glistening with tears.

My old friend stretched out to me a trembling hand, and apologised, with his wonted and unfailing courtesy, for not rising to receive me: “But Eleanor insists on it that I have over-exerted myself lately,” he observed, smiling affectionately on her; “and I must be rude and self-indulgent to oblige her, and to recruit myself, to meet my guests at dinner. They are so good as to excuse me in the morning,” he added hurriedly, and a faint blush passed over his countenance as he continued with averted eyes, [Pg 93]“By the by, L——, you have heard from my sister, that I have felt it due to my cousin Heneage to invite his wife and part of his family to the Hall? His feelings were naturally hurt by their exclusion from it—and—and”——The struggle to proceed was a painful one, but he achieved it, and in a firmer tone, and with eyes that were raised to meet mine with a deprecating look, went on to say,—“You are aware, L——, that I should not willingly have imposed on my dear sister the irksomeness of receiving as a guest a person so ill qualified to associate with her as is Mrs Heneage Devereux, by birth and breeding, and perhaps—I fear”——And again his voice faltered, and his eye avoided mine—“I fear, by other circumstances, previous to her union with my cousin; but he is my cousin, you know, and—and—my dear sister could not disoblige me;”—and as he pressed his lips to her hand as it lay upon the arm of his easy-chair, I saw a tear drop on it from his closed eyelids. “Of course,” he continued, recovering himself after a moment’s pause, during which I had endeavoured to relieve his distress by a few cheerful, though scarce connected words—“Of course, during the time of my cousin’s visit to us, we shall live secluded from our friends and neighbours; for I cannot expect from any lady the complaisance of meeting Mrs Heneage Devereux at my table.” Yet he looked at me half-imploringly as he spoke, and it would be impossible [Pg 94]for me to describe the expression of grateful affection which beamed in the countenances of both brother and sister, when I hastened to remove the humiliating doubt, by exclaiming, “Whatever be your intention with regard to the neighbourhood in general, my dear sir, do not flatter yourself you will so easily banish your old and attached friends. Neither my wife nor I could endure a week’s exclusion from Devereux Hall, and I think it is more than that period of time since we have sat at your hospitable board. Mrs L—— would take it kindly if you were to invite us for to-morrow, and we would do our best to help you to entertain these inconvenient visitors.”

Mr Devereux grasped my hand, and looked his grateful acquiescence to my proposal, for it was more than a minute before he could speak it audibly, and I left my valued friends that morning with the comfort of believing that I had been so fortunate as to evince my affection for them in the way most grateful and soothing to their feelings.

As I passed through the Hall in my way out, the door of the eating-room burst open, and out rushed a couple of overdressed hoydens, with flame-coloured faces and arms, followed by a hopeful youth, all shirt-collar and cravat, booted and spurred, and armed with a dog-whip, which he flourished in playful menace after the fair fugitives, eloquently apostrophising them with—“Hoie! hoie! little dogs!—That’s [Pg 95]it, Loa!—Well run, Phil!—Unkennel the old one!” At sight of me the frolicsome trio slunk back somewhat confused, and a shrill female voice called out from the eating-room, in a half-laughing, half-wrathful tone, “Come back, you combustious creturs! Come back, I tell ye, or I’ll tell your Pa when he comes in. Let alone your sisters, do, Watty, dear! or you’ll tear their tails again, as you did yesterday, wi’ them there nasty spurs!” My inclination to laugh was overpowered by sensations of a very different nature as I hurried past the scene of uproarious vulgarity, and I rode away from the old Hall, with a full heart, well-nigh lamenting that the last lineal descendants of the Devereuxs had lived so long as to witness its desecration.

From that day forward.... But I should tell you that my dear wife gave her ready assent to the engagement I had ventured to make for both of us, though she accompanied me next day to the Hall in painful expectation of witnessing the annoyance and distress of our valued friends. But the perfect good-breeding of Mr Devereux and his sister, especially the dignified self-possession of Mrs Eleanor, prevented all outward manifestation of what must have been the inward feeling. We found them assembled in the drawing-room with their uncongenial guests, and two neighbouring gentlemen, old bachelor friends of Mr Devereux, who had dropt in uninvited to dinner. We were previously acquainted [Pg 96]with Mr Heneage, but were, of course, introduced to his lady and her daughters, and Walter Heneage Devereux, jun., who bobbed his chin into the depths of his starched cravat in the most approved style of dandy vulgarity—and Mrs and Misses Heneages! Heavens! that such masses of coarseness, finery, and ignorant assumption, should have borne in common with our venerable friends the honoured name of Devereux! It was my office (Mr Devereux having led out my wife) to conduct Mrs Heneage to the dining-room; and had my feelings been less painfully excited, I should have been amused at her evidently first attempt at the assumption of aristocratical ease and urbanity, as, thrusting her huge thick arm through mine up to the elbow, she leant on me with a weight that would have annihilated the fragile frame of our venerable host, and must have left on my arm the impression of the gilt jack-chain she wore by way of bracelet.

Ludicrous as was throughout the day the deportment of these incongruous personages, the remembrance of it is, even now, too painful, as connected with the distress and humiliated feelings of my lamented friends, for me to enter more fully into details that might be amusing enough under other circumstances. Whatever, however, must have been the feelings of our host and hostess, they were never for a moment betrayed into visible annoyance by the species of martyrdom to which they were subjected; [Pg 97]and the remarkably dignified, though gentle deportment of Mrs Eleanor in particular, was not without its triumph in obtaining for her a degree of involuntary deference, even from the coarse-minded persons who were incapable of appreciating her real claims. Yet once (I remember it now)—once she was moved to the utterance of a reproof, the severity of which was felt rather than understood by the vulgar mind of Mrs Heneage, who had provoked it by some offensive comment on the portrait of “the old lady there,” as she familiarly designated the late Mrs Devereux. “I am sure, madam, you are not aware,” said the dear Mrs Eleanor, while her sweet voice faltered with emotion, and a faint blush suffused her venerable face,—“I am sure you cannot be aware that the lady represented by that portrait was our dear and venerated mother, to whose lifeless resemblance even, I should hope, no person would knowingly allude disrespectfully, least of all in the presence of her children.” The woman to whom this mild rebuke was addressed, coloured, fidgeted, fanned herself violently, and glancing as if half frightened towards her husband, who frowned tremendously, stammered out something of an apology, which was accepted with a grave and silent inclination of the head, as Mrs Eleanor rose to lead the way into the drawing-room.

The scenes I have sketched so hastily are but samples of a long long series of annoyances and [Pg 98]mortifications, to which my dear friends were from thenceforward subjected at frequent intervals, until the close of the clouded evening of their lives; for the air of Devereux Hall was found to be particularly beneficial to the delicate health of Mrs Heneage, and the bloom (as she termed it) of the full-blown peonys, her daughters, besides that Walter Heneage, jun., took especial pleasure in thinning Mr Devereux’s preserves, and insolently trespassing on those of the neighbouring gentlemen, who submitted more patiently to the young Cockney’s inroads than they would have done, but for their regard and respect for their venerable neighbour, whose moral thraldom to his stern repulsive kinsman was now generally known and compassionated, as the fatal cause became gradually, and at last strongly suspected. Some attempts were made by myself and others to invite the confidence of Mr Devereux; but from all allusion to that mysterious influence so visibly exercised over him, he shrank with a morbid sensitiveness which made it impossible to proceed, without seriously offending; and when I last conferred on the subject with Mrs Eleanor, she requested me, with tears, to desist from all farther interposition, “for, alas!” said the dear lady, “all such attempts are, I am convinced, hopeless, and only inflict additional pain on my beloved brother, even exciting in him a degree of irritability, of which his mild spirit was till lately unsusceptible.” My late observations of the change [Pg 99]in Mr Devereux’s once equable temper, but too well corroborated the qualified and reluctant hint thus drawn from his devoted sister; and to me it was obvious, likewise, that the mental powers of my venerable friend, always more characterised by kindliness of nature, than by admixture of the “sterner stuff,” which goes to the composition of moral strength, had been for some time yielding to the weight of some intolerable burden, and that as years and infirmities grew upon him, his natural timidity became almost shyness, and so helped to preclude him from the benefit of good offices which many were ready to render him, had the least opening on his part encouraged them to solicit greater confidence.

But the days drew near when our poor friend was to be bereaved of his last earthly comfort—the companionship of this tender sister, who had said truly, “That no evil influence could ever estrange their hearts from each other, however it might have robbed her of her brother’s confidence.” As they had grown up together in love and unity, so was her life devoted to him to the last, and her faithfulness perfected in the manner of her death. For though he never knew it (thank God! that drop of bitterness was spared), her life was sacrificed to her anxiety for his comfort, and her reluctance to cause him a moment’s distress, or even impatience, which it was in her power to avert.

For many years Mrs Eleanor Devereux, as well as her brother, had been subject to periodical fits [Pg 100]of gout, their hereditary malady. Mr Devereux’s attacks had always been most obstinate and painful, though never alarming, as affecting only the hands and feet. His sister’s were still slighter, though more frequent, and she even forgot her own pain, or thanked God it was so moderate, causing only a temporary lameness—and leaving her hands free to minister, as only hers could minister, to the comfort of her more suffering brother. As both advanced in age, however, the disease gained ground on both.

Mr Devereux was subjected to long and excruciating torture, and almost helplessness, being entirely confined to his bed and easy-chair; and not being aware—for she never complained—that his sister was often suffering at the same time, though not equally with himself, he not only accepted, as he had been wont to do, that unwearied attention and that tender ministry to which she had so long accustomed him, but unconsciously became more exacting and more difficult to please, as his mind and temper became enfeebled and irritable, from natural causes of decay, and the more fatal inroads of unconfided care. So it was that at seasons of suffering he could scarcely endure her absence for an hour together; and when the cruel malady left him free from pain, but reduced to greater feebleness, as little could he spare her from the side of his garden seat, or study chair, who was the sharer of all his intellectual pleasures, as she was the soother of his bodily anguish.

[Pg 101]

And when his evil genius was about him in the shape of cousin Heneage, ill could the tender sister brook the thought of leaving him to that hateful companionship, from which he evidently shrank with increasing repugnance, though too frequently compelled, as it seemed, by some secret necessity, to submit to long private conferences with his dark kinsman. From these interviews, I have since heard from Hallings, he always reappeared in a state of pitiable agitation or deep despondence; and more than once on his reaching Mrs Eleanor’s dressing-room, in which, as if in a haven of safety, he was wont to take refuge from the scene of torment, he has fallen into a sort of fit, his forehead breaking out into profuse cold perspiration, and his eyes fixed with perfect unconsciousness on his agonised sister.

It is wonderful that the mental fabric should not have been utterly overthrown by such cruel conflicts; but though weakened in its powers of endurance, and perhaps in its reflective faculties, the common course of nature was reversed with regard to its sensibilities, which became more painfully acute as those powers decayed which should have counterbalanced their morbid ascendancy.

Toward the close of the last summer preceding his decease, a season which had been made particularly irksome to him by the prolonged visitation of Mrs Heneage and her family, my old friend was left once more to the quiet society of his sister, and [Pg 102]to her gentle tending, through one of his constitutional attacks, the effects of which still lingered about him, when the health of his kind nurse began to droop, and a fearful change in her appearance was manifest to all those who were not blinded to it by habits of hourly intercourse, and her uncomplaining serenity. Her own maid, however, the faithful Celia, was but too competent to perceive the alteration in her lady, and to surmise its cause; for she was aware, though enjoined to strict secresy, that for some time past, on the first indication of any gouty symptoms, Mrs Eleanor had had recourse to powerful repellants, counting as little her own personal risk, in comparison with the dread necessity of leaving her brother companionless in the midst of his intrusive guests, or alone on the bed of sickness, as might have been the case had her own malady been allowed to take its progress unchecked at the first indications, which were of a more than heretofore threatening nature. The antidote had been but too efficacious, and when Mrs Eleanor was at length induced by the entreaties of her faithful servant, and her own internal sensations, to speak privately to her medical attendant (an attached friend of the family), he saw so much cause for serious alarm, that it was with difficulty she prevailed on him to withhold for a few days only from her brother the shock of a communication, which she undoubtedly flattered herself might yet be rendered unnecessary by her amendment.

[Pg 103]

And for a day or two she appeared to rally, and there was a visible improvement in her, to my observation and that of Mrs L——, when we stopt at the Hall in our evening drive, and drank tea with her and Mr Devereux, on the last of those few days.

We had hardly done breakfast the following morning, when our medical friend (the attendant of the Devereuxs) sent in a request to speak to me in my library.

It was to announce to me the removal of our dear friend from earth to heaven. She had been found that morning in her bed asleep in death.

It needs not to say how promptly I betook myself to the house of mourning—how earnestly I pressed for admittance to the forlorn survivor, who had locked himself into his library, at the door of which stood Hallings in an agony of grief and apprehension, imploring leave to enter, if but for a moment. I joined my supplications to his, and after a time we heard a heavy sigh, and the approach of feeble footsteps to the door, on the opening of which the bereaved old man, as if overpowered by the effort, staggered backwards, and would have fallen, but that I caught him in my arms, and supported him to his easy-chair, still holding his hand, as I took my seat beside him, in that deep awe of silent sympathy, which feels it profanation to break in with human speech upon the sacredness of unutterable sorrow. Long he lay back, as he had sunk into his chair, silent and motionless. The [Pg 104]small thin hand I held, was as cold and pale as that of a corpse; and as I contemplated his venerable countenance, colourless as the hand, the closed eyelids, and sunken temples, and every sharpened feature set in rigid and unnatural composure, I was startled—not shocked—by a sudden thought that the imperishable spirit had departed already from that poor frame of decaying mortality.

In breathless awe I stole my fingers gently to the wrist of the hand I held in mine, almost praying inwardly that I might find all quiet there; but even while I felt for the imperceptible pulse, a change came over the pale countenance—a slight tremor of the muscles about the mouth, a quivering of the lower eyelids, and then a tear stole glistening through the thin worn lashes of either eye, and slowly, heavily trickled down the furrowed cheek, and after a minute the trembling hand was withdrawn from the tender pressure of mine, and with its fellow joined and half upraised in the attitude of prayer. The old man’s eyes were still closed, but his lips moved, and in the tremulous accents which escaped them, I distinguished—“I thank thee!... I thank thee.... Oh Lord!... Thou hast taken her from the evil to come.”

Uninvited and unwelcome, Mr Heneage Devereux presented himself at the Hall, as suddenly as rapid travelling could bring him there, after the notification of Mrs Eleanor’s death had reached him in London. And it was evident to me and others that [Pg 105]he had motives for preventing as much as possible all unrestrained and confidential intercourse between his cousin and those old friends and neighbours, who would have rallied round him in his distress and perplexities, and, by their strenuous and disinterested counsels and assistance, have even then released him from his bondage to the fiend, had time been allowed them to win gradually upon the shyness and timidity of Mr Devereux’s character, so as to induce him to overstep the little weakness of that false pride which shrank from disclosure of worldly difficulties, and exposure—such as no doubt he had pictured to himself—to the humiliating comments of contemptuous pity. Mr Heneage came, and such perpetual and vexatious obstacles were thrown in the way of the neighbouring gentlemen, in all their attempts at a renewal of social intercourse with Mr Devereux, that one by one all relinquished their kindly hopes of serving him effectually, though a few, like myself, persevered in seeing him as often as we could obtain admission into that altered abode, where in past days such a gracious and smiling welcome had ever greeted us. But I fear our venerable friend derived little pleasure or comfort from these almost intrusive visits. Courteously and kindly indeed he ever received all who approached him; and to the few who had been particularly distinguished by his friendship and that of Mrs Eleanor, there was even a more touching expression—one of grateful tenderness in his accustomed affectionateness [Pg 106]of manner. But the exertion of conversation, absorbed as he was by corroding cares and fatal concealments, was evidently a painful effort to him, and he often sunk, even while his friends were endeavouring to engage his attention, into fits of sad abstraction, broken unconsciously by such deep-fetched sighs as went to the heart of those who were powerless to comfort. Little was even yet known of the real nature of those transactions between our venerable friend and his kinsman, which had wrought such lamentable change in him, and all connected with him; but whispers got abroad that Mr Devereux’s circumstances were in a very dilapidated state, and that there was even a possibility, if his life were spared beyond a certain period, that the old man might be driven forth from the home of his ancestors, to seek some meaner shelter for his grey head, before it was laid to rest in the vault of the Devereuxs.

Mr Heneage began to assume more arbitrary authority over the establishment at the Hall—conducting himself with an insolence of manner so disgusting to the old respectable servants, that, by degrees, all dropped off except Hallings and his wife, and a white-headed coachman, whose devoted fidelity strengthened them to endure all things rather than desert their aged master in the hour of his utmost need.

Towards the close of that sad winter succeeding the death of Mrs Eleanor, Hallings (as I have since [Pg 107]heard from him) observed an unwonted degree of restlessness in his master, and at times, after having been closeted with Mr Heneage and an attorney, who now frequently accompanied the latter to the Hall—at such times especially a feverish and flushed excitement, during the continuance of which his ideas seemed to wander, and he uttered expressions which gave but too much ground of probability to those rumours I have alluded to.

On one of those occasions, when the forlorn old man had, as it seemed, been driven by his evil genius almost to the verge of desperation, his faithful servant, urged on by uncontrollable feeling, ventured, for the first time, to hint at the secret source of this overwhelming misery, and to press upon him the entreaty that he would open his heart freely to some old and true friend. “See Mr L——, sir!” implored the worthy Hallings; “for God’s sake, my dear, dear master! let me send directly for Mr L——, or go to him and tell him you would speak with him immediately.”

For a moment Mr Devereux seemed as if half moved to compliance with the prayer of his attached servant. For a moment he sat in trembling agitation, with half-opened lips and eyes fixed on Hallings, as if about to give the permission so earnestly supplicated; but the indecision ended fatally. Slowly and mournfully shaking his head, as it sank upon his breast, he waved his hand rejectingly, and faintly murmured in an inward tone, “Too late! too [Pg 108]late! Leave me, good Hallings! Your master will not be long a trouble to you;—but he has lived too long.”

On the day succeeding that on which this scene took place, Mr Devereux was again shut up in conference with Cousin Heneage and his assistant friend, the convenient scrivener. Hallings’s anxiety kept him hovering near the library where they were convened, and more than once he heard the hateful grating voice of Cousin Heneage raised to a threatening loudness, and then, after a pause, his master’s well-known accents, apparently pleading with pathetic earnestness, till overpowered by the discordant tones of his kinsman and the attorney.

“At last,” said Hallings, “I could distinguish a sort of choking, gasping cry, and a hysterical sob from my dear master; and then I could bear it no longer, but knocked loudly for admittance at the locked door. My interruption broke up the conference; a chair was pushed back with violence as Mr Heneage, it seemed, rose from it, for it was his voice that thundered out, as he thumped the table in his rage—‘To-morrow, sir! I tell you, to-morrow. I will be fooled no longer.’ And then my master almost shrieked out—‘A little time! a little time! Only a year; one little year, Cousin Heneage!’ But the savage laughed in scorn; and, as he strode past me, followed by that other viper, looked back with stern determination, while he uttered, in a loud insulting tone—‘Not a week, sir! Not a day beyond to-morrow.’”

[Pg 109]

On going to the assistance of his master, poor Hallings found him in a state of dreadful agitation. “His forehead, sir, was wet with perspiration, though the fire had burnt down to nothing, and there was snow upon the ground, and there was a deep red spot upon either cheek. His hands were grasping the arms of his chair, and he rose from it as I entered, but stared at me with seeming unconsciousness. I could not see him so, and control my own feelings. ‘My dear master!’ I said, and the tears gushed from my eyes. The sight of that seemed to bring him to himself a little—for you know, sir, how tender-hearted he was—and he fetched two or three short sighs, and said, ‘Oh, Hallings! it is all over,’ and trembled so violently that I feared he would fall, and ran to his support; but he recovered himself, and seemed to have more strength than usual in his crippled limbs, as he walked across the library and hall, and up-stairs to his own bedroom, to the door of which I followed him. But he forbade my entrance in a determined tone; and, desiring he might not be disturbed for an hour or two, as he should lie down and recover himself, he went in and shut the door, drawing the bolt after him.”

So far I have given you in substance the narrative of Hallings; but his farther statement was of a nature so agitating that it was made more unconnectedly, and I must briefly relate to you, in my own words, the miserable conclusion.

[Pg 110]

The habitual deference with which Hallings was ever accustomed to obey his master’s least imperative command, restrained him on that last fatal occasion from opposing his desire to be left alone and undisturbed.

But “something,” the old man said, would not let him rest, or keep away for ten minutes together from his master’s door, at which he was anxiously listening, when he heard the tinkling of glass, and the unlocking, as he well knew the sound, of Mr Devereux’s medicine-chest. Hallings noted the circumstance gladly, for he supposed from it that Mr Devereux was taking a nervous medicine—some drops of sal-volatile, to which he had often recourse at seasons of peculiar languor or nervous agitation. But still, as he strongly repeated, he “could not rest,” nor refrain from assuring himself of his master’s state a moment beyond the absolutely prescribed hour. He knocked at the door, and for some time awaited an answer; but none was made. And again, at the risk of disturbing his master’s slumber, he repeated the rap more loudly; and Mr Devereux being a very light sleeper, aroused by the faintest sound, Hallings said his heart sank within him when that knock, and the next, and another, and another, were still unnoticed.

“I thought of our dear lady, sir,” he said, “and how suddenly she was taken.”

And at that thought he grew desperate; and [Pg 111]summoning assistance, had the door forced open. There sat his master in his large easy-chair beside the fireplace, wrapt in profound slumber, breathing heavily, and his face overspread with a livid and ghastly paleness. Hallings stepped forward in great agitation, and taking his passive hand, made all possible attempts to arouse him from that death-like slumber, but in vain; and as he was thus busied, his eye fell accidentally on a phial that lay uncorked and empty beside a wine-glass, on the corner of the mantel-shelf, within reach of his master’s hand.

At that sight a fearful thought flashed upon him; and, turning to a groom who had pressed in with others of the servants, he ordered him to ride off instantly for Mr Maddox, the family apothecary, and urge his attendance with utmost speed, on a matter of life and death. Our medical friend was soon at the Hall, and by the side of him who still reclined motionless and insensible in that easy-chair, sleeping that fearful sleep. Heneage Devereux was absent for the day, and Hallings had, in consequence, uncontrolled liberty to act on that trying occasion as seemed best to him for the reputation as well as life of his dear master. He therefore requested to speak in private to the surgeon, whose feelings were, he knew, in all things relating to Mr Devereux, perfectly congenial with his own. To him only he told that the empty phial labelled laudanum had, to his certain knowledge, been full that morning, when, by his master’s direction, he [Pg 112]had taken some required drug from the medicine-chest. To him also he confided the scene that had immediately preceded Mr Devereux’s retirement to his chamber. Little mutual consultation passed, or was necessary. Mr Maddox proceeded immediately to use such means as the exigency of the case demanded; but either they were too late resorted to, or would have been ineffectual from the first. Mr Devereux never awoke from that fatal slumber, and within a fortnight from that disastrous day, his mortal remains were deposited beside those of his beloved sister, and his earthly inheritance was claimed, and taken undisputed possession of, by that bad man, whose responsibility is awful indeed, if (as we have too much reason to believe) the sudden, though not untimely death of our lamented friend, was occasioned by any other cause than that to which it was generally ascribed—as adjudged by a jury—an overdose of laudanum, taken incautiously, to allay a spasmodic affection, to which Mr Devereux had been often subject. Of this I am morally assured, that if the act was wilful, it was not deliberate. The last agony of that tender spirit must have overset the mental balance, or the Christian’s faith would have triumphed over human weakness, and the malice of the wicked, which, though it may kill the body, “hath no more that it can do.”

[Pg 1]



[MAGA. May 1826.]


A slight shudder came over me as I was entering the inner court of the College of Gottingen. It was, however, but momentary; and on recovering from it, I felt both taller and heavier, and altogether more vigorous, than the instant before. Being rather nervous, I did not much mind these feelings, imputing them to some sudden determination to the brain, or some unusual beating about the heart, which had assailed me suddenly, and as suddenly left me. On proceeding, I met a student coming in the opposite direction. I had never seen him before, but as he passed me by, he nodded familiarly—“There is a fine day, Wolstang.”—“What does this fellow mean?” said I to myself. “He speaks to me with as much ease as if I had been his intimate acquaintance. And he calls me Wolstang—a person to whom I bear no more resemblance than to the [Pg 2]man in the moon.” I looked after him for some time, pondering whether I should call him back and demand an explanation; but before I could form any resolution, he was out of my sight.

Thinking it needless to take any further notice of the circumstance, I went on. Another student, whom I did not know, now passed me.—“Charming weather, Wolstang.”—“Wolstang again!” said I; “this is insufferable. Hello, I say! what do you mean?” But at this very moment he entered the library, and either did not hear my voice, or paid no attention to it.

As I was standing in a mood between rage and vexation, a batch of Collegians came up, talking loud and laughing. Three, with whom I was intimately acquainted, took no notice of me; while two, to whom I was totally unknown, saluted me with “Good morning, Wolstang.” One of these latter, after having passed me a few yards, turned round and cried out, “Wolstang, your cap is awry.”

I did not know what to make of this preposterous conduct. Could it be premeditated? It was hardly possible, or I must have discovered the trick in the countenances of those who addressed me. Could it be that they really mistook me for Wolstang? This was still more incredible, for Wolstang was fully six inches taller, four stones heavier, and ten years older than I. I found myself in a maze of bewilderment in endeavouring to discover the cause [Pg 3]of all this. I reflected upon it in vain, summoning to my assistance the aids of Logic and Metaphysics to unravel the mystery. Nay, Euclid was not forgotten. I called to mind the intricate problems of science which a rigid study of this Prince of Mathematicians had enabled me to solve; but on the present occasion my thoughts, though screwed to the utmost pitch of philosophical acumen, completely failed in their aim.

While meditating as in a reverie on these events, I was aroused by approaching steps. On looking up, I beheld the most learned Doctor Dedimus Dunderhead, Provost, and Professor of Moral Philosophy to the College. He was a man about five feet high; but so far as rotundity of corporation went, noways deficient. On the contrary, he was uncommonly fat, and his long-waisted velvet coat of office, buttoning over a capacious belly, showed underneath a pair of thick stumpy legs, cased in short small-clothes and silk stockings, and bedizened at the knees with large buckles of silver. The Doctor had on, as usual, his cocked-hat, below whose rim at each side descended the copious curls of an immense bob-wig. His large carbuncle nose was adorned with a pair of spectacles, through which he looked pompously from side to side, holding back his head in grenadier fashion, and knocking his long silver-headed baton to the earth, as he walked with all the formal precision of a drum-major.

[Pg 4]

Now be it known that it is binding on every student who attends the University of Gottingen, to doff his cap on meeting this illustrious personage. This is not an optional ceremony; it is a compulsory one; and never on any occasion has it been known to be neglected, except once by a Dutchman, who, in consequence thereof, was expelled the College. It may be guessed, then, what was my degree of stupefaction when I saw Doctor Dunderhead approach—when I heard his baton striking upon the ground, responsive to his steps—when I saw his large eyes, reflected through the spectacles, looking intently upon me—I say my stupefaction may be guessed, when, even on this occasion, my hand did not make one single motion upward towards my cap. The latter still stuck to my head, and I stood folded in my college gown, my mouth half open, and my eyes fixed upon the Doctor in empty abstraction. I could see that he was angry at my tardy recognition of his presence; and as he came nearer me, he slackened his pace a little, as if to give me an opportunity of amending my neglect. However, I was so drowned in reflection that I did not take the hint. At last he made a sudden stop directly in front of me, folded his arms in the same manner as mine, and looked upwards in my face with a fixed glance, as much as to say, “Well, master, what now?” I never thought the Doctor so little, or myself so tall, as at this moment.

[Pg 5]

Having continued some time in the above attitude, he took off his hat, and made me a profound bow. “Mr Wolstang, I am your most humble servant.” Then rising up, he lifted his baton towards my cap, and knocked it off. “Your cap is awry,” continued he. “Excuse me, Mr Wolstang, it is really awry upon your head.” Another bow of mockery, as profound as the first, followed this action; and he marched away, striking his baton on the ground, holding back his head, and walking with slow pompous step down the College court.

“What the devil is the meaning of this?” said I. “Wolstang again! Confusion, this is no trick! The Provost of the College engage in a deception upon me—impossible! They are all mad, or I am mad! Wolstang from one—Wolstang from another—Wolstang from Doctor Dedimus Dunderhead! I will see to the bottom of this—I will go to Wolstang’s house immediately.” So saying, I snatched up my cap, put it on my head, and walked smartly down the court to gain the street where he lived. Before I got far, a young man met me. “By the by, Wolstang, I wish you could let me have the ten gilders I lent you. I require them immediately.”—“Ten gilders!” said I; “I don’t owe you a farthing. I never saw your face before, and my name is not Wolstang; it is Frederick Stadt.”

“Psha!—But, Wolstang, laying jesting aside,” continued he, “I must positively have them.”

[Pg 6]

“Have what?”

“My dear fellow, the ten gilders.”

“Ten devils!—I tell you, I don’t owe you a farthing.”

“Really, Wolstang, this joke is very silly. We know you are an odd fellow, but this is the most foolish prank I ever saw you play.”

“Wolstang again!” said I, my heart boiling with indignation. “I tell you, sir—I tell you, sir, that—that—” I could not get out another word, to such a degree had indignation confounded me. Without finishing my sentence, I rushed into the street, but not without hearing the person say, “By heaven, he is either mad or drunk!”

In a moment I was at Wolstang’s lodgings, and set the knocker agoing with violence. The door was opened by his servant-girl Louise, a buxom wench of some eighteen or twenty.

“Is Mr Wolstang in?” I demanded quickly.

“Mr who, sir?”

“Mr Wolstang, my dear.”

“Mr Wol—— Mr who, sir?—I did not hear you.”

“Mr Wolstang.”

“Mr Wolstang!” re-echoed the girl, with some surprise.

“Assuredly, I ask you if Mr Wolstang is within.”

“Mr Wolstang!” reiterated she. “Ha ha, ha! how droll you are to-day, master!”

[Pg 7]

“Damnation! what do you mean?” cried I in a fury, which I now found it impossible to suppress, “Tell me this instant if Mr Wolstang, your master, is at home, or by the beard of Socrates, I—I——”

“Ha, ha! this is the queerest thing I ever heard of,” said the little jade, retreating into the house, and holding her sides with laughter. “Come here, Barnabas, and hear our master asking for himself.”

I now thought that the rage into which I had thrown myself had excited the laughter of the wench, whom I knew very well to be of a frolicsome disposition, and much disposed to turn people into ridicule. I therefore put on as grave a face as I could—I even threw a smile into it—and said, with all the composure and good-humour I could muster, “Come now, my dear—conduct me to your master—I am sure he is within.” This only set her a-laughing more than ever; not a word could I get out of her. At last Barnabas made his appearance from the kitchen, and to him I addressed myself. “Barnabas,” said I, laying my hand upon his arm, “I conjure you, as you value my happiness, to tell me if Mr Wolstang is at home?”

“Sir!” said Barnabas, with a long stare.

I repeated my question.

“Did you ask,” replied he, “if Mr Wolstang was at home? If that gentleman is yourself, he is at home. O yes, I warrant you, my master is at home.”

[Pg 8]

“In what place is he, then?” I inquired.

“Wherever you are, he is not far off, I warrant you, master.”

“Can I find him in his study?”

“O yes,” continued Barnabas; “if you go to his study, I warrant you he’ll be there. Will you please to walk in, sir?” and I could see the fellow put his finger to his nose and wink to the girl, who kept tittering away in a corner. As soon as I was in the study she burst into a loud laugh, which ended by her declaring that I must be mad—“Or drunk,” quoth the sapient Barnabas, in his usual dry manner.

On entering the room, no person was to be seen; but from behind a large screen, which stood fronting the fire, I heard a sneeze. “This must be Wolstang,” thought I: “but it is not his sneeze either; it is too sharp and finical for him; however, let us see.” So on I went behind the screen, and there beheld, not the person I expected, but one very different—to wit, a little, meagre, brown-faced elderly gentleman, with hooked nose and chin, a long well-powdered queue, and a wooden leg. He was dressed in a snuff-coloured surtout, a scarlet waistcoat, and black small-clothes buckled at the knee; and on his nose was stuck a pair of tortoise-shell spectacles, the glasses of which were of most unusual dimensions. A dapper-looking cocked-hat lay upon the table, together with a large open snuff-box [Pg 9]full of rich rappee. Behind his right ear a pen was stuck, after the manner of the counting-house, and he seemed busily poring over a book in manuscript.

I looked a few seconds at this oddity, equally astonished and vexed at being put into what I naturally supposed the wrong room. “I am afraid, sir,” said I, as he turned his eyes towards me, “that I have intruded upon your privacy. I beg leave to apologise for the mistake. The servant led me to believe that Mr Wolstang, with whom I wished to speak, was in this chamber.”

“Don’t talk of apology, my dear sir,” said the little gentleman, rising up and bowing with the utmost politeness. “Be seated, sir—be seated. Indeed, I am just here on the same errand—to see Mr Wolstang—eh (a sneeze)—that rappee is certainly very strong. Do me the honour to occupy the seat opposite. I understand from the servants that he is expected soon.” (Another sneeze.)

For the first five minutes I did not form a very high opinion of this new acquaintance. He seemed to have all the fidgety politeness and intolerable chit-chat of a French petit maître of the old school. He bored me with questions and apologies, hoped I felt myself comfortable; and every interval of his speech was filled up by intolerable giggling and sneezing. In order, as it were, to increase the latter, he kept snuffing away at a preposterous rate; [Pg 10]and when he addressed me, his mouth was drawn up into a most complacent smile, and his long nose and chin, which threatened each other like nutcrackers, thrown forward to within a foot of my face. However, in the next five minutes he improved upon me, from some very judicious observations, as I thought, which he made; and in five more I became convinced that, notwithstanding his outward frivolity and sneezing, he was far from being an ordinary man. This impression gained such strength, that in a short time I entirely forgot all my previous irritation, and even the reasons which brought me there. I found that he had a complete knowledge of the different philosophical systems of the day; among others, that of my favourite Kant;—and on the merits of the school in the North of Germany, founded by this great metaphysician, his opinions and mine tallied to a point. He also seemed deeply conversant with the mathematics. This was a subject on which I flattered myself I had few equals; but he shot far ahead of me, displaying a knowledge which scarcely any man in Europe could have matched. He traced the science downwards, in all its historical bearings, from Thales, Archimedes, and Euclid, to Newton, Euler, Leibnitz, and Laplace. In algebra, geometry, and astronomy, his information was equally extensive. From several hints which he threw out, I learned that he was no stranger to the science of [Pg 11]geomancy; and he gave me to understand that he had cast the nativities of several individuals belonging to noble families; and that as their horoscopes portended, such invariably was their fate in after life. Nor was his knowledge confined to these abstruser branches of science; it embraced the whole circle of literature and the fine arts. Poetry, criticism, philology, painting, and sculpture, seemed to be equally within his range. He descanted upon them, illuminating his positions from such a vast source of illustration, that I gazed upon him with a feeling akin to amazement.

Let it not be supposed that all this was done with the formal pomp of a philosopher: on the contrary, he preserved throughout his frivolousness of manner, apologised for everything he advanced, hoped I was not offended if he differed in opinion from me, and concluded every position with a sneeze.

“By the by,” said I, “talking of Gall and Spurzheim, what do you think of their doctrine? I am inclined to believe there must be some truth in it; at least, I have seen it verified in a number of heads, and among others in that of Cicero, which I saw a few years ago in the sculpture-gallery of the Louvre. It was a beautiful head.”

“You are right there, my dear friend,” replied he. “The head, phrenologically considered, is extremely beautiful. I believe I have got it in my pocket.” (A sneeze.)

[Pg 12]

“You got the head of Cicero in your pocket!” cried I, with surprise.

“O no! not absolutely the head of Cicero,” said he, smiling. “Mark Antony disposed of that—but only his bust—the bust that you saw.”

“You mean a miniature of that bust?”

“No—not a miniature, but the real bust. Here it comes—how heavy it is!” And, to my amazement, I saw him take out of his pocket the identical bust, as large as life, of the Roman orator, and place it on the table before me.

“Have you any more heads of this description about you?” said I, not a little marvelling how he was able to stuff such a block of marble into his pocket.

“I have a few others at your service, my dear friend. Name any one you would wish to see, and I shall be most happy to produce it.”

“Let me see, then, the head of Copernicus.” I had scarcely spoken the word when he brought out the philosopher, and put him beside Cicero. I named successively Socrates, Thales, Galileo, Confucius, Zoroaster, Tycho Braché, Roger Bacon, and Paracelsus, and straightway they stood upon the table as fresh as if they had just received the last touch of the sculptor’s chisel. I must confess that such a number of large heads emanating from the pockets of the little meagre man in the snuff-coloured surtout and scarlet waistcoat, would have occasioned me incredible wonder, had my stock of astonishment [Pg 13]not been exhausted by the previous display of his abilities. I had little more to throw away upon any new subject, and looked upon these fresh exhibitions without experiencing anything beyond a slight surprise.

“And do you,” I demanded, as the last named was brought forth, “always carry those heads about with you?”

“I generally do so for the amusement of my friends,” answered he. “But do not think that my stock is exhausted; I have still a few more that I can show you—for instance, Pythagoras.”

“Pythagoras!” exclaimed I; “no, don’t produce him. He is the last of all the philosophers I would wish to see. The Stoics, the Epicureans, ay, even the Cynics, with Diogenes or Menippus at their head, were sages compared with Pythagoras, the founder of the most preposterous system of philosophy that ever existed.”

“My dear friend,” said the little man, with unusual gravity, “you do not say so?”

“I do say so. Pythagoras was a fool, a madman, an impostor.”

“You don’t speak thus of the divine Pythagoras?” returned he, putting his bust upon the table.

“No, not of the divine Pythagoras, for such a person never existed. I speak of Pythagoras the Samian—him of the golden thigh, the founder of what is called the Pythagorean philosophy.”

[Pg 14]

“And the most rational system of philosophy that ever existed. Begging your pardon, I think it goes far beyond that of Plato or the Stagyrite.”

“If you mean that it goes beyond them in being as full of absurdity as they are of wisdom, I really agree with you,” said I, my anger rising at hearing the divine doctrines of Aristotle and the disciple of Socrates so irreverently spoken of.

“Pray, what were its absurdities?” asked he with the most imperturbable good-nature.

“Did not Pythagoras enjoin silence to his disciples for a period of five years,—absolute silence, muteness, dumbness?”

“And a very good injunction it was. No man can be philosopher unless he knows how to keep his tongue under a restraint.”

“I am afraid, then, you will never be one,” I remarked, forcing a smile, although I was at bottom considerably nettled. He did not seem to take my observation ill, but passed it off with one of his characteristic giggles of laughter.

“You were talking of his absurdities, my dear friend.”

“Ah, well, did he not forbid the use of animal food to his followers? and, to crown all, did he not teach the monstrous doctrine of transmigration of souls—sending the spirits of men, after death, to inhabit the bodies of dogs, and cats, and frogs, and geese, and even insects?”

[Pg 15]

“And call you this a monstrous doctrine?”

“Monstrous!” I exclaimed with surprise—“it is the ne plus ultra, the climax of fatuity, the raving of a disordered imagination.”

“So you do not believe in Metempsychosis?” asked he with a smile.

“I would as soon believe in demonology, or magic. There is nothing I would not rather credit. Kenelm Digby’s sympathetic powder, the philosopher’s stone, the elixir vitæ, animal magnetism, metallic tractors, judicial astrology—anything, in fact, would more readily find a place in my belief than this nonsensical jargon, which is credited by nobody but the superstitious Brahmins of India. But perhaps you are a believer?” He shrugged up his shoulders at this last remark, stroked his chin, and, giving me a sarcastic look, said, with a familiar nod and smile, “Yes, I am a believer.”

“What!” said I, “you—you with your immense learning, can you put faith in such doctrines?”

“If I put faith in them,” said he, “it is my learning which has taught me to do so. If I were less learned, I might perhaps spurn at them as erroneous. Doubt is as often the offspring of ignorance as of credulity. Your great doubters are generally as ill-informed as your great believers, and much more self-conceited.”

“And do you really go all the lengths of Pythagoras?” I demanded.

[Pg 16]

“I not only go all his lengths, but I go much farther. For instance, he believed that the soul never left the body until the latter was dead. Now, my belief is, that two living bodies may exchange souls with each other. For instance, your soul may take possession of my body, and my soul of yours, and both our bodies may be alive.”

“In that case,” said I, laughing heartily, “you would be me, and I would be you.”

“Precisely so, my dear friend,” replied the little gentleman, laughing in his turn, and concluding with a sneeze.

“Faith, my good sir,” my reverence for his abilities somewhat lessened by this declaration, “I am afraid you have lost your senses.”

“I am afraid you have lost something of more importance,” returned he, with a smile, in which I thought I recognised a tinge of derision. I did not like it, so, eyeing him with some sternness, I said hastily, “And pray, what have I lost?” Instead of answering me, he burst into a loud fit of laughter, holding his sides while the tears ran down his cheeks, and he seemed half stifled with a flood of irresistible merriment. My passion at this rose to such a pitch, that had he been a man of any appearance I should have knocked him down; but I could not think of resorting to such an extremity with a meagre, little elderly fellow, who had, moreover, a wooden leg. I could, therefore, only wait [Pg 17]till his mirth subsided, when I demanded, with as much calmness as I could assume, what I had lost.

“Are you sure you have not lost your body?” said he.

“My body!” answered I with some surprise; “what do you mean?”

“Now, my dear friend, tell me plainly, are you sure that this is your own body?”

“My own body—who the devil’s can it be?”

“Are you sure you are yourself?”

“Myself—who, in heaven’s name, could I be but myself?”

“Ay, that is the rub,” continued he; “are you perfectly satisfied that you are yourself, and nobody but yourself?” I could not help smiling at the apparent stupidity of this question; but before I was able to compose myself, he had resumed his query.—“Are you sure you are—that you are—”

“That I am who?” said I, hurriedly.

“That you are Frederick Stadt?”


“And not Albert Wolstang?” concluded he.

A pang shot through my whole body at this last part of his question. I recalled in an instant all my previous vexation. I remembered the insults I had met with, not only from the students of Gottingen and Doctor Dedimus Dunderhead, but from the domestics of Wolstang; and lastly, I recollected the [Pg 18]business which had brought me to the house of the latter. Everything came as a flash of lightning through my brain, and I was more perplexed than ever. My first impression was, that the little man, in spite of his vast learning, was insane, or perhaps, as Festus said of Paul, his madness was the consequence of too much learning; but then, if he was insane, the Gottingen students must be insane, Doctor Dedimus Dunderhead must be insane, and Wolstang’s domestics must be insane. “I am perhaps insane myself,” thought I for an instant; but this idea, I was soon satisfied, was incorrect. I sat for several minutes pondering deeply upon the matter, and endeavouring to extricate myself from this vexatious dilemma, while my companion opposite kept eyeing me through his immense glasses, stroking his chin, and smiling with the most lugubrious self-complacency. At length, arousing myself from my stupor, I put the following question to him:—

“Did you ask me if I was sure that I am not Wolstang?”

“I did, sir,” answered he with a bow.

“Then, sir, I must tell you that I am not that person, but Frederick Stadt, student of philosophy in the University of Gottingen.” He looked incredulous.

“What, sir,” said I, “do you not believe me?” He shrugged up his shoulders.

[Pg 19]

“Confusion, sir! this is not to be borne. I tell you, sir, that my name is Stadt.” This I said in my loudest and most impassioned manner, but it did not affect him in the least degree. He continued his eternal smile, and had even the politeness or audacity (I know not which to call it) to offer me his snuff-box. I was so enraged at this piece of coolness, that I gave the box a knock, spilling its contents upon his scarlet waistcoat. Even this did not ruffle him. He commenced, in the most composed manner imaginable, to collect the particles, remarking with a smile, “You do not like snuff, sir,” and finishing, according to custom, by one of his everlasting sneezes.

“It is impossible, sir,” said I, “that you can mistake me for Wolstang—seeing that, on my entry, you told me you expected that gentleman in a short time, and desired me to be seated till he came in.” At this he seemed a little disconcerted, and was beginning to mutter something in explanation, when I interrupted him. “Besides, sir, Wolstang is a man at least six inches taller, four stones heavier, and ten years older than I.”

“What an immense fellow he must be, my dear friend! At that rate, he ought to stand six feet eight inches, and weigh twenty stones.”

I could hardly retain my gravity at this calculation. “Pray, what do you take my stature and weight to be?”

[Pg 20]

“I should take you,” replied he, “to be about six feet two inches high, and to weigh some sixteen stones.”

This admeasurement raised my merriment to its acme, and I laughed aloud. “Know, then, my good little man, that all your geometry has availed you nothing, for I only stand five feet eight, and never weighed more than twelve stones.” He shrugged up his shoulders once more, and put on another of his incredulous looks.

“Eh, eh—I may be mistaken—but I—I—”

“Mistaken!” exclaimed I; “zounds, you were never more egregiously mistaken, even when you advocated the Pythagorean doctrine of Metempsychosis!”

“I may be wrong, but I could lay five gilders that I am right. I never bet high—just a trifle, just a trifle occasionally.”

“You had better keep your gilders in your pocket,” said I, “and not risk them so foolishly.”

“With your permission, however, I shall back my pieces against yours,”—and he drew five from a little green silk purse, and put them on the table. I deposited an equal number.

“Now,” said I, “how is this dispute to be settled? where can I get myself weighed?”

“I believe,” answered he, “there is a pair of scales in the room hard by, and weights too, if I mistake not.” He accordingly got up and opened [Pg 21]the door of the adjoining chamber, where, to my surprise, I beheld a pair of immense scales hanging from the roof, and hundred and half-hundred weights, &c. lying around. I seated myself in one of the scales, chuckling very heartily at the scrape into which the little fellow had brought himself. He lifted up weight after weight, placing them upon the opposite scale. Eleven stones had been put in, and he was lifting the twelfth;—“Now,” says I, eyeing him waggishly, “for your five gilders.” He dropped the weight, but the beam never moved, and I still sat on the lowest scale. Thirteen were put on, but my weight yet triumphed. With amazement I saw fourteen and fifteen successively added to the number, without effect. At last, on putting down the sixteenth, the scale on which I sat was gently raised from the ground. I turned my eyes upwards towards the needle, which I saw quivering as if uncertain where to stop; at last it paused exactly in the centre, and stood erect: the beam lay perfectly horizontal, and I sat motionless, poised in middle air.

“You will observe, sir, that my calculation was correct,” observed my companion, taking a fresh pinch of snuff. “You are just sixteen stones. Nothing now remains but to measure your height.”

“There is no occasion for that,” I replied, rising slowly from the scale. “If you can contrive to make me weigh sixteen stones, you can readily [Pg 22]make me measure six feet two inches.” I now threw myself down on a seat in the study, which both of us had re-entered, placed my elbows on the table, and buried my face in my hands, absorbed in deep reflection. I thought and thought again upon every event which had befallen me since the morning. The students of Gottingen—Doctor Dedimus Dunderhead—the domestics of Wolstang—the little man with the snuff-coloured surtout, scarlet waistcoat, and wooden leg, passed like a whirlwind through my brain. Then the bust of Cicero, which I had seen in the Louvre, the busts of the others which he drew from his pockets—geometry—geomancy—transmigration of souls, and the affair of the scales—the whole formed a combination which I found myself utterly unable to comprehend. In a few minutes I looked up, exhausted with vain thought. All the heads were gone except that of Pythagoras, which he left lying in its place. He now took up his snuff-box and deposited it in his waistcoat pocket—drew an old-fashioned watch out of his fob, and looked at the hour—and, lastly, laying his hand upon the ten gilders, he dropped them one by one into his green purse. “I believe,” said he, with a smile, “the money is mine.” So saying, he snatched up his little cocked-hat, made me half-a-dozen of bows, and bade me adieu, after promising to see me at the same time and place two days after.

[Pg 23]


Again did I bury my face in my hands; again did my fit of meditation come on; I felt my bosom glowing with perplexity. It was now the scales which occupied my thoughts, to the exclusion of everything else. “Sixteen stones!—impossible, I cannot believe it. This old rascal has cheated me. The weights he has put on must be defective—they must be hollow. I will see to it in a moment, and if there has been any deception, I shall break his bones the first time I set my eyes upon him, maugre his wooden leg; I will at least smash his spectacles, trip up his heels, and pull his hook nose.” Full of these resolutions, I proceeded to the adjoining room. Guess of my amazement, when, instead of the great machines in which I had been weighed but ten minutes before, I beheld nothing but a small pair of apothecary’s scales, and a few drachm, scruple, and grain weights scattered upon the floor.

Not knowing what to make of this, I returned to the study, when, happening to look into a mirror placed behind the chair on which I had been sitting, I beheld (joyous sight) the reflection of Wolstang. “Ah, you have come?” said I, turning round to receive him, but nobody was to be seen. I looked again through every part of the room; no [Pg 24]Wolstang was there. This was passing strange; where could the man have gone in such a hurry? I was now in a greater funk than ever, when, casting my eyes a second time upon the mirror, he again made his appearance. I instantly looked round—no one was present; in another instant I turned to the glass, and there stood the reflection as before. Not knowing what this phenomenon could be, and thinking perhaps that my eyes were dazzled by some phantom, I raised my hands, and rubbed them; Wolstang did the same. I struck my forehead, bit my lip with vexation, and started back, when, marvellous to relate, the figure in the glass repeated all my gestures. I now got alarmed, and, shrinking away from the apparition, threw himself upon the chair. In a few minutes, my courage being somewhat revived, I ventured to face the mirror, but without any better success—the same object presented itself. I desisted, and renewed the trial several times with the like result. In vain was my philosophy exerted to unfold this mystery. The doctrines of Aristotle, the dreams of alchemy, and the wonders of the Cabala, presented themselves in succession to my disordered fancy. I bethought me of magic, necromancy, the witch of Endor, Simon Magus, the brazen head of Friar Bacon, and a multitude of other phantasies. All was in vain; nothing could account for the [Pg 25]present occurrence; nothing in mystical or scientific lore bore any analogy to it.

In this perturbed state of mind my eye caught the bust of Pythagoras. This was a flood of light to my understanding. I instantly remembered what the old fellow had hinted about transmigration of souls: I remembered what he said about me being myself, or another person. Then connecting this with the previous events of the day, with the Gottingen students, with Doctor Dedimus Dunderhead, with Wolstang’s domestics, and, lastly, with the reflection in the looking-glass,—I say, coupling all these things together, I came to the horrible conclusion that I was not myself. “There must be some truth in the Pythagorean doctrine, and I am labouring under a Metempsychosis.”

To put the matter beyond a doubt, I went once more to the mirror, where I beheld the same figure which had first startled me. I then looked at my hands; they were larger and stronger than formerly. The dress I had on was also not my own, but evidently that of Wolstang. Every circumstance contributed to confirm me that I was no longer myself.

It would be a vain attempt for me to describe the horror I endured at this dreadful transmogrification. After the first burst of dismay was over, I wept bitterly, bewailing the loss of my dear body, [Pg 26]which I now felt convinced was gone from me for ever. “And poor Wolstang,” cried I lamentably, “you are no longer yourself. You are me and I am you, and doubtless you are deploring your misfortune as bitterly as your unhappy friend Stadt.”

Night was now coming on, and it became necessary that I should resolve upon what ought to be done in my present state. I soon perceived that it would serve no purpose to say that I was myself; no one would have believed me, and I would run the risk of being put in a strait-jacket as a lunatic. To avoid these evils, there was no resource but to pass myself off upon the community as Wolstang. Even here there was considerable risk of being regarded mad; for how could I at once adapt myself to his circumstances, get a knowledge of them, think as he thought, and act as he acted? It was plain, that although I was Wolstang in body, I was only Stadt in mind; and I knew that in disposition I was as different as possible from Wolstang. “There is no help,” said I, weeping grievously; “it must be done.”

In order to cool my heated brain, I went out into the open air, and wandered about the streets. I was addressed by a number of persons whom I did not know; and several of my acquaintances, to whom I inadvertently spoke, did not know me. With the former I was very short, answering their questions at random, and getting off as soon as [Pg 27]possible. To the latter I could only apologise, assuring them that they had been mistaken by me for other persons. I felt my situation most unpleasant; for, besides the consciousness of no longer being myself, I was constantly running into the most perplexing blunders. For instance, after strolling about for a considerable period, I came, as it were, by a sort of instinct, to my own lodgings. For a time I forgot my situation, and knocked at the door. It was opened by my domestic, from whom I took the candle which he held in his hand, and, according to wont, walked into the study. “Mr Stadt is not in, sir,” said the man, following me; “perhaps you will sit till he comes: I expect him soon.” This aroused me from my reverie, confirming too truly the fact that I was changed. I started up from the seat into which I had dropped, rushed past him with dismay, and gained the street. Here I made up my mind to return to Wolstang’s lodgings, which I accordingly did, in a mood which a condemned criminal would hardly envy.

I kept the house for the whole of next day, employing myself in writing, in order that the servants might at least see some cause for my confinement. Notwithstanding this, it was easy to observe that they perceived something unusual about me; and several remarks which escaped them, convinced me that they considered my head touched in no slight degree. Although I did all that I was [Pg 29]able to compose myself, it was impossible that I could think like Wolstang, and still less that I could know a hundred private and household matters, on which the pert Louise and sapient Barnabas made a point of consulting me. Whenever I was spoken to concerning things that I knew, my answers were kind and condescending; but on any point about which I was ignorant, I utterly lost temper, and peremptorily forbade them to repeat it. Both shook their heads at such inconsistent behaviour; and it was soon bruited among the neighbours that Mr Albert Wolstang had parted with his senses.

The second day arrived, and found me in the same state of mind. The amazement which succeeded the discovery of my metamorphosis had indeed given way, and I could look at my reflection in the mirror with less pain than at first; but my feelings were still as imbittered as ever, and I ardently longed for death to put an end to such intolerable misery. While brooding over these matters, the door of the study opened. Thinking it was one of the domestics, I paid no attention to it; but in a moment I heard a sneeze, which made my flesh creep, and in another the little man with the snuff-coloured surtout, the scarlet waistcoat, and the wooden leg, made his appearance. Since I last saw this old fellow, I had conceived a mortal hatred against him. I thought, although [Pg 29]the idea was wild enough, that he had some hand in my Metempsychosis—and the affair of the scales and the marble busts, together with his Pythagorean opinions, his vast learning, his geomancy and astrology, gave to my idea a strong confirmation. On the present occasion his politeness was excessive; he bowed almost to the ground, made fifty apologies for intruding, and inquired with the most outré affectation of tenderness into the state of my health. He then seated himself opposite to me, laid his cocked-hat upon the table, took a pinch of snuff, and commenced his intolerable system of sneezing. I was never less in a humour to relish anything like foppery; so throwing myself back upon the chair, putting on as commanding a look as I could, and looking at him fiercely, I said, “So, sir, you are back again; I suppose you know me?”

“Know you, my dear friend—eh—yes, I derived great pleasure in being made acquainted with you the day before yesterday. You are Mr Frederick Stadt—that is to say, you are Mr Albert Wolstang.”—(A sneeze).

“Then you know that I am not myself?”

“My dear friend,” replied he, with a smile, “I hinted as much the last time I saw you.”

“And pray how did you ascertain that?”

“You don’t ask me such a question,” said he, with an air of surprise; “I knew it by your own signature.”

[Pg 30]

“My own signature! I know not what you mean by my signature.”

“Eh—eh—the signature, you know—that is, the compact you made with Wolstang.”

“I know of no compact,” cried I, in a passion; “nor did I ever make one with any man living. I defy either you or Wolstang to produce any such instrument.”

“I believe it is in my pocket at this very moment. Look here, my dear sir.” And he brought out a small manuscript book, and, turning up the leaves, pointed to view the following words:—

“I hereby, in consideration of the sum of fifty gilders, give to Albert Wolstang the use of my body, at any time he is disposed, provided that, for the time being, he gives me the use of his.—Frederick Stadt.

“It is a damnable forgery,” said I, starting up with fury; “a deceptio visûs, at least—something like your scales.”

“What about the scales, my dear friend?” said he, with a whining voice.

“Go,” replied I, “into that room, and you shall see.” He accordingly went, but returned immediately, saying that he observed nothing remarkable. “No!” said I, rising up; “then I shall take the trouble to point it out to you.” My astonishment may be better conceived than described, when, instead of the small apothecary’s scales, I beheld [Pg 31]the immense ones in which I had been weighed two days before. I felt confounded and mortified, and returned with him to the study, muttering something about deceptio visûs, necromancy, and demonology.

“Well,” continued I, after recovering a little, “what about this compact—when and where was it made?”

“It was made some three days ago, at the Devil’s Hoof Tavern. You may remember that you and Wolstang were drinking there at that time.”

“Yes, I remember it well enough; but I understood that I was putting my name to a receipt for fifty gilders which he paid me. I never read the writing; I merely subscribed it.”

“That was a pity; for really you have bound yourself as firmly as signing with a person’s own blood can do.”

“Did I sign it with my own blood?” said I, alarmed.

“Exactly so. You may recollect of cutting your finger. I had the pleasure of stanching the blood, a sufficient quantity of which was nevertheless collected to write this document.”

“Then you were present,” said I;—“yes, I have a recollection of your face, now that you mention the circumstance. You were then dressed as a clergyman, if I mistake not.”


[Pg 32]

“And what,” continued I, “are the conditions on which I hold this strange existence? Suppose Wolstang dies?”

“Then you keep his body till the natural period of your own death.”

“Suppose I die?”

“He then keeps your body.”

“Then, if he dies, my body is buried and goes to decay, while I am clogged up in his body, till relieved from it by death?”


This announcement struck me with terror. “And shall I never,” said I, weeping, “see my dear body again?”

“You may see it, if ever Wolstang comes in your way.”

“But shall I never possess it—shall I never be myself again?”

“Not unless he pleases.”

“The villain!” exclaimed I, in an agony of grief; “I am then undone—the tool of a heartless unprincipled miscreant. Is my case hopeless?”

“O no, my dear friend,” said the little man, “not at all hopeless; there is nothing simpler than the remedy. Only put your name here, and you will be yourself in a minute. The fellow will then lose all power over your body.” I seized with avidity the pen which he presented to me, dipped it in a vial of red ink, and was proceeding to do as he [Pg 33]directed, when the writing above caught my eye. It ran thus:—

“I hereby engage, after my natural decease, to give over my soul to the owner of this book.”

“Zounds!” said I, “what is this?”

“It is nothing at all; just a form—a mere form of business, of no intrinsic meaning. If you would just write your name—it is very easily done.”

“Has any other person signed such deeds?” demanded I.

“Many a one. Here, for example, is Wolstang’s name attached to a similar contract. It is, in fact, by virtue of this that he has the power over your body. The deed which you have signed would have availed him nothing without this one.”

“Then,” said I, “if you relieve me from my present condition, you break faith with Wolstang, seeing that you deprive him of his stipulated power.”

“I deprive him of his power over you, but I give him in return a similar power over some other person, which will answer his purpose equally well. I think you had better sign.”

“No, you old villain!” said I, wrought up to a pitch of fury at the infernal plan which I saw he was meditating, “I will never sign your damnable compact. I have religion enough to know the value of my soul, and sufficient philosophy to bear with any wretchedness I may endure under my present [Pg 34]form. You may play the Devil if you choose, but you shall never get me to act the part of Dr Faustus.” I pronounced these words in a voice of thunder; but so far from being angry, he used every endeavour to soothe me—made a thousand apologies for having been the unwilling cause of such a commotion; then, snatching up his hat and making a profound bow, he left the room.


A glow of conscious virtue passed over me on his departure. I found that I had resisted evil, and gloried in the thought; but this triumphant feeling gave way to one of revenge against the author of my calamity. After reflecting for a short time, it occurred to me that the best way to punish him would be to commit some outrage which might stamp him with infamy, and render him miserable if ever he thought of resuming his body. “I shall at least have him expelled from the university. This shall be the first blow directed against his comfort. He will in time become weary of my body, and will find very little satisfaction in his own when he takes it into his head to make an exchange.” Full of these ideas, I entered the College court, where the first object that met my eyes was Doctor Dedimus Dunderhead coming towards me—the [Pg 35]baton in his hand, the spectacles on his carbuncle nose, and his head thrown back as he strutted along à la militaire. Without a moment’s hesitation, I advanced up to him and knocked off his cocked-hat; nor did I stop to see how he looked at this extraordinary salutation, but walked deliberately on. I heard him distinctly call after me, “You shall hear of this, sir, by to-morrow.” “When you please, doctor,” was my answer. “Now, Master Wolstang,” said I to myself, “I have driven you from Gottingen College, and wish you much joy of your expulsion.” Such were my thoughts, and the morrow verified them; for, a meeting of the Senatus Academicus being summoned by the provost, that learned body declared Albert Wolstang unfit to be a member of the university, and he was accordingly placarded upon the gate and expelled, in terrorem.

This circumstance being just what I wanted, gave me no uneasiness; but a few days thereafter an event arose out of it, which subjected me to much inconvenience. Having unwittingly strolled into the College, I was rudely collared by one of the officers, which so enraged me that I knocked down the fellow with a blow of my fist. For this I was apprehended the same day by three gendarmes, and carried before the Syndic, who condemned me to suffer two weeks’ close confinement, and to be fed on bread and water. This punishment, though perhaps not disproportioned to the offence, was, in [Pg 36]my estimation, horribly severe; and now, for the first time, did I feel regret for the absurdity of my conduct. I found that in endeavouring to punish Wolstang I was in truth only punishing myself, and that it was a matter of doubt whether he would ever submit to a corporeal change, seeing that my fortune was much more considerable than his own, and that he would come at it in the course of six months. This I had no doubt was the chief consideration which could have induced the fellow to bring about such a metamorphosis.

On getting out of prison I was the most miserable wretch on earth. The fierce desire of vengeance had formerly kept up my spirits; but this was now gone, and they sank to the lowest pitch. I found that I was spurned by those very persons who were before most anxious to cultivate my friendship. Barnabas and Louise had left me, resolving no longer to serve one who had undergone the punishment of a malefactor. In order to clear up matters, I frequently called at my own house to inquire if I myself was at home—for so was I obliged to speak of the miscreant who had possession of my body; but on every occasion I was answered in the negative. “I had gone out to see a friend in town;” “I had gone to the country;” “I was expected soon.” Never by any possibility could I get a sight of myself. All this convinced me that the case was hopeless, and that I must make the best [Pg 37]of my deplorable situation. Wolstang had evidently played my part much better than I did his, for he had an interest in doing so, and was (thanks to my simplicity) intimately acquainted with the state of my affairs. If anything could add to this irritation, it was to notice the improvements, or rather changes, which the fellow was making in my house. Everything was turned upside down. Many of the most valuable books in my library were brought to the hammer, and replaced by more modern works. Some antique MSS. found among the ruins of Pompeii, and on which I set a high value, were disposed of in the same manner; together with my porphyry snuff-box, my mother’s diamond ring, my illuminated missal, and Arabic autograph of the Koran. The money produced by these valuable relics was laid out in new-painting my study, and in fitting it up with Chinese mandarins, silken pagodas, and other pieces of Eastern trumpery.

In consequence of the peculiar opportunities which I enjoyed, I soon discovered that Wolstang, whom I had long thought rather highly of, was in reality a very bad character. Some persons of the worst description in Gottingen appeared to have been his associates. Times without number I was accosted as an acquaintance by gamblers, pickpockets, usurers, and prostitutes; and through their means I unravelled a train of imposture, profligacy, and dissipation, in which he had been long deeply [Pg 38]involved. I discovered that he had two mistresses in keeping; that he had seduced the daughters of several of the most respectable citizens, and was the father of no less than seven natural children, whom he had by those unfortunate women. I found out even worse than this—at least what I dreaded much more. This was a forgery to an immense amount, which he, in concert with another person, had committed on an extensive mercantile house. The accomplice, in a high state of trepidation, came to tell me that the whole was in a fair way of being blown, and that if we wished to save our necks, an instantaneous departure from the city was indispensable. Such a piece of intelligence threw me into great alarm. If I remained, my apprehension would be inevitable; and how would it be possible for me to persuade any one that I was not Wolstang? My conviction and execution must follow; and though I was now so regardless of life that I would gladly have been in my grave, yet there was something revolting in the idea of dying for a villain, merely because I could not show that I was not myself. These reflections had their due weight, and I resolved to leave Gottingen next day, and escape from the country altogether.

While meditating upon this scheme, I walked about three miles out of town for the purpose of maturing my plans, undisturbed by the noise and bustle of the streets. As I was going slowly along, [Pg 39]I perceived a man walking about a furlong before me. His gait and dress arrested my attention particularly, and after a few glances I was convinced that he must be myself. The joy that pervaded my mind at this sight no language can describe; it was as a glimpse of heaven, and filled me with perfect ecstasy. Prudence, however, did not forsake me, and I resolved to steal slowly upon him, collar him, and demand an explanation. With this view I approached him, concealing myself as well as I could, and was so successful that I had actually got within ten yards of my prey without being discovered. At this instant, hearing footsteps, he turned round, looked alarmed, and took to his heels. I was after him in a moment, and the flight on one side, and pursuit on the other, were keenly contested. Thanks to Wolstang’s long legs, they were better than the short ones with which my antagonist was furnished, and I caught him by the collar as he was about to enter a wood. I grasped my body with Herculean grip, so terrified was I to lose it. “And now, you villain,” said I, as soon as I could recover breath, “tell me the meaning of this. Restore me my body, or by heaven I will——”

“You will do what?” asked he, with the most insolent coolness. This question was a dagger to my soul, for I knew that any punishment I inflicted upon him must be inflicted upon myself. I stood [Pg 40]mute for a few seconds, still holding him strongly in my grasp. At last throwing pity aside, by one vast effort I cried out, “I declare solemnly, Wolstang, that if you do not give me back my body I shall kill you on the spot.”

“Kill me on the spot!” replied he. “Do you mean to say that you will kill your own body?”

“I do say so,” was my answer. “I will rather destroy my dear body, than it should be disgraced by a scoundrel like you.”

“You are jesting,” said Wolstang, endeavouring to extricate himself.

“I shall show you the contrary,” rejoined I, giving him a violent blow on the nose, and another on the ribs. These strokes almost drew tears from my eyes; and when I saw my precious blood flowing, I certainly would have wept aloud, but for the terrible energy which rage had given me. The punishment had its evident effect, however, upon Wolstang, for he became agitated and alarmed, grew pale, and entreated me to let him go. “Never, you villain, till you return me back my body. Let me be myself again, and then you are free.”

“That is impossible,” said he, “and cannot be done without the agency of another person, who is absent; but I hereby solemnly swear, that five days after my death your body shall be your own.”

“If better terms cannot be had, I must take even these, but better I shall have; so prepare to part [Pg 41]with what is not your own. Take yourself back again, or I will beat you to mummy.” So saying, I laid on him most unmercifully—flattened his nose (or rather my own), and laid him sprawling on the earth without ceremony. While engaged in this business, I heard a sneeze, and looking to the quarter from which it proceeded, whom did I see emerging from the wood, but my old acquaintance with the snuff-coloured surtout, the scarlet waistcoat, and wooden leg. He saluted me as usual with a smile, and was beginning to regret the length of time which had elapsed since he last had the pleasure of seeing me, when I interrupted him. “Come,” said I, “this is not a time for ridiculous grimace; you know all about it, so help me to get my body back from this scoundrel here.”

“Certainly, my dear friend. Heaven forbid that you should be robbed of so unalienable a property. Wolstang, you must give it up. ’Tis the height of injustice to deprive him of it.”

“Shall I surrender it, then?” said Wolstang with a pitiable voice.

“By all means: let Mr Stadt have his body.”

In an instant I felt great pains shoot through me, and I lay on the ground, breathless and exhausted as if from some dreadful punishment. I also saw the little gentleman, and the tall stout figure of Wolstang, walk away arm in arm, and enter the wood. I was now myself again, but had at first [Pg 42]little cause of congratulation on the change, for I was one heap of bruises, while the unprincipled author of my calamities was moving off in his own body without a single scratch. If my frame was in bad case, however, my mind felt relieved beyond conception. A load was taken from it, and it felt the consciousness of being encased in that earthly tenement destined by Heaven for its habitation.


Alas, how transient is human happiness! Scarcely had an hour elapsed when a shudder came over me, precisely similar to that which occurred some weeks before on entering the College of Gottingen. I also perceived that I was stronger, taller, and more vigorous, and, as if by magic, totally free of pain. At this change a horrid sentiment came across me, and, on looking at my shadow in a well, I observed that I was no longer myself, but Wolstang; the diabolical miscreant had again effected a metempsychosis. Full of distracting ideas, I wandered about the fields till nightfall, when I returned into the city, and threw myself into bed, overpowered with fatigue and grief.

Next day I made a point of calling at my own house, and inquiring for myself. The servant said that I could not be seen, being confined to bed in [Pg 43]consequence of several bruises received in an encounter with two highwaymen. I called next day, and was still confined. On the third I did the same, but I had gone out with a friend. On the fourth I learned that I was dead.

It will readily be believed that this last intelligence was far from being unwelcome. On hearing of my own death I felt the most lively pleasure, anticipating the period when I would be myself again. That period, according to Wolstang’s solemn vow, would arrive in five days. Three of these I had spent in the house, carefully secluding myself from observation, when I heard a sneeze at the outside of the door. It opened, and in stepped the little man with the snuff-coloured surtout, the scarlet waistcoat, and the wooden leg. I had conceived a dislike approaching to horror at this old rascal, whom I naturally concluded to be at the bottom of these diabolical transformations; I, however, contained my wrath till I should hear what he had to say.

“I wish you much joy, my dear friend, that you are going to resume your own body. There is, however, one circumstance, which perhaps you have overlooked. Are you aware that you are to be buried to-day?”

“I never thought of it,” answered I calmly, “nor is it of any consequence, I presume. In two days I shall be myself again. I shall then leave [Pg 44]this body behind me, and take possession of my own.”

“And where will your own body be then?”

“In the grave,” said I with a shudder, as the thought came across me.

“Precisely so, and you will enjoy the pleasure of being buried alive; that, I suppose, you have not calculated upon.”

This remark struck me with blank dismay, and I fell back on my chair, uttering a deep groan. “Is there then no hope? cannot this dreadful doom be averted? must I be buried alive?”

“The case is rather a hard one, Mr Stadt, but perhaps not without a remedy.”

“Yes, there is a remedy,” cried I, starting up and striking my forehead. “I shall hie me to my own house, and entreat them to suspend the funeral for two days.”

“I saw the undertaker’s men enter the house, as I passed by, for the purpose, I should think, of screwing down the coffin-lid. The company also, I find, are beginning to collect, so that there is little hope of your succeeding. However,” continued he, taking a pinch of snuff, “you may try, and if you fail, I have a scheme in view which will perhaps suit your purpose. I shall await your return.”

In a moment my hat was on my head, in another I was out of the room, and in a third at my own house. What he had stated was substantially true. [Pg 45]Some of the mourners had arrived, and the undertaker’s men were waiting below, till they should be summoned up-stairs to screw down the lid. Without an instant of delay I rushed to the chamber where my dear body was lying in its shell. Some of my friends were there, and I entreated them, in imploring accents, to stop for two days, and they would see that the corpse which lay before them would revive. “I am not dead,” cried I, forgetting myself,—“I assure you I am not dead.”

“Poor fellow! he has lost his senses,” said one.

“Ah, poor Wolstang,” observed another: “he ran deranged some weeks ago, and has been going about asking for himself ever since.”

“I assure you I am not dead,” said I, throwing myself upon my knees before my cousin, who was present.

“I know that, my good fellow,” was his answer, “but poor Stadt, you see, is gone for ever.”

“That is not Stadt—it is I—it is I—will you not believe me! I am Stadt—this is not me—I am not myself. For heaven’s sake suspend this funeral.” Such were my exclamations, but they produced no other effect but that of pity among the bystanders.

“Poor unfortunate fellow, he is crazed. Get a porter, and let him be taken home.”

This order, which was given by my cousin himself, stung me to madness, and, changing my piteous tones for those of fierce resistance, I swore that “I [Pg 46]would not turn out for any man living. I would not be buried alive to please them.” To this nobody made any reply, but in the course of a minute four stout porters made their appearance, and I was forced from the house.

Returning to Wolstang’s lodgings, the old man was there in waiting, as he promised. “What,” said I with trepidation,—“what is the scheme you were to propose? Tell me, and avert the horrible doom which will await me, for they have refused to suspend the funeral.”

“My dear friend,” said he in the most soothing manner, “your case is far from being so bad as you apprehend. You have just to write your name in this book, and you will be yourself again in an instant. Instead of coming alive in the grave, you will be alive before the coffin-lid is put on. Only think of the difference of the two situations.”

“A confounded difference indeed,” thought I, taking hold of the pen. But at the very moment when I was going to write, I observed above the following words:—

“I hereby engage, after my natural decease, to give over my soul to the owner of this book.”

“What!” said I, “this is the old compact; the one you wished me to sign before?”

“The same, my dear friend.”

“Then I’ll be d——d if I sign it.”

“Only think of the consequences,” said he.

[Pg 47]

“I will abide the consequences rather than sell my soul.”

“Buried alive, my dear sir—only think.”

“I will not sign the compact.”

“Only think of being buried alive,” continued he,—“stifled to death—pent up on all sides—earth above, earth below—no hope—no room to move in—suffocated, stupified, horror-struck—utter despair. Is not the idea dreadful? Only think what your feelings will be, when you come to life in that narrow charnel-house, and know your situation.”

I gave a shudder at this picture, which was drawn with horrible truth; but the energies of religion, and the hopes of futurity, rushed upon my soul, and sustained it in the dreadful trial. “Away, away,” said I, pushing him back. “I have made up my mind to the sacrifice, since better may not be. Whatever happens to my body, I am resolved not to risk my eternal soul for its sake.”

“Think again,” said he, “and make up your mind. If I leave you, your fate is irrevocable. Are you decided?”

“I am.”

“Only reflect once more. Consider how, by putting your name in this book, you will save yourself from a miserable death. Are you decided?”

“I am,” replied I firmly.

“Then, fool,” said he, while a frown perfectly unnatural to him corrugated his brow, and his eyes [Pg 48]shot forth vivid glances of fire—“then, fool, I leave you to your fate. You shall never see me again.” So saying, he walked out of the room, dispensing with his usual bows and grimaces, and dashing the door fiercely after him, while I threw myself upon a couch in an agony of despair.

My doom was now sealed beyond all hope; for, going to the windows a few minutes thereafter, I beheld my own funeral, with my cousin at the head of the procession, acting as chief mourner. In a short time I saw the company returning from the interment. “All is over, then,” said I, wringing my hands at this deplorable sight. “I am the victim of some infernal agency, and must prepare for the dreadful sacrifice.” That night I was supremely wretched, tossing incessantly in bed, while sleep was denied to my wearied eyelids. Next morning my haggard look was remarked by my servant, who proposed sending for a physician; but this I would not allow, knowing that woe like mine was beyond the reach of medicine. The greater part of that day was spent in religious exercises, from which I felt considerable relief. The day after was the last I was to behold upon earth. It came, and I endeavoured by every means to subdue the terror which it brought along with it. On arising from bed, I sent for my servant, an elderly woman whom I had got to supply the place of Barnabas and Louise, and gave her one hundred [Pg 49]gilders, being all the money I could find in Wolstang’s bureau. “Now, Philippa,” said I, “as soon as the clock of the study has struck three, come in, and you will find me dead. Retire, and do not enter till then.” She went away, promising to do all that I had ordered her.

During the interval I sat opposite the clock, marking the hours pass rapidly by. Every tick was as a death-knell to my ear—every movement of the hands, as the motion of a scimitar levelled to cut me in pieces. I heard all, and I saw all in horrid silence. Two o’clock at length struck. “Now,” said I, “there is but one hour for me on earth—then the dreadful struggle begins—then I must live again in the tomb only to perish miserably.” Half an hour passed, then forty minutes, then fifty, then fifty-five. I saw with utter despair the minute-hand go by the latter, and approach the meridian number of the dial. As it swept on, a stupor fell over my spirit, a mist swam before my eyes, and I almost lost the power of consciousness. At last I heard one strike aloud—my flesh creeped with dread; then two—I gave an universal shudder; then three, and I gasped convulsively, and saw and heard nothing further.

[Pg 50]


At this moment I was sensible of an insufferable coldness. My heart fluttered, then it beat strong, and the blood, passing as it were over my chilled frame, gave it warmth and animation. I also began by slow degrees to breathe. But though my bodily feelings were thus torpid, my mental ones were very different. They were on the rack; for I knew that I was now buried alive, and that the dreadful struggle was about to commence. Instead of rejoicing as I recovered the genial glow of life, I felt appalled with blank despair. I was terrified to move, because I knew I would feel the horrid walls of my narrow prison-house. I was terrified to breathe, because the pent air within it would be exhausted, and the suffocation of struggling humanity would seize upon me. I was even terrified to open my eyes, and gaze upon the eternal darkness by which I was surrounded. Could I resist?—the idea was madness. What would my strength avail against the closed coffin, and the pressure above, below, and on every side? “No, I must abide the struggle, which a few seconds more will bring on: I must perish deplorably in it. Then the Epicurean worm will feast upon my remains, and I shall no longer hear any sound, or see any sight, till the last trumpet shall awaken me from [Pg 51]slumber, and gather me together from the jaws of the tomb.”

Meanwhile I felt the necessity of breathing, and I did breathe fully; and the air was neither so close nor scanty as might have been supposed. “This, however,” thought I, “is but the first of my respirations: a few more, and the vital air will be exhausted; then will the agony of death truly commence.” I nevertheless breathed again, and again, and again; but nothing like stifling seized upon me—nothing of the kind, even when I had made fifty good respirations. On the contrary, I respired with the most perfect freedom. This struck me as very singular; and being naturally of an inquisitive disposition, I felt an irresistible wish, even in my dreadful situation, to investigate if possible the cause of it. “The coffin must be unconscionably large.” This was my first idea; and to ascertain it, I slightly raised my hands, shuddering at the same time at the thought of their coming in contact with the lid above me. However, they encountered no lid. Up, up, up, I elevated them, and met with nothing. I then groped to the sides, but the coffin laterally seemed equally capacious; no sides were to be found. “This is certainly a most extraordinary shell to bury a man of my size in. I shall try if possible to ascertain its limits before I die—suppose I endeavour to stand upright.” The thought no sooner came across my mind than I carried it into execution. [Pg 52]I got up, raising myself by slow degrees, in case of knocking my head against the lid. Nothing, however, impeded my extension, and I stood straight. I even raised my hands on high, to feel if it were possible to reach the top: no such thing; the coffin was apparently without bounds. Altogether, I felt more comfortable than a buried man could expect to be. One thing struck me, and it was this—I had no grave-clothes upon me. “But,” thought I, “this is easily accounted for: my cousin comes to my property, and the scoundrel has adopted the most economical means of getting rid of me.” I had not as yet opened my eyes, being daunted at the idea of encountering the dreary darkness of the grave. But my courage being somewhat augmented by the foregoing events, I endeavoured to open them. This was impossible; and on examination, I found that they were bandaged, my head being encircled with a fillet. On endeavouring to loosen it, I lost my balance, and tumbled down with a hideous noise. I did not merely fall upon the bottom of the coffin, as might be expected; on the contrary, I seemed to roll off it, and fell lower, as it were, into some vault underneath. In endeavouring to arrest this strange descent, I caught hold of the coffin, and pulled it on the top of me. Nor was this all; for, before I could account for such a train of extraordinary accidents below ground, and while yet stupified and bewildered, I heard a door open, [Pg 53]and in an instant after, human voices. “What, in heaven’s name, can be the meaning of this?” ejaculated I involuntarily. “Is it a dream?—am I asleep, or am I awake? Am I dead or alive?” While meditating thus, and struggling to extricate myself from the coffin, I heard some one say distinctly, “Good God, he is come alive!” My brain was distracted by a whirlwind of vain conjectures; but before it could arrange one idea, I felt myself seized upon by both arms, and raised up with irresistible force. At the same instant the fillet was drawn from my eyes. I opened them with amazement: instead of the gloom of death, the glorious light of heaven burst upon them! I was confounded; and, to add to my surprise, I saw supporting me two men, with whose faces I was familiar. I gazed at the one, then at the other, with looks of fixed astonishment. “What is this?” said I; “where am I?”

“You must remain quiet,” said the eldest, with a smile. “We must have you put to bed, and afterwards dressed.”

“What is this?” continued I: “am I not dead—was I not buried?”

“Hush, my dear friend—let me throw this great-coat over you.”

“But I must speak,” said I, my senses still wandering. “Where am I?—who are you?”

“Do you not know me?”

[Pg 54]

“Yes,” replied I, gazing at him intently—“my friend Doctor Wunderdudt. Good God! how do you happen to be here? Did I not come alive in the grave?”

“You may thank us that you did not,” said he. “Look around, and say if you know where you are.”

I looked, as he directed, and found myself in a large room fitted up with benches, and having half-a-dozen skeletons dangling from the roof. While doing this, he and his friend smiled at each other, and seemed anxiously awaiting my reply, and enjoying my wonder. At last I satisfied myself that I was in the anatomical theatre of the University.

“But,” said I, “there is something in all this I cannot comprehend. What—where is the coffin?”

“What coffin, my dear fellow?” said Wunderdudt.

“The coffin that I was in.”

“The coffin,” said he, smiling; “I suppose it remains where it was put the day before yesterday.”

I rubbed my eyes with vexation, not knowing what to make of these perplexing circumstances. “I mean,” said I, “the coffin—that is, the coffin I drew over upon me when I fell.”

“I do not know of any coffin,” answered he, laughing heartily; “but I know very well that you have pulled upon yourself my good mahogany [Pg 55]table; there it lies.” And on looking, I observed the large table, which stood in the middle of the hall, overturned upon the floor. Doctor Wunderdudt (he was professor of anatomy to the college) now made me retire, and had me put in bed till clothing could be procured. But I would not allow him to depart till he had unravelled the strange web of perplexity in which I still found myself involved. Nothing would satisfy me but a philosophical solution of the problem, “Why was I not buried alive, as I had reason to expect?” The doctor expounded this intricate point in the following manner:—

“The day before yesterday,” said he, “I informed the resurrectionists in the service of the University, that I was in want of a subject, desiring them at the same time to set to work with all speed. That very night they returned, assuring me that they had fished up one which would answer to a hair, being both young and vigorous. In order to inform myself of the quality of what they brought me, I examined the body, when, to my indignation and grief, I found that they had disinterred my excellent friend, Mr Frederick Stadt, who had been buried the same day.”

“What!” said I, starting up from the bed, “did they disinter me?—the scoundrels!”

“You may well call them scoundrels,” said the professor, “for preventing a gentleman from enjoying [Pg 56]the pleasure of being buried alive. The deed was certainly most felonious; and if you are at all anxious, I shall have them reported to the Syndic, and tried for their impertinent interference. But to proceed. No sooner did I observe that they had fallen upon you than I said, ‘My good men, this will never do. You have brought me here my worthy friend Mr Stadt. I cannot feel in my heart to anatomise him, so just carry him quietly back to his old quarters, and I shall pay you his price, and something over and above.’”

“What!” said I, again interrupting the doctor, “is it possible you could be so inhuman as to make the scoundrels bury me again?”

“Now, Stadt,” rejoined he, with a smile, “you are a strange fellow. You were angry at the men for raising you, and now you are angry at me for endeavouring to repair their error by reinterring you.”

“But you forget that I was to come alive?”

“How the deuce was I to know that, my dear boy?”

“Very true. Go on, doctor, and excuse me for interrupting you so often.”

“Well,” continued he, “the men carried you last night to deposit you in your long home, when, as fate would have it, they were prevented by a ridiculous fellow of a tailor, who, for a trifling wager, had engaged to sit up alone, during the whole night, [Pg 57]in the churchyard, exactly at the spot where your grave lay. So they brought you back to the college, resolving to inter you to-night, if the tailor, or the devil himself, should stand in their way. Your timely resuscitation will save them this trouble. At the same time, if you are still offended at them, they will be very happy to take you back, and you may yet enjoy the felicity of being buried alive.”

Such was a simple statement of the fact, delivered in the professor’s good-humoured and satirical style; and from it the reader may guess what a narrow escape I had from the most dreadful of deaths, and how much I am indebted, in the first instance, to the stupid blundering of the resurrectionists, and, in the second, to the tailor. I returned to my own house as soon as possible, to the no small mortification of my cousin, who was proceeding to invest himself with all that belonged to me. I made him refund without ceremony, and altered my will, which had been made in his favour; not forgetting, in so doing, his refusal to let my body remain two days longer unburied. A day or two afterwards I saw a funeral pass by, which, on inquiry, I learned to be Wolstang’s. He died suddenly, as I was informed, and some persons remarked it as a curious event that his death happened at precisely the same moment as my return to life. This was merely mentioned as a passing observation, [Pg 58]but no inference was deduced from it. The old domestic in Wolstang’s house gave a wonderful account of his death, mentioning the hour at which he said he was to die, and how it was verified by the event. She said nothing, however, about the hundred gilders. Many considered her story as a piece of mere trumpery. She had nevertheless a number of believers.

With respect to myself, I excited a great talk, receiving invitations to dine with almost all the respectable families in Gottingen. I had the honour of being waited on by Doctor Dedimus Dunderhead, who, after shaking me by the hand in the kindest manner, made me give a long account of my feelings at the instant of coming alive. Of course, I concealed everything connected with the Metempsychosis, and kept out many circumstances which at the time I did not wish to be known. He was nevertheless highly delighted, and gave it as his opinion (which, being oracular, was instantly acted upon), that a description of the whole should be inserted in the Annals of the University. I had the farther honour of being invited to dinner at his house—an honour which I duly appreciated, knowing that it is almost never conferred except on the syndics, burgomasters, and deacons of the town, and a few of the professors.

These events, which are here related at full, I can only attest by my own word, except indeed the [Pg 59]affair of the coming alive, which everybody in Gottingen knows of. If any doubt the more unlikely parts of the detail, I cannot help it. I have not written this with the view of empty fame, and still less of profit. Philosophy has taught me to despise the former, and my income renders the latter an object of no importance. I merely do it to put my fellow-citizens on their guard against the machinations of the old fellow with the snuff-coloured surtout, the scarlet waistcoat, and the wooden leg. Above all, they should carefully abstain from signing any paper he may present to them, however plausible his offers may be. By mere thoughtlessness in this respect, I brought myself into a multitude of dangers and difficulties, from which every one in the same predicament may not escape so easily as I have done. I shall conclude with acknowledging that a strong change has been wrought in my opinions; and that from ridiculing the doctrines of the sage of Samos, I am now one of their firmest supporters. In a word, I am what I have designated myself,

A Modern Pythagorean.

[Pg 60]


[MAGA. December 1843.]

It wanted but two or three weeks to the Christmas vacation (alas! how many years ago!) and we, the worshipful society of undergraduates of —— College, Oxford, were beginning to get tired of the eternal round of supper-parties which usually marked the close of our winter’s campaign, and ready to hail with delight any proposition that had the charm of novelty. A three weeks’ frost had effectually stopped the hunting; all the best tandem-leaders were completely screwed; the freshmen had been “larked” till they were grown as cunning as magpies; and the Dean had set up a divinity lecture at two o’clock, and published a stringent proclamation against rows in the Quad. It was, in short, during a particularly uninteresting state of things, with the snow falling lazily upon the grey roofs and silent quadrangle, that some half-dozen of us had congregated in Bob Thornhill’s rooms, to get over the time between lunch and dinner with as little trouble to our mental and corporeal faculties as possible. Those among us who had been for the [Pg 61]last three months promising to themselves to begin to read “next week,” had now put off that too easy creditor, conscience, till “next term.” One alone had settled his engagements of that nature, or, in the language of his “Testamur”—the prettiest bit of Latin, he declared, that he ever saw—“satisfecit examinatoribus.” Unquestionably, in his case, the examiners must have had the rare virtue of being very easily satisfied. In fact, Mr Savile’s discharge of his educational engagements was rather a sort of “whitewashing” than a payment in full. His passing was what is technically called a “shave,” a metaphor alluding to that intellectual density which finds it difficult to squeeze through the narrow portal which admits to the privileges of a Bachelor of Arts. As Mr S. himself, being a sporting man, described it, it was “a very close run indeed;” not that he considered that circumstance to derogate in any way from his victory; he was rather inclined to consider, that, having shown the field of examiners capital sport, and fairly got away from them in the end without the loss of his brush, his examination had been one of the very best runs of the season. In virtue whereof he was now mounted on the arm of an easy-chair, with a long chibouque, which became the gravity of an incipient bachelor better than a cigar, and took upon himself to give Thornhill (who was really a clever fellow, and professing to be reading [Pg 62]for a first) some advice as to his conducting himself when his examination should arrive.

“I’ll tell you what, Thornhill, old boy, I’ll give you a wrinkle; it doesn’t always answer to let out all you know at an examination. That sly old varmint, West of Magdalen, asked me who Hannibal was. ‘Aha!’ said I to myself, ‘that’s your line of country, is it? You want to walk me straight into those botheration Punic Wars; it’s no go, though; I shan’t break cover in that direction.’ So I was mute. ‘Can’t you tell me something about Hannibal?’ says old West again. ‘I can,’ thinks I, ‘but I won’t.’ He was regularly flabergasted; I spoilt his beat entirely, don’t you see? So he looked as black as thunder, and tried it on in a fresh place. If I had been fool enough to let him dodge me in those Punic Wars, I should have been run into in no time. Depend upon it, there’s nothing like a judicious ignorance occasionally.”

“Why,” said Thornhill, “‘when ignorance is bliss’ (that is, when it gets through the schools), ‘’tis folly to be wise.’”

“Ah! that’s Shakespeare says that, isn’t it? I wish one could take up Shakespeare for a class! I’m devilish fond of Shakespeare. We used to act Shakespeare at a private school I was at.”

“By Jove!” said somebody from behind a cloud of smoke—whose the brilliant idea was, was afterwards [Pg 63]matter of dispute—“why couldn’t we get up a play?”

“Ah! why not? why not? Capital!”

“It’s such a horrid bore learning one’s part,” lisped the elegant Horace Leicester, half awake on the sofa.

“Oh, stuff!” said Savile, “it’s the very thing to keep us alive! We could make a capital theatre out of the hall; don’t you think the little vice-principal would give us leave?”

“You had better ask for the chapel at once. Why, don’t you know, my dear fellow, the college hall, in the opinion of the dean and the vice, is held rather more sacred of the two? Newcome, poor devil, attempted to cut a joke at the high table one of the times he dined there after he was elected, and he told me that they all stared at him as if he had insulted them; and the vice (in confidence) explained to him that such ‘levity’ was treason against the ‘reverentia loci!’”

“Ay, I remember when that old villain Solomon, the porter, fined me ten shillings for walking in there with spurs one day when I was late for dinner; he said the dean always took off his cap when he went in there by himself, and threatened to turn off old Higgs, when he had been scout forty years, because he heard him whistling one day while he was sweeping it out! Well,” continued Savile, “you shall have my rooms; I shan’t trouble [Pg 64]them much now. I am going to pack all my books down to old Wise’s[A] next week, to turn them into ready tin; so you may turn the study into a carpenter’s shop, if you like. Oh, it can be managed famously!”

So, after a few pros and cons, it was finally settled that Mr Savile’s rooms should become the Theatre Royal, —— College; and I was honoured with the responsible office of stage-manager. What the play was to be, was a more difficult point to settle. Savile proposed Romeo and Juliet, and volunteered for the hero; but it passed the united strength of the company to get up a decent Juliet. Richard the Third was suggested; we had “six Richards in the field” at once. We soon gave up the heroics, and decided on comedy; for since our audience would be sure to laugh, we should at least have a chance of getting the laugh in the right place. So, after long discussion, we fixed on She Stoops to Conquer. There were a good many reasons for this selection. First, it was a piece possessing that grand desideratum in all amateur performances, that there were several parts in it of equal calibre, and none which implied decided superiority of talent in its representative; secondly, there was not much love in it—a material point where, as an Irishman might say, all the ladies were gentlemen; thirdly, the scenery, dresses, properties, and decorations, were of the very simplest [Pg 65]description: it was easily “put upon the stage.” We found little difficulty in casting the male characters: old Mrs Hardcastle, not requiring any great share of personal attractions, and being considered a part that would tell, soon found a representative; but when we came to the “donnas”—prima and seconda—then it was that the manager’s troubles began. It was really necessary, to insure the most moderate degree of success to the comedy, that Miss Hardcastle should have at least a lady-like deportment. The public voice, first in whispers, then audibly, at last vociferously, called upon Leicester. Slightly formed, handsome, clever, and accomplished, with naturally graceful manners, and a fair share of vanity and affectation, there was no doubt of his making a respectable heroine if he would consent to be made love to. In vain did he protest against the petticoats, and urge with affecting earnestness the claims of the whiskers which for the last six months he had so diligently been cultivating; the chorus of entreaty and expostulation had its effect, aided by a well-timed compliment to the aristocratically small hand and foot, of which Horace was pardonably vain. Shaving was pronounced indispensable to the due growth of the whiskers; and the importance of the character, and the point of the situations, so strongly dwelt upon, that he became gradually reconciled to his fate, and began seriously to discuss the [Pg 66]question whether Miss Hardcastle should wear her hair in curls or bands. A freshman of seventeen, who had no pretensions in the way of whiskers, and who was too happy to be admitted on any terms to a share in such a “fast idea” as the getting up a play, was to be the Miss Neville; and before the hall bell rang for dinner, an order had been despatched for a dozen acting copies of She Stoops to Conquer.

Times have materially changed since Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Christ-Church; the University, one of the earliest nurses of the infant drama, has long since turned it out of doors for a naughty child, and forbid it, under pain of worse than whipping, to come any nearer than Abingdon or Bicester. Taking into consideration the style of some of the performances in which undergraduates of some three hundred years ago were the actors, the “Oxford Theatre” of those days, if it had more wit in it than the present, had somewhat less decency. The ancient “moralities” were not over moral, and the “mysteries” rather Babylonish. So far we have had no great loss. Whether the judicious getting up of a tragedy of Sophocles or Æschylus, or even a comedy of Terence—classically managed, as it could be done in Oxford, and well acted—would be more unbecoming the gravity of our collected wisdom, or more derogatory to the dignity of our noble “theatre,” than the squalling [Pg 67]of Italian singers, masculine, feminine, and neuter, is a question which, when I have a seat in the Hebdomadal Council, I shall certainly propose. Thus much I am sure of,—if a classical playbill were duly announced for the next grand commemoration, it would “draw” almost as well as any lion of the day: the dresses might be quite as showy, the action could hardly be less graceful, than those of the odd-looking gentlemen who are dubbed doctors of civil law on such occasions; and the speeches of Prometheus, Œdipus, or Antigone, would be more intelligible to the learned, and more amusing to the ladies, than those Latin essays or the Creweian oration.

However, until I am vice-chancellor, the legitimate drama, Greek, Roman, or English, seems little likely to revive in Oxford. Our branch of that great family, I confess, bore the bar-sinister. The offspring of our theatrical affections was unrecognised by college authority. The fellows of —— would have done anything but “smile upon its birth.” The dean especially would have burked it at once had he suspected its existence. Nor was it fostered, like the former Oxford theatricals to which we have alluded, by royal patronage; we could not, consistently with decorum, request her Majesty to encourage an illegitimate. Nevertheless—spite of its being thus born under the rose, it grew and prospered. Our plan of rehearsal was [Pg 68]original. We used to adjourn from dinner to the rooms of one or other of the company; and there, over our wine and dessert, instead of quizzing freshmen and abusing tutors, open each our acting copy, and, with all due emphasis and intonation, go regularly through the scenes of She Stoops to Conquer. This was all the study we ever gave to our parts; and even thus it was difficult to get a muster of all the performers, and we had generally to play dummy for some one or more of the characters, or “double” them, as the professionals call it. The excuses for absenteeism were various. Mrs Hardcastle and Tony were gone to Woodstock with a team, and were not to be waited for; Diggory had a command to dine with the Principal; and once an interesting dialogue was cut short by the untoward event of Miss Neville’s being “confined”—in consequence of some indiscretion or other—“to chapel.” It was necessary in our management, as much as in Mr Bunn’s or Mr Macready’s, to humour the caprices of the stars of the company; but the lesser lights, if they became eccentric at all in their orbits, were extinguished without mercy. Their place was easily supplied; for the moment it became known that a play was in contemplation, there were plenty of candidates for dramatic fame, especially among the freshmen; and though we mortally offended one or two aspiring geniuses, by proffering them the vacant situations of Ralph, [Pg 69]Roger, and Co., in Mr Hardcastle’s household, on condition of having their respective blue dress-coats turned up with yellow to represent the family livery, there were others to whom the being admitted behind the scenes, even in these humble characters, was a subject of laudable ambition. Nay, unimportant as were some parts in themselves, they were quite enough for the histrionic talent of some of our friends. Till I became a manager myself, I always used to lose patience at the wretched manner in which some of the underlings on the stage went through the little they had to say and do: there seemed no reason why the “sticks” should be so provokingly sticky; and it surprised me that a man who could accost one fluently enough at the stage-door, should make such a bungle as some of them did in a message of some half-dozen words “in character.” But when I first became initiated into the mysteries of amateur performances, and saw how entirely destitute some men were of any notion of natural acting, and how they made a point of repeating two lines of familiar dialogue with the tone and manner, but without the correctness, of a schoolboy going through a task—then it ceased to be any matter of wonder that those to whom acting was no joke, but an unhappily earnest mode of getting bread, should so often make their performance appear the uneasy effort which it is. There was one man in particular, a good-humoured, [Pg 70]gentlemanly fellow, a favourite with us all,—not remarkable for talent, but a pleasant companion enough, with plenty of common-sense. Well, “he would be an actor”—it was his own fancy to have a part, and, as he was “one of us,” we could not well refuse him. We give him an easy one, for he was not vain of his own powers, or ambitious of theatrical distinction; so he was to be “second fellow”—one of Tony’s pot-companions. He had but two lines to speak; but from the very first time I heard him read them, I set him down as a hopeless case. He read them as if he had just learned to spell the words; when he repeated them without the book, it was like a clergyman giving out a text. And so it was with a good many of the rank and file of the company; we had more labour to drill them into something like a natural intonation than to learn our own longest speeches twice over. So we made their attendance at rehearsals a sine qua non. We dismissed a promising “Mat Muggins” because he went to the “Union” two nights successively, when he ought to have been at “The Three Pigeons.” We superseded a very respectable “landlord” (though he had actually been measured for a corporation and a pair of calves) for inattention to business. The only one of the supernumeraries whom it was at all necessary to conciliate, was the gentleman who was to sing the comic [Pg 71]song instead of Tony (Savile, the representative of the said Tony, not having music in his soul beyond a view-holloa). He was allowed to go and come at our readings ad libitum, upon condition of being very careful not to take cold.

When we had become tolerably perfect in the words of our parts, it was deemed expedient to have a “dress rehearsal”—especially for the ladies. It is not very easy to move safely—let alone gracefully—in petticoats, for those who are accustomed to move their legs somewhat more independently. And it would not have been civil in Messrs Marlow and Hastings to laugh outright at their lady-loves before company, as they were sure to do upon their first appearance. A dress rehearsal, therefore, was a very necessary precaution. But if it was difficult to get the company together at six o’clock under the friendly disguise of a wine-party, doubly difficult was it to expect them to muster at eleven in the morning. The first day that we fixed for it, there came a not very lady-like note, evidently written in bed, from Miss Hardcastle, stating, that having been at a supper-party the night before, and there partaken of brandy-punch to an extent to which she was wholly unaccustomed, it was quite impossible, in the present state of her nervous system, for her to make her appearance in character at any price. There was no alternative but to put [Pg 72]off the rehearsal; and that very week occurred a circumstance which was very near being the cause of its adjournment sine die.

“Mr Hawthorne,” said the dean to me one morning, when I was leaving his rooms, rejoicing in the termination of lecture, “I wish to speak with you, if you please.” The dean’s communications were seldom of a very pleasing kind, and on this particular morning his countenance gave token that he had hit upon something more than usually piquant. The rest of the men filed out of the door as slowly as they conveniently could, in the hope, I suppose, of hearing the dean’s fire open upon me; but he waited patiently till my particular friend, Bob Thornhill, had picked up carefully, one by one, his miscellaneous collection of note-book, pencil, pen-knife, and other small wares, and had been obliged at length to make an unwilling exit; when, seeing the door finally closed, he commenced with his usual—“Have the goodness to sit down, sir.”

Experience had taught me, that it was as well to make one’s-self as comfortable as might be upon these occasions; so I took the easy-chair, and tried to look as if I thought the dean merely wanted to have a pleasant half-hour’s chat. He marched into a little back-room that he called his study, and I began to speculate upon the probable subject of our conference. Strange! that week had been a more than usually quiet one. No late knocking in; no [Pg 73]cutting lectures at chapel; positively I began to think that, for once, the dean had gone on a wrong scent, and that I should repel his accusations with all the dignity of injured innocence; or had he sent for me to offer his congratulations on my having commenced in the “steady” line, and to ask me to breakfast? I was not long left to indulge such delusive hopes. Re-enter the dean (O.P., as our stage directions would have had it), with—a pair of stays!

By what confounded ill-luck they had got into his possession I could not imagine; but there they were. The dean touched them as if he felt their very touch an abomination, threw them on the table, and briefly said—“These, sir, were found in your rooms this morning. Can you explain how they came there?”

True enough, Leicester had been trying on the abominable articles in my bedroom, and I had stuffed them into a drawer till wanted. What to say was indeed a puzzle. To tell the whole truth would no doubt have ended the matter at once, and a hearty laugh should I have had at the dean’s expense; but it would have put the stopper on She Stoops to Conquer. It was too ridiculous to look grave about; and blacker grew the countenance before me, as, with a vain attempt to conceal a smile, I echoed his words, and stammered out—“In my rooms, sir?”

“Yes, sir, in your bedroom.” He rang the bell. [Pg 74]“Your servant, Simmons, most properly brought them to me.”

The little rascal! I had been afraid to let him know anything about the theatricals; for I knew perfectly well the dean would hear of it in half an hour, for he served him in the double capacity of scout and spy. Before the bell had stopped, Dick Simmons made his appearance, having evidently been kept at hand. He did look rather ashamed of himself, when I asked him, what business he had to search my wardrobe?

“Oh dear, sir! I never did no sich a thing; I was a-making of your bed, sir, when I sees the tag of a stay-lace hanging out of your topmost drawer, sir—(I am a married man, sir,” to the dean apologetically, “and I know the tag of a stay-lace, sir)—and so I took it out, sir; and knowing my duty to the college, sir, though I should be very sorry to bring you into trouble, Mr Hawthorne, sir”——

“Yes, yes, Simmons, you did quite right,” said the dean. “You are bound to give notice to the college authorities of all irregularities, and your situation requires that you should be conscientious.”

“I hope I am, sir,” said the little rascal; “but indeed I am very sorry, Mr Hawthorne, sir”——

“Oh! never mind,” said I; “you did right, no doubt. I can only say those things are not mine, sir; they belong to a friend of mine.”

“I don’t ask who they belong to, sir,” said the [Pg 75]dean indignantly; “I ask, sir, how came they in your rooms?”

“I believe, sir, my friend (he was in my rooms yesterday) left them there. Some men wear stays, sir,” continued I, boldly; “it’s very much the fashion, I’m told.”

“Eh! hum!” said the dean, eyeing the brown jean doubtingly. “I have heard of such things. Horrid puppies men are now. Never dreamt of such things in my younger days; but then, sir, we were not allowed to wear white trousers, and waistcoats of I don’t know what colours; we were made to attend to the statutes—‘Nigri aut subfusci,’ sir. Ah! times are changed—times are changed, indeed! And do you mean to say, sir, you have a friend, a member of this university, who wears such things as these?”

I might have got clear off, if it had not been for that rascal Simmons. I saw him give the dean a look, and an almost imperceptible shake of the head.

“But I don’t think, sir,” resumed he, “these can be a man’s stays—eh, Simmons?” Simmons looked diligently at his toes. “No,” said the dean, investigating the unhappy garment more closely—“no; I fear, Simmons, these are female stays!”

The conscientious Simmons made no sign.

“I don’t know, sir,” said I, as he looked from [Pg 76]Simmons to me. “I don’t wear stays, and I know nothing about them. If Simmons were to fetch a pair of Mrs Simmons’s, sir,” resumed I, “you could compare them.”

Mrs Simmons’s figure resembled a sack of flour, with a string round it; and if she did wear the articles in question, they must have been of a pattern almost unique—made to order.

“Sir,” said the dean, “your flippancy is unbecoming. I shall not pursue this investigation any further; but I am bound to tell you, sir, this circumstance is suspicious—very suspicious.” I could not resist a smile for the life of me. “And doubly suspicious, sir, in your case. The eyes of the college are upon you, sir.” He was evidently losing his temper, so I bowed profoundly, and he grew more irate. “Ever since, sir, that atrocious business of the frogs, though the college authorities failed in discovering the guilty parties, there are some individuals, sir, whose conduct is watched attentively. Good morning, sir.”

The “business of the frogs,” to which the dean so rancorously alluded, had, indeed, caused some consternation to the fellows of ——. There had been a marvellous story going the round of the papers, of a shower of the inelegant reptiles in question having fallen in some part of the kingdom. Old women were muttering prophecies, and wise men acknowledged themselves puzzled. The Ashmolean [Pg 77]Society had sat in conclave upon it, and accounted so satisfactorily for the occurrence, that the only wonder seemed to be that we had not a shower of frogs, or some equally agreeable visitors, every rainy morning. Now, every one who has strolled round Christ-Church meadows on a warm evening, especially after rain, must have been greeted at intervals by a whole gamut of croaks; and if he had the curiosity to peer into the green ditches as he passed along, he might catch a glimpse of the heads of the performers. Well, the joint reflections of myself and an ingenious friend, who were studying this branch of zoology while waiting for the coming up of the boats one night, tended to the conclusion, that a very successful imitation of the late “Extraordinary Phenomenon” might be got up for the edification of the scientific in our own college. Animals of all kinds find dealers and purchasers in Oxford. Curs of lowest degree have their prices. Rats, being necessary in the education of terriers, come rather expensive. A polecat—even with three legs only—will command a fancy price. Sparrows, larks, and other small birds, are retailed by the dozen on Cowley Marsh to gentlemen undergraduates who are aspiring to the pigeon-trap. But as yet there had been no demand for frogs, and there was quite a glut of them in the market. They were cheap accordingly; for a shilling a-hundred we found [Pg 78]that we might inflict the second plague of Egypt upon the whole university. The next evening, two hampers, containing, as our purveyor assured us, “very prime ’uns,” arrived at my rooms “from Mr S——, the wine merchant;” and by daylight on the following morning were judiciously distributed throughout all the comeatable premises within the college walls. When I awoke the next morning, I heard voices in earnest conversation under my window, and looked out with no little curiosity. The frogs had evidently produced a sensation. The bursar, disturbed apparently from his early breakfast, stood robed in an ancient dressing-gown, with the Times in his hand, on which he was balancing a frog as yellow as himself. The dean, in cap and surplice, on his way from chapel, was eagerly listening to the account which one of the scouts was giving him of the first discovery of the intruders.

“Me and my missis, sir,” quoth John, “was a-coming into college when it was hardly to say daylight, when she, as I reckon, sets foot upon one of ’em, and was like to have been back’ards with a set of breakfast chiney, as she was a-bringing in for one of the fresh gentlemen. She scritches out, in course, and I looks down, and then I sees two or three a-’oppin about; but I didn’t take much notice till I gets to the thoroughfare, when there was a whole row on ’em a-trying to climb up the [Pg 79]bottom step; and then I calls Solomon the porter, and”——

Here I left my window, and, making a hasty toilet, joined a group of undergraduates, who were now collecting round the dean and bursar. I cast my eyes round the quadrangle, and was delighted with the success of our labours. There had been a heavy shower in the night, and the frogs were as lively as they could be on so ungenial a location as a gravelled court. In every corner was a goodly cluster, who were making ladders of each other’s backs, as if determined to scale the college walls. Some, of more retiring disposition, were endeavouring to force themselves into crevices, and hiding their heads behind projections to escape the gaze of academic eyes; while a few active spirits seemed to be hopping a sweepstakes right for the common-room door. Just as I made my appearance, the Principal came out of the door of his lodgings, with another of the fellows, having evidently been summoned to assist at the consultation. Good old soul! his study of zoology had been chiefly confined to the class edibles, and a shower of frogs, authenticated upon the oaths of the whole Convocation, would not have been half so interesting to him as an importation of turtle. However, to do him justice, he put on his spectacles, and looked as scientific as anybody. After due examination of the specimen of the genus Rana which the bursar [Pg 80]still held in captivity, and pronouncing a unanimous opinion, that, come from where he would, he was a bona fide frog, with nothing supernatural about him, the conclave proceeded round the quadrangle, calculating the numbers, and conjecturing the probable origin of these strange visitors. Equally curious, if not equally scientific, were the undergraduates who followed them; for, having strictly kept our own secret, my friend and myself were the only parties who could solve the mystery; and though many suspected that the frogs were unwilling emigrants, none knew to whom they were indebted for their introduction to college. The collected wisdom of the dons soon decided that a shower of full-grown frogs was a novelty even in the extraordinary occurrences of newspapers; and as not even a single individual croaker was to be discovered outside the walls of ——, it became evident that the whole affair was, as the dean described it, “another of those outrages upon academic discipline, which were as senseless as they were disgraceful.”

I daresay the dean’s anathema was “as sensible as it was sincere;” but it did not prevent our thoroughly enjoying the success of the “outrage” at the time; nor does it, unfortunately, suffice at this present moment to check something like an inward chuckle, when I think of the trouble which it cost the various retainers of the college to clear [Pg 81]it effectually of its strange visitors. Hopkins, the old butler, who was of rather an imaginative temperament, and had a marvellous tale to tell any one who would listen, of a departed bursar, who, having caught his death of cold by superintending the laying down of three pipes of port, might ever afterwards be heard, upon such interesting occasions, walking about the damp cellars after nightfall in pattens,—Hopkins, the oracle of the college “tap,” maintained that the frogs were something “off the common;” and strengthened his opinion by reference to a specimen which he had selected—a lank, black, skinny individual, which really looked ugly enough to have come from anywhere. Scouts, wives, and children (they always make a point of having large families, in order to eat up the spare commons), all were busy, through that eventful day, in a novel occupation, and by dinner-time not a frog was to be seen; but long, long afterwards, on a moist evening, fugitives from the general proscription might be seen making their silent way across the quadrangle, and croakings were heard at night-time, which might (as Homer relates of his frogs) have disturbed Minerva, only that the goddess of wisdom, in chambers collegiate, sleeps usually pretty sound.

The “business of the stays,” however, bid fair to supersede the business of the frogs, in the dean’s record of my supposed crimes; and as I fully [Pg 82]intended to clear myself, even to his satisfaction, of any suspicion which might attach to me from the possession of such questionable articles so soon as our theatre closed for the season, I resolved that my successful defence from this last imputation would be an admirable ground on which to assume the dignity of a martyr, to appeal against all uncharitable conclusions from insufficient premises, and come out as the personification of injured innocence throughout my whole college career.

When my interview with the dean was over, I ordered some luncheon up to Leicester’s rooms, where, as I expected, I found most of my own “set” collected, in order to hear the result. A private conference with the official aforesaid seldom boded good to the party so favoured; the dean seldom made his communications so agreeable as he might have done. In college, as in most other societies, La Rochefoucauld’s maxim holds good, that “there is always something pleasant in the misfortunes of one’s friends;” and whenever an unlucky wight did get into a row, he might pretty confidently reckon upon being laughed at. In fact, undergraduates considered themselves as engaged in a war of stratagem against an unholy alliance of deans, tutors, and proctors; and in every encounter the defeated party was looked upon as the deluded victim of superior ingenuity—as having been “done,” in short. So, if a lark succeeded, [Pg 83]the authorities aforesaid were decidedly done, and laughed at accordingly; if it failed, why, the other party were done, and there was still somebody to laugh at. No doubt, the jest was richer in the first case supposed; but in the second there was the additional gusto, so dear to human philanthropy, of having the victim present, and enjoying his discomfiture, which, in the case of the dons being the sufferers, was denied us. It may seem to argue something of a want of sympathy to find amusement in misfortunes which might any day be our own; but any one who ever witnessed the air of ludicrous alarm with which an undergraduate prepares to obey the summons (capable of but one interpretation)—“The dean wishes to see you, sir, at ten o’clock”—which so often, in my time at least, was sent as a whet to some of the assembled guests at a breakfast-party; whoever has been applied to on such occasions for the loan of a tolerable cap (that of the delinquent having its corners in such dilapidated condition as to proclaim its owner a “rowing man” at once), or has responded to the pathetic appeal, “Do I look very seedy?”—any one to whom such absurd recollections of early days occur (and if you, good reader, are a university man, as, being a gentleman, I am bound in charity to conclude you are, and yet have no such reminiscences, allow me to suggest that you must have been a very slow coach indeed)—any [Pg 84]one, I say once more, who knows the ridiculous figure which a man cuts when “hauled up” before the college Minos or Radamanthus, will easily forgive his friends for being inclined to laugh at him.

However, in the present case, any anticipations of fun at my expense, which the party in Leicester’s rooms might charitably entertain, were somewhat qualified by the fear that the consequences of any little private difference between the dean and myself might affect the prosperity of our unlicensed theatre. And when they heard how very nearly the discovery of the stays had been fatal to our project, execrations against Simmons’s espionage were mingled with admiration of my escape from so critical a position.

The following is, I apprehend, a unique specimen of an Oxford bill, and the only one, out of a tolerably large bundle which I keep for the sake of the receipts attached (a precaution by no means uncalled for), which I find any amusement in referring to:—

—— Hawthorne, Esq.,
To M. Moore. s. d.
2 pr. brown jean corsets. 8 2
Padding for do., made to order. 2 6
  10 6
Recd. same day, M. M.  

Very much surprised was the old lady, of whom I made the purchase in my capacity of stage-manager, [Pg 85]at so uncommon a customer in her line of business; and when, after enjoying her mystification for some time, I let her into the secret, so delighted was she at the notion, that she gave me sundry hints as to the management of the female toilet, and offered to get made up for me any dresses that might be required. So I introduced Leicester and his fellow-heroines to my friend Mrs Moore, and, by the joint exertions of their own tastes and her experience, they became possessed of some very tolerable costumes. There was a good deal of fun going on, I fancy, in fitting and measuring, in her back parlour; for there was a daughter, or a niece, or something of the sort, who cut out the dresses with the prettiest hands in the world, as Leicester declared; but I was too busy with carpenters, painters, and other assistants, to pay more than a flying visit to the ladies’ department.

At last the rehearsal did come on. As Hastings, I had not much in the way of dress to alter; and, having some engagement in the early part of the morning, I did not arrive at the theatre until the rest of the characters were already dressed and ready to begin. Though I had been consulted upon all manner of points, from the arranging of a curl for Miss Neville to the colour of Diggory’s stockings, and knew the costume of every individual as well as my own, yet so ludicrous was the effect of the whole when I entered the room, [Pg 86]that I threw myself into the nearest chair, and laughed myself nearly into convulsions. The figure which first met my eyes was a little ruddy freshman, who had the part of the landlord, and who, in his zeal to do honour to our preference, had dressed the character most elaborately. A pillow, which he could scarcely see over, puffed out his red waistcoat; and his hair was cut short, and powdered with such good-will that for weeks afterwards, in spite of diligent brushing, he looked as grey as the Principal. There he stood, his legs clothed in grey worsted, retreating far beyond his little white apron, as if ashamed of their unusual appearance—

“The mother that him bare,
She had not known her son.”

Every one, however, had not been so classical in their costume. There was Sir Charles Marlow in what had been a judge’s wig, and Mr Hardcastle in a barrister’s; both sufficiently unlike themselves, at any rate, if not very correct copies of their originals. Then the women! As for Mrs Hardcastle, she was perfection. There never was, I believe, a better representation of the character. It was well dressed, and turned out a first-rate bit of acting—very far superior to any amateur performance I ever saw, and, with practice, would have equalled that of any actress on the stage. Her very curtsy was comedy itself. When I recovered my breath a little, I was able to attend to the dialogue which [Pg 87]was going on, which was hardly less ridiculous than the strange disguises round me. “Now, Miss Hardcastle” (Marlow loquitur), “I have no objection to your smoking cigars during rehearsal, of course—because you won’t do that on Monday night, I suppose; but I must beg you to get out of the practice of standing or sitting cross-legged, because it’s not lady-like, or even bar-maid like—and don’t laugh when I make love to you; for if you do, I shall break down to a certainty.” “Thornhill, do you think my waist will do?” said the anxious representative of the fair Constance. “I have worn these cursed stays for an hour every evening for the last week, and drawn them an inch tighter every time; but I don’t think I’m a very good figure after all—just try if they’ll come any closer, will you?” “Oh! Hawthorne, I’m glad you are come,” said Savile, whom I hardly knew, in a red wig; “now, isn’t there to be a bowl of real punch in the scene at the Three Pigeons—one can’t pretend to drink, you know, with any degree of spirit?”—“Oh! of course,” said I; “that’s one of the landlord’s properties; Miller, you must provide that, you know: send down for some cold tankards now; they will do very well for rehearsal.” At last we got to work, and proceeded, with the prompter’s assistance, pretty smoothly, and mutually applauding each other’s performance, going twice over some of the most difficult scenes, [Pg 88]and cutting out a good deal of love and sentiment. The play was fixed for the next Monday night, playbills ordered to be printed, and cards of invitation issued to all the performers’ intimate friends. Every scout in the college, I believe, except my rascal Simmons, was in the secret, and probably some of the fellows had a shrewd guess at what was going on; but no one interfered with us. We carried on all our operations as quietly as possible; and the only circumstance likely to arouse suspicion in the minds of the authorities, was the unusual absence of all disturbances of a minor nature within the walls, in consequence of the one engrossing freak in which most of the more turbulent spirits were engaged.

At length the grand night arrived. By nine o’clock the theatre in Savile’s rooms was as full as it could be crammed with any degree of comfort to actors and audience; and in the study and bedroom, which, being on opposite sides, served admirably for dressing-rooms behind the scenes, the usual bustle of preparation was going on. As is common in such cases, some essential properties had been forgotten until the last moment. No bonnet had been provided for Mrs Hardcastle to take her walks abroad in; and when the little hair-dresser, who had been retained to give a finishing touch to some of the coiffures, returned with one belonging to his “missis,” which he had volunteered [Pg 89]to lend, the roar of uncontrollable merriment which this new embellishment of our disguised friend called forth, made the audience clamorous for the rising of the curtain—thinking, very excusably, that it was quite unjustifiable to keep all the fun to ourselves.

After some little trial of our “public’s” patience, the play began in good earnest, and was most favourably received. Indeed, as the only price of admission exacted was a promise of civil behaviour, and there were two servants busily employed in handing about punch and “bishop,” it would have been rather hard if we did not succeed in propitiating their good-humour. With the exception of two gentlemen who had been dining out, and were rather noisy in consequence, and evinced a strong inclination occasionally to take a part in the dialogue, all behaved wonderfully well, greeting each performer, as he made his first entrance, with a due amount of cheering; rapturously applauding all the best scenes; laughing (whether at the raciness of the acting, or the grotesque metamorphoses of the actors, made no great difference), and filling up any gap which occurred in the proceedings on the stage, in spite of the prompter, with vociferous encouragement to the “sticket” actor. With an audience so disposed, each successive scene went off better and better. One deserves to be particularised. It was the second in the first act of the [Pg 90]comedy; the stage directions for it are as follows: “Scene—An alehouse room—Several shabby fellows with punch and tobacco; Tony at the head of the table, &c., discovered.” Never, perhaps, in any previous representation, was the mise en scène so perfect; it drew three rounds of applause. A very equivocal compliment to ourselves it may be; but such jolly-looking “shabby fellows” as sat round the table at which our Tony presided, were never furnished by the supernumeraries of Drury or Covent Garden. They were as classical, in their way, as Macready’s Roman mob. Then there was no make-believe puffing of empty pipes, and fictitious drinking of small-beer for punch; every nose among the audience could appreciate the genuineness of both liquor and tobacco; and the hearty encore which the song, with its stentorian chorus, was honoured with, gave all the parties engaged time to enjoy their punch and their pipes to their satisfaction. It was quite a pity, as was unanimously agreed, when the entrance of Marlow and Hastings, as in duty bound, interrupted so jovial a society. But “all that’s bright must fade”—and so the Three Pigeons’ scene, and the play too, came to an end in due course. The curtain fell amidst universal applause, modified only by the urgent request, which, as manager, I had more than once to repeat, that gentlemen would be kind enough to restrain their feelings for fear of disturbing the [Pg 91]dons. The house resolved itself into its component elements—all went their ways,—the reading men probably to a Greek play, by way of afterpiece; sleepy ones to bed, and idle ones to their various inventions; and the actors, after the fatigues of the night, to a supper, which was to be the “finish.” It was to take place in one of the men’s rooms which happened to be on the same staircase, and had been committed to the charge of certain parties, who understood our notions of an unexceptionable spread. And a right merry party we were, all sitting down in character—Mrs Hardcastle at the top of the table, her worthy partner at bottom, with the “young ladies” on each side. It was the best tableau of the evening; pity there was neither artist to sketch, nor spectators to admire it! But, like many other merry meetings, there are faithful portraits of it—proof impressions—in the memories of many who were present, not yet obliterated, hardly even dimmed, by time; laid by, like other valuables, which, in the turmoil of life, we find no time to look at, but not thrown aside or forgotten, and brought out sometimes, in holidays and quiet hours, for us to look at once more, and enjoy their beauty, and feel, after all, how much what we have changed is “cœlum non animum.” I am now—no matter what. Of my companions at that well-remembered supper, one is a staid and orthodox divine; one a rising barrister; a third a respectable country gentleman, [Pg 92]justice of the peace, “and quorum;” a fourth, they tell me, a semi-Papist: but set us all down together in that same room, draw the champagne corks, and let some Lethe (the said champagne, if you please) wash out all that has passed over us in the last few years, and my word on it, three out of four of us are but boys still; and though much shaving, pearl powder, and carmine, might fail to make of any of the party a heroine of any more delicate class than Meg Merrilies, I have no doubt we could all of us once more smoke a pipe in character at “The Three Pigeons.”

Merrily the evening passed off, and merrily the little hours came on, and song and laugh rather grew gayer than slackened. The strings of the stays had long ago been cut, and the tresses, which were in the way of the cigars, were thrown back in dishevelled elegance. The landlord found his stuffing somewhat warm, and had laid aside half his fleshy encumbrance. Every one was at his ease, and a most uproarious chorus had just been sung by the whole strength of the company, when we heard the ominous sound of a quiet double-rap at the outer door.

“Who’s there?” said one of the most self-possessed of the company.

“I wish to speak to Mr Challoner,” was the quiet reply.

The owner of the rooms was luckily in no more [Pg 93]outré costume than that of Sir Charles Marlow; and having thrown off his wig, and buttoned his coat over a deep-flapped waistcoat, looked tolerably like himself as he proceeded to answer the summons. I confess I rather hoped than otherwise that the gentleman, whoever he was, would walk in, when, if he intended to astonish us, he was very likely to find the tables turned. However, even college dons recognise the principle that every man’s house is his castle, and never violate the sanctity of even an undergraduate’s rooms. The object of this present visit, however, was rather friendly than otherwise. One of the fellows, deservedly popular, had been with the dean, and had left him in a state of some excitement from the increasing merriment which came somewhat too audibly across the quadrangle from our party. He had called, therefore, to advise Challoner either to keep his friends quiet, or to get rid of them, if he wished to keep out of the dean’s jurisdiction. As it was towards three in the morning, we thought it prudent to take this advice as it was meant, and in a few minutes began to wend our respective ways homewards. Leicester and myself, whose rooms lay in the same direction, were steering along, very soberly, under a bright moonlight, when something put it into the heads of some other stragglers of the party to break out, at the top of their voices, into a stanza of that immortal ditty, “We won’t go home till morning.” [Pg 93]Instantly we could hear a window, which we well knew to be the dean’s, open above us, and as the unmelodious chorus went on, his wrath found vent in the usual strain—“Who is making that disturbance?”

No one volunteering an explanation, he went on.

“Who are those in the quadrangle?”

Leicester and I walked somewhat faster. I am not sure that our dignity did not condescend to run, as we heard steps coming down from No. 5, at a pace that evidently portended a chase, and remembered for the first time the remarkable costume which, to common observers, would indicate that there was a visitor of an unusual character enjoying the moonlight in the quadrangle. When we reached the “thoroughfare,” the passage from the inner to the outer quadrangle, we fairly bolted; and as the steps came pretty fast after us, and Leicester’s rooms were the nearest, we both made good our retreat thither, and sported oak.

The porter’s lodge was in the next number; and hearing a knocking in that quarter, Leicester gently opened the window, and we could catch the following dialogue:—

“Solomon! open this door directly—it is I, the dean.”

“Good dear sir!” said Solomon, apparently asleep, and fumbling for the keys of the college gates—“let you out? O yes, sir—directly.”

[Pg 95]

“Listen to me, Solomon: I am not going out. Did you let any one out just now—just before I called you?”

“No, sir; nobody whatsomdever.”

“Solomon! I ask you, did you not, just now, let a woman out?”

“Lawk! no, sir—Lord forbid!” said Solomon, now thoroughly wakened.

“Now, Solomon, bring your light, and come with me; this must be inquired into. I saw a woman run this way, and if she is not gone through the gate, she is gone into this next number. Whose rooms are in No. 13?”

“There’s Mr Dyson’s, sir, on the ground-floor.”

Mr Dyson was the very fellow who had called at Challoner’s rooms. “Hah! well, I’ll call Mr Dyson up. Whose besides?”

“There’s Mr Leicester, sir, above his’n.”

“Very well, Solomon; call up Mr Dyson, and say I wish to speak with him particularly.”

And so saying, the dean proceeded up-stairs.

The moment Leicester heard his name mentioned, he began to anticipate a domiciliary visit. The thing was so ridiculous that we hardly knew what to do.

“Shall I get into bed, Hawthorne? I don’t want to be caught in this figure.”

“Why, I don’t know that you will be safe there, in the present state of the dean’s suspicions. No; [Pg 96]tuck up those confounded petticoats, clap on your pea-jacket, twist those love-locks up under your cap, light this cigar, and sit in your easy-chair. The dean must be ’cuter than usual if he finds you out as the lady he is in search of.”

Leicester had hardly time to take this advice—the best I could hit upon at the moment—when the dean knocked at the door.

“Who are you? Come in,” said we both in a breath.

“I beg your pardon, Mr Leicester,” said the dean in his most official tone; “nothing but actually imperative duty occasions my intrusion at this unseasonable hour, but a most extraordinary circumstance must be my excuse. I saw, gentlemen—I saw with my own eyes,” he continued, looking blacker as he caught sight of me, and remembering, no doubt, the little episode of the stays—“I saw a female figure move in this direction but a few minutes ago. No such person has passed the gate, for I have made inquiry; certainly I have no reason to suppose any such person is concealed here; but I am bound to ask you, sir, on your honour as a gentleman—for I have no wish to make a search—is there any such person concealed in your apartments?”

“On my honour, sir, no one is or has been lately here, but myself and Mr Hawthorne.”

Here Dyson came into the room, looking considerably mystified.

[Pg 97]

“What’s the matter, Mr Dean?” said he, nodding good-humouredly to us.

“A most unpleasant occurrence, my dear sir; I have seen a woman in this direction not five minutes back. Unfortunately, I cannot be mistaken. She either passed into the porter’s lodge or into this staircase.”

“She is not in my rooms, I assure you,” said he, laughing; “I should think you made a mistake: it must have been some man in a white mackintosh.”

I smiled, and Leicester laughed outright.

“I am not mistaken, sir,” said the dean warmly. “I shall take your word, Mr Leicester; but allow me to tell you, that your conduct in lolling in that chair, as if in perfect contempt, and neither rising, nor removing your cap, when Mr Dyson and myself are in your rooms, is consistent neither with the respect due from an undergraduate, nor the behaviour I should expect from a gentleman.”

Poor Leicester coloured, and unwittingly removed his cap. The chestnut curls, some natural and some artificial, which had been so studiously arranged for Miss Hardcastle’s head-dress, fell in dishevelled luxuriance round his face; and as he half rose from his previous position in the chair, a pink-silk dress began to descend from under the pea-jacket. Concealment was at an end; the dean looked bewildered at first, and then savage; but a hearty laugh from Dyson settled the business.

[Pg 98]

“What, Leicester! you’re the lady the dean has been hunting about college! Upon my word, this is the most absurd piece of masquerading!—what on earth is it all about?”

I pitied Leicester, he looked such an extraordinary figure in his ambiguous dress, and seemed so thoroughly ashamed of himself; so, displaying the tops and cords in which I had enacted Hastings, I acknowledged my share in the business, and gave a brief history of the drama during my management. The dean endeavoured to look grave: Dyson gave way to undisguised amusement, and repeatedly exclaimed, “Oh! why did you not send me a ticket? When do you perform again?”

Alas! never. Brief, as bright, was our theatrical career. But the memory of it lives in the college still—of the comedy, and the supper, and the curious mistake which followed it; and the dean has not to this hour lost the credit which he then gained, of having a remarkably keen eye for a petticoat.



[A] A well-known Oxford auctioneer of that day.

Transcriber’s Note:

1. Minor changes have been made to correct typesetters’ errors; otherwise, every effort has been made to remain true to the authors’ words and intent.

2. The page numbering used in this e-text follows that used in the original paper book.




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