The Project Gutenberg EBook of Bentley's Miscellany, Volume II, by Various

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Title: Bentley's Miscellany, Volume II

Author: Various

Contributor: Richard Bentley

Release Date: September 7, 2014 [EBook #46804]

Language: English

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Dorset Street, Fleet Street.



Twelve months have elapsed since we first took the field, and every successive number of our Miscellany has experienced a warmer reception, and a more extensive circulation, than its predecessor.

In the opening of the new year, and the commencement of our new volume, we hope to make many changes for the better, and none for the worse; and, to show that, while we have one grateful eye to past patronage, we have another wary one to future favours; in short, that, like the heroine of the sweet poem descriptive of the faithlessness and perjury of Mr. John Oakhum, of the Royal Navy, we look two ways at once.

It is our intention to usher in the new year with a very merry greeting, towards the accomplishment of which end we have prevailed upon a long procession of distinguished friends to mount their hobbies on the[iv] occasion, in humble imitation of those adventurous and aldermanic spirits who gallantly bestrode their foaming chargers on the memorable ninth of this present month, while

"The stones did rattle underneath,
As if Cheapside were mad."

These, and a hundred other great designs, preparations, and surprises, are in contemplation, for the fulfilment of all of which we are already bound in two volumes cloth, and have no objection, if it be any additional security to the public, to stand bound in twenty more.


30th November, 1837.




Songs of the Month—July, by "Father Prout;" August; September, by "Father Prout;" October, by J.M.; November, by C.D.; December, by Punch Pages 1, 109, 213, 321, 429, 533
Papers by Boz: 
Oliver Twist, or the Parish Boy's Progress, 2, 110, 215, 430, 534
The Mudfog Association for the Advancement of Everything 397
Poetry by Mrs. Cornwell Baron Wilson: 
Elegiac Stanzas 16
Lady Blue's Ball 380
My Father's Old Hall 453
Fictions of the Middle Ages: The Butterfly Bishop, by Delta 17
A New Song to the Old Tune of Kate Kearney 25
What Tom Binks did when he didn't know what to do with himself 26
A Gentleman Quite 36
The Foster-Child 37
The White Man's Devil-house, by F.H. Rankin 46
A Lyric for Lovers 50
The Remains of Hajji Baba, by the Author of "Zohrab" 51, 166
Shakspeare Papers, by Dr. Maginn:
No. III. Romeo 57
IV. Midsummer Night's Dream—Bottom the Weaver 370
V. His Ladies—Lady Macbeth 550
The Piper's Progress, by Father Prout 67
Papers by J.A. Wade: 
No. II. Darby the Swift 68
III. The Darbiad 464
Song of the Old Bell 196
Serenade to Francesca 239
Phelim O'Toole's Nine Muse-ings on his Native County 319
Papers by Captain Medwin: 
The Duel 76
Mascalbruni 254
The Last of the Bandits 585[vi]
The Monk of Ravenne 81
A Marine's Courtship, by M. Burke Honan 82
Family Stories, by Thomas Ingoldsby: 
No. VI. Mrs. Botherby's Story—The Leech of Folkestone 91
VII. Patty Morgan the Milkmaid's Story—Look at the Clock 207
What though we were Rivals of yore, by T. Haynes Bayly 124
Papers by the Author of "Stories of Waterloo:" 
Love in the City 125
The Regatta, No. I.: Run Across Channel 299
Legends—of Ballar; the Church of the Seven; and the Tory 
Islanders 527
Three Notches from the Devil's Tail, or the Man in the Spanish Cloak, by the Author of "Reminiscences of a Monthly Nurse" 135
The Serenade 149
The Portrait Gallery, by the Author of "The Bee Hive" 
No. III. The Cannon Family 150
IV. Journey to Boulogne 454
A Chapter on Laughing 163
A Muster-chaunt for the Members of the Temperance Societies 165
My Uncle: a Fragment 175
Why the Wind blows round St. Paul's, by Joyce Jocund 176
Papers by C. Whitehead: 
Rather Hard to Take 181
The Narrative of John Ward Gibson 240
Nights at Sea, by the Old Sailor:
No. IV. The French Captain's Story 183
V. The French Captain's Story 471
VI. Jack among the Mummies 610
Midnight Mishaps, by Edward Mayhew 197
The Dream 206
Genius, or the Dog's-meat Dog, by Egerton Webbe 214
The Poisoners of the Seventeenth Century, by George Hogarth: 
No. I. The Marchioness de Brinvilliers 229
II. Sir Thomas Overbury 322
Smoke 268
Some Passages in the Life of a Disappointed Man 270
The Professor, by Goliah Gahagan 277
Biddy Tibbs, who cared for Nobody, by H. Holl 288
The Key of Granada 303
Glorvina, the Maid of Meath, by J. Sheridan Knowles 304
An Excellent Offer, by Marmaduke Blake 340
The Autobiography of a Good Joke 354
The Secret, by M. Paul de Kock 360
The Man with the Club-foot 381
A Remonstratory Ode to Mr. Cross on the Eruption of Mount Vesuvius, by Joyce Jocund 413[vii]
Memoirs of Beau Nash 414
Grub-street News 425
The Confessions of an Elderly Gentleman 445
The Relics of St. Pius 462
A few Inquiries 470
Lines occasioned by the Death of Count Borowlaski 484
A Chapter on Widows 485
Petrarch in London 494
Adventures in Paris, by Toby Allspy: 
The Five Floors No. I. 495; No. II. 575
Martial in Town 507
Astronomical Agitation—Reform of the Solar System 508
The Adventures of a Tale, by Mrs. Erskine Norton 511
When and Why the Devil Invented Brandy 518
The Wit in spite of Himself, by Richard Johns 521
The Apportionment of the World, from Schiller 549
Ode to the Queen 568
Suicide 569
The Glories of Good Humour 591
Song of the Modern Time 594
Capital Punishments in London Eighty Years ago—Earl Ferrers 595
A Peter Pindaric to and of a Fog, by Punch 606
The Castle by the Sea 623
Legislative Nomenclature 624
Nobility in Disguise, by Dudley Costello 626
Another Original of "Not a Drum was heard," 632
Index 633




Oliver Twist—The Dodger's way of going to work 2
A Marine's Courtship 82
Oliver Twist recovering from the fever 110
Midnight Mishaps 197
Oliver Twist and his affectionate Friends 215
A Disappointed Man 270
The Autobiography of a Good Joke 354
The Secret 360
Oliver Twist returns to the Jew's den 430
The Confessions of an Elderly Gentleman 445
Oliver Twist instructed by the Dodger 533
Jack among the Mummies 610

Portrait of Beau Nash, by W. Greatbach 414




July, 1837.


(Tune "The groves of Blarney.")

"Ille ego qui quondam," &c. &c.—Æneid.

In the month of Janus,
When Boz to gain us,
Quite "miscellaneous,"
Flashed his wit so keen,
One, (Prout they call him,)
In style most solemn,
Led off the volume
Of his magazine.
Though Maga, 'mongst her
Bright set of youngsters,
Had many songsters
For her opening tome;
Yet she would rather
Invite "the Father,"
And an indulgence gather
From the Pope of Rome.
And, such a beauty
From head to shoe-tie,
Without dispute we
Found her first boy,
That she detarmined,
There's such a charm in 't,
The Father's sarmint
She'd again employ.
While other children
Are quite bewilderin',
'Tis joy that fill'd her in
This bantling; 'cause
What eye but glistens,
And what ear but listens,
When the clargy christens
A babe of Boz?
I've got a scruple
That this young pupil
Surprised its parent
Ere her time was sped;
Else I'm unwary,
Or, 'tis she's a fairy,
For in January
She was brought to bed.
This infant may be
A six months' baby,
But may his cradle
Be blest! say I;
And luck defend him!
And joy attend him!
Since we can't mend him,
Born in July.
He's no abortion,
But born to fortune,
And most opportune,
Though before his time;
Him, Muse, O! nourish,
And make him flourish
Quite Tommy-Moorish
Both in prose and rhyme!
I remember, also,
That this month they call so,
From Roman Julius
The "Cæsarian" styled;
Who was no gosling,
But, like this Boz-ling,
From birth a dazzling
And precocious child!








It was late next morning when Oliver awoke from a sound, long sleep. There was nobody in the room beside, but the old Jew, who was boiling some coffee in a saucepan for breakfast, and whistling softly to himself as he stirred it round and round with an iron spoon. He would stop every now and then to listen when there was the least noise below; and, when he had satisfied himself, he would go on whistling and stirring again, as before.

Although Oliver had roused himself from sleep, he was not thoroughly awake. There is a drowsy, heavy state, between sleeping and waking, when you dream more in five minutes with your eyes half open, and yourself half conscious of everything that is passing around you, than you would in five nights with your eyes fast closed, and your senses wrapt in perfect unconsciousness. At such times, a mortal knows just enough of what his mind is doing to form some glimmering conception of its mighty powers, its bounding from earth and spurning time and space, when freed from the irksome restraint of its corporeal associate.

Oliver was precisely in the condition I have described. He saw the Jew with his half-closed eyes, heard his low whistling, and recognised the sound of the spoon grating against the saucepan's sides; and yet the self-same senses were mentally engaged at the same time, in busy action with almost everybody he had ever known.

When the coffee was done, the Jew drew the saucepan to the hob, and, standing in an irresolute attitude for a few minutes as if he did not well know how to employ himself, turned round and looked at Oliver, and called him by his name. He did not answer, and was to all appearance asleep.

After satisfying himself upon this head, the Jew stepped gently to the door, which he fastened; he then drew forth, as it seemed to Oliver, from some trap in the floor, a small box, which he placed carefully on the table. His eyes glistened as he raised the lid and looked in. Dragging an old chair to the table, he sat down, and took from it a magnificent gold watch, sparkling with diamonds.

Oliver amazed at the Dodger's Mode of 'going to work'


"Aha!" said the Jew, shrugging up his shoulders, and distorting every feature with a hideous grin. "Clever dogs! clever dogs! Staunch to the last! Never told the old parson where they were; never peached upon old Fagin. And why should they? It wouldn't have loosened the knot, or kept the drop up a minute longer. No, no, no! Fine fellows! fine fellows!"

With these, and other muttered reflections of the like nature, the Jew once more deposited the watch in its place of safety. At least half a dozen more were severally drawn forth from the same box, and surveyed with equal pleasure; besides rings, brooches, bracelets, and other articles of jewellery, of such magnificent materials and costly workmanship that Oliver had no idea even of their names.

Having replaced these trinkets, the Jew took out another, so small that it lay in the palm of his hand. There seemed to be some very minute inscription on it, for the Jew laid it flat upon the table, and, shading it with his hand, pored over it long and earnestly. At length he set it down as if despairing of success, and, leaning back in his chair, muttered,

"What a fine thing capital punishment is! Dead men never repent; dead men never bring awkward stories to light. The prospect of the gallows, too, makes them hardy and bold. Ah, it's a fine thing for the trade! Five of them strung up in a row, and none left to play booty or turn white-livered!"

As the Jew uttered these words, his bright dark eyes which had been staring vacantly before him, fell on Oliver's face; the boy's eyes were fixed on his in mute curiosity, and, although the recognition was only for an instant—for the briefest space of time that can possibly be conceived,—it was enough to show the old man that he had been observed. He closed the lid of the box with a loud crash, and, laying his hand on a bread-knife which was on the table, started furiously up. He trembled very much though; for, even in his terror, Oliver could see that the knife quivered in the air.

"What's that?" said the Jew. "What do you watch me for? Why are you awake? What have you seen? Speak out, boy! Quick—quick! for your life!"

"I wasn't able to sleep any longer, sir," replied Oliver, meekly. "I am very sorry if I have disturbed you, sir."

"You were not awake an hour ago?" said the Jew, scowling fiercely on the boy.

"No—no, indeed, sir," replied Oliver.

"Are you sure?" cried the Jew, with a still fiercer look than before, and a threatening attitude.

"Upon my word I was not, sir," replied Oliver, earnestly. "I was not, indeed, sir."

"Tush, tush, my dear!" said the Jew, suddenly resuming his old manner, and playing with the knife a little before he laid it[4] down, as if to induce the belief that he had caught it up in mere sport. "Of course I know that, my dear. I only tried to frighten you. You're a brave boy. Ha! ha! you're a brave boy, Oliver!" and the Jew rubbed his hands with a chuckle, but looked uneasily at the box notwithstanding.

"Did you see any of these pretty things, my dear?" said the Jew, laying his hand upon it after a short pause.

"Yes, sir," replied Oliver.

"Ah!" said the Jew, turning rather pale. "They—they're mine, Oliver; my little property. All I have to live upon in my old age. The folks call me a miser, my dear,—only a miser; that's all."

Oliver thought the old gentleman must be a decided miser to live in such a dirty place, with so many watches; but, thinking that perhaps his fondness for the Dodger and the other boys cost him a good deal of money, he only cast a deferential look at the Jew, and asked if he might get up.

"Certainly, my dear,—certainly," replied the old gentleman. "Stay. There's a pitcher of water in the corner by the door. Bring it here, and I'll give you a basin to wash in, my dear."

Oliver got up, walked across the room, and stooped for one instant to raise the pitcher. When he turned his head, the box was gone.

He had scarcely washed himself and made everything tidy by emptying the basin out of the window, agreeably to the Jew's directions, than the Dodger returned, accompanied by a very sprightly young friend whom Oliver had seen smoking on the previous night, and who was now formally introduced to him as Charley Bates. The four then sat down to breakfast off the coffee and some hot rolls and ham which the Dodger had brought home in the crown of his hat.

"Well," said the Jew, glancing slyly at Oliver, and addressing himself to the Dodger, "I hope you've been at work this morning, my dears."

"Hard," replied the Dodger.

"As nails," added Charley Bates.

"Good boys, good boys!" said the Jew. "What have you got, Dodger?"

"A couple of pocket-books," replied that young gentleman.

"Lined?" inquired the Jew with trembling eagerness.

"Pretty well," replied the Dodger, producing two pocket-books, one green and the other red.

"Not so heavy as they might be," said the Jew, after looking at the insides carefully; "but very neat, and nicely made. Ingenious workman, ain't he, Oliver?"

"Very, indeed, sir," said Oliver. At which Mr. Charles Bates laughed uproariously, very much to the amazement of Oliver, who saw nothing to laugh at, in anything that had passed.


"And what have you got, my dear?" said Fagin to Charley Bates.

"Wipes," replied Master Bates: at the same time producing four pocket-handkerchiefs.

"Well," said the Jew, inspecting them closely; "they're very good ones,—very. You haven't marked them well, though, Charley; so the marks shall be picked out with a needle, and we'll teach Oliver how to do it. Shall us, Oliver, eh?—Ha! ha! ha!"

"If you please, sir," said Oliver.

"You'd like to be able to make pocket-handkerchiefs as easy as Charley Bates, wouldn't you, my dear?" said the Jew.

"Very much indeed, if you'll teach me, sir," replied Oliver.

Master Bates saw something so exquisitely ludicrous in this reply that he burst into another laugh; which laugh meeting the coffee he was drinking, and carrying it down some wrong channel, very nearly terminated in his premature suffocation.

"He is so jolly green," said Charley when he recovered, as an apology to the company for his unpolite behaviour.

The Dodger said nothing, but he smoothed Oliver's hair down over his eyes, and said he'd know better by-and-by; upon which the old gentleman, observing Oliver's colour mounting, changed the subject by asking whether there had been much of a crowd at the execution that morning. This made him wonder more and more, for it was plain from the replies of the two boys that they had both been there; and Oliver naturally wondered how they could possibly have found time to be so very industrious.

When the breakfast was cleared away, the merry old gentleman and the two boys played at a very curious and uncommon game, which was performed in this way:—The merry old gentleman, placing a snuff-box in one pocket of his trousers, a note-case in the other, and a watch in his waistcoat-pocket, with a guard-chain round his neck, and sticking a mock diamond pin in his shirt, buttoned his coat tight round him, and, putting his spectacle-case and handkerchief in the pockets, trotted up and down the room with a stick, in imitation of the manner in which old gentlemen walk about the streets every hour in the day. Sometimes he stopped at the fire-place, and sometimes at the door, making belief that he was staring with all his might into shop-windows. At such times he would look constantly round him for fear of thieves, and keep slapping all his pockets in turn, to see that he hadn't lost anything, in such a very funny and natural manner, that Oliver laughed till the tears ran down his face. All this time the two boys followed him closely about, getting out of his sight so nimbly every time he turned round, that it was impossible to follow their motions. At last the Dodger trod upon his toes, or ran upon his boot accidentally, while Charley Bates stumbled up against him behind; and in[6] that one moment they took from him with the most extraordinary rapidity, snuff-box, note-case, watch-guard, chain, shirt-pin, pocket-handkerchief,—even the spectacle-case. If the old gentleman felt a hand in any one of his pockets, he cried out where it was, and then the game began all over again.

When this game had been played a great many times, a couple of young ladies came to see the young gentlemen, one of whom was called Bet and the other Nancy. They wore a good deal of hair, not very neatly turned up behind, and were rather untidy about the shoes and stockings. They were not exactly pretty, perhaps; but they had a great deal of colour in their faces, and looked quite stout and hearty. Being remarkably free and agreeable in their manners, Oliver thought them very nice girls indeed, as there is no doubt they were.

These visitors stopped a long time. Spirits were produced, in consequence of one of the young ladies complaining of a coldness in her inside, and the conversation took a very convivial and improving turn. At length Charley Bates expressed his opinion that it was time to pad the hoof, which it occurred to Oliver must be French for going out; for directly afterwards the Dodger, and Charley, and the two young ladies went away together, having been kindly furnished with money to spend, by the amiable old Jew.

"There, my dear," said Fagin, "that's a pleasant life, isn't it? They have gone out for the day."

"Have they done work, sir?" inquired Oliver.

"Yes," said the Jew; "that is, unless they should unexpectedly come across any when they are out; and they won't neglect it if they do, my dear, depend upon it."

"Make 'em your models, my dear, make 'em your models," said the Jew, tapping the fire-shovel on the hearth to add force to his words; "do everything they bid you, and take their advice in all matters, especially the Dodger's, my dear. He'll be a great man himself, and make you one too, if you take pattern by him. Is my handkerchief hanging out of my pocket, my dear?" said the Jew, stopping short.

"Yes, sir," said Oliver.

"See if you can take it out, without my feeling it, as you saw them do when we were at play this morning."

Oliver held up the bottom of the pocket with one hand as he had seen the Dodger do, and drew the handkerchief lightly out of it with the other.

"Is it gone?" cried the Jew.

"Here it is, sir," said Oliver, showing it in his hand.

"You're a clever boy, my dear," said the playful old gentleman, patting Oliver on the head approvingly; "I never saw a sharper lad. Here's a shilling for you. If you go on in this way, you'll be the greatest man of the time. And now come here, and I'll show you how to take the marks out of the handkerchiefs."


Oliver wondered what picking the old gentleman's pocket in play had to do with his chances of being a great man; but thinking that the Jew, being so much his senior, must know best, followed him quietly to the table, and was soon deeply involved in his new study.



For eight or ten days Oliver remained in the Jew's room, picking the marks out of the pocket-handkerchiefs, (of which a great number were brought home,) and sometimes taking part in the game already described, which the two boys and the Jew played regularly every day. At length he began to languish for the fresh air, and took many occasions of earnestly entreating the old gentleman to allow him to go out to work with his two companions.

Oliver was rendered the more anxious to be actively employed by what he had seen of the stern morality of the old gentleman's character. Whenever the Dodger or Charley Bates came home at night empty-handed, he would expatiate with great vehemence on the misery of idle and lazy habits, and enforce upon them the necessity of an active life by sending them supperless to bed: upon one occasion he even went so far as to knock them both down a flight of stairs; but this was carrying out his virtuous precepts to an unusual extent.

At length one morning Oliver obtained the permission he had so eagerly sought. There had been no handkerchiefs to work upon, for two or three days, and the dinners had been rather meagre. Perhaps these were reasons for the old gentleman's giving his assent; but, whether they were or no, he told Oliver he might go, and placed him under the joint guardianship of Charley Bates and his friend the Dodger.

The three boys sallied out, the Dodger with his coat-sleeves tucked up and his hat cocked as usual, Master Bates sauntering along with his hands in his pockets, and Oliver between them, wondering where they were going, and what branch of manufacture he would be instructed in first.

The pace at which they went was such a very lazy, ill-looking saunter, that Oliver soon began to think his companions were going to deceive the old gentleman, by not going to work at all. The Dodger had a vicious propensity, too, of pulling the caps from the heads of small boys and tossing them down areas; while Charley Bates exhibited some very loose notions concerning the rights of property, by pilfering divers apples and onions from the stalls at the kennel sides, and thrusting them into pockets which were so surprisingly capacious, that they[8] seemed to undermine his whole suit of clothes in every direction. These things looked so bad, that Oliver was on the point of declaring his intention of seeking his way back in the best way he could, when his thoughts were suddenly directed into another channel by a very mysterious change of behaviour on the part of the Dodger.

They were just emerging from a narrow court not far from the open square in Clerkenwell, which is called, by some strange perversion of terms, "The Green," when the Dodger made a sudden stop, and, laying his finger on his lip, drew his companions back again with the greatest caution and circumspection.

"What's the matter?" demanded Oliver.

"Hush!" replied the Dodger. "Do you see that old cove at the book-stall?"

"The old gentleman over the way?" said Oliver. "Yes, I see him."

"He'll do," said the Dodger.

"A prime plant," observed Charley Bates.

Oliver looked from one to the other with the greatest surprise, but was not permitted to make any inquiries, for the two boys walked stealthily across the road, and slunk close behind the old gentleman towards whom his attention had been directed. Oliver walked a few paces after them, and, not knowing whether to advance or retire, stood looking on in silent amazement.

The old gentleman was a very respectable-looking personage, with a powdered head and gold spectacles; dressed in a bottle-green coat with a black velvet collar, and white trousers: with a smart bamboo cane under his arm. He had taken up a book from the stall, and there he stood, reading away as hard as if he were in his elbow-chair in his own study. It was very possible that he fancied himself there, indeed; for it was plain, from his utter abstraction, that he saw not the book-stall, nor the street, nor the boys, nor, in short, anything but the book itself, which he was reading straight through, turning over the leaves when he got to the bottom of a page, beginning at the top line of the next one, and going regularly on with the greatest interest and eagerness.

What was Oliver's horror and alarm as he stood a few paces off, looking on with his eye-lids as wide open as they would possibly go, to see the Dodger plunge his hand into this old gentleman's pocket, and draw from thence a handkerchief, which he handed to Charley Bates, and with which they both ran away round the corner at full speed!

In one instant the whole mystery of the handkerchiefs, and the watches, and the jewels, and the Jew, rushed upon the boy's mind. He stood for a moment with the blood tingling so through all his veins from terror, that he felt as if he were in a burning fire; then, confused and frightened, he took to his[9] heels, and, not knowing what he did, made off as fast as he could lay his feet to the ground.

This was all done in a minute's space, and the very instant that Oliver began to run, the old gentleman, putting his hand to his pocket, and missing his handkerchief, turned sharp round. Seeing the boy scudding away at such a rapid pace, he very naturally concluded him to be the depredator, and, shouting "Stop thief!" with all his might, made off after him, book in hand.

But the old gentleman was not the only person who raised the hue and cry. The Dodger and Master Bates, unwilling to attract public attention by running down the open street, had merely retired into the very first doorway round the corner. They no sooner heard the cry, and saw Oliver running, than, guessing exactly how the matter stood, they issued forth with great promptitude, and, shouting "Stop thief!" too, joined in the pursuit like good citizens.

Although Oliver had been brought up by philosophers, he was not theoretically acquainted with their beautiful axiom that self-preservation is the first law of nature. If he had been, perhaps he would have been prepared for this. Not being prepared, however, it alarmed him the more; so away he went like the wind, with the old gentlemen and the two boys roaring and shouting behind him.

"Stop thief! stop thief!" There is a magic in the sound. The tradesman leaves his counter, and the carman his waggon; the butcher throws down his tray, the baker his basket, the milkman his pail, the errand-boy his parcels, the schoolboy his marbles, the paviour his pick-axe, the child his battledore: away they run, pell-mell, helter-skelter, slap-dash, tearing, yelling, and screaming, knocking down the passengers as they turn the corners, rousing up the dogs, and astonishing the fowls; and streets, squares, and courts re-echo with the sound.

"Stop thief! stop thief!" The cry is taken up by a hundred voices, and the crowd accumulate at every turning. Away they fly, splashing through the mud, and rattling along the pavements; up go the windows, out run the people, onward bear the mob: a whole audience desert Punch in the very thickest of the plot, and, joining the rushing throng, swell the shout, and lend fresh vigour to the cry, "Stop thief! stop thief!"

"Stop thief! stop thief!" There is a passion for hunting something deeply implanted in the human breast. One wretched, breathless child, panting with exhaustion, terror in his looks, agony in his eye, large drops of perspiration streaming down his face, strains every nerve to make head upon his pursuers; and as they follow on his track, and gain upon him every instant, they hail his decreasing strength with still louder shouts, and whoop and scream with joy "Stop thief!"—Ay, stop him for God's sake, were it only in mercy!


Stopped at last. A clever blow that. He's down upon the pavement, and the crowd eagerly gather round him; each new comer jostling and struggling with the others to catch a glimpse. "Stand aside!"—"Give him a little air!"—"Nonsense! he don't deserve it."—"Where's the gentleman?"—"Here he is, coming down the street."—"Make room there for the gentleman!"—"Is this the boy, sir?"—"Yes."

Oliver lay covered with mud and dust, and bleeding from the mouth, looking wildly round upon the heap of faces that surrounded him, when the old gentleman was officiously dragged and pushed into the circle by the foremost of the pursuers, and made this reply to their anxious inquiries.

"Yes," said the gentleman in a benevolent voice, "I am afraid it is."

"Afraid!" murmured the crowd. "That's a good un."

"Poor fellow!" said the gentleman, "he has hurt himself."

"I did that, sir," said a great lubberly fellow stepping forward; "and preciously I cut my knuckle agin' his mouth. I stopped him, sir."

The fellow touched his hat with a grin, expecting something for his pains; but the old gentleman, eyeing him with an expression of disgust, looked anxiously round, as if he contemplated running away himself; which it is very possible he might have attempted to do, and thus afforded another chase, had not a police officer (who is always the last person to arrive in such cases) at that moment made his way through the crowd, and seized Oliver by the collar. "Come, get up," said the man roughly.

"It wasn't me indeed, sir. Indeed, indeed, it was two other boys," said Oliver, clasping his hands passionately, and looking round: "they are here somewhere."

"Oh no, they ain't," said the officer. He meant this to be ironical; but it was true besides, for the Dodger and Charley Bates had filed off down the first convenient court they came to. "Come, get up."

"Don't hurt him," said the old gentleman compassionately.

"Oh no, I won't hurt him," replied the officer, tearing his jacket half off his back in proof thereof. "Come, I know you; it won't do. Will you stand upon your legs, you young devil?"

Oliver, who could hardly stand, made a shift to raise himself upon his feet, and was at once lugged along the streets by the jacket-collar at a rapid pace. The gentleman walked on with them by the officer's side; and as many of the crowd as could, got a little a-head, and stared back at Oliver from time to time. The boys shouted in triumph, and on they went.




The offence had been committed within the district, and indeed in the immediate neighbourhood of a very notorious metropolitan police-office. The crowd had only the satisfaction of accompanying Oliver through two or three streets, and down a place called Mutton-hill, when he was led beneath a low archway and up a dirty court into this dispensary of summary justice, by the back way. It was a small paved yard into which they turned; and here they encountered a stout man with a bunch of whiskers on his face, and a bunch of keys in his hand.

"What's the matter now?" said the man carelessly.

"A young fogle-hunter," replied the man who had Oliver in charge.

"Are you the party that's been robbed, sir?" inquired the man with the keys.

"Yes, I am," replied the old gentleman; "but I am not sure that this boy actually took the handkerchief. I—I'd rather not press the case."

"Must go before the magistrate now, sir," replied the man. "His worship will be disengaged in half a minute. Now, young gallows."

This was an invitation for Oliver to enter through a door which he unlocked as he spoke, and which led into a small stone cell. Here he was searched, and, nothing been found upon him, locked up.

This cell was in shape and size something like an area cellar, only not so light. It was most intolerably dirty, for it was Monday morning, and it had been tenanted since Saturday night by six drunken people. But this is nothing. In our station-houses, men and women are every night confined on the most trivial charges—the word is worth noting—in dungeons, compared with which, those in Newgate, occupied by the most atrocious felons, tried, found guilty, and under sentence of death, are palaces! Let any man who doubts this, compare the two.

The old gentleman looked almost as rueful as Oliver when the key grated in the lock; and turned with a sigh to the book which had been the innocent cause of all this disturbance.

"There is something in that boy's face," said the old gentleman to himself as he walked slowly away, tapping his chin with the cover of the book in a thoughtful manner, "something that touches and interests me. Can he be innocent? He looked like—By the bye," exclaimed the old gentleman, halting very abruptly, and staring up into the sky, "God bless my soul! where have I seen something like that look before?"

After musing for some minutes, the old gentleman walked with the same meditative face into a back ante-room opening from the yard; and there, retiring into a corner, called up before[12] his mind's eye a vast amphitheatre of faces over which a dusky curtain had hung for many years. "No," said the old gentleman, shaking his head; "it must be imagination."

He wandered over them again. He had called them into view, and it was not easy to replace the shroud that had so long concealed them. There were the faces of friends and foes, and of many that had been almost strangers, peering intrusively from the crowd; there were the faces of young and blooming girls that were now old women; there were others that the grave had changed to ghastly trophies of death, but which the mind, superior to his power, still dressed in their old freshness and beauty, calling back the lustre of the eyes, the brightness of the smile, the beaming of the soul through its mask of clay, and whispering of beauty beyond the tomb, changed but to be heightened, and taken from earth only to be set up as a light to shed a soft and gentle glow upon the path to Heaven.

But the old gentleman could recall no one countenance of which Oliver's features bore a trace; so he heaved a sigh over the recollections he had awakened; and being, happily for himself, an absent old gentleman, buried them again in the pages of the musty book.

He was roused by a touch on the shoulder, and a request from the man with the keys to follow him into the office. He closed his book hastily, and was at once ushered into the imposing presence of the renowned Mr. Fang.

The office was a front parlour, with a panneled wall. Mr. Fang sat behind a bar at the upper end; and on one side the door was a sort of wooden pen in which poor little Oliver was already deposited, trembling very much at the awfulness of the scene.

Mr. Fang was a middle-sized man, with no great quantity of hair; and what he had, growing on the back and sides of his head. His face was stern, and much flushed. If he were really not in the habit of drinking rather more than was exactly good for him, he might have brought an action against his countenance for libel, and have recovered heavy damages.

The old gentleman bowed respectfully, and, advancing to the magistrate's desk, said, suiting the action to the word, "That is my name and address, sir." He then withdrew a pace or two; and, with another polite and gentlemanly inclination of the head, waited to be questioned.

Now, it so happened that Mr. Fang was at that moment perusing a leading article in a newspaper of the morning, adverting to some recent decision of his, and commending him, for the three hundred and fiftieth time, to the special and particular notice of the Secretary of State for the Home Department. He was out of temper, and he looked up with an angry scowl.

"Who are you?" said Mr. Fang.


The old gentleman pointed with some surprise to his card.

"Officer!" said Mr. Fang, tossing the card contemptuously away with the newspaper, "who is this fellow?"

"My name, sir," said the old gentleman, speaking like a gentleman, and consequently in strong contrast to Mr. Fang,—"my name, sir, is Brownlow. Permit me to inquire the name of the magistrate who offers a gratuitous and unprovoked insult to a respectable man, under the protection of the bench." Saying this, Mr. Brownlow looked round the office as if in search of some person who would afford him the required information.

"Officer!" said Mr. Fang, throwing the paper on one side, "what's this fellow charged with?"

"He's not charged at all, your worship," replied the officer. "He appears against the boy, your worship."

His worship knew this perfectly well; but it was a good annoyance, and a safe one.

"Appears against the boy, does he?" said Fang, surveying Mr. Brownlow contemptuously from head to foot. "Swear him."

"Before I am sworn I must beg to say one word," said Mr. Brownlow; "and that is, that I never, without actual experience, could have believed——"

"Hold your tongue, sir!" said Mr. Fang peremptorily.

"I will not, sir!" replied the spirited old gentleman.

"Hold your tongue this instant, or I'll have you turned out of the office!" said Mr. Fang. "You're an insolent impertinent fellow. How dare you bully a magistrate!"

"What!" exclaimed the old gentleman, reddening.

"Swear this person!" said Fang to the clerk. "I'll not hear another word. Swear him!"

Mr. Brownlow's indignation was greatly roused; but, reflecting that he might only injure the boy by giving vent to it, he suppressed his feelings, and submitted to be sworn at once.

"Now," said Fang, "what's the charge against this boy? What have you got to say, sir?"

"I was standing at a book-stall—" Mr. Brownlow began.

"Hold your tongue, sir!" said Mr. Fang. "Policeman!—where's the policeman? Here, swear this man. Now, policeman, what is this?"

The policeman with becoming humility related how he had taken the charge, how he had searched Oliver and found nothing on his person; and how that was all he knew about it.

"Are there any witnesses?" inquired Mr. Fang.

"None, your worship," replied the policeman.

Mr. Fang sat silent for some minutes, and then, turning round to the prosecutor, said, in a towering passion,

"Do you mean to state what your complaint against this boy is, fellow, or do you not? You have been sworn. Now, if you stand there, refusing to give evidence, I'll punish you for disrespect to the bench; I will, by ——"


By what, or by whom, nobody knows, for the clerk and jailer coughed very loud just at the right moment, and the former dropped a heavy book on the floor; thus preventing the word from being heard—accidentally, of course.

With many interruptions, and repeated insults, Mr. Brownlow contrived to state his case; observing that, in the surprise of the moment, he had run after the boy because he saw him running away, and expressing his hope that, if the magistrate should believe him, although not actually the thief, to be connected with thieves, he would deal as leniently with him as justice would allow.

"He has been hurt already," said the old gentleman in conclusion. "And I fear," he added, with great energy, looking towards the bar,—"I really fear that he is very ill."

"Oh! yes; I dare say!" said Mr. Fang, with a sneer. "Come; none of your tricks here, you young vagabond; they won't do. What's your name?"

Oliver tried to reply, but his tongue failed him. He was deadly pale, and the whole place seemed turning round and round.

"What's your name, you hardened scoundrel?" thundered Mr. Fang. "Officer, what's his name?"

This was addressed to a bluff old fellow in a striped waistcoat, who was standing by the bar. He bent over Oliver, and repeated the inquiry; but finding him really incapable of understanding the question, and knowing that his not replying would only infuriate the magistrate the more, and add to the severity of his sentence, he hazarded a guess.

"He says his name's Tom White, your worship," said this kind-hearted thief-taker.

"Oh, he won't speak out, won't he?" said Fang. "Very well, very well. Where does he live?"

"Where he can, your worship," replied the officer, again pretending to receive Oliver's answer.

"Has he any parents?" inquired Mr. Fang.

"He says they died in his infancy, your worship," replied the officer, hazarding the usual reply.

At this point of the inquiry Oliver raised his head, and, looking round with imploring eyes, murmured a feeble prayer for a draught of water.

"Stuff and nonsense!" said Mr. Fang; "don't try to make a fool of me."

"I think he really is ill, your worship," remonstrated the officer.

"I know better," said Mr. Fang.

"Take care of him, officer," said the old gentleman, raising his hands instinctively; "he'll fall down."

"Stand away, officer," cried Fang savagely; "let him if he likes."

Oliver availed himself of the kind permission, and fell heavily to the floor in a fainting fit. The men in the office looked at each other, but no one dared to stir.

"I knew he was shamming," said Fang, as if this were incontestable proof of the fact. "Let him lie; he'll soon be tired of that."

"How do you propose to deal with the case, sir?" inquired the clerk in a low voice.

"Summarily," replied Mr. Fang. "He stands committed for three months,—hard labour of course. Clear the office."


The door was opened for this purpose, and a couple of men were preparing to carry the insensible boy to his cell, when an elderly man of decent but poor appearance, clad in an old suit of black, rushed hastily into the office, and advanced to the bench.

"Stop, stop,—don't take him away,—for Heaven's sake stop a moment," cried the new-comer, breathless with haste.

Although the presiding geniuses in such an office as this, exercise a summary and arbitrary power over the liberties, the good name, the character, almost the lives of his Majesty's subjects, especially of the poorer class, and although within such walls enough fantastic tricks are daily played to make the angels weep thick tears of blood, they are closed to the public, save through the medium of the daily press. Mr. Fang was consequently not a little indignant to see an unbidden guest enter in such irreverent disorder.

"What is this? Who is this? Turn this man out. Clear the office," cried Mr. Fang.

"I will speak," cried the man; "I will not be turned out,—I saw it all. I keep the book-stall. I demand to be sworn. I will not be put down. Mr. Fang, you must hear me. You dare not refuse, sir."

The man was right. His manner was bold and determined, and the matter was growing rather too serious to be hushed up.

"Swear the fellow," growled Fang with a very ill grace. "Now, man, what have you got to say?"

"This," said the man: "I saw three boys—two others and the prisoner here—loitering on the opposite side of the way, when this gentleman was reading. The robbery was committed by another boy. I saw it done, and I saw that this boy was perfectly amazed and stupified by it." Having by this time recovered a little breath, the worthy book-stall keeper proceeded to relate in a more coherent manner the exact circumstances of the robbery.

"Why didn't you come here before?" said Fang after a pause.

"I hadn't a soul to mind the shop," replied the man; "everybody that could have helped me had joined in the pursuit. I could get nobody till five minutes ago, and I've run here all the way."

"The prosecutor was reading, was he?" inquired Fang, after another pause.

"Yes," replied the man, "the very book he has got in his hand."

"Oh, that book, eh?" said Fang. "Is it paid for?"

"No, it is not," replied the man, with a smile.

"Dear me, I forgot all about it!" exclaimed the absent old gentleman, innocently.

"A nice person to prefer a charge against a poor boy!" said Fang, with a comical effort to look humane. "I consider, sir, that you have obtained possession of that book under very suspicious and disreputable circumstances, and you may think yourself very fortunate that the owner of the property declines to prosecute. Let this be a lesson to you, my man, or the law will overtake you yet. The boy is discharged. Clear the office!"

"D—me!" cried the old gentleman, bursting out with the rage he had kept down so long, "d—me! I'll——"

"Clear the office!" roared the magistrate. "Officers, do you hear? Clear the office!"

The mandate was obeyed, and the indignant Mr. Brownlow was[16] conveyed out, with the book in one hand and the bamboo cane in the other, in a perfect phrenzy of rage and defiance.

He reached the yard, and it vanished in a moment. Little Oliver Twist lay on his back on the pavement, with his shirt unbuttoned and his temples bathed with water: his face a deadly white, and a cold tremble convulsing his whole frame.

"Poor boy, poor boy!" said Mr. Brownlow bending over him. "Call a coach, somebody, pray, directly!"

A coach was obtained, and Oliver, having been carefully laid on one seat, the old gentleman got in and sat himself on the other.

"May I accompany you?" said the book-stall keeper looking in.

"Bless me, yes, my dear friend," said Mr. Brownlow quickly. "I forgot you. Dear, dear! I've got this unhappy book still. Jump in. Poor fellow! there's no time to lose."

The book-stall keeper got into the coach, and away they drove.



Why mourn we for her, who in Spring's tender bloom,
And the sweet blush of womanhood, quitted life's sphere?
Why weep we for her? Thro' the gates of the tomb
She has pass'd to the regions undimm'd by a tear!
To the spirits' far land in the mansions above,
Unsullied, thus early her soul wing'd its flight;
While she bask'd in the beams of affection and love,
And knew not the clouds that oft shadow their light!
Fate's hand pluck'd the bud ere it blossom'd to fame,
No withering canker its leaflets had known;
The ministering angels her fellowship claim,
And rejoice o'er a spirit as pure as their own!
While she knew but life's purer and tenderer ties,
The guardian who watches life's path from our birth
Call'd home the bright being Heav'n form'd for the skies
Ere its bloom had been ting'd by the follies of earth!
Alas! while the light of her young spirit's flame
Shone a day-star of Hope to illumine us here,
The messenger-seraph too suddenly came,
And bore his bright charge to her own native sphere!
Yet mourn not for her, who, in Spring's tender bloom,
Has made life a desert to those left behind;
Like the rose-leaf, tho' wither'd, still yielding perfume,
In our hearts, ever fragrant, her memory is shrin'd!





Amongst the numerous grievances complained of, during the reigns of the Anglo-Norman sovereigns, none gave more uneasiness than the inhuman severity of the forest-laws; they disgusted those nobles not in the confidence of the monarch, oppressed the people, and impoverished the country.

The privilege of hunting in the royal forests was confined to the king and his favourites, who spent the greater portion of their time, not engaged in active warfare, in that diversion; many of them pursued wild beasts with greater fury than they did enemies of their country, and became as savage as the very brutes they hunted.

The punishment for hunting or destroying game in royal forests, or other property belonging to the crown, was very severe: the offender was generally put to death; but, if he could afford to pay an enormous mulct to the king, the sentence was commuted either to dismemberment or tedious imprisonment.

The propensity of the dignified clergy to follow secular pastimes, especially that of hunting, is well known: they were ambitious to surpass the laity in the number and splendid livery of their huntsmen, and to excel in making the woods resound with the echo of their bugles; many of them are recorded for their skill in the aristocratic and manly amusement of the chase. Few persons, however, either ecclesiastic or secular, equalled Peter de Roches, Bishop of Winchester, in his fondness for, and prowess in, the chase.

Peter had spent the prime of his life as a soldier,[1] and having rendered King John essential service in such capacity, that monarch conferred upon him the lucrative office of Bishop of Winchester, and he thenceforth became a curer of souls instead of a destroyer of bodies.

Peter's appointment as a bishop afforded him ample time to devote to the fascinating employment of chasing the "full-acorned boar" and stealthy fox: he thought the hunter's shout, the winding notes of the clanging horn, and the joyous bark of the hounds, much sweeter music than the nasal chaunt of the drowsy monks.

It happened one day that Peter, (who was, according to the Chronicle of Lanercost,[2] a proud and worldly man,—as was too often the case with bishops of that period,) with a bugle dangling at his belt, and mounted upon a fiery steed, attended by a vast retinue of men, horses, and hounds, was in hot pursuit of a wary old fox; his courser,—more fleet than the mountain roe, scarce bruising the grass with his iron-shod hoofs,—like Bucephalus of Macedon, took fright at his own shadow, and became unmanageable; nor were all the skill and spur of the rider able to check his impetuous speed: the harder the bishop pulled, the more unruly became his steed; the bridle now suddenly[18] snapped in twain, and the bishop was left to the fate that awaited him. Velocipede, for so the horse was called, now seemed exultingly to bound over the deepest ditches, and to clear the highest thorny-twining hedge with the greatest ease: nothing could moderate his foaming rage; he resembled more the far-famed Pegasus of Medusan blood, than the palfrey of a gentle bishop. The retinue, and eager hounds, notwithstanding their utmost endeavour to keep pace with their master, were left far behind.

Peter, having no control over his flying barbary, awaited with truly apostolic calmness and gravity the issue of his wondrous ride, seriously expecting every minute a broken neck or leg; or, perchance, to have his preaching spoilt by the dislocation of a jaw-bone.—Such thoughts will frequently obtrude themselves into the minds of men encompassed with similar difficulties, let their presence of mind be never so great.

After half an hour's ride in such unepiscopal speed, which can only be compared to that of a steam-engine upon the Manchester railroad, Velocipede suddenly stopped before a magnificent castle with frowning battlements and a gloomy moat. The bishop, wondering at what he saw, was struck dumb with astonishment; for he well knew that so extensive a castle had not hitherto existed in his diocese, nor did he know of any such in England. Velocipede seemed also at his wits' end, and commenced frisking and gamboling about; and, in making a devotional curvet to the castle, threw the gallant, but unprepared bishop, over his head. Peter was either stunned or entranced by the fall,—whether his senses ever returned the reader must determine for himself when he has perused what follows: the bishop, however, always declared that he was never senseless, and that he could preach as well after, as before his fall.

No sooner was the bishop safely located upon the verdant down by the reverential feelings of the awe-struck Velocipede, than the castle's drawbridge fell, and an aged seneschal, of rubicund-tinted face, with at least fifty liveried lackeys in fanciful suits, ran to assist the bishop, and help him to regain his legs.

By the aid of a restorative cordial the bishop was resuscitated, and, upon coming to himself, was welcomed by the seneschal to the castle of Utopia.

The bishop looked aghast.

"My lord bishop," said the seneschal, "the king, our master, has been long expecting you; he is all impatient to embrace you: hasten, my lord, hasten your steps into the castle; the wines are cooled, the supper is ready; oh, such a supper! my mouth waters at the very smell thereof! Four wild turkeys smoke upon the spit, seven bitterns, six-and-twenty grey partridges, two-and-thirty red-legged ones, sixteen pheasants, nine woodcocks, nineteen herons, two-and-thirty rooks, twenty ring-doves, sixty leverets, twelve hares, twenty rabbits, and an ocean of Welsh ones, (enough to surfeit all the mice, and kill every apoplectic person in the world,) twenty kids, six roebucks, eight he-goats, fifteen sucking wild-boars, a flock of wild-ducks, to say nothing of the sturgeons, pikes, jacks, and other fish, both fresh and saltwater, besides ten tons of the most exquisite native oysters: and then there are flagons, goblets, and mead-cups overflowing with frothy ale, exhilarating wine, and goodly mead, all[19] longing to empty their contents into our parched and ready stomachs, which are unquenchable asbestos; for we drink lustily, my lord, and eat powdered beef salted at Shrovetide, to season our mouths, and render them rabid for liquid in the same proportion as a rabid dog avoids it."

The seneschal here paused to take breath, for his description of the supper exhausted the wind-trunk of his organ; and the bishop, seizing the opportunity of its being replenished, said,

"Peace, hoary dotard! thou hast mistaken thy man; I am Peter de Roches, Bishop of Winchester, and Protector of England during the king's sojourn abroad."

"You need not tell me what I already know," replied the seneschal; "though, it seems, I must again remind you that my lord the king awaits your coming within the castle walls, and has prepared a sumptuous supper, with all manner of good cheer, to greet you."

"Supper!" said the bishop in astonishment, "I have not yet dined; besides I never eat supper."

"The devil take your inhuman fashion, then!" replied the seneschal: "in extreme necessity I might forego a dinner, provided I had eaten an overwhelming breakfast; but I would as soon die as go without my supper. To go to bed without supper is a base and aristocratic custom; I say it is an error offensive to nature, and nature's dictates; all fasting is bad save breakfasting. That wicked pope who first invented fasting ought to have been baked alive in the papal kitchen."

To the latter part of the seneschal's speech the bishop mentally assented; but he merely said,

"Go to, thou gorged dullard, and tell thy master to gormandize without me."

"Well, go I suppose I must, if you will not come," returned the seneschal, "for I cannot longer tarry here. Ah, Sir Bishop, did you feel the gnawings of my stomach, you would be glad to throw some food to the hungry mastiff that seems feeding upon my very vitals!"

"Hold thy balderdash!" said the bishop, who had become very irritated, and would have sworn, had it been etiquette to do so in those days, at the effusive and edacious harangue of the seneschal. "Verily, thy hunger and thirst have gotten the better of thy wits! Whence comest thou?"

"From within the pincernary of that castle, where I have been indefatigably filling the goblets," answered the seneschal, smacking his lips. "Sitio! sitio! my parched mouth moistens at the thought! Oh! the lachryma Christi, the nectar, the ambrosia, and the true Falernian! Ah! Sir Bishop, some persons drink to quench their thirst, but I drink to prevent it."

"Pshaw!" said the bishop, "the wine that thou hast already drunken hath fuddled thy brains."

"By a gammon of the saltest bacon!" returned the seneschal, "I have more sense of what is good in my little finger than your reverence has in your whole pate, or you would not stand shilly-shambling here whilst so goodly a supper waits within."

The bishop was highly incensed at the seneschal's reflection upon his pate, and would have followed, had he dared, the slashing example of his namesake, and have smitten off the ear of this high-priest[20] of the pantry; (for he always wore a sword, even in the pulpit, firmly believing in the efficacy of cold steel, knowing from experience that it would make a deeper and more lasting impression upon human obduracy than the most eloquent preaching;) but the bishop was deterred by prudential reflections from such sanguinary vengeance.

How long the confabulation between the bishop and the loquacious seneschal would have lasted, and to what extent the patience of the former might have been tried, it would at this remote period be difficult to determine, especially as the Lanercost Chronicle does not inform us. At any rate, it was cut shorter than it would have been, by the approach of twenty youthful knights, clad in superb armour, and riding upon horses caparisoned in most costly and gorgeous trappings; they dismounted, and made a low obeisance. The bishop returned it as lowly as bishops generally do, unless they are bowing to the premier during the vacancy of an archbishoprick. The knights advanced; but Peter remained as firm and majestic as the rock of Gibraltar.

"Sir Bishop," said the chief of the knights, a youth with a most beautiful and smiling face, "we are come to request your speedy attendance upon our lord the king, who with any other than yourself would have been much displeased at your perverse absence, after you have been bidden by the steward of the household."

The bishop rubbed, shut, and opened his eyes.—"Am I bewitched," thought he to himself, "or do I dream?"

"Neither the one nor the other," said the knight, who perfectly understood the bishop's cogitations.

"No? What, then, does all this mean?" inquired the bishop. "When did my lord the king return from Picardy?"

"Proceed into the castle," replied the knight, "and let him answer for himself."

"If these people consider this a joke," thought the bishop, "I by no means think it one. At all events, come what come may, I will follow up this strange adventure, and be even with these gentlemen. I have not a bishop's garment," said he, addressing the seneschal; "how can I appear before the king, accoutred as I am?"

"Knowing how much you are addicted to hunting," returned the seneschal, "the king will assuredly receive you in your usual costume."

"Tut, fool!" said the bishop sneeringly; "do you forget, or has your time been so engrossed with epicurean pursuits, that you have not learnt how a guest, though bidden, was punished because he attended a supper-party without a proper garment? Find me a becoming dress, and I will instantly attend his highness' pleasure."

"If you will condescend to follow me," said the youthful knight, "a sacerdotal dress shall be procured for you."

The bishop, nodding assent, was then conducted in solemn silence into the wardrobe of the castle, where the obsequious attendants soon arrayed him in a dress fit for a bishop to sit with the king at supper in. It was not such unpretending costume as that in which bishops are at present apparelled; but robes of the tinctured colours of the East, which were more apt to remind both the wearer and the beholders of mundane pomps and vanities, than of the humility and simplicity of[21] Christianity. The alb was of most dazzling white, the dalmatica of gold tissue, the stole was embroidered with precious stones, and the chasuble, of purple velvet wrought with orfraise, was also studded with costly orient gems.

The bishop thus splendidly accoutred was conducted with great state and solemnity into the banqueting-room, one of the most magnificent and spacious of the kind. It excelled everything he had ever before seen: odoriferous and fragrant perfumes, fit for a Peri[3] to feed on, saluted his nose; his sight was dazzled by splendid and radiant illuminations, the most exquisite music stole upon his ear, and laughter and mirth seemed to be universal; every face (there were many hundreds in the room) was decked with a smile; there wanted but one thing to complete the enchantment of the scene,—the light of woman's laughing eye.

As the bishop entered the hall, five hundred harpers in an instant twanged their harps; and the air resounded with trumpets, clarions, fifes, and other musical instruments, not omitting the hollow drum.

The bishop, being tainted with the superstitious feelings of the age, easily persuaded himself that he was in an enchanted palace; he therefore determined to conform to every custom that prevailed in the assembled company, and by that means he hoped to ingratiate himself with the presiding spirit. When he had reached the centre of the hall, the king (he wore a robe of rich crimson velvet, furred with ermine, over a dalmatica flowered with gold, rubies, emeralds, pearls, and diamonds, and on his head was a splendid crown beyond estimation,) descended from a throne of the purest crystal, and advanced to meet the bishop. As he passed the obsequious nobles, he received their servile adulation with a smile, and, extending his arms, folded the bishop in a royal embrace. The latter surveyed with some awe the brawny shoulders of the king, and regarded with much respect the amber-coloured locks hanging in great profusion down his musculous back. The bishop thought that the aquiline nose, the expansive brow, the large clear azure eye, and the ruddy complexion of his host, about as much resembled those of his own monarch as a terrible-looking bull-dog does a snarling mongrel. But he kept his complimentary thoughts of his host to himself, as he was not at any time of a communicative spirit,—he was a proud, not a vain man,—and he moreover did not know how his compliment might be received.

The king handed the bishop to the upper end of the hall, and placed him at his right hand. No sooner were they seated than twenty trumpeters, in a gallery at the lower end of the room, blew, as the signal for supper to be served up, three such electrifying blasts, that, had the building not been as substantial as beautiful, it must have been shaken.

As the loquacious seneschal, in tempting the bishop to quicken his steps to supper, has put us in possession of many of the various articles provided for this festive entertainment, we shall not weary our reader by recapitulating them; but content ourselves with stating[22] that, in addition to the solid fare, there were exquisite and delicate fruits and viands, with wines and liqueurs of the choicest quality and flavour. The supper-service was of the most superb description, frosted silver and burnished gold; the goblets, vases, and wine-cups were of crystal, mounted in gold richly carved. Such a feast the bishop had never seen or tasted; and yet he was, like many of his predecessors and successors too, perfectly familiar with the charms of eating and drinking.

Nothing produces good-fellowship, intimacy, and conviviality more than a good supper. We do not mean the cold, formal, and pompous supper given to a fashionable party of the present day; but such as were peculiar to by-gone days, when the table groaned under hot and solid joints, and the company, with good appetites as provocatives, ate and drank right heartily,—when glee and joy sat merrily upon every face, and the glass went briskly round. Even misanthropes or proud men could not be insensible to such festive scenes; their hearts would necessarily warm as the exhilarating wine washed away their gloomy and proud thoughts.

The bishop soon became familiar with his host, ate, drank, laughed, and was merry; (we will not so scandalise the Bench as to presume that he was drunk, although the Chronicle of Lanercost insinuates as much;) the conversation was brilliant, the wit bright and poignant, and the repartees flashed, and often rebounded upon the discharger.

To put a direct or pointed question at any time is, to say the least of it, ungentlemanly; it very often gives dire offence, is seldom admired or tolerated even by your most intimate acquaintance; and men are seldom guilty of it, unless in their cups, or with a desire of insulting:—how unpalatable must it be to royalty! As we know it was the bishop's desire to keep upon good terms with his host, it is but natural to infer that he would not intentionally insult him by any rude question. If, therefore, any rudeness occurred on the part of the bishop, it is charitable to set it down to inebriation, or perhaps to the bishop's habit of putting questions in the confessional.

To the ineffable surprise of the king, the bishop was so injudicious as to ask his host, in the most direct and pointed manner, who he was, and whence he came there.

No sooner had the bishop attempted to satisfy his prying curiosity by what appeared to him a very natural question, than the hall shook as if Nature were indignant at his presumptuous inquiry; the whole place was filled with an effulgent lambent light so brilliant, that it entirely eclipsed the blaze of the variegated lamps that burned in the hall; a low murmuring wind followed. The king's eyes seemed to flash liquid fire as he answered, "Know me for what I am,—Arthur, formerly lord of the whole monarchy of Britain, son of the mighty Pendragon, and the illustrious founder of the Order of the Round Table."

The bishop, having a firm heart and buxom valour, was far from being daunted, as most men in a similar situation would have been, and he inquired whether the story then current was true, that King Arthur was not dead, but had been carried away by fairies into some pleasant place, where he was to remain for a time, and then return again and reign in as great authority as ever; or whether he died by the sword-wounds he received from the sons of the king of the Picts;[23] and if so, whether his soul was saved, and come to revisit this sublunary world. The bishop, meditating authorship, asked a thousand other questions relative to the immortality of the soul; and so subtle were they, that, had they been put in these days of sciolism and charlatanry, his fame would have been as brilliant, lasting, and deserved as that of the noble editor of Paley's Theology.

Whether King Arthur did not choose to satisfy the bishop's curiosity, or whether, judging from the usual depth of the human mind, he thought the immortality of the soul a subject too deep and mystic for such moonshine treatises as have been written concerning it, the Chronicle of Lanercost does not inform us. It merely states, that to all the bishop's searching questions Arthur only replied, "Verè expecto misericordiam Dei magnam." He had no sooner uttered those words than a roar, like the falling of mighty waters such as Niagara's was heard, and from the incense-altar another blaze of transcendent light issued: the whole assembly, excepting the bishop, prostrated themselves and chaunted a hymn, which he, mistaking for a bacchanal-venatical chorus, heartily joined in. Upon this outrage of public decency, the chaunt instantly terminated with a crash resembling what is ignorantly called the falling of a thunderbolt; the altar again smoked, and horrible and clamorous noises issued therefrom, like the bellowing of buffaloes, the howling of wolves, the snarling and barking of hounds, the neighing of horses, the halloo of huntsmen, and the blasts of brazen trumpets, all in heterogeneous mingle. The smoke gradually assumed the appearance of a host of hunters; one of them, evidently their chief, fixed his glaring eyes upon the bishop, and frowned awfully. The bishop did not admire the looks of the hunter-chief, and even winced a little when he raised his ghastly arm, (as a self-satisfied orator does when about to enforce some appalling clap-trap sentiment,) and said in a gruff growl, "I am Nimrod, of hunting fame, and such a hunter was I as the world had not before, or since, or will ever have again. Yet was I no monopolizer of game, or murderer of men to preserve it, as some have unjustly charged me. I loved the chase, and taught my subjects to love it too; but thou, oh Bishop Peter, hast been a cruel hunter, and strict preserver of game. The tongues thou hast dilacerated, the ears and noses thou hast cut off, and the wretches thou hast slain, form an awful catalogue of cruelty, and one that will require tears of blood to wash out. Hearken to the lamentations of thy victims, and the bewailings of the widows and orphans thy cruelty hath made! Hadst thou not been so peerless and bold a hunter, I should not have condescended to warn you of the terrible fate you will experience in the world to come, unless you mend your ways. Lover and encourager that I was, and interested as I still am in that manly sport, I would sooner that it were entirely lost to the world than it should be disgraced by human bloodshed. List, I say, to the cries of the victims whom thou hast sacrificed at the altar of Diana, thy divinity!" Loud lamentations were now heard, and a hideous group of dismembered menacing ghosts flitted rapidly before the bishop's wondering sight. He closed his eyes to avoid their angry looks; one writer insinuates that he swooned, but we think that unlikely. Be it, however, as it may, upon his opening his eyes he neither saw Nimrod, his crew, nor any of the victims of the forest-laws. They had every one of them disappeared!


King Arthur, like a brave and magnanimous prince, soon forgot and forgave the bishop's want of good breeding in asking impertinent questions; though he severely chid him for having split so many human noses, and dismembered Christians without the slightest remorse, for so trifling an offence as infraction of the forest-laws: and that, too, within the very precinct of Winchester Castle, where the Round Table was preserved. The bishop thought those offences anything but trifling, and that the souls as well as bodies of the offenders merited the severest punishment, instead of commiseration.

King Arthur then denounced the concupiscence of the dignitaries of the church, and their appetite for, and easy digestion of, the good things of the world; and he declared that they regarded nothing but sensual gratification, and wasted their precious lives in banqueting, hawking, and hunting. He entreated the bishop to leave off his hunting habits, and to take unto those that were more episcopal and less sanguinary. He told him that it would add considerably to his mundane happiness, and tend more to his salvation than ten thousand thoughtless repetitions of the "pater noster" and twelve thousand of the "ave Maria." So much did King Arthur say, needless here to be repeated, that the bishop mentally resolved to profit by the king's advice. But it occurred to him that he could not suddenly leave off hunting without assigning a sufficient reason for his determination; and that if he related what had befallen him, his being a bishop would not entitle him to credit, nor protect him from the derision of his sovereign and his courtiers; for who would believe his most solemn asseveration that he had seen Nimrod, and conversed and supped with King Arthur?

King Arthur, perceiving what was agitating the bishop's ideas, determined to assist in fulfilling so righteous a resolve as the bishop was meditating.

"Extend your right hand," said Arthur; the bishop complied. "Shut it," said Arthur; the bishop did as he was told. "Now open it," continued Arthur. The bishop opened his hand, and there flew therefrom an exquisitely beautiful butterfly.

The bishop, notwithstanding all that he had just before seen and heard, now in real good earnest believed himself bewitched, and heartily wished that he had never forsaken the profession of a soldier for that of a bishop, to be subject to miracles; for in those days miracles and visions only occurred to the dignified clergy.

King Arthur, compassionating the bishop's perturbation, said, "Whenever in relating your adventure any one doubts it, you shall afford him sufficient autopsy of its verity by sending, at all seasons of the year, a butterfly from your hand, in memorial of me and of your virtuous resolution."

The bishop cordially thanked King Arthur for his kindness and consideration, and swore by the face at Lucca, (his favourite oath,) that as long as he lived, he would never again sound the bugle, follow hounds, nor punish man, woman, or child for infringing the game-laws; and that he would moreover exert all his influence with King John to relax the inhuman severity of the forest-laws.

No sooner had the bishop made a solemn adjuration to that effect than he felt a stunning blow upon his head, which deprived him of all sensation. When he recovered, he found himself lying where Velocipede had thrown him, and the brute quietly grazing by his side.


The bishop vaulted upon his saddle, spurred his steed, and galloped off as fast as the creature could go. After a ride of about five miles, he found his attendants anxiously seeking him. He related all that had occurred, to their great awe and astonishment; but when they had autoptical evidence of the truth of his narration, by his letting loose a mealy-winged butterfly from his hand, their fear and wonder exceeded all bounds.

The bishop's adventure was soon bruited abroad, and thousands flocked from all parts of England, Scotland, Ireland, and even the Continent, to see the man who had supped with King Arthur, and seen the hunter Nimrod. Many more came to witness a miracle performed: a circumstance of rare occurrence to the vulgar in those days, miracles, as we have above observed, being reserved for the private view of bishops and monks. Those pilgrimaging to Winchester always sought and received a blessing from the butterfly hand of the bishop as soon as he was satisfied that a liberal oblation had been made at the high altar of his cathedral.

The frequent repetition of the miracle obtained for Peter the appellation of the Butterfly Bishop; and the offerings at the high altar so greatly augmented his revenue, that he never once repented of his promise to King Arthur. His time was so occupied in performing the miracle and blessing the people, that he had no time, whatever was his inclination, for hunting.

The Chronicler ends this strange story in the following words "Quid in hoc anima Arthuri mortalis adhuc docere voluerit, perpendat qui meliùs conjicere poterit:"—which, for the benefit of our female readers, may be rendered thus,—"What the still mortal soul of Arthur wished to teach by this, let him consider who can best interpret."


O, say have you heard of Duvernay?
They tell me she's able to earn a
Hundred pounds in a night,
Such crowds she'll delight—
What danseuse is like to Duvernay?
If you e'er go to see this Duvernay,
Just notice her when she shall turn a
Most sweet pirouette,
And you'll never regret
Forking out to behold this Duvernay.
Would you know where you may see Duvernay?
You must go to Pall-mall, and just turn a
Little up a wide street,
When the Opera you'll meet,
And there you'll behold this Duvernay.
Tell me not of Leroux or Taglioni;
One's too stout, and the other's too bony:
If you see them all three,
You'll be thinking with me,
Of all dancers the flow'r is Duvernay.


City of London Institution,



Is it creditable to that very respectable academical abstraction, that indefatigable pioneer to the march of intellect, (which some imagine to be the rogues' march,) the schoolmaster, notwithstanding his ubiquity, and his being lately abroad on his travels, that the medical faculty, with all their appliances of pill and book, have not up to this hour been able to devise a remedy for a very common-place disorder, so feelingly enunciated in that touching and eloquent exclamation, "I really don't know what to do with myself!" or to ascertain in what category of diseases incident to humanity it is to be placed? Like hydrophobia, it has baffled the ingenuity of the faculty, who summarily disposed of the evil between two feather-beds; and, though no effectual remedy has been devised for this pet malady, a feather-bed, or an easy-chair, has been found to operate as a sedative. One thing is clear; that, of all the ills that flesh or spirit is heir to, this interesting disorder possesses as respectable a degree of obstinacy and virulency as ever humanity had to cope with.

Talk of being dunned for your own or anybody else's debt; talk of a favourite horse or dog falling sick just as you are ready to mount, and the scent reeking hot on the stubble; of being bored, no matter with what; talk—even if one is put to that—of the devil; and what are all these petty annoyances to that sublime of blue-devilism to which a poor devil is reduced, when, in his extremity, he reposes his hands on his "fair round belly," or thrusts them to the very bottom of his breeches' pockets, with not a cross there to keep the devil out, and feelingly exclaims, "I really don't know what to do with myself!" One may double the corner on a dun, or stop his mouth for three months together with a promissory note, though at the end of that period it may be as fructifying as any note of admiration; or, at worst, pay him and be d—d to him, and there's an end. That biped Shank's mare is a very respectable animal, which you may borrow; or any body else's who may be disposed to lend. In case of a bore, you may retaliate, and perforate in your turn. You may defy the devil, though backed with this world, and his own, and the flesh to boot. But when that ne plus ultra of blue-devilism attacks you, what's the remedy? I don't know—do you? but this I know; that it is the most rascally, &c. &c. &c. kind of malady, will be generally admitted.

Your poor devil at the East-end, and your devil-may-care fellow of the West-end, are equally honoured by its visitation; while your happy, active middle-man, who stands aloof from either end, sturdily bids it defiance, and slams the door in its face. Under the influence of this visitor it is that sundry pious pilgrimages are made to the foot of Waterloo or Blackfriars' bridges, to steal out of life through an archway, unless the dear enthusiast is interrupted by a meddling officious waterman, and his senses gently wooed back by the resuscitating apparatus and warm blankets of the Humane Society. Will Sprightly, with four thousand a-year unincumbered, doesn't know what to do with himself, and straightway falls to the agreeable occupation of encumbering it, and, when it will bear no more, he finds he[27] cannot bear himself, and incontinently flies from one state of suspense to another, and hangs himself; or, should the ruling passion be strong in death, and he is desirous even then to cut a figure, why, he cuts his throat; or, the report of a pistol will give you a pretty correct intimation of his whereabouts, and his probable occupation. "Temporary insanity" is uniformly the verdict of your "crowner's 'quest" on such occasions; even a physician of any repute will honestly state on ordinary occasions, particularly when the patient has the benefit of his skill and experience in helping him to leave this wicked world, that he died of such and such a disorder, and will manfully state the name of the disorder, and the world gives him credit for his skill and integrity. Would gentlemen serving upon "crowners' 'quests" imitate this heroic example, instead of recording the foolish verdict of "temporary insanity," they would say, "The deceased didn't know what to do with himself!" This would be intelligible, and the faculty might stumble upon a remedy; but "temporary insanity" is too transitory, too fugitive to be grappled with, too vague and indefinite in its very name ever to do any good, and the patient is generally "past all surgery" before one suspects he is attacked with insanity, be it ever so temporary or evanescent: but in honestly recording that "he didn't know what to do with himself, and thereby came by his death," it would be but doing justice to that interesting malady. Thus it could be easily observed in all its stages, from its incipient symptoms at the gaming or any other well-garnished table, where it sometimes takes its rise, through all its phases and evolutions, till the malady comes to a head, and a man blows out his brains. The disease, through each of these changes, might be stayed in its progress, and society might be benefited by the honesty of the verdict.

Shade of the "mild Abernethy!" how many thousands of thy patients laboured under this disorder! and how often did thy sagacious and provident spirit turn the halter into a skipping-rope, and, in order that thy patients should live, insist upon a few mouthfuls the less!

To a feeling very near akin to this, Tom Binks found himself reduced, as, about twelve at noon, he flung himself into an easy-chair, and sought, from the appliances of its downy cushions, a lenitive for his wounded spirit. His feet on the fender, the fire gently stirred, the curtains still undrawn and shutting out the garish sun, his eye fixed on the glowing landscape formed by the fantastic combination of the embers in the grate, the corners of his fine mouth drawn down in hopeless despondency, as if nothing on earth could elevate them, his hands clasped over his knees, he sat, not knowing what to do with himself.

The room in which Binks sat was small, but elegant; pictures of the most costly description covered the walls,—the most exquisite that owned him or anybody else as master; gold and silver had done their work. On the polished surface of the tables were thrown the most amusing works of the day, the last new novel, the lively magazine, the gay album, the serious review, all exhibiting on the same board like so many brethren of the Ravel family, in the most alluring and seductive shapes; but they exhibited in vain. With all these elements of happiness around him, what could Binks sigh for? With easy possessions, he was the most uneasy of human beings. Did he play, fortune was always in the best humour with him: in the billiard-room[28] the ball bounded from his cue to its destination; in the field his shot was unerring, and the papers regularly chronicled the murder, or the music, of his gun: no man stood better with ins and outs; his maiden speech was said to be shy, simply because it was maiden, but full of promise. With the ladies he was whatever he or they pleased; but now you could "brain him with my lady's fan" as he sits vegetating, or cogitating, on a pile of cushions, his breakfast scarcely touched, and hardly sensible of his shaggy friend that lay couched at his feet, with his snout buried in the hearth-rug, and his bloodshot eye occasionally wandering in search of a regard from his listless master.

At an early age Binks had contrived to run through half the Continent and his fortune together; he had travelled from "Dan to Beersheba," and all was barren; and, at twenty-three, the gay Binks had serious notions that this was not the best of all possible worlds, and that that world, commonly known as the other, to distinguish it from this, might hold out a store of enjoyment of higher zest and relish than the common-place realities of this. Whether he should wait for his turn when the passage to it might become quite natural, or force his way vi et armis, that is, with a pistol in hand, (for some folks will be impatient, and enter in at a breach,) was a matter that sorely perplexed him. Tired of this hum-drum life, which a man of common activity can exhaust of its most stimulating excitements in a few years, was it surprising that he wished for another? But the doubt that it was a better, would sometimes intrude itself, and agitate the very powder in the pan of the pistol that lay before him on the breakfast table. Now that the murder is out, it must be confessed that Binks had a notion of shooting himself.

What heroic resolves he then made! What a noble contempt for this world he then exhibited as he resolutely eyed the pistol, curiously scanned its silver mounting, saw that the powder was in the pan, looked anxiously around to see that none intruded, or should deprive him of the honour of falling by his own hand: still he hesitated; he lifted the deadly weapon with one hand, and with the other a volume of Shakspeare, which opened at the play of Hamlet, and, by the hasty glance which he threw on it, he perceived that "the Eternal had set his canon 'gainst self-slaughter," and Binks was perplexed. It became now a matter not so much of life and death as of simple calculation; on one side there was a pistol for, and on the other a canon 'gainst self-slaughter. In this state of indecision, thus sorely beset with adverse arguments, what did Binks do? Why, he acted somewhat like a sensible man; he yielded to the heavier weight of metal,—the great-gun of Shakspeare carried it; and he consented to live, drew the charge, lest he should return to it, (for he knew his man,) and made up his mind that Shakspeare was a sensible fellow. Have you ever felt as if your very heart-strings were tugged at by wild horses, when the infernal host of blues, marshalled by the devil himself, have taken the field against your peace, and that you don't know what to do with yourself?

"Throw but a stone, the giant dies."

Very good; but a pebble of such potency is not always at hand, particularly in a drawing-room. Do something, no matter what: go into[29] the open air; there's your window invitingly open, and, provided it is not too far from the ground, 'tis but a step in advance to the shock that may rouse you. Turn financier,—chancellor of your own exchequer; there's your tailor's bill lying on the table, wooing you to analyze its soft items; give it a first reading, and pass it. What a relief, on such occasions, is the presence of any living creature!—your sleek tabby,—no,—that fellow doesn't know what to do with himself neither. Your playful little Italian grey-hound, whose playfulness is the very poetry of motion. And Binks found no relief in these gentle appliances. There he lies, flung upon his ottoman, and dallying with its downy cushions, with his foot of almost feminine symmetry coquetting with his morocco slipper, jerking it off and on according to the intensity of the fit. Ponto stands before him. Noble dog, Ponto! He, too, has his turn at the slipper, and seizes it in his huge mouth, and gambols round the room with it, and now crouches with it before his master, and earnestly looks at him, and those two eyes of his suggest a double-barrelled gun, and this puts a pistol into his head, and there it was at hand, lying on the table, just ready for a charge.

"Mr. Cently," said a servant, half-opening the door; and Binks indolently extended the forefinger of his jewelled hand to his visitor.

"Very glad to see you, Cently; this mortgage, I suppose—"

"Is over due, Mr. Binks,—must redeem, though. I shan't let it out of the family. The sum is large—hard to get—bad times. Fine dog that—bulls and bears are very sulky to-day on 'Change.—Dear me, a murderous-looking pistol that, sir—muzzle to muzzle—then brains against the wall."

"Provided he has them," said Binks.

"Every man has a little—quality's the thing. I have to meet Scrip in the City at two—no time to lose, sir;" and Binks, who was made aware of the necessity of a visit to the City, to arrange the terms of a loan, put himself under the plastic hands of Bedo, and in a few minutes the pair were rolling towards the City in Cently's carriage, which thundered along, scarcely waiting to take the necessary turns, and narrowly escaped running down several old women of both sexes, till they came to Charing-Cross.

"Money is scarce in these times," said Cently, as a sprinkling of cabs and omnibuses impeded their course; "broad acres are fine things. I mustn't let them go. The sum is large—ten per cent."

All this, and a few other equally interesting particulars, were lost upon the abstract Binks, who was quietly lolling back in the carriage, and exercising his optics and calculating powers on the size, number, and colours of the tom-cats as they sunned themselves on the gutters, or held attic intercourse with one another, between May-fair and Temple-bar.

"You understand me," continued Cently; "let me see; how many thousands? I think it cannot be under fourscore,—great amount that!"

"Not quite so many," said Binks; "I only counted sixty, and I'm correct to a tail; bet you a rump and dozen on it."

"On what, sir?"

"On the cats, Cently."

"Ha! ha! Very facetious, Mr. Binks; but I'm not joking.

"You bore me, Cently. Set me down here. Go, and do the needful; and when all's ready to sign and seal, you'll find me here;" and[30] Binks alighted from the carriage, and ascended the stairs of the Mansion-house, which was then alive with sounds and sights of gladness: a kind of fancy-fair was being held there for the benefit of some charitable institution, and the élite of the North, and wealth of the East and West ends were combined in the holy cause of charity. He entered, and mingled with the gay groups that promenaded the hall, which was converted into a bazaar, where beauty and bijouterie lured the careless purchaser,—where a thousand soft things were said and handled, and the angel of charity spread her wings over a scene where streamed and flaunted many a silken banner, and pointed to every little stand. "Happy country!" thought Binks, "that, amid all the anxieties and contentions of commerce and politics, remembers in these noble institutions the cause of the widow and the orphan. This must be the surest mart for beauty when she's found at a stand in the sacred cause of charity. Here the thoughtless forget themselves, and think of others; here the merchant is generous, and forgets his change."

"I ain't a-going to be done out of my half-crown that way neither, ma'am," said a burly little personage in top-boots and perspiration to a lovely girl who presided at a stand, and who was trying to lure a supplementary half-crown, the balance of a half-sovereign, which, after much grumbling, he consented to pay for a shaking mandarin. The thorough-bass in which this was uttered roused Binks from his reverie, and, on looking round, he beheld the lovely girl in playful yet earnest contention for the half-crown, which the fat little man finally surrendered to a few persuasive looks, and good-humouredly pocketed his shaking mandarin and his chagrin together, and marched off.

Binks approached, and as she raised her eyes from the gay assortment before her, still animated with the pious contention in which she was engaged, they encountered those of Binks, who was riveted to the spot gazing at the beautiful creature that stood before him. He turned over a few articles, and became at once deeply immersed in the gay little miscellany before him. She would show everything.—Yes,—the articles were of the best description; and Binks felt those taper fingers, as they tossed them about, as if they were busy with his heart-strings; and the perverse Binks asked twenty different questions, and got as many answers eloquent and sweet: and then there were looks lustrous and shy, and blushes deep and enchanting; and she would go on expatiating on the beauty of her bijouterie, and he would stand absorbed and drinking in the sweet sound of a voice that was modulated with the sweetest harmony,—and she would help him to a pair of gloves. Binks took several pairs. The first he tried on were very perverse,—too tight; and the fairest hands in the City would distend them, and she would help to draw them on; and then their palms would meet, and their fingers seek one another, and the taper finger of the sweet girl and the jewelled hand of Binks would be imprisoned unconsciously for a few seconds in the same glove.

"I shall take the whole," said he, and Julia (for that was her name) was delighted; and Binks was asking for more, and pulled out,—not his purse, but the disappointed hand that was seeking for it.—The purse was not there.


No doubt it was that very civil gentleman that rubbed against him as he was stepping out of the carriage, and apologised. Here was a grab at heart-strings and purse-strings together. He drew out a box set with brilliants,—it would stand him at a pinch,—and took a small one from the stand, and he would exchange boxes. And this was love,—love at first sight,—which we would match all the world over with any at second sight.

"Oh, love! no habitant of earth art thou."

Henceforth shalt thou take thy stand at a bazaar, and we shall bare our bosom to thy shafts, provided they be tipped with a little charity, and drawn in the holy cause of a benevolent institution! The hours lingered on as if they too had come to a stand, the evening stole on apace, group after group vanished from the bazaar, and Binks and Julia were still in sweet and endearing communion with each other. The evening was chilly, and he would help on her splendid cachmere; and the loveliest arm in the City leant on Binks as he led her down the steps of the Mansion-house. The evening was fine, and he would see her home; and both wondered to find themselves at her father's door. And then there was a sweet good-night, and kind looks, and gentle pressings of the hand, and promises to meet again.

"Want a coach, sir?" said a heavy-coated, slouched-hat brother of the cab to Binks, as he stood wondering at himself, his adventure, and the fairy figure that a smart servant in livery had just closed the door upon.

"Yes—no,—I—I'll walk, friend,—the night's fine;" which healthy resolution he was induced to take from certain reminiscences, and his purse, though absent, was thought of with regret.

And Binks trod his perilous way through the "palpable obscure" of the City with buoyant spirits, as if a pinion lifted every limb, notwithstanding a little plebeian pressure from without through Cheapside, as often as he forgot his own side of the way; and he entered his club the happiest dog that ever moonlight, or its rival luminary gas-light, shone upon, and surrendered himself to the intoxicating influence of the only draught of pure pleasure he ever quaffed.

Julia Deering was the only daughter of a rather comfortable trader, a man well to do in the world,—that is, in the City. Business—business was at once his solace and his pride, and any pursuit or avocation in life of which that bustling noun-substantive was not the principal element, was an abomination in his sight. The West-end, he thought, had no business where it stood. He looked upon it as a huge fungus, the denizens thereof good for nothing; and lords—no matter of what creation—he looked upon with the most supreme contempt. Julia was his only child, and, next his business, the sole object of his solicitude. She grew into loveliness and womanhood amid the smoke and seclusion of her father's premises; and, though turned of "quick seventeen," yet he thought that her settlement in the world, like the settlement of an account with an old house in the City, might take place at any time. Any hint to the contrary, whether through the eloquent and suggestive looks of the maiden herself, or the unequivocal assiduity of City beaux, was sure to make the old man peevish.


Julia, with a world of sense, had a spice of romance about her. She loved the West-end, or anything pertaining to it, as much as her father hated it. A noble mirror in her little boudoir, as she toyed and coquetted with her budding beauties before it, frequently hinted that she might be a fine lady; which could only come to pass by her becoming the wife of something like a lord. City beaux were her aversion. They looked at her through stocks, and she often wished their necks in them.

Many were the stolen visits to the City which Binks made to see his young betrothed. His suit prospered,—Julia was everything he could wish; but as fathers will be in the way on such occasions,—how can they be so hard-hearted?—and as something like his consent was deemed necessary, Binks, through the medium of a friend, had the old man's sentiments sounded on the subject; and a decided refusal, couched in no very flattering terms, was the result. "I cannot disguise from you," said Julia one evening to Binks, after he had communicated to her the disastrous intelligence, "that there is much to encounter in my father's disposition. He is old and wealthy, with only myself to inherit it; and—would you believe it?—he has the greatest aversion to a man of rank, and thinks superior manners and accomplishments only a cover to heartlessness and deceit; and, what is strange, he has repeatedly said he will never consent to my union with anybody as long as he is in anything like health,—in short, till he is no longer able to protect me himself."

"That is strange indeed!" said Binks, as he hung with the tenderest rapture on the confiding frankness and simplicity of his fair companion; "your father's objections are no less serious than strange."

"Can nothing," inquired Julia despondingly, "be done to get over them?" Had Echo been present, she would have said, "Get over them."

"There can, there can," said Binks with transport; "I have it. So long as your father is in good health, he will never give his consent to your marriage. Now he is old: and suppose he can be persuaded that he looks ill,—such things, you know, are done,—and contrive that he shall keep his bed for a few days; and then,—and then, my dear girl, let the affair be again pressed upon him." And Binks met the ingenuous blush and smile of his young betrothed as she acquiesced with an embrace, in which was blended more heartfelt rapture than ever he experienced in the dissipated round of tumultuous and exciting pleasures.

"The times are certainly very bad, Julia," said old Deering to his daughter, as they were at breakfast one morning together; "I never recollect them so bad;" and he helped himself to a large slice of ham.

"They may be bad, pa," said the daughter; "but you mustn't take it so much to heart. Everybody notices how ill you look since the firm of Dobody and Sons went."

The old man suspended a piece of ham, that he had impaled on a fork, midway between his mouth and plate; and, planting his right hand on his thigh, he looked earnestly at the girl.

"What connexion, hussey, has that failure with my looks or my books either? As long as I can keep both free from blotches, I don't care a fig for what the world says. But I do believe, girl, that I am[33] not as well as either of us could wish,—I am fallen off in my appetite. I could finish my ham,—three slices,—and a few eggs; but I am a little changed, Julia. Hussey, you've a sharp eye; and to notice it!"

"Lord! pa," said the insidious Julia, "all your acquaintance notice it. Mr. Coserly was the first to notice it."

"And what did the rascal say?"

"Why, pa, he said nothing; but there was a great deal in that. When certain people say little or nothing, they mean a great deal; and when there is a great deal of meaning in what one does not say, why, it's a very dangerous thing; isn't it, pa?"

"Very true, child, very true. But what can we have for dinner to-day, Julia? I expect an old friend of mine, Mr. Tibbs over the way; a very proper, industrious, well-to-do-in-the-world kind of man is honest Dick Tibbs. He owes me a trifle,—but that is nothing between us. He is none of your West-end chaps,—no lack-silver spendthrift,—no hair-lipped, hair-brained scamp, with all his fortune on his back, like a pedlar and his wallet.—Another cup of tea, Julia.—As I was saying, honest Dick Tibbs is——' But what's the matter with the girl? Why, there's the tea running out of the urn these last two minutes about the floor. Why, Julia, what is the matter? Ah! I see how it is—I thought as much. Ye're a cunning pair. But not yet a while, Julia; time enough, girl,—time enough. When your dear mother was——"

"I—I—wo-o-on't be Mrs. Ti-i-bbs for all that, pa," hysterically sobbed Julia; "I won't be married——"

"That's a dear love!" whimpered the old man; "don't think of marrying him yet until I'm——. But I'm pretty strong yet. I'll live, so I will, till—ugh!—ugh!—these rheumatics—as long as—Deuce take this old cough!"

"As long as God pleases, pa; as long as God pleases," said Julia; and she slid her arm coaxingly round her father's neck, and wiped away the perspiration that stood like whip-cord upon his brow; and he fell to musing on the girl's words, and left his breakfast unfinished.

In the course of that week, through the industry of his daughter, the old man was plagued wherever he went with condolence and inquiries about his health, which he heard with all the petulance and irritability of a miser upon whose hoards an unexpected demand is to be made. He accordingly dosed himself with physic, gorged himself at his meals, and took such peculiar pains to preserve his health after this fashion as would have deprived any other person of it.

A circumstance at length occurred that bade fair to supersede the necessity of Julia's pious artifice, and to produce ill looks in abundance in the old man. A house with which he was connected failed, and involved him in its ruin. This was a blow that smote the old man to the heart, and he sank under it. Everything was surrendered to the creditors; and his house, with its splendid furniture, was submitted to the hammer of the auctioneer.

On the morning of that day a note was put into Binks' hands; it was from Julia, and to the effect "that as her father's ruin left her no alternative but to share his lot, she could not, under such circumstances,[34] think of involving him in their ruin, and begged he would think no further of the matter."

"Poor girl!" said Binks, as he gazed on the note that told so briefly of so much calamity. What a real bonâ-fide misfortune was, crushing and accumulating, and, as it were, breaking the man's heart within him, he had no idea of, except what the pathetic in a novel, or the chapter of accidents in a newspaper, furnished. These things were well enough to read, and to talk about, at a clear fire-side; but for a substantial display of energetic and effective sympathy, by succouring the distressed, it was what he did not think himself capable of. A second time, however, he mastered his indolence, and drove to Julia's house.

What a situation was it in, and what a sight did it present! If there is in this world a scene more harrowing to human feeling than another, 'tis that presented by one's house on the eve of an auction,—a scene of "confusion worse confounded." The tossing about and displacing, by strange hands, of articles that from time and association have become part and parcel of ourselves, linked with a thousand sweet recollections, and the innocent display of which was a source of dearest household pleasure, now parcelled and ticketed out, and catalogued, for the curious and malevolent hands and eyes of strangers! Our dearest and holiest places of privacy intruded upon; our sweet little nooks and haunts, which are, as it were, set apart for the most favoured of our household gods, and where only the footsteps of tenderest love should be heard, now echoing and teeming with strange sounds and sights!

What a sad volume, and in boards too, is a piece of carpeting piled in a corner of a room, revealing the unsightly seams of the naked floor; and "the decent clock," with its hands either broken or pointed to the wrong hour! The bleak and cheerless hearth, every brick of which was an object for the vacant and listless gaze of a pensive abstraction, the scene of sweet gambols and merry gossipings, all are sad mementos of the "base uses" to which the iron hand of necessity will convert objects dear to us from the sweetest household associations.

Elevated in his pulpit, the eloquent Mr. Touchem, the auctioneer, presided; and, seated beside him, the very picture of broken-heartedness, was old Deering, bent, and leaning forward on his gold-headed cane, his eye vacant and listless, looking at every article with the curiosity of a child, speaking not a word, and only betraying his interest in the scene by a sympathetic stamp of his cane on the floor whenever the nervous and grating click of the auctioneer's hammer on his desk announced the sale of some favourite article. There was one lot only which he showed any anxiety to possess, and as the porter handed it round, the old man's countenance gleamed with pleasure as his eye wistfully followed it: it was the representation of a little spaniel worked in worsted, and the joint work of Julia and his deceased wife.

"Rascal!" exclaimed the old man, as the porter somewhat roughly rubbed the dust off it, "be tender of the poor thing. That's Julia's. I—I bid for that; I bid five pounds for that," said the old man, in a voice scarcely articulate with emotion.

"Six pounds," said a voice in the crowd.


"Who bids against me?" muttered old Deering, as he ran his eye over the group whence the voice issued. "It was the work of my poor child's hands, and of her dear departed mother. Another pound for it, Mr. Auctioneer."

The same voice bid against him.

The old man raised himself in his chair, gazed wistfully and imploringly in the direction of the voice, and sank back in sullen resignation in his chair.

"Going for eight pounds—once—twice—the last time!" and the sharp and sudden click of the auctioneer's hammer, as it fell, came with a harsh grating sound on the ear of the old man, as he groaned, and muttered something between a curse and an entreaty.

Old Deering, notwithstanding the utter ruin of his fortune, still continued, from sheer force of habit, to frequent his old haunts; and his drooped and wasted figure, with his well-known tops and gold-headed cane, might be seen loitering about the purlieus of the Exchange, inquiring the price of stocks with as much anxiety as ever, and wondering at the ill-manners of some persons who, from his rambling and incoherent expressions, looked upon him as somewhat crazed. He was in truth so.

This was the time for the active benevolence of Binks to show itself; for, except when his indolence stood in the way, he had a heart. He saw Julia, and gave her the most decided assurances of his unaltered attachment, as the old man's malady threatened to become serious. He privately purchased a neat little cottage outside town, and had all the furniture (for he attended the auction, and arranged that every article of it should be bought in,) conveyed to it. He took particular care—for he consulted Julia on the details—that the disposition of the furniture in the new house should, as nearly as circumstances would permit, be exactly the same as in the house in town. Her father's easy-chair, pictures, books, the pianoforte,—for almost every article had been preserved by the management of Binks,—were put into something like their accustomed places; and little Fidelio, the object of contention at the auction, looked quite as brisk as ever, enshrined in his glass-case over the mantelpiece, not a whit the worse for having his jacket dusted. Change of air, and absence from the scene of his former activity, was suggested as the best remedy for the malady of the old man.

To this little cottage Julia and her father drove one day, on pretence of looking for a suitable residence, such as became their altered circumstances. This little cottage struck his fancy, and he expressed a wish to see it. A very agreeable young man showed them over the house. The more he examined it, the more he liked it; every thing in it was so like what he once had.

"Why, Julia, this is your pianoforte! let me hear you play; I'll know it among a thousand;" and Julia played "sweet home" for him,—an air her father always liked. His eye glistened as she played; it reminded him of better days and his old house in the City, and he dropped into his easy-chair. "And Fidelio, the little spaniel! Why, how is this, Julia?—And this gentleman?" and he looked alternately at Binks and Julia. "Ah, hussey! I see how it is; but it's an odd way of coming together."


And Binks was happy—happy as the day was long. Julia and he were married. The gay Binks, like another Hercules, gave up his club when he married, and was content with his love in a cottage, with no other interruption to his happiness than the occasional pettishness of the old man, who could never well forgive Binks for outbidding him for Fidelio at the auction. And the malady of not knowing what to do with himself never afterwards attacked him, now that the odds were two to one against it.



In Bentley's May number I read of a goose,
Whose aim in this life was to be of some use;
Now I always act on the opposite plan,
And endeavour to take the least trouble I can:
I sing at no concert, I dance at no ball,—
I'm a gentleman quite, and of no use at all!
When invited to dinner, I'd much rather starve,
Than attempt for some hungry half-dozen to carve;
And folks do exist, who, when dishes are nice,
Won't scruple to send their plates up to you twice:
All vainly for sauces on me do they call,—
I'm a gentleman quite, and of no use at all!
If ask'd for some verses an album to fill,
I don't plead want of time, but admit want of skill;
There's nothing ungentlemanlike in a dunce,
So I state the plain fact, and save trouble at once;
For, rather than write, I'd mend shoes in a stall,—
I'm a gentleman quite, and of no use at all!
When doom'd to the Opera with ladies to go,
I'm not quite so green as to play the old beau;
The fiddlers and dancers are paid to amuse,
And, to stand on their level, is what I don't choose.
When over, for footman or coach I don't bawl,—
I'm a gentleman quite, and of no use at all!
Of my club in Pall Mall I was very soon cured,
They wanted to make me a sort of a steward;
Those persons must surely have owed me a grudge,
To wish me to work as an amateur drudge.
A suggestion so horrible made my flesh crawl;
I'm a gentleman quite, and of no use at all!
I've an uncle, or nephew, or kin of some kind,
Who, to sit in St. Stephen's, once felt much inclin'd;
To his vulgar committee he added my name;
When my poor valet read it, he redden'd with shame.
With no mob from the hustings will I ever brawl,—
I'm a gentleman quite, and of no use at all!
But Death's the great leveller: every one knows
Gentility's essence is graceful repose,
And the grave yields repose that must charm e'en a Turk;
No labour or toil there, the worm does the work.
When shrouded, and coffin'd, and under a pall,
Man's a gentleman quite, he's of no use at all!

May, 1837.




"Ten years to-day! Mercy on us, time does fly indeed! it seems but yesterday. And here she sat, her beautiful fair face all reddened by the heat, as in her childish romps she puffed with might and main the fire in this very grate. Dear heart, how sweet a child it was surely! Well, David, say what folks will, I'm convinced there was a fate about it."

Before I relate how far David coincided in this opinion of his "gude wife," I will mention to whom and to what she alluded, and how I had an opportunity of declaring a similar conviction. Seated, after a kind reception by the master and matron, in their best room in the workhouse of L——, at my request they were proceeding to gratify my curiosity, raised by a picture which hung between the windows. The subject and execution were striking: it had been hit off at one of those luckiest moments for the artist, when, unconsciously, the study presented that inspiration to the task which so rarely occurs in what is termed "a sitting for a likeness." On a three-legged stool, with one foot raised upon the fender, and an old pair of bellows resting on her lap, in the act of blowing the fire,—long clustering locks, the brightest yellow that ever rivalled sunbeams, flowing from a head turned towards her right shoulder, from which a coarse holland pinafore had slipt by the breaking of one of the fastenings,—sat a child, apparently eight or nine years of age, in whose face beamed more beauty, spirit, and intelligence than surely ever were portrayed on canvass. Well might the good dame cry, "Dear heart, how sweet a child it was!" Never before or since have I beheld its equal; and the vivid recollection of the wonder I then felt, will never cease to throw its light upon the page of memory till time turns over the new leaf of existence. What admirable grace! how exquisitely free! she seemed indeed to inhale the breath that panting look bespoke a lack of. What joyous fire in her large blue eyes! and then the parted laughing lips, and small pearl teeth! the attitude how careless, and most natural! all appeared as much to live as if all actual. But, little do I hope, gentle reader, to excite in you as lively an interest for the original, by my weak tints of simple black and white, as the glowing colours of the picture roused in me. I will not attempt it; but at once proceed with the story appertaining to the object of my inquiry, as narrated by the worthy matron of "the house."

"Do you tell the tale, Bessum," said honest David, addressing his spouse, whose name, from Elizabeth and Betsy, had undergone this farther proof of the liberties married folks take with one another. "Do you tell the tale, and, if needs be, I can help you on, where you forget any part of it."

"Ah! you're a 'cute fellow, David," said Elizabeth; "you know how to set an easy task as well as any one, 'specially when it's for yourself to go about; but, never mind, I wun't rate 'e for 't, for I know 'tis a sad subject for you to deal with."

Bessum was evidently right, for the tear that stood trembling for a moment in the corner of David's eye as she spoke, rolled unheeded down his cheek; while the handkerchief that seemed to have been[38] taken from across his knees for the purpose of concealing the simplicity of the tribute his honest heart was paying, was employed, for at least the tenth time that day, to brush the irreverent dust from the picture of his "poor dear child."

I was affected to a degree for which I was unable to account, by the touching sigh poor David heaved as he replaced the handkerchief on his knees, and resigned himself to the pangs my curiosity was about to inflict on him. There was a tender melancholy in the kind creature's face that seemed to mark the lacerated feelings of intense affection. I could have pressed him to my breast in sympathy of his sufferings, for I was already a sharer of his grief before I knew the cause of it. It was at this moment that the dame began her story in the words of my commencement.

"Ten years to-day," said she, "since that picture was painted, sir."

"Ah, my poor dear child!" sighed David; from which ejaculation I inferred that I was about to hear a tale, of which his own daughter was the heroine: but I was soon undeceived by his wife, who thus proceeded:—

"It ben't necessary to go farther back into the dear child's life than to the day on which she was first placed with me to nurse. Who she is has nought to do with what she is, or the story of her life; certain sure it is she was the loveliest babe I ever saw, and I and David were as proud of her as if she were our own, bless her dear heart! How everybody talked about her! and how all the folks did love her too, surely! I can't tell ye, sir, how beautiful she was; and, as she grew, her beauty kept good pace with her years, I promise you. She was nine years old the day the painter came to make a likeness of her for her father. Here she sat in this very room, just as you see her in the picture, sir: she had run in from the garden where she had been at romps with poor George, and was puffing away at the fire with an old pair of bellows which she found among the lumber in the tool-house, when the gentleman, whom she did not notice at first, was arranging his matters for the painting of the picture. It was at the moment that she turned round to see who was in the room, that, as he said, he was so struck with her lovely face he could have taken her likeness if he had not seen her a moment longer; and, sure enough, he was not out much in his reckoning, for scarcely had he taken his pencil in his hand before the little mad-cap bounded out of the room, and ran off to her playmate in the garden. That is a copy of the picture, sir; and if the poor dear child were sitting here as she was on that day, she couldn't look more like herself than that painting does to me."

David was in the very act of again converting his handkerchief into a duster; but, after a momentary struggle, for once in a way he pressed a corner of it to his eyes, and kept his seat.

"Of all those, barring myself and David," continued the dame, "who loved the sweet child,—as, to be sure, everybody did more or less,—none seemed to dote on her so much as the young gentleman who was then our village doctor's assistant, and poor George."

"And, pray, who was poor George?" said I.

"Ah! sir, his is a sorry story too; but of that anon. He was a gentleman born, sir, bless his dear soul! but, before he was barely out of[39] his teens, study and such like turned his wits, and poor George was placed in our care, an idiot. Oh! how he would watch and wait upon his "young mistress," as he used to call the dear child! and Harri—for so we nicknamed our little Harriet—seemed to look up to him for all her amusements and happiness. Good heart! to see him racing round the garden till he was fairly tired and beat for breath, trundling her in the wheelbarrow, and fancying himself her coachman; and then how he'd follow her wherever she went, as if to protect her; always at a distance when he fancied she didn't wish him with her, but never out of sight. She appeared to be his only care; his poor head seemed filled with nothing but thoughts of her. His friends used to send him trinkets, and money, and baubles, to amuse him; and his greatest pride was to take little Harri into his room, and show her his stores, hang his gilt chains and beads about her neck, seat her in his large arm-chair, and stand behind it as if he were her footman, and play all kinds of pranks to make her laugh; for he seemed pleased when she laughed at him, though he wouldn't bear a smile from anybody else at the same cause. His senses served him at times, and then he would fall into fits of the bitterest melancholy as he sat looking in our sweet child's face, as if reflecting how much he loved her, and how little his wandering mind was able to prove his affection! Ah, poor dear fellow! it's well his sufferings ended when they did, for they would have been terrible indeed if he had lived till now; but all who loved her best, fell off from her either by death or desertion when her day of trouble came."

David's resolution was plainly wavering as to the application of his handkerchief, when Bessum gave it the turn in favour of the picture on perceiving her husband's emotion, by adding,

"As for David and myself, you know, sir, we are nobody; it would be strange indeed if we could ever have turned our backs upon the dear child."

"God forbid!" said David; and little Harri's portrait received the extra polish breathed upon it by a deep sigh, previous to the ordinary one emanating solely from the handkerchief. "God forbid!" repeated David, and Bessum added a hearty amen as she resumed her story.

"As the sweet child grew up," continued she, "she was the talk of all tongues far and near; and, before she was fifteen, sir, gentlefolks came from all parts to see her. A fine time we had of it surely; first one pretence, and then another, kept us answering questions and inquiries about her all day long. As for Dame Beetle, who kept a little shop, and sold gloves, over the way, just facing this window, she made a pretty penny by the beauty of our sweet child, although the old simpleton thought it was the goodness of her gloves that brought her so many gentlemen customers. Why, I have known no fewer than five or six of the neighbouring squires,—ay, and lords too,—so difficult to fit, that they've been standing over the little counter by the hour together; but I warrant not to much purpose, as far as the real object of their visit was concerned. No sooner did horse, or gig, or carriage stop in the village, than dear Mr. George,—that is him that was with the doctor, you know, sir."

"Oh, his name was George too?"

"Yes, that it was, sir; and down here he would run as fast as legs[40] could carry him, and his first question was always, 'David, where is little Harri? Take her into the garden.' And here he would sit till the gentlefolks opposite were gone away. If ever one creature did dote upon another, Mr. George loved that sweet child. Ah! would to Heaven he had lived to make her his wife! but it's all fate, and so I suppose it's for the best as it is; though I would have died sooner than things should have fallen out as they have, if that could have prevented it!"

"A thousand times over," responded David, with a fond glance at the picture. "I'd rather never have been born than have lived to weep over the ruin of such heavenly beauty and goodness."

A chill of horror struck upon my heart as I repeated with inquiring emphasis the word that had produced it.

"The ruin!" said I; "impossible!" and as I raised my eyes towards heaven at the thought of such a sacrifice, they caught those of the victim in the picture. I could have wept aloud, so powerful was the influence of the gaze that I encountered. There sat the loveliest creature that the world e'er saw,—an artless, careless child, health, hope, and happiness beaming in her sweet fair face; her lips, although the choicest target for his aim, the foil of Cupid's darts, so pure, so modest was the smile that parted them; her eyes, the beacon-lights of virgin chastity; her joyous look, the Lethe where pale Care could come but to be lost,—it scared off Woe! And were these made for Ruin to write shame upon! Oh, man!—monster!—ingrate fiend!—I was roused from my reverie by the perseverance of the good dame, who thus took up the thread of her discourse, that my exclamation had broken:

"Ah, poor Mr. George! if he had lived, all would have been well. I make bold to say, for certain sure, they would have been man and wife by this time; for though she used to go on finely at 'that doctor,' as the darling girl used to call him, because he was the cause of her being taken into the garden so often, without knowing why,—for all that, she loved him in her heart, poor dear! as well she might; for, as I said before, he fairly doted upon her. And yet, so delicate was his noble mind, he could never as it were talk seriously to her,—that is to say, not to make any kind of love to her, you know, sir. He had known her from a precious babe; and although his whole heart and soul, I do believe, were set upon one day making her his wife, if so be as she should not refuse him of her own free will, still he felt so almost like a father to her, though he was not more than eight or nine years older than she, that he never could bring himself to fairly pay court to her as a lover, you see."

"God bless his noble heart!" said David, as he rested his elbow on his knee, and his chin on the palm of his hand; "he always said he should be drowned: there's fate again, Bessum, sure enough."

"And did he die by drowning?" said I.

"Ay, sir," replied the dame; "and scarce was he dead, as if they only waited for that, than our sweet child's misfortunes began."

"Destiny, indeed!" thought I, as a superstitious feeling seemed to prepare me for the proofs of it.

"She was just sixteen, and that's nearly five years ago, when she lost him who would have been more than all the world to her, as a body may say, and when Lieutenant H—— brought permission from[41] a certain quarter to court her for his wife. Heavy was my poor heart at the thought of parting with the dear child; but more so ten times over, though I couldn't tell why, at the idea of who I was going to part with her to. She, poor darling, was proud of the conceit of being married, and pleased with the gold lace and cocked-hat of the young sailor. I don't believe the thought of love for him ever once entered her head: but that was nothing, for she would have loved any one who behaved kindly to her; and then to be a wife, and her own mistress, and the mistress of a house! Alack-a-day! she little knew what she was doing when she promised her hand where her heart had not gone before, and where none was beating for her. But it was well she made no objection, for it was to be, whether or no; so she was spared at least the pain of being forced against her will. Well, sir, the wedding-day came, and never do I remember such a day as it was. In vain did the bells ring and the sun shine; folks, spite of all, and of themselves too, couldn't be merry: they smiled, and talked, and tried to appear gay; but, to my plain, honest thinking, there was not a light heart in the village. Poor George, to be sure, was dancing with delight, for he saw the preparations, and the fine clothes, and he heard the bells ringing and the neighbours talking, and he understood that all was for and about his lady, as he then called his old playmate; and the idea of so much fuss and bustle on her account made him as proud and happy as if he were to be the sharer of it. Little did he imagine that it was to end in robbing him of the only comfort of his hapless life, poor fellow; and as the bride and bridegroom came from church, where to the very altar he had followed like a guardian saint, his watchful eye faithful in its duty to the last, he picked up here and there a flower that the villagers had strewn, on which she trod, and stuck them in a row in the button-holes of his waistcoat. But when the time came that our dear sweet child was to be torn from our arms, then was a scene I never shall forget. She bade us one by one good-b'ye, as if she didn't dream of being gone from us a day. It fairly seemed as though Providence had deprived her of all thought. But when she came to take her leave of George, she appeared to shrink from bidding him farewell. She took his hand, and with a fluttering smile said, 'George, I am going for a ride,' and she was gone! For full three hours after, George was missing; and when the twilight made us stir to find where he could be, there by the garden-gate he stood, with the old wheelbarrow at his side, his handkerchief spread out upon it, as he was wont to do when he used to wheel his little playmate in it years agone,—there was he waiting till she should come 'to ride.' Poor, poor creature! he had no idea of the journey that she meant, when she told him she was going for a ride. He knew that he had been her coachman many a time and oft, and he thought of no other carriage than that which he had driven. I burst out a-crying at the very sight of him. There he stood, as confident that she was coming as if he had seen her on the threshold of the door with her gypsy hat on her head. Three hours he had waited; and when I saw him, it would have melted a heart of stone to watch his look, and think upon the misery in store for him. The sun had gone down, and there was not a sound to hear, but now and then the melancholy pipe of a robin, or the distant tinkle of a sheep-bell. Everything seemed sorrowing[42] in silence at our loss; and he that would pine most, alone was ignorant of it. I hadn't courage to call him away and tell him his misfortune; but when David brought him in, and told him that his lady had gone for a ride with the 'new footman,' as the poor fellow called the lieutenant, the anguish in his face was more woeful than you can think of, sir. Every day at the same hour he brought the wheelbarrow to the garden-gate, and kept it there till sunset; then, till he went to bed, he'd sit arranging the withered flowers in his waistcoat. He was never obstinate in refusing to do as he was desired; but, unless he had been bidden to eat and drink, no morsel would have passed his lips: he never thought of hunger or of thirst; his little mistress, his old playmate, and, as he thought her, his only friend, alone occupied his mind, that never wandered now. It was fixed upon one object, and on that it dwelt. Ten months he pined and lingered for his loss; and then, more sensible than he had ever been before, poor George, sir, died!"

"And happy for him that he is no more," said I, anticipating the sequel of little Harri's story. "He has gone down to the cold bed, it is true; but his pillow is far smoother than the down that is pressed in vain for quiet and repose by the heartless and unfeeling."

"True, very true, sir," said David, and I was half in doubt whether the handkerchief would be put in requisition again; but it kept its place across the knees of my host, and Bessum continued. "From the day she left us, sir, we saw no more of our dear child for two years; but sad was the tale that reached us in the mean while. Think of her wrongs, sir;—the man who had taken her, to be parted but by death, left her the very next day, after he had robbed scores of honest hearts of the chance of proving the sincerity of their love by a life of cherishing and devotion."

"God forgive him!" said David, "for I never can."

"The gallows pardon him! for I never would," cried I.—"And what became of the deserted wife?"

Bessum, who had for nearly an hour stifled the feelings to which she was all that time hankering to give vent, finding this either too seasonable or powerful an occasion to resist, burst into tears; while David, as a counterpoise to the grief which he had heretofore monopolised, evinced a well-timed symptom of stoicism, by folding up his handkerchief at least three times as small as the usual dimensions which laundresses or common consent have established time out of mind as its proper limit, and then thrusting it into the salt-box pocket of his coat, as being the last place, at that particular crisis, to which, under the influence of his senses, he certainly must have intended its destination.

"I shall make short work of the rest on't, I promise ye, sir," sobbed the tender-hearted foster-mother; "it ben't much use to dwell upon the finish."

"End it at once," said I, impatient of farther melancholy detail.

"Twenty-four hours had not passed, sir, after the heartless fellow had become a husband, before he was aboard ship, and on his way to the Indies. He had completed his bargain; he had married our blessed child, and received his wages for the job. He took her to the house of one of her relations near London, and without telling her whither he was going, or when, if ever, he should return, left[43] her as I have described. Fancy the sweet soul's sufferings, sir!—think what she felt when she found herself a widow before she was fairly a wife! Oh! my heart bleeds when I recollect her wrongs! Well, sir, she pined and fretted till those with whom she lived would fain to have got rid of her, I promise you; and it was not long before they had their wish."

"And did the poor child die of her distress?" said I. "Alas! so young!"

"Not just then, sir. You'll scarcely think that the worst of her troubles had yet to come; but so it was, poor dear! As fate would have it, she was one day met and followed home by a gentleman, who, she could not help observing, appeared so struck with her, that, though he did not offer to speak to her, he seemed determined upon finding where she lived. Every day for more than a week did he watch the house nearly all day long; and when at last she went out of doors, he made the best of the opportunity, and began in the most woeful manner to tell her how much he loved her, and what he was suffering on her account, and to beg and pray of her not to be angry with him for what he could not help. Well, sir, he spoke so mild and respectful, and seemed so truly miserable, that the wretched widow couldn't find it in her heart to speak harshly to him, and so at first she made no answer at all. He told her that he saw she had something on her mind that distressed her, and said he felt certain sure he could make her happy, and that not even her displeasure should make him cease from the attempt. And, sure enough, to her, poor thing! he seemed to be as good as his word; for, though she forbade him to approach her in any way again, still he hovered about the house as much as ever, and wrote such letters, telling of his misery and anxiety on her account, that, tired out by the ill-treatment of those to whose tender mercies she was abandoned, sinking under the pangs of her desertion, and beset by the arts and entreaties of a fine young man, who seemed to speak so fairly for her comfort and good, in an evil hour the poor distracted and deluded creature flew to his arms for that protection which in vain was pledged her by a husband. I have already told you that, in my opinion, she never had a thought of any love for the man she had married. It is not to be wondered at, then, that one, who at least professed himself to be all that a husband should be, found no great difficulty or delay in gaining her affections and confidence in return. In short, her young heart, that had never before known the feeling, was now fixed upon this man with all the fondness and devotion of a first love. It was no hard matter, therefore, for him to persuade her to whatever he liked; and the first advice he gave her for her good, was to take a house in the neighbourhood of one of the parks, which he made his home, eating, drinking, and riding about at her expense. Well, sir, for several months this was a life of uninterrupted happiness for our poor Harri. She had quiet or company as she liked, and the society of him that she loved to madness. The first sign of interruption to the joys that, alas! are always too dearly bought at the sacrifice she had made, was the news of the arrival in England of her husband, and, within two days after that, his appearance at her house. Here was a fine to do, indeed! She was alone in her drawing-room, and no one else in the house but the two maid-servants. In vain did she entreat and resist him; by main force he[44] carried her out of the house; put her into a hackney-coach, without bonnet or shawl; and drove away with her to the house of his mother. That man was born to be her torment and ruin, sir. He had left her when he ought most to have been in her company, and he returned when his desertion had driven her in misery and despair to seek for happiness, in the expectation of which with him he had deceived her,—to disturb the comfort his heartlessness had neglected to afford her. Don't fancy that he loved her, sir. 'Twas no such thing, as I shall soon make clear to you. However, not six hours after she had been taken away, the dear child was home again, and in the arms of the man she would have risked her life for. Here was devotion, sir! She got out of a one-pair of stairs window, by letting herself down with the bed-clothes as far as they would reach, and by jumping the rest; and just as she had been taken from her home, without a bit of outdoor covering, off she set, in the cold and wet of a December night, and had to walk for full a mile and a half before she got the coach that carried her home. Did her husband love her, sir? Day after day he rode or walked past the house, and sent letters to her; but never once offered to seek out the man that kept his wife from him. Can he have loved her, sir? To leave her in the quiet possession of another, and take himself off again to the Indies! So much for the husband:—and now for the lover, as he called himself. Matters, I don't know what, took him to France, and he was to return to her who was weary of her life in his absence, within a month. He had not been gone a fortnight before she received a letter from him, written in a French prison, where he was confined for debt. That hour she started post for Dover, and in three days they were on their road home together. Little Harri had released the man she adored, and brought him away from his troubles in triumph and joy."

David's handkerchief, notwithstanding the depth into which it had been plunged, and the compactness with which it had been doubled up, was out of his pocket, unfolded, and across his knees in an instant; evincing a conviction in the mind of its proprietor that that part of Bessum's story was approaching to narration which would certainly call for its application in the united capacities to which David was in the habit of appropriating it.

The dame resumed; for I should mention that she had made a preparatory pause, in the interval of which she took occasion to fortify herself for the coming trial with a considerable pinch of Scotch snuff.

"They didn't reach home, sir," said she, "for more than a fortnight; for they stayed a day here, and a day there, to see the sights, and such like; and because she, poor dear! was in no condition for much hurry, though she had forgotten that, when she started, as she did every thing but her devoted love for him she went to rescue. But, when they did arrive, dearly did our sweet child pay for the fault a husband's cruelty had driven her to commit, and bitter was the punishment of Providence: but it was all fate, I'm sure it was; it must have been; for surely her crime did not call for such a dreadful judgment as befell her. Oh, good heart, sir! think of the poor dear after all she had undergone in a journey to a foreign land, where she had never been before, and all alone, too, sir, without a friend to help or to advise her! She had left a house fitted and furnished like[45] a little palace, as a body may say; the homestead of her high-priced, fatal happiness. Think of her reaching what she thought a home, and finding none! She was soon to be a mother, and she had not a bed to lay her down upon! In the short time that she had been away, the servant in whose charge she left her house, by the help and advice of a villain she kept company with, had carried off every thing, under the pretence that she was moving for her mistress! Ah! you may look surprised, sir, and with reason, but 'tis just as true as you and I sit here."

"God's will be done!" sobbed David, as he buried his face in his handkerchief with both his hands. "She's out of harm's way now, Bessum. God's will be done!" and the simple-hearted man wept like a boy. The tears ran so fast down the sorrowful face of the poor dame, that the relief they afforded her enabled her to proceed to the climax of little Harri's misfortunes.

"She didn't rave and take on, sir," said Bessum. "The hand of destiny was on her, and she felt it. As calmly as though nothing had occurred, she bade the coachman drive to a certain hotel; she seemed to reckon but for a moment between what she had lost and what she had regained, and she was satisfied with the account as it stood. All in the world for which she cared was still spared to her,—she had herself preserved him, the author of her dishonour, the cause of her loss, and, the only compensation for it, the father of her child! These were all she prized; and he who was one and all, now sat beside her. With a smile of resignation, confidence, and content, she looked in his face, and said, "What's to be done?"

The eyes upon the canvass seemed to ask me for an answer: I felt that I could beg subsistence for such a woman; become a drudge, a slave, or yield my life up for her sake.

"And what was his reply?" cried I.

"Good advice—good advice, sir," sobbed Bessum. "He asked her if she did not think she had better go to her old nurse!"

Mute with amazement and disgust, I sank back in my chair.

"What!" cried I, when the power of articulation returned; "was that the good advice?"

"Ay, sir,—ay! that was all the comfort our poor dear got from her lover; she asked him for no more. She didn't upbraid him. He had dealt her death-blow, and she followed his advice; she came to her old nurse, sir,—God be praised!—and I and David closed her precious eyes for ever, after they had lingered, in their last dim sight, on the lifeless image of him, whose name, with her forgiveness, and prayer to Heaven for his happiness, were the last words upon her sweet, sweet lips!"

"And if a special hand is not upraised to strew his path of life with tenfold the sharp pangs that he employed to drive his victim to an early grave," cried I, "it can only be that it has already crushed the monster into death."

My heart was faint and sick at the recital I had heard. I returned to my inn; and all that night—for it was in vain that I attempted to sleep—I mused upon this awful dispensation of the wrath of Heaven, and the dread severity with which the wisdom of vindictive Providence had stricken the transgression of poor little Harri!






"There is a magic in the craft."

Exoterics surmise it to consist in "winks and nods," proverbially of equal inspiration to steeds labouring under the dispensation of gutta serena. Mesmer's Animal Magnetism was nothing to the invisible "tractors." Ticklings of the palm have been surmised; talismanic numbers have been hinted at; sounds inaudible have been suggested; together with certain "melodious twangs," awakening pineal sympathy. Mrs. Veal's ghost, from De Foe's autopsy of the apparition, evidently held no less a grade in the scale of shadowy society than that of Master Mason.

John Locke, the philosopher, subsequently one of the fraternity, opined that the art embraced sorcery, alchemy, the transmutation of essences and of metals, together with similar common-place desiderata.

Whatever the nature of the spell, its sway is wide. Affinity of feeling generated by it runs round the world. It may be found in the land of the Chinese, of the Arab, the Red Indian, and the wild Tartar; in the frozen circle, habitat of all seals excepting Solomon's, and in the burning desert,

"Terra domibus negata."

Our story relates to the last pleasant locality.

Upon the windward coast of Africa, in a situation calculated to warm the coolest temperament, stands a European settlement,—a pimple of civilization upon the fiery face of a barbarous continent.

"Once upon a time" a lodge had existed there. Its members had ceased to melt, having gradually melted away; for the constant flux and reflux of white residents, the brief sojourn of many, and the death of an appropriate portion, rapidly vary the population of the little colony. After a lapse of years, however, it was not long since determined that the lodge should be re-opened.

The house formerly used had become ineligible; and, in the true spirit of a mason-soldier, a gallant captain offered to receive his brothers in his own wing of the barracks.

This building was advantageously situated. It crowned the summit of a high conical hill; so that, although the deluges of the rainy season were fast approaching, it could with much facility be closely and effectually tiled. But here, art was still in her swaddling bands; and although, in our accomplished country, bricklayers and plasterers are as "plenty as blackberries," in her colony no tiler could be found.

The name of Solyma,—that prince of architects, and prototype of modern Wrens and Barrys,—his glory, and his power over things seen and unseen, were familiar, especially to the black Mahometan population, to the sojourning Foulah, and the travelled Mandingo; but they possessed neither his skill nor his secret, being as mournfully ignorant of his workmanlike perfections as they are of the name of the mother of Moses. A tiler, however, was indispensable; and here arose a difficulty. What black man, Mahometan or pagan, could be[47] induced to receive instruction; and, regardless of the prophet Mahmoud on the one hand, and, on the other, of Satan,—the principal object of fervid worship amongst the infidels of those hot parts,—to hazard his well-being in this world, and his sombre soul in the next, by tiling the edifice?

Various were the negro gentlemen invited; but few possessed "hearts big enough." No wonder that in the gold-dust country they should prove deficient in the "æs triplex!" One refused upon the very admissible ground that the masons had been accustomed to attend service in the colonial church once annually; and that, claiming to himself the same liberty of conscience which he allowed to others,—being by birth, and subsequently by conviction, of that extensive religious "persuasion" called Pagans, and of the particular sect of the said popular church which worships the devil and reverences dead men's teeth,—he must decline compromising his religious principles, and sanctioning by his presence the heterodox tenets of the English colonial chaplain.

A second, however, had forsaken the Heathen modes of his ancestors, and had waxed into a fervent proselyte, under missionary auspices, in all respects save a tough hereditary prejudice in favour of a genteel establishment of eight or ten wives

"To grind his corn,"

as Mungo Park poetically saith, but

"To pound his rice,"

as it doubtless ran in the original and vernacular glote, whether Fantee, Mandingo, Cosso, Bullum, or Soosoo. This strange conjugal whim, be it remarked, generally is as unalienable, tenaciously tenable, and adhesive to the negro taste, as "roast pig" was to the palate of the mortal Charles Lamb and the immortal "Elia."

This reclaimed pagan, however, professed that he would rather dine on fried soles, that unclean piscatorial; masticate dog's flesh before it had become putrid; disbelieve in witchcraft; or put away a spouse, however freckled, than adjoin himself unto a society whose nominal master indeed might be the Honourable Colonial Secretary, but whose real spiritual president, he well knew, could be no other than Beelzebub the Bugaboog, whose ways he had renounced.[4]

The remaining mass of the negro "ton" declined their services on reasons no less satisfactory. They appealed to the yet living reputation of the deceased lodge, which they characterized as prononcée to a degree; for the spirit of the building, once redolent of mysteries and fraternity, prolongs a posthumous existence in their imaginings, awful and evitabund. It is desolate, for none will enter it; it is crumbling, for none will repair it; it is shunned as the favourite triclinium of Sathana, Beelzeboub, and Ashtaroth; it is known as

"The White Man's Devil-House."

As incredulous a negress as ever succumbed to Obeah asserted that, from its vague interior, bells were heard to toll, and chains to clank,[48] at the lone hour of midnight, twelve,—when the "sun lived in the bush;" and that many a rash eye had been scared away by goblin apparitions and rank sights. With her own orbs, whilst stealthily prying through a window, had she beheld no less a potentate than Satan himself, sucking the blood of a white cock, and feeding a dead man with palaver sauce.

The idea of secret and mysterious associations is not new to the negroes; they have not borrowed it from the white man. A short reference to the nature of such as are familiar to them will throw light upon the awe with which they regarded the old Devil-House of the white man, and declined the privilege of entrée at the new one.

Their own hidden fraternities existed in gigantic organisation, and with withering power, long before the diseased and "craw-craw" complexion of European discoverers was known to the natural inheritors of Warren's jet blacking. Evil rites attend them; and bodily mutilation, and the chance of slavery, are united to supernatural horrors. Well aware of this, they naturally imagine similar diabolic mysteries to constitute the "working" of white man's freemasonry: nay, more; recognising the superiority, the mastery of the whites in all things that come under their observation, they take for granted that the same exists in matters which they do not witness, and, if their own orgies are terrific, they suppose that those of the white man must be intensely more so.

Of all men they are most horribly superstitious, and, in consequence, are victims also to superstitious horrors of the first magnitude. The forest, or bush, the air, the streams, the ground, swarm with a surplus population of Satan's imps and witches. Each moment and each step expose the wayfarer to the gripe of some malicious fiend. To evade the unwholesome clutch, the limbs are ornamented with charms and talismans, with dead men's hair and leopards' teeth. To deprecate and conciliate these animavorous specimens of African zoology no pains are spared, and temples named "Devil-Houses" witness the placatory sacrifices to the spirit of evil.

But this will not suffice. It is not enough simply to protect the person. Associations are formed which recognise the necessity of watching over Satan's interests, by visiting with direful vengeance such members of the tribe at large as may have treated his majesty with less respect than his station entitles him to expect. There are liberalists and spiritual republicans even in Africa.

Some writers, in noticing these associations as similar to freemasonry, have fallen into the same error with the black colonists aforesaid, who refused their aid to tile the lodge because they confounded it with their own tremendous and execrable fraternities.

The secret sisterhoods of Africa have their own peculiar charms and peculiar annoyances. The initiated maidens enjoy much respect, and a singular liability to be sold to the slave-factory; and many inducements are held out to the grand-mistress of the order to dispose of her gentle sisters in this manner, since a well-built maiden, warranted of clever action, of unblemished points, and sound lungs, will find bidders at a hundred hard dollars at any respectable bazaar between Senegal and Guinea. "Inshallah!" (God be praised!) as the Mahometan slave-merchant thankfully observed.


The honour, however, compensates for the danger, and they love to entwine the privileged emblem of their order, the ivory circlets, in the hair; an ornament that glads the heart of the simple ebony maid, as feathers and brilliants rejoice that of the blonde or the nut-brown.

The initiations, alas! are attended with ungentle mutilation of the person; and the trembling and weeping girl is blindfolded, that she may never know the woman who lacerated her. Gashes, however, on the face, arms, breast, and back, are favourite ornaments; they are the unpretending substitutes for rouge and cosmetics. The society is in a flourishing state, and the worshipful mistress derives a considerable revenue by the sale of refractory maidens. The guilt generally arises in the practice of witchcraft and sorcery;—accomplishments assiduously cultivated by the young ladies of Nigritia.

But, to return to our story. Enough has been said to explain how it happened that ideas of awe rested amongst the black colonists upon "The White Man's Devil-House."

The night was of that deep-toned glory unimagined save by those who have watched the firmament of a tropical sky. No moon was up; but the moon-like planets threw upon the sultry ground shadows of man and horse as they slowly wound round the long mountain path that led from the sea-washed capital at its foot, to the summit of the Barrack Hill. As a higher elevation was gained, the suffocating breath of the low grounds became tempered by the land breeze, that floated down by the channel of the wide river, and flung itself rudely upon the hill side. Yet the still, close atmosphere, and the distant flickering of purple and golden lightning far away to the east over the lands of savage nations, warned against loitering for the chance of a tornado. By ones and twos the little straggling brotherhood alighted at the barrack gates; and there, thousands of miles from Old England and the fire-side of home, men unconnected by birth, by interests, or by office, met, and cordially felt that they were related. Just before entering the chamber whose secrets are bound as by adamant, the eye fell upon a figure sitting in the verandah in the very dignity of overmastering terror. His aspect told that he was following the poet's advice,

"Nimium ne crede colori!"

He was a black man awaiting the ceremony of initiation with much the same intensity of interest that enlivens the criminal at execution. He appeared the living representative of that fear-stricken island tree whose trembling leaves distil a sympathetic dew. He was an old serjeant of the Royal African Corps. Years of discipline had taught him reverence for the tastes of his superiors; and when invited by his officer to tile the lodge, overcome on the one hand by the condescension of the captain, and overwhelmed on the other by misgivings of latent Satanic cajolery, he had plunged into the Rubicon. If his commander had deemed it expedient to form an alliance with so powerful a prince as the prince of darkness, what business had he to do with it? He had fought at Waterloo, and would fight at any time against the devil himself if ordered to the charge; but he had never expected to serve in the same company. However, he sturdily denied flinching from the approaching trial of his courage.

The negro's burnished face smartened up when all was over. Rumour,[50] whose numerous tongues, if well pickled, would pair off with all the boiled turkeys cooked in Christendom on a Christmas-day, and leave plenty to spare, told the tale of wonder in "quarter less no time," how Serjeant B. had become a member of white man's purrah; how he had sat down to supper with Captain —— on one side, the devil on the other, and the chief judge opposite; how the serjeant thought he recognised the "old gentleman" as a comrade in the Peninsula; and how the "old gentleman" politely acknowledged similar remembrances, and took wine with him; and how they had parted, with mutual hopes and promises of meeting again at some future day, in the hot season, not in "the rains."

The more the woolly-headed men and maidens of his inquisitive acquaintance interrogated the serjeant himself concerning his adventure on that fearful night, the more he would not tell them a word about the matter; and, to this moment, no mysteries are more mysterious, no secrets more arcane, than those which trouble the black population of the little colony respecting "The White Man's Devil-House."


Love launch'd a gallant little craft,
Complete with every rope;
In golden words was painted aft—
"The Cupid, Captain Hope."
Pleasure was rated second-mate,
And Passion made to steer;
The guns were handed o'er to Fate,
To Impulse sailing-gear.
Merrily roved the thoughtless crew
Amidst the billows' strife;
But soon a sail bore down,—all knew
'Twas Captain Reason's "Life."
And Pleasure left, though Passion said
He'd guard her safe from all harms.
'Twas vain; for Fate ramm'd home the lead,
While Love prepared the small-arms.
A storm arose! The canvass now
Escaped from Impulse' hand,
While headstrong Passion dash'd the prow
Swift on a rocky strand.
"All's lost!" each trembling sailor cried;
"Bid Captain Hope adieu!"
But in his life-boat Reason hied
To save the silly crew.
Impulse the torrents overwhelm,
But Pleasure 'scaped from wreck;
Love, making Reason take the helm,
Chain'd Passion to the deck.
"I thought you were my foe; but now,"
Said Love, "we'll sail together;
Reason, henceforth through life shalt thou
My pilot be for ever!"




My great anxiety now was to reach the foot of the English throne as soon as possible; and I consulted my infidel friend upon the safest, easiest, and least public manner of putting my project into execution. I had thought it right to place sufficient confidence in him to inform him that I was an agent of the King of Persia, commissioned to make certain proposals to the King of England; but that it was not my intention to insist upon an istakbal, or deputation, upon my entry into the principal city, or to demand either maintenance or lodging at the expense of the nation: in short, I wished to be as little known as possible. He assured me that the most private manner of travelling was a public coach. This rather appeared paradoxical, for how could I be private and public at the same time? but, after certain explanations, I found that he was right; particularly when he assured me that in point of expense the private mode of conveyance cost about seven times more than the public.

Accordingly, the next morning, having, through the interference of my friend, paid what was due to the owner of the caravanserai, I seated myself in the corner of a handsome coach, drawn by four fine horses, which appeared at the door on purpose for my convenience. My friend seated himself by my side, Mahboob was placed on the outside, and we drove off at such a rate, that I neither had time to find out whether the hour was fortunate, or indeed to ascertain which was the direction of Mecca, much less to say my prayers.

We had not proceeded far, when we stopped, and a third person ascended, and took possession of the corner opposite to me. He was a coarse-looking infidel, with a sallow face covered with hair: bushy eyebrows, dirty in appearance, and, as far as I could discover, wishing to look like one of the people, although he might be of the race of the omrah. He said nothing upon entrance,—not even the English Selam alekum, which I had long learned to be expressed by the words "Good morning, and fine day;" but there he sat, as if the orifice of his mouth had been closed by a stroke of fate. The cast of his eye as it glanced upon me was not that of hospitality; and I was certain that, had he been an Arab, I should not have heard the sound of his pestle and mortar braying the coffee for me in token of welcome.

I discovered that my friend's name, who had hitherto thrown his shadow over me, was Jān Pûl, words which surprised me, because they are pure Persian, and might be interpreted, "Soul, Money!" Although the new-comer eyed me with little kindness[52] of aspect, yet, when he looked at my friend Jān, there was a slight indication of respect; but still he said nothing.

We had scarcely cleared the town, when the coach again stopped, and we discovered stepping out of a handsome equipage, with servants and men in kalaats to help him, an infidel, who, after some delay taken up in providing for his comfort and accommodation, was helped into our conveyance, and he occupied the fourth and last place in it. He was a handsome man, cleanly and handsomely dressed, full of fair forms and politeness; a perfect contrast to his predecessor, and upon whose whole bearing and manners was inscribed, in legible characters, sahib najib, or gentleman.

He was as civil to me as his predecessor had been the contrary. Having ascertained that I was a Persian, he welcomed me to his country in a form of words different from those used in Persia; but in so doing, he not only made my heart glad, but made his own face white. He then complimented me upon belonging to a nation whose people willingly obeyed and upheld the authority of their king, and who were satisfied to live under the laws of their ancient monarchy. I had so long been unaccustomed to receive compliments, that, upon hearing this from the sahib najib, I almost thought myself in Persia again, and was about preparing a suitable answer,—one in which I intended at once to uphold the dignity of my sovereign and to exhibit my own individual readiness of wit,—when an uncouth sound proceeded from the unclean infidel, almost the first sign of life which he had given, that made me start, stopped my eloquence, and threw all the sugared words which I had prepared, back into my throat again. As far as I could understand, the purport of this inauspicious noise was to announce to the sahib najib that he had said something in the words he had addressed to me to which he did not agree, for I perceived anger and disgust arise in his countenance, while the looks of "Soul Money," though not much given to change, also became lowering.

"Surely, sir," said the sahib najib, addressing the unclean infidel still with courtesy in his manner,—"surely you will allow, in these unsettled times, that loyalty to one's king, and obedience to established laws, is a subject worthy of compliment."

"I allow nothing," replied the other, looking straight forward, "but what is for the good of the people."

Upon this there arose a discussion so long and so animated, that it lasted almost all the way to the foot of the English throne, and of which I could with difficulty catch the meaning, so new were most of the words used to my ears.

The sahib najib's argument was full of words such as these; the constitution—vested rights—ancient privileges—funded property—established church—landed interest; and although we were driving through a country more prosperous[53] to my eye than even the regions of Mahomet's paradise could be, surrounded by every luxury, and he apparently the lord of wealth and luxury, still he seemed to persist that he was ruined and reduced to beggary, that his country was on the brink of perdition, and that nothing remained for him to do but to sit down for the rest of his days upon the nummud of despair, and to eat the bitter rind of grief.

The rough infidel, on the contrary, argued that constitutional rights, funded property, land, church, laws, and a great many more things, of the import of which I was ignorant, but of which I promised to acquire knowledge, all, he argued, were alone to be turned to the use of the people; and thus I began to have some little idea of what was meant by that People Shah of whom we had heard so much in Persia.

"What!" said the sahib najib, "when you see the constitution in danger, do not you perceive that it will endanger the happiness of the people whose cause you advocate?"

"I do not see that it is in danger," said the other. "If my boat is sinking because we carry too much sail, shall I not trim my sails and inspect my ballast?"

"But by trimming your boat you would throw all your cargo overboard, and thus lose all you have," answered the other.

This part of the conversation I understood, and then I said, "I now understand: when a camel is overladen, and cannot proceed, on account of the weight of his burthen, either the camel will die, or I must lighten his burthen."

"Very good," said the rough man, who now for the first time cast the shadow of his condescension over me. "You are the lord of quick understanding, and see things."

"But," said his well-dressed antagonist, "I neither agree that the boat is badly trimmed, or that the camel is overladen:" then, turning to me, he said, "Surely, sir, you, who have been bred and born a Mussulman, who have let your beard grow according to old-established custom, who have washed your hands and feet in accordance to the precepts of your law,—you would not change all at once, because some new sect in your country were to arise and say, 'Cut off your beard, cease to wash, pray in a new manner, and say to Mahomet, You are a false prophet;' you could not in your conscience do so."

"Astafarallah!" said I, blowing over my shoulders at the same time, "am I mad to eat such a profusion of abomination!"

"You are a man of perfection," said he. "I am sure the more you see of my country and get acquainted with its present condition, the more you will agree with me."

I looked towards my friend Jān Pûl, who hitherto had not uttered a word, and said, "This sahib says nothing. Perhaps owing to his saying less than we do, he may be the lord of more wisdom than all our heads put together."

"What can I say," said Jān calmly, "when there is much to[54] be said on both sides? The highest wisdom is to gather experience from the past, and apply it to the necessities of the future."

"Agreed," said the rough man: "we must therefore reform."

"Agreed," said the smooth man: "reform is useless."

I immediately perceived how the matter stood, and, with that penetration for which all Persians are famous, I discovered the true state of the whole country. I saw that the people were divided into two sects, as much opposed to each other as Jews are to true believers; that plain sense had as little chance in the controversy as a sober man may have in the brawls of two drunkards; and that, before things get straight, each of the drunkards must be sobered by breaking their shins in stumbling over a stone, or their heads by carrying them too high.


We continued to drive onwards: the faster we went, the more the infidels argued. I sat in my corner guessing my way through their words, and already making up in my mind the sort of letter which I should write to the Asylum of the Universe upon the state of this extraordinary country, whilst my silent friend, with his hook-stick and close-buttoned coat, shut his eyes and slumbered; only occasionally giving signs of life. At length we arrived at a house which I supposed might be a caravanserai, after the Franc fashion, open to true believers, for, on looking up I saw painted upon a board an elephant with a castle upon its back. I began to think this might be in compliment to me, seeing that elephants are part of the state of Persian monarchs: but I was mistaken, because, instead of taking any notice of me, the sahib najib, on the contrary, did not show his usual civility; but, putting his head out of the window, he asked one of the bystanders, "Is there any news astir?"

"Nothing particular," said an unconcerned infidel; "nothing. The papers say, 'A man threw a stone and has broken the king's head!'"

"There," said the smooth man to the rough, "there, that comes of your reform!"

"I deny that," said the other: "on the contrary, it comes of your no-reform."

"Why, surely," answered the sahib najib, "if you had not taught the people not to respect their king, to despise his nobles, and to laugh at the laws, such an atrocity never would have happened."

"No, indeed, it never would," retorted the other, "if you had made such changes that the people would love their king, respect his nobles, and be satisfied with the laws."

"Then you think stoning your king a right thing to do?" said one.


"Then you allow making him odious," answered the other, "is what ought to be done?"

"Will a stone get up and throw itself?"

"Will a man complain unless he be aggrieved?"

"Hallo! my friend," said the sahib najib to the bystander, "what is said about this atrocious act, eh?"

"Why, some say, 'Poor king!' others say, 'Poor stone!'" answered the bystander in the coolest manner possible.

At this I began truly to have an insight into things, and could not help exclaiming in the bottom of my gullet, "Allah Allah, il Allah! There is but one Allah!"

"You understood what that man said?" said Jān Pûl to me, with a sigh, and in a low voice.

"Belli, yes," said I, "wonderful! The men of this country are lions without saints. Allah! Allah! to throw a stone at the king, and no executioner by, to cut the wretch's head off."

"No, no," said he, "that must be proved; first, whether it was a stone; second, whether it was a man who threw it; and, third, whether it hit the king's head, or some other head."

"Aman, aman! Mercy, mercy!" I exclaimed; "let me return to Persia. If so little is said about breaking the king's head, where shall I turn for justice if some one cuts off my ears? Well may the people want reform!"

"I will just prove to you, sir," said the soft infidel, "that this case just proves that we want no reform."

"How!" said I, "break your king's head, and nobody to mend it!"

"That is not the case," said he. "If a people have so much security from the laws, that not even the poorest wretch, even for a crime of such magnitude, can be condemned without proof against him and a full trial, surely they cannot complain: they are all equal in the eye of the law, and more they cannot want." He said this in great exultation, having obtained, as he conceived, a complete triumph over his adversary, and eyed him with appropriate scorn.

The rough man looked as if his head went round and round, and as if he were come to a full stop; but, pulling up the two ends of his shirt,—I suppose to show that he had one,—he said, "If the people have one good law, is that a reason why they should not have more? The great man may get his head broke,—he is rich and mighty, a little salve cures him, and he is as rich and happy as ever; but the poor man who has broken it, save the satisfaction of making a good throw, he remains as poor and miserable as ever."

"Then, sir," said the sahib najib, "you would have what can never be,—you would have perfect equality amongst mankind?"

"Yes, truly," exclaimed the other; "because, if all were equal, there would be no heads broken, and no stones thrown."


This, too, I understood, and said, "What words are these? All men cannot be kings, nor can they all be viziers, nor all khans. I, who know nothing of your extraordinary customs, I can understand that. Were I to think of being anything but what I am, might not my neighbour think so too; and if I wished to be him, and he me, why, then the world would soon be upside down, and from one end of the universe to the other there would be nothing but clutching of beards, and cries of justice, and no justice!"

"Whatever you may say," said the rough infidel, "we must have more equality in our country than we have at present, or else the world will turn upside down. The rich must be poorer, and the poor richer."

During this conversation we were in rapid motion, driving through streets lighted up as magnificently as if the Shah himself had ordered a feast of fire-works, and ornamented by shops exhibiting such riches, that not all the wealth brought from Hind by Nadir Shah, or amassed by the Sofi, could compare to it.

"Strange," thought I to myself, "that this people are not satisfied with their lot!" Passing by a splendid shop, resplendent with cutlery, part of my instructions came into my head, and I said to the rough man, "In the name of the Prophet, do you still make penknives and broad-cloth?"

At this question my companion stared, and said, "Penknives and broad-cloth, did you say? Why, we have more penknives and broad-cloth than we know what to do with. We have made so much and so many, that the whole world has more of them than it wants; and the poor creatures, the manufacturers, are starving for want of work. Surely this wants reform."

This was delightful news for me, and I longed to send an immediate courier to the Shah to inform him of the important fact.

"Whose fault is it?" said the soft man, determined not to be beaten on any ground. "If manufacturers will do too much, whose fault is it but their own? Unless you make a reform in common sense, surely no other reform is needful."

By this time the coach had stopped, and I found that we had reached our last menzil. The rough man got out first; but just as he was stepping down, in order to ensure the last word, he exclaimed, "We want reform not only in that, but in everything else,—more particularly in rotten boroughs."

At these two last words, the soft man became evidently angered, his liver turning into blood, whilst his face became red. "Rotten boroughs, indeed! the country is lost for ever if one borough is disfranchised."

These words were totally new to my ears, and what they meant I knew not; but I became quite certain that the rough man had hit the smooth man in a sore place. But I was in the[57] seventh heaven at the end of their controversy. I had never heard such warmth of argument, not since that famous dispute at the Medressah, in Ispahan, between two famous Mollahs, the one a suni, the other a shiah, whether the children of the true faith, in washing according to the prescribed law, were to let the water run from the hand to the elbow, or whether from the elbow to the hand. They argued for three whole moons, and neither were convinced; and so they remain to this day, each in his own persuasion.

"How will it be possible," thought I, "to unravel this intricate question? It is plain these English are a nation of madmen. Oh! could they but take one look at my country, where the will of one man is all in all,—where no man's head is safe on his shoulders for one moment,—where, if he heaps up riches in the course of many years, they may be taken from him in an hour,—where he does not even think for himself, much less speak,—where man is as withering grass of the field, and life as the wind blowing over it; could they but know this, short would be their controversies. They would praise Allah with gratitude for their condition, be content with their fate, and drive all wish of change from their thoughts, as threatening the overthrow of their happiness."



"Of this unlucky sort our Romeus is one,
For all his hap turns to mishap, and all his mirth to mone."

The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet.

"Never," says Prince Escalus, in the concluding distich of Romeo and Juliet,

"—was there story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo."

It is a story which, in the inartificial shape of a black-letter ballad, powerfully affected the imagination, and awakened the sensibilities, of our ancestors, and in the hands of Shakspeare has become the love-story of the whole world. Who cares for the loves of Petrarch and Laura, or of Eloisa and Abelard, compared with those of Romeo and Juliet? The gallantries of Petrarch are conveyed in models of polished and ornate verse; but, in spite of their elegance, we feel that they are frosty as the Alps beneath which they were written. They are only the exercises of genius, not the ebullitions[58] of feeling; and we can easily credit the story that Petrarch refused a dispensation to marry Laura, lest marriage might spoil his poetry. The muse, and not the lady, was his mistress. In the case of Abelard there are many associations which are not agreeable; and, after all, we can hardly help looking upon him as a fitter hero for Bayle's Dictionary than a romance. In Romeo and Juliet we have the poetry of Petrarch without its iciness, and the passion of Eloisa free from its coarse exhibition. We have, too, philosophy far more profound than ever was scattered over the syllogistic pages of Abelard, full of knowledge and acuteness as they undoubtedly are.

But I am not about to consider Romeo merely as a lover, or to use him as an illustration of Lysander's often-quoted line,

"The course of true love never did run smooth."

In that course the current has been as rough to others as to Romeo; who, in spite of all his misfortunes, has wooed and won the lady of his affections. That Lysander's line is often true, cannot be questioned; though it is no more than the exaggeration of an annoyed suitor to say that love has never run smoothly. The reason why it should be so generally true, is given in "Peveril of the Peak" by Sir Walter Scott; a man who closely approached to the genius of Shakspeare in depicting character, and who, above all writers of imagination, most nearly resembled him in the possession of keen, shrewd, every-day common-sense, rendered more remarkable by the contrast of the romantic, pathetic, and picturesque by which it is in all directions surrounded.

"This celebrated passage

['Ah me! for aught that ever I could read,' &c.]

which we have prefixed to this chapter, [chap. xii. vol. i. Peveril of the Peak,] has, like most observations of the same author, its foundation in real experience. The period at which love is felt most strongly is seldom that at which there is much prospect of its being brought to a happy issue. In fine, there are few men who do not look back in secret to some period of their youth at which a sincere and early affection was repulsed or betrayed, or became abortive under opposing circumstances. It is these little passages of secret history, which leave a tinge of romance in every bosom, scarce permitting us, even in the most busy or the most advanced period of life, to listen with total indifference to a tale of true love."[5]

These remarks, the justice of which cannot be questioned, scarcely apply to the case of Romeo. In no respect, save that the families were at variance, was the match between him and Juliet such as not to afford a prospect of happy issue; and everything indicated the possibility of making their marriage a ground of reconciliation between their respective houses. Both are tired of the quarrel. Lady Capulet and Lady Montague are introduced in the very first scene of the play, endeavouring to pacify their husbands; and, when the brawl is over, Paris laments to Juliet's father that it is a pity persons of[59] such honourable reckoning should have lived so long at variance. For Romeo himself old Capulet expresses the highest respect, as being one of the ornaments of the city; and, after the death of Juliet, old Montague, touched by her truth and constancy, proposes to raise to her a statue of gold. With such sentiments and predispositions, the early passion of the Veronese lovers does not come within the canon of Sir Walter Scott; and, as I have said, I do not think that Romeo is designed merely as an exhibition of a man unfortunate in love.

I consider him to be meant as the character of an unlucky man,—a man who, with the best views and fairest intentions, is perpetually so unfortunate as to fail in every aspiration, and, while exerting himself to the utmost in their behalf, to involve all whom he holds dearest in misery and ruin. At the commencement of the play an idle quarrel among some low retainers of the rival families produces a general riot, with which he has nothing to do. He is not present from beginning to end; the tumult has been so sudden and unexpected, that his father is obliged to ask

"What set this ancient quarrel new abroach?"

And yet it is this very quarrel which lays him prostrate in death by his own hand, outside Capulet's monument, before the tragedy concludes. While the fray was going on, he was nursing love-fancies, and endeavouring to persuade himself that his heart was breaking for Rosaline. How afflicting his passion must have been, we see by the conundrums he makes upon it:

"Love is a smoke raised with the fume of sighs;
Being purged, a fire sparkling in lovers' eyes;
Being vex'd, a sea nourish'd with lovers' tears.[6]
What is it else?—a madness most discreet,
A choking gall, and a preserving sweet."—

And so forth. The sorrows which we can balance in such trim antitheses do not lie very deep. The time is rapidly advancing when his sentences will be less sounding.

"It is my lady; oh, it is my love!
O that she knew she were!"—

speaks more touchingly the state of his engrossed soul than all the fine metaphors ever vented. The supercilious Spartans in the days of their success prided themselves upon the laconic brevity of their despatches to states in hostility or alliance with them. When they were sinking before the Macedonians, another style was adopted; and Philip observed that he had taught them to lengthen their monosyllables. Real love has had a contrary effect upon Romeo. It has abridged his swelling passages, and brought him to the language of prose. The reason of the alteration is the same in both cases. The brevity of the Spartans was the result of studied affectation. They sought, by the insolence of threats obscurely insinuated in a sort of demi-oracular language, to impose upon others,—perhaps they imposed upon themselves,—an extravagant opinion of their mysterious[60] power. The secret was found out at last, and their anger bubbled over in big words and lengthened sentences. The love of Rosaline is as much affected on the part of Romeo, and it explodes in wire-drawn conceits.

"When the devout religion of mine eye
Maintains such falsehood, then turn tears to fires;
And those who often drown'd could never die,
Transparent heretics, be burnt for liars.
One fairer than my love!—the all-seeing sun
Ne'er saw her match since first the world begun."

It is no wonder that a gentleman who is so clever as to be able to say such extremely fine things, forgets, in the next scene, the devout religion of his eye, without any apprehension of the transparent heretic being burnt for a liar by the transmutation of tears into the flames of an auto da fe. He is doomed to discover that love in his case is not a madness most discreet when he defies the stars; there are then no lines of magnificent declamation.

"Is it even so? then I defy you, stars!
Thou knowest my lodging: get me ink and paper,
And hire post-horses; I will hence to-night."

Nothing can be plainer prose than these verses. But how were they delivered? Balthazar will tell us.

"Pardon me, sir; I dare not leave you thus:
Your looks are pale and wild, and do import
Some misadventure."

Again, nothing can be more quiet than his final determination:

"Well, Juliet, I will lie with thee to-night."

It is plain Juliet,—unattended by any romantic epithet of love. There is nothing about "Cupid's arrow," or "Dian's wit;" no honeyed word escapes his lips,—nor again does any accent of despair. His mind is so made up,—the whole course of the short remainder of his life so unalterably fixed, that it is perfectly useless to think more about it He has full leisure to reflect without disturbance upon the details of the squalid penury which made him set down the poor apothecary as a fit instrument for what now had become his "need;" and he offers his proposition of purchasing that soon-speeding gear which is to hurry him out of life, with the same business-like tone as if he were purchasing a pennyworth of sugar-candy. When the apothecary suggests the danger of selling such drugs, Romeo can reflect on the folly of scrupling to sacrifice life when the holder of it is so poor and unfortunate. Gallant and gay of appearance himself, he tells his new-found acquaintance that bareness, famine, oppression, ragged misery, the hollow cheek and the hungry eye, are fitting reasons why death should be desired, not avoided; and with a cool philosophy assures him that gold is worse poison than the compound which hurries the life-weary taker out of the world. The language of desperation cannot be more dismally determined. What did the apothecary think of his customer as he pocketed the forty ducats? There you go, lad,—there you go, he might have said,—there you go with that in your girdle that, if you had the strength of twenty men, would straight[61] despatch you. Well do I know the use for which you intend it. To-morrow's sun sees not you alive. And you philosophise to me on the necessity of buying food and getting into flesh. You taunt my poverty,—you laugh at my rags,—you bid me defy the law,—you tell me the world is my enemy. It may be so, lad,—it may be so; but less tattered is my garment than your heart,—less harassed by law of one kind or another my pursuit than yours. What ails that lad? I know not, neither do I care. But that he should moralise to me on the hard lot which I experience,—that he, with those looks and those accents, should fancy that I, amid my beggarly account of empty boxes, am less happy than he,—ha! ha! ha!—it is something to make one laugh. Ride your way, boy: I have your forty ducats in my purse, and you my drug in your pocket. And the law! Well! What can the executioner do worse to me in my penury and my age than you have doomed for yourself in your youth and splendour. I carry not my hangman in my saddle as I ride along. And the curses which the rabble may pour upon my dying moments,—what are they to the howling gurgle which, now rising from your heart, is deafening your ears? Adieu, boy,—adieu!—and keep your philosophy for yourself. Ho! ho! ho!

But had any other passion or pursuit occupied Romeo, he would have been equally unlucky as in his love. Ill fortune has marked him for her own. From beginning to end he intends the best; but his interfering is ever for the worst. It is evident that he has not taken any part in the family feud which divides Verona, and his first attachment is to a lady of the antagonist house.[7] To see that lady,—perhaps to mark that he has had no share in the tumult of the morning,—he goes to a ball given by Capulet, at which the suitor accepted by the family is to be introduced to Juliet as her intended husband. Paris is in every way an eligible match.

"Verona's summer hath not such a flower."

He who has slain him addresses his corse as that of the "noble County Paris," with a kindly remembrance that he was kinsman of a friend slain in Romeo's own cause. Nothing can be more fervent, more honourable, or more delicate than his devoted and considerate wooing. His grief at the loss of Juliet is expressed in few words; but its sincerity is told by his midnight and secret visit to the tomb of her whom living he had honoured, and on whom, when dead, he could not[62] restrain himself from lavishing funereal homage. Secure of the favour of her father, no serious objection could be anticipated from herself. When questioned by her mother, she readily promises obedience to parental wishes, and goes to the ball determined to "look to like, if looking liking move." Everything glides on in smooth current till the appearance of him whose presence is deadly. Romeo himself is a most reluctant visitor. He apprehends that the consequences of the night's revels will be the vile forfeit of a despised life by an untimely death, but submits to his destiny. He foresees that it is no wit to go, but consoles himself with the reflection that he "means well in going to this mask." His intentions, as usual, are good; and, as usual, their consequences are ruinous.

He yields to his passion, and marries Juliet. For this hasty act he has the excuse that the match may put an end to the discord between the families. Friar Lawrence hopes that

"this alliance may so happy prove
To turn your households' rancour into love."

It certainly has that effect in the end of the play, but it is by the suicidal deaths of the flower and hope of both families. Capulet and Montague tender, in a gloomy peace the hands of friendship, over the untimely grave of the poor sacrifices to their enmity. Had he met her elsewhere than in her father's house, he might have succeeded in a more prosperous love. But there his visit is looked upon by the professed duellist Tybalt, hot from the encounter of the morning, and enraged that he was baulked of a victim, as an intrusion and an insult. The fiery partisan is curbed with much difficulty by his uncle; and withdraws, his flesh trembling with wilful choler, determined to wreak vengeance at the first opportunity on the intruder. It is not long before the opportunity offers. Vainly does Romeo endeavour to pacify the bullying swordsman,—vainly does he protest that he loves the name of Capulet,—vainly does he decline the proffered duel. His good intentions are again doomed to be frustrated. There stands by his side as mad-blooded a spirit as Tybalt himself, and Mercutio, all unconscious of the reasons why Romeo refuses to fight, takes up the abandoned quarrel. The star of the unlucky man is ever in the ascendant. His ill-omened interference slays his friend. Had he kept quiet, the issue might have been different; but the power that had the steerage of his course had destined that the uplifting of his sword was to be the signal of death to his very friend. And when the dying Mercutio says, "Why the devil came you between us? I was hurt under your arm;" he can only offer the excuse, which is always true, and always unavailing, "I thought all for the best." All his visions of reconciliation between the houses are dissipated. How can he now avoid fighting with Tybalt? His best friend lies dead, slain in his own quarrel, through his own accursed intermeddling; and the swaggering victor, still hot from the slaughter, comes back to triumph over the dead. Who with the heart and spirit of a man could under such circumstances refrain from exclaiming,

"Away to heaven, respective lenity!
And fire-eyed fury be my conduct now."

Vanish gentle breath, calm words, knees humbly bowed!—his weapon[63] in an instant glitters in the blazing sun; and as with a lightning flash,—as rapidly and resistlessly,—before Benvolio can pull his sword from the scabbard, Tybalt, whom his kindred deemed a match for twenty men, is laid by the side of him who but a moment before had been the victim of his blade. What avails the practised science of the duellist, the gentleman of the very first house, of the first and second cause!—how weak is the immortal passado, or the punto reverso, the hay, or all the other learned devices of Vincent Saviola, against the whirlwind rage of a man driven to desperation by all that can rouse fury or stimulate hatred! He sees the blood of his friend red upon the ground; the accents of gross and unprovoked outrage ring in his ears; the perverse and obstinate insolence of a bravo confident in his skill, and depending upon it to insure him impunity, has marred his hopes; and the butcher of the silk button has no chance against the demon which he has evoked. "A la stoccata" carries it not away in this encounter; but Romeo exults not in his death. He stands amazed, and is with difficulty hurried off, exclaiming against the constant fate which perpetually throws him in the way of misfortune. Well, indeed, may Friar Lawrence address him by the title of "thou fearful man!"—as a man whose career through life is calculated to inspire terror. Well may he say to him that

"Affliction is enamour'd of thy parts,
And thou art wedded to calamity."

And slight is the attention which Romeo pays to the eloquent arguments by which it is proved that he had every reason to consider himself happy. When the friar assures him that

"A pack of blessings lights upon thy back,
Happiness courts thee in her best array,"

the nurse may think it a discourse of learning and good counsel, fit to detain an enraptured auditor all the night. Romeo feels it in his case to be an idle declamation, unworthy of an answer.

The events which occur during his enforced absence, the haste of Paris to be wedded, the zeal of old Capulet in promoting the wishes of his expected son-in-law, the desperate expedient of the sleeping-draught,[8] the accident which prevented the delivery of the friar's letter, the officious haste of Balthazar to communicate the tidings of Juliet's burial, are all matters out of his control. But the mode of his death is chosen by himself; and in that he is as unlucky as in everything else. Utterly loathing life, the manner of his leaving it must be instantaneous. He stipulates that the poison by which he is to die shall not be slow of effect. He calls for

"such soon-speeding gear
As will disperse itself through all the veins,
That the life-weary taker may fall dead."


He leaves himself no chance of escape. Instant death is in his hand; and, thanking the true apothecary for the quickness of his drugs, he scarcely leaves himself a moment with a kiss to die. If he had been less in a hurry,—if he had not felt it impossible to delay posting off to Verona for a single night,—if his riding had been less rapid, or his medicine less sudden in its effect, he might have lived. The friar was at hand to release Juliet from her tomb the very instant after the fatal phial had been emptied. That instant was enough: the unlucky man had effected his purpose just when there was still a chance that things might be amended. Those who wrote the scene between Romeo and Juliet which is intended to be pathetic, after her awakening and before his death, quite mistake the character of the hero of the play. I do not blame them for their poetry, which is as good as that of second-rate writers of tragedy in general; and think them, on the whole, deserving of our commendation for giving us an additional proof how unable clever men upon town are to follow the conceptions of genius. Shakspeare, if he thought it consistent with the character which he had with so much deliberation framed, could have written a parting scene at least as good as that with which[65] his tragedy has been supplied; but he saw the inconsistency, though his unasked assistants did not. They tell us they did it to consult popular taste. I do not believe them. I am sure that popular taste would approve of a recurrence to the old play in all its parts; but a harlotry play-actor might think it hard upon him to be deprived of a "point," pointless as that point may be.

Haste is made a remarkable characteristic of Romeo,—because it is at once the parent and the child of uniform misfortune. As from the acorn springs the oak, and from the oak the acorn, so does the temperament that inclines to haste predispose to misadventure, and a continuance of misadventure confirms the habit of haste. A man whom his rashness has made continually unlucky, is strengthened in the determination to persevere in his rapid movements by the very feeling that the "run" is against him, and that it is of no use to think. In the case of Romeo, he leaves it all to the steerage of Heaven, i. e. to the heady current of his own passions; and he succeeds accordingly. All through the play care is taken to show his impatience. The very first word he speaks indicates that he is anxious for the quick passage of time.

"Ben. Good morrow, cousin.
Rom.Is the day so young?
Ben. But new struck nine.
Rom. Ay me, sad hours seem long."

The same impatience marks his speech in the moment of death:

"O true apothecary,
Thy drugs are quick!"

From his first words to his last the feeling is the same. The lady of his love, even in the full swell of her awakened affections, cannot avoid remarking that his contract is

"Too rash, too unadvised, too sudden,
Too like the lightning, which does cease to be
Ere one can say, It lightens."

When he urges his marriage on the friar,

"Rom. O let us home: I stand on sudden haste.
Friar. Wisely and slow. They stumble that run fast."

The metaphors put into his mouth are remarkable for their allusions to abrupt and violent haste. He wishes that he may die

"As violently as hasty powder fired
Doth hurry from the fatal cannon's womb."

When he thinks that Juliet mentions his name in anger, it is

"as if that name,
Shot from the deadly level of a gun,
Did murder her."

When Lawrence remonstrates with him on his violence, he compares the use to which he puts his wit to

"Powder in a skilless soldier's flask;"

and tells him that

"Violent delights have violent ends,
And in their triumph die; like fire and powder,
Which, as they kiss, consume."


Lightning, flame, shot, explosion, are the favourite parallels to the conduct and career of Romeo. Swift are his loves; as swift to enter his thought, the mischief which ends them for ever. Rapid have been all the pulsations of his life; as rapid, the determination which decides that they shall beat no more.

A gentleman he was in heart and soul. All his habitual companions love him: Benvolio and Mercutio, who represent the young gentlemen of his house, are ready to peril their lives, and to strain all their energies, serious or gay, in his service. His father is filled with an anxiety on his account so delicate, that he will not venture to interfere with his son's private sorrows, while he desires to discover their source, and if possible to relieve them. The heart of his mother bursts in his calamity; the head of the rival house bestows upon him the warmest panegyrics; the tutor of his youth sacrifices everything to gratify his wishes; his servant, though no man is a hero to his valet de chambre, dares not remonstrate with him on his intentions, even when they are avowed to be savage-wild,

"More fierce, and more inexorable far,
Than empty tigers or the roaring sea,"—

but with an eager solicitude he breaks his commands by remaining as close as he can venture, to watch over his safety. Kind is he to all. He wins the heart of the romantic Juliet by his tender gallantry: the worldly-minded nurse praises him for being as gentle as a lamb. When it is necessary or natural that the Prince or Lady Montague should speak harshly of him, it is done in his absence. No words of anger or reproach are addressed to his ears save by Tybalt; and from him they are in some sort a compliment, as signifying that the self-chosen prize-fighter of the opposing party deems Romeo the worthiest antagonist of his blade. We find that he fights two blood-stained duels, but both are forced upon him; the first under circumstances impossible of avoidance, the last after the humblest supplications to be excused.

"O begone!
By Heaven, I love thee better than myself,
For I came hither armed against myself.
Stay not; begone!—live, and hereafter say
A madman's mercy bade thee run away."

With all the qualities and emotions which can inspire affection and esteem,—with all the advantages that birth, heaven, and earth could at once confer,—with the most honourable feelings and the kindliest intentions,—he is eminently an unlucky man. The record of his actions in the play before us does not extend to the period of a week; but we feel that there is no dramatic straining to shorten their course. Everything occurs naturally and probably. It was his concluding week; but it tells us all his life. Fortune was against him; and would have been against him, no matter what might have been his pursuit. He was born to win battles, but to lose campaigns. If we desired to moralize with the harsh-minded satirist, who never can be suspected of romance, we should join with him in extracting as a moral from the play

"Nullum habes numen, si sit prudentia; sed te
Nos facimus, Fortuna, deam, cœloquê locamus;"


and attribute the mishaps of Romeo, not to want of fortune, but of prudence. Philosophy and poetry differ not in essentials, and the stern censure of Juvenal is just. But still, when looking on the timeless tomb of Romeo, and contemplating the short and sad career through which he ran, we cannot help recollecting his mourning words over his dying friend, and suggest as an inscription over the monument of the luckless gentleman,

"I thought all for the best."



When I was a boy
In my father's mud edifice,
Tender and bare
As a pig in a sty;
Out of the door as I
Looked with a steady phiz,
Who but Thade Murphy,
The piper, went by;
Says Thady, "But few play
This music—can you play?"
Says I, "I can't tell,
For I never did try."
So he told me that he had a charm
To make the pipes purtily speak;
Then squeezed a bag under his arm,
When sweetly they set up a squeak!
Fa-ra-la la-ra-la loo!
Och hone!
How he handled the drone!
And then the sweet music he blew
Would have melted the heart of a stone!
Pater me clauserat
Domi homunculum;
Grunniens sus erat
Comes, ut mos:
Transibat tibicen
Juxta domunculam,
Quando per januam
Protuli os;
Ille ait impromptu,
"Hâc tibiâ num tu,
Ut te sine sumptu
Edoceam, vis?"
Tum pressit amiculam
Sub ulnâ vesiculam
Quæ sonum reddidit
Vocibus his:
Fa-ra-la la-ra-la loo!
Φευ, ϕευ!
Modo flens, modo flans,
Magico ελελευ
Cor et aurem vel lapidi dans!
"Your pipe," says I, "Thady,
So neatly comes over me,
Naked I'll wander
Wherever it blows;
And, if my poor parents
Should try to recover me,
Sure it won't be
By describing my clothes.
The music I hear now
Takes hold of my ear now,
And leads me all over
The world by the nose."
So I follow'd his bagpipe so sweet,
And I sung, as I leapt like a frog,
"Adieu to my family seat,
So pleasantly placed in a bog!"
Fa-ra-la la-ra-la loo!
Och hone!
How we handled the drone!
And then the sweet music we blew
Would have melted the heart of a stone!
Cui ego tum: "Tu sic, ah!
Me rapis musicâ,
Ut sequar nudulus
Tibicen, te!
Et si pater, testibus,
Quærat me, vestibus,
Redibit, ædepol!
Vacuâ re.
Sic melos quod audio
Me replet gaudio
Ut trahor campos et
Flumina trans;"
Jam linquo rudibus
Hic in paludibus,
"Patris tigurium
Splendidè stans."
Fa-ra-la la-ra-la loo!
Dum tibicen, tu,
Modo flens, modo flans,
Iteras ελελευ,
Cor et aurem vel lapidi dans.
Full five years I follow'd him,
Nothing could sunder us;
Till he one morning
Had taken a sup,
And slipt from a bridge
In a river just under us,
Souse to the bottom
Just like a blind pup.
He roar'd, and he bawl'd out;
And I also call'd out,
"Now, Thady, my friend,
Don't you mean to come up?" ...
He was dead as a nail in a door;
Poor Thady was laid on the shelf.
So I took up his pipes on the shore,
And now I've set up for myself.
Fa-ra-la la-ra-la loo!
Och hone!
Don't I handle the drone,
And play such sweet music? I too,
Can't I soften the heart of a stone?
Ut arte sic magicâ
Egi quinquennium,
Magistro tragica
Accidit res;
Bacchi nam numine,
Pontis cacumine
Dum staret, flumine
Labitur pes!
"E sinu fluctuum,
O puer, duc tuum
(Clamat) didascalum,
Fer opem nans!" ...
Ast ego renuo;
Et sumens denuò
Littore tibias
Sustuli, fans,
Fa-ra-la la-ra-la loo!
Φευ, ϕευ!
Modo flens, modo flans,
Magico ελελευ
Cor et aurem vel lapidi dans!



"Aspettar' e non venire!"

The Sunday after Darby lingeringly started, I began to think it would be just as well to make "assurance doubly sure;" so I despatched a letter by post to my friend at Bally——, conveying similar instructions and advice to those contained in that entrusted to "the running footman" of my establishment. In three days I received a satisfactory answer, so I was at rest upon that point; but, as to Darby, I was quite at a loss. I turned over and over in my mind the various mishaps that might have befallen him by the way; but all to no purpose. I called up Eileen, and asked her what she thought about it. Her replies, mixed up, as they were, with her wild immoderate laughter, afforded me nothing beyond a sympathy with her mirth, which certainly was most infective. Reader, I am not a portrait-painter; but, nevertheless, I will attempt to give you an outline of Eileen. In the first place, she was a poor girl, (else she would not have been my servant,) born of honest parents; but, if fate had placed her in a higher sphere, she had natural accomplishments enough to have graced it,—namely, youth, beauty, and health,—and, beyond these, an intellectual, though uneducated, refinement of thought, when, by chance, she was serious; for gaiety seemed to be an indispensable element of her[69] being. She was eighteen years of age,—well, what do I say?—beautifully formed, had eyes like violets, cheeks like roses, hair, when it was dishevelled (despite Goldsmith's satire), like a weeping willow in a sunset, and—but, hold! I must not go further, lest I be suspected of being enamoured of the original; so I will give up the remaining parts of the picture, and leave them to your imagination!

The Friday after Darby's setting out I was sitting in my room, very quietly poring over something or other of no importance,—I forget exactly what, but I think it was some speech in the House of Lords,—when a knock at the door agreeably disturbed me from an incipient somnolency, occasioned by a new and unprofitable line of reading.

"Come in!" said I. "Who is it? and what do you want?"

"It's only me, sir," said Eileen, laughing, as usual. "There's a crather below that wants to speak to you, sir."

"Who is it?" said I.

"I don't well know, sir," replied she; "but I think he's some relation to poor Darby, that ye sent to Bally—— last Friday afternoon."

"Oh! then send him up; he may account in some way for the extraordinary absence of his relative, said I.

"Sure, an' it's myself, an' no relation at all," shouted Darby from below, indignantly.

"Oh! widdy-eelish!" cried Eileen, breaking out into her hearty wild laugh, that was sure to set at defiance anything like gravity!

"Come up, Darby," said I. "I thought we should never have seen you again."

"Troth, an' the same thing came into my head more than oncet, masther. What the divil are ye laughin' at, honey?" said he (entering the room) to Eileen, who still continued her most boisterous mirth.

"Go down stairs, Evelina," said I, "and leave Darby and me alone!"

She did so; but whispered something in his ear as she passed, which made him so furious that I thought he would have knocked her down, had she not adroitly escaped him by shutting the door after her, and holding the handle on the outside so tightly that his efforts to open it and follow her were abandoned in a moment as fruitless.

"What is the meaning of all this?" said I, severely. "Did you mean to strike the girl?"

"Strike the caileen, yir honour? Oh, the Lord forbid! but, if I cotch her upon the stairs out o' yir honor's sight, maybe I wudn't give her cherry-lips a pogue (yir honor knows what a pogue is) that wud drive her sweetheart crazy for a month o' Sundays!"

"Where have you been all this while?" inquired I, not willing to notice his speech.

"Oh then, sure!" said he, in a most mournful tone, "masther, I've had the divil's own time of it, sir, since you were so unfortunate as to part with me, yir honor, on that same journey to Bally—Bally—Bally—bad luck to it! what do they call it?"

"What has happened?" inquired I, anxiously, thinking he might have later news than my post-letter of three days before had conveyed.

"Happened, yir honour! to who?" said Darby, with a wild look of concern. "I hope the family, Christians, bastes, and all, not barrin' the pig that had the measles, are in good health, and well to do as[70] when I left them. Has the bracket hin taken to standin' upon one leg yit, sir, since she lost the other through that baste of a bull-dog belongin' to the parson? I'd lay three of her eggs she'll never forget the affront he put upon her then!"

"We are all well here," said I; "but give me some account of what has befallen you on your journey, that delayed you so long."

"Troth, an' I'll tell ye, masther," replied Darby, "in no time. Have ye five minutes to spare, sir?"

"Yes," said I; "let me hear."

"Well then, sir," commenced he, "you may remimber that it was on a Friday you took lave of me—last Friday of all—Friday was never a looky day by say or by land: ye see, I didn't go far afore I met with a disappointment, for I met a berrin' comin' right fornenst me—what coud I do but turn back, in dacency, with it?—and, after I'd keen'd about a mile with the mourners, I made bould to ax who was the body that was makin' a blackberry ov himself."

"A blackberry!" interrupted I.

"Yes, yir honor, a blackberry," replied Darby: "do ye know that, let it shoot never so far, it's sure to come back as near as it can to the root of it where it first started; and so arn't we all blackberries? As the priest says on Ash-Wendsday, "Remember, man, you are but dust, and into dust you must return." Now, I've known bigger dusts in their lifetime than they were turned out of afterward, when they took to studyin' astronamy with

'The tops of their toes,
And the tip of their nose,
Turn'd up to the roots of the daisies!'

But, whose berrin' should it be, after all, but ould Jemmy Cullen, the piper's! Ye know Jemmy Cullen, yir honour? him that used to play the organ on the pipes at high-mass durin' Christmas an' Easter. Oh! he was the boy to lilt at a weddin' or a wake! but, pace be width 'im—God rest his sowl! as I said when I saw the scragh put over him for the first time. Well, ye know, yir honor, that oncet upon the same road width them I coudn't do more nor less than wet our clay together; so, after walkin' the corpse three times round the churchyard of Glassin-oge—Were ye ever berried there, sir?—I mane, wud ye like to be berried there, sir?"

"Not just yet," said I.

"Oh, the Lord forbid, sir!" cried Darby. "I didn't mane that, by no manes. God send ye many days, and prosprous ones too! But there's a taste in chusin' a berrin'-ground as well as there is in a drawin'-room," said he, looking around him.

"So there may be," said I; "but that is only the whim or notion of a living man. When he dies, all churchyards are the same to him; he then can have no considerations about the matter."

"That's all very true, sir," replied Darby; "but would ye like to be burnt after the breath was out o' ye?"

"I could have neither liking nor disliking," answered I; "for I should be an insensible mass of matter."

"But mightn't yir ghost, sir, like to see ye were comfortably provided for? I mane yir honor's dead body that's alive an' in good health now, an' long may it continue so!"


"Oh! never mind," said I; "neither you nor I, Darby, know much about those things; so go on with your story."

"Thank ye, sir!" said Darby, and resumed. "I was sayin', sir, as how we went to wet our clay together at the 'Three Jolly Pigeons.' Yir honor knows the 'Three Jolly Pigeons,' facing the ould hawthorn o' Goldsmith, in the village of Auburn hard by here, eh? Sure, an' I've heer'd as much as how they want to take the merits of the whole place to themselves over in England somewhere, as if it couldn't spake plainly for itself that it was bred and born here in ould Ireland ages ago! Isn't the 'Desarted Village' a butiful histhory, masther? Lame Kelly, the poet, says, it bates the world for makin' the heart soft. It's myself that never passes the spot without a tear in my eye, like a widow's pig, as the sayin' is. There's the ruins of the dacent church on the hill all in butiful repair to this hour, and the parson's house, and the schoolmaster Tom Allen's, and the common, and the pond, width the geese upon it still, as if it was only yistherday, an' the ould hawthorn—bad look to their taste that built a stone wall round about it like a jail! What did the blessed tree ever do that it should be put in pound in that manner o' way?"

Gentle shade of Goldsmith! amongst the many tributes to thy immortal genius, receive kindly the simple but honest homage of poor Darby. He may not be able to appreciate thee in all thy varied splendour of moral and intellectual worth; but he has a heart full of benevolence like thine own, and, although a poor Irish serf, has feeling and fancy enough to reverence the spots thou hast consecrated by the thousand-spelled wand of thy muse!

"Darby," said I, "I promised you something on your return (though you did not come back as soon as I expected); there's a guinea for you."

"Augh, thin, may the light of Heaven break yir last sleep!" said Darby; "but isn't it too much, masther?"

"You are welcome to it," said I; "go on with your story."

"Thank ye, sir!" replied he. "Whereabouts was I when I left off?"

"Just where you are now," said I.

"Beggin' yir honor's pardon, I think I was at the 'Three Jolly Pigeons.'"

"Be it so," said I, "go on."

"Well, as I was sayin', when we damp'd the grief a trifle at the sheebeen width a drop of the rale stone turf, I takes up the kish again; but first I put my hand in the straw to see if the dog-een was comfortable, and there he was to be sure, warm an' nice as a new-laid egg: so, wishin' the rest of the company every amusement in life, I set out on my travels agen. Just as I was in the doorway, Ned Coffey, the whisperer,—ye know Ned Coffey, yir honor, that brakes in the wild coults width a charm he's got? Well, anyhow, if he didn't laugh so as if his mother was a horse; but I never minded him, only went on wonderin' to myself what cud av' made him so humoursome at a berrin'. Well, never mind that, I went on beautifully for a time, as good as an hour an' a half, when, all of a suddent, leppin' a ditch, the hayband I had acrass my breast bruk, and let the clieve fall clane in the dirty puddle. 'Oh, hannamandhioul!' says I, 'what'll the masther say to this?' The words were scarce past my lips when a[72] squake that 'ud av' split the ears of a pitcher came out o' the clieve, an' after that a gruntin', such as I never heer'd come from mortal man afore, barrin' it was a pig under a gate!"

"What could it have been?" inquired I, affecting a grave concern; "it was not my dog Squib, surely?"

"Who the nagers else could it be?" said Darby. "Only, after crassing myself three times, and turnin' up the basket wid' my horse, I found he was bewitched into the shape of a porker, as purty a young pig sure enough, about seven weeks ould, as I'd wish to clap eyes on."

"A pig!" exclaimed I. "Why, he returned home that very night in his own shape."

"Well then, see that, now," said Darby, "thuv', for my own part, I think it was all Ned Coffey's doin; but, be that as it may, I was never so frightened in all my born days, for I tuk to my heels, an' was out o' sight in no time, like a haro! tho' I hadn't far to go to be that same, for it was pitch-dark; so, to keep myself company, I began singin'

'The first o' my pranks was in little Rathshane,
Where love, just like whiskey, popp'd into my brain;
For Ally Magoolagh, a nate little sowl,
As tall and as strate as a shaverman's pole!'

'Augh! thin, was she?' says a voice that I cudn't see, tho' 'twas close to my left ear! 'Who's there?' says I. 'Where?' says it, on th' other side. 'Anywhere,' says I, 'to plaze ye;' and wid that I fell into a could sweat, for I began to think it was Mihilmas Eve, an' divil a grain of salt I had about me to keep me from harm! 'Crass o' Christ on us!' says I, 'an' God bless ye!' for I thought it was one of the good people, yir honor! so I made up my mind to get in-doors as soon as I could. But that wasn't so aisy as wishin', for there wasn't a village nearer than five miles, nor a cabin by the way-side. At last I spies a light at a distance in the fields aff the road, and away we set, I and my horse, full gallup. Oh! many's the ditch we cleared without seein'; but still, never a bit did we come nearer to the light! 'Is it a Will,' says I to myself, 'or a Jack?' an' wid that out it goes on a suddent, and laves me up to my chin in a bog. Augh! then, hadn't I a cruel time of it there? I was, for all the world, like a flay on Father Fogarty's pock-mark'd nose, or a blind horse in a tan-yard,—no sooner out o' one hole than into another! At last I got upon dry land, and wasn't I thankful for that same? for I got hoult ov a stone wall that directed me straight on to a gate that was only hasp'd; so I opened it, an' let myself out upon a rodeiene, that I knew by the tracks o' the wheels; so, turnin' myself round three times for look, (and bad look it was,) I steps out into a ditch that was handy by the way-side,—for it was acrass the rodeiene I went 'stead of lengthways either up or down; but how could I do betther in the dark? Well, afther a while floundherin' about like a litther of pups in a bag, I got on my feet agen clane out o' the mud, shiverin' an' shakin' as if I had Jack Nulty's ague 'pon me! 'Well,' says I to myself, 'it was looky I stopp'd to have a drop at the berrin', or I'd av' nothin' to keep the could out o' me now! It was Providence as well as dacency that put it into my head!"


"If you had not stopped," said I, "you would not have been overtaken by the night, and exposed to such a disagreeable accident!"

"Well, sure, yir honor," replied Darby, "somethin' else might av' happened, an' who knows but it might 'a been worse?—there's no sayin' or accountin' for such things. Well, be that as it may, I began to walk on, feelin' afore me width my horse (that never forsook me all the time) whether I was in the right road or not, till at last I comes all ov a suddent into the middle o' the town o' Lanesbro', with raal candles (none ov yir wisps or lantherns) burnin' in every window. Maybe I didn't know where I was then! So, mountin' my horse, sir, strad-legs, away I canther'd, blessin' my stars that I got on my journey so well and so far, width only a wettin' in the bog-holes an' ditches, and a scratch or two on my hands an' cheeks, that I made nothin' ov. 'Where will we put up for the night,' says I to my horse; but yir honor knows the crathur cudn't answer me: so I tuk my own advice, an' went sthraight to 'The Cat and Bagpipes.' 'Will I get a lodgin' here the night?' says I to the lan'lady.—'Who are ye?' says she.—'Who am I!' I says; 'I'm yir honor's servant, on a mission,' says I, mentionin' yir name, masther.—'Can ye pay for a bed?' says she.—'Can money do it?' says I.—'To be sure,' says she.—'Then, look here,' says I; an' wid that I show'd her four and sixpence—for I only spent sixpence at the berrin'.—'Go into the kitchen,' says she, 'an' I'll see what I can do for ye.'—'Thank ye, ma'am,' says I. So I goes my ways into the kitchen, and sits down by the hob. That was very agreeable for a time; but, when I dried myself, an' wanted to go to bed after a drop or two, how d'ye think they sarved me? only sure, yir honor, by putting me in bed with a furrener,—nothin' more nor less than a black, savin' yir presence,—for it was the fair night o' the town, and beds were scarce, an' not to be had for love or money; so I was oblidged to sleep double, plaze ye, sir, in a two-bedded room. They tould me he was only a sweep; but he turned out to be a raal black, to my sorrow!"

"In what way?" inquired I.

"Oh! in many ways, sir," replied Darby. "First and forenenst, he prevented me takin' my natural rest afore midnight; for I took a Bible oath on a child's catechism that I wouldn't enther the room where he was afore the good people were gone to roost; for who knows what they might have made of me? Lord bless ye! they'd av' turn'd every hair o' my head into pump-handles, if they liked, afore morn! so I thought it best to sit up a while, an' kick up a bit ov a dance in the kitchen width Katheen the maid, an' two or three other spreesans that were inclined for the fun; an' fine sport we had, to be sure, to the tune of 'The Hare in the Corn,' and 'Roger de Cuvverly,'—did ye ever trip it to 'Roger de Cuvverly,' yir honor? Oh! it's an illigant cure for the gout!"

"I never dance," said I.

"An' more's the sorrow!" said Darby, "for ye've a fine pair o' legs o' yir own, an' it's a pity that a lame piper shudn't be the better o' them some night or other!"

"We'll see about that," said I; "holiday-time is coming."

"Thank ye, and long life to yir honor! Will ye give us the barn, sir, for a hop width the girls a-comin' Christmas?"

"Yes," said I, "and a barrel of ale into the bargain."


"Oh! then won't that be illigant?" said Darby, cutting an anticipatory caper on the carpet. "An' won't yir honor dance yirself, sir?"

"I have said already that I never dance," replied I. "Go on."

"Yes, sir, immadiately," said he, and continued. "Well, after a bit we had a game o' blindman's buff, an', to be sure, raal fun it was while it lasted, and that was till we got into the little hours; an' many's the trick we play'd one another, till myself felt the miller throwin' dust in my eyes; so, givin' Katheen the wink that I was goin' aff slily, I tould her to call me early in the morn, an' left the party to themselves. I soon tuk aff me, an' was asleep in no time; but in less than half an hour I had a most wonderful drame. I thought I was the first paycock that ever wore a tail in Paradise; an' maybe I wasn't proud o' myself, sated in the tree of knowledge, width Adam an' Eve, ketchin' flies width their mouth open, lookin' at me for wonder. 'Arrah! cushlah!' says Adam to his wife; 'isn't it a butiful sight?'—'Troth, an' it is,' says she; 'avick! I hope he won't fly away, for I'd like to make a pet ov 'im. I'll just step indoors for the blundherbuss!' When I came to this part o' my drame, the blood o' me ran could, an' I couldn't think what was the matther width me, barrin' it was the night-mare; but it was no such thing, for I turned on th' other side, and thought then I was a race-horse on the Curragh of Kildare, an' yir honor clappin' spurs into me within twenty yards of the winnin' post! Well, that was better than t'other; but, as I was draming in this fashion, I began to think they'd never call me at all, when Katheen, yir honor,—the purty little girl, sir, that kept me up so late the night afore, dancin' with her in the back-kitchen,—gave a puck at the door with her fist, that sent in one of the panels, and dumb-foundered quite an ould clock on the back of it, that was pointin' width its two hands to some hour last year. 'Who the divil's that?' says I.—'It's only me,' says she, with a voice like a spaking-trumpet, or a chorus of ganders. (I think the crather had a could upon her.) 'Arrah! d'ye never mane to lave off sleepin'?'—'What o'clock is it, alanna!' says I.—'Oh! the same hour it was this time yisterday, I suppose,' says she, 'for the clock is down.'—'Faith! it is,' says I, nate and clane upon the flooer; 'but never mind that, the sun's up!'—'Ay,' says Katheen, 'this two hours or more.'—'And so wud I,' says I, 'if I had as far to travel in the day as he has!'—'Augh!' said Katheen, 'you lazy puckaun, did ye never hear that the early bird ketches the worm?'—'Troth, an' I did,' says I, 'putting on my shirt; 'but what an ummadhaun the worm must be to get up afore him.'—'An' over an' above,' says Katheen, 'the man that was on the road betimes in the mornin' found a purse.'—'Ay!' says I, 'but the poor divil that lost it was there first.'—'Oh, the divil be width ye! stop there till ye're stiff av ye like,' said Katheen, and run down stairs afore I could say Jack Robison. Well, then, yir honor, I was soon drest an' up; so, as I'd ped my way the night, I had nawthin' to do but pass clane through the kitchen in the mornin', an' take to the road agen, when I saw Katheen a-lightin' the fire. I just stepped towards her for a kiss a-dhurrus, when she cried murther in Irish, loud enough to waken the whole house; so I thought I'd have nothin' more to do width her this time, and went my ways paceably. It was a fine mornin', barrin'[75] the mist, that wudn't let ye see a yard afore ye at a time, an', to be sure, I kep it up at a fine rate 'till I rached the town of Kilcronan. But, what d'ye think happened me there, yir honor?"

"I'm sure I cannot say," said I.

"Well, then, I'll tell ye, sir. As I was passin' by a pawnbroker's that was settin' out his goods for sale, what did I see but a lookin'-glass starin' me in the face, an' a blackamoor's head in the middle of it. Well, I look'd, and look'd, and look'd agen, but divil a bit was it like me; so, turnin' 'pon my heel, 'Bad look to them!' says I, 'they've woke the wrong man;' for yir honor remimbers that I slept width a furrener the night afore, and left orders to be called early; so I had nothin' for it but run back agen as hard as I could lay foot to ground for twelve honest miles; and lucky sure it was that the fog was so thick as ye could cut it with a knife, or I'd av' 'ad the divil's own time of it on the way. But, as it happened, I met nobody that knew me, 'cept blind M'Diarmot the sign-painther."

"Sign-painter!" exclaimed I. "I thought you said he was blind."

"Augh! sure it was afore he lost his eye-sight," said Darby, "that he was the most illigant sign-painther in the county. Didn't he paint The Pig and Thrush for Mat Sleven; an' The Three Blacks, that ye'd take for two twins, they're so like one anuther; and The Red Herrin' for Pat Gaveny in the market, that look'd so salt it made yir mouth wather to that degree, that ye cudn't help, passin' by, goin' in to have a drop. Oh! it brought powers of custom anyhow!"

"How did he lose his eyes?" inquired I.

"He didn't lose them at all, sir," replied Darby, "only the sight o' one o' them, (for he never had th' other,) an' that was all through Molly, the Lump, that advised him, (bad win' to her!) to use crame when he had a could upon his intellects after the typus; so he mistuk a pot o' white lead for the same, one evenin' that he had a drop too much, and fairly painted himself blind; for from that hour to this he can't see a hole in a forty-fut laddher. And more's the pity, for he had plenty o' drawin' about the counthry to do; an' now his dog has got into the line ov it for him, the crathur! Well, anyhow, knowin' he was a jidge o' colours, I ax'd him to feel my face, an' tell me what was the matther width it; so he puts his hand upon me, an' may I never die, masther, if it didn't turn as black as a crow as soon as he drew it acrass my cheek! 'Well,' says I, 'this bates cock-fightin'!' But I soon found out the trick they played me; for M'Diarmot, when he smelt his hand, said there was sut and goose-grase upon it. So ye see, yir honor, the truth was, they blackened my face in the kitchen afore they put me to sleep with the black, that I mightn't know which was myself in the mornin'. May they live till the ind o' the world, that the divil may have a race after them, say I, for that same!"



I was educated, said a French gentleman whom I met in quarantine, at Poitiers, though Lusignan is my native town.

Poitiers is well known to the antiquary as having possessed a Roman amphitheatre, of which, however, when I was at that university, only a vault, supposed to have been a cage for the wild beasts, remained. This cage, from the solidity of the masonry, and the enormous size of the blocks, seemed indestructible, but was not so; for when I last visited Poitiers, and asked for the key of the cavern, I found that it no longer existed, and that on the site had been constructed the inn of the "Trois Pelerins."

It is a stone's throw from the Salle d'Armes, a place with which I had been better acquainted than with the schools. To revive my ancient recollection, I entered the salle, and found there an inhabitant of the town whom I had known at college. He proposed that we should dine together at the "Trois Pelerins;" and, after drinking as good a bottle of wine as it afforded, he related to me what a few days before, in the very room where we were sitting, had happened at a dinner of the collegians. It was ordered for twelve; but, one of the party having invited a friend, the number swelled to thirteen.

It is said that superstition supplies the place of religion; I have observed this to be the case with the most sceptical of my acquaintance: and thus this number thirteen occasioned some remarks, and the stranger was looked upon with no very favourable eye, and considered as a supernumerary, who brought with him ill luck.

One of the set at last summoned resolution enough to say,

"I do not dine thirteen."

"Nor I," said another.

"Nor I," was repeated on all sides.

The guest, naturally embarrassed at this rudeness, got up, and was about to retire, when Alfonse, to whom he came as an umbra, proposed an ingenious expedient for doing away with the evil augury, and said,

"There is one way of annulling the proverb that threatens death in the course of the year to one of a party of thirteen; that way is, to decide which of us shall fight a duel this evening, or to-morrow morning."

"Done!" cried all the students at a breath.

"Shall it be among ourselves?" said one of them.

"No," replied the author of the proposition; "for then two of us would have to fight, whereas it ought to be the thirteenth."

"Right," said all the young men.

"Then let it be with one of the officers of the garrison."

"Be it so," said Alfonse; "we will make a pool, as usual, at the café, all thirteen of us; and——"

"The first out," said the student.

"No," interrupted Alfonse, "that would be a bad omen; it shall be the winner."

"Agreed!" replied all, and they sate down to table with as much gaiety and insouciance as if nothing had been said.


The stranger, just as the soup was being put on the table, got up, and with a magisterial tone of voice addressed the assembly. "Gentlemen," said he, "I feel suddenly inspired with a sublime idea. We are about to eat and drink in the ruins of Roman greatness (alluding to the amphitheatre). Let us imitate that people in every thing that is great. Nothing could be more splendid than the games of the gladiators which were celebrated over the tombs of the mighty dead,—nothing more sumptuous than the festivals held at their funerals. This is probably also a funereal fête; with this difference, that it is held before, and not after death. Let Poitiers therefore rival Rome in her magnificence; let this cena be in honour of the mighty remains over which we are sitting; let it be morituro,—sacred to him who is about to perish."

"Bravo!" exclaimed the guests one and all; "a splendid idea, by Jove!—a splendid cena be it!"

"Open the windows!" cried Alfonse. The windows were opened. As soon as the soup was served, smash went all the plates into the yard, and shivered against the pavement. So, during the rest of dinner, every plate as fast as it was cleared, every bottle as soon as emptied, followed their fellows. One might perceive, by the practised dexterity of this feat, that it was not the first time they had played the same game.

During the first course nothing particular occurred to disturb their harmony; but it so happened that the rôti, which is, as you know, in France always served last, was burnt. Then there arose a general burst of indignation.

"Send the cook!" exclaimed they all to the waiters.

"Order up the cook! Here, cook! cook!" was the universal cry.

But the chef was not forthcoming.

Alfonse, the president, then said, "Must I go myself and fetch him?"

This menace had its effect: the pauvre chef, pale as death, and all cotton cap in hand, crawled into the room. He was greeted with deafening shouts.

"Come here!" said Alfonse. "Do you take us for the officers? What do you mean by serving us in this manner,—eh?"

The man of the spit stammered out an apology. Alfonse looked at him askance.

"If I served you right," said he, "I should make you eat this detestable rôti of yours; but, as it is the first time of happening, my chastisement shall be a paternal one. Hold out your cotton cap."

The chef obeyed, and Alfonse turned out of a dish into it an enormous clouted cream (omelet soufflé), and said,

"Come, now, on with the cap, and see you don't first spill a drop."

He was forced to comply; and the unhappy Ude (udus), his face and white jacket streaming with the contents of the plat, was followed out of the room with hisses and bursts of laughter.

Thus went on the dinner, and with it a concert of broken plates, dishes, glasses, and bottles, accompanied by noises of all sorts, which rose to fortissimo as the wine, of which they drank to excess, got into their heads.

The dessert, which succeeded the second course, was ended by what[78] they called a salad. This salad was thus mixed. They turned up the four corners of the table-cloth, and rolled therein all the fragments that were left. At this juncture the waiters disappeared, conjecturing shrewdly that, if they stayed any longer, the feast might be too grand for them. In short, when all that remained of the dessert was bundled well up, the collegians got on the table, and, at the risk of cutting their feet with the fragments of the crockery, and the splinters of the glass, danced thereon, till everything was pounded, smashed, and broken. Then the table-cloth, with all it contained, (the salad,) was thrown out of the window; after it the table, then the chairs, then the rest of the furniture, and, when there was nothing more to destroy, the frenzied youths thought they could do no better than throw themselves out; and all the thirteen "followed the leader," Alfonse, and jumped from the first floor into the court.

There is a saying, that over drunkards watches an especial Providence. But there are, it seems, two; for the students, on this occasion, found one of their own, which doubtless befriended them in this mad leap. Certain it is that none of the party met with the slightest accident, and, gloriously drunk, they rushed out into the street, after the most remarkable orgie that had taken place for some time at Poitiers.

They made a brilliant entrée into the café,—a general place of rendezvous for the students and officers when they were not at daggers drawn.

Two of the latter were playing at billiards when they entered. But Alfonse, without waiting till the game was ended, asked, or rather demanded, in an authoritative tone, that the table should be given up for a single pool to the thirteen.

Thinking that the object was, as usual, to decide who should pay for the dinner, or the demi-tasse et chasse, the players did not seem inclined to comply with this requisition; but when they learnt that a more momentous affair, a duel, was on foot, they hastened to lay down their cues. A duel! everything must yield to that!

There were but few military men present, for that very day there was a soirée at the general-commandant's of the garrison; and those few consisted of veterans, who preferred passing the evening at the café to putting on silk-stockings and shoes, or of chenapans, who in the regiment went by the name of crans, or bourreaux des cranes. The old grognards, however, did not quit the room. The chenapans interchanged glances with each other; and one or two of the sub-lieutenants, who had come to take their demi-tasse before they went to the ball, also remained. They had all more or less formed a shrewd guess of what was to happen; and, for the honour of the service, waited for the quarrel to break out.

In our schools and garrisons at Paris we are totally unacquainted with that esprit de corps which engages a whole regiment, and an entire body of young men, in a duel, when two only are concerned; nor can we form a notion how slight a thing a duel is considered, when it is the custom to decide all questions sword in hand. Habit is all in all; and people soon learn to think no more of fighting than going to breakfast.

It becomes a general endemic; and a person who, lost in the[79] world of Paris, where he is unknown, might hesitate about demanding satisfaction for an insult however gross, would, in that atmosphere, be ready any day, or hour of the day, to call a man out for merely looking at him.

The pool was begun. Never did a party, when a large sum of money depended on the issue of the game, play with more care and caution than those thirteen to decide which of them was to fight. By degrees the players lost their three lives, and the number was at last reduced to two; these two were the stranger guest and Alfonse. The lookers-on watched anxiously every stroke. Those balls, that as they rolled carried with them the fate of a man, were followed by earnest looks. The officers came nearer and nearer, and ranged themselves round the billiard. They were not a little interested to know whether they, or rather one of them,—which they knew not,—was to enter the lists with a freshman, no doubt unpractised in fencing, or with the most adroit and terrible duellist of the university.

The chances were against them. The stranger lost.

A singular excitement was occasioned by the disappearance of the last ball in the pocket. Some faces grew pale; but no one stirred from the spot where he had been standing as a spectator. Alfonse looked steadily round him, and made two or three times the circuit of the room, as though he were in search, but in vain, of some one worth quarrelling with. At last he perceived a sort of sub-lieutenant, originally drum-major and maître-d'armes, and who boasted of having killed his thirty pequins, sitting quietly in a corner. Alfonse walked straight up to him, and, saluting him with a politeness that electrified the company, said, in his cool way,

"Monsieur, I am exceedingly distressed at the situation in which I find myself placed; but my honour is concerned, and you will allow me to engage yours."

Without further preliminaries, he gave him a severe hit in the face.

The officer, who little expected so abrupt and unanswerable a mode of provocation, sprang like a madman from his chair; and had not Alfonse, with the activity and nimbleness of a cat, leaped with one bound on the table, the ex-drum-major would probably have strangled him on the spot.

He was quickly at the aggressor's heels, when his own comrades stopped him of their own accord, saying,

"Come, come! no child's play or boxing! the thing is too serious! C'est un combat à la mort!"

"Where shall I find you to-morrow?" said one of the officers, addressing Alfonse.

"Fix your ground," was the reply.

"No to-morrows!" said the officer who had received the blow; "this instant!"

"This instant be it, if you please," replied Alfonso with the utmost indifference.

"I shall not sleep to-night till that blow is avenged!" said the other, foaming with rage.

"I, too, want to unnumb my hand. I have hurt my knuckles against your cheek-bones," said Alfonse.

"Where would they fight at such a time of night as this?" observed some of the officers.


"In the garden behind the café," cried the ancient maître d'armes; "a sword in one hand, and a billiard-lamp in the other."

"But," said Alfonse, "I am tired. I know your style of fighting men, Crane; you want to make me break ground, and drive me step by step round the garden. Don't think it, my lad. Besides, the lamp may go out. But, if you have no objection, the billiard-table will be a good arena. We shall be well lighted, and there will be no means of drawing back a foot.

"Be it so," said the other.

The doors were closed, and they laid hands on the waiters and the proprietor of the café, who were going to the police. The swords were then brought. The two adversaries cast lots for them, and then pulled off their coats and waistcoats, and unbuttoned their shirts, to show that they had nothing under.

Both then took their swords.

The officer wrapt round his hand a handkerchief, leaving both ends dangling. Alfonse neglected this practice, the object of which was to distract the attention of the adversary by the perpetual flutter of their two white points, thus to turn away his attention from the sword. But Alfonse had a manner of fighting of his own, and cared little for these petty proceedings. He never looked at the steel; but, fixing his eye on that of his antagonist, anticipated every motion that he made.

The two wrestlers, or gladiators I might say, got on the table together, and, according to the terms or conditions agreed on between the students and the officers, rested their swords on the toes of their boots. A traveller from a commercial house who happened to be present, and could have no interest in the scene other than what its novelty excited, was fixed on to clap his hands three times, and at the third the swords were upraised in the air, and the two combatants came to guard.

A terrible silence reigned through the room, and for some seconds it was only broken by the clashing of the steel; for both parties, as they skirmished, were well aware that a single faux pas was death. The slightest stepping back, shrinking of the body, or leaping on one side, must inevitably prove fatal.

The officer was a head and shoulders taller than Alfonse, and looked as though he could crush him; but he little heeded this advantage, if advantage it was, for he by degrees lowered his body till he was right under the sword of his foe, and almost bent himself down upon the bed of the table. No other change in his attitude then took place.

All at once the officer, taking this posture for the effect of fear, made a furious lunge, which was parried with the greatest sang froid and skill, and Alfonse allowed the officer to return to his ground without attempting to return it. His adversary was deceived by this sort of timid defence, and, become more adventurous, attacked him again with increased fury,—so much so, that, thrown off his guard, his left foot quitted the cushion of the table, against which it had been fixed. Then it was that Alfonse made a rapid lunge at the officer's face. He endeavoured to regain the ground he had lost, to resume his position. The student would not give him time, and charged with impetuosity his disconcerted enemy, who could only[81] avoid his thrusts by keeping his body bent backwards. Alfonse forced him to the edge of the table, when his foot tripped, and at that moment drove the sword up to the hilt in his heart.

The unhappy officer cried out "Hit! hit!" Then he raised himself to his full height, and fell backwards from the top of the table to the floor.

Awful was the sound that the weight of that body made upon the boards of the room! There was mixed up with it a feeling—a dread lest the dead man should hurt himself in falling. Never did I see, for I was present, so dreadful a contest! Never did I experience anything so frightful as the silence of those two men,—as the flashing of their swords by the light of the lamps,—as the fall of the vanquished, who, disappearing behind the table, seemed at once to have been engulfed in a tomb that opened from behind to receive him!


The Monk of Ravenne was daring and great,
He had risk'd his life for the Church's estate;
He was loved by all who the Virgin love,
And the Pope and he were hand and glove;
Not a deed was done by friars or men,
But that deed was known to the Monk of Ravenne.
The Monk of Ravenne on his death-bed lay,
His eyes were closed to the light of day,
His ears drank in the fathers' prayers,
And his soul shook off its earthly cares;
Many a tongue and many a pen
Moved in praise of the Monk of Ravenne.
The Monk of Ravenne in the tomb was placed,
With noble and fair the chapel was graced,
The requiem rose with the organ's swell,
And an hundred voices peal'd his knell;
The lightning flash'd, and up started agen[9]
The ghastly form of the Monk of Ravenne.
"Fools!" cried the monk, "do you pray for me,
Who have plunder'd you all, of every degree?
I have blasted your fame, I have mock'd at your shrine,
And now do I suffer this doom of mine,
'Deserted of heaven, detested of men,
Lost, body and soul, is the Monk of Ravenne!'"






I have the honour to be one of that class of amphibious animals called in his Majesty's service sea-soldiers; that is to say, I have the honour to hold a commission in the noble, ancient, and most jolly body of the Royal Marines. I am by profession, therefore, as well as by nature, a miscellaneous individual; and circumstances have more than once thrown me into situations where the desire to support the credit of the cloth, added to my own stock of cheerful impudence, have carried me through, in spite of difficulties which would have appalled another man. I had the misfortune to be employed on board one of the ships of the inner squadron in the Douro during the siege of Oporto. I do not say misfortune out of any disrespect to the commodore, or to the captain under whose command I was immediately placed, or to my brother officers, for a more generous, convivial set of fellows could not be got together; but I speak of the place, and of the people, and of the few opportunities which were afforded me of showing off a handsome uniform, and, I must say, rather a well-made person, which it inclosed. Besides, I was kept on hard duty; and though there were some pretty women who appeared on Sunday during the cessations of the usual shower of shells from the Miguelite camp, yet there were so many competitors for their smiles, that I really could not take the trouble of making myself as amiable as I otherwise should, and, as I flatter myself, I could. Don Pedro the emperor, who now sleeps with his fathers, and whose heart is deposited in the cathedral of Oporto, was then without the society of his imperial and beautiful wife; and, whether it was to set a good example to his court, or to prevent his mind from dwelling on the absence of his true love, he was one of the most active of my rivals, and I protest there was not a pretty face in the whole town that he had not the pleasure of paying his addresses to. The Marquis of Loule, his brother-in-law, also separated from that most lovely and most generous of Portuguese princesses who now sits nightly at Lisbon, smiling on all the world from her box at the French theatre in the Rua dos Condes, was regularly employed in the same operations; and I never took a sly peep at a pair of dark and bewitching eyes that I did not find the emperor or the marquis also reconnoitring. The marquis is one of the handsomest men in Europe, but with the most vacant expression possible. He wins every heart at first sight, but he loses his conquests as fast as he makes them. Women may be caught by glare; and a man of high rank, an Adonis in face and person, must tell: but I'll be hanged if the dear creatures are such fools as we think them; and the marquis's wife first, and every other flame of his after, have dismissed him, on finding that his good looks and brains were not measured by the same scale. Then there was the Count Villa Flor, and several other martial grandees; not to speak of the generals and colonels of regiments, and the well-built and well-whiskered officers of the British and French Legion, and the captains and first lieutenants of our squadron. I run over this list just to show what difficulties[83] I had to contend with; and that, if I did not turn the head of the whole town, there was a numerous list of operative love-makers who shared the market with me.

A Marine's Courtship

About this time the senior captain of the squadron determined to establish a signal-station to communicate with the ships of his Britannic Majesty outside the bar; and, no fitting place being found on the Pedroite side of the river, an application was made to General San Martha, who commanded for the Miguelites, for permission to erect a post on the left bank, which permission was most liberally granted. A party was instantly set to work, and in the course of a few days a flag-staff was hoisted; and a large house and court-yard given for the accommodation of the officer and men who were to work it. As luck would have it, I was selected for this service, in company with a wild lieutenant of the fleet, and we soon established ourselves in a comfortable quarter, having the permission to rove about among the Miguelite grounds where we pleased, and to cross as usual to Oporto, when leave of absence was to be procured.

We had not been long established at this fort, when the batteries which the Miguelites had established at the mouth of the river began to do their work in good earnest, and so effectually to close the bar, that not only was the usual supply of provisions cut off, but strong fears were entertained that the city would be reduced by famine to capitulate. There was an abundance of salt fish, or bacalhao, and a superfluity of port wine; but even the best fare will tire on repetition, and you may be assured that salt fish for breakfast, dinner, and supper was not very acceptable to the officers or the men. Our commodore, with the foresight that distinguishes a British officer, had provided for the coming difficulty; and had arranged with the Miguelite general for an abundant supply of fresh provisions, meat, poultry, and vegetables, for all the ships' crews, on the distinct understanding that no part of it was to be passed over to the besieged city. The squadron therefore lived in abundance, while the garrison was half starved; and as we passed through the streets with our shining red faces and sleek sides, puffed out by the good cheer our commodore had provided, we formed a strong contrast to the lean and shrivelled soldiers of glory, who were starving in honour of the charter. The private families of the town also began to suffer, and the beauty of many of the most admired, sensibly to diminish; salt fish and port wine did not in combination make a healthy chyle: and I could observe that the Oporto ladies, more carefully than before, wrapped their long dark cloaks about them, to hide the ravages which short commons was making in the plumpness of their persons.

It was at this moment that I conceived and executed the bold plan which forms the subject of this paper, and from which all learned communities may be informed that, for originality of thought and ability in the execution, no adventurer can compare to a British marine.

The most beautiful maiden at Oporto was a Spanish girl called Carolina. She was the daughter of the alcade of Ponte Vedra in Galicia, who had fled some time before, from the retributive justice of the law, which he himself had so long administered; he had died months before the present period, leaving Carolina exposed to all the privations of a besieged town, and to the temptations of a profligate[84] and military court. I never saw a more lovely creature: her eyes were as dark as night, and her cheeks glowed with a warmth unknown in the cold complexions of the north. Her person was faultless; her feet and her hands were small: one could span her waist; and she walked with that combination of majesty and grace which a Spanish woman can alone assume. Poor Carolina was as good as she was beautiful; and though the emperor, and his hopeful brother-in-law, and all the gay cavaliers of the camp, were ready to throw themselves at her feet, she behaved with a discretion which won her the good opinion of the whole army, not to speak of the fleet, where such remarkable virtue could be fully estimated. I among the rest of the inflammable multitude had been struck with the magic charms of the angelic Carolina, and devoted every moment of the occasional leave of absence which I procured, to promenading up and down before her window, in the hope of catching a glance of her beautiful eyes, and of attracting her regard to my own beloved person. I was as much in love with her as a marine could be, and my hopeless passion became so well known that it was a standing joke at the mess-table, and our wicked wag of a commodore, who I fancied was a little caught himself, never failed to inquire if I had taken my usual walk, and met with the same good fortune.

You can easily imagine my delight when I heard that a scarcity was making such rapid progress in the city, and when I found that even the emperor's table was limited to the ordinary rations of bacalhao, black bread, and port wine. I will own that my heart leaped for joy when I ascertained from an emissary employed to watch the house of Carolina that she too was experiencing the pangs of want, and that with her scanty means she was unable to procure the common necessaries for her sustenance. Our ships were abundantly supplied, as I have before informed you; and the little signal-station which I occupied was the abode of plenty. The Miguelites faithfully performed their engagement; and day after day the regular supplies of beef, poultry, vegetables, and fruit came in. The commodore of course respected the contract that he had entered into; and though the emperor made several advances to his favour, and though he was openly solicited on his behalf by various officers of the staff, he refused to allow a pound of meat to be passed into the city. Several of the British residents represented their claims in a formal manner for his protection; but he did his duty like a man, and he resolutely determined not to break the engagement he had entered into with the general of Don Miguel, or compromise the safety of his own crews by giving way to his good-nature. The value of a leg of fowl may therefore be estimated; and it immediately occurred to me that I could soften the obdurate heart of the beautiful Spaniard by secretly conveying to her some portion of the stock which was appropriated to our own table.

I therefore set about purloining a capital gallina; and when I had secured it, in defiance of the jealous watch of the steward, I crammed it into my pocket, and, asking leave to go on shore, started about the close of day to try whether hunger, which breaks through stone walls, would open the oak door of the charming Carolina. I soon found myself in the well-known quarter, and before the house that contained my love; and, after reconnoitring for an instant to[85] see that the emperor or his staff were not in the way, ran up to the first landing, where she lived, and pulled the little bell-string which hung at the door. In an instant I heard the pretty feet tapping along the passage, and the soft voice of Carolina herself exclaiming "Quien es?" Who is there? "It is I, a British officer, and a friend of yours," I replied; "I want particularly to speak to you."

"Sir," said Carolina, "I have not the honour of your acquaintance."

"It is true, señorita; but I come to serve you, and my good intentions will excuse the absence of ceremony."

"Sir, I must wish you a good day: I cannot accept a service from strangers; I have not asked you for any."

"Stay, beautiful Carolina," I exclaimed; "I adore you."

"Sir, I have the honour to wish you good evening."

"Stay, angelic vision: I am an officer of Marines."

"What have I to do with the Marines?"

"I come to devote myself to you."

"Sir,—really sir, you carry the joke too far; I must dispense with your unseasonable visit. I have again the honour to wish you good evening."

Carolina was about to close the little slide of the door through which this brief conversation had been carried on, when, growing desperate with vexation, I held the slide open with one hand, while with the other I pulled the fowl from my pocket, and held it dangling before her face. Oh! if you had seen her look!—her eyes were fixed as Hamlet's when he sees his father's ghost, her mouth opened, and two little rivulets of water ran down at each side as when an alderman gets the first odour of a well-kept haunch.

"Señorita," said I, eager to take advantage of the favourable impression the vision of the fowl had made on my beloved; "this bird is a proof of the warm interest which I take in your welfare. I have heard that you were suffering from the severe affliction that has fallen on this city; and, though I risk my character and the safety of his Britannic Majesty's fleet by bringing into Oporto any part of the provision allotted for the crews, I could not resist the impulse of stealing this bird, which I now have the honour to lay at your feet."

The señorita answered not: pride on the one hand, and hunger on the other, were struggling. The physical want prevailed over the moral feeling. "Señor," said she, "I will accept the fowl, and cannot but feel obliged by the interest you have taken in my welfare. Good night, señor; it is getting late: I am certain you are anxious to return to your ship." With these words she shut the little slide of the door, and I remained in the passage, gaping with astonishment, confounded with delight, and wondering at the new recipe I had invented for making love. I waited for some time, hoping that the little wicket would be again opened; but Carolina, I presume, was too much occupied with the present I had made her to think of returning to bid me a second farewell; and I descended the staircase, charmed beyond expression with the result of my stratagem.

I kept, of course, my recipe for making love a profound secret; but I did not venture to put it again into operation for two or three days. I made, however, the accustomed regular survey of the street in which Carolina resided, and watched with much interest for the[86] reception given to my rivals. I cannot express the delight with which I witnessed them all, one after the other, refused admittance to her house. "She is picking the bones of the fowl," thought I; "that is a much better employment than listening to their stupid declarations. I must take care to keep my mistress in good humour, and to improve the favourable opinion she has already formed of me." I therefore watched my opportunity; secured a duck out of the next basket of poultry, and hastened on the wings of love to lay my treasure at her feet. No sooner did my trembling hand pull the bell-cord, and my eager voice announce my name, than I heard her gentle step in the passage, and soon the little slide of the door was opened, and I felt my heart leap to my mouth as I beheld her beautiful eye beaming on me with undisguised satisfaction. To ensure my welcome, and to save the dear creature from the pangs of expectation, I produced the duck, swinging it to and fro before the wicket, as a nurse does a pretty toy that she offers to the longing wishes of the child. Carolina smiled her sweetest smile; and, when I pushed in the prize, she returned me thanks in so endearing a manner that I lost all command of my reason, and poured out upon the staircase a volume of protestations of eternal love which might have served for the whole ship's company. From that hour my affair was done. Carolina could not resist the voice of truth, and the tender proofs of esteem which I alone had the power to offer. She refused to admit me then, but promised to consult her aunt on the propriety of receiving my visits; and that, if the discreet matron permitted it, she would be too happy in my acquaintance. I entreated the dear girl not to delay my happiness, and I fixed the following Thursday for the formidable interview with the aunt.

I lay the whole of the next night awake, thinking over the present which would be most acceptable to the old lady. I finally resolved to purloin a small leg of lamb, which I observed hung up in the steward's pantry; and, in order to make room for it in my pocket, I cut a great hole in the bottom, so that the handle of the leg would hang down, while the thicker part prevented it from slipping through. Armed with my leg, I asked leave to go to Oporto, and received with joy the accustomed friendly nod. I soon landed at the arsenal, and mounted the long hill which led into the town, holding myself as straight as possible, so that the exuberance of my pocket should not be perceived. Unfortunately for me, a score of hungry dogs, which infest all Portuguese towns, were holding a council of war at the quay when I stept on shore; and one of them, getting scent of the end of the leg of mutton which hung through the hole in my pocket, gave a hint to the rest of the contraband which was going on, and I soon had the whole train after me, sniffing at my tail, and making snaps at the tempting morsel. I would have stooped to pick up a stone, which is the only way of frightening a Portuguese street dog; but I was afraid to disarrange the perpendicular, recollecting that, as I bent down, the end of the leg of lamb would be visible. I therefore bore the annoyance as well as I could, kicking out behind from time to time when my friends were most troublesome.

Carolina and her aunt were at the window, probably expecting my arrival, and enduring the grumbling recollections of an ill-digested dinner of bacalhao, in the hope of a more wholesome supper being provided[87] for them through my care; but when they saw me turn the corner of the street, and at least two dozen dogs smelling and sniffing at my skirts, they both burst out into an uncontrollable fit of laughter, and roared and roared again in a paroxysm of mirth. A crowd of dandies were passing at the moment, watching the window of Carolina, each hoping to be the favoured man; but when they heard the sudden burst of merriment which proceeded from her window, they looked round naturally for the cause, and they soon joined in the same chorus at my expense, on seeing me parade, with all the gravity of a drum-major, at the head of a legion of filthy curs.

To make my situation worse, I dared not enter the house of Carolina; her character would be compromised by a visit in presence of so many admirers: and I had the additional mortification of being obliged to pass her door, and to walk a considerable distance until I escaped the impertinence of the sneering puppies, though I could not shake off the annoyance of those that followed at my heels. How gladly would I have drawn my sword, and challenged the whole party! how cheerfully would I have drawn the leg of lamb from my pocket, and stuffed it in the mouth of each impertinent dandy! but not only was my own honour at stake, but that of the British fleet, and I bore all in the king's name, and for the credit of the service. I have been in many a hot engagement, but I never suffered more than I did that day. At length, after doubling through two or three by-streets, I got rid of my impudent macaroni, and traced my way back again to the house of my beloved. She, with the old lady, were watching me from the window; but, grown wiser by experience, and probably afraid of losing a good supper, they did not laugh again with the same violence. I observed, however, the wicked smile with which my fair one retired to receive me at the door, and the suppressed titter with which the maiden aunt pulled her head from the window.

The cursed dogs followed me up stairs, and it was with considerable difficulty I could prevent the most insolent from forcing their way with me into the presence of my mistress; but, after I got in, I heard them growling and barking on the stairs. The neighbours wondered what the deuce was the matter with the curs, or why they had come from their usual haunts to that unfrequented quarter.

The señorita presented me in due form to her aunt.

"Allow me," said she, "to introduce to you, dear aunt, this gallant English cavalier, Señor Gallina,—I beg pardon, Señor Marinero,—and permit me to present to you, señor, my respected aunt, Donna Francisca Azanares."

I made a low bow, but said nothing, seeing that my mistress thought more of the fowl than of me; such is the way of the world, and those who will win women must endure to have their pride occasionally mortified. The old lady, however, covered me with compliments; she was delighted to make my acquaintance; her niece had told her what an amiable and gentlemanlike young man I was. I could observe, while the aunt was hard at work overloading me with compliments, that Carolina was taking a sly peep at the bulk of my pockets, and wondering what kind of commodity it was that produced so misplaced a swelling on so well-formed a young man as I flatter myself no one can deny I am; but, just at this moment, the bevy of hungry curs at the door set up such a howl in concert,[88] that my angel was fain to cram her handkerchief into her mouth to conceal her laughing, and I thought the old dame would go into a fit, so violent was her merriment. Finding the case going thus hard against me, I determined to strike a bold stroke for conquest; so, slipping out my penknife, I slit up the pocket where the treasure lay, and down fell the leg of lamb in all its natural beauty on the floor. I thought the aunt would have fainted with delight, such an unexpected vision of glory dazzled her understanding and her sight. The bouquet of the meat was, I suppose, conveyed through the keyhole to the canine multitude that still lined the stairs, and another universal howl proclaimed their despair that it was beyond their reach.

I soon took my leave, to the delight of Carolina and her aunt. I think I showed considerable tact in so doing; well knowing that a slice off the leg of lamb would be more acceptable to both than all the professions of admiration which I was prepared to make. I ventured on two or three civil things, but I could see my beloved's eyes fixed upon the handle of the leg; and it was evident the aunt was carrying on an internal debate whether it should be boiled, broiled, roasted, or stewed, or served up, according to the fashion of the province, with a mass of garlic. The dogs were waiting for me in the passage, and they eagerly followed me as I went down stairs; even the smell of my pocket had its attraction for them, but they dropped off one by one when they found the reality was gone. One old savoury rogue alone persecuted me to the river side; and though I pelted him with stones, and kicked him when I could, he still hung on my rear with his tongue out, licking the shreds which dangled from my torn pocket.

The next day, when I went on board ship to make the usual report to the captain, I found that a court of inquiry was going on into the disappearance of the very leg of lamb which I had feloniously purloined. The steward had reported the accident to the purveyor of the mess, and he had called a council of war, who thought fit to make an official report to the skipper; so that the readers will readily imagine the agony of my feelings when I was asked to join the board, and to assist in the investigation. Fortunately for me, one of the aides-de-camp of the emperor had that morning come on board to request of the captain some provision for the imperial table, protesting that Don Pedro and his staff had nothing better than salt fish for rations; which request the captain was compelled, by a strict sense of duty, to refuse; and everybody set it down as certain, the instant the circumstance was brought to mind, that it was the aide-de-camp who stole the lamb. He had come wrapped up in his cloak, which was a circumstance fatal to his character; and it was agreed by the whole conclave that the gentleman with the gold-laced hat and large cloak had been the thief. I blushed up to the eyes at the consciousness of my guilt, and the dishonourable part I was playing in allowing an innocent person to be wronged for my misdeed; but I recollected that the young man was one of the party who ridiculed me the day before in the presence of Carolina, and wounded vanity made me disregard the twitchings of conscience.

In order to avoid suspicion, I lay quiet for a day or two, and allowed Carolina and her aunt to feel the value of such an acquaintance as I was, under existing circumstances. While engaged with the captain[89] on some official duty, the following morning, in his cabin, a young officer was introduced who solicited an immediate audience. The young man appeared buried in grief, and every now and then applied a handkerchief to his eyes, to wipe off the unbidden tears which mocked the sword which hung at his side. His profound sorrow and gentlemanlike appearance interested the good heart of our excellent captain; he begged him to be seated, and wished to know what service he could render him. The young man could with difficulty master his emotion, and the only words that were heard from him were, "My aunt!—my aunt!"

"Pray, sir, be composed;" said the captain, a little tired of the display.

"I will, sir," replied the young man, giving a great gulp, as if to swallow his misery, and applying his handkerchief to wipe off the tears from both his swimming eyes. "Oh! sir," he continued, "my poor aunt, she who reared me from a child, when I was left an unprotected orphan, and has placed me in the station which I now hold, is at the point of death, and the doctors all agree that nothing but caldo di gallina (fowl broth) can save her life. You know the state which we are in at Oporto, and that not a fowl is to be had if one offered a thousand milreas for it; I come to you, as a man and a Christian, to beg you will give me one single chicken from your larder."

"It is impossible," said the captain; "you know the convention we have made with Santa Martha."

"I know all that," resumed the young man; "but you must admit, my dear captain, that the convention is directed against the troops of Don Pedro, and the inhabitants at large who support him; but surely an old woman at the point of death was not contemplated by the treaty, and I entreat you to save the life of this most deserving and venerable of aunts." With these words the young officer again took out his handkerchief, and gave way to a flood of tears that would have moved the strictest disciplinarian that ever commanded a ship.

It was not to be wondered at that the soft heart of our benevolent skipper was affected. He took the young man by the hand, and said, "My dear fellow, I can do nothing for you; I have signed a convention, and I cannot break it, were it to save the emperor's life: but go you to my steward, and if you can manage to extract a fowl from what he has prepared for my table, you may do so; but take care, I am not to know anything about it."

I fancied the young fellow smiled in the midst of his grief at the mention of the emperor; but he dried up his tears in double quick time, and soon made his way to the steward's room, where I suppose he contrived to settle his affair to his satisfaction. He called on the following day to return his grateful thanks; but the captain would not hear a word. I observed, however, that he went down to the steward's cabin, and took a hasty leave as he went over the ship's side on his return. He scarcely failed to pay us a daily visit, and made us all take a strong interest in him and the recovery of this favourite aunt to whom he was so devotedly attached.

This aunt, we found out afterwards, was the emperor; and so reduced was the imperial table for a short time, that Don Pedro must[90] have starved, or lived on bacalhao, if this stratagem had not been adopted. The young fellow acted his part in a consummate manner, and I am told he boasts to this day of the trick he played the British squadron in the Douro. The captain, I am also told, gave him a little of his mind, having met him last year near the Admiralty, dressed out in fine feathers, and swelling with the importance of new-born greatness. "How is your aunt, you d—— lying Portuguese?" said the skipper. "If I ever catch you on board my ship, I'll give you a rope's end, you dog!"

The more you beat one of the class of which this hero was a specimen, the more he likes it. So our Pedroite friend shrugged up his shoulders, and vanished in double quick time, the captain vociferating after him, "How is your aunt, you lubber?"

Afraid of the consequences in case a discovery should take place, I kept quiet for nearly a week together, until a little note, written in a cramped hand, was brought for me to the signal-station, from which I found by the confession of the aunt that Carolina was in despair at not seeing me again, and that she was very ill from a salt-fish diet. I was conscience-stricken at the consequences of my neglect, and determined not to lose a moment in carrying provisions to my starving beauty; so, running to a basket that had just been brought in from the Miguelite market to be passed on board the commodore, I seized a turkey-poult, feathers and all, and thrust it into the same coat-pocket which had been enlarged to hold the leg of lamb. I asked and received leave to go on shore, and pushed as fast as four oars could impel me to the usual landing-place near the old nunnery. I saw some of the idle dogs basking in the sun, but did not heed their presence, so filled was I with the idea of my Carolina; and, jumping out of the boat, I ran along the quay, totally unconscious of the sneers that my presence excited. At last, when I got to the open rope-walk where the market is usually held, the number of my canine assailants became increased; and one of them, bolder than the rest, making a sudden snap at the head of the young turkey, which hung down through the fatal hole in my pocket, dragged its long neck to view, and exposed my shame to the assembled multitude. A crowd immediately gathered round me, and a score of other dogs began to contest the prize with him that held the head of the turkey in his mouth. I was in despair, and drew my sword to rid me of the cursed assailants; when, on the instant, as if to overwhelm me with disgrace, the captain of the ship to which I belonged forced his way through the crowd, and, laying his hand on my arm, told me to consider myself under arrest.

The turkey-poult had by this time been torn from my pocket by the perseverance of my tormentors. It was pulled from one to the other on the ground; while the hungry citizens endeavoured to save its mangled remains, and a running fight was kept up between them and the dogs, which under other circumstances would have been highly amusing. My heart was heavy, and I was incapable of enjoying the most palpable joke. I walked slowly to the quay side, threw myself into the first boat that offered, went on board my ship, gave up my sword to the senior officer; was placed under a formal arrest, and told to prepare myself for a court of inquiry. I must say that I felt more for poor Carolina than I did for myself; and I could not[91] help expressing my anxiety on her account to one of the brother officers who came to condole with me on my situation. The false friend, I was told afterwards, profited by the hint; and, instead of committing himself as I did, he hired a little cottage at the Miguelite side of the river, under cover of the guns of the fleet, where he placed Carolina and her aunt, and soon taught them to forget me. The worst of the affair was, that General Santa Martha sent in a formal complaint to the consul and the commodore of the squadron, and threatened to stop the usual supply of provisions for the ships' use. A long correspondence took place on the subject, which may be found now in the records of the Foreign Office. I am glad to say, for the credit of the service, that the affair was hushed up in the end, and the Miguelites consented to give the required number of rations. I was made the victim of that arrangement, and was glad to retire from the service on half-pay, to escape being ignominiously dismissed by a court-martial. I now live a miserable example of the doctrine of expediency. I entertain a horror of young turkeys and of dogs, and would be gladly informed of some land where neither of those odious creatures are to be met with.



Reader, were you ever bewitched? I do not mean by a "white wench's black eye," or by love-potions imbibed from a ruby lip; but, were you ever really and bonâ fide bewitched, in the true Matthew Hopkins sense of the word? Did you ever, for instance, find yourself from head to heel one vast complication of cramps? or burst out into sudorific exudation like a cold thaw, with the thermometer at zero? Were your eyes ever turned upside down, exhibiting nothing but their whites? Did you ever vomit a paper of crooked pins? or expectorate Whitechapel needles? These are genuine and undoubted marks of possession; and if you never experienced any of them,—why, "happy man be his dole!"

Yet such things have been; yea, we are assured, on no mean authority, still are.

The world, according to the best geographers, is divided into Europe, Asia, Africa, America, and Romney Marsh. In this last-named and fifth quarter of the globe, a witch may still be occasionally discovered in favourable, i. e. stormy, seasons, weathering Dungeness Point in an egg-shell, or careering on her broomstick over Dymchurch wall. A cow may yet be sometimes seen galloping like mad, with tail erect, and an old pair of breeches on her horns, an unerring guide to the door of the crone whose magic arts have drained her udder. I do not, however, remember to have heard that any conjuror has, of late, been detected in the district.

Not many miles removed from the verge of this recondite region,[92] stands a collection of houses, which its maligners call a fishing-town, and its well-wishers a Watering-place. A limb of one of the Cinque Ports, it has (or lately had) a corporation of its own, and has been thought considerable enough to give a second title to a noble family. Rome stood on seven hills; Folkestone seems to have been built upon seventy. Its streets, lanes, and alleys,—fanciful distinctions without much real difference—are agreeable enough to persons who do not mind running up and down stairs; and the only inconvenience at all felt by such of its inhabitants as are not asthmatic, is when some heedless urchin tumbles down a chimney, or an impertinent passenger peeps into a garret window. At the eastern extremity of the town, on the sea-beach, and scarcely above high-water mark, stood, in the good old times, a row of houses then denominated "Frog-hole;" modern refinement subsequently euphonized the name into "East-street:" but what's in a name? the encroachments of Ocean have long since levelled all in one common ruin. Here, in the early part of the seventeenth century, flourished, in somewhat doubtful reputation, but comparative opulence, a compounder of medicines, one Master Erasmus Buckthorne; the effluvia of whose drugs from within, mingling agreeably with the "ancient and fish-like smells" from without, wafted a delicious perfume throughout the neighbourhood. At seven of the clock in the morning when Mrs. Botherby's narrative commences, a stout Suffolk punch, about thirteen hands and a half in height, was slowly led up and down before the door of the pharmacopolist by a lean and withered lad, whose appearance warranted an opinion, pretty generally expressed, that his master found him as useful in experimentalizing as in household drudgery, and that, for every pound avoirdupoise of solid meat, he swallowed at the least two pounds troy-weight of chemicals and galenicals. As the town clock struck the quarter, Master Buckthorne emerged from his laboratory, and, putting the key carefully into his pocket, mounted the sure-footed cob aforesaid, and proceeded up and down the acclivities and declivities of the town with the gravity due to his station and profession. When he reached the open country, his pace was increased to a sedate canter, which, in somewhat more than half an hour, brought "the horse and his rider" in front of a handsome and substantial mansion, the numerous gable-ends and bayed windows of which bespoke the owner a man of worship, and one well to do in the world.

"How now, Hodge Gardener?" quoth the leech, scarcely drawing bit; for Punch seemed to be aware that he had reached his destination, and paused of his own accord; "how now, man? How fares thine employer, worthy Master Marsh? How hath he done? How hath he slept? My potion hath done its office? Ha!"

"Alack! ill at ease, worthy sir,—ill at ease," returned the hind; "his honour is up and stirring; but he hath rested none, and complaineth that the same gnawing pain devoureth, as it were, his very vitals: in sooth he is ill at ease."

"Morrow, doctor!" interrupted a voice from a casement opening on the lawn. "Good morrow! I have looked for, longed for, thy coming this hour and more; enter at once; the pasty and tankard are impatient for thine attack!"

"Marry, Heaven forbid that I should baulk their fancy!" quoth[93] the leech sotto voce, as, abandoning the bridle to honest Hodge, he dismounted, and followed a buxom-looking handmaiden into the breakfast parlour.

There, at the head of his well-furnished board, sat Master Thomas Marsh, of Marshton-Hall, a Yeoman well respected in his degree; one of that sturdy and sterling class which, taking rank immediately below the Esquire, (a title in its origin purely military,) occupied, in the wealthier counties, the position in society now filled by the Country Gentleman. He was one of those of whom the proverb ran:

"A Knight of Cales,
A Gentleman of Wales,
And a Laird of the North Countree;
A Yeoman of Kent,
With his yearly rent,
Will buy them out all three!"

A cold sirloin, big enough to frighten a Frenchman, filled the place of honour, counter-checked by a game-pie of no stinted dimensions; while a silver flagon o£ "humming-bub," viz. ale strong enough to blow a man's beaver off, smiled opposite in treacherous amenity. The sideboard groaned beneath sundry massive cups and waiters of the purest silver; while the huge skull of a fallow-deer, with its branching horns, frowned majestically above. All spoke of affluence, of comfort,—all save the master, whose restless eye and feverish look hinted but too plainly the severest mental or bodily disorder. By the side of the proprietor of the mansion sat his consort, a lady now past the bloom of youth, yet still retaining many of its charms. The clear olive of her complexion, and "the darkness of her Andalusian eye," at once betrayed her foreign origin; in fact, her "lord and master," as husbands were even then, by a legal fiction, denominated, had taken her to his bosom in a foreign country. The cadet of his family, Master Thomas Marsh, had early in life been engaged in commerce. In the pursuit of his vocation he had visited Antwerp, Hamburg, and most of the Hanse Towns; and had already formed a tender connexion with the orphan offspring of one of old Alva's officers, when the unexpected deaths of one immediate and two presumptive heirs placed him next in succession to the family acres. He married, and brought home his bride; who, by the decease of the venerable possessor, heart-broken at the loss of his elder children, became eventually lady of Marshton-Hall. It has been said that she was beautiful, yet was her beauty of a character that operates on the fancy more than the affections; she was one to be admired rather than loved. The proud curl of her lip, the firmness of her tread, her arched brow, and stately carriage, showed the decision, not to say haughtiness of her soul; while her glances, whether lightening with anger, or melting in extreme softness, betrayed the existence of passions as intense in kind as opposite in quality. She rose as Erasmus entered the parlour, and, bestowing on him a look fraught with meaning, quitted the room, leaving him in unconstrained communication with his patient.

"'Fore George, Master Buckthorne!" exclaimed the latter, as the leech drew near, "I will no more of your pharmacy;—burn, burn—gnaw, gnaw,—I had as lief the foul fiend were in my gizzard as one of your drugs. Tell me, in the devil's name, what is the matter with me!"


Thus conjured, the practitioner paused, and even turned somewhat pale. There was a perceptible faltering in his voice as, evading the question, he asked, "What say your other physicians?"

"Doctor Phiz says it is wind,—Doctor Fuz says it is water,—and Doctor Buz says it is something between wind and water."

"They are all of them wrong," said Erasmus Buckthorne.

"Truly, I think so," returned the patient. "They are manifest asses; but you, good leech, you are a horse of another colour. The world talks loudly of your learning, your skill, and cunning in arts the most abstruse; nay, sooth to say, some look coldly on you therefore, and stickle not to aver that you are cater-cousin with Beelzebub himself."

"It is ever the fate of science," murmured the professor, "to be maligned by the ignorant and superstitious. But a truce with such folly; let me examine your palate."

Master Marsh thrust out a tongue long, clear, and red as beet-root. "There is nothing wrong there," said the leech. "Your wrist:—no; the pulse is firm and regular, the skin cool and temperate. Sir, there is nothing the matter with you!"

"Nothing the matter with me, Sir Potecary?" But I tell you there is the matter with me,—much the matter with me. Why is it that something seems ever gnawing at my heart-strings? Whence this pain in the region of the liver? Why is it that I sleep not o' nights, rest not o' days? Why——"

"You are fidgety, Master Marsh," said the doctor.

Master Marsh's brow grew dark; he half rose from his seat, supported himself by both hands on the arms of his elbow-chair, and in accents of mingled anger and astonishment repeated the word "Fidgety!"

"Ay, fidgety," returned the doctor calmly. "Tut, man, there is nought ails thee save thine own overweening fancies. Take less of food, more air, put aside thy flagon, call for thy horse; be boot and saddle the word! Why,—hast thou not youth?"——

"I have," said the patient.

"Wealth, and a fair domain?"

"Granted," quoth Marsh cheerily.

"And a fair wife?"

"Yea," was the response, but in a tone something less satisfied.

"Then arouse thee, man, shake off this fantasy, betake thyself to thy lawful occasions, use thy good hap, follow thy pleasures, and think no more of these fancied ailments."

"But I tell you, master mine, these ailments are not fancied. I lose my rest, I loathe my food, my doublet sits loosely on me,—these racking pains. My wife, too,—when I meet her gaze, the cold sweat stands on my forehead, and I could almost think——" Marsh paused abruptly, mused a while, then added, looking steadily at his visitor, "These things are not right; they pass the common, Master Erasmus Buckthorne."

A slight shade crossed the brow of the leech, but its passage was momentary; his features softened to a smile, in which pity seemed slightly blended with contempt. "Have done with such follies, Master Marsh. You are well, an you would but think so. Ride, I say, hunt, shoot, do anything,—disperse these melancholic humours, and become yourself again."


"Well, I will do your bidding," said Marsh thoughtfully. "It may be so; and yet,—but I will do your bidding. Master Cobbe of Brenzet writes me that he hath a score or two of fat ewes to be sold a pennyworth; I had thought to have sent Ralph Looker, but I will essay to go myself. Ho, there!—saddle me the brown mare, and bid Ralph be ready to attend me on the gelding."

An expression of pain contracted the features of Master Marsh as he rose and slowly quitted the apartment to prepare for his journey; while the leech, having bidden him farewell, vanished through an opposite door, and betook himself to the private boudoir of the fair mistress of Marshton, muttering as he went a quotation from a then newly-published play,

"Not poppy, nor mandragora,
Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world,
Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep
Which thou own'st yesterday."

Of what passed at this interview between the Folkestone doctor and the fair Spaniard, Mrs. Botherby declares she could never obtain any satisfactory elucidation. Not that tradition is silent on the subject,—quite the contrary; it is the abundance, not paucity, of the materials she supplies, and the consequent embarrassment of selection, that make the difficulty. Some have averred that the leech, whose character, as has been before hinted, was more than thread-bare, employed his time in teaching her the mode of administering certain noxious compounds, the unconscious partaker whereof would pine and die so slowly and gradually as to defy suspicion. Others there were who affirmed that Lucifer himself was then and there raised in propriâ personâ, with all his terrible attributes of horn and hoof. In support of this assertion, they adduce the testimony of the aforesaid buxom housemaid, who protested that the Hall smelt that evening like a manufactory of matches. All, however, seem to agree that the confabulation, whether human or infernal, was conducted with profound secrecy, and protracted to a considerable length; that its object, as far as could be divined, meant anything but good to the head of the family; that the lady, moreover, was heartily tired of her husband; and that, in the event of his removal by disease or casualty, Master Erasmus Buckthorne, albeit a great philosophist, would have had no violent objection to throw physic to the dogs, and exchange his laboratory for the estate of Marshton, its live stock included. Some, too, have inferred that to him did Madam Isabel seriously incline; while others have thought, induced perhaps by subsequent events, that she was merely using him for her purposes; that one José, a tall, bright-eyed, hook-nosed stripling from her native land, was a personage not unlikely to put a spoke in the doctor's wheel; and that, should such a chance arise, the Sage, wise as he was, would, after all, run no slight risk of being "bamboozled."

Master José was a youth well-favoured and comely to look upon. His office was that of page to the dame; an office which, after long remaining in abeyance, has been of late years revived, as may well be seen in the persons of sundry smart hobbledehoys, now constantly to be met with on staircases and in boudoirs, clad, for the most part, in garments fitted tightly to the shape, the lower moiety adorned with a broad strip of crimson or silver lace, and the upper with what the[96] first Wit of our times describes as "a favourable eruption of buttons." The precise duties of this employment have never, as far as we have heard, been accurately defined. The perfuming a handkerchief, the combing a lap-dog, and the occasional presentation of a sippet-shaped billet doux, are, and always have been, among them; but these a young gentleman standing five foot ten, and aged nineteen "last grass," might well be supposed to have outgrown. José, however, kept his place, perhaps because he was not fit for any other. To the conference between his mistress and the physician he had not been admitted; his post was to keep watch and ward in the ante-room; and, when the interview was concluded, he attended the lady and her visitor as far as the court-yard, where he held, with all due respect, the stirrup for the latter, as he once more resumed his position on the back of Punch.

Who is it that says "little pitchers have large ears?" Some deep metaphysician of the potteries, who might have added that they have also quick eyes, and sometimes silent tongues. There was a little metaphorical piece of crockery of this class, who, screened by a huge elbow-chair, had sat a quiet and unobserved spectator of the whole proceedings between her mamma and Master Erasmus Buckthorne. This was Miss Marian Marsh, a rosy-cheeked, laughter-loving imp of some six years old; but one who could be mute as a mouse when the fit was on her. A handsome and highly-polished cabinet of the darkest ebony occupied a recess at one end of the apartment; this had long been a great subject of speculation to little Miss. Her curiosity, however, had always been repelled; nor had all her coaxing ever won her an inspection of the thousand and one pretty things which its recesses no doubt contained. On this occasion it was unlocked, and Marian was about to rush forward in eager anticipation of a peep at its interior, when, child as she was, the reflection struck her that she would stand a better chance of carrying her point by remaining perdue. Fortune for once favoured her: she crouched closer than before, and saw her mother take something from one of the drawers, which she handed over to the leech. Strange mutterings followed, and words whose sound was foreign to her youthful ears. Had she been older, their import, perhaps, might have been equally unknown.—After a while there was a pause; and then the lady, as in answer to a requisition from the gentleman, placed in his hand a something which she took from her toilette. The transaction, whatever its nature, seemed now to be complete, and the article was carefully replaced in the drawer from which it had been taken. A long and apparently interesting conversation then took place between the parties, carried on in a low tone. At its termination, Mistress Marsh and Master Erasmus Buckthorne quitted the boudoir together. But the cabinet!—ay, that was left unfastened; the folding-doors still remained invitingly expanded, the bunch of keys dangling from the lock. In an instant the spoiled child was in a chair; the drawer so recently closed yielded at once to her hand, and her hurried researches were rewarded by the prettiest little waxen doll imaginable. It was a first-rate prize, and Miss lost no time in appropriating it to herself. Long before Madam Marsh had returned to her Sanctum, Marian was seated under a laurestinus in the garden, nursing her new baby with the most affectionate solicitude.


"Susan, look here; see what a nasty scratch I have got upon my hand," said the young lady, when routed out at length from her hiding-place to her noontide meal.

"Yes, Miss, this is always the way with you! mend, mend, mend,—nothing but mend! Scrambling about among the bushes, and tearing your clothes to rags. What with you, and with madam's farthingales and kirtles, a poor bower-maiden has a fine time of it!"

"But I have not torn my clothes, Susan, and it was not the bushes; it was the doll: only see what a great ugly pin I have pulled out of it! and look, here is another!" As she spoke, Marian drew forth one of those extended pieces of black pointed wire, with which, in the days of toupees and pompoons, our foremothers were wont to secure their fly-caps and head-gear from the impertinent assaults of Zephyrus and the "Little Breezes."

"And pray, Miss, where did you get this pretty doll, as you call it?" asked Susan, turning over the puppet, and viewing it with a scrutinizing eye.

"Mamma gave it me," said the child.—This was a fib!

"Indeed!" quoth the girl thoughtfully; and then, in half soliloquy, and a lower key, "Well! I wish I may die if it doesn't look like my master!—But come to your dinner, miss. Hark! the bell is striking One!"

Meanwhile, Master Thomas Marsh, and his man Ralph, were threading the devious paths, then, as now, most pseudonymously dignified with the name of roads, that wound between Marshton-Hall and the frontier of Romney Marsh. Their progress was comparatively slow; for, though the brown mare was as good a roadster as man might back, and the gelding no mean nag of his hands, yet the tracks, rarely traversed save by the rude wains of the day, miry in the "bottoms," and covered with loose and rolling stones on the higher grounds, rendered barely passable the perpetual alternation of hill and valley.

The master rode on in pain, and the man in listlessness; although the intercourse between two individuals so situated was much less restrained in those days than might suit the refinement of a later age, little passed approximating to conversation beyond an occasional and half-stifled groan from the one, or a vacant whistle from the other. An hour's riding had brought them among the woods of Acryse; and they were about to descend one of those green and leafy lanes, rendered by matted and over-arching branches alike impervious to shower or sunbeam, when a sudden and violent spasm seized on Master Marsh, and nearly caused him to fall from his horse. With some difficulty he succeeded in dismounting, and seating himself by the road side. Here he remained for a full half-hour in great apparent agony; the cold sweat rolled in large round drops adown his clammy forehead, a universal shivering palsied every limb, his eye-balls appeared to be starting from their sockets, and to his attached, though dull and heavy serving-man, he seemed as one struggling in the pangs of impending dissolution. His groans rose thick and frequent; and the alarmed Ralph was hesitating between his disinclination to leave him, and his desire to procure such assistance as one of the few cottages, rarely sprinkled in that wild country, might afford, when, after a long-drawn sigh, his master's features as suddenly relaxed: he declared himself[98] better, the pang had passed away, and, to use his own expression, he "felt as if a knife had been drawn from out his very heart." With Ralph's assistance, after a while, he again reached his saddle; and, though still ill at ease from a deep-seated and gnawing pain, which ceased not, as he averred, to torment him, the violence of the paroxysm was spent, and it returned no more.

Master and man pursued their way with increased speed, as, emerging from the wooded defiles, they at length neared the coast; then, leaving the romantic castle of Saltwood, with its neighbouring town of Hithe, a little on their left, they proceeded along the ancient paved causeway, and, crossing the old Roman road, or Watling, plunged again into the woods that stretched between Lympne and Ostenhanger.

The sun rode high in the heavens, and its meridian blaze was powerfully felt by man and horse, when, again quitting their leafy covert, the travellers debouched on the open plain of Aldington Frith, a wide tract of unenclosed country stretching down to the very borders of "the Marsh" itself. Here it was, in the neighbouring chapelry, the site of which may yet be traced by the curious antiquary, that Elizabeth Barton, the "Holy Maid of Kent," had, something less than a hundred years previous to the period of our narrative, commenced that series of supernatural pranks which eventually procured for her head an unenvied elevation upon London Bridge; and, though the parish had since enjoyed the benefit of the incumbency of Master Erasmus's illustrious and enlightened Namesake, yet, truth to tell, some of the old leaven was even yet supposed to be at work. The place had, in fact, an ill name; and, though Popish miracles had ceased to electrify its denizens, spells and charms, operating by a no less wondrous agency, were said to have taken their place. Warlocks, and other unholy subjects of Satan, were reported to make its wild recesses their favourite rendezvous, and that to an extent which eventually attracted the notice of no less a personage than the sagacious Matthew Hopkins himself, Witchfinder-General to the British government.

A great portion of the Frith, or Fright, as the name was then, and is still, pronounced, had formerly been a Chace, with rights of Free-warren, &c. appertaining to the Archbishops of the Province. Since the Reformation, however, it had been disparked; and when Master Thomas Marsh, and his man Ralph, entered upon its confines, the open greensward exhibited a lively scene, sufficiently explanatory of certain sounds that had already reached their ears while yet within the sylvan screen which concealed their origin.

It was Fair-day: booths, stalls, and all the rude paraphernalia of an assembly that then met as much for the purposes of traffic as festivity, were scattered irregularly over the turf; pedlars, with their packs; horse-croupers, pig-merchants, itinerant vendors of crockery and cutlery, wandered promiscuously among the mingled groups, exposing their several wares and commodities, and soliciting custom. On one side was the gaudy riband, making its mute appeal to rustic gallantry; on the other the delicious brandy-ball and alluring lollipop, compounded after the most approved receipt in the "True Gentlewoman's Garland," and "raising the waters" in the mouth of many an expectant urchin.

Nor were rural sports wanting to those whom pleasure, rather than business, had drawn from their humble homes. Here was the tall[99] and slippery pole, glittering in its grease, and crowned with the ample cheese, that mocked the hopes of the discomfited climber. There the fugitive pippin, swimming in water not of the purest, and bobbing from the expanded lips of the juvenile Tantalus. In this quarter the ear was pierced by squeaks from some beleaguered porker, whisking his well-soaped tail from the grasp of one already in fancy his captor. In that, the eye rested, with undisguised delight, upon the grimaces of grinning candidates for the honours of the horse-collar. All was fun, frolic, courtship, junketing, and jollity.

Maid Marian, indeed, with her lieges, Robin Hood, Scarlet, and Little John, was wanting; Friar Tuck was absent; even the Hobby-horse had disappeared: but the agile Morrice-dancers yet were there, and jingled their bells merrily among stalls well stored with gingerbread, tops, whips, whistles, and all those noisy instruments of domestic torture in which scenes like these are even now so fertile.—Had I a foe whom I held at deadliest feud, I would entice his child to a Fair, and buy him a Whistle and a Penny-trumpet!

In one corner of the green, a little apart from the thickest of the throng, stood a small square stage, nearly level with the chins of the spectators, whose repeated bursts of laughter seemed to intimate the presence of something more than usually amusing. The platform was divided into two unequal portions; the smaller of which, surrounded by curtains of a coarse canvass, veiled from the eyes of the profane the penetralia of this moveable temple of Esculapius, for such it was. Within its interior, and secure from vulgar curiosity, the Quack-salver had hitherto kept himself ensconced; occupied, no doubt, in the preparation and arrangement of that wonderful panacea which was hereafter to shed the blessings of health among the admiring crowd. Meanwhile his attendant Jack-pudding was busily employed on the proscenium, doing his best to attract attention by a practical facetiousness which took wonderfully with the spectators, interspersing it with the melodious notes of a huge cow's horn. The fellow's costume varied but little in character from that in which the late—(alas! that we should have to write the word!)—the late Mr. Joseph Grimaldi was accustomed to present himself before "a generous and enlightened public:" the principal difference consisted in this, that the upper garment was a long white tunic of a coarse linen, surmounted by a caricature of the ruff then fast falling into disuse, and was secured from the throat downwards by a single row of broad white metal buttons. His legs were cased in loose wide trousers of the same material; while his sleeves, prolonged to a most disproportionate extent, descended far below the fingers, and acted as flappers in the summersets and caracoles with which he diversified and enlivened his antics. Consummate impudence, not altogether unmixed with a certain sly humour, sparkled in his eye through the chalk and ochre with which his features were plentifully bedaubed; and especially displayed itself in a succession of jokes, the coarseness of which did not seem to detract from their merit in the eyes of his applauding audience.

He was in the midst of a long and animated harangue explanatory of his master's high pretensions; he had informed his gaping auditors that the latter was the seventh son of a seventh son, and of course, as they very well knew, an Unborn Doctor; that to this happy accident of birth he added the advantage of most extensive travel; that[100] in his search after science he had not only perambulated the whole of this world, but had trespassed on the boundaries of the next; that the depths of Ocean and the bowels of the Earth were alike familiar to him; that besides salves and cataplasms of sovereign virtue, by combining sundry mosses, gathered many thousand fathom below the surface of the sea, with certain unknown drugs found in an undiscovered island, and boiling the whole in the lava of Vesuvius, he had succeeded in producing his celebrated balsam of Crackapanoko, the never-failing remedy for all human disorders, and which, a proper trial allowed, would go near to reanimate the dead. "Draw near!" continued the worthy, "draw near, my masters! and you, my good mistresses, draw near, every one of you! Fear not high and haughty carriage; though greater than King or Kaiser, yet is the mighty Aldrovando milder than mother's milk; flint to the proud, to the humble he is as melting wax; he asks not your disorders, he sees them himself at a glance—nay, without a glance; he tells your ailments with his eyes shut! Draw near! draw near! the more incurable the better! List to the illustrious Doctor Aldrovando, first Physician to Prester John, Leech to the Grand Llama, and Hakim in Ordinary to Mustapha Muley Bey!"

"Hath your master ever a charm for the toothache, an't please you?" asked an elderly countryman, whose swollen cheek bespoke his interest in the question.

"A charm!—a thousand, and every one of them infallible. Toothache, quotha! I had hoped you had come with every bone in your body fractured or out of joint. A toothache!—propound a tester, master o' mine,—we ask not more for such trifles: do my bidding, and thy jaws, even with the word, shall cease to trouble thee!"

The clown, fumbling a while in a deep leathern purse, at length produced a sixpence, which he tendered to the jester. "Now to thy master, and bring me the charm forthwith."

"Nay, honest man; to disturb the mighty Aldrovando on such slight occasion were pity of my life: areed my counsel aright, and I will warrant thee for the nonce. Hie thee home, friend; infuse this powder in cold spring-water, fill thy mouth with the mixture, and sit upon thy fire till it boils!"

"Out on thee for a pestilent knave!" cried the cozened countryman; but the roar of merriment around bespoke the by-standers well pleased with the jape put upon him. He retired, venting his spleen in audible murmurs; and the mountebank, finding the feelings of the mob enlisted on his side, waxed more impudent every instant, filling up the intervals between his fooleries with sundry capers and contortions, and discordant notes from the cow's horn.

"Draw near! draw near, my masters! Here have ye a remedy for every evil under the sun, moral, physical, natural, and supernatural! Hath any man a termagant wife?—here is that will tame her presently! Hath any one a smoky chimney?—here is an incontinent cure!"

To the first infliction no man ventured to plead guilty, though there were those standing by who thought their neighbours might have profited withal. For the last-named recipe started forth at least a dozen candidates. With the greatest imaginable gravity, Pierrot, having pocketed their groats, delivered to each a small packet curiously folded and closely sealed, containing, as he averred, directions which,[101] if truly observed, would preclude any chimney from smoking for a whole year. They whose curiosity led them to dive into the mystery, found that a sprig of mountain ash culled by moonlight was the charm recommended, coupled, however, with the proviso that no fire should be lighted on the hearth during the interval.

The frequent bursts of merriment proceeding from this quarter at length attracted the attention of Master Marsh, whose line of road necessarily brought him near this end of the fair; he drew bit in front of the stage just as its noisy occupant, having laid aside his formidable horn, was drawing still more largely on the amazement of "the public" by a feat of especial wonder,—he was eating fire! Curiosity mingled with astonishment was at its height; and feelings not unallied to alarm were beginning to manifest themselves among the softer sex especially, as they gazed on the flames that issued from the mouth of the living volcano. All eyes indeed were fixed upon the fire-eater with an intentness that left no room for observing another worthy who had now emerged upon the scene. This was, however, no less a personage than the Deus ex machinâ,—the illustrious Aldrovando himself. Short in stature and spare in form, the sage had somewhat increased the former by a steeple-crowned hat adorned with a cock's feather; while the thick shoulder padding of a quilted doublet, surmounted by a falling band, added a little to his personal importance in point of breadth. His habit was composed throughout of black serge, relieved with scarlet slashes in the sleeves and trunks; red was the feather in his hat, red were the roses in his shoes, which rejoiced, moreover, in a pair of red heels. The lining of a short cloak of faded velvet, that hung transversely over his left shoulder, was also red. Indeed, from all that we could ever see or hear, this agreeable alternation of red and black appears to be the mixture of colours most approved at the court of Beelzebub, and the one most generally adopted by his friends and favourites. His features were sharp and shrewd, and a fire sparkled in his keen grey eye much at variance with the wrinkles that ran their irregular furrows above his prominent and bushy brows. He had advanced slowly from behind his screen while the attention of the multitude was absorbed by the pyrotechnics of Mr. Merryman, and, stationing himself at the extreme corner of the stage, stood quietly leaning on a crutch-handled walking-staff of blackest ebony, his glance steadily fixed on the face of Marsh, from whose countenance the amusement he had insensibly begun to derive had not succeeded in removing all traces of bodily pain. For a while the latter was unobservant of the inquisitorial survey with which he was regarded; the eyes of the parties, however, at length met. The brown mare had a fine shoulder; she stood pretty near sixteen hands. Marsh himself, though slightly bowed by ill health and the "coming autumn" of life, was full six feet in height. His elevation giving him an unobstructed view over the heads of the pedestrians, he had naturally fallen into the rear of the assembly, which brought him close to the diminutive Doctor, with whose face, despite the red heels, his own was about upon a level.

"And what makes Master Marsh here?—what sees he in the mummeries of a miserable buffoon to divert him when his life is in jeopardy?" said a shrill cracked voice that sounded as in his very ear. It was the Doctor who spoke.

"Knowest thou me, friend?" said Marsh, scanning with awakened[102] interest the figure of his questioner: "I call thee not to mind; and yet—stay, where have we met?"

"It skills not to declare," was the answer; "suffice it we have met,—in other climes, perchance,—and now meet happily again,—happily at least for thee."

"Why truly the trick of thy countenance reminds me of somewhat I have seen before, where or when I know not; but what wouldst thou with me?"

"Nay, rather what wouldst thou here, Thomas Marsh? What wouldst thou on the Frith of Aldington?—is it a score or two of paltry sheep? or is it something nearer to thy heart?"

Marsh started as the last words were pronounced with more than common significance: a pang shot through him at the moment, and the vinegar aspect of the Charlatan seemed to relax into a smile half compassionate, half sardonic.

"Grammercy," quoth Marsh, after a long-drawn breath, "what knowest thou of me, fellow, or of my concerns? What knowest thou——"

"This know I, Master Thomas Marsh," said the stranger gravely, "that thy life is even now perilled: evil practices are against thee; but no matter, thou art quit for the nonce—other hands than mine have saved thee! Thy pains are over. Hark! the clock strikes One!" As he spoke, a single toll from the bell-tower of Bilsington came, wafted by the western breeze, over the thick-set and lofty oaks which intervened between the Frith and what had been once a priory. Dr. Aldrovando turned as the sound came floating on the wind, and was moving, as if half in anger, towards the other side of the stage, where the mountebank, his fires extinct, was now disgorging to the admiring crowd yard after yard of gaudy-coloured riband.

"Stay! Nay, prithee, stay!" cried Marsh eagerly, "I was wrong; in faith I was. A change, and that a sudden and most marvellous, hath come over me; I am free; I breathe again; I feel as though a load of years had been removed; and—is it possible?—hast thou done this?"

"Thomas Marsh!" said the doctor, pausing, and turning for the moment on his heel, "I have not; I repeat, that other and more innocent hands than mine have done this deed. Nevertheless, heed my counsel well! Thou art parlously encompassed; I, and I only, have the means of relieving thee. Follow thy courses; pursue thy journey; but, as thou valuest life, and more than life, be at the foot of yonder woody knoll what time the rising moon throws her first beam upon the bare and blighted summit that towers above its trees."

He crossed abruptly to the opposite quarter of the scaffolding, and was in an instant deeply engaged in listening to those whom the cow's horn had attracted, and in prescribing for their real or fancied ailments. Vain were all Marsh's efforts again to attract his notice; it was evident that he studiously avoided him; and when, after an hour or more spent in useless endeavour, he saw the object of his anxiety seclude himself once more within his canvass screen, he rode slowly and thoughtfully off the field.—What should he do? Was the man a mere quack? an impostor? His name thus obtained!—that might be easily done. But then, his secret griefs; the doctor's knowledge of them; their cure: for he felt that his pains were gone, his healthful feelings restored! True; Aldrovando, if that were his[103] name, had disclaimed all co-operation in his recovery: but he knew or, he announced it. Nay, more; he had hinted that he was yet in jeopardy; that practices—and the chord sounded strangely in unison with one that had before vibrated within him—that practices were in operation against his life! It was enough! He would keep tryst with the Conjuror, if conjuror he were; and, at least, ascertain who and what he was, and how he had become acquainted with his own person and secret afflictions.

When the late Mr. Pitt was determined to keep out Buonaparte, and prevent his gaining a settlement in the county of Kent, among other ingenious devices adopted for that purpose, he caused to be constructed what was then, and has ever since been, conventionally termed a "Military canal." This is a not very practicable ditch, some thirty feet wide, and nearly nine feet deep—in the middle, extending from the town and port of Hithe to within a mile of the town and port of Rye, a distance of about twenty miles; and forming, as it were, the cord of a bow, the area of which constitutes that remote fifth quarter of the globe spoken of by travellers. Trivial objections to the plan were made at the time by cavillers; and an old gentleman of the neighbourhood, who proposed, as a cheap substitute, to put up his own cocked-hat upon a pole, was deservedly pooh-pooh'd down; in fact, the job, though rather an expensive one, was found to answer remarkably well. The French managed, indeed, to scramble over the Rhine, and the Rhone, and other insignificant currents; but they never did, or could, pass Mr. Pitt's "Military canal." At no great distance from the centre of this cord rises abruptly a sort of woody promontory, in shape almost conical, its sides covered with thick underwood; above which is seen a bare and brown summit rising like an Alp in miniature. The "defence of the nation" not being then in existence, Master Thomas Marsh met with no obstruction in reaching this place of appointment long before the time prescribed.

So much, indeed, was his mind occupied by his adventure and extraordinary cure, that his original design had been abandoned, and Master Cobbe remained unvisited. A rude hostel in the neighbourhood furnished entertainment for man and horse; and here, a full hour before the rising of the moon, he left Ralph and the other beasts, proceeding to his rendezvous on foot and alone.

"You are punctual, Master Marsh," squeaked the shrill voice of the Doctor, issuing from the thicket as the first silvery gleam trembled on the aspens above. "'Tis well; now follow me, and in silence."

The first part of the command Marsh hesitated not to obey; the second was more difficult of observance.

"Who and what are you? Whither are you leading me?" burst not unnaturally from his lips; but all question was at once cut short by the peremptory tones of his guide.

"Hush! I say; your finger on your lip; there be hawks abroad: follow me, and that silently and quickly." The little man turned as he spoke, and led the way through a scarcely perceptible path, or track, which wound among the underwood. The lapse of a few minutes brought them to the door of a low building so hidden by the surrounding trees that few would have suspected its existence. It was a cottage of rather extraordinary dimensions, but consisting of only one floor. No smoke rose from its solitary chimney; no cheering ray streamed from its single window, which was, however, secured[104] by a shutter of such thickness as to preclude the possibility of any stray beam issuing from within. The exact size of the building it was in that uncertain light difficult to distinguish, a portion of it seeming buried in the wood behind. The door gave way on the application of a key, and Marsh followed his conductor resolutely but cautiously along a narrow passage feebly lighted by a small taper that winked and twinkled at its farther extremity. The Doctor, as he approached, raised it from the ground, and, opening an adjoining door, ushered his guest into the room beyond. It was a large and oddly-furnished apartment, insufficiently lighted by an iron lamp that hung from the roof, and scarcely illumined the walls and angles, which seemed to be composed of some dark-coloured wood. On one side, however, Master Marsh could discover an article bearing strong resemblance to a coffin; on the other was a large oval mirror in an ebony frame, and in the midst of the floor was described in red chalk a double circle, about six feet in diameter, its inner verge inscribed with sundry hieroglyphics, agreeably relieved at intervals with an alternation of skulls and cross-bones. In the very centre was deposited one skull of such surpassing size and thickness as would have filled the soul of a Spurzheim or De Ville with wonderment. A large book, a naked sword, an hour-glass, a chafing-dish, and a black cat, completed the list of moveables; with the exception of a couple of tapers which stood on each side the mirror, and which the strange gentleman now proceeded to light from the one in his hand. As they flared up with what Marsh thought a most unnatural brilliancy, he perceived, reflected in the glass behind, a dial suspended over the coffin-like article already mentioned: the hand was fast verging towards the hour of nine. The eyes of the little Doctor seemed rivetted on the horologe.

"Now strip thee, Master Marsh, and that quickly: untruss, I say! discard thy boots, doff doublet and hose, and place thyself incontinent in yonder bath." The visitor cast his eyes again upon the formidable-looking article, and perceived that it was nearly filled with water. A cold bath, at such an hour and under such auspices, was anything but inviting: he hesitated, and turned his eyes alternately on the Doctor and the Black Cat.

"Trifle not the time, man, an you be wise," said the former: "Passion of my heart! let but yon minute-hand reach the hour, and, thou not immersed, thy life were not worth a pin's fee!"

The Black Cat gave vent to a single Mew,—a most unnatural sound for a mouser,—it seemed as it were mewed through a cow's horn!

"Quick, Master Marsh! uncase, or you perish!" repeated his strange host, throwing as he spoke a handful of some dingy-looking powders into the brasier. "Behold, the attack is begun!" A thick cloud rose from the embers; a cold shivering shook the astonished Yeoman: sharp pricking pains penetrated his ankles and the palms of his hands, and, as the smoke cleared away, he distinctly saw and recognised in the mirror the boudoir of Marshton Hall. The doors of the well-known ebony cabinet were closed; but, fixed against them, and standing out in strong relief from the contrast afforded by the sable background, was a waxen image—of himself! It appeared to be secured and sustained in an upright posture by large black pins driven through the feet and palms, the latter of which were extended[105] in a cruciform position. To the right and left stood his wife and José; in the middle, with his back towards him, was a figure which he had no difficulty in recognising as that of the Leech of Folkestone. It had just succeeded in fastening the dexter hand of the image, and was now in the act of drawing a broad and keen-edged sabre from its sheath. The Black Cat mewed again. "Haste, or you die!" said the Doctor. Marsh looked at the dial; it wanted but four minutes of nine: he felt that the crisis of his fate was come. Off went his heavy boots; doublet to the right, galligaskins to the left; never was man more swiftly disrobed: in two minutes, to use an Indian expression, "he was all face!" in another, he was on his back, and up to his chin, in a bath which smelt strongly as of brimstone and garlick.

"Heed well the clock!" cried the Conjuror: "with the first stroke of Nine plunge thy head beneath the water; suffer not a hair above the surface: plunge deeply, or you are lost!"

The little man had seated himself in the centre of the circle upon the large skull, elevating his legs at an angle of forty-five degrees. In this position he spun round with a velocity to be equalled only by that of a tee-totum, the red roses on his insteps seeming to describe a circle of fire. The best buckskins that ever mounted at Melton had soon yielded to such rotatory friction; but he spun on, the Cat mewed, bats and obscene birds fluttered over head, Erasmus was seen to raise his weapon, the clock struck!—and Marsh, who had "ducked" at the instant, popped up his head again, spitting and sputtering, half choked with the infernal mixture, which had insinuated itself into his mouth, and ears, and nose. All disgust at his nauseous dip was, however, at once removed, when, casting his eyes on the glass, he saw the consternation of the party whose persons it exhibited. Erasmus had evidently made his blow and failed; the figure was unmutilated; the hilt remained in the hand of the striker, while the shivered blade lay in shining fragments on the floor.

The Conjuror ceased his spinning, and brought himself to an anchor; the Black Cat purred,—its purring seemed strangely mixed with the self-satisfied chuckle of a human being. Where had Marsh heard something like it before?

He was rising from his unsavoury couch, when a motion from the little man checked him. "Rest where you are, Thomas Marsh; so far all goes well, but the danger is not yet over!" He looked again, and perceived that the shadowy triumvirate were in deep and eager consultation; the fragments of the shattered weapon appeared to undergo a close scrutiny. The result was clearly unsatisfactory; the lips of the parties moved rapidly, and much gesticulation might be observed, but no sound fell upon the ear. The hand of the dial had nearly reached the quarter: at once the parties separated; and Buckthorne stood again before the figure, his hand armed with a long and sharp-pointed misericorde, a dagger little in use of late, but such as, a century before, often performed the part of a modern oyster-knife, in tickling the osteology of a dismounted cavalier through the shelly defences of his plate-armour. Again he raised his arm. "Duck!" roared the Doctor, spinning away upon his cephalic pivot: the Black Cat cocked his tail, and seemed to mew the word "Duck!" Down went Master Marsh's head; but one of his hands had unluckily been resting on the edge of the bath: he drew it hastily in, but not altogether[106] scathless; the stump of a rusty nail, projecting from the margin of the bath, had caught and slightly grazed it. The pain was more acute than is usually produced by such trivial accident; and Marsh, on once more raising his head, beheld the dagger of the leech sticking in the little finger of the wax figure, which it had seemingly nailed to the cabinet door.

"By my truly, a scape o' the narrowest!" quoth the Conjuror; "the next course, dive you not the readier, there is no more life in you than in a pickled herring. What! courage, Master Marsh; but be heedful: an they miss again, let them bide the issue!" He drew his hand athwart his brow as he spoke, and dashed off the perspiration, which the violence of his exercise had drawn from every pore. Black Tom sprang upon the edge of the bath, and stared full in the face of the bather: his sea-green eyes were lambent with unholy fire, but their marvellous obliquity of vision was not to be mistaken,—the very countenance, too!—Could it be?—the features were feline, but their expression that of the Jack-Pudding? Was the Mountebank a Cat, or the Cat a Mountebank?—it was all a mystery; and Heaven knows how long Marsh might have continued staring at Grimalkin, had not his attention been again called by Aldrovando to the magic mirror. Great dissatisfaction, not to say dismay, seemed to pervade the conspirators; Dame Isabel was closely inspecting the figure's wounded hand, while José was aiding the pharmacopolist to charge a huge petronel with powder and bullets. The load was a heavy one; but Erasmus seemed determined this time to make sure of his object. Somewhat of trepidation might be observed in his manner as he rammed down the balls, and his withered cheek appeared to have acquired an increase of paleness; but amazement rather than fear was the prevailing symptom, and his countenance betrayed no jot of irresolution. As the clock was about to chime half-past nine, he planted himself with a firm foot in front of the image, waved his unoccupied hand with a cautionary gesture to his companions, and, as they hastily retired on either side, brought the muzzle of his weapon within half a foot of his mark. As the shadowy form was about to draw the trigger, Marsh again plunged his head beneath the surface; and the sound of an explosion, as of fire-arms, mingled with the rush of water that poured into his ears. His immersion was but momentary, yet did he feel as though half suffocated: he sprang from the bath, and, as his eye fell on the mirror, he saw, or thought he saw, the Leech of Folkestone lying dead on the floor of his wife's boudoir, his head shattered to pieces, and his hand still grasping the stock of a bursten petronel. He saw no more; his head swam, his senses reeled, the whole room was turning round, and, as he fell to the ground, the last impressions to which he was conscious were the chucklings of a hoarse laughter and the mewings of a Tom Cat.

Master Marsh was found the next morning by his bewildered serving-man, stretched before the door of the humble hostel at which he sojourned. His clothes were somewhat torn and much bemired; and deeply did honest Ralph marvel that one so staid and grave as Marsh of Marston should thus have played the roisterer, missing perchance a profitable bargain for the drunken orgies of midnight wassail, or the endearments of some rustic light-o'-love. Tenfold was his astonishment increased when, after retracing in silence their journey of the preceding day, the Hall, on their arrival about noon, was[107] found in a state of uttermost confusion. No wife stood there to greet with the smile of bland affection her returning spouse; no page to hold his stirrup, or receive his gloves, his hat, and riding-rod. The doors were open, the rooms in most admired disorder; men and maidens peeping, hurrying hither and thither, and popping in and out, like rabbits in a warren. The lady of the mansion was nowhere to be found.

José, too, had disappeared: the latter had been last seen riding furiously towards Folkestone early in the preceding afternoon; to a question from Hodge Gardener he had hastily answered, that he bore a missive of moment from his mistress. The lean apprentice of Erasmus Buckthorne declared that the page had summoned his master in haste about six of the clock, and that they had rode forth together, as he very believed, on their way back to the Hall, where he had supposed Master Buckthorne's services to be suddenly required on some pressing emergency. Since that time he had seen nought of either of them: the grey cob, however, had returned late at night, masterless, with his girths loose, and the saddle turned upside down.

Nor was Master Erasmus Buckthorne ever seen again. Strict search was made through the neighbourhood, but without success; and it was at length presumed that he must, for reasons which nobody could divine, have absconded with José and his faithless mistress. The latter had carried off with her the strong box, divers articles of valuable plate, and jewels of price. Her boudoir appeared to have been completely ransacked; the cabinet and drawers stood open, and empty; the very carpet, a luxury then newly introduced into England, was gone. Marsh, however, could trace no vestige of the visionary scene which he affirmed to have been last night presented to his eyes. Much did the neighbours marvel at his story: some thought him mad; others, that he was merely indulging in that privilege to which, as a traveller, he had a right indefeasible. Trusty Ralph said nothing, but shrugged his shoulders; and, falling into the rear, imitated the action of raising the wine-cup to his lips. An opinion, indeed, soon prevailed, that Master Thomas Marsh had gotten, in common parlance, exceedingly drunk on the preceding evening, and dreamt all that he had so circumstantially related. This belief acquired additional credit when they whom curiosity induced to visit the woody knoll of Aldington Mount declared that they could find no building such as that described; nor any cottage near, save one, indeed, a low-roofed hovel, once a house of public entertainment, but now half in ruins. The "Old Cat and Fiddle"—so was the tenement called—had been long uninhabited; yet still exhibited the remains of a broken sign, on which the keen observer might decypher something like a rude portrait of the animal from which it derived its name. It was also supposed still to afford an occasional asylum to the smugglers of the coast, but no trace of any visit from sage or mountebank could be detected; nor was the wise Aldrovando, whom many remembered to have seen at the fair, ever found again on all that country-side. Of the runaways nothing was ever certainly known. A boat, the property of an old fisherman who plied his trade on the outskirts of the town, had been seen to quit the bay that night; and there were those who declared that she had more hands on board than Carden and his son, her usual complement;[108] but, as a gale came on, and the frail bark was eventually found keel upwards on the Goodwin Sands, it was presumed that she had struck on that fatal quicksand in the dark, and that all on board had perished.

Little Marian, whom her profligate mother had abandoned, grew up to be a fine girl, and a handsome. She became, moreover, heiress to Marshton Hall, and brought the estate into the Ingoldsby family by her marriage with one of its scions.

It is a little singular that, on pulling down the old Hall in my grandfather's time, a human skeleton was discovered among the rubbish, under what particular part of the building I could never with any accuracy ascertain; but it was found enveloped in a tattered cloth, that seemed to have been once a carpet, and which fell to pieces almost immediately on being exposed to the air. The bones were perfect, but those of one hand were wanting; and the skull, perhaps from the labourer's pick-axe, had received considerable injury.

The portrait of the fair Marian hangs yet in the Gallery of Tappington; and near it is another, of a young man in the prime of life, whom Mrs. Botherby pronounces her father. It exhibits a mild and rather melancholy countenance, with a high forehead, and the picked beard and moustaches of the seventeenth century. The signet-finger of the left hand is gone, and appears, on close inspection, to have been painted out by some later artist; possibly in compliment to the tradition, which, teste Botherby, records that of Mr. Marsh to have gangrened, and to have undergone amputation at the knuckle-joint. If really the resemblance of the gentleman alluded to, it must have been taken at some period antecedent to his marriage. There is neither date nor painter's name; but, a little above the head, on the dexter side of the picture, is an escutcheon, bearing Quarterly, Gules and Argent; in the first quarter, a horse's head of the second; beneath it are the words "Ætatis suæ, 26." On the opposite side is the following marks which Mr. Simpkinson declares to be that of a Merchant of the Staple, and pretends to discover in the anagram comprised in it all the characters which compose the name of THOMAS MARSH, of MARSHTON.


Thomas Ingoldsby.



August, 1837.

Of all the months in the twelve that fly
So lightly on, and noiselessly by,
There is not one who can show so fair
As this, with its soft and balmy air.
The light graceful corn waves to and fro,
Tinging the earth with its richest glow;
The forest trees in their state and might
Proclaim that Summer is at his height.
Of all the months in the twelve that speed
So quickly by, with so little heed
From man, of the years that swiftly pass
As an infant's breath from a polished glass,
There is not one whose fading away
Bears such a lesson to mortal clay,
Warning us sternly, when in our prime,
To look for the withering winter time.
I stood by a young girl's grave last night,
Beautiful, innocent, pure, and bright,
Who, in the bloom of her summer's pride,
And all its loveliness, drooped and died.
Since the sweetest flow'rs are soonest dust,
As truest metal is quick to rust,
Look for a change in that time of year,
When Nature's works at their best appear.







The coach rattled away down Mount Pleasant and up Exmouth-street,—over nearly the same ground as that which Oliver had traversed when he first entered London in company with the Dodger,—and, turning a different way when it reached the Angel at Islington, stopped at length before a neat house in a quiet shady street near Pentonville. Here a bed was prepared without loss of time, in which Mr. Brownlow saw his young charge carefully and comfortably deposited; and here he was tended with a kindness and solicitude which knew no bounds.

But for many days Oliver remained insensible to all the goodness of his new friends; the sun rose and sunk, and rose and sunk again, and many times after that, and still the boy lay stretched upon his uneasy bed, dwindling away beneath the dry and wasting heat of fever,—that heat which, like the subtle acid that gnaws into the very heart of hardest iron, burns only to corrode and to destroy. The worm does not his work more surely on the dead body, than does this slow, creeping fire upon the living frame.

Weak, and thin, and pallid, he awoke at last from what seemed to have been a long and troubled dream. Feebly raising himself in the bed, with his head resting on his trembling arm, he looked anxiously round.

"What room is this?—where have I been brought to?" said Oliver. "This is not the place I went to sleep in."

He uttered these words in a feeble voice, being very faint and weak; but they were overheard at once, for the curtain at the bed's head was hastily drawn back, and a motherly old lady, very neatly and precisely dressed, rose as she undrew it, from an arm-chair close by, in which she had been sitting at needle-work.

"Hush, my dear," said the old lady softly. "You must be very quiet, or you will be ill again, and you have been very bad,—as bad as bad could be, pretty nigh. Lie down again, there's a dear." With these words the old lady very gently placed Oliver's head upon the pillow, and, smoothing back his hair from his forehead, looked so kindly and lovingly in his[111] face, that he could not help placing his little withered hand upon her's and drawing it round his neck.

Oliver recovering from Fever

"Save us!" said the old lady, with tears in her eyes, "what a grateful little dear it is. Pretty creetur, what would his mother feel if she had sat by him as I have, and could see him now!"

"Perhaps she does see me," whispered Oliver, folding his hands together; "perhaps she has sat by me, ma'am. I almost feel as if she had."

"That was the fever, my dear," said the old lady mildly.

"I suppose it was," replied Oliver thoughtfully, "because Heaven is a long way off, and they are too happy there, to come down to the bedside of a poor boy. But if she knew I was ill, she must have pitied me even there, for she was very ill herself before she died. She can't know anything about me though," added Oliver after a moment's silence, "for if she had seen me beat, it would have made her sorrowful; and her face has always looked sweet and happy when I have dreamt of her."

The old lady made no reply to this, but wiping her eyes first, and her spectacles, which lay on the counterpane, afterwards, as if they were part and parcel of those features, brought some cool stuff for Oliver to drink, and then, patting him on the cheek, told him he must lie very quiet, or he would be ill again.

So Oliver kept very still, partly because he was anxious to obey the kind old lady in all things, and partly, to tell the truth, because he was completely exhausted with what he had already said. He soon fell into a gentle doze, from which he was awakened by the light of a candle, which, being brought near the bed, showed him a gentleman, with a very large and loud-ticking gold watch in his hand, who felt his pulse, and said he was a great deal better.

"You are a great deal better, are you not, my dear?" said the gentleman.

"Yes, thank you, sir," replied Oliver.

"Yes, I know you are," said the gentleman: "you're hungry too, an't you?"

"No, sir," answered Oliver.

"Hem!" said the gentleman. "No, I know you're not. He is not hungry, Mrs. Bedwin," said the gentleman, looking very wise.

The old lady made a respectful inclination of the head, which seemed to say that she thought the doctor was a very clever man. The doctor appeared very much of the same opinion himself.

"You feel sleepy, don't you, my dear?" said the doctor.

"No, sir," replied Oliver.

"No," said the doctor with a very shrewd and satisfied look. "You're not sleepy. Nor thirsty, are you?"

"Yes, sir, rather thirsty," answered Oliver.


"Just as I expected, Mrs. Bedwin," said the doctor. "It's very natural that he should be thirsty—perfectly natural. You may give him a little tea, ma'am, and some dry toast without any butter. Don't keep him too warm, ma'am; but be careful that you don't let him be too cold; will you have the goodness?"

The old lady dropped a curtsey; and the doctor, after tasting the cool stuff, and expressing a qualified approval thereof, hurried away: his boots creaking in a very important and wealthy manner as he went down stairs.

Oliver dozed off again soon after this, and when he awoke it was nearly twelve o'clock. The old lady tenderly bade him good-night shortly afterwards, and left him in charge of a fat old woman who had just come, bringing with her in a little bundle a small Prayer Book and a large nightcap. Putting the latter on her head, and the former on the table, the old woman, after telling Oliver that she had come to sit up with him, drew her chair close to the fire and went off into a series of short naps, chequered at frequent intervals with sundry tumblings forward and divers moans and chokings, which, however, had no worse effect than causing her to rub her nose very hard, and then fall asleep again.

And thus the night crept slowly on. Oliver lay awake for some time, counting the little circles of light which the reflection of the rushlight-shade threw upon the ceiling, or tracing with his languid eyes the intricate pattern of the paper on the wall. The darkness and deep stillness of the room were very solemn; and as they brought into the boy's mind the thought that death had been hovering there for many days and nights, and might yet fill it with the gloom and dread of his awful presence, he turned his face upon the pillow and fervently prayed to Heaven.

Gradually he fell into that deep tranquil sleep which ease from recent suffering alone imparts; that calm and peaceful rest which it is pain to wake from. Who, if this were death, would be roused again to all the struggles and turmoils of life,—to all its cares for the present, its anxieties for the future, and, more than all, its weary recollections of the past!

It had been bright day for hours when Oliver opened his eyes; and when he did so, he felt cheerful and happy. The crisis of the disease was safely past, and he belonged to the world again.

In three days' time he was able to sit in an easy-chair well propped up with pillows; and, as he was still too weak to walk, Mrs. Bedwin had him carried down stairs into the little housekeeper's room, which belonged to her, where, having sat him up by the fireside, the good old lady sat herself down too, and, being in a state of considerable delight at seeing him so much better, forthwith began to cry most violently.

"Never mind me, my dear," said the old lady; "I'm only[113] having a regular good cry. There, it's all over now, and I'm quite comfortable."

"You're very, very kind to me, ma'am," said Oliver.

"Well, never you mind that, my dear," said the old lady; "that's got nothing to do with your broth, and it's full time you had it, for the doctor says Mr. Brownlow may come in to see you this morning, and we must get up our best looks, because the better we look, the more he'll be pleased." And with this, the old lady applied herself to warming up in a little saucepan a basin full of broth strong enough to furnish an ample dinner, when reduced to the regulation strength, for three hundred and fifty paupers, at the very lowest computation.

"Are you fond of pictures, dear?" inquired the old lady, seeing that Oliver had fixed his eyes most intently on a portrait which hung against the wall just opposite his chair.

"I don't quite know, ma'am," said Oliver, without taking his eyes from the canvass; "I have seen so few that I hardly know. What a beautiful mild face that lady's is!"

"Ah," said the old lady, "painters always make ladies out prettier than they are, or they wouldn't get any custom, child. The man that invented the machine for taking likenesses might have known that would never succeed; it's a deal too honest,—a deal," said the old lady, laughing very heartily at her own acuteness.

"Is—is that a likeness, ma'am?" said Oliver.

"Yes," said the old lady, looking up for a moment from the broth; "that's a portrait."

"Whose, ma'am?" asked Oliver eagerly.

"Why, really, my dear, I don't know," answered the old lady in a good-humoured manner. "It's not a likeness of anybody that you or I know, I expect. It seems to strike your fancy, dear."

"It is so very pretty: so very beautiful," replied Oliver.

"Why, sure you're not afraid of it?" said the old lady, observing in great surprise the look of awe with which the child regarded the painting.

"Oh no, no," returned Oliver quickly; "but the eyes look so sorrowful, and where I sit they seem fixed upon me. It makes my heart beat," added Oliver in a low voice, "as if it was alive, and wanted to speak to me, but couldn't."

"Lord save us!" exclaimed the old lady, starting; "don't talk in that way, child. You're weak and nervous after your illness. Let me wheel your chair round to the other side, and then you won't see it. There," said the old lady, suiting the action to the word; "you don't see it now, at all events."

Oliver did see it in his mind's eye as distinctly as if he had not altered his position, but he thought it better not to worry the kind old lady; so he smiled gently when she looked at him, and Mrs. Bedwin, satisfied that he felt more comfortable, salted[114] and broke bits of toasted bread into the broth with all the bustle befitting so solemn a preparation. Oliver got through it with extraordinary expedition, and had scarcely swallowed the last spoonful when there came a soft tap at the door. "Come in," said the old lady; and in walked Mr. Brownlow.

Now, the old gentleman came in as brisk as need be; but he had no sooner raised his spectacles on his forehead, and thrust his hands behind the skirts of his dressing-gown to take a good long look at Oliver, than his countenance underwent a very great variety of odd contortions. Oliver looked very worn and shadowy from sickness, and made an ineffectual attempt to stand up, out of respect to his benefactor, which terminated in his sinking back into the chair again; and the fact is, if the truth must be told, that Mr. Brownlow's heart being large enough for any six ordinary old gentlemen of humane disposition, forced a supply of tears into his eyes by some hydraulic process which we are not sufficiently philosophical to be in a condition to explain.

"Poor boy, poor boy!" said Mr. Brownlow clearing his throat. "I'm rather hoarse this morning, Mrs. Bedwin; I'm afraid I have caught cold."

"I hope not, sir," said Mrs. Bedwin. "Everything you have had has been well aired, sir."

"I don't know, Bedwin,—I don't know," said Mr. Brownlow; "I rather think I had a damp napkin at dinner-time yesterday: but never mind that. How do you feel, my dear?"

"Very happy, sir," replied Oliver, "and very grateful indeed, sir, for your goodness to me,"

"Good boy," said Mr. Brownlow stoutly. "Have you given him any nourishment, Bedwin?—any slops, eh?"

"He has just had a basin of beautiful strong broth, sir," replied Mrs. Bedwin, drawing herself up slightly, and laying a strong emphasis on the last word, to intimate that between slops, and broth well compounded, there existed no affinity or connexion whatsoever.

"Ugh!" said Mr. Brownlow, with a slight shudder; "a couple of glasses of port wine would have done him a great deal more good,—wouldn't they, Tom White,—eh?"

"My name is Oliver, sir," replied the little invalid with a look of great astonishment.

"Oliver!" said Mr. Brownlow; "Oliver what? Oliver White,—eh?"

"No, sir, Twist,—Oliver Twist."

"Queer name," said the old gentleman. "What made you tell the magistrate your name was White?"

"I never told him so, sir," returned Oliver in amazement.

This sounded so like a falsehood, that the old gentleman looked somewhat sternly in Oliver's face. It was impossible to doubt him; there was truth in every one of its thin and sharpened lineaments.


"Some mistake," said Mr. Brownlow. But, although his motive for looking steadily at Oliver no longer existed, the old idea of the resemblance between his features and some familiar face came upon him so strongly that he could not withdraw his gaze.

"I hope you are not angry with me, sir," said Oliver, raising his eyes beseechingly.

"No, no," replied the old gentleman.—"Gracious God, what's this! Bedwin, look, look there!"

As he spoke, he pointed hastily to the picture above Oliver's head, and then to the boy's face. There was its living copy,—the eyes, the head, the mouth; every feature was the same. The expression was for the instant so precisely alike, that the minutest line seemed copied with an accuracy which was perfectly unearthly.

Oliver knew not the cause of this sudden exclamation, for he was not strong enough to bear the start it gave him, and he fainted away.



When the Dodger and his accomplished friend Master Bates joined in the hue and cry which was raised at Oliver's heels, in consequence of their executing an illegal conveyance of Mr. Brownlow's personal property, as hath been already described with great perspicuity in a foregoing chapter, they were actuated, as we therein took occasion to observe, by a very laudable and becoming regard for themselves: and forasmuch as the freedom of the subject and the liberty of the individual are among the first and proudest boasts of a true-hearted Englishman, so I need hardly beg the reader to observe that this action must tend to exalt them in the opinion of all public and patriotic men, in almost as great a degree as this strong proof of their anxiety for their own preservation and safety goes to corroborate and confirm the little code of laws which certain profound and sound-judging philosophers have laid down as the mainsprings of all Madam Nature's deeds and actions; the said philosophers very wisely reducing the good lady's proceedings to matters of maxim and theory, and, by a very neat and pretty compliment to her exalted wisdom and understanding, putting entirely out of sight any considerations of heart, or generous impulse and feeling, as matters totally beneath a female who is acknowledged by universal admission to be so far beyond the numerous little foibles and weaknesses of her sex.

If I wanted any further proof of the strictly philosophical[116] nature of the conduct of these young gentlemen in their very delicate predicament, I should at once find it in the fact (also recorded in a foregoing part of this narrative) of their quitting the pursuit when the general attention was fixed upon Oliver, and making immediately for their home by the shortest possible cut; for although I do not mean to assert that it is the practice of renowned and learned sages at all to shorten the road to any great conclusion, their course indeed being rather to lengthen the distance by various circumlocutions and discursive staggerings, like those in which drunken men under the pressure of a too mighty flow of ideas are prone to indulge, still I do mean to say, and do say distinctly, that it is the invariable practice of all mighty philosophers, in carrying out their theories, to evince great wisdom and foresight in providing against every possible contingency which can be supposed at all likely to affect themselves. Thus, to do a great right, you may do a little wrong, and you may take any means which the end to be attained will justify; the amount of the right or the amount of the wrong, or indeed the distinction between the two, being left entirely to the philosopher concerned: to be settled and determined by his clear, comprehensive, and impartial view of his own particular case.

It was not until the two boys had scoured with great rapidity through a most intricate maze of narrow streets and courts, that they ventured to halt by common consent beneath a low and dark archway. Having remained silent here, just long enough to recover breath to speak, Master Bates uttered an exclamation of amusement and delight, and, bursting into an uncontrollable fit of laughter, flung himself upon a door-step, and rolled thereon in a transport of mirth.

"What's the matter?" inquired the Dodger.

"Ha! ha! ha!" roared Charley Bates.

"Hold your noise," remonstrated the Dodger, looking cautiously round. "Do you want to be grabbed, stupid?"

"I can't help it," said Charley, "I can't help it. To see him splitting away at that pace, and cutting round the corners, and knocking up against the posts, and starting on again as if he was made of iron as well as them, and me with the wipe in my pocket, singing out arter him—oh, my eye!" The vivid imagination of Master Bates presented the scene before him in too strong colours. As he arrived at this apostrophe, he again rolled upon the door-step and laughed louder than before.

"What'll Fagin say?" inquired the Dodger, taking advantage of the next interval of breathlessness on the part of his friend to propound the question.

"What!" repeated Charley Bates.

"Ah, what?" said the Dodger.

"Why, what should he say?" inquired Charley, stopping rather suddenly in his merriment, for the Dodger's manner was impressive; "what should he say?"


Mr. Dawkins whistled for a couple of minutes, and then, taking off his hat, scratched his head and nodded thrice.

"What do you mean?" said Charley.

"Toor rul lol loo, gammon and spinnage, the frog he wouldn't, and high cockolorum," said the Dodger with a slight sneer on his intellectual countenance.

This was explanatory, but not satisfactory. Mr. Bates felt it so, and again said, "What do you mean?"

The Dodger made no reply, but putting his hat on again, and gathering the skirts of his long-tailed coat under his arms, thrust his tongue into his cheek, slapped the bridge of his nose some half-dozen times in a familiar but expressive manner, and then, turning on his heel, slunk down the court. Mr. Bates followed, with a thoughtful countenance.

The noise of footsteps on the creaking stairs a few minutes after the occurrence of this conversation roused the merry old gentleman as he sat over the fire with a saveloy and a small loaf in his left hand, a pocket-knife in his right, and a pewter pot on the trivet. There was a rascally smile on his white face as he turned round, and, looking sharply out from under his thick red eyebrows, bent his ear towards the door and listened intently.

"Why, how's this?" muttered the Jew, changing countenance; "only two of 'em! Where's the third? They can't have got into trouble. Hark!"

The footsteps approached nearer; they reached the landing, the door was slowly opened, and the Dodger and Charley Bates entered and closed it behind them.

"Where's Oliver, you young hounds?" said the furious Jew, rising with a menacing look: "where's the boy?"

The young thieves eyed their preceptor as if they were alarmed at his violence, and looked uneasily at each other, but made no reply.

"What's become of the boy?" said the Jew, seizing the Dodger tightly by the collar, and threatening him with horrid imprecations. "Speak out, or I'll throttle you!"

Mr. Fagin looked so very much in earnest, that Charley Bates, who deemed it prudent in all cases to be on the safe side, and conceived it by no means improbable that it might be his turn to be throttled second, dropped upon his knees, and raised a loud, well-sustained, and continuous roar, something between an insane bull and a speaking-trumpet.

"Will you speak?" thundered the Jew, shaking the Dodger so much that his keeping in the big coat at all seemed perfectly miraculous.

"Why, the traps have got him, and that's all about it," said the Dodger sullenly. "Come, let go o' me, will yer!" and, swinging himself at one jerk clean out of the big coat, which he left in the Jew's hands, the Dodger snatched up the toasting-fork[118] and made a pass at the merry old gentleman's waistcoat, which, if it had taken effect, would have let a little more merriment out than could have been easily replaced in a month or two.

The Jew stepped back in this emergency with more agility than could have been anticipated in a man of his apparent decrepitude, and, seizing up the pot, prepared to hurl it at his assailant's head. But Charley Bates at this moment calling his attention by a perfectly terrific howl, he suddenly altered its destination, and flung it full at that young gentleman.

"Why, what the blazes is in the wind now!" growled a deep voice. "Who pitched that 'ere at me? It's well it's the beer and not the pot as hit me, or I 'd have settled somebody. I might have know'd as nobody but an infernal rich, plundering, thundering old Jew could afford to throw away any drink but water, and not that, unless he done the River company every quarter. Wot's it all about, Fagin. D—— me if my neckankecher an't lined with beer. Come in, you sneaking warmint; wot are you stopping outside for, as if you was ashamed of your master. Come in!"

The man who growled out these words was a stoutly-built fellow of about five-and-forty, in a black velveteen coat, very soiled drab breeches, lace-up half-boots, and grey cotton stockings, which enclosed a very bulky pair of legs, with large swelling calves,—the kind of legs which in such costume always look in an unfinished and incomplete state without a set of fetters to garnish them. He had a brown hat on his head, and a dirty belcher handkerchief round his neck, with the long frayed ends of which, he smeared the beer from his face as he spoke; disclosing when he had done so, a broad heavy countenance with a beard of three days' growth, and two scowling eyes, one of which displayed various parti-coloured symptoms of having been recently damaged by a blow.

"Come in, d'ye hear?" growled this engaging-looking ruffian. A white shaggy dog, with his face scratched and torn in twenty different places, skulked into the room.

"Why didn't you come in afore?" said the man. "You're getting too proud to own me afore company, are you. Lie down!"

This command was accompanied with a kick which sent the animal to the other end of the room. He appeared well used to it, however; for he coiled himself up in a corner very quietly without uttering a sound, and, winking his very ill-looking eyes about twenty times in a minute, appeared to occupy himself in taking a survey of the apartment.

"What are you up to? Ill-treating the boys, you covetous, avaricious, in-sa-ti-a-ble old fence?" said the man, seating himself deliberately. "I wonder they don't murder you; I would if I was them. If I'd been your 'prentice I'd have done it long[119] ago; and—no, I couldn't have sold you arterwards, though; for you're fit for nothing but keeping as a curiosity of ugliness in a glass bottle, and I suppose they don't blow them large enough."

"Hush! hush! Mr. Sikes," said the Jew, trembling; "don't speak so loud."

"None of your mistering," replied the ruffian; "you always mean mischief when you come that. You know my name: out with it. I shan't disgrace it when the time comes."

"Well, well, then, Bill Sikes," said the Jew with abject humility. "You seem out of humour, Bill."

"Perhaps I am," replied Sikes. "I should think you were rather out of sorts too, unless you mean as little harm when you throw pewter pots about, as you do when you blab and——"

"Are you mad?" said the Jew, catching the man by the sleeve, and pointing towards the boys.

Mr. Sikes contented himself with tying an imaginary knot under his left ear, and jerking his head over on the right shoulder; a piece of dumb show which the Jew appeared to understand perfectly. He then in cant terms, with which his whole conversation was plentifully besprinkled, but which would be quite unintelligible if they were recorded here, demanded a glass of liquor.

"And mind you don't poison it," said Mr. Sikes, laying his hat upon the table.

This was said in jest; but if the speaker could have seen the evil leer with which the Jew bit his pale lip as he turned round to the cupboard, he might have thought the caution not wholly unnecessary, or the wish, at all events, to improve upon the distiller's ingenuity not very far from the old gentleman's merry heart.

After swallowing two or three glassfuls of spirits, Mr. Sikes condescended to take some notice of the young gentlemen; which gracious act led to a conversation in which the cause and manner of Oliver's capture were circumstantially detailed, with such alterations and improvements on the truth as to the Dodger appeared most advisable under the circumstances.

"I'm afraid," said the Jew, "that he may say something which will get us into trouble."

"That's very likely," returned Sikes with a malicious grin. "You're blowed upon, Fagin."

"And I'm afraid, you see," added the Jew, speaking as if he had not noticed the interruption, and regarding the other closely as he did so,—"I'm afraid that, if the game was up with us, it might be up with a good many more; and that it would come out rather worse for you than it would for me, my dear."

The man started, and turned fiercely round upon the Jew; but the old gentleman's shoulders were shrugged up to his ears, and his eyes were vacantly staring on the opposite wall.

There was a long pause. Every member of the respectable[120] coterie appeared plunged in his own reflections, not excepting the dog, who by a certain malicious licking of his lips seemed to be meditating an attack upon the legs of the first gentleman or lady he might encounter in the street when he went out.

"Somebody must find out what's been done at the office," said Mr. Sikes in a much lower tone than he had taken since he came in.

The Jew nodded assent.

"If he hasn't peached, and is committed, there's no fear till he comes out again," said Mr. Sikes, "and then he must be taken care on. You must get hold of him, somehow."

Again the Jew nodded.

The prudence of this line of action, indeed, was obvious; but unfortunately there was one very strong objection to its being adopted; and this was, that the Dodger, and Charley Bates, and Fagin, and Mr. William Sikes, happened one and all to entertain a most violent and deeply-rooted antipathy to going near a police-office on any ground or pretext whatever.

How long they might have sat and looked at each other in a state of uncertainty not the most pleasant of its kind, it is difficult to say. It is not necessary to make any guesses on the subject, however; for the sudden entrance of the two young ladies whom Oliver had seen on a former occasion caused the conversation to flow afresh.

"The very thing!" said the Jew. "Bet will go; won't you, my dear?"

"Wheres?" inquired the young lady.

"Only just up to the office, my dear," said the Jew coaxingly.

It is due to the young lady to say that she did not positively affirm that she would not, but that she merely expressed an emphatic and earnest desire to be "jiggered" if she would; a polite and delicate evasion of the request, which shows the young lady to have been possessed of that natural good-breeding that cannot bear to inflict upon a fellow-creature the pain of a direct and pointed refusal.

The Jew's countenance fell, and he turned to the other young lady, who was gaily, not to say gorgeously attired, in a red gown, green boots, and yellow curl-papers.

"Nancy, my dear," said the Jew in a soothing manner, "what do you say?"

"That it won't do; so it's no use a trying it on, Fagin," replied Nancy.

"What do you mean by that?" said Mr. Sikes, looking up in a surly manner.

"What I say, Bill," replied the lady collectedly.

"Why, you're just the very person for it," reasoned Mr. Sikes: "nobody about here, knows anything of you."

"And as I don't want 'em to, neither," replied Miss Nancy[121] in the same composed manner, "it's rayther more no than yes with me, Bill."

"She'll go, Fagin," said Sikes.

"No, she won't, Fagin," bawled Nancy.

"Yes she will, Fagin," said Sikes.

And Mr. Sikes was right. By dint of alternate threats, promises, and bribes, the engaging female in question was ultimately prevailed upon to undertake the commission. She was not indeed withheld by the same considerations as her agreeable friend, for, having very recently removed into the neighbourhood of Field-lane from the remote but genteel suburb of Ratcliffe, she was not under the same apprehension of being recognised by any of her numerous acquaintance.

Accordingly, with a clean white apron tied over the red gown, and the yellow curl-papers tucked up under a straw bonnet,—both articles of dress being provided from the Jew's inexhaustible stock,—Miss Nancy prepared to issue forth on her errand.

"Stop a minute, my dear," said the Jew, producing a little covered basket. "Carry that in one hand; it looks more respectable, my dear."

"Give her a door-key to carry in her t'other one, Fagin," said Sikes; "it looks real and genivine like."

"Yes, yes, my dear, so it does," said the Jew, hanging a large street-door key on the fore-finger of the young lady's right hand. "There; very good,—very good indeed, my dear," said the Jew, rubbing his hands.

"Oh, my brother! my poor, dear, sweet, innocent little brother!" exclaimed Miss Nancy, bursting into tears, and wringing the little basket and the street-door key in an agony of distress. "What has become of him!—where have they taken him to! Oh, do have pity, and tell me what's been done with the dear boy, gentlemen; do, gentlemen, if you please, gentlemen."

Having uttered these words in a most lamentable and heart-broken tone, to the immeasurable delight of her hearers, Miss Nancy paused, winked to the company, nodded smilingly round, and disappeared.

"Ah! she's a clever girl, my dears," said the Jew, turning to his young friends, and shaking his head gravely, as if in mute admonition to them to follow the bright example they had just beheld.

"She's a honor to her sex," said Mr. Sikes, filling his glass, and smiting the table with his enormous fist. "Here's her health, and wishing they was all like her!"

While these and many other encomiums were being passed on the accomplished Miss Nancy, that young lady made the best of her way to the police-office; whither, notwithstanding a little natural timidity consequent upon walking through the streets alone and unprotected, she arrived in perfect safety shortly afterwards.


Entering by the back way, she tapped softly with the key at one of the cell-doors and listened. There was no sound within, so she coughed and listened again. Still there was no reply, so she spoke.

"Nolly, dear?" murmured Nancy in a gentle voice;—"Nolly?"

There was nobody inside but a miserable shoeless criminal, who had been taken up for playing the flute, and who—the offence against society having been clearly proved—had been very properly committed by Mr. Fang to the House of Correction for one month, with the appropriate and amusing remark that since he had got so much breath to spare, it would be much more wholesomely expended on the treadmill than in a musical instrument. He made no answer, being occupied in mentally bewailing the loss of the flute, which had been confiscated for the use of the county; so Miss Nancy passed on to the next cell, and knocked there.

"Well," cried a faint and feeble voice.

"Is there a little boy here?" inquired Miss Nancy with a preliminary sob.

"No," replied the voice; "God forbid!"

This was a vagrant of sixty-five, who was going to prison for not playing the flute, or, in other words, for begging in the streets, and doing nothing for his livelihood. In the next cell was another man, who was going to the same prison for hawking tin saucepans without a licence, thereby doing something for his living in defiance of the Stamp-office.

But as neither of these criminals answered to the name of Oliver, or knew anything about him, Miss Nancy made straight up to the bluff officer in the striped waistcoat, and with the most piteous wailings and lamentations, rendered more piteous by a prompt and efficient use of the street-door key and the little basket, demanded her own dear brother.

"I haven't got him, my dear," said the old man.

"Where is he?" screamed Miss Nancy in a distracted manner.

"Why, the gentleman's got him," replied the officer.

"What gentleman? Oh, gracious heavins! what gentleman?" exclaimed Miss Nancy.

In reply to this incoherent questioning, the old man informed the deeply affected sister that Oliver had been taken ill in the office, and discharged in consequence of a witness having proved the robbery to have been committed by another boy not in custody; and that the prosecutor had carried him away in an insensible condition to his own residence, of and concerning which all the informant knew was, that it was somewhere at Pentonville, he having heard that word mentioned in the directions to the coachman.

In a dreadful state of doubt and uncertainty the agonised young woman staggered to the gate, and then,—exchanging her[123] faltering gait for a good swift steady run, returned by the most devious and complicated route she could think of, to the domicile of the Jew.

Mr. Bill Sikes no sooner heard the account of the expedition delivered, than he very hastily called up the white dog, and, putting on his hat, expeditiously departed, without devoting any time to the formality of wishing the company good-morning.

"We must know where he is, my dears; he must be found," said the Jew, greatly excited. "Charley, do nothing but skulk about, till you bring home some news of him. Nancy, my dear, I must have him found: I trust to you, my dear,—to you and the Artful for every thing. Stay, stay," added the Jew, unlocking a drawer with a shaking hand; "there's money, my dears. I shall shut up this shop to-night: you'll know where to find me. Don't stop here a minute,—not an instant, my dears!"

With these words he pushed them from the room, and carefully double-locking and barring the door behind them, drew from its place of concealment the box which he had unintentionally disclosed to Oliver, and hastily proceeded to dispose the watches and jewellery beneath his clothing.

A rap at the door startled him in this occupation. "Who's there?" he cried in a shrill tone of alarm.

"Me!" replied the voice of the Dodger through the keyhole.

"What now?" cried the Jew impatiently.

"Is he to be kidnapped to the other ken, Nancy says?" inquired the Dodger cautiously.

"Yes," replied the Jew, "wherever she lays hands on him. Find him, find him out, that's all; and I shall know what to do next, never fear."

The boy murmured a reply of intelligence, and hurried down stairs after his companions.

"He has not peached so far," said the Jew as he pursued his occupation. "If he means to blab us among his new friends, we may stop his windpipe yet."




"What though we were rivals of yore,
It seems you the victor have proved,
Henceforth we are rivals no more,
For I must forget I have loved.
You tell me you wed her to-day,
I thank you for telling the worst;
Adieu then! to horse, and away!—
But, hold!—let us drink her health first!
"Alas! I confess I was wrong
To cope with so charming a knight;
Excelling in dance, and in song,
Well-dress'd, debonnaire, and polite!
So, putting all envy aside,
I take a new flask from the shelf;
Another full glass to the bride,
And now a full glass to yourself.
"You'll drink a full bumper to me,
So well I have borne my defeat?
To the nymphs who the bridemaids will be,
And to each of the friends you will meet.
You are weary?—one glass to renew;
You are dozing?—one glass to restore;
You are sleeping?—proud rival, adieu!
Excuse me for locking the door."
There's a fee in the hand of the priest!
There's a kiss on the cheek of the bride!
And the guest she expected the least
Is He who now sits by her side!
Oh, well may the loiterer fail,
His love is the grape of the Rhine;
And the spirit most sure to prevail
Was never the spirit of wine.




In the prefatory observations I thought advisable to make when placing "Love in the City" before the world, I stated that my chief aim was the restoration of the drama to its pristine purity by avoiding those unnatural and superhuman agencies which modern writers have so extensively indulged in. Opposing myself thus, to innovation, I have ventured on one of the boldest changes in dramatic arrangement, by postponing the performance of the overture until the commencement of the second act. Having thus admitted my offending, I trust that, when the reasons which induced it are explained and understood, I shall have justified this daring step, and obtained a verdict of public acquittal.

Is there a frequenter of our theatres on a first night whose musical sensibilities have not been lacerated by the noise and tumult incidental to a crowded house? Let him achieve by desperate exertion a favourable place in the undress circle,—suppose the theatre crammed to the pigeon-holes, the orchestra already tuned, and every eye bent upon the leader, awaiting his premonitory tap;—then, when the nervous system should be quiescent, the ear open to receive delicious sounds, the heart ready to expand itself into harmonious ecstacy,—at that very moment of rapturous expectation has not his tranquillity been annihilated by

"Some giggling daughter of the queen of love"

pinching him in the ribs to acquaint him that he is "sitting on her boa!" While, from that "refugium peccatorum," the shilling gallery, infernal cries of "Down in the front!" "Music!" "Curse your pedigree!" "Hats off!" "How's your mother?" drown even the double-drums, and render the overture inaudible from the opening crash to the close.

To remedy this nuisance,—to allow the excited feelings of an overcrowded house to subside sufficiently to enable the audience, by presenting them with the first act, to judge how far the music of the overture is adapted to the business of the stage,—these considerations have induced me thus to postpone its performance, and with what success the public will best decide.

Another, and a more agreeable duty, now devolves upon me,—to express my ardent thanks to all and every to whom this drama is in any way indebted for its brilliant and unparalleled success. To Messrs. Flight and Robson; the commanding officers of the Foot and Fusileer Guards; the King of the Two Sicilies; the Hereditary Prince of Coolavin; and his serene highness the Duke of Darmstadt, I am eternally grateful. To the performers, male and female, the composers, the orchestra at large, scene-painters and scene-shifters, prompters and property-men, box-keepers and check-takers, sentries and police, I present my heartfelt acknowledgements. And to the most crowded and fashionable audience that ever graced a metropolitan[126] theatre, I shall only say, that the rapturous and reiterated plaudits bestowed upon this drama shall never fade from the recollection of their most devoted, very humble, too fortunate, and ever grateful servant,

The Author.

July 1, 1837.



Act II.

Grand Overture,—composed jointly by Spohr, Haynes Bayly, Newkom, and Rossini, and performed by the largest orchestra ever collected in a European theatre, assisted by the Duke of Darmstadt's brass band, and the entire drums of the Foot and Fusileer Guards.

In the course of the overture the following novelties will be introduced.

A duet upon the double-drums with one stick only, by Mons. Tambourette, Member of the Legion of Honour, K.T.S., and drum-major to the King of the Two Sicilies.

Planxty Mac Swain, and "What have you got in your jug?" with brilliant variations for the Irish pipes, by Kalkbrenner,—Mr. Patrick Halligan, Minstrel in ordinary to the Prince of Coolavin.

A capriccio on the German flute, by a distinguished amateur, who has lost four fingers and a thumb.

A grand fantasia (Henry Hertz) on one piano by eight performers.

Director, Sir George Smart.

Conductor, on The Apollonicon,—lent to the lessee for that night only,—Mr. Purkis.

Leader, Mr. T. Cooke,

The overture having been twice encored, bell rings, and curtain draws up.

Act II.—Scene I.

A public-house, "Black Horse," in the Borough. A tap-room. Mags and Poppleton discovered drinking "heavy wet." Mags rather fresh, and Poppleton evidently the worse of liquor. Mags, after a long pull, deposits the pot upon the table.

Pop.—Now for your news, Mags.
Mags.I told you, worthy Pop,
That Stubs and Smith put keepers on the shop.
Pop.—And how's our missus?
Mags. Why, hearty, when last seen
With a Life-Guardsman, crossing Turnham-green.
Pop.—And honest Snags?
Mags (with emotion). Ah! would that epithet were true,
Or I could keep the sad details from you!
Snags is not honest!

(Poppleton buttons his coat, and puts himself into a boxing attitude.)


He has robb'd the till,
And lost the money, betting at a mill!

(Noise without. Door opens. Enter Young Clipclose hastily.)

Mr. C.—What, Mags and Pop! the coves I wish'd to see
Above all others. Curse my pedigree!

AirMr. Clipclose.—("I've been roaming.")
I've been nabb'd, sirs,—I've been nabb'd, sirs,—
And bundled off direct to jail,
By the villains when they grabb'd, sirs,
And now I'm out upon stag-bail.

(Mr. C. seizes the pewter in his right hand.)

Mr. C.—Is this good stout?
Mags (feelingly). My honest master, quaff!
You'll find it strengthening, real half-and-half.

AirPoppleton.—("Here we go up, up, up.")
Come, Bob, take a sup, sup, sup!
Let the liquor your stiff neck slide down, boy;
There's nothing like keeping steam up,
When a man's at the worst, and done brown, boy.

(Clipclose starts, looks anxiously at Mags.)

Mr. C.—How's all at home,—I mean on Ludgate-hill,—
And have you heard the winner of the mill?
Mags (with considerable hesitation).—We all, alas! for Fortune's frowns seem fix'd on.
Poor Jerry Scout is bundled off to Brixton;
The shop's done up; and, for your lady wife,
I fear she's joined the Guards, yclept "The Life;"
On other things, barring the fight, I'm barren,
And Owen Swift was beat by Barney Aaron.

(Clipclose staggers across the room, and catches at the chimney-piece.)

Mr. C.—My wife levanted, and the shop done up!
Mags, hand the quart; I need another sup.
Othello like, Bob's occupation's done;
For I back'd Owen freely two to one.
Like Antony at Actium, this fell day
Strips me of all, shop, cash, and lady gay.
Would I had nerve to take myself away!
Pop. (aside.)—I'll watch him close. Although his looks are placid,
He'll take a dose, I fear, of prussic acid.

(Enter Pot-boy.)

Pot-boy.—Is there a gent call'd Mr. Clipclose here?
Mr. C.—I am that wretched man!(Slaps his forehead.)
Pot-boy. Who pays the beer?
Pot-boy.—Here's a note. (To Mr. C.) Lord, but the man looks queer!

(Mr. Clipclose reads it; jumps up, and whistles "Bobbing Joan.")



Master, are you mad?
Mr. C.
No; but I'm distracted.
Times are wery bad,
And I in grief abstracted.
Odds! he'll take his life!
Mr. C. (kissing the billet.)
Sweet note! thou'rt balm and manna!
Mags to Pop. (who is reading it over Mr. C.'s shoulder.)
Is it from his wife?
Pop. (slaps his thigh.)
No! from Miss Juliana!"

Clipclose, when he reads it, rushes out; Mags after him. Poppleton attempts to follow, but is detained by pot-boy. He forks out tanner, and disappears. SoloApollonicon. Hurried music descriptive of three cabs: Clipclose in 793, at a rapid pace; Mags, 1659; Poppleton 1847, pursuing. Scene closes.

Scene II.

Thompson and Fearon's, Holborn; gin-palace at full work; company less select than numerous, and ladies and gentlemen taking "some'ut short" at the counter. Enter, in full uniform. Captain Connor; O'Toole and Blowhard in shell jackets. They call for a flash of lightning, touch glasses affectionately, and bolt the ruin. The captain stumps down for all.

GleeConnor, O'Toole, and Blowhard.
Gin cures love, my boys, and gin cures the colic;
Gin fits a man for fight, or fits him for a frolic;
Come, we'll have another go, then hey for any rollic!
Come, we'll have another go, and hey then for a rollic!

Blow.—Lass! (to an attendant, whom he chucks under the chin,) some more jacky! Connor, do you still
Bend at the shrine of her on Ludgate-hill?
OT. (contemptuously).—Zounds! a cit's helpmate. That would never do.
One of us Guards, and one of taste like you.
Capt.—Faith, honest Blowhard, and you, my pal, O'Toole,
Tho' fond of flirting, yet your friend's no fool!
Think ye that I could live upon my pay,
[129]And keep four wives on three and six a day?
No. Let me have a monied mistress still,
My El Dorado be a tradesman's till.
Love fed by flimsies, is the love that thrives,
And let the mercers keep the Guardsman's wives.
O'T.—I see how matters stand, my trump; enough.
Blow. (to O'T.)—He's wide awake, Tim. (To the Capt.) Con. you're up to snuff!
Capt.—Come, one more round of jacky, and we part,—
I, to the peerless lady of my heart
In Stamford-street;—to Knightsbridge barrack you;
And mind don't split that I was out at Kew.

(They take each another johnny, shake hands, and separate. The scene closes.)

Scene III.

A drawing-room; doors in the flat; one opening into Miss Juliana Smashaway's boudoir, and the other to her bed-chamber. She is discovered standing at the window in a pensive attitude. She sighs heavily, and rubs her temples with "eau de Cologne."

Miss S.—He comes not—half-past four! Ah, fickle Connor!
Is this thy plighted faith, and thrice-pledged honour?
Was it for this, I waived a grocer's hand,
And twice refused a counter in the Strand,
Sent back an offer from a Tenth Hussar,
And without warning left Soho bazaar,
Rejected Griskin, that rich man of mutton;
Shy'd Lincoln Stanhope, and cut Manners Sutton?

(Sudden noise. Voices without.)

1st voice.—Fare's sixteen-pence, and with one bob I'm shamm'd! Fork out the four-pence!
2nd voice. First I'd see you d—d!

(Door opens. Clipclose rushes in, and embraces Miss Smashaway.)

Miss S. (with considerable spirit.)—Unhand me, fellow! Whence this bold intrusion?
I think I'll faint, I feel in such confusion.

DuetClipclose and Miss S.—("Pray Goody.")
Mr. C.
Oh, come, Juliana, lay aside your anger and surprise;
One trifling kiss you'll scarcely miss, you know.
I saw a ready pardon seal'd already in your eyes,
Else, 'pon my soul! I scarce had ventur'd so.
Miss S.
True, sir; but you, sir,
Should recollect what's due, sir,
To one so young and innocent
Mr. C.
As pretty Missus Ju—.
Oh, come, Miss S. do lay aside your anger and surprise;
A trifling kiss you'll scarcely miss, you know.
I saw a ready pardon seal'd already in your eyes,
Else, 'pon my soul! I had not ventur'd so.


(Cab stops suddenly at the door. Miss S. looks out alarmed. Loud knocking. Alarum.)

Miss S.—Lost—lost for ever!
Mr. C. Pray, madam, what's the matter?
Miss S.—Heard ye no broadsword on the pavement clatter?
Mr. C.—A broadsword! Zounds! My teeth begin to chatter!
Miss S.—Where shall I hide him?—(Opens the chamber door.)—In, sir, or you 're dead.
Mr. C.—Can nothing save me?
Miss S. Creep beneath the bed.

(Door opens. Mags peeps in.)

Mags.—She's quite alone. Oh, happy Matthew Mags!

(Maid-servant enters.)

Maid.—A chap's below who says he's Samuel Snags.
Mags.—I'm a done man; for that 'ere cove will blow me.
Miss S.—Follow me in, and I will safely stow ye.

(Enter Snags.)

Snags.—Divine Miss Smashaway, I humbly kneel
To plead a passion you can never feel;
A smile will save, a frown as surely kill,
One who for you has robb'd his master's till.
Miss S.—Well, after that the man deserves some pity.—
Knocking again! and here comes my maid Kitty.

(Enter Maid.)

Maid.—One Mr. Poppleton.
Miss S. Was ever one so courted?
Snags.—All's up with me; for life I'll be transported!
Ma'am, could you save a lover?
Miss S. Let me see.
Oh, yes; the bed will surely cover three.

(Puts Snags into bed-chamber. Enter Poppleton.)

Pop.—Where is my charmer?

(Enter Maid, hastily.)

Maid (to Pop.) Sir, you're dead as mutton;
The Captain's come. Your life's not worth a button.

Pop.—Where shall I hide?

Miss S. (to the Maid.) Put him with t'other three;
They're the same firm, "Clipclose and company."

(A heavy footstep is heard, and a sword strikes against the stairs. Enter the Captain, whistling "Darby Kelly.")

Miss S. (flies into his arms.)—My own loved Guardsman, and my fancy beau.
Oh, Terence Connor! (Kissing him.)
Capt. (embracing her.)—Sweet Juliana, O!
Miss S.—Why did you dally, dearest; tell me all?
Were you on guard?
[131] Capt. Yes, sweetest, at Whitehall.
Miss S.—Ah, you false man,—(taps his cheek playfully,)—I'll watch you close.

(Somebody sneezes within.)

Capt. What's that?
Miss S.—Nothing, dear Terence, but the landlord's cat.

(Somebody coughs twice.)

Capt.—A cough!—another! Do cats cough so, my fair?
Ha! her cheeks redden! Tell me who is there?
That guilty look! Zounds! If my fears be true,
He'll curse the hour he dared to visit you!

(Draws his sword, and rushes into the bed-chamber. Miss S. faints. Voices within.)

Capt.—A man!—my eyes! another!—and another!
A fourth one still!
Snags. I'm dead with fright!
Pop. I smother!

(Capt. drives them before him into the drawing-room.)

Capt. (in a frenzy.)—Why, hell and Tommy! the maid whom I adore
To prove untrue, and play me false with four!
But all shall die!

(Captain Connor cuts No. 6. with his sword, while Clipclose and company fall upon their knees.)

Mags. Oh, Lord! I'm dead already!
Capt.—Prepare for death!
Snags and Pop. Indeed, sir, we an't ready.
Mr. C.—Probably, sir, affection for my wife
Might plead my pardon, and reprieve my life.

(Enter, hastily, Mrs. Clipclose and Annette.)

Mrs. C.—Why, what's all this? What do my eyes discover?
An errant husband, and a truant lover!
(Aside to Mr. C.)—Was it for this I gave my faith to you?
(Aside to Capt. C.)—Was it for this I drove you out to Kew,
Paid cab and lunch, brown stout, and ruin blue?

(Capt. C. drops the point of his sword, and evinces great contrition for attempting the lives of the company, when enter an elderly pieman with a juvenile dealer in "all-hots," attended by two policemen. Pieman identifies Miss Smashaway.)

Pieman.—That 'ere flash madam hit me in the withers.
All-hot (pointing to Mr. Clipclose).—And that cove knock'd my kitchen-range to shivers!
Mr. C. (to Policeman.)—Let me explain, sir.
Miss S. Pray, sir, let me speak.
Policeman.—Silence! and keep your gammon for the beak.

(A rumbling noise heard underneath, attended by a disagreeable vapour.)

Policeman.—Zounds! what is this? it smothers me almost.
Is it the gas-pipe?

Capt. C. No, dash my wig! a ghost!


(Slow music. Apparition of Old Clipclose rises through the stage, dressed in a white shirt, and scarlet nightcap.)

RoundelayGhost and Company.
("Good morrow to you, Madam Joan.")
All in the family way,
Whack-fal-li, fal-la-di-day!
Are you met here to take tea?
Whack-fal-li, &c.
Or is it love-making you're come?
Tol-de-re-lol, &c.
Or to keep clear away from a bum?
Whack-fal-li, &c.
Miss S.
Oh, no, sir! we're going to jail,
Whack-fal-li, &c.
Unless, Mister Ghost, you'll go bail,
Whack-fal-li, &c.
A spectre, Miss S. will not do,
Whack-fal-li, &c.

(To the Ghost.)

Where the blazes! should we look for you?
Whack-fal-li, &c.
(Enter Capt. C's four wives.)
1st Wife.
Ah, Terry, you traitor, you're there!
Whack-fal-li, &c.
2nd Wife.
As usual, deceiving the fair!
Whack-fal-li, &c.
3rd Wife.
You'll pay dear enough for your pranks!
Whack-fal-li, &c.
4th Wife.
You're broke, and reduced to the ranks!
Whack-fal-li, &c.

(Capt. C. seems thunderstruck, grinds his teeth passionately, then strikes his forehead, and sings.)

AirCapt. C.—("The night before Larey was stretch'd.")
Capt. C.
By St. Patrick, I'm done for, at last!
From a captain come down to a private.
Terry Connor, your glory is past;
A very nice pass to arrive at!
(To the Ghost.)
I say, you old rum-looking swell,
I would deem it a favour, and civil,
In spite of your sulphur'ous smell,
To take me down stairs to the devil,
And get me a troop in his guards.


Ghost (to the Capt.)—Shut your potato-trap! we still refuse—
The corps's so moral—Life-Guardsmen and Blues.
4th Wife.—Cheer up, my Connor; 'twas in jest I spoke,
When I affirm'd my best beloved was broke.
Ghost (addressing the company).—Ladies and Gemmen, give the ghost a hearance,
As this, his first, must be his last appearance.
(To Mr. and Mrs. Clipclose)—Bent upon wedlock, and an heir, to vex ye,
If toasted cheese had not brought apoplexy,
I died asleep, and left my hard-won riches;
Search the left pocket of my dark drab breeches;
Open the safe, and there you'll find my will;
Deal for cash only and stick to Ludgate-hill;
Watch the apprentices, and lock the till;
And quit the turf, the finish, and the mill;
Turn a new leaf, and leave off former sins;
Pay the pieman, and mend young "All-hot's" tins.
Mr. C. (doubtfully.)—Did you die rich, dad?
Ghost. Rich as any Jew;
And half a plum, son Bob, devolves on you.
Mrs. C.—What a dear ghost, to die when he was wanted!
Will you forgive me?
Ghost. Ma'am, your pardon's granted.
My time's but short; but still, before I go,
With Miss Juliana I would sport a toe.
Miss S.—With all my heart. What would your ghostship order?
Ghost.—Tell them to play, "Blue bonnets o'er the border."

Apollonicon strikes up the country-dance. Ghost leads off with Miss Smashaway; the Captain follows with Mrs. Clipclose; Clipclose, Mags, Snags, and Poppleton each choose one of the Captain's Wives; the Police dance with the Ladies' Maids; and the Pieman with "All-hot." Twice down the middle, poussette, and form hands round. At the end of the dance, the Ghost vanishes, and the remainder of the dramatis personæ take hands, and advance to the stage-lights.

Grand Finale—("There's nae luck about the house.")
Dad's away, and we may play,
Nor dread Old Grumpy's frown;
Well may we say, "thrice happy day
When Square-toes toddled down!"
There's now luck about the house,
There's now luck to a';
There's now luck about the house
Since grumpy dad's awa!

(Curtain falls amid tremendous applause, and a call for the author.)


"I am not in the habit of frequenting the theatres, nor indeed any public house, except the House of Commons; neither do I pretend to be particularly conversant with the drama: but, by general[134] consent, this play has been declared not inferior to the happiest effort of the bard of Avon, as player-people call William Shakspeare. I have not seen it represented; for, the free list being suspended, prudence would not permit me to attend. Had half-price been taken, I think I should have gone to the two-shilling gallery; but this question is irrelevant.

"The author deserves well of his country. Indeed, his is a double claim; and the debt consequently due by the public would amount to a large tottle. No doubt the restoration of the drama is a matter of some importance; but surely the diminution of drumsticks is one of infinitely greater consideration!

"I perceive by the playbills,—one of which I was enabled to obtain gratis,—that a gentleman called Tambourette performs upon two drums with a single stick. Now, I call the public attention to this important discovery; and, in these times of retrenchment and reform, the introduction of this system into our military establishment should be at once insisted on. The saving would be immense. Assuming that there are one hundred and three battalions of foot, and, on an average, twelve drums to each regiment,—a shameful waste of public money, by-the-bye, one drum and fife being quite sufficient for each corps, as they only alarm an enemy in war-time, and, in peace, destroy the utility of servant-maids by seducing them eternally to the windows. Well, even permitting this extravagant number to remain; by adopting Mr. Tambourette's system of performance, one thousand two hundred and thirty-six drumsticks would be saved to the country. Now, averaging the cost of the smaller-sized drumstick at sixpence, and the larger at one shilling, a reduction in the army estimates might be effected of one thousand one hundred and thirty-three small and one hundred and three large ones; making a tottle to the credit of the nation of 33l. 9s. 6d.!!!

"If the author will furnish me with the necessary information to enable me to frame a bill, I will move for a return of the drummers attached at present to the army: specifying their respective names, weights, heights, and ages, and take the earliest opportunity of bringing the matter before parliament.


"July 1, 1837.

"P.S. If one thousand two hundred and thirty-six drumsticks be dispensed with, it follows that a similar number of drummers' hands will then remain unoccupied. Might not a one-handed fife be introduced, or a pandean pipe substituted, and fifers totally abolished? I see no reason why the same man should not play the drum and fife together. This, indeed, would be a reduction worthy a reformed parliament, and a tremendous saving to the public purse.





I had often met with him before in my travels, and had been much struck with the peculiar acumen of his remarks whenever we entered into conversation. His observations were witty, pungent, and sarcastic; but replete with knowledge of men and things. He seemed to despise book-knowledge of every kind, and argued that it only tended to mislead. "I have good reason to be satisfied on this point," he said to me one day at Vienna. "History is not to be relied on; a fact is told a hundred different ways; the actions of men are misrepresented, their motives more so; and as for travels, and descriptions of countries, manners, customs, &c. I have found out that they are the most absurd things in the world,—mere fables and fairy tales. Never waste your time on such trash!"

I again met this gentleman in Paris; it was at a salon d'écarté; and he amused me much by informing me of the names and circumstances of the most distinguished persons present. Whether English, French, or Germans, he knew something of the private history of each, some ridiculous adventure or silly contre-tems. I marvelled how he could have collected so great a store, such as it was, of anecdote and information; how he carried it all in remembrance; and, still more, at the perfect sang-froid with which he detailed these things under the very noses of the persons concerned, who would, had they heard them, no doubt have made as many holes in his body with "penetrating lead" as there are in a cullender.

To avoid getting into any scrape myself, I invited this well-informed gentleman to spend an evening with me at my hotel, where, over a bottle of claret, we might discuss some of those amusing matters, more, at least, to my own ease. Before we separated, I pointed out a certain Englishman to him, who was playing high, and did not notice us: I asked him "If he knew anything respecting that gentleman?" I had my private reasons for asking this question, unnecessary now to mention, and was pleased to find my colloquial friend knew, as they say, "all about him;" so we parted, with a promise on his side that on the following evening he would visit me, and give me every particular.

He came punctually to appointment, but I could not prevail on him to put off his large Spanish cloak, what they call technically "an all-rounder;" he complained of cold, said he had been accustomed to a warm climate, and sat down just opposite to me, when, without hesitation, in a sort of business-like way, he entered at once into the details I most wished to know respecting the young Englishman we had left at the salon d'écarté; and left no doubt on my mind, from some circumstances I already knew respecting him, that the account was most veracious. I fell into a fit of musing in consequence of his narration, which he did not interrupt by a single remark; but, fixing his eyes upon me, seemed to be amusing himself with watching the progress of my thoughts.


"It will never do!" said I, forgetting I was not alone; "he is not worthy of her."

I stopped, and the stranger rose, gave me a peculiar significant look, and was retiring, but I would not permit it; and, apologising for my abstraction, insisted that he should finish the bottle with me: so he sat down again, and we tried to converse as before, but it would not do.

There we sat, facing each other, and both nearly silent; and now it was that I remembered I had never once seen this stranger without this same Spanish cloak,—a very handsome one it is true, richly embroidered, and decorated with Genoese velvet, and a superb clasp and chain of the purest gold and finest workmanship. I pondered on this circumstance, as I recollected that even in Italy and the Ionian islands, where I had before met him by some extraordinary chance, as well as at Constantinople and at Athens, he had always been enveloped in this same most magnificent mantle. At last I thought of the fable of the man, the sun, and the wind; so concluded that he wore this Spanish cloak to guard him equally from heat and cold, to exclude the sun's rays and the winter's winds; or, perhaps, I argued, he wears it to conceal the seedy appearance of his inner garments, or sundry deficiencies of linen, &c. "Things will wear out, and linen will lose its snowy whiteness, but what the devil have I to do with the matter? Let him wear his cloak, and sleep in it too, if it please him; why should I trouble my head about it?"

"You are returning to England soon, sir," said, at length, the cloaked stranger (but I am certain that I had not intimated such intention to him); "I am proceeding there myself on some pressing business, and will do myself the honour of there renewing our acquaintance."

I paused and hesitated ere I replied to this proposition. It is one thing to invite an agreeable stranger to drink a bottle of claret with you at an hotel in Paris, and another to bring him to the sanctuary of your home, to the fireside of an Englishman, to the board of your ancestors, to suffer him to gaze freely on the faces of your sisters, and to pay his court at his ease to every other female relative beneath the paternal roof!

The stranger saw my embarrassment, and seemed to penetrate the cause. He gave me a smile of most inexplicable expression as he said,

"Your late father, Sir George F——, and myself, were old acquaintances. We spent some months together at Rome, and met with a few adventures there, which I dare say have never reached the ears of his son."

This was said in his usual sarcastic way; but I could not endure that he should allude in the slightest manner of disrespect to my deceased father; so I answered, with much reserve, and some sign of displeasure, "That I did not wish to pry into the youthful follies of so near a relative; at the same time I thought it odd I never should have heard my father mention that he had formed any particular intimacy with any one at Rome, but, on the contrary, had even been given to understand that all his recollections of the Eternal City were rather of an unpleasing nature."


"Did he never mention to you the baths of Caracalla?" demanded my strange guest; "but it matters little, for the son of Sir George F—— merits every attention from me on his own account, as well as for the sake of another——" He did not finish the sentence; but, folding his cloak more closely round him, he made me a profound bow, something between an Eastern salaam and the bow of a dancing-master, and politely took his leave.

For two or three days I thought much of this extraordinary man; but after that time I became so deeply interested in a Platonic liaison with Madame de R——, the beautiful wife of a Parisian banker, that I forgot him altogether. I had to read, as well as to write, sentimental billets-doux sometimes twice a day, for so often they passed between my fair Platonist and myself. I had to select all her books, her flowers, and to choose her ribbons. I know not how it might have ended, for affairs began to wear a very critical aspect; but I was summoned to England by an express. My beloved mother was dangerously ill. I tore myself away, disregardful of the tears that gathered in the brightest pair of eyes in the world, and travelled post-haste to Calais.

Scarcely had I put my foot on the deck of the vessel ere I perceived my acquaintance of the Spanish cloak. There he was, walking up and down the deck,—tall, erect, gentlemanly; there was his magnificent cloak, without a wrinkle or a spot, the gloss still on it. I sat still, and watched him, not without a sensation of annoyance, as I was not at all in the humour just then to enter into conversation. I was uneasy respecting the life of an only parent, and I had just parted with one of the prettiest women in France, at the moment, too, when we both wished Platonism in the same place its founder was, dead and buried; but I might have saved myself the trouble of being annoyed, for the stranger did not seem to recognise me, nor wish to speak to any one. His carriage was lofty and reserved; his eye was proud, and sought to overlook the rest of the passengers as unworthy of its notice; and so marked was his avoidance of myself, that I began to feel piqued, and to imagine that my own personal appearance, if not our former knowledge of each other, might have gained for me the honour of his notice. Never before did I see so imperious an eye, or so magnificent a cloak!

The passage was a very boisterous one; and all the passengers, both male and female, began to show evident signs enough that the human animal was never intended by Nature to ride upon the ocean's billows. Strange sounds were heard from the very depths of human stomachs, as if in response to the roaring of the winds and the dashing of the waves! I began to sympathise most sincerely with the unhappy sufferers; for such sights and sounds are sure to affect the feelings of those who both see and hear. In short, I began to look grave, and become squeamish. I saw nothing but livid lips and blue cheeks around me,—a perfect pandæmonium of wretchedness; yet there walked the stately man in the cloak, perfectly unmoved in countenance and stomach. I perceived he had lighted a cigar, which glowed of a bright red colour, and threw a glow over his handsome features.

I grew still worse, and my disorder was coming to its climax, when[138] the eye of the stranger for the first time condescended to notice me, and he bowed ceremoniously, with a smile which seemed to say, "I wish you joy, young man, of your sea-sickness!" I turned from him, and sincerely wished him in the same condition as myself and the other victims of the wrath of Neptune. He advanced towards me.

"You look ill, sir!" he exclaimed. "Take the advice of an old sailor; only try one of my cigars; they are not of common use; one or two whiffs will drive away your nausea. I never knew them fail."

Now I loathe smoking at all times; it is a vulgar and idle amusement, fit only, as a modern writer says, for "the swell-mob;" but at this moment the thought of it was execrable. I could have hurled the stranger, when he offered me one of his cigars already ignited, into the sea.

"I never smoke, sir," said I, pettishly, "and I always get as far away as I can from those who do. May I thank you to go a little to the windward?"

"My dear sir, do not be obstinate," said the pertinacious stranger; "we have many hours before we shall touch the shore, for you see both wind and tide are against us. I assure you the remedy is always efficacious;" and he handed me a lighted cigar, immediately under my nose.

I snatched at the burning preparation, and flung it overboard, with an exclamation of no gentle kind; it dropped into the boiling waves, making a noise like a hissing red-hot iron, as it is put by the smith into the water of the stone cistern.

"It is not of the slightest consequence," said my tormentor, affecting to believe I had dropped the cigar by accident, "I have plenty more in my case;" and with the most provoking coolness he lighted another from his own, and presented it to me. I was puzzled what to do, for the courtesy of this man was extreme. I was exceedingly sick, and wished to get rid of him; for who likes to have a witness during the time of Nature's distress? I therefore accepted his cigar, and turned from him, with a very equivocal bow of acknowledgement.

There was something of a very refreshing nature in the smell of this extraordinary-looking cigar, which was burning steadily in my hand. I resolved to try its boasted efficacy; and accordingly put it to my lips, and inhaled its fragrance. In a moment I was well, more than well; for a delicious languor seized me. After that, my nerves were braced, invigorated; I felt as a hunter does after a long day's sport, hungry almost to famine, and I descended to the saloon, and called lustily to the steward to bring me a cold fowl, a plate of ham, and a bottle of porter. No more nausea, no more livid lips and blue cheeks. All of a sudden I became eloquent, poetical, and brimful of the tender passion. I wished to console some of my fair companions who were languishing around me, and offered my cigar to all who would accept it. Had it not been for an occasional thought of my mother's illness, which would intrude upon me whether I wished it or not, what folly and entanglement might I have got into with a pretty milliner on board, just returned from Paris, with fashions in her head, and French levity in her heart!

I ought to have acknowledged my obligation to the stranger for his[139] remedy; but I had conceived so insuperable a dislike to him, that I could not account for it, and my only wish was to escape from his society at Dover, as I feared he would offer to accompany me to London, and I could hardly refuse him after the service he had rendered me. I therefore lingered below some few minutes when we arrived, and looked cautiously around me when I ascended the companion-ladder; but the stranger was gone. I saw no trace of his august person then, or his superb Spanish cloak.

I hastened on with four horses to —— Square, and met my weeping sisters. My mother still breathed; but that was all. The physicians could not comprehend her malady, but agreed to call it a general debility, an exhaustion of the vital energies, without any particular complaint. She was extremely weak, but knew me instantly, and smiled her welcome as I knelt and kissed her hand.

My mother was only of the middle age, which made it more strange that physical weakness should thus overpower her. I inquired at what time she was first seized; and on reference to my note-book, found out that her first appearance of illness was at the precise hour when the stranger in the Spanish cloak was sitting with me at my hotel, and talking to me of my father. Well! what of that? it was a mere chance!

It is no use disguising it. I am naturally superstitious. We can no more help the frailties of our minds than the blemishes of our features. As I sat by my declining mother's side, I pondered again and again on this mysterious stranger. I recollected how he had cured me of my sickness in a moment; how wonderfully he knew the private history of every individual; and I ended by believing that there was something of a supernatural agency about him. "Perhaps," thought I, starting up suddenly, and speaking aloud, "perhaps this wonderful cigar of his might recover my beloved mother." I searched every pocket, hoping that a remnant of it might have remained: but, no; it had been whiffed away by the ladies in the cabin, and I had not a vestige left.

When once an idea seizes hold on the mind, it scarcely ever lets go its hold. I began to consider myself mad, yet could not prevent myself from going out I knew not whither, to make inquiries for the cloaked stranger, and request him to give me another of his marvellous cigars. As I passed Louisa and Emily, my sisters, and——, now no more, they were alarmed by the wildness of my looks, and endeavoured to arrest my progress.

"I go to seek a remedy for my mother," exclaimed I, breaking from them, and I darted from the house.

I made inquiries at all the principal hotels and club-houses for the stranger in the magnificent cloak. The waiters at the Oriental, the Travellers, and the Albion, had all seen him, but knew not his address or name. I sought him in the parks, at the exhibitions; but could not find him. At length I thought of the British Museum, but why I did so appears to me most mysterious; I drove instantly thither, and ran through all the rooms with the most searching gaze. In George the Fourth's splendid library there, seated at his ease by special permission from Sir Henry Ellis, I beheld the man I sought, with a large folio volume of Eastern learning spread open before him.


I felt ashamed to address him; for, had I not been most uncourteous, most repulsive to him? and now I wanted another favour. I stood before the table at which he sat, and watched his countenance as he seemed engrossed with his Oriental literature; but it was only for a moment, for he raised his eyes by some sudden impulse, and fixed them straight upon me.

The stranger acknowledged me not even by a bow or a look of recognition. I knew not what to say to him, yet the case was urgent.

"Pardon me, sir," I stammered out, "I fear I interrupt you; but——"

"Proceed, sir," said the stranger, coldly. "I am always ready to listen to the son of Sir George F——, for I owe to the father some obligation."

"You possess the power of allaying the most tormenting sickness by some mysterious drug or preparation," I said, hesitating as I spoke: "that was no common cigar. Have you other remedies?"

"A thousand," replied the stranger. "Pray go on."

"My mother lies dangerously ill; can you restore her?"

"May I behold the patient?" demanded the stranger, and an inexpressible glance flashed from his brilliant eyes.

What made me tremble at this natural request? for such it might have been deemed, since every medical man has free liberty to inquire into the symptoms of the case before he prescribes.

Fixedly did his eyes rest on mine; they seemed as if turned to stone, for they moved not in the slightest degree.

"I will describe my mother's case to you, sir," I said, evasively.

He made me no answer; but, casting down his eyes, he calmly resumed his reading, and I walked up and down the spacious apartment, in which there were not above a dozen other persons, in a state of mind resembling a chaos, occasionally glancing with angry eyes at the reading stranger, who seemed perfectly composed, and unconscious of my presence.

"What a fool am I!" said I, mentally; "what harm can this man do my dying mother? but, then, she may see him—this being that resembles a demi-god—and she too of so peculiar a mind, so enamoured of all that is great and wonderful; so romantic, too! Wretch that I am! is my beloved mother's life to be sacrificed—at least the chance of saving her—to a wild and jealous fantasy? No!" and I walked up again to the table.

The stranger was rising as I approached him, had closed his book, and returned it to the librarian. He would have passed me, but I laid my hand upon his arm.

"Most extraordinary being!" said I, "come, I conjure you, and save my mother!"

He entered my carriage without saying a word, and silently followed me to the apartment of my languishing parent, who was dozing in a sort of lethargic stupor, that appeared to be the precursor of death. My two sisters stood gazing on her pale features, and—— was holding her thin white hand in one of hers, and bathing it with her tears.

The stranger took my mother's hand from hers, and—I cannot be mistaken, for I watched every movement—some strong agitation,[141] some convulsive spasm, passed over his countenance as he looked upon that face which never had its equal yet on earth; but, whatever was his emotion, he soon mastered it, and desired that a silver plate and lamp might be brought to him.

From a small crystal box the stranger took out a brown preparation, and, breaking it in two, placed them on the silver plate; then with a slip of paper lighted from the lamp he ignited the substance so placed, which sent up a pale blue flame, and a most intoxicating odour. He desired that my mother should be raised in bed, even to a sitting posture, when he placed the blazing plate immediately beneath her nostrils, and some portion of the actual flame entered and curled about her face. My sisters shrieked, but —— spake not a word, and I waited the result with agonised impatience.

"She revives! she revives!" exclaimed the latter, "and my blessed aunt will live!"

It was true. Years have gone by, and my mother is still alive. Never has she had an hour's illness from that hour. Was I grateful to the stranger for saving a life so prized? No. In my heart I loathed him at the very time he was heaping benefits upon me. And why? I detected a look of wonder, and admiration, and gratitude, and a smile of ineffable beauty directed towards him by one who——

Disguising as well as I was able the hatred that swelled within my heart, I offered to place on the finger of this mysterious visitant a ring of great value, that belonged once to my father. He started as he saw it, and, pressing a secret spring in it that I knew not of, restored it to me.

"It was a present from myself to him at Rome," he said, and his voice faltered, "for a signal benefit conferred. Behold! there is my own miniature!"

And it was so. Most exquisitely painted was there concealed, a minute resemblance of himself. I now perceived, and I cursed him in my heart for it, that —— retained the ring, after having expressed her astonishment at the fidelity of the likeness. I rudely snatched it from her hand, and threw the ring from me.

"Theodore," said my mother, "give me that ring. I know full well who it was presented that ring to him who is now no more. Marquis! I must speak to you alone, but not now. Come hither to-morrow. Now, I beseech you, retire!"

How dreadful is it to bear about with us the seeds of insanity. I have felt them shoot and grow within me from my childhood. The fibres had twined about my very being. I knew that madness must some time or other scorch my brain; I was full of delusions; I could behold nothing clear with my mental vision. I once heard a learned physician say to my father, "Take care of him, sir. Excitement may drive that boy mad. Do not let him study too much; and, above all, I trust he will never meet with disappointment in any affair of the heart."

Have I met with such? Let me not think about it, or——And yet I am not mad now.

From this time I became gloomy and morose, and always worse whenever this accursed man in the Spanish cloak came to the house, which now was very often. He charmed all but myself. I hated the sound of his voice. My sisters would come and try to soothe me[142] into sociability and calmness. I repelled them with harshness and severity; and even when my gentle cousin tried each soft persuasive art to lead me to his presence, I taunted her in the cruellest manner with her hypocrisy, as I chose to call her blandishments, and bade her "go to the fascinating marquis, and heap her witcheries on him." Nothing could exceed the patience of this devoted being, her sweetness of temper, her angelic forbearance, but my own ferocity and hellish brutality; yet how did I love her, even when I bitterly reviled her! Once, when I observed that ring upon her finger, which my mother had permitted her to wear,—that ring, bearing the portrait of that man,—I absolutely spurned her from my presence, and wonder now that I did not murder her.

Cloud after cloud obscured the light of reason in my brain, and it was deemed advisable by those who loved me still, notwithstanding my growing malady, to have some one with me night and day, lest I should lay violent hands upon myself, as if a life like mine were worth the caring for.

An intelligent young man, one of my tenants, accepted this painful task, and he performed it with gentleness and fidelity. He soon perceived that I grew more furious when the voice or the name of the Marquis —— met my ears. He mentioned this circumstance to my mother, and from that time the marquis was not permitted to enter the house. I heard of this at first with incredulity, then with complacency. By degrees I grew calmer. I was afterwards shown a letter from the cloaked stranger, dated Rome; and it confirmed their assertions. I once more enjoyed the society of my family, and basked in the smiles of my beloved cousin. She was all kindness, all attention; and I began to flatter myself that the ardent love I had borne her from my very boyhood was returned. It was her reserve that before drove me from my country.

To my great astonishment and delight, that young Englishman who had interested me so much in the salon d'écarté at Paris, was formally refused by her who was dearer to me than life. He was of ancient family, and of great possessions; I knew he loved her, and feared he would gain her: but on my saying one day, as if by accident, in her presence, "that I feared S—— gamed high, and consequently was not worthy of the regard of any woman of discretion," she gave me a smile of ineffable sweetness, and told me, "It was of little consequence to her his frailties or his virtues; for she had long determined to give him a refusal, and, in fact, had done so before he went to Paris."

I considered the manner of my cousin, more than her mere words, as encouragement to myself, and with all the ardour of my nature declared to her my passion. These were her words in reply: "Theodore, I pretend not to misunderstand you; and, if it be any comfort to you, believe that I most tenderly return your affection. But, oh, my beloved cousin! think how you have been afflicted,—and then ask yourself whether I ought to listen to your proposals? whether you ought to marry? Theodore, I solemnly promise you that, for your sake, never will I wed another; but, oh! ask me not to become your wife whilst you are subject to such a fearful malady."

In vain I represented to her that my late mental affliction had been caused wholly by my fear of losing her, as I believed that detested[143] foreigner was exactly the man to charm her, and thus I considered her lost to me for ever.

"This, dear Theodore," she answered, "is one of your delusions. You had no cause why you should form such a preposterous notion,—a man old enough to be my father, and——"

"That is true," said I, "there is disparity of years; but, then, what a splendid being!"

"Yes," she replied coldly, "he wears a most magnificent cloak."

"Not always, sure?" I asked inquiringly, for I had never entered the room where he was, since he had cured my mother. "Did he not remove it when he dined and drank tea with you so often, and stayed so late, that I could have torn him to pieces for it?"

"Softly, my beloved cousin," said the sweet girl, placing her soft hand before my lips; "why are you so excited now when talking of this stranger? Your mother, Theodore, has been restored by him; and for that service what do we not all owe him?"

"Was it for this," I said, "from gratitude alone, you wore that ring?"

"Yes, from gratitude only. Are you now satisfied?"

"Blessings on you, dearest, for your kindness!" I continued. "But say, did you ever see him without that cloak?"

"Never, Theodore, never. It was always too hot or too cold; or he was poorly, or some excuse or other. We never could persuade him to take off that cloak."

I fell into a long reverie after this; nor could I blame her for her decision. I knew myself that my brain was not steady, and consequently I had no right to marry, to entail on my innocent offspring such a calamity. But then this inexplicable stranger;—perhaps he had the power to cure me,—he had already performed almost a miracle; if he could but settle my head, my beloved cousin would become mine, and I should be free from those fears that were constantly besetting me of becoming incurably mad.

Nothing would now do but my immediately setting out for Rome to seek the stranger with the large Spanish cloak. My mother did not think it advisable that I should go alone; so it was determined that she, with Louisa and Emily, accompanied by our sweet relative, should bear me company to Italy, and thither we accordingly went. We lingered not on our progress to look at curiosities, or paintings, or prospects. We journeyed as fast as four horses could carry us, and arrived quite safe at imperial Rome.

I was sorry to learn that the Marquis —— was now at Naples; and, after settling my family in an elegant villa a few miles from modern Rome, I set off in quest of the man for whom I had an antipathy, powerful, incurable; and for what purpose? To request his aid, mysterious, perhaps sinful, to cure me of a disorder, of which the consciousness was part of its calamity. The raving madman, at least, is saved from knowing his own misery.

I had not been an hour at Naples, attended by my favourite servant, the young man who once acted to me as my keeper, when I saw from the window of my hotel the cloaked stranger pass with a lady on his arm. But I hesitated not,—I might lose him for ever; so I ran into the street, and hastily accosted him.

What I said to him I know not, for my words were wild and ambiguous;[144] but he promised that he would dine with me the following day, although his manners were even more reserved than when I spoke to him at the Museum.

Our instincts ought ever to be attended to; the brute creation follow nothing else, and they commit no sin. The first time I saw this stranger, he was looking at an inscription at Athens, and I felt a secret desire to get from his presence; but he entangled me with his talk, his knowledge of everything around, his high bearing, his intelligent eyes, and his superb Spanish cloak.

Again we were seated at the same table, and I again requested him to remove his mantle.

"Not yet," he said significantly; "but after the cloth is removed I will, if you still wish it, take off this upper clothing."

Oh how sarcastically were these words pronounced! My heart beat violently; I could not eat, and became abstracted and melancholy; not a word was said respecting my request to him, nor did he ask me why I sought him. He ate in silence, and seemed to have forgotten he was not alone.

When the table was cleared, the stranger coolly took a book from under his cloak, and began to read; whilst I, pondering on all I had ever known of him, began to feel the most burning desire to see this man once without his cloak, and was determined to do my utmost to effect it.

"The cloth is now removed, signor," said I, "and you promised then you would take off that everlasting garment."

"It displeases you, then?" retorted my companion. "Is it not unsafe to penetrate below the exterior of all things? Is not the surface ever the most safe? Is not the outer clothing of nature ever the most beautiful to the eye? What deformity dwells in mines, in caverns, at the bottom of the ocean! Nature wears a cloak as beautiful as mine: do you wish also to strip off her covering as well as mine?"

"At this moment, signor," said I gloomily, "I was not thinking of Nature at all, but of the strangeness of your ever wearing that cloak."

"Was it for this you came from England, Sir Theodore?" inquired the marquis, "and sought me at Naples? The knowledge, I should deem, could never compensate you for the loss of your cousin's society so many days."

"It was not for this I sought you, noble marquis," I replied, piqued at his irony; "but, when a man ever wears a cloak, it must be for some purpose."

"Granted," slowly said my companion; "I have such purpose."

"Which you promised to unfold!" I exclaimed, with pertinacity. "Is it still your pleasure so to do?"

"It is necessary first that we should have no intruders," he answered, with a tone that froze me to the heart. Oh, how cutting, how sarcastic did it sound in my ears!

"No person will enter this apartment save my faithful servant, Hubert; therefore——"

"I promised to enlighten the master, and not the servant. If you insist on this strange request, the door must be securely locked; there must be no chance of interruption."

"Oh, what a fuss," I thought, "about a mantle! Why, he must[145] be mad too! How can he cure me of an evil he has himself? Lock the door, forsooth, because he takes off his cloak! But I must humour him, I suppose, or he will find an excuse for breach of promise." As I thought this, I walked to the door, locked it, and, placing the key upon the table, merely said, "Now, signor, your promise?"

"Would it not be prudent, young gentleman," he observed, laying his finger on my sleeve, "that you should speak of your request,—that one that brought you hither, and which I should conceive of more importance than the satisfying an idle curiosity,—would it not be wiser of you to mention this previously to my taking off my cloak."

"Oh, what importance he attaches to so trifling a thing!" thought I; "but, after all, the man is right; I had better attend to the most essential, nor was I wise to couple two requests together."

"Signor Marquis," said I, "have you any cure for insanity?"

"I cured your father," was the answer, "and this your mother knows. He in return did me a service; he presented me with—this excellent cloak."

I was more puzzled than ever; I had never before heard that my poor father had unsettled reason, but many circumstances made me now believe it. I fancied too that my youngest sister gave indications of the same disorder; she was growing melancholy and reserved. "Oh, heavens!" thought I, "there will be more work for this man to do; I had better invite him at once to England, and make him physician in ordinary to our family."

"I have an engagement at nine," said the stranger; "have you any other inquiries to make?"

"But, if you cured my father, Signor Marquis," I observed, "how is it that I have inherited the disease? Should not the cure have eradicated it for ever from him and his posterity?"

"Is it not enough that I prevented the display of such a malady during his life? that I drove away the cloud that obscured his day, so that the sun of reason shone brightly on him until his death? What had I to do with future generations? with a race of men then unborn? I performed my contract, and he was satisfied. Shall the son be more difficult to please than the father?"

I interrupted him, "Oh, mysterious man! canst thou not cure the root of this disease? stop its fatal progress? prevent the seed from partaking of the nature of the plant?"

"Young man!" solemnly returned the marquis, "was not thy first progenitor, the man who resided in Paradise, mad—essentially mad? and has not his disease been carried on, in spite of all physicians, down, down to the present hour? It is woven into man's very nature; the warp and woof of which he is composed. I can check its open manifestation in a single individual; but the evil will only be dammed up during his time, to give it an increased impetus and power to those who follow him. Art thou not an instance of this fact? Hast thou not been madder than thy father?"

I groaned aloud. I remembered my own wild delusions, my sudden bursts of passion. I even began to think that madness ruled me at that very hour; that all I saw and heard was the coinage of a distempered brain.

At length I said, dejectedly, unknowing that I spoke aloud, "Then I must never marry; my children will become worse than myself. Farewell then——"


"Or rather," interrupted the cloaked stranger, "farewell to human marriages altogether, if those who marry must be free from madness. Why, 'tis the very sign they are so, their wishing to rivet fetters on themselves; but, no matter. What have I to do with all the freaks and frenzied institutions of such a set of driveling idiots?"

"Art thou not a man?"

"Thou shalt judge for thyself, thou insect of an hour!" and he unclasped his cloak, and stood erect before me. Coiled around him like a large boa-constrictor, reaching to his very throat,——But I sicken as I write! The remembrance of that moment, how shall it be effaced? Time deadens thousands of recollections, but has never weakened the impression made upon me at that appalling moment!

The immense mass that wound its lengthy fibres round him, like a cable of a ship, now became sensibly animated by life! I beheld it move, and writhe, and unfold itself! I heard its extremity drop upon the floor! I saw it extend itself, and creep along! More—more still descended; fewer coils were round him! He turned himself to facilitate its descent; and, when the enormous whole encircled him, still undulating on the ground, that being looked towards me with one of those smiles, that Satan might be supposed to use.

"Behold!" said he, pointing to the dark undulation on the floor, "behold the reason why I wear a cloak!"

Insensibility closed up my senses. I could behold no more. When I recovered, I was alone. The stranger had departed, leaving the door ajar; but he had written on a slip of paper, and placed it just before me, these words:

"The remedy I bestowed upon the father, for his sake I will give unto the son. Three notches of the devil's tail will perfectly restore you; but it must be cut off by the hand of the purest person that you know on earth. It will grow again!!"

I hastily caught up this paper on hearing the step of my attendant, and placed it in my bosom. I think he saw the action, for he looked mournfully on me, and shook his head. I told him I was ready to set off instantly for Rome: his simple answer was,

"I wish we had remained there!"

"And why, Hubert?"

"You are pale as a sheeted corpse, and the boards of the floor are singed, yet there has been no fire in the room!"

I looked where he pointed; and, in a serpentine form, I beheld the traces of that enormous tail I had seen fall from the body of the cloaked stranger, coiled round him as an immense serpent twines itself around a tree. I shuddered at the sight. I felt my brain working; yet I wrestled with the spirit of darkness within. I tried to persuade myself that I had been overtaken only by a dream; that my whole acquaintance with the pretended marquis was nothing but an illusion, a vision of the imagination, an optic delusion, an hallucination of an excited state of mind; but it would not do. There were the dark and calcined marks, which it was my duty to account for to my host, who cared very little how they were occasioned, so as he received an ample sum to have the boards removed, and others in their place.


Our accounts were soon arranged, and I returned to my anxious family; but my disorder was increasing hourly. The wildest imaginations haunted and perplexed me. My beloved mother looked at me with tears swimming in her eyes. My eldest sister strove, by a hundred stratagems, to dispel the gloom that arose amongst us all. Emily sat, absorbed in her own melancholy thoughts, a fellow-sufferer, I fancied, with myself. My lovely, innocent, affectionate cousin held my fevered hand in one of hers, and imploringly asked me to be tranquil; said she would sing to me if I would try to sleep. I felt the gentle charm, and gave myself up to it. I laid myself upon the sofa; and she, whose name I cannot utter, sitting on a low stool by my side, sought to soothe me with her voice.

"Come from Heaven, soft balmy Sleep,
Since thou art an angel there!
Come, and watch around him keep—
Watch that I with thee will share.
Strew thy poppies o'er his head,
Calm the fever of his mind;
All thy healing virtues shed,
That he may composure find!"

"Oh, God!" I cried, jumping up; "and must I never call this angel mine? Better to die at once, or lose all consciousness of what a wretch I am!"

"Hush, my dearest cousin! I have invoked an angel from the skies to visit you; drive her not away by ill-timed violence; here, let me hold your hand;" and she began again to murmur in a low tone,

"Strew thy poppies o'er his head,
Calm the fever of his mind."

and so I fell asleep.

When I awoke, my gentle cousin, (more constant than my heavenly visitant, Sleep,) was still seated by my side; all the rest were gone; candles burned on the table—it was midnight; I had slept for hours, she yet retained my hand. I looked at her, and burst into tears.

"We are alone, Theodore," said my beloved; "tell me, I beseech you, what is labouring on your mind. You have spoken strange things during your sleep. You have declared that I had the power to restore you; can I do this? Theodore, be candid! Were it to cost my life, I would gladly lay it down to be of benefit to you."

I could not answer her; but I clasped my arms round that pure, angelic form, and wept like an infant on her bosom.

"Can I do you service, Theodore? You deny not what your lips murmured in sleep."

"You can restore my reason, for you are the purest person that I know on earth."

"By what means? But, alas! you are wandering still; this is one of your delusions! Would that it were in my power to heal thy mind, my dearest cousin."

"In this, my heart's treasure, I am at least perfectly sane. You have the power to cure me."


"Tell me the means."

I related to —— the whole of my adventures at Naples. I hid nothing from her excepting that our children might be infected with the same disease. Many reasons prevented my naming this. She was too delicate for me to allude to such a circumstance; I was willing to run all hazards of my posterity inheriting so dreadful a disease. My father had done as I intended to do; and the remedy was as open to my offspring as to myself, for had not the cloaked stranger told me that "the tail would grow again"? Even without such growth, had it not notches enough for a whole line of my posterity, supposing them all in want of such a restorative.

There was a pause of a full minute ere she spoke; her cheek was blanched, and her hand trembled in mine.

"Theodore, I know not what to think, whether from madness or from sanity comes your wondrous tale; but I will go through it, come what may. I will see this being; and, should he be indeed the author of all evil, out of evil shall come good, for I have courage, for your dear sake, to take from him the horrid remedy; but speak not of it, even to your mother or your sisters. Ah, poor Emily! she too may need such help! I will procure enough for her also."

Every thing was arranged. I was in that state that all I demanded was granted to me, for they feared to oppose my wishes. I entered the travelling carriage with my beautiful betrothed.

We had no attendants. We drove to the same hotel in which I had been before. We were shown into the same room; but the marks upon the floor were gone,—new boards were there. We ordered dinner for three; and I went out in search of the cloaked stranger.

It may seem strange that those who seek the devil, should seek in vain; but what is so perverse as the Origin of Evil?

Towards the close of day I however brought him in, as lofty, proud-looking, and handsome as ever; his features bore the stamp of angelic beauty; but, alas! the expression was—the fallen angel. He saluted with much politeness, nay, even kindness, my lovely friend; and we entered at once upon the business.

When he heard who was to perform the operation, he absolutely turned pale, and made a thousand objections. Some other person might be found; but I, fool that I was! overruled them all, and insisted on it, that she was the purest person that I knew on earth.

He then endeavoured to intimidate her; but she was resolute, though her lip quivered. We had a long argument about it, and most subtle was his reasoning. Yet he seemed as if he had no power absolutely to refuse. Reluctantly he drew from a secret pocket in his cloak a small steel hatchet, with many figures inscribed upon it. She received it at his hands; but I observed a fixedness in her beautiful eyes, and a rigidity about her mouth, that I did not like; still she grasped the shining instrument, and hesitated not. But, when his cloak fell off, oh, what a look of horror did those dear eyes assume!

Slowly descended the voluminous appendage; its extreme end fell on the chair on which he had been sitting. She flew like lightning thither, raised the glittering tool, marked the precise spot, and severed at a blow "three notches of the devil's tail!"


"Take—take your remedy, dear Theodore!" she whispered, "for I cannot touch it."

I stooped, and took the severed quivering part, but could not hold it for its heat; so thrust it into my coat-pock; I then turned to congratulate my deliverer, but she was a lifeless corpse at my feet; and the stranger had vanished, I knew not and I cared not whither.

How often have I called on madness, or on death, to take from me the memory of her loss! Neither would come! I have had no return of my malady, but I have experienced anguish fourfold! The only benefit derived has been that my sister Emily has been totally cured by the specific that was so dearly purchased, for it proved efficacious in both cases.

Perchance it may prove useful for the future members of our family, should they be infected with this hereditary complaint; for myself, I shall never need it for my offspring, my affections are buried in the grave; but I have bequeathed it to my beloved sisters—with my hopes, more than my belief, that it may prove effective,—"the three notches of the devil's tail!"



What soft low strains are these I hear
That come my dreams between?
Oh! mother, look! who may it be
That plays so late at e'en?
"I hear no sound, I see no form;
Oh! rest in slumber mild:
They'll bring no music to thee now,
My poor, my sickly child!"
It is not music of the earth
That makes my heart so light;
The angels call me with their songs,
Oh! mother dear, good night!



My friend was proceeding to relate many curious anecdotes of Sir Ruby Ratborough, when a row of several portraits of persons I had seen abroad struck me. The librarian informed me that they were those of the Cannon family, who had long resided on the Continent; and I immediately recognised a most eccentric set of people, met so often, and at various places, with such a rapidity of locomotion, that many fancied they were gifted with ubiquity. The portraits, my conductor informed me, were taken at Florence; and their history might serve as a hint to artists. The painter had, unfortunately, commenced with the handsomest of the girls; and, having somewhat flattered the likeness, of course the family were delighted with his performance: but, when the older and the uglier Cannons came to sit, no flattery could render their portraits tolerable to them. The consequence was, that they were considered as bad resemblances, and left on the painter's hand; the more favoured young ones, of course, not being allowed by their indignant elders to take theirs away. I had heard so much of this family that I requested my friend to postpone our review of the political character, to give me some account of these wandering emigrants; and he gratified my curiosity by putting into my hands the following MS. containing a sketch of their adventures at home and abroad, drawn out by Quintilian Quaint.


Who has not seen the Cannons in their Continental excursions? or, to use Mrs. Cannon's malapropic expression, their incontinental tours? Whoever has strolled, or lounged, or lurked in a French promenade, a Spanish alameda, or an Italian corso, has fallen upon some branch of the family; nay, more properly, on two or three of them; for, if a body perchance hits upon one individual of that numerous race, he is sure to be rebounded on a brother or a sister, illustrating their name by making what is called a canon in billiard-room parlance.

So very répandu is this moving train of curious ordnance, and the young ladies have been so walked about, and stalked about, and dragged about in pick-nicks, déjeuners champêtres, gipsy-parties, marooning-parties, through woods and forests, hills and dales, brushwood and underwood, that the witty Lady A—— called them the field-pieces.

What took this family from their delightful box at Muckford, in Shropshire, to visit France, and Italy, and Germany; to paddle in the Seine, dabble in the Arno, and stroll with the rabble along the Rhine? Surely it must have been love of the fine arts, or the cultivation of foreign tongues, with the ladies; or pursuits of political economy, statistics, or the study of men and manners, with the gentlemen. Not in the least degree. The only paintings the fair part of the family admired were their own lovely faces. All foreign tongues were as foreign to them as Sanscrit. The only pursuit of polity that occupied Messrs. Cannons', senior and juniors, was where to find cheap wines and parsimonious amusements; their statistics, a census of the[151] geese and turkeys, turbots and mullets, brought to market; and their study of the "varying shore o' the world" was, congregating with their countrymen, who, like themselves, disported their nonentity in gambling-houses and restaurans.

What was it then that induced the Cannons to quit their delightful box in Shropshire? Simply because Lord Wittington and his family had purchased the estate of Myrtle-Grove, near unto Wick-Hall,—the name given by Mr. Cannon to his aforesaid delightful box. Now the motives that induced Mr. Commodus Cannon to bestow upon this box the euphonious appellation of Wick-Hall, arose from a natural association of ideas and a proper sense of gratitude; for, be it known, that Mr. Commodus Cannon had once been a tallow-chandler of great renown in the ward of Candlewick, in which business he had realised a large fortune; therefore, without much perplexity of the various ramifications of the brain, its circumvolutions and ventricles, it may be conjectured why his rural residence was denominated, despite all the arguments of the ladies, Wick-Hall.

The next question that arose in the curious and impertinent minds of those who must know the causation of all causes, was, how did it come to pass that the arrival of the Earl of Wittington at Myrtle-Grove should have induced, in a manner direct or indirect, the family of an ex-tallow-chandler to migrate from a comfortable residence; to have left Muckford and their Penates, their well-trimmed lawns, their well-stocked gardens, their orchards and their paddocks, their dairy, and their brew-house, and their wash-house, and their ice-house, and their hot-house, their cosey fire-side and their snug bed-rooms, to wander about the world, and dwell in cold and dreary, or in broiling and stewing lodgings; drink sour ordinaire wine instead of port, sherry, gooseberry, and nut-brown October; be cheated and laughed at by foreign servants, instead of being attended by worthy, homely, and honest domestics; and become the ridicule of strangers, instead of being respected and liked by their neighbours? How did it come to pass that the Earl of Wittington's arrival should have driven the Cannons away from their Eden? The reader who cannot guess it at once,—who gives it up, like a hard riddle or a puzzling conundrum,—must be stultified, unread, unsophisticated, never have subscribed to a circulating library. However, as dulness of intellect is more a misfortune than a fault, we shall kindly condescend to inform him.

Myrtle-Grove had long been untenanted. Mr. Cannon was the wealthiest resident in or near the village; therefore was Wick-Hall called "the squire's mansion." Now, stupid, do you take?

Everybody has read Joe Miller. Now it may be recollected that, in that valuable vade-mecum of very delightful and charming fellows, there is recorded the strange vanity of an ugly scholar in the College of Navarre, who maintained most strenuously and syllogistically,—nay, would have met any modern Crichton with a thesis on the subject to show and prove, that he was the greatest man in the world; and he argued that Europe being the finest part of the creation, France the most delightful country in Europe, Paris the most splendid city in France, the College of Navarre the most enlightened and precious establishment in Paris, his room unquestionably the best chamber in the college, and he most undoubtedly the greatest ornament in his room, ergo, he was the greatest man in the world.


In the same train of ratiocination did the Cannons come to the conclusion that they were the magnates, the top-sawyers, the leaders of fashion of the village of Muckford. They patronised the Rev. Mr. Muzzle, the curate, whose meek back was suited to the burthen of a wife and eight little ones on fifty pounds a year; Mr. Hiccup, M.R.C.S., who, to the duties of his profession in the attendance of man and beast, added the pursuits of rat and mole-catcher, perfumer, stationer, and tobacconist; and Mr. Sniffnettle, the attorney, solicitor, conveyancer, proctor, appraiser, auctioneer, poet-laureat and parish-clerk. A hop at Wick-Hall was anticipated with as much delight by all the young and old ladies as the opening of Almacks; a game at loo or twopenny long-whist offered all the attractions of Crockford's; and the Sunday visits after church were as distinguished for figure and fashion as a St. James's drawing-room on a birth-day.

This high patrician stand in society unfortunately made the Cannons proud,—some say haughty, supercilious, and arrogant. It might have been so; such is the nature of frail mortality, for, alas!

"Pride has no other glass
To show itself but pride; for supple knees
Feed arrogance!"

and Mr. Muzzle, and Dr. Hiccup, and Mr. Sniffnettle, had their vertebræ and their articulations so greased, and oiled, and anti-attritioned, that they would bob, and bend, and curl, and coil like a tom-cat's tail, whenever they visited the mansion.

And strange dreams, and visions, and fantasies would be brewing in the brains of Mr. Cannon, both when sleeping and awake. He was wealthy; the Cannons had a dragon rampant for their crest, and Crepo for their motto,—a motto that was traced to the discovery of a bronze figure of the Egyptian god Crepitus in the tomb of one of his noble ancestors. To this proud circumstance the family also owed the Christian-name of "Commodus," which the elder Cannon always bore,—Commodus being of Gallic origin. Sometimes Mr. Commodus Cannon thought that he might purchase a peerage by paying some damages incurred by indiscreet influential personages; sometimes he fancied that he might be created a baronet upon a mortgage, or a marriage of one of the Miss Cannons to some broken-down nobleman.

But, alas! how transient are the visions of glory! of worldly greatness! Greatness—that gaudy torment of our soul!

"The wise man's fetter, and the rage of fools!"

Lord Wittington arrived, and the Countess of Wittington, and the Ladies Desdemona Catson, and Arabella Catson, and Celestina Catson, and Euripida Catson, and the Hon. Tom Catson, and the Hon. Brindle Catson, with their aunt, Lady Tabby Catson; and all Muckford was in a state of commotion, of effervescence, of ebullition, boiling over with hope and fear. A comet wagging its tail over their steeple,—an eclipse, which would have set all the Muckfordians smoking bits of glass, and picking up fragments of broken bottles for astronomical observations,—could not have occasioned such a stir as the arrival of four travelling carriages, with dickeys and rumbles crowded with ladies' women, and gentlemen's gentlemen, rattling away with four post-horses to Myrtle-Grove.

And now were speculations busily at work. The minds of Mahomet[153] and Confucius, of Galileo and Copernicus, of Locke and Bacon, were idle when compared to the brains of the Muckfordians. What was the point in question? Was it the increase of business and of profit that would accrue from the consumption of these wealthy visitors?—No. Was it the advantages that might be derived from their parliamentary connexions and ministerial interest?—No. Was it the hopes that their residence might induce other rich families to inhabit the neighbourhood?—No—no—no! If the reader cannot guess, he must have lived at the antipodes, or in a desert, or never lived in life. The question was, "I wonder if his lordship and her ladyship will visit Wick-Hall?" No treaty of alliance, of commerce, of peace—no protocol that ever issued from the most perfect cerebral organ in Downing-street—was ever weighed with more momentous disquietude than this question, "I wonder if his lordship and her ladyship will visit Wick-Hall?"

"I should think not," observed Mrs. Curate Muzzle; "the Wittingtons are great folks, and the Cannons were chandlers!"

"Tallow-chandlers, my dear madam," remarked Mrs. Doctor Hiccup.

"Had they even been wax-chandlers," added Mrs. Sniffnettle.

"Or corn-chandlers," replied Mrs. Hiccup.

"But a tallow-chandler," exclaimed Mr. Sniffnettle, who, as we have seen, was the laureat of Muckford, "as Gay says,

'Whether black, or lighter dies are worn,
The chandler's basket, on his shoulders borne,
With tallow spots thy coat.'"

This appropriate quotation not only drew forth a loud laugh of approbation, but illumined the minds of the party as brightly as two pounds of fours might have enlightened Mr. Hiccup's back-shop parlour on a long-whist and welsh-rabbit night.

"I'm sure I wish them no harm," remarked Mrs. Muzzle, with a benevolent smile; "but pride is a sad failing, which deserves to be brought down."

"Oh, the deuce mend them!" rejoined Mrs. Sniffnettle; "if they're brought to their proper bearings a peg or two."

"Because they had a little dirty cash—the Lord knows how they made it!—they were as pert as a pear-monger's horse!" exclaimed Mr. Hiccup.

"Pride comes first, shame comes after," added Mr. Sniffnettle.

"The priest forgets that he was a clerk," professionally observed Mrs. Muzzle.

"I could put up with pride, now," said Mr. Hiccup, "from the Wittingtons."

"Ay!" replied the poet, quoting Byron,

'The vile are only vain, the great are proud.'"

"Exactly!" observed Mrs. Hiccup, who, like most persons doting upon poesy, did not understand what she most admired.

Is it not strange that none of these ladies or gentlemen ever said "I wonder if we shall be invited to Myrtle-Grove?"

Whoever expected or fancied that on such an occasion such a thought could have entered any well-disposed and educated mind must be an ass. Who cares, if they are at the foot of the ladder, if[154] those who are climbing up are properly rolled down? There is no need of crying "Heads below!" the grovellers will all get out of the way, and let the tumblers roll in the mire to their hearts' content. I mean the hearts' content of the lookers-on.

Now, while this most important point was discussed by the chief authorities of Muckford, a question of still greater importance was agitated at Wick-Hall.

"I wonder if we ought to call first upon the Wittingtons, or wait until they call upon us?" said Mrs. Cannon, after dinner.

Mr. Commodus Cannon halted a glassful of port that was marching towards his mouth, and kept it suspended in air like Mahomet's tomb.

Miss Molly Cannon delayed the cracking of a nut she had just introduced between two ivory grinders.

Miss Biddy Cannon kept her hand under a roasted chestnut napkin, unconscious of its temperature, without withdrawing it.

Miss Lucy Cannon cut into an orange she was carefully peeling with a steel knife; a circumstance that would have produced a galvanic thrill under other circumstances.

Miss Kitty Cannon filled a bumper of cherry brandy instead of "just the least drop in the world."

Mr. Cannon, junior, drove a toothpick in his gums instead of his teeth.

George Cannon started, and trod on the cat's tail.

Cornelius Cannon (commonly called Colcannon, having had an Irish godfather,) made a horrible mistake, by drinking out of his finger-glass instead of his tumbler.

Peter Cannon used his damask napkin instead of a pocket-handkerchief; and Oliver Cannon, who had been lolling and rocking his chair, rolled off his centre of gravity.

A dead silence followed the important question. The ghost of Chesterfield ought in mercy to have burst from his cerements to have answered it. Mr. Cannon first ventured to give an opinion—a judicious opinion.

"Why, as to the matter of that," he said, scratching his brown wig,—which was, by-the-bye, an action which might have been called manual tautology, since it was a scratch already,—"as to the matter of that, it is clear that, if we are to be acquainted with his lordship, they must call upon us, or we must call upon them."

Now, it is a matter worthy of consideration, that, in difficult and knotty points, perspicuity of language seldom or ever elucidates the business. Nothing could be more clear, more lucid, nay, more pellucid, than Mr. Commodus Cannon's remark,—more self-evident, more conclusive,—yet it only tended to make darkness visible. Mrs. Cannon, who possessed greater powers of eloquence, was therefore imperiously called upon for a rejoinder.

"If you could think, Mr. Cannon, of waiting until my Lord What-do-you-call-him thinks proper to honour us with a call, you are a mean-spirited, petty-minded fellow. I'd have you to know we are every inch as good as they are."

"To be sure we are!" replied all the Cannons in one simultaneous and spontaneous roar, one well-fired volley of approbation without a straggling shot,—all but Mr. Cannon senior, who remained as still as a target.


"We owe nothing to nobody," added the speaker; "and can hold up our heads as high as anybody that ever wore one."

This reloaded the Cannons, and another fire of coincidence was let off.

"If your nobility give themselves airs with us, let me tell you, Mr. Cannon, just look at your crest and your motto, and show them that you can let fly at them hollow."

All applauded except Mr. Cornelius Cannon, who was a good Latin scholar.

"For my part I wouldn't give a brass farthing—no, that's what I wouldn't—to know them, as it's ten to one they will be shortly wanting to borrow money from us; but, as we are neighbours, and we are longer resident at Muckford, it's our business to leave our cards with them, more especially as there's no quality whatever in this here neighbourhood but ourselves."

There was no necessity of putting this proposition to the vote; it was carried by nem. diss. acclamations, and the visit fixed upon that day week.

Now, strange to say, by one of those singular anomalies in the human mind that puzzle metaphysicians, psychologists, materialists, and immaterialists, although this acquaintance with the family of Myrtle-Grove was not, to use Mrs. Cannon's expression, "worth a brass farthing," everything in the house, from the furniture to the young ladies, was turned topsy-turvy for a week. There was nothing but dusting, and polishing, and furbishing, and scrubbing, and rubbing, and bees'-waxing, and varnishing, and tweezing, and plucking, and puffing, and blowing at all ends; and swearing, and cursing, and shouting from the top of the stairs to come up, and bellowing from the foot of the stairs to come down; and souls, and eyes, and blood, and bones were sent the Lord knows where by the impatient gentlemen, while the ladies, who were too well bred to pronounce the vulgar name of the infernal regions, only wished every servant in the house a visit to the monarch of that grilling kingdom every hour of the day; and every horse, and every ass, nay, the very colts and fillies, shod and unshod, broken or unbroken, were sent to and fro from Wick-Hall to the neighbouring town, like buckets up and down a well, for silks, and ribands, and bobbins, and laces, and caps, and bonnets, and feathers, furs, and furbelows, and rouge-pots, and cold cream, and antique oil, and pomatum, and washes, and lotions, Circassian and Georgian, that were ever employed since the days of Jezebel to scrub out freckles and wrinkles, fill up pits and creases, pucker relaxed fibres and relax puckerings, eradicate warts, pimples, blossoms, excrescences, efflorescences, and effluences; with collyria for red eyes, and ointments for crusty eye-lids, liniments for gummy ankles, with odoriferous and balsamic tooth-powders, and gargles; with stores of swan and goose down for gigots, and rear-admirals, and polissons, and bussels; not to mention the means of throwing out various forms that distinguish the beau idéal of the undulating line from the rigid severity of the straight line and the acute angle; while all the wigs, tops, toupets, fronts, tresses, plaits, curls, ringlets, black, brown, auburn, fair, and foxy, were put into requisition.

It was not only physical brushing up that was resorted to; the mind received a proper frizzing; and Debrett's Peerage and Joe[156] Miller, the Racing-calendar and the Court-guide, were studied during every leisure moment; while all the scandal-registering Sunday papers were devoured with avidity.

Various were the accidents that arose in this confusion. Biddy Cannon broke a blood-vessel in straining her voice to D alt. in practising a fashionable Italian song. A pet cat of the same (who had been trodden on by George Cannon) was well nigh scalded to death by the overboiling of a pipkin of oil of cucumber for Lucy Cannon's sunburns; and Kitty Cannon caught a desperate sore-throat in trying to catch a hint of a fashionable walking-dress one rainy morning that the Ladies Catsons were riding out, peeping at them under a heavy shower from behind a holly hedge. Poor Kitty Cannon was in a most piteous plight from having made a trifling mistake in the use of some medicines sent her by Mr. Hiccup; for, in a very great hurry to try on an invisible corset, she rubbed her throat with some palma Christi oil, and swallowed a hartshorn liniment that had been intended for external use. In her burning agonies she of course kept the whole house in hot water, for everybody was so busy that nobody could attend upon the poor sufferer; who, unable to call out, and having torn up her bell by the roots, was only able to attract attention to her wants by throwing every thing she could lay hands on about the room, more especially water-jugs, basins, physic bottles, and every vessel within her reach. Mrs. Cannon swore she was an unnatural child; and her sisters accused her of being ill-natured and jealous when she disturbed them in their important occupations. In short, the Tower of Babel, or the Commons on an Irish question, were nothing to Wick-Hall, in-doors and out-of-doors, where the young Cannons were grooming, and docking, and trimming, and figging their horses.

Mr. Commodus Cannon was the wisest of the party; he smoked his pipe, muddled over a bowl of punch, and only ordered his scratch wig to be curled tight, with the not unfrequent vulgar wish that the whole family might be blown to the same exiguous dimensions. He was ambitious, but he did not like to be bothered with any schemes but his own.

The day, the great day, big with the fate of the Cannons, was drawing nigh, and impatiently looked for, as a circumstance had taken place which gave the Wick-Hall family much to think of and inwardly digest.

Lady Tabby Catson, his lordship's aunt, was subject to night-mare and sleep-walking when in bed, and liable to fearful hysterics when out of it. Her case was altogether most distressing, since, according to her account, she could not lie on either side, was in agony when on her back, and distracted in any other position. A physician was called in, but, as he could only pay occasional visits, Mr. Hiccup was in constant attendance; and as the Ladies Catsons were well supplied with novels, and were of a most amiable disposition, Hiccup carried various new publications to his daughters, who immediately ran to show them to the Miss Cannons, calling the ladies by their Christian names with singular impertinence,—such a book having been lent by the beautiful Lady Arabella,—such a review by the lovely Lady Celestina. Moreover, Lady Tabby Catson, during the intermissions of her ailments, had fits of devotion that took her[157] like stitches in the side, when Mr. Muzzle was instantly sent for in one of the carriages. Thus were the curate and the surgeon in constant attendance, and many little acts of kindness shown to them by the family, such as presents of fruits and flowers, all of which passed under the windows of Wick-Hall like the fearful regal apparitions to Macbeth; and, what was still more offensive, the favoured families, even the attorney, Sniffnettle, began to grow rigid in their vertebræ though in the heat of summer, walking past the Cannons with a mere nod of recognition, and preserving an insulting perpendicularity.

There was no time to lose in recovering their lost ground, and the day for commencing a campaign that would terminate in the utter discomfiture of these vulgar intruders was fast approaching. But, alas for human and mortal hopes! one hour,—nay, one half-hour,—one quarter,—the time of reading a letter on foolscap paper, on letter paper, on note paper, only a few lines written in an intelligible unauthor-like hand, that required neither time nor spectacles, a hand that could be read running,—and all the airy fabric of the Cannons' visions was dissolved.

It was on a Friday morning, the day previous to the intended visit,—one of those unlucky days in the calendar of human disappointments, the fifth day of the month, which, according to Hesiod, is inevitably calamitous; a day that gave birth to Pluto and the Eumenides; a day when the earth brought forth the monster Typhon, and those vile giants who dared the Father of the gods,—on this day did Mr. Commodus Cannon draw on his stockings the wrong side, the eldest Miss Cannon—I know not why or wherefore—took a morning walk among the nettles, and her sister Biddy spilled salt at breakfast, forgetting to propitiate the angry heavens by casting some over her left shoulder. A thundering rap at the hall-door made the whole family jump, start, and stare. A footman in the Wittington livery was at the door! he delivered a letter! Oh! how all the young hearts did beat and leap! and how the old fount of circulation of Mrs. Cannon did palpitate, as in days of yore! Scarcely had the door been closed, when the whole family, with the exception of Mr. Cannon, who was buttering toast, rushed like a torrent, or a cataract, or any thing else you like, to secure the missive, anxious as they were to ascertain its contents. Much time was lost in scrambling for possession of the letter, snatched alternately from hand to hand without any regard to filial duty or the rights of primogeniture. At last the letter, be-buttered, be-honeyed, be-marmaladed, and be-egged, fell into the possession of Miss Cannon. But oh! horror! instead of the broad armorial seal of the noble earl, the note was wafered!—ay, gentle reader, wafered!—moreover, the wafer, still damp, had been broken, and bent, and divided, exhibiting evident marks of having been moistened by an abundant secretion of the salivary glands! Oh, fie, my Lord W.!

Philosophers and naturalists tell us there is a method in roasting eggs; now there is a method in closing letters, which has lately been adopted by a nobleman whom I have the honour to know, which may be considered a wrinkle in politeness. To his superiors, such as emperors, kings, popes, and newspaper editors, his lordship writes on coloured, perfumed, ornamented, and gilt-edged satin paper, and he closes his epistle with his armorials, six of which usually consume a stick of odoriferous wax. To his equals, though they are but few, he[158] writes on paper somewhat inferior, with a smaller seal. To his titled inferiors, plain note paper, with a crest and motto. To his untitled correspondents, half a sheet of letter paper (it must be cut in an uneven and ragged manner), with a fancy seal, that his noble blazon may not be polluted by vulgar eyes. To people in business, cits, snobs, a wafer—but still a wafer—gently dipped in water. But to solicitors, postulants, petitioners, and humble applicants, he actually spits in their faces in the same manner as the Earl of Wittington spat in the crimson phiz of all the Cannons. But the offence did not rest there. Mr. Cannon was on the superscription! ay, a plain Mr.! a Mr. that could only be washed out in blood! a Mr. that would even make a respectable tailor jump from his shopboard, and grasp his goose with proper indignation.

"Lord Wittington, wishing to become the purchaser of Mr. Cannon's paddock under Breakneck-Cliff, part of his domain, is willing to treat with him, and will direct his steward to call upon him. His lordship has been led to understand that Mr. Cannon's young men have been in the practice of shooting on his grounds; now his lordship wishes it to be distinctly understood that his keepers have received instructions to proceed with all the severity of the laws against trespassers."

Mrs. Cannon of course fell into fits; Commodus Cannon cast his scratch jasey into the fire; some of the young ladies rushed out of the room; others, in whom no rush had been left, drooped in or on various supporting parts of the furniture. The young men, as his lordship had dared to call Mr. Cannon's promising and amiable sons, bore the insult with all the calm dignity of men wantonly offended; they only bit their lips, turned pale and red, clenched their fists, and paced about the room at the rate of fourteen miles per hour, while the words "young men" were muttered and murmured in deadly indignation.

"I'll be d——d if the fellow ever gets my paddock! sooner see him, and all his seed, breed, and generation, tumbling off Breakneck-Cliff!"

The allocution of Leonidas to his Spartan heroes at the Thermopylæ could not have been more spirit-stirring than this short and pithy speech of Commodus Cannon; even Mrs. Cannon, forgetting, in a moment of just indignation, that female discretion that ought to characterise a lady's language, could not help supporting the vote by an amendment, exclaiming, "Ay, and doubly d——d too!"

"And, moreover," added Mr. Cannon, "I'll be blown if I don't stick my paddock chokefull of buck-wheat, and not leave the fellow a pheasant or a partridge,—that's what I will!"

It is difficult to say what dire plans of destruction and desolation might not have been suggested in the family council, had not another rap at the door, louder, if possible, and more authoritative than the footman's, interrupted the discussion. All and every one ran to the windows. Mr. Carrydot, Lord Wittington's steward, was at the entrance of Wick-Hall, and desired a private interview with Mr. Cannon.

Mrs. Cannon reluctantly swept out of the room, followed by all the young ladies and the young men.

Mr. Carrydot was a smart, dapper, little man, with a bald head, ferret eyes, aquiline nose tipped with purple, and with a prying countenance that would have picked out flaws in Magna Charta or the[159] Bill of Rights. His costume sable; but coat, waistcoat, and unavoidables to match, were all of a different black, more or less rusty and shining; his coat-sleeves, or rather cuffs, were short, and allowed his duty wristbands to be seen puckered up above his hairy and meagre hands, and bony, long, crooked fingers, with hooked nails in half mourning. How comes it that the coat-sleeves of certain petty attorneys and apothecaries are generally too short, save and excepting when they have donned their Sabbath and visiting raiment? It surely must arise from the usual practice of extending the arms beyond the limits of their restrictions whenever a body is going to perform some dirty business, possibly and probably that the said dirty business may not stain the cloth they wear, since a cloth may be respectable although the wearer may be as spotted as a panther. Mr. Carrydot walked, or rather stalked in; and, without a bow or a preamble, seated himself, without being asked to take a seat.

Cannon looked an encyclopedia of indignation.

"His lordship has directed me to call upon you, Mr. Cannon, regarding the approaching county election. You can command several votes, sir?"

"Of course, sir," replied Mr. Cannon, with a proper emphasis and conciseness.

"You are aware, sir, that his lordship intends to put up Mr. Elfin Eelback, of Stoop-Lodge?"

"Well, sir! what's that to me? What do I care for his lordship's candidate?"

Bravo, Cannon! Mrs. Cannon would have inflicted a kiss had she been present.

Mr. Carrydot's eyes glared with indignation, and beamed with ousters and ejectments, as he repeated the words, "What's that to you, sir!"

"Ay!" replied Cannon, giving the table a liberal thump. "What the devil is it to me?"

"Why, his lordship desires that you will vote for Mr. Eelback."

"Then tell his lordship that I'd sooner see Mr. Eelback skinned alive!"

Cannon was furious. Carrydot was calm, nay, he smiled; for the fury of Cannon spoke volumes of prospective foreclosures, and distresses, and rescous, and replevin, and denial; more especially as Cannon seemed to be a good man, with a silver urn and tea-pot on the table, and every appearance of wealth and independence about the goods and chattels on the premises. "You seem to forget, sir," he quietly replied, "that you only hold Wick-Hall upon a lease, and that your interest in the lease expires next Michaelmas."

This was a thunderbolt to Cannon, who had laid out upwards of three thousand pounds on Wick-Hall.

"What, sir, if I refuse to vote for this Eelback?"

"You must turn out, sir, nolens volens; so sayeth the law!"

"But justice, sir?"

"So sayeth the law. Every man has a right to do what he likes with his own, Mr. Cannon."

"What! whatever my political opinions may be?"

"You must poll for his lordship's candidate."

"This is infamous, oppressive, tyrannical!"

"Perhaps you may think so. Your politics, as you say, may differ from those of his lordship, but his lordship must be in the right.[160] Primò, he is lord of the manor; secundò, his property in the county is very considerable; and, ergo, he has a better right to know what is good for the people than a mere tenant."

"But, sir, he has no right—"

"Once more, sir, every one has a right to do what he likes with his own."

"Then, let me tell you, sir," replied Mr. Cannon, in a paroxysm of rage, "that there cudgel is my own, and suppose I knocked you down with it? This here foot is my own, and suppose I kicked you out of my house, Mr. Thingembob?"

"In that case," replied Carrydot, with a tranquillity which would have made Job himself smash all his crockery,—"In that case, sir, if you made use of that there cudgel, as you call it, the law would soon make you cut your stick; and if you did make the aforesaid use of that there foot, unless you took leg-bail, you should pay dearly for the experiment."

So saying, Mr. Carrydot took an enormous pinch of snuff, clapped on his broad beaver with forensic dignity, pulled up his coat-sleeves still higher with a twisting thrust of the hand, ready for anything—as the Irish say—from pitch-and-toss to manslaughter, and bidding Cannon, in a vulgar language unbecoming a solicitor, to prepare "to tip his rags a gallop by roast-goose time," which in the dignified metaphorical phraseology of the bar meaneth Michaelmas, he left Commodus Cannon to his deep reflections.

He was roused from this apathetic state by the entrance of Mrs. Cannon. "Well, sir?" said she, in an anxious tone. "Well, sir?"

"Mrs. Cannon, I regret it, but we must have a revolution in this here slavish, this here degraded country!"

"Lord-a-mercy! what has happened?" replied his affrighted lady.

"It is not what has happened, madam," replied the regenerated free-born Briton; "it is what shall happen. By gums!—(he was already beginning to be somewhat puritanical and sanctified; the day before, nay, a few moments previous to Carrydot's entrance, he would have sworn by G—, like any duke or marquis,)—by gums! this here proud big-wig aristocracy must be brought down; nothing can save poor England but the abolition of this insolent peerage, these hereditary law-makers from father to son. I say, no peers! no bishops! no lords! a yearly parliament! universal sufferance!—(it is presumed he meant suffrage,)—vote by ballot! Throw up your pew, Mrs. Cannon! kick the tax-gatherer down stairs! I'll kick the fat gold-laced beadle myself! and tell Parson Muzzle that he's a humbug and a leech!"

Mrs. Cannon, and all the Cannons, great-guns and small-arms, were terrified, and fancied the worthy man was out of his senses. She proposed to send for Mr. Hiccup.

"Hiccup be d—d! Do you think, woman, that Hiccup would condescend to come to you and me were we kicking in fits, dying with the pip, or had swallowed a mutton-chop the wrong way? Hiccup is with his lordship, with the Most noble, the Right honourable the Earl of Wittington, the Right honourable the Lady Tabby Catson! If their noble fingers ached, 'twould be in the Gazette, so it would. If they got a surfeit from cramming turtle down their noble throats, it would be in the papers! Hiccup! the rascal! the Tory pill-gilder! wouldn't give a commoner, an independent citizen, or an[161] honest pauper, second-hand physic if a lord wanted him! No, not to save a fellow Christian's life!"

All this was inexplicable to the open-mouthed and alarmed family, when a sudden burst of tears followed this violent paroxysm; and the Cannon circle, drawing round their chief with becoming uneasiness, were soon made au fait to the full extent of the fresh indignities offered their name and fame.

What was to be done? To remain at Wick-Hall after such an insult would have been the height of degradation; to keep possession of it at the expense of conscience by voting for Mr. Eelback, an abnegation of a freeman's independence. All was doubt; and the thoughts of the Cannon family were, to use the words of Otway,

"Like birds, that, frighted from their rest,
Around the place where all was hush'd before,
Flutter, and hardly flutter, and hardly settle anywhere,"

when another nerve-upsetting rapping at the hall once more interrupted the busy circle. Mr. and Mrs. Grits were announced.

"Who is Mr. Grits?" exclaimed Mrs. Cannon.

The question was answered by Mrs. Grits in person; and in her, to her utter horror, Mrs. Cannon recognised the daughter of Mr. Suet, a carcase butcher, who had lived near them when Mr. C. was in the tallow line.

To see her at Muckford appeared to Mrs. Cannon as wonderful as though she had beheld the spirits of all the bullocks Mr. Suet had ever slaughtered scampering about Smithfield. The ex-Miss Suet explained matters. She had married Mr. Grits, a grocer, who had failed thrice, once a bankrupt, and twice an insolvent, by which means he had realised a tolerable independence; yet, for appearance sake, he preferred improving his condition with the means of others, and had travelled abroad as a maître d'hôtel, with the Wittingtons.

At another time,—nay, a few hours before their visit,—the Grits would not have been received; now, in the distressed state of the family, they were welcomed with cordiality.

But the mind sickens at the object of their visit,—to advise Mr. Cannon to accede to his lordship's proposals, and not irritate a powerful enemy by an idle show of independence!!—But to think of a reconciliation brought about by a butcher's daughter and a butler!—No, no, thrice no;—the breach was immeasurably widened. Mr. Cannon stuttered and stammered all the insults that had been heaped upon him. Mrs. Grits plainly saw that no pacification could be expected; and, although she expressed the utmost regret, she was inwardly delighted, as it did not exactly suit her views that she should be known to be a butcher's daughter. She, therefore, seizing both Mrs. Cannon's trembling hands in the kindest manner, attempted to console and advise her.

"I can readily imagine, my dear friend, how much this overbearing conduct of my lord should have annoyed you. Oh! he is as proud as Lucifer when he goes to open his parliament! It is such men, my dear, that make me abhor this horrible England."

"Ay, horrible England!" repeated Mr. Cannon with ferocity.

"I have lived too long in that dear delicious France, that belle France, to exist, or rather vegetate, in this abominable country."

This word, "France," acted like a magic spell; it seemed a password, a Shibboleth, an open sesame to regions of delight.


"Ay, France is the country! only ask Mr. Grits."

"Oh, there's nothing like it!" responded Mr. Grits, a jolly red-faced fellow, with an enormous abdomen, rendered more salient by a flapped white waistcoat.

"And such society, oh! such an opening for young people, oh! No one asks who and what you are, only have the caraways! Lord bless me! there was Mrs. Triplet, the pawnbroker of Islington's wife, married her daughter Peg to a French count; and Mr. Rumstuff, the tailor in the Minories, married his daughter to a general,—ay, a real general; and then, such living, and such society, and such amusements! Gardes du corps with such nice moustaches, and pâtés de truffes, and omelettes soufflées, and bals champêtres at Tivoli, and glasses at Tortoni's, and poulets à la crapaudine, and salmis de lièvre, and then, the masked-balls at the opera, oh! and des œufs à la neige, and des œufs au miroir! How many ways have the French of cooking eggs, Mr. G.?"

"Three hundred and forty-three, Mrs. G."

"Only think of that! I make Mr. G. live upon eggs à la coque, à la tripe. And then meat at fourpence per pound!"

"Fivepence halfpenny for prime joints, if you please, Mrs. G." added Mr. G.

"And such poultry! such capons! You have no capons in England, my dear. Bless us, they don't know what's what! and so many delicious ways of cooking them, chapon à la barbare, chapon à la Veluti, chapon au parfait amour; and then, the Hussars, and the Lancers, and the horse and foot dragoons. Oh! women there may do whatever they like! and girls may string lovers like a brochette of ortolans!"

In short, Mrs. Grits gave such a flattering account of France, its pleasures, its cookery, and its economy, that it was decided that to France the family should go. Mr. Cannon said he was too old to learn to parlez-vous, but the ladies procured grammars and dictionaries, to brush up their boarding-school education; and in ten days the whole family were packed up in three travelling carriages, and set out for Dover; their only domestics, Sam Surly, a Yorkshire coachman, and Sukey Simper, a Kentish maid, whom we shall again find on the road.

Such is the ingratitude of mankind that all Muckford was delighted with their departure. "Hurrah! All the Cannons are gone off!" exclaimed Mr. Sniffnettle.

Lady Tabby Catson died soon after, leaving a handsome legacy to Mr. Hiccup, the surgeon. Muzzle got a living, and resided at Wick-Hall, the name of which he changed into Cushion-Lodge, alluding, no doubt, to the otium he enjoyed. Sniffnettle was made under-steward of Lord Wittington's estate; and Mr. Grits opened an inn at the sign of the Mitre, opposite Cushion-Lodge, and, as the Rev. Mr. Muzzle had been appointed tutor to the youngest of the honourable Catsons, whenever he saw the sign bearing the episcopal diadem swinging in the wind, despite all humility, a warrantable ambition would often lead him to an association of ideas in which a crosier acted as a favourite crotchet; nay, in his sleep sometimes Queen Mab would tickle his nose until he dreamt of bishopricks, congés d'élire, and visitation dinners, and then he would suddenly awake and terrify Mrs. Muzzle, roaring out "Nolo Episcopari!"



"And Laughter holding both his sides."—Milton.

If you were to ask a learned physician to explain to you the peculiar sensation termed laughter, it is more than likely he would astonish you with an amazing profundity of erudition, ending in the sage conclusion that he knows nothing more about the matter than that it is a very natural emotion of the senses, generally originating with a good joke, and not unfrequently terminating in a fit of indigestion. If he happened to be (as there are many) a priggish quack, it is not unlikely he would add as a sequel, that it was a most injurious and unmannerly indulgence, particularly favouring a determination of blood to the head, and decidedly calculated to injure the fine nerves of the facial organ! If, on the contrary, he should be a good, honest follower of Galen, he would not fail to pronounce it the most fearful enemy to his profession, as being altogether incompatible with physic and the blues, and, by way of illustration, he might go so far as to read a chapter of Tom Hood's best, in order to prove the strength of his position.

Laughter—good, hearty, cheerful-hearted laughter—is the echo of a happy spirit, the attribute of a cloudless mind. Life without it were without hope, for it is the exuberance of hope. It is an emotion possessed by man alone,—the happy light that relieves the dark picture of life.

We laugh most, when we are young; the thoughts are then free and unfettered, there is nothing to bind their fierce impulse, and we sport with the passions with the bold daring of ignorance. Smiles and tears, it has been observed, follow each other like gloom and sunshine; so the childish note of mirth treads on the heels of sorrow. It was but yesterday we noticed a little urchin writhing apparently in the agony of anguish; he had been punished for some trivial delinquency, and his little spirit resented it most gloriously. How the young dog roared! His little chest heaved up and down; and every blue vein on his pure forehead was apparent,—bursting with passion. Anon, a conciliatory word was addressed to him by the offended gouvernante; a smile passed over the boy's face; his little eyes, sparkling through a cloud of tears, were thrown upwards; a short struggle between pride and some other powerful feeling ensued; and then there burst forth such a peal of laughter, so clear, so full, so round, it would have touched the heart of a stoic!

Our natural passions and emotions become subdued, or altogether changed, as we enter the world. The laugh of the schoolboy is checked by the frown of the master. He is acquiring wisdom, and wisdom (ye Gods, how dearly bought!) is incompatible with laughter. But still, at times, when loosened from his shackles, the pining student will burst forth as in days gone by: but he has no longer the cue and action for passion he then had; the cares of the world have already mingled themselves in his cup, and his young spirit is drooping beneath their influence. The laughter of boyhood is a merry carol; but the first rich blush has already passed away. The boy[164] enters the world, full of the gay buoyancy of youth. He looks upon those he meets as the playmates of other hours. But Experience teaches him her lessons; the natural feelings of his heart are checked; he may laugh and talk as formerly, but the spell, the dreams that cast such a halo round his young days, are dissipated and broken.

There are fifty different classes of laughers. There is your smooth-faced politic laugher, your laugher by rule. These beings are generally found within the precincts of a court, at the heels of some great man, to whose conduct they shape their passions as a model. Does his lordship say a bon mot, it is caught up and grinned at in every possible manner till, the powers of grimace expended, his lordship is pleased to change the subject, and strike a different chord. And it is not astonishing. Who would refuse to laugh for a pension of two hundred a year? Common gratitude demands it.

There is, then, your habitual laugher, men who laugh by habit, without rhyme or reason. They are generally stout, piggy-faced gentlemen, who eat hearty suppers, and patronise free-and-easys. They will meet you with a grin on their countenance, which, before you have said three sentences, will resolve itself into a simper, and terminate finally in a stentorian laugh. These men may truly be said to go through life laughing; but habit has blunted the finer edges of their sympathies, and their mirth is but the unmeaning effusion of a weak spirit. These personages generally go off in fits of apoplexy, brought on by excessive laughter on a full stomach!

There is, then, your discontented cynical laugher, who makes a mask of mirth to conceal the venom of his mind. It is a dead fraud that ought not to be pardoned. Speak to one of these men of happiness, virtue, &c. he meets you with a sneer, or a bottle-imp kind of chuckle; talk to him of any felicitous circumstance, he checks you with a sardonic grin, that freezes your best intentions. He is a type of the death's head the Egyptians placed at their feasts to check exuberant gaiety.

There is, then, your fashionable simperer, your laugher à-la-mode, your inward digester of small jokes and tittle-tattle. He never laughs,—it is a vulgar habit; the only wonder is, that he eats. People, he will tell you, should overcome these vulgar propensities; they are abominable. A young man of this class is generally consumptive, his lungs have no play, he is always weak and narrow-chested; he vegetates till fifty, and then goes off, overcome with a puff of eau de rose, or millefleur, he has encountered accidentally from the pocket-handkerchief of a cheesemonger's wife!

Last of all, there is your real, good, honest laugher; the man who has a heart to feel and sympathize with the joys and sorrows of others; who has gone through life superior to its follies, and has learnt to gather wisdom even from laughter. Such are the men who do honour to society, who have learnt to be temperate in prosperity, patient in adversity; and, who, having gathered experience from years, are content to drink the cup of life mingled as it is, to enjoy calmly the sweeter portion, and laugh at the bitter.

There is a strange affinity in our passions. The heart will frequently reply to the saddest intelligence by a burst of the most unruly laughter, the effigy of mirth. It seems as though the passion, like a[165] rude torrent, were too strong to pursue its ordinary course; but, breaking forth from the narrow channel that confined it, rushed forth in one broad impetuous stream. It is the voice of anguish that has chosen a different garb, and would cheat the sympathies. But we have ourselves been demonstrating the truth of our last proposition; for we have been writing on laughter till we have grown sad. But what says the old song?

"To-night we'll merry, merry be,
To-morrow we'll be sober."

So sadness, after all, is but joy deferred.


Wine! wine! fill up
The sparkling cup
With champagne hissing to the brim;
For wit, and joy, and rapture, swim
In bumpers. The grape's blood is mine;
I'll steep my heart in it till it shine
With the warm flush
The purple blush
Of wine!
Wine! wine! the frown
Of Care we'll drown
In deep libations to the God
Who planted first on Nysa's sod
The branches of the illustrious vine.
Bacchus, we worship at thy shrine!
In Pleasure's bowers
Swift fly the Hours
Whose wings are wash'd with wine!
Wine! wine! the brow
Is mantling now;
The eye is flashing with "the flow
Of soul," the cheek has caught its glow;
The lips are breathing words divine,
While wreaths of song around them twine
In glorious lays,
Chaunting the praise
Of racy wine!
Wine! wine! fill up
And quaff the cup
To lovely woman! Drink again
To all bold festive souls who drain
The crystal bowl, and wear the sign
Of bacchanals. Hurrah! we're there,
Thou soul of joy!
Immortal boy!
God of immortal wine!




I alighted with my friend at the caravanserai where the coach had stopped, and there he advised me to put up for the night, promising to come on the following morning to assist me in procuring a lodging.

"But first tell me," said I, "who are the two persons who were so violently opposed to each other."

"The fair man," said he, "is one of our omrahs or lords; the other is one of the middle ranks, who has made himself conspicuous by advocating the cause of the people. Our whole country is principally divided into two factions, holding their opinions. There is also a moderate set who do not partake of their violence, but unfortunately their voice is not sufficiently heard. But we will talk more upon these matters again," said he, and then left me.

The next day he came, and without much difficulty succeeded in settling me in a lodging, where I found everything prepared to receive me, as well as if the Shah's chief tent-pitcher had preceded me to give the requisite orders. The English habits, which I had acquired when here before in the days of our embassy, returned as fast as I recognised the objects which before had been familiar to my sight, but which had been much obliterated by my absence in Persia. I again sat upon chairs instead of my heels; again I ate with knives and forks instead of my fingers; and once more I found myself called upon to walk about upon my own legs with the activity of a Franc, instead of making use of a horse to take me daily to attend the Shah's selam, or to sit at the Royal Gate in attendance upon the Grand Vizier.

I had always a memory for localities; places which I had once seen I scarcely ever forgot; thus I was at no loss to find my way about the city. Of the language I remembered enough to make myself understood; and so far I felt independent, and needed not the attendance of a mehmander. I thanked my friend Jan for all his kindness; and assured him, whenever I was in any difficulty, or whenever I required information upon matters relating to his country, I would not fail to call upon him.

The lodgings in which I had taken up my abode were situated in a large house that looked upon a garden inclosed by iron spikes. It was a better sort of caravanserai, greatly resorted to by people of all nations; Francs, from different parts of Frangistan, who spoke each their different language, and adapted themselves as well as they could to the manners of the English. I was visited by the landlord, a well-looking, well-spoken man, and his wife, an elderly lady, who, having come once to see,[167] as the English frequently say, that I was comfortable, did not again trouble me by their presence. I occupied two rooms; one to sit in and receive my guests, the other to sleep in. My servant, Mahboob, slept in another room close to mine.

My first care was to walk out to take a survey of the city, in order to discover those symptoms of ruin and poverty which I had so frequently been assured were spreading over England, and marking her downfall. I soon found myself in a street, of whose magnificence I had no recollection. It seemed composed of entirely new houses. The shops, which were opened on each side, were so brilliant, and seemed to be so overflowing with merchandise and riches of all sorts, that my senses seemed to have escaped from my head as I looked on in astonishment; and ever and anon I found myself standing with my finger in my mouth, exclaiming, "Bah! bah! bah!" "Is this decay?" thought I. "Can this people be really on the brink of ruin? There must be something more in this than I can understand." The street was positively more thronged with men and women than even one of the most crowded bazars of Ispahan. I saw more carriages, more horses, more carts, and more stir, than I recollected to have seen when here before. Every one seemed busy, and bustled along, as if all depended upon their haste. Whence they were coming, whither going, who could say? Were they all thinking of ruin, or were they bent upon happiness? I was longing to stop and ask each person what had happened, so very uncommon was this state of things compared with what I had been accustomed to witness in my own country, or even in the European countries through which I had travelled. I continued to walk through this astonishing street, thinking I should never come to the end of it, when I reached a magnificent opening, where, to my still greater astonishment, I discovered an unbounded prospect of dazzling white palaces, standing amidst gardens and fields, and looking like the habitations of the blessed in the seventh heaven promised to us by the Prophet. "Can this be decay?" again I exclaimed. "These people must have a different way of going to ruin, to the one which I have been accustomed to contemplate. In my country ruin speaks for itself. At Ispahan we see whole districts of broken walls which once were houses, tottering mosques, deserted baths, and untenanted caravanserais. But here, in the short space of twelve years, here is a new creation; unbounded prosperity seems here to speak for itself; and, if this be a country of paupers, what are we to call riches?"

As I was turning my steps homewards, I was struck all at once with the conviction that I was near the spot (a spot which had never left my imagination) where, enamoured as I then was of the moonfaced Bessy, I proposed marriage to that heart-enslaver. I looked about me, and recognised the very portal where, under a mutual umbrella,—as it poured with rain,—I[168] told her of my love. I recollected that, not very far off, in this same street, lived her father, and mother, and family; and I determined forthwith to seek them out, and to renew my acquaintance. I paced along the street, looking upon every house with uplifted eyes, in the hope of discovering some sign by which I might recognise it; but the buildings were all so hopelessly alike that I began to despair of hitting upon the right knocker. It came to my mind that a lion's head held the knocker, because I had compared it in former days to the face of the mamma Hogg herself; but, upon inspecting the knockers, they all had lions' heads. What was to be done? "I will try what Fate will do for me," thought I. So, judging that I was somewhere near the spot, I boldly walked up to a door, and gave a knock which, I remembered to have been told, indicated a man of consequence, and, as it turned out, I was not mistaken. The door was opened, not by a well-dressed servant, as it used to be, but by an old woman, who was so surprised at seeing my strange figure that she would have shut it in my face had I not quickly exclaimed,

"Is Mr. Hogg at home?"

"Mr. Hogg!" she exclaimed, in an astonished voice. "Mr. Hogg has been dead ever so long. Can't you see by the hatchment?" Upon which she pointed to a painting fixed upon the outside of the house, which explained to me, what I had never known before, that, when an Englishman dies, it is the custom to make a painting, as I supposed, explanatory of the history of his life; for, afterwards, in contemplating the said performance, I remarked a boar's head at the top, whilst certain little swine seemed to be scattered about, evidently indicating the name and origin of the family.

"But Mrs. Hogg is not dead too?" said I; "where is she, and Mrs. Figsby?"

"La! sir; you're the Persian prince, I declare," said the old woman, "of whom we all talk so much about." Upon which, she immediately undertook to give me a history of the family since I had left England. The father Hogg, it seems, had died not many months ago of apoplexy; his widow was living in a neighbouring street, in a small house, with her eldest daughter, who was still unmarried. Mrs. Figsby (alas! my own Bessy!) occupied a handsome house nearly opposite to the one at the door of which I now stood, and which the old woman pointed out to me; the youngest daughter had married, and lived in the country.

Leaving the old woman, I immediately crossed the street, and knocked at the Figsby gate, not without a certain palpitation of the heart. It was opened by a brilliantly-dressed servant in a gaudy kalaat, with a thick paste of white dust upon his head, and a bunch of ropes as thick as tent-ropes at his shoulder. Two others stood in the hall.


"Is Mrs. Figsby at home, by the blessing of the Prophet?" said I.

He said "Yes," with hesitation, eyeing me well from head to foot; and, delivering me over to the keeping of another man without a kalaat, I was walked up stairs. When we came to the head of the stairs, he stopped, and asked,

"Who shall I say?"

"Mirza Hajji Baba," I answered, recollecting well the whole ceremonial.

Upon which he opened the door, and exclaimed aloud, as well as I could understand, "Mister Hatchababy,"—or some such name.

"Mister who?" exclaimed a female within, whom, when I entered, I immediately recognised to be my former love, the moonfaced Bessy. But, oh! now different from the lovely Bessy I had known her! Instead of that light cypress-waisted figure which had charmed me so much, she was now grown into a woman fat enough to be a Turk's wife. Her cheeks were rounded into coarse cushions, behind which reposed her almost secluded eyes. The beautiful throat of former days was scolloped into graduated ridges; and those arms, which formerly were lovely by themselves, were now so bound over with broad belts of golden bracelets, that they looked like the well-fitted hoops of a wine-cask. The hair, which flowed in ringlets over her brow and down her cheeks, was now confined to two lumps of curls, which were placed in a dense cluster on either side of her forehead; and her whole person, which formerly gave her the appearance of a Peri, now exhibited a surface agreeable only to the silk-mercer and the milliner who were called upon to clothe it.

A faint blush threw itself out over her forehead when she perceived me, and she immediately came forward with her hand extended, and welcomed me back to her country with great sincerity. She expressed all sorts of surprises at seeing me, particularly as I had never been announced in the public newspapers; assured me that Mr. Figsby, who was not at home, would be delighted to see me; sent for her children, and exhibited a vast number to me of all sizes, boys and girls; and repeated to me what I had just heard from the old woman, the circumstances in which her family were placed.

I expressed my satisfaction at seeing her so richly circumstanced in the world, and that she should have made a marriage with a man who seemed to be a favourite of Fortune, and whose luck appeared to be ever on the rise. At this she sighed, and her features assumed a saddened expression.

"'Twas true," she said, "that Figsby could not complain, and that, as long as it lasted, it was all very well. But, prince!" she exclaimed, "this is not the country you once knew it to be! Things are sadly altered! The people have got a reform, 'tis true; and Figsby is rejoiced, and hopes to be returned for Marylebone,[170] and, who knows whether he may not sit in the cabinet one of these days? But the aristocracy they won't be quiet, do what you will, and they will drive us on to a revolution at last, and oblige us to put them down, and divide all their property amongst us; and, you know, that will be sad work, particularly if Figsby should be made a lord before it takes place."

All this was new language to me, and brought to my mind the conversation which I had heard in the coach. "What news is this?" thought I, "that women should thus talk the language of viziers, and mix themselves in the business of state!"

"I thought that Figsby Sahib was a grocer," said I, to his much-altered wife.

"A grocer, indeed!" said she, with considerable angry emphasis. "He is a West-India merchant! A grocer, indeed!"

"How long is it," said I, "since he has left his private business for public life?"

"Don't you know," said she, "the changes which have taken place since you were here last? Rotten boroughs and nomination boroughs have been abolished. Schedule A. and schedule B. have been all the fashion of late; we talk of nothing else; and there are to be members for Marylebone, and Figsby is canvassing as hard as he can; and I am sure, prince, if you can help him with a vote, you will."

"A vote!" said I, "what does that mean?"

"It means," she answered, with some hesitation, "that you wish Figsby may become a member of parliament, and sit in the house, and make speeches, and give franks, and all that."

"If it is only to wish your husband may be all you desire," said I, "in the name of the Imams you shall have my vote, and welcome."

"That's right!" said Bessy; "that's right! that's being an old friend in truth. I knew that you would be on the right side, and stick up for the people."

"But who is the people? is he a new Shah, or what?"

"Oh, the people!" said she; "the people! they are the sovereign people! They are all the men and women you see walking about; they want their rights—their rights—that's all!"

"All the men and women walking about!" exclaimed I. "What news is this? They have got a king already. What do they want more?"

"They have, 'tis true," said she; "but what is that without their rights?"

"I don't know what you mean about their rights," said I; "but we have a Shah, and I know that if any Persian wanted anything more, and talked about his rights, all that he would get for his pains would be the felek—a good bastinado on the soles of his feet; that's what he would get."

"Oh, la!" said Mrs. Figsby, "that may do for Persians, but[171] it won't do for Englishmen. They must be fairly represented; and, if such men as Figsby are not elected, it is a great shame, and the country will go to rack and ruin."

At this stage of our conversation a knocking at the door was heard, and soon after entered the moonfaced Bessy's husband. I immediately recognised my former rival, but great changes had taken place in his person also. In former days he was happy to be allowed to take the lowermost place in the mejlis or assembly; now he walked in with an air of consequence and protection. He came into the room with a noise and bustle; his boots creaked most independently; he was all over chains; and seemed strangled from the tightness of his clothes. He soon got over his surprise at seeing me; and, before he had done shaking my hand, he exclaimed,

"All is going as it ought to be! I have been at the meeting. I made such a speech, Bessy, you would have been quite charmed. There is no doubt of my coming in. We shall beat the Tories hollow."

"That is charming!" said his overjoyed wife. "Then you will be an M.P., and who knows what else! And here is the prince," said she, "who is ready to give you his vote."

"That's right!" said the entranced grocer. "That's very kind of him! But stop! let me see; are you a ten-pound householder? is your name stuck up against the church-door? and have you paid your shilling?"

"Allah! Allah!" I exclaimed. "What do I know of all this? I am nothing but a Persian Mirza. I am ignorant of your ten-pounds, your church-doors, and your shillings. Do leave off this child's play, and let us talk of other things."

"Other things!" cried one.

"Child's play!" exclaimed the other.

"It is the only thing now thought of," said the man.

"It is of the greatest consequence to the state, and to Marylebone, that Figsby should be elected!" vociferated the lady.

I found that I had put my unlucky leg foremost on this occasion, and so I thought of making my retreat; but, before I did so, after having observed a look of recognition between husband and wife, Mr. Figsby stept up to me, and said,

"We shall have a few of my political friends to dine with me in a few days; I hope, prince, that we may be honoured with your company?"

I said, "Inshallah! please Allah!" and then returned to my home.


I returned to my lodging full of thought. What with the conversations I had heard in the coach, what with the strange sayings of Mrs. Figsby and her husband, I began to have my eyes a little more opened than they were before. I considered[172] that, notwithstanding the flourishing exterior of things, and the general appearances of prosperity which had struck my eyes, there might be truth in the rumours which had been so current in Persia, that England was declining fast in greatness, and was on the brink of ruin. I had occasionally seen madmen in my own country, from whose brain all sense had fled when their minds were bent upon a particular subject, but who still upon others were rational, and acted like sane men. "May not that be the case here?" thought I; "and, if all the nation has run mad by one common consent upon this desire of change, they may have sapped the foundation of their real happiness and prosperity, although they still build fine houses and exhibit resplendent shops."

I determined, in conformity to my instructions from the asylum of the universe, to present my letters to the English vizier; to have a conversation with him, and then to settle whether I should deliver the fortunate letter, of which I was the bearer, from the king of kings to the King of England. Accordingly, I proceeded to a certain dark and obscure street, where, on former occasions, I recollected the sovereign had ordered his vizier to receive the ambassadors and ministers of foreign powers, and there to transact their business, and, sure enough, I found things just as I had left them; thus far there had been no reform. I found no parade of guards, executioners, officers, or heralds; but one little man seated in a great leather chair, and through his interference I was introduced into a dark room, without a single word of welcome being said, not even "Good morning," and "Fine day;" and there I was left until the vizier could speak to me.

I waited what appeared to me a long time,—quite long enough to consider, if this was an English palace, what must be an English prison! At length another infidel invited me to follow him, and, after having been paraded through a few rooms, I found myself in the presence of one whom I first took for the vizier, but who I soon found was only his deputy. He was very kind and civil, and asked my business in courteous language; upon which I told him that I was just arrived from the foot of the Persian throne, and was the bearer of a letter to the English vizier, as well as to his royal master. He seemed pleased at this information; but he asked me a question which made the wind fly out of my head.

"Pray, sir," said he, "do you bring us any letter from our minister in Persia? I do not think that we have been apprised of your mission."

Upon this I stroked down my beard, and, searching in the depths of my wit for a ready answer, I answered that I was despatched from the imperial stirrup as a courier, and not as a minister. "I have no letter but this;" upon which I drew from my breast the grand vizier's letter, which I delivered into his[173] hand. He was at a loss whilst he unrolled it, for he evidently did not know the top from the bottom; and all communication must have ceased between us, had I not possessed the translation, which I had prudently caused to be made at Tabriz by one of my own countrymen who had received his education in England.

This, the vizier's deputy read over very attentively; and, as he read, I observed certain smiles break out on his features, from which I augured favourably. He then desired me to wait, whilst he took up the papers, and left the room to lay them before his chief, saying not a word of his own opinion upon their contents.

He soon returned, and, asking me to follow, he led the way into an adjacent room, where I found the English vizier in person. The appearance and manners of this personage were full of charm; and, although a man in his high office had usually the power of awing me into fear and diffidence of myself, still I felt no other sensations than what were agreeable when he addressed me.

"I have been reading strange things in this letter," said the vizier. "I am informed that my country is on the brink of ruin, and that his majesty the Shah, apprehending disaster might accrue to my own sovereign, has been pleased to offer him an asylum at his gate."

"That is, in truth, the object of my mission," said I. "You have spoken right."

"But how," said the vizier, "has this information travelled to Persia? It is new to me, as it is, I believe, to every member of his majesty's government."

"How do I know?" I answered, with some little confusion; for, in truth, I began to feel that I had come upon a fool's errand, and was about to swallow much abomination. "Our news in Persia is not printed every day upon paper as it is here, but comes to us as it may please the will of Allah! The asylum of the universe, upon whom be blessings! who knows all, and does all for the good of his subjects, was convinced of the fact; the same was confirmed by all strangers arriving at his imperial gate; and it was announced by the English minister himself that a great change was about to take place in his country; that old counsels, which had been followed since the recollection of the most ancient greybeards of the country, were about to be abolished and replaced by new; and that a certain thing, called People, whether man or beast we never could discover, was on the point of obtaining supremacy, and despoiling your reverend monarch, for whom the king of kings entertains the highest friendship, of his ancient hereditary throne."

"Your news," observed the vizier, "was partly right, and partly false. That a change has taken place in the government of this country," said he, "is true; and our minister's[174] words are confirmed. A change has taken place; but change does not argue total destruction."

Recollecting that I was here at the fountain-head of information, and that the vizier's words were words to be repeated to the king of kings, I inquired, "As I am less than the least, may it please you to inform your slave what is this change?"

"The principal change has been in giving the people a better means than they had before of making their wishes known through their representatives. You know, of course," said he, "what our 'parliament' means?"

"Yes," said I. "I believe I am right in saying that a representative means a man who is supposed to be a concentrated essence of the thousands and tens of thousands of those who choose him; and that he cries out 'black' or 'white' as the fit seizes him. A collection of such men means a parliament."

"You have a tolerable notion of what I mean," said the vizier, smiling. "Now, certain of these representatives could only cry out 'black' or 'white' as it choosed to please, not themselves, but certain khans or omrahs of our country, who sent them instead of the people. That is the principal change we have made."

"I understand—I understand!" I exclaimed, as if a new light had opened upon me. "The omrahs, therefore, are displeased, and cry out 'Ruin!' and the people are overjoyed, and cry out, 'We are sovereigns;' and both are wrong."

The vizier seemed greatly amused with my great discovery, and then entered into certain long explanations concerning the various topics which I had heard discussed between the smooth and rough infidels whom I had met in the coach, and which only tended to obscure the great conclusion to which I had come by the light of my own wit. I allowed him to talk, and he seemed pleased to do so, as if he were defending himself from imputations, and of which, in truth, I understood not one word. However, he seemed amazingly struck, when, in rising to go, I said,

"It is plain, then, that some great mistake has been committed somewhere; otherwise, why should this great country be so terribly torn from one end of it to the other by animosities, which seem to have led it to the brink of anarchy?"

"No great change," said he, "can take place without producing a great shock of interests and opinions, and consequently animosities."

"And that is just what a good and wise government ought to avoid," said I. "Our Shah is called Zil Allah, the Shadow of the Almighty; and, according to the saying of one of our ancient sages, the acts of a king ought to follow the same course perceivable in the dispensations of Providence, and in the laws by which God, the great and good, directs the fates of his creatures.[175] All changes in government ought to be as gradual as changes in the seasons. If a great change takes place without a previous preparation of the people's minds, and an almost imperceptible one in their habits, of course the sudden transition will produce a shock so violent, that the mischief may perhaps be without remedy. If, during the heats of summer, the Almighty were to give this globe a sudden accelerated turn, and throw us at once into the snows of winter, the effects might almost produce sudden death upon one half of his creatures; but he allows the intervening autumn gradually to blend the two extremes, and thus produces a healthy action in the operations of nature."

He did not seem so much struck by the wisdom of this speech as I was, and I was about leaving him, when I recollected the letter with which I was charged from the Shah-en-Shah, the king of kings, and asked when I should deliver it. He paused a little in thought, and then said,

"Perhaps it may be as well that we hear something from our minister in Persia before you deliver your letter." Upon which, seeing that my countenance was turned upside down, he said, with great kindness of manner, "There will be no harm done if you deliver it immediately. The King of England is ready to receive the application of every one, from the peasant in the field to the greatest potentate."



He kept a store,
A place of refuge to which all might fly
In the dark hour of bleak adversity,
When sunshine friends, like summer birds, had flown.
He was misfortune's shield,—a goodly man!
In fact, so kind a soul could scarce be found;
For he would lend to any graceless wight
A sum of money, and would never ask
His bond or bill, or even say "Be sure
To pay me this again next week, or so."
He never craved a debtor in his life!
* * * * *
Around his house, in many a goodly pile,
All sorts of wares were ranged in order nice,
Shoes, hats, great-coats, and gowns, with many pairs
Of certain parts of dress (not pantaloons),
Which, it is said, some married females wear.
Above his door
Invitingly were hung three golden balls,
As if to say, "Who pennyless would go?"
Here is a banking-house, whence every man
Who has an article to leave behind,
May draw for cash, nor fear his cheque unpaid.
Ah me! full many an ungrateful wight
In this same store, without a sigh or tear,
Parted his bosom friend, altho' he knew
That friend must dwell among the unredeemed.




Whoever has walked round St. Paul's church-yard must have had good evidence of the wind being always boisterous there, on the most balmy day of spring, in summer's more sultry hour, in autumn's bracing time, or in winter's chilling air; all tides and every season bear strong testimony that the wind is ever blowing there, not in those gentle gales that love to play and wanton round other edifices, but in such rude, boisterous burstings, that the traveller is fain to look to his footing, and put up with a blow which is neither to be parried nor returned. I cannot fix the precise date, but it was during the last century, that a bit of a breeze was kicked up in the higher circles among the Winds; and, from the strife that ensued, more serious consequences seemed to threaten than were at first apprehended. Whether the East was intent on going westward, or the North determined on veering to the south, is of trifling import. From words the disputants nearly came to blows, and the weathercocks were sadly put to their shifts during all the changes that occurred: those who consulted them found how little attention was paid to the cardinal points, which from time immemorial had been considered their cardinal virtues; in short, it was impossible to tell which way the wind lay. Nothing was to be heard among them but wranglings, wailings, and contentions.

"As for you," roared old Boreas, addressing a mild-looking individual personifying the South wind, "a poor, soft, effeminate creature, only fit to breathe o'er a bed of violets, what, in the name of all that's trifling, can you possibly presume to know?"

"I may not be so bluff as you, nor so excellent a bully," replied the other; "yet I flatter myself that I am equally esteemed by mankind."

"Doubtless! by old maids, invalids, and anglers."

"And I prefer their welcome to the maledictions so lavishly heaped upon you, by the aged, the gouty, and the suffering," was the rejoinder.

"Fie! fie!" lisped the West wind, an exquisite of the most exclusive order. "If you persist, I shall positively arraign you at the bar of good breeding and fashion."

"Which I believe is not situated on my side Temple-bar," exclaimed the East, in a tone that reminded one of the equinox.

"Your intimacy with the bar is confined to the Old Bailey," chirruped his opponent, who commenced,

"Cease rude Boreas, blustering railer:
List ye."

At this personal attack the North looked particularly black, and the East BLEW with increased violence.

"How the puppy squalls!" said the latter, in reference to the singing.


"Rather more melodious than your howling," replied the tormentor; for the West wind is occasionally pretty sharp when its powers are exerted.

With this slight specimen you may suppose that the Winds began to get very high; ill-natured replies followed angry remarks; while the East wind distributed his usual cutting retorts with unsparing profusion. In short, the only subject on which they appeared agreed was to perform "The Storm," ad libitum, with hail and rain accompaniments. There is an old adage, "as busy as the Devil in a high wind:" how busy that may be, let others determine; but truly his Satanic Majesty was never more occupied than on this memorable occasion, for he seemed to have possessed the contending parties with an implacable spirit of opposition, and contrived to divide his influence so impartially that each played the very devil with the other. When the uproar had sufficiently subsided to permit observation, it was clearly apparent that the North, as was his wont, rather sided with the East, and the South as plainly inclined to the West; so, after amusing himself with their differences, the crafty instigator of the feud proposed that the affair should be permitted to blow over, and, by way of cooling themselves, that the four Winds should accompany him on a stroll through London streets, towards the City; where he promised them plenty of adventures, with many sights worthy their attention. After a few more gusts of passion exhibited by the North and East, venting their spite upon their more peaceful opponents, the party set forth on their ramble, with something like outward decency of demeanour, although opposition and dissatisfaction were rankling in their hearts. Their cicerone pointed to a plot of ground in Hyde Park.

"Here," said he, "will be erected an imperishable monument to that greatest of modern heroes, the victor of a hundred fights. In every land shall his matchless deeds be known, and his fame proclaimed by——"

"The four Winds!" exclaimed they all.

"Yonder will be his town-residence," resumed their guide, "the scarcely less than princely mansion of the nation's idol; yet, so evanescent is popularity, and so great is the distinction between civil matters and military, that coming years will display his windows barricaded against the assaults of that people whose opinions are as changeable as the——"

"What?" said his hearers in a breath, ready to take offence should he indulge in any personal allusion.

"As changeable as—as the weather."

"Oh!" exclaimed the East, with a significant whistle, that sounded very like the blast of a war-trumpet.

They walked some distance without further remark, until reaching Pall-Mall.

"This," said the Devil, directing their attention to a range of buildings on the right, "this will ere long disappear. Of yon regal habitation, the scene of revelry and delight, not a vestige will remain; vast local improvements will be completed, magnificent residences erected; and here a lofty column shall be raised, on whose 'tall pillar, pointing to the skies,' will be placed the statue of a princely commander——"


"Who will doubtless be highly indebted to the people," observed the North, in his most unpleasant manner.

"And what may be that heavy-looking temple opposite?" inquired the East, pointing to the Opera-house.

"That is celebrated as the resort of beauty, rank, wealth, and fashion."

Here the West wind nodded his assent, as if perfectly cognisant of affairs so particularly appertaining to his quarter of the metropolis.

"Where the aristocracy of this kingdom assemble to lavish their wealth and favours on foreign artistes, as they are called, while native industry and talent are neglected and unrequited. But my sentimentality outruns my prudence; I patronise the Opera, notwithstanding," said the Devil.

"And I," said the West.

Continuing their perambulation, they reached the present site of Waterloo-bridge.

"A splendid structure," observed their conductor, "will here span that mighty stream, on whose waves float a thousand argosies freighted with riches from every distant land. Speculation will soon furnish means sufficient for the enterprise, and——"

"The profits?" inquired old Boreas, too far north to lose sight of the main chance.

"Will be shared among the subscribers."

"By what rule?"

"Short division," was the answer.

"This building on the right is Somerset House, where the Royal Academy holds its annual exhibition of British artists, at which persons pay a shilling to view their own portraits that have cost most exorbitant sums, if painted by popular professors of the art."

"A noble institution," said the South, in simplicity of soul, "and most encouraging to rising talent."

"Very," was the devilish dry reply.

"And where young exhibitors have fine opportunities afforded them to profit by the experience, skill, and fostering care of their superiors."

"Exactly," said the Devil, with a malicious smile. "In the arrangement and distribution of the pictures the committee show an intimate knowledge of 'light and shade,' which is particularly instructive to others. They appropriate all the 'light' to their own pictures, and the 'shade' to their neighbours'. Yonder dirty-looking gate is Temple-bar, where in the olden time traitors' heads stood in goodly row, as plentiful as the portraits in the Exhibition, only that the 'bodies' never came to own them. But"—and here the Devil sighed like a furnace—"innovation and improvement have destroyed all venerable customs."

So, venting his regrets, they journeyed down Fleet-street, when the attention of the gentle South was attracted to the large gloomy edifice which is so prominent in that locality.

"Ah!" said their guide, "that is the Fleet."

"Where?" said the East, springing up at the idea of stiff breezes and swelling sails; "I see no ships."

"Yet there is no lack of craft, I promise you," replied the Devil. "One of the considerate laws of this realm declares that a debtor[179] shall pay in person what he is deficient in pocket: a sapient method to man his Majesty's fleet, and as pretty a piece of legislation as I would propose."

Turning from the prison and its solid-looking brickwork, the first glimpse of St. Paul's met their astonished gaze. The strangers were enraptured at that mighty monument of man's power and perseverance. After surveying the exterior, the Winds expressed an eagerness to view the inside of the cathedral; but their importunities were negatived by their companion, who intimated in strong terms his repugnance to such a proposition. "Besides," he observed, "which of you will pay the twopences demanded for admission? By-the-bye, do me the favour to wait here a few moments. Some most intimate and particular friends are now assembled at the Chapter Coffee-house."

"Do not let us detain you unwillingly," growled the North.

"We are much indebted for your care and guidance," murmured the South.

"I feel more at home in my own quarter of the town," said the East; "let me prove no hindrance."

"But promise me to remain,—rely upon my speedy return," said the Devil.

"Agreed!" roared the North, who seemed to think the spot a good place to make himself heard.

"Then I depend upon your awaiting my coming. For the present, farewell!"

"Au revoir!" lisped the West, as the arch deceiver disappeared down one of the narrow avenues which abound in that locality.

Well, the poor Winds went whistling up and down, looking at the shops, watching the crowd, and amusing themselves as best they could under such disagreeable circumstances. They made several rounds of the church, the hands of the clock made several rounds of the dial, yet the absent one appeared not; and their patience was nearly exhausted, when the South modestly offered to sing them a song, if indeed such feeble powers could lighten the time and lessen their suspense, and then breathed the following words to a soft plaintive air:


I love to roam where the spice-groves send
Their mingled sweets o'er the fragrant air,
Where orange-blossoms their bright buds lend
To weave a wreath for the blushing fair;
And I waft each shining tress aside
That shades the brow of the blooming bride.
I love to roam at the sunset hour,
To breathe farewell to the parting day,
And kiss the dew from each star-lit flower,
That ever weeps as light fades away.
Oh! I woo them all with my softest sighs,
And gently whisper,—that Love never dies!


"Enough! enough!" grumbled the East; "I cannot waste my time in such frivolities. Where is the fellow who brought us here?"

"Ay!" said the North, "does he fancy we have nothing better to occupy us than attending his pleasure, dancing attendance?"

And thereat the watchers became mighty impatient. At length the North declared that he had business of great importance that night upon the coast.

"What fools we were to pledge ourselves! My engagements are imperative,—go I must!" roared he with vehemence.

"And I," added the East, with similar violence.

"I have made an appointment in Bond-street," muttered the West, mentioning the fashionable lounge of that period; "moreover, the Countess of B—— expects me at her party. I am irrevocably bound to the countess, and would not disappoint the sweet creature for worlds."

"I cannot remain alone in this gloomy place," sighed the South.

"Listen!" said the North, puffing himself up to an unusual pomposity, even for him; "I have a plan to remedy the dilemma. I go,—that is settled. You three can easily find an excuse for my absence."

"And mine," cried the East. "Two are very good company,—three damp conversation."

"As I have nothing particular to communicate, I shall follow your example," said the West, looking significantly at the East.

"I was assured the puppy would oppose me," grunted the latter; "'tis his constant practice."

Thus affairs appeared in tolerable train for a repetition of the former bickering, when it was at last decided, but not without much turbulent and acrimonious feeling, that each should wait in turn, and give timely notice to the others of the truant's arrival; and with this understanding they separated, leaving one on guard. It is hardly necessary to state that the Devil never reappeared. He always leaves his votaries in the lurch; and on this occasion his boon companions at the Chapter gave him such good cheer, that he forgot the poor winds, who have ever since been alternately looking, but in vain, for his arrival. To their honour be it told, that they each and every one performed his promise of remaining for a stated period, neither excepting the boisterous North, the cutting East, the fashionable West, nor the gentle South. Their various watchings may be easily distinguished by their respective degrees of violence in the neighbourhood, and to this very hour is one of them to be heard either roaring, blowing, moaning, or sighing for their emancipation. And this accounts for the fact of their constant presence, and shows why "the wind blows round St. Paul's."

The tradition inculcates a moral. Had the four Winds pursued the "path of duty," this trial had been spared them; but they listened to the tempter. Let all profit by their example: Men, as well as Winds, should "keep within compass."



An artist—'tis not fair to tell his name;
But one whom Fortune, in her freakish tricks,
Saluted with less smiles than kicks,
More to the painter's honour, and her shame,—
Was one day deep engaged on his chef d'œuvre,
(A painting worthy of the Louvre,)
Dives and Lazarus the theme,—
The subject was his earliest boyish dream!
And, with an eye to colour, breadth, and tone,
He painted, skilfully as he was able,
The good things on the rich man's table,—
Wishing they were, no doubt, upon his own;
When suddenly his hostess—best of creatures!—
Made visible her features,
And to this world our artist did awaken:
"A gentleman," she said, "from the next street,
Had sent a special message in a heat,
Wanting a likeness taken."
The artist, with a calmness oft the effect
Of tidings which we don't expect,
Wip'd all his brushes carefully and clean,
Button'd his coat—a coat which once had been,—
Put on his hat, and with uncommon stress
On the address,
Went forth, revolving in his nob
How his kind hostess, when he'd got the job,—
Even before they paid him for his skill,—
Would let him add a little to the bill.
He found a family of six or seven,
All grown-up people, seated in a row;
There might be seen upon each face a leaven
Of recent, and of decent woe,
But that the artist, whose chief cares
Were fix'd upon his own affairs,
Gazed, with a business eye, to be acquainted
Which of the seven wanted to be painted.
But a young lady soon our artist greeted,
Saying, in words of gentlest music, "Ah!—
Pray, Mr. Thingo'me, be seated,—
We want a likeness of our grandpapa."
Such chances Fortune seldom deigns to bring:
The very thing!
How he should like
To emulate Vandyke!
Or, rather—still more glorious ambition—
To paint the head like Titian,
A fine old head, with silver sprinkled:
A face all seam'd and wrinkled:—
The painter's heart 'gan inwardly rejoice;
But, as he pondered on that "fine old head,"
Another utter'd, in a mournful voice,
"But, sir, he's dead!"
The artist was perplex'd—the case was alter'd:
Distrust, stirr'd up by doubt, his bosom warps;
"God bless my soul!" he falter'd;
"But, surely, you can let me see the corpse?
An artist but requires a hint:
There are the features—give the cheeks a tint—
Paint in the eyes—and, though the task's a hard 'un,
You'll find the thing, I'll swear,
As like as he can,—no, I beg your pardon,—
As like as he could stare!"
"Alas! alas!" the eldest sister sigh'd,
And then she sobb'd and cried,
So that 'twas long ere she again could speak,—
"We buried him last week!"
The painter heaved a groan: "But, surely, madam,
You have a likeness of the dear deceased;
Some youthful face, whose age might be increased?"
"No, no,—we haven't, sir, no more than Adam;
Not in the least!"
This was the strangest thing that e'er occurr'd;—
"You'll pardon me," the baffled painter cried;
"But, really, I must say, upon my word,
You might have sent for me before he died."
And then he turn'd to the surviving tribe,—
"Can you describe
But a few items, features, shape, and hue?
I'll warrant, I'll still paint the likeness true!"
"Why, yes, we could do that," said one: "let's see;
He had a rather longish nose, like me."
"No," said a second; "there you're wrong,
His nose was not so very long."
"Well, well," pursued the first; "his eyes
Were rather smaller than the common size."
"How?" cried a third, "how?—not at all;
Not small—not small!"
"Well, then, an oval face, extremely fine."
"Yes," said the eldest son, "like mine."
The painter gazed upon him in despair,—
The fellow's face was square!
"I have it," cried another, and arose;
"But wait a moment, sir," and out she goes.
With curiosity the artist burn'd—
"What was she gone for?" but she soon return'd.
"I knew from what they said, to expect to gain
A likeness of grandpa was quite in vain;
But, not upon that point to dwell,
I have got something here will do as well
As though alive he for his portrait sat!"
So, saying, with a curtsey low,
She from behind, with much parade and show,
Presented an old hat!



Or, Sketches of Naval Life during the War.


No. IV.

"Impute it not a crime
To me, or my swift passage, that I slide
O'er sixteen years." * * *
"There's some ill planet reigns;
I must be patient till the heavens look
With an aspect more favourable."


There glides the dashing Spankaway over the smooth surface of the ocean, whilst, close in her wake, moves the vanquished Hippolito. The damages have been repaired so as to be scarcely perceptible; the shot-holes have been well plugged and secured; and the two frigates appear more like consorts on a cruise than enemies so recently engaged in deadly strife. The breeze is a royal breeze; and gallantly the beautiful ships are splitting the yielding waters, whilst the watches are employed in necessary duties. Near the taffrail of the Spankaway stand two prominent figures, both remarkably fine-looking men, who might be taken for brother officers but for the difference in their uniforms. The one on the larboard hand has his head erect, his chest thrown forward, his left hand thrust into his waistcoat, and his right foot in advance planted firmly on the deck; he is indulging in high-wrought and proud feelings as he silently gazes on the prize; his voice is not heard, but there is a speaking meaning in his look as he contemplates the red cross of St. George upon a white field floating majestically above the tricolour, whilst his own untarnished ensign waves singly at his peak. The individual on the starboard hand has a cast of melancholy on his countenance; his head is depressed, his arms are folded on his breast; and, though sensible that he has done his duty, and defended his command as long as his crew rendered it tenable, yet he knows that he was not well supported by his fellow-citizens, among whom equality is the order of the day; and he is suffering from a sense of deep humiliation at the degraded condition in which he is placed. These are the captains of the two frigates,—the victor and the vanquished.

Upon the quarter-deck of the Hippolito is Mr. Seymour, hurrying to and fro, issuing his orders, and rendering the prize as effective as possible. There is a laughing glee upon his features that plainly evidences the pleasure he cherishes in his heart; he looks around with exaltation as he anticipates the moment when he himself shall have such a desirable command. One step he makes sure of; a few hours more may perform fresh wonders; and his mind, with all the vividness of a seaman's hope, is making a hop, skip, and a jump progress to certain conclusions favourable to promotion. The fact is, Seymour had been long neglected; he was an excellent officer, and a brave man; had fought in several actions, been severely wounded on more than one occasion; but the coveted distinction had been withheld because he was not a first lieutenant. Now, however, he made sure of[184] it; and he already began to feel the weight of the epaulette on the left shoulder, with an ardent determination to do something that would transfer it to the right shoulder.

But whither are the frigates steering? their heads are not on the compass-point for a friendly port, but directly the reverse. Night is coming on; they are running into the gulf of Genoa. There are the Hieres, a little open on the larboard bow, just rising from the sea. South-west should carry them to Gibraltar, and there are they going away north-east.

"Your undertaking is rather hazardous, my lord," said Citizen Captain Begaud; "there are ships of the line in the immediate neighbourhood, and the English fleet may have again resumed its station."

"If the latter is the case," replied Lord Eustace, "I can run no hazard; for Lord Nelson will have a bright eye upon the enemy. On the other hand, the enterprise is worth a little risk; and, though I despise the fellows who gave me the information, yet it is my duty, as well as according with my inclination, to make the most of it."

"Vous avez raison, milord," rejoined the Frenchman; "mais—" he paused: "sacré! the rascal who told you merits the guillotine; he is a disgrace to the grande nation."

"Well, I'm blow'd if I can make any thing o' this here!" exclaimed old Savage, the boatswain, to his subordinate, Jack Sheavehole, as they stood upon the forecastle; "it beats my larning out and out. Here we captures a French frigate, and has all the prisoners in limbo, when, instead of seeing her into a place of safety, why here we goes happy-go-lucky right down into the bight of Ginoar, slap into the enemy's teeth."

"Is that why you calls it a bite, Mr. Savage?" asked Jemmy Ducks, touching his hat with all due respect.

"Calls what a bite, you egg-sucker?" responded the boatswain somewhat roughly, at the presumption of the inquirer in addressing an officer of his distinction so freely. "Calls what a bite?"

"Going into the enemy's teeth, sir!" answered the humble poulterer, again touching his straw covering.

"Did you ever hear such an hignoramus, Jack?" said the boatswain to his veteran mate, in a tone of extreme contempt.

"Why, for the matter o' that, not often, sir," answered the individual addressed, "thof it is but nat'ral for him;" and, seeing that the boatswain was twiddling his rattan with his fingers, as a prelude to castigation, he turned to the poulterer, and, giving him a friendly shove, exclaimed, "Away out o' that, Jemmy; there's the cow's babby bleating for you;" and off he went.

"The sarvice is going to ——, Jack!" said Mr. Savage; "the captain arn't half strict enough with them there 'long-shore lubbers, as pay no more respect to an officer than they do to a timber-head! and, in the regard o' that, his lordship himself too often speaks to 'em as if they had flesh and blood like his own, when, Lord love you! they arn't got never no such thing. And where his lordship is bound to now, puzzles my calculations. I say, Muster Blueblazes," to the gunner, who approached them, "what's all this here about?"

"Flannel cartridges," replied the gunner, passing on in a hurry, and calling to his several mates to descend to the magazine.

"Flannel devils!" retorted old Savage. "That's all the answer I[185] gets for my pains! Pray, Muster Nugent, may I presume to ax you if you can just deligthning my mind as to what cruise we're going on in this course, seeing as it takes us slap down into the bight of the bay?"

"Gulf, Mr. Savage,—not bay," replied the junior lieutenant, "the gulf of Genoa, named after a celebrated city that formerly monopolised the commerce of the world. Christopher Columbus was a Genoese. Did you never read about Christopher Columbus?"

"Can't say as I have, sir," returned the impatient boatswain; "are we bound in chase of him, sir?"

"In chase of whom? Columbus?" responded the lieutenant, laughing; "why, he's been dead nearly two hundred years. No, no, Mr. Savage; we're going——"

"Mr. Nugent!" shouted Lord Eustace from the quarter-deck; and, to the great vexation of the boatswain, who was on the qui-vive to ascertain where they were bound, the young officer instantly responded, and went aft.

"That's just the way I'm al'ays sarved," said Savage petulantly, and applying his rattan to the shoulders of a poor unfortunate lad who passed him without touching the locks that hung clustering on his forehead,—for hat or cap he had none. "Here's a pretty know-nothing! Do you forget, sir, that an officer's an officer, sir? and it's customary, sir, to pay proper respect, sir, to your superiors, sir, your betters, sir, you scape-grace, lubberly blackguard, sir;" and down came the stick at every "sir." The boy made the best of his way across the forecastle; but was again stopped by the boatswain. "Come back here, you wagabone. Don't you know, sir, that it's a great mark of disrespect, sir, to run away when an officer's starting you, sir? There, go along, you useless lumber! pretty regylations we shall have by and by, when such hard bargains as you fall aboard the King's biscuit! We're all going to the devil together, Jack!" and he turned to look over the bows.

"If we are going to the devil," muttered Jack to the captain of the forecastle, "I hopes he'll sarve out his infarnal favours as the Lords of the Admiralty shares the prize-money,—three parts among the officers."

Lovely is a Mediterranean twilight in those balmy months that breathe the odorous incense of exulting Nature in all its richest perfumes! then is the hour for contemplation! it is then the mind ranges over its best affections; and hearts, though oceans divide them, hold a mysterious communing with each other.

"Deeper, oh twilight, let thy shades increase
Till every feeling, every pulse, is peace."

It is the poet alone that can describe its influences, for the art of the painter is baffled; he cannot produce the deepening tints as the web of darkness appears to be progressively weaving over the face of the heavens.

"I love this season," said Lord Eustace to his captive, as they still stood side by side abaft; "there is a holy tranquillity about it that calms every turbulent passion, and soothes the heart in its sorrow."

"C'est vrai, milord," returned the Frenchman, mournfully enough for one of his country; "and yon star there," pointing to Algol in Medusa's head, "has ever been to me the star of my destiny. Three days since I quitted Toulon; that orb at night was dim, and a heavy[186] foreboding rested on my spirit; on the following night its brightness, even its dimensions, had decreased, and then I knew the doom of my honour was at hand."

"Whatever presentiment you might have had," said Lord Eustace, "rest satisfied your honour remains untarnished. You fought your ship well, and be assured my account of the action shall do you ample justice. But I should like to know why you consider that particular star as connected with your fortunes."

"You shall be gratified then," responded the Frenchman, "if you have no objections to a tale of horror."

"None, none,—not in the least!" answered the noble captain; "the hour, the quiet, the dubious light, it is just the time for such a thing. Pray favour me, and I will gaze on the Gorgon, and listen with profound attention."

"We are both of us young, my lord," commenced the Frenchman; "I am but six-and-twenty, and you——"

"One year your junior, Monsieur Capitaine," uttered his lordship; "but I fancy I have seen more active service than you?"

"Afloat, 'tis probable, my lord," rejoined Begaud. "I was not at first destined for the marine: my early career was in the army of the North, when your Duke of York, deserted by the allied powers, (who received your money whilst they negotiated with the Directory,) retreated before our victorious troops. But I am forestalling my narrative,—heaving ahead of my reckoning, I think you'd call it. I am by birth a native of Paris, and the night of my entering the world was one of wailing, lamentation, and death. It was that on which three thousand persons were killed and wounded during a grand exhibition of fire-works, displayed in honour of the marriage of the Dauphin to the Archduchess Antoinetta Maria. Thus was I ushered into existence amidst shrieks and groans; and neither of my parents ever beheld their child. My father perished in the streets; the circumstance was indiscreetly announced to my mother; it brought on premature labour, and the living infant was taken from a corpse. What could be expected of such an introduction into life? I had an uncle residing upon the vine-clad hills that rise near the banks of the Garonne, a few leagues from Bordeaux, and there I passed my boyhood; but he was an austere man, and, having a large family of his own, I was looked upon as an incumbrance, and the only individual who appeared to commiserate my fate was an aged woman who lived in a cottage upon the estate, and was looked upon as a sibyl of no mean pretensions. She it was who first taught me to look upon yon star, and watch its capricious changes, so as to connect them with the occurrences of my life; and she it was who read my future fate on the tablets of inspiration. And who was this female? Twenty years before she had been the favourite of fortune, enjoying the luxuries of the capital, yet with an unblemished reputation. She had an only child,—a daughter, resplendent in her opening beauty of girlhood,—a type of that loveliness with which we characterise the angels. She was seen in the garden of the Tuileries by that depraved debauchee, the Fifteenth Louis; his agents secretly forced her to the Parc aux Cerfs; and the distracted mother, ascertaining the lost condition of her child, spoke publicly and loudly of the cruel grievance. But there was a Bastile then, monsieur," added he, with bitter emphasis, "engines of torture and iron cages to silence babblers; and thither[187] was the parent sent by order of that monarch, who held the daughter in his unchaste embraces. That fellow was a wretch, my lord. It was he, and such as he, that deluged France with blood. The measure of their iniquity ran over. But the Bourbons were ever an accursed race. The property of the mother was seized upon by the emissaries of the police; and when a few years afterwards, she was released from her imprisonment, it was to find herself a homeless outcast, and her daughter,—the beauteous child of her soul's affections,—the inmate of a madhouse. Kings should be the protectors, the benefactors of their subjects; not their bane, their curse, the agents of their torture. Monsieur, that woman was my relative, and early did she stamp upon my young heart that hatred to royalty which remains unconquerably the same to this very hour. Yes, here it is," and he pressed his hand with energetic firmness over the seat of life; "here,—here it is, and, like a memorial carved on the bark of a sapling, it has become enlarged with my growth, and deeper indented with my years. It is my fate, monsieur,—it is my fate.

"The days of my boyhood passed on in mental misery. I felt for the injuries that had been heaped upon my only friend; I yielded to her instructions to be prepared against the hour of vengeance, when retributive justice should sweep tyranny from the throne; I nursed the hope in the secret recesses of my breast; I cherished it in my heart's core; it was the subject of my nightly dreams and waking thoughts; and, whilst other lads sought amusement in boyish pastimes, the demon of revenge led me into solitary nooks, where I hoarded up my ardent desire to redress the wrongs of Madame T——. Such, monsieur, was Jacques Begaud in his thirteenth year, when, tired of a vegetative life, I quitted my uncle's house, which, though it had been a place of shelter, had never been a home to me, and travelled on foot to Toulon. My small stock of money was soon expended; but yet I wanted for nothing. A piece of bread and a little fruit, with some wine, no one denied me; and, monsieur, I felt the sweets of liberty. Why I went to Toulon I do not know, for Paris was my aim; and Madame T—— had prophesied,—there was something terrible in her denunciations,—she had prophesied desolation and destruction to the house of the Bourbons; and as rumours were spreading of disunion at court, so did she eagerly feed upon them, and urge me to redress her wrongs. It is true the debauchee was in his grave; but then there was his grandson, the celebration of whose marriage had made me an orphan even before my birth; and, boy as I was, with a mind care-worn and cankered, I even looked upon that event as a legitimate cause of hatred."

"But the star, the star!" exclaimed Lord Eustace; "I am anxious to learn in what manner you considered yourself influenced by the star."

"Madame T—— made it the source of her divination," returned Citizen Begaud. "She would sit and silently gaze upon it for hours; and at my departure she bade me observe it on the first day of every month. If in full splendour, my career for the time would be prosperous; if shorn of its glory, I was then to expect adversity. I strictly followed her directions, and my fortunes were as varied as the brightness of yon orb. At Toulon I was much struck with the naval yard and arsenal; and in the former I laboured for several months in the humble occupation of an oakum-picker, gaining not[188] only sufficient to keep life within me, but even with my scanty pittance I contrived to save a small sum, with which I traversed Corsica, and from thence embarked for Sicily, where I narrowly escaped one of those dreadful visitations which swallowed up so many thousands in its vortex. At Messina, where I obtained temporary employ, one great source of delight to me was standing on the rocky shore and viewing the fearful commotion of the waters, as they rushed through the straits. To witness this spectacle I have walked miles; and the roaring and tumbling of the billows excited in my heart feelings of joyous pleasure. I had frequently observed a youth of my own age similarly engaged. He stood with his arms behind him looking down upon the troubled ocean, as if he wished to penetrate its hidden depths, and search for undiscovered mysteries; he seemed to view it as a monster with which he longed to cope, but was coolly calculating the most appropriate method of effecting his purpose. His dress was rather superior to mine, and he affected a dignity which did not suit my companionable qualities. We never spoke; but whilst I hurled the largest stones that I could lift into the boiling foam, and saw them, heavy as they were, thrown floating on the surface by the bubbling fury of the swelling billows, he looked calmly on, disdaining to move a muscle of his countenance, though his brilliant eyes were lighted up, and seemed to flash with intense delight. Sometimes I made approaches to familiarity, but he cautiously repulsed all attempts at acquaintance; and at length I forbore. Monsieur has been to Messina?"

Lord Eustace bowed acquiescence.

"It is a beautiful place, and I loved to look at the white buildings thrown out in strong relief by the dark green forests behind them. My evenings, when my occupation would admit, were passed upon the Marina, watching the setting sun. One day I had walked to my usual spot for witnessing the contest of the currents; and, as I had frequently done before, I stripped, and plunged into the wave at a place where the eddies had hollowed out an artificial bay. I loved to breast the surge, to dash aside the threatening breaker, or dive beneath its power. My limbs were strong and pliant; I was fearless in an element that is seldom, if ever, conquered. The afternoon was sultry; there was an oppressive heat, that seemed to steam from both land and water, for the atmosphere above was clear and shining. My star had shone but dimly the night before, portending danger; yet I knew not from what quarter to expect it. After bathing, I dressed, and seated myself upon a rock, enjoying the scene, when, on turning my head, I beheld the youth I have mentioned at no great distance from me, standing on the extreme angle of low rock that jutted into the sea. He looked more serious and sedate than ever; there was a cast of melancholy on his features, and he seemed to be involved in intensity of thought. Suddenly a darkness overspread us, a heavy gloom arose; it was the work of a moment; I felt my earth-embedded seat lifted up, and oscillating to and fro. I saw huge pieces of solid rock rent from their mountain fastnesses, and hurled, crashing and thundering, into the torrent that roared and raged with unusual fury below. I beheld a wall of water rushing through the strait, and, calling to mind the dimness of my star, I knew the hour of trial was come: but I was too elevated to fear that mass of liquid element that swept every thing before it, though the strife that was apparently going[189] on within the very bowels of the earth left me but small prospect of escape. The awful phenomenon at first paralysed my faculties, and I forgot the pale youth for the moment; but, on looking again towards him, there he stood, still gazing on the deep, whilst the heavy shocks of the earthquake were opening graves for his fellow-creatures. Onward rushed the perpendicular wave, and in an instant he was swept from his position into the maddened vortex of the hissing foam. I saw the catastrophe, monsieur, and for a second or two my spirit exulted in his overthrow; 'But he has parents,' thought I, 'they will moan his loss; and yet I cannot save him if I would.' The youth had disappeared beneath the mighty swell that inundated all the adjacent shore; but again he arose upon the surface, and was borne rapidly along past the spot where I was stationed. I had no home, no parents, no one who cared for the destitute outcast, not a creature in existence whose heart beat with affection for the child of misery; if I perished, I perished, and there would be none to weep for me. Without hesitation I sprang into that hissing foam, and was instantly thrown half body out again by the turbulence of the underset, as it forced itself to the surface. I struck out steadily and strongly with my arms and feet, but could preserve very little command as the impetuous waters rolled me over and over; but still I neared the object of my solicitude, who kept afloat, and at length I was by his side. Yet what could I do to aid him in his peril? 'Lift your head well up!' exclaimed I; 'strike out boldly with the current. I will not leave you.' He gave me one look; it was full of calm pride. I saw he was getting weak and required help, yet he disdained to ask for it. Mon Dieu! but that was a struggle for existence! and momentarily was strength failing in that youth, whilst I felt my own gradually grow less. 'Dive!—dive!' shouted I, as I beheld that gigantic wave returning, in all its terrible vengeance, to meet us; 'dive for your life!' But he was nearly insensible to my call. I seized him by the shoulder, forced him under as far as possible, and the enormous billow passed above our heads. Once more the light of Heaven was on us,—once more we could see the blue expanse as if resting like a canopy on the summits of the mountains, and the eddy had whirled us to the entrance of an inlet, where the water was comparatively tranquil. 'Save yourself,' said my companion, 'I will do my best to follow. Save yourself, my friend.' I know not how it was, but the appellation, 'my friend,' seemed to instil fresh vigour into me. 'I will not abandon you,' shouted I; 'and, if you can fetch the cove, we are both saved.'—'It is impossible,' answered he; 'run no further hazard on my account.' His head was drooping, nature was nearly exhausted; he swam deep, and I became sensible that, unless by some desperate impulse, I could not save him. I swam close to him, gave him one end of my neckerchief, and told him to grip it tight; the other end I fixed between my teeth, and boldly tried for the inlet. A wave assisted my endeavours; the swell bore me onward, but it was towards a point where the sea was breaking fearfully high, and the passage to the inlet was extremely narrow. My companion complied with my injunctions; yet I could not forbear shuddering when I looked at the craggy barrier that seemed to foretell our fate. We neared the rocks, and, had the swell been rolling in, must have been dashed to pieces; but, just as we approached, the wave was receding;[190] it carried us into the inlet stream. Hope cheered me on a few strokes more: the water was undulating, but smooth; but that youth, that pale youth, had disappeared. Still he could not be far distant. I turned, and dived; long practice had rendered me perfectly familiar with the art. I saw him sinking,—almost helpless; he was near the bottom. I went down after him even lower, and, taking renewed impetus from striking my feet against the ground, I bore him once more to the surface. The land was only a few yards distant, but his weight overpowered me. I struggled hard to gain the shore. Despair began to take possession of my mind; it rendered me desperate. A few feet was all that divided us from safety, when a dizziness came over me, my brain whirled, the waters were over my mouth; I thought of the dimness of my star, and believed my minutes were numbered. Another rally from the heart produced another effort; my hands were on the rocks. I grappled them, but my fingers could not retain their clutch; I slipped away: the water was deep even there, and death seemed certain. Oh, God! how dreadful was that moment of suspense! The burthen, which I still sustained, was inanimate, and I was about to loose my hold of him, when another gigantic wave swept in; it lifted me on to the flat that I had been striving for; it receded, and left us on hard ground: the ocean had lost its prey. I stripped my young companion, chafed his limbs; his heart still beat, and in about half an hour he evinced signs of returning consciousness. That moment was to me one of the happiest of my existence. In another hour he was perfectly restored, though weak; and, leaning on my arm, we proceeded towards the town. But where was Messina? that beautiful Messina that we had quitted so recently? A mass of ruins! A scene of indescribable confusion and dismay! The inhabitants had thronged to the mountains for a place of refuge; and, as we entered the deserted streets, a death-like stillness prevailed, broken only by the deep groan or the shrill shriek of those who yet remained alive with shattered frames and broken limbs, unable to escape. Houses were levelled with the ground. Here yawned a hideous chasm that had buried its living victims; there lay huge masses of stone with crushed and mutilated bodies beneath them,—the dead and the dying. Oh! my lord, it was a fearful spectacle, and my spirit drank in all its horrors. We sought the humble residence in which I had found an asylum; no vestige of it remained. We looked for the more noble mansion in which my companion had taken up his abode; it was a chaos. Food there was plenty, Faro wine in abundance; and we amply refreshed ourselves, whilst I own my heart swelled with pride at the thought that we were the masters in this once noble city. My companion expressed his gratitude for the services I had rendered him; but he did it proudly. He said he was going to France; and my heart yearned to revisit my native land. I remembered Madame T——, and the solemn pledge I had given her: I longed to see Paris,—that Paris of which I had heard so much; and I earnestly brooded on the schemes which were to level royalty to the dust. You will say I was but a boy. True! But what instruction was to others, deadly revenge was to me; it had been my lesson conned at every season, my sole education,—and my teacher fully competent to superintend her pupil.

"But Messina!—there it lay prostrate with the dust; churches[191] thrown down, and the sacred vestments scattered; public buildings in wreck, hotels and palazzos as if they had never been. We were standing in the square, when another shock tumbled the fragments hither and thither, mingling them in greater confusion. My companion was for hastening up the eminences to see who had escaped: I preferred remaining, as all places were alike to me; besides, I was poor, wretchedly poor, and there was the prospect of gold to be obtained. The pale youth did not tell me his name, nor did I think to ask it: he gave me a small silver medal that he had worn round his neck by way of remembrance, and I presented him with a flat piece of whalebone on which in my idle hours I had rudely carved my name. We parted, and in a short time my hazardous enterprise was richly recompensed. I found what I coveted, gold! I filled my slender pockets, and yet there was gold; I dug a hole and buried my treasure, but still wealth almost unbounded lay scattered in the streets. I hastened to the harbour; wrecks and dead bodies were everywhere floating. A boat was drifting near the quay, and, having secured her, I hastened back to the place where my riches were concealed. But the marauders had entered the town, and I feared that they would plunder me; so I returned to the boat and shoved off from the shore, and there I lay in her bottom as she drove into the bay, dreading detection, and fearing to lose my ill-acquired wealth. I had been contented with a little when only a few copper coins had been my fortune; but, now I was possessed of gold, I coveted that which I had left behind. A brigantine that was making her escape from the devastation picked me up. I offered the captain gold to give me a passage to whatever place he might be going. My dress and appearance bespoke poverty,—the glittering coin betrayed me: I was stripped of every ducat, thrust into the boat again, and cast adrift upon a tempestuous night. The only valuable I retained was the medal which I slung round my neck next to my skin.

"Dark and dreary was the tumultuous ocean as my little vessel floated at the mercy of the wind and sea; the gale howled fearfully over me, the waves rolled angrily beneath me; no star illumined the vault of heaven; but there was a glowing brilliancy of sparkling lustres on the waters, as if the caverns of the deep had sent forth their gems to supply the defection of the starry host. The billows threw up their haughty heads crested with feathery foam, and the spray saturated my clothes through and through: but the weather was warm to a child of the North; and thus I continued for many long lonely hours, till daylight once again appeared. And such a daylight! The storm had passed away,—the gorgeous splendour of the sun as he arose from the horizon was worth all the pain I had endured only to witness; but his cheering rays came as kindly to my heart as they were welcome to my person. It was like the smiling face of a friend to gladden the spirit in adversity. I was at no great distance from the shore; yet so beautiful was the scene, that, but for hunger, I should have been contented to have remained gazing on the spectacle. The cravings of nature, however, were powerful; I paddled to the rocks, landed, and hurried back to that remnant of a town I had been so eager to quit. I found no difficulty in appeasing my appetite: the inhabitants were returning in groups to weep over their shattered dwellings, and, as they looked mournfully on each[192] other, most of them were uttering lamentations for a relative or a friend. Piece by piece I was enabled to change my dress, and make a more creditable appearance; and this, too, without being over scrupulous as to the appropriation. I was unknown to every one, for nobody remembered the poor child of labour. I made inquiry after my companion of the former day, but could gain no intelligence of him; and thus I wandered amongst the dust and ashes of ruins, an observer unheeded and uncared for.

"But I well remembered the spot where I had hidden my treasure, and, when the shades of evening shrouded the surrounding objects in their gloom, I went stealthily towards it. No language can adequately describe the perturbation of my mind; hope and fear, anticipations of good and evil, the pleasures of anxious expectation, and the dread of bitter disappointment, alternately held their influence over me. I had not a marvedi in the world; but, if the place of concealment was untouched, I was the possessor of wealth beyond my most sanguine wants for years. I beheld the stone which I had rolled over the excavation, at once to hide and to direct; its position was unchanged. I gazed earnestly around,—I listened for a sound; but all was solitary and silent. In ecstasy I rolled away the obstruction, thrust in my arm, and, whilst my fingers clutched the golden heaps, my breast was on the earth, and I could hear the beatings of my heart. Thus I lay for some time indulging in delicious dreams of future enjoyment, not unmingled, however, with those contemplations which had become harmonised with every action of my existence. At various intervals I removed my gold to a place of greater security, and soon after availed myself of an opportunity of returning to Toulon with the captain who had first of all landed me in Corsica. Oh, what anxious moments did I pass lest another discovery should deprive me of my store! I did not dare to close my eyes in sleep, lest my person or my small matter of luggage should be searched. I no longer threw myself heedlessly down in any spot to court repose. Suspicion and distrust poisoned the very source of pleasure; I looked upon all men as my enemies, because I could confide in none. But I reached Toulon unmolested, and without loss of time I hastened to the cottage of Madame T——, vain-glorious of my achievement——"

"Which, to my mind, looks most d——ly like thieving, monsieur," said Lord Eustace warmly.

"My lord, I am sensible of the wrong I perpetrated," responded Citizen Begaud; "but you seem to forget I was a boy, steeped in poverty to the very lips, bound by a solemn pledge to a certain purpose, through influences that had actuated me from my earliest remembrances. I looked upon the gold as a means to further my views. I had no guide for my youth, and my star——"

"Was, it seems, anything but an honourable one," added Lord Eustace, interrupting him. "Yet, monsieur, I own your narrative has interested me; and, under the hope that there is something of a redeeming quality yet to come, I earnestly request the favour of its continuation."

The Frenchman bowed, and darkness hid both the frown on his brow and the flush of anger on his cheek.

"Madame T—— had left the neighbourhood of Bordeaux, and gone to Paris. Thither I followed; but all my efforts were unavailing to discover her habitation. The internal state of the city was that of[193] dissatisfaction with the ruling powers; plots and conspiracies were hatched, quarrels fomented, and the seeds of discord were rapidly swelling to burst the earth that covered them, and spread into a tree of monstrous growth. The intriguantes industriously circulated reports of the queen and the nobility, that were eagerly swallowed by the lower orders, to increase and justify their hostility to the great. At first I kept aloof from any decided course, and for two years was a silent observer of all that was passing around me. I lived frugally, so as neither to excite envy nor create suspicion; and I saw with inexpressible satisfaction that the machinery was putting together that would, when brought into full operation, decide the fate of the Bourbons. I was almost daily in the vicinity of the palaces, and frequently, whilst gazing on the beauty of the queen, my purposes were shaken. Numerous opportunities offered to deprive the sovereign of his life; but I disdained to become an assassin. Besides, it was not Louis alone whose downfall I had been taught to consider an act of justice. It was the whole of the privileged orders, of which he was the head and chief; and a blow at him would have aroused the aristocrats to a sense of impending danger.

"Such was the position of my own and public affairs when I had attained my seventeenth year. But I had not passed the intermediate time in indolence. I went to school, I studied hard, became an expert swordsman, and tolerably proficient in the branches of general education: I perused the works of authors both dead and living; I tested their writings by a careful examination of men and manners. But I had yet much to learn. One day I made an excursion on horseback to Fontainbleau; the royal family were at the palace, and there was a young female in the suite of her majesty—Why should I withhold the fact? Monsieur, my soul was captivated by that angelic girl. I was not aware that she had ever noticed or even seen me so as to recall my features to remembrance; I had made no show of my attachment beyond that silent adoration of the heart which the countenance is but too apt to reveal. She it was who drew me towards Fontainbleau, under the hope of obtaining a casual glance. I was wandering in the forest, nursing the secret thoughts of her who controlled my actions: evening came on, and darkness surprised me in one of the most retired parts. I was too well inured to privations to heed the occurrence. The night was serene and warm, and I prepared to pass it beneath the branches of some venerable tree; in fact, I was sitting down for the purpose of repose, when a shouting and the report of fire-arms at no great distance aroused me to energy. The direction of the parties was well defined: they might be friends or foes, honest men or thieves; to me it was a matter of indifference, for in either case I should find a guide out of the wood. Without a moment's hesitation I dashed through the tangled briers, and on a nearer approach ascertained that a deadly conflict was going on. A few minutes brought me to the scene of action; it was upon the main road which I had missed, and the opening between the trees admitted sufficient light to show two of the combatants stretched upon the ground. There were still two to two engaged with swords; but one of them fell soon after my arrival, and the survivor turned to assist his fellow against the only opponent left. Whilst they were upon an equality I did not care to interfere, especially as I knew not which was the injured party; but the odds decided me at once, and,[194] snatching up a sword, I placed myself in attitude by the side of the solitary. My antagonist was a skilful swordsman; but I had time to observe that the individual whom I befriended was richly dressed, and by no means a master of his weapon, whilst the person opposed to him was greatly his inferior. I got close to him, parried a thrust from my own immediate engagé, and returned by a side sleight upon his comrade, who received it in his breast, and, staggering backwards with great violence, pulled the sword from my hand and left me at the mercy of the other. His pass was sure; but, dexterously evading it, the weapon only went through the fleshy part of my arm, and the force with which it was given brought it up to the hilt. We grappled together. I was young and vigorous, but he possessed all the muscular strength and power of manhood. I felt his grip upon my throat; we fell heavily together upon the earth. He retained his superiority above me; and strangulation was rapidly going on, when suddenly his hold relaxed, he sprang from me, rolled over and over, and then stretched himself stiffly out a lifeless corpse. The sword of the disengaged had passed through his heart. I was not long in recovering sensibility, and on raising my head saw that we were all down, wounded and bleeding. The gentleman in rich attire was seated with his back against a tree, wiping the perspiration from his forehead, and, on seeing me move, he exclaimed, 'Whoever you are, take my best thanks. If you live, I will prove my sense of the obligation by more than words; if you die, carry the gratitude of a nation with you before your maker. But how is it? are you seriously or mortally hurt? Mon Dieu! this has been no boy's pastime, anyhow.' I assured him my injuries were not severe; and, to prove the truth of my assertion, I got up, went towards him, and tendered my assistance. 'Grace à Dieu!' said he, 'I have only a few scratches. But we must not remain here: the rascals have driven off with the carriage to plunder it; they will return directly to help their comrades. Are all my fellows dead?' I felt the breasts of each to ascertain if there was any throbbing of the heart. One of the servants and two of the robbers were yet living, though desperately wounded, and I reported to that effect. 'We can expect nothing from them,' said he, 'and therefore must trust to our own resources. You know the passages of the forest?' 'Non, monsieur,' returned I. 'My acquaintance with the forest has been only that of a few hours. I am a stranger here, and was about to pass the night between the trees when I heard the report of fire-arms.'—'Ah! they shot my coachman,' said he, 'the villains; and my carriage has the edicts in it for the royal sign-manual, with other matters. Bah! there would be a pretty prize for the robbers did the rogues know their worth.' This was uttered to himself, and apparently not designed for me to hear. 'May I inquire the name and rank of the noble who so opportunely saved my life?' asked I.—'All in good time, young man; you should never listen to state secrets. Saved your life, eh? You have been to court and have learned to flatter. Abandon it, young man: flattery is bad enough in old age, but detestable from youth. I need no such incitements to remembrance. Help me rise.' I obeyed. 'And now,' continued he, 'we must find our way to the palace.'

"My heart leaped with joy at the thought: I should see, I should be near the young Countess de M——. Ever prone to extravagance, the most preposterous hopes and prospects filled my mind: I laughed[195] outright. 'Are you mad?' inquired my companion. 'In what can you find cause for mirth?'—'The heart knoweth its own bitterness,' returned I, 'and a stranger intermeddleth not with its joy,'—'True, true,' responded he. 'But come, let us strive to find our way.' He put his arm within mine, and silently we traced the road for about two miles, when we came to one of the lodges that formed a residence for a keeper, and here we obtained horses and a guide, and in less than half an hour we were within the walls of that venerable building the palace of Fontainbleau. My companion had gained a ready admittance; his word of command was almost electric, and at first I thought it was the Duke of Orleans, but that his visit to the royal family would be deemed an insult. At all events I was consigned to the care of an officer of the household, and I had no cause to complain of my treatment. After the lapse of an hour, an attendant summoned me to wait upon the individual I had so timely rescued. My dress, from being torn by the brambles, certainly was not much suited for the ostentatious gaiety of a court at a period when extravagant profusion was considered as essential to the prosperity of the nation; nor had it lost anything by the struggle on the ground with the bandit. Still I obeyed without hesitation; and, after passing through several gorgeous apartments, an officer with a white wand arrested our further progress. He then tapped gently at an inner door; there was the tinkling of a bell, the portal flew back, and within was a resplendent blaze of light that dazzled and confounded me. I was reassured, however, by the voice of my companion, who uttered in a low voice, 'Enter, young man;' and obeying, I found myself in the presence of the king and queen. Louis was seated at a table covered with toys, and the young prince was on his knee. Marie Antoinette was watching with the eye of maternal affection the playful delight of her child; and, much as I had imbibed an undeviating hatred to royalty, I could not behold the spectacle unmoved. Near her majesty stood the young Countess de M——, and the fascination of her beauteous eye enchained my faculties. In a few minutes the queen and her suite retired, and my companion questioned me in the presence of the monarch relative to my station in life, the cause of my being in the forest, and on several other topics, all which I answered as best suited my own purposes. Louis spake kindly to me, but his very kindness filled my heart with bitter feelings; and when, turning to my companion of the forest, he said, 'Monsieur Calonne, we must find some fitting service for this youth,' I could have stabbed him through and through. This, then, was Monsieur Calonne, the head of the ministry,—he who had dared to propose a tax upon the privileged orders, and had assembled the Notables to shame them into compliance with his scheme; this was the man who had plunged the finances of the country into confusion and ruin, for the purpose of bringing down the pride of the nobles and the clergy, who had raised him to his elevated exaltation. His place was one of danger and distrust: he aimed a severe blow at the privileged orders, without conciliating the people; for, though the latter applauded the equalizing system, yet they despised the minister who, by his reckless profusion, was involving them in ruin. That night I retired——"

"Sail, ho!" was shouted from the forecastle, and Lord Eustace immediately started from his attitude of deep attention.


"Whereabouts is she?" demanded the officer of the watch, his voice reverberating amongst the sails, and the most profound stillness reigning fore and aft.

"Broad away on the starboard bow, sir," replied the look-out; and Lord Eustace, being furnished with his night-glass, walked forward to examine the stranger, leaving the recital of Citizen Captain Begaud to be finished at another opportunity.


In an old village, amid older hills,
That close around their verdant walls to guard
Its tottering age from wintry winds, I dwell
Lonely, and still, save when the clamorous rooks
Or my own fickle changes wound the ear
Of Silence in my tower!


For full five hundred years I've swung
In my old grey turret high,
And many a different theme I've sung
As the time went stealing by!
I've peal'd the chaunt of a wedding morn;
Ere night I have sadly toll'd,
To say that the bride was coming, love-lorn,
To sleep in the church-yard mould!
My careless song;
Merry and sad,
But neither long!
For full five hundred years I've swung
In my ancient turret high,
And many a different theme I've sung
As the time went stealing by!
I've swell'd the joy of a country's pride
For a victory far off won,
Then changed to grief for the brave that died
Ere my mirth had well begun!
My careless song;
Merry or sad,
But neither long!
For full five hundred years I've swung
In my breezy turret high,
And many a different theme I've sung
As the time went stealing by!
I have chimed the dirge of a nation's grief
On the death of a dear-loved king,
Then merrily rung for the next young chief;
As told, I can weep or sing!
My careless song;
Merry or sad,
But neither long!
For full five hundred years I've swung
In my crumbling turret high;
'Tis time my own death-song were sung,
And with truth before I die!
I never could love the themes they gave
My tyrannized tongue to tell:
One moment for cradle, the next for grave—
They've worn out the old church bell!
My changeful song;
Farewell now,
And farewell long!


Midnight Mishaps





Oh the rural suburbs of London!—the filthy suburbs!—where nothing is green but the water, nothing natural but the dirt,—where the trees are clipt into poles, and the hedges grow behind palings,—where "no thoroughfare" forbids you to walk in one place, and the dust prevents you from walking in another,—the filthy suburbs!

It was these delightful precincts of peace and "caution," retirement and "handsome rewards," that Mr. Jacob Tweasle honoured with his decided preference. This gentleman had inhabited a small shop at the foot of Snow-hill for more than forty years, retailing tobacco to the tradesmen, and cigars to the apprentices; and, having by supplying other people's boxes gradually filled his own, he, how in his sixtieth year, declined the manufacture of weeds for the cultivation of exotics.

An "Italian villa," beautifully situated in a back lane near Hornsey, was pointed out to the tobacconist by a house-agent as particularly "snug and retired." Before the ostentatious white front of this "enviable residence" were exactly twenty square yards of lawn, "delightfully wooded" by a solitary laburnum, which was approached over a highly "ornamental Chinese bridge," crossing "a convenient stream of water." The interior of the building it was "impossible for the most fastidious to object to;" the rooms were so low, and the windows so small, that the happy occupant always imagined himself a hundred miles from the metropolis; the prospect, too, from the upper stories "revelled in all the luxuries of the picturesque;" the dome of St. Paul's lent magnificence to the distance, while the foreground was enlivened by a brick-field.

Mr. Tweasle saw, approved, yet doubted. He did not know what to say to it. There was, he acknowledged, everything that heart of man could desire; the garden was walled in, and the steel-traps and cabbages might be taken as fixtures; nevertheless he reached the bridge without having made up his mind. There he paused, and gazed in anxious meditation upon the black and heavy liquid that stagnated beneath. "Can one fish here?" suddenly asked the tobacconist, at the same time leaning over and disturbing the "convenient stream of water" with his cane.

"I never do myself," replied the agent, in such a manner as to imply that other people frequently did; for Tweasle instantly inquired,

"What do they catch?"

The agent was puzzled. Was the Londoner really ignorant, or was this a design to test the truth of all his former assertions? It was a case which required extreme caution. "I am no angler myself,—I have no time for that delightful recreation; but—I should think—that eels—eels—probably—eels—might——"

"Stewed eels make a nice supper," interrupted Tweasle with gluttonous simplicity. "Fish arn't to be got fresh in London."

"Fish ought to be eaten the moment it is taken from the water," cried the agent with decision.


"My boy's got a fishing-rod," said Tweasle; and he took the Italian villa on a repairing lease.

The announcement of this event created a "sensation" at the foot of Snow-hill; the Rubicon was past; the business was to be disposed of; and, that no time might be lost, Mr. Tweasle, without taking off his gloves, began to scribble an advertisement, while Mrs. Tweasle waddled into the shop and insulted a customer.

All was confusion. To fly from the paternal protection of the Lord Mayor, and emigrate off the stones, was no casual event to him who had hitherto proudly exulted in the freedom of the city. Much was necessary to reconcile the mind to so bold a measure. The lady undertook to pack up everything that could be got in London, and purchase everything that could not be got in the country. The gentleman, acting as a man should, wholly neglected the domestic. He gave his attention to the noble arts of agriculture and self-defence, botanical theories, treatises, and directories. Horticultural implements, instruments, and improvements, swords and pistols, guns and blunderbusses, detonating crackers for the shutters, and alarums for the bedrooms, he spared neither trouble nor expense to procure.

"Now, Hanney, dear," said Tweasle to his wife, surveying the weapons which had just been sent home, "I thinks here's everything a contented mind could desire: the thieves will know better than to come where we are."

But the timid woman's ideas of defence were concentrated in a flannel gown and a rattle; she looked more terrified than assured:—fire-arms and accidents were, in her mind, synonymous; and her only answer was an urgent entreaty that "those nasty things might be always so locked up that nobody could get at them."

In due time everything that the family thought they could possibly want was procured; and when, to render the whole complete, Master Charles, only son and heir, was commissioned to procure live stock from St. Giles's, the boy returned with almond tumblers for pigeon-pies, and bantam-cocks for poultry.

"New-laid eggs for breakfast!" chuckled his papa.

All being at length ready for starting on the following day, and as the house was dismantled even to the junction of the bed-posts, the family determined to pass their last evening in London, whispering soft adieus to their more intimate acquaintance. At first Tweasle conducted himself with becoming hypocrisy. He lamented his separation from the "friends of his youth," and ate cake and drank wine with imposing solemnity; but, as the ceremony was repeated, he committed himself by an occasional smile, and at last slipped out something about "poor devils, who were smoked to death like red herrings." Mrs. Tweasle was shocked, and hurried her husband away; who, however, warmed into truth, would not acknowledge his error or go to bed, but insisted on saying good-b'ye to his old friend Gingham. They found the Ginghams preparing for supper; and, on company arriving, the servant was whispered "to bring up the beef," which Tweasle overhearing, he turned to the hostess, and exultingly cried,

"Come and see us in the country, and I'll give you stewed eels and chicken for supper."


"I'm very sorry we've nothing better than cold beef to offer you, sir," replied the lady with a look; "but I can send out."

"Not for the world!" shouted Mrs. Tweasle, who was rejoiced when a request to be seated relieved her from reiterating her conciliatory wishes that no one would mind her good man, who during supper would converse on no other subject than the pleasures of new-laid eggs and the country, till, having finished one glass of gin and water, he undertook to explain to his friend how it was that he also could leave off business like a squire. Nor was this personal investigation of private family affairs rendered less unpleasant by the indelicate egotism which induced the exhibitor to illustrate his friend's faults by his own virtues; till, though repeatedly requested to "drop it," Tweasle wound up his harangue by calling his host a fool.

"You're a fool, Gingham. You might ha' been as well off as I am at the present moment, if you hadn't lived at such a rate, like a fool."

The lady of the house instantly arose, and left the room in company with her daughters, telling Mr. Tweasle "they were going to bed;" and Mr. Gingham leant over the table to inform his guest, "he had no wish to quarrel."

Of the rest of that evening Tweasle the next day retained a very confused recollection. He thought some one pushed him about in a passage, and remembered his wife's assisting him to put on his great-coat in the middle of the street.

At the appointed hour, the glass-coach which was to convey the family from London stopped at the foot of Snow-hill. Mr. Tweasle was the first to jump in; the person to whom the business had been advantageously disposed of, gave his hand to Mrs. Tweasle, and then turned to say farewell to her husband.

"All I've got in this blessed world I made in that shop," said Tweasle, anxious to give his successor a high opinion of the bargain, and leave a good name behind him. "The many—many—happy—peaceful days I've seen in it!—I can't expect to see them again!—On a Saturday and on a Monday I've often been fit to drop behind my own counter, quite worn out with customers. I'm afraid I've done a rash thing; but I've this consolation, I've left the business in good hands."

"Come, don't look dull, Tweasle," cried his wife, who was imposed on by her husband's pathetics: "cheer up! You know trade ain't what it was, and I'm sure the two last years must have been a 'losing game.'"

It is impossible to say whether he who had bought or he who had sold the business looked most appalled by this untimely truth. However, Tweasle was the first to recover himself: he took his victim affectionately by the hand, and, leaning forward, whispered in propitiatory confidential accents, "Always put a little white pepper in Alderman Heavyside's Welsh, or he'll think you've adulterated it."

But the successor was hurt past such slender consolation. With lofty integrity he spurned the advice of his deceiver; for, jerking his hand away, and looking Tweasle sternly in the face, he said, "Sir, I shall do my duty!" and he strutted into the shop; whereupon the coach began to move.


Disposed by this little incident to sadness, its late occupant looked at the house till his eyes watered. He was no longer a "public man;" his opinion of the weather was now of no importance; he might henceforth loiter over his dinner undisturbed by any thought of the shop! Feelings such as these could not be suppressed, and Tweasle was about to apostrophise, when his gentle partner startled him by exclaiming,

"Thank our stars, we're off at last!" and, catching a glimpse of the house as the coach turned into Hatton-garden, she added, "there's the last of it, I hope; I never wish to set eyes on the hole again!"

"Don't be ungrateful," said Tweasle, chidingly. "That roof has sheltered me near forty years."

"Well, it was a nuisance to live in it,—no place to dry a rag in but the servant's bed-room."

"And Martha made you give her rum and water, mother, or else she would catch cold," added the son.

"Stop there!—stop there!—stop!" a voice was heard to cry.

"That can't be for us," observed Mrs. Tweasle.

As if in the spirit of matrimonial contradiction, her husband the next moment exclaimed, "By George! it is though!"

It proved to be a debtor, who had journeyed to London in consequence of some information which had been afforded him by an attorney. Three hundred and odd pounds were in his pocket ready for disbursement, if Mr. Tweasle would accompany him to an inn in the Borough, and there go through the account This was vexatious. The fear of losing the money had long disturbed the late tobacconist's mental monotony, and now the certainty of its payment absolutely angered him. He turned to his lady, and said to her in a voice of positive wrath,

"Hanney, I shall go. Don't you wait for me, do you hear? I shall walk probably in the evening down to Hornsey,—when I've given a receipt for the money. Now, sir, I'm at your service. Will you show the way?"

"Please to remember a poor fellow who wants works," said a florid muscular mendicant, thrusting his huge hand close to the late tobacconist's face.—"The fellow must have overheard the arrangement," thought Tweasle; and an undefined feeling of alarm took the roses from his cheeks. As he hastily threw the man a few pence, he delivered some very profound remarks upon the Vagrant Act.

"Hanney, dear," cried he in a loud voice, while the beggar was stooping for the money, "don't make yourself uneasy, but set the steel-traps. I have pistols,—mind that, love,—I have pistols!" for, afraid to acknowledge his own terror, he found relief in supposing that others were more timid than himself.

Leaving his wife, Tweasle walked to the inn, where he remained till all the items of a long bill had been discussed, when the clock announced the hour of nine, and then the debtor insisted on being asked to supper, so that it was fairly half-past ten before Tweasle left the Borough.

So long as the lights of London illumined his way, he proceeded in comparative composure, only occasionally feeling at his coat-pockets to assure himself that the pistols were safe; but when the unaided darkness announced that he had quitted the extremest outskirts of[201] the metropolis, Mr. Tweasle paused, and audibly informed himself that "he was not afraid:" on receiving which information, he buttoned his coat closer, slapped his hat firmer on his cranium, frowned, and shook his head; and, endeavouring to act bravery, took a pistol in either hand as he marched onward with every symptom of excessive alarm.

He had not more than two miles farther to proceed, when the distant notes of St. Paul's cathedral announced the hour of midnight. At this time Tweasle was creeping along a lane rendered gloomy by high and parallel hedges, which inclosed fruitful pastures, and prevented grazing cattle from being impounded; at a little distance from him, behind one of these "leafy screens," stood a "pensive brother,"—a fine he-ass, which had retired thither to nibble the tender shoots of the mellifluous hawthorn.

As the last vibration died away, he stumbled into a cart-rut. On recovering his perpendicular, panting from the unnecessary exertion he had used, the poor traveller stared around him, and endeavoured to survey the place whereon he was standing. It was a gloomy spot,—one unrelieved mass of shade, in which the clouded heavens seemed to harmonize; everything was in awful repose,—the night was cold, but not a zephyr was abroad. Painfully oppressed by the utter loneliness of his position, a sense of extreme lassitude gradually crept over Tweasle,—he closed his eyes, and shuddered violently; he could have wept, but the fear of being afraid made him suppress the desire.

"This is a dreadful place!" he said aloud, with much gravity; "just such a spot as a murder might be committed in. I'm very glad I'm armed."

Scarcely had he uttered the words, when the donkey thrust forward his "pensive nose," and shook the hedge by pulling at a switch of more than common luxuriance. "I'll sell my life dearly!" was Tweasle's first sensation,—it could hardly be called idea, it was too confused,—as, preparing for attack, he instinctively clapped one hand upon his money, while with the other he presented a pistol towards the spot whence the noise proceeded. Not being, as he expected, immediately assaulted, he by a violent exertion of his mental powers so far mastered his bodily alarm as to gulp first and then breathe. He listened,—all was still. "They didn't know I was armed," thought Tweasle; "it was lucky I showed them my determination:" and, in something bordering upon confidence in the effects of his own courage, he ventured to whisper "Who's there?" when, receiving no answer, he increased his demand to "Who's there, I say?" in a somewhat louder voice. He was anxiously waiting the result of this boldness on his part when the animal, probably attracted by the sound, slowly moved towards the spot where Tweasle was standing. "Ah! come—d—n—don't—now—I—I'm armed, you know!" screamed the traveller, running about and wildly striking right and left with the pistol, confident that the action this time had positively commenced; but after some interval, becoming gradually convinced that he remained unhurt, he was quite satisfied that nothing but the extraordinary courage he had displayed could have saved him from this second desperate attempt upon his life; and, somewhat anxious to support the first dawn of his heroism, he said, or rather stammered,[202] in a voice not always distinct, "Now—now,—whoever you are,—don't go too far, because it's no pleasure to me to shoot you;—but I will, if you do:—so, in the King's name, who are you?—I must fire if you won't speak!"

The last appeal was made more in the tone of entreaty than command, for Tweasle beheld a black mass thrust itself against the hedge, evidently inspecting him. A rush of confused ideas, a tumult of strange suspicions and surmises, a "regular row" of contending emotions, deprived him of all self-control; and, if the pistol had not just at that moment accidentally exploded, he had probably fallen to the ground. As it was, the noise revived him; and, taking advantage of the circumstance, with a ready conceit he cried out "There!" for he had seen the object disappear, and heard a faint cry as of one in agony,—whereon he walked from the place with every appearance of impertinent composure.

But this simulation did not long continue. As he became more conscious, he grew more agitated: he had probably shot a robber. For this he felt no remorse, and was persuading himself he would repeat the act, when he discovered that he had lost his pistols. This discovery gave him a fearful shock,—he was unarmed! Now came another dread.—Was the miscreant he had killed alone? or had he companions? Did not robbers usually congregate in bands; and might he not be pursued? But Tweasle was adopting the very best mode of avoiding such a danger, as, long before he asked himself the question, his walk had quickened into a sort of hand-gallop, which this fresh terror increased to the wild speed of utter despair. Without slackening his pace, the affrighted man had nearly reached his home, when a sharp blow across the shins brought him to the ground, and, looking up, Tweasle perceived the mendicant of the afternoon, and two other suspicious-looking fellows standing over him. He could not speak; but, turning his face downwards, stretched himself upon the earth.

"Are you going to sleep there?" inquired the beggar with a kick that was violently anti-soporific; and, seeing that Tweasle naturally writhed under the infliction, the fellow vociferated, "Come, that didn't hurt you. It's no use shamming here."

"I shan't wait about, all night for him," cried a diminutive gentleman disguised in a coalheaver's hat worn jockey-fashion, who, seizing Tweasle by the collar, lifted him from the ground, and giving him a shake that was sufficient to render any human nerves unsteady for eternity, asked the tottering man in a voice of angry expostulation, "Why the devil he couldn't stand still?"

Too terrified to offer the slightest opposition, the unhappy Tweasle endeavoured to obey, which spirit of accommodation was repaid by the most scrupulous attentions. With a delicate dexterity that scarcely acquainted the owner of the abstraction, everything that his pockets contained was removed without unnecessary delay; and Tweasle was beginning to hope that the robbers would be content with their booty, when one of the fellows, anxious to have his clothes also, told him in the slang phraseology to undress, by shouting,

"Come, skin yourself."

"Skin myself!" cried Tweasle, understanding the words literally, and bounding from the place in horror of what appeared to him a refinement on even fictitious barbarity. "Skin myself!—You can't[203] mean it. I couldn't do it, if you'd give me the world.—It's impossible!—Oh, heavens!"

"No flash,—it won't do,—you'll undress," said the taller of the three with a calmness that thrilled his auditor.

"Oh! good gentlemen," continued Tweasle, wishing to touch their hearts by saying something pathetic, "do consider I'm a married man!—think of my poor wife!—think of my poor wife!"

"Carry her that 'ere with my compliments," cried the beggar, dashing his fist into Tweasle's face; an act which was received by the rest as an excellent joke.

"It will do you no good to ill-use a fellow-creature," replied Tweasle distinctly, as though the blow had refreshed him. "Don't think I shall resist; take what you please; only, as you are a man—in human form—in this world and in the next——"

"Sugar me! You're just agoing it nicely!" interrupted the mendicant. "I'm blowed if we pads don't teach more vartey than a bench of bishops. Never in all my born life borrowed on a friend that the beggar didn't funk pious and grunt gospel."

"But it is a natural impossibility for any man to skin himself."

"We'll do it for you, if you don't begin."

"Oh my heart! No!—Think of something else;—I'm willing to do anything but that."

"Stow that! Skin yourself,—shake them rags off your ugly pig of a body;—undress, and be d—d to you!"

Mr. Tweasle, who from this last speech gathered enough to remove his more horrible misgivings, delicately hinted at the inappropriateness of the place for such a purpose, the coolness of the night, the dislike he had to spectators at his toilet, and other things objectionable, but without effect: his opposition only confirmed the robbers' resolution, till a smart blow on the left cheek showed that they were inclined to silence, if they could not convince him.

Reluctantly the old man began to unrobe, parting with his garments one by one, and begging as a favour he might be allowed to retain only his waistcoat, on the worthlessness of which he expatiated till he convinced the plunderers it was of more value than its outside promised, as proved to be the case, notes to the amount of several hundreds being found pinned to the lining. They made many mock apologies for depriving him of this; sarcastically complimenting him for his modesty, which easily parted with other coverings, but blushed to expose his bosom: then, kicking him till he fell to the earth, there they left him.

Mrs. Tweasle reached the Italian villa as it was getting dusk, and the family sat up till midnight expecting Mr. Tweasle's arrival. As the hours advanced, the lady became alarmed, and sent Charles with a tumbler of rum and water into the kitchen, who, on his return, announced that Martha had declined the kitchen chair in favour of John's knee. "Never mind," cried the lady, made considerate by her fears; "such things are thought nothing of in the country." Whereupon she proceeded, with a strange concatenation of ideas, to state her opinion of second marriages; lamented that widows' caps were so difficult to get up; drank a little more rum and water; endeavoured to divert her mind with the Newgate Calendar, but could not enjoy it for thinking how cruel it was of Mr. Tweasle not to come home[204] earlier, and openly protested against sleeping alone in a strange house; then took upon herself, in Mr. Tweasle's absence, to read prayers and lock up for the night. The signal for retiring being given, each took a candlestick; but, before they separated, the mistress entreated all of them to be very watchful in their sleep for fear of robbers, as she was certain Mr. Tweasle would not be home that night, and did not know what his absence might bring about.

The subject being once started, every one tarried to relate some tale of midnight assassination; and all of them selected a strange uninhabited dwelling as the scene of their agitating incidents. The straw and half-opened packages which strewed the apartment gave the place where they were congregated a cheerless aspect; and they were excited to a degree of listening silence, and staring inquisitively at one another, while John recounted how a lady of high respectability chanced to be sitting by herself in the kitchen of a dilapidated mansion about two hours after midnight, and looking thoughtfully, not knowing what ailed her, at a round hole where a knot in the wainscot had been thrust out, when she saw the large dark sparkling eye of a most ferocious assassin peeping at her through the opening.

Just as John had reached this point of painful interest, the heavy foot of a man was heard to pass hastily over the bridge, and the next moment the front-door was violently shaken. The two females instantly pinioned John by clinging round him with all the tenacity of terror, while at the same time they were loud in their demands for that protection which, had they needed it, he was by them effectually disabled from affording; while Master Tweasle, seizing the rattle, and aiding its noise with his voice, in no small degree increased the family distraction; above which, however, was plainly heard some one without, using his best endeavours to force the entrance. Whoever that some one was, he appeared wholly unmindful of secrecy; which palpable contempt of caution, and open disregard of whatever resistance the inhabitants might be able to make, greatly increased their fear of the villain's intentions. At each shock the door sustained, shrieks were uttered by the women, accompanied by a very spirited movement by the boy upon the rattle; and the interval between these assaults Mrs. Tweasle employed in murmuring prayers and complaints to Heaven and John for the protection of her life and property.

At last the assailant appeared to get exhausted; his attempts gradually became weaker and less frequent. Emboldened by this, the family ventured to the first-floor window, whence they could plainly see what all agreed was a countryman in a white smock-frock pacing to and fro in front of the house in all the bitterest rage of excessive disappointment.

"Oh, the wretch!" cried Mrs. Tweasle. "What a good door that is! I make no doubt he knew the furniture was not unpacked; and, if he could only have got in, he would have carried it all off before morning: he must have known Mr. Tweasle was not at home. Oh dear me!"

Soon after she had spoken, the man seemed to have conquered his vexation, and, approaching the door, he gave a very decent double knock; but, not receiving an answer, he knocked again somewhat louder, and then with all his former violence frequently returned, making actions as if he were vowing vengeance against the family,[205] or calling imprecations down upon their heads for their resistance: but of what he said nothing could be heard, for this conduct so terrified the women that they screamed and shrieked, and Master Tweasle, as before, accompanied them on the rattle.

At length the robber, as if despairing of entrance, was seen to retire, but it was only to change the point of assault; they watched the villain move towards the back of the house; saw him, with a lofty courage that disdained at broken bottles, scale the garden-wall; and to their extreme delight, just as they were certain the back-door would not hold out, beheld him approach the jessamine bower where John had on the previous evening set one of the man-traps—and there he stayed.

A council of war was now held, which would have lasted till morning had it not been interrupted by Master Charles's firing a blunderbuss out of the window, thus bravely endeavouring to bring down the robber at a long shot; and he would have repeated his aim till he had hit his object, who might be distinctly seen making various strange contortions near the jessamine bower, had not his mother forbidden him. The boy, vexed by the check he received, mistook his ill-humour for bravery, and pettishly volunteered to advance to the thief, if John would accompany him on the expedition; but Mrs. Tweasle asked in surprise, "Was she to be left alone at the mercy of Heaven, without protection?" and John, with strong moral courage preferring duty to honour, rejected the proposal.

"Well, then," said the lad, "come along, Martha."

"Oh!—me?" cried the girl: "oh, Master Charles!" for the boy, when he requested her company, only thought that the exchange of a woman for a man was a vast sacrifice on his part; he never once considered how the substitution might affect the party it principally concerned.

Thus abandoned, he had stayed within, had not his mother insisted that he should not stir out: filial obedience supplied the place of resolution; he unbolted the back-door, and in a state of obstinate alarm issued into the garden.

Advancing cautiously, and by a most circuitous way, the boy approached the jessamine bower, and there discovered his father writhing and moaning, with one leg fast in a trap, which, according to his own orders, had been set for the protection of the cabbages.

"Oh! my dear boy, don't fire any more. It's me, Charles! let me out of this—I'm dying!"

"Why, if it isn't you, father!—only wait a bit——"

"Wait!—don't talk nonsense!" cried Tweasle, looking at his unfortunate leg, which was held in the trap, and feeling his condition aggravated by the supposition that it was one of choice.

"Yes, I'll fetch mother,"

"Hang your mother!—let me out of this!" ejaculated the poor man, who was no ways desirous of continuing his agony that it might be made a kind of domestic exhibition of; but, deaf to his parent's entreaties, the boy ran away, quite full of his discovery. On the steps he met the maid-servant, whom he rebuked with much coarseness for appearing alarmed, and presently returned, marching like a conqueror at the head of a triumph.

All were much surprised at beholding Mr. Tweasle in such a[206] situation, unrobed and wounded, shivering from cold and terror, and deprived of all self-command by exhaustion and a man-trap. Mrs. Tweasle was quite overpowered by the sight: her feelings rather claimed pity than bestowed it; for while John was removing the steel trap from his master's legs, she kept moaning, and entreating her husband only to consider how his conduct had pained her. The poor maid-servant displayed great goodness of heart; she tenderly bound her master's naked legs, gently lifted him into the chair that was brought to convey him into the house, and appeared quite to overcome the natural delicacy of her sex in the praiseworthy endeavour to render a fellow-creature every possible assistance; while John and Master Tweasle seemed more inclined to converse on what had happened than to mingle in what was taking place, repeatedly putting questions which the sufferer was incapable of answering, as to wherefore he did that, or why he did not do this.

Tweasle's injuries were rather painful than dangerous: in a few days he was convalescent, and was beginning to grow valiant in his descriptions of his midnight mishaps, when the following hand-bill was submitted to his notice.

"Whereas a valuable male donkey, the property of Stephen Hedges, was on the night of the 6th of May last maliciously shot at and killed by some person or persons unknown; this is to give notice, that whoever will render such information as shall lead to the conviction of the offender or offenders, shall receive Five Pounds reward."

For some time after reading this, Tweasle appeared full of thought, when he surprised his family by a sudden resolution to send Stephen Hedges five pounds; nor could any remonstrance on the part of his wife change his charitable purpose. No one could account for this: in pence the late tobacconist had always been a pattern of benevolence; but to give pounds was not in the ordinary scale of his charity. None could assign a reason for so boundless a beneficence, more than they could comprehend why Tweasle should, whenever the subject was mentioned, expatiate with so much feeling on "What the poor ass must have suffered!"



In a garden fair were roaming
Two lovers hand in hand;
Two pale and shadowy creatures,
They sat in that flowery land.
On the lips they kiss'd each other,
On the cheeks so full and smooth;
They were lock'd in close embracings,
They were blithe with the flush of youth.
Two bells were tolling sadly,—
The dream has pass'd away;
She in the narrow cloister,
He in a dungeon lay.





"Look at the Clock!" quoth Winifred Pryce,
As she open'd the door to her husband's knock,
Then paus'd to give him a piece of advice,
"You nasty Warmint, look at the Clock!
Is this the way, you
Wretch, every day you
Treat her who vow'd to love and obey you?
Out all night!
Me in a fright;
Staggering home as it's just getting light!
You intoxified brute! you insensible block!
Look at the Clock!—Do.—Look at the Clock!"
Winifred Pryce was tidy and clean,
Her gown was a flower'd one, her petticoat green,
Her buckles were bright as her milking cans,
And her hat was a beaver, and made like a man's;
Her little red eyes were deep set in their socket-holes,
Her gown-tail was turn'd up, and tuck'd through the pocket-holes:
A face like a ferret
Betoken'd her spirit:
To conclude, Mrs. Pryce was not over young,
Had very short legs, and a very long tongue.
Now David Pryce
Had one darling vice;
Remarkably partial to anything nice,
Nought that was good to him came amiss,
Whether to eat, or to drink, or to kiss!
Especially ale—
If it was not too stale
I really believe he'd have emptied a pail;
Not that in Wales
They talk of their Ales;
To pronounce the word they make use of might trouble you,
Being spelt with a C, two Rs, and a W.
That particular day,
As I've heard people say,
Mr. David Pryce had been soaking his clay,
And amusing himself with his pipe and cheroots,
The whole afternoon at the Goat in Boots,
With a couple more soakers,
Thoroughbred smokers,
Both, like himself, prime singers and jokers;
And, long after day had drawn to a close,
And the rest of the world was wrapp'd in repose,
They were roaring out "Shenkin!" and "Ar hydd y nos;"
While David himself, to a Sassenach tune,
Sang, "We've drunk down the Sun, boys! let's drink down the Moon!
What have we with day to do?
Mrs. Winifred Pryce, 'twas made for you!"
At length, when they couldn't well drink any more,
Old "Goat-in-Boots" shew'd them the door;
And then came that knock,
And the sensible shock
David felt when his wife cried, "Look at the Clock
For the hands stood as crooked as crooked might be,
The long at the Twelve, and the short at the Three!
This self-same Clock had long been a bone
Of contention between this Darby and Joan;
And often among their pother and rout,
When this otherwise amiable couple fell out,
Pryce would drop a cool hint,
With an ominous squint
At its case, of an "Uncle" of his, who'd a "Spout."
That horrid word "Spout"
No sooner came out,
Than Winifred Pryce would turn her about,
And with scorn on her lip,
And a hand on each hip,
"Spout" herself till her nose grew red at the tip,
"You thundering willain,
I know you'd be killing
Your wife,—ay, a dozen of wives,—for a shilling!
You may do what you please,
You may sell my chemise,
(Mrs. P. was too well-bred to mention her stock,)
But I never will part with my Grandmother's Clock!"
Mrs. Pryce's tongue ran long and ran fast;
But patience is apt to wear out at last,
And David Pryce in temper was quick,
So he stretch'd out his hand, and caught hold of a stick;
Perhaps in its use he might mean to be lenient,
But walking just then wasn't very convenient,
So he threw it, instead,
Direct at her head.
It knock'd off her hat;
Down she fell flat;
Her case, perhaps, was not much mended by that;
But, whatever it was,—whether rage and pain
Produc'd apoplexy, or burst a vein,
Or her tumble induc'd a concussion of brain,
I can't say for certain,—but this I can,
When, sobered by fright, to assist her he ran,
Mrs. Winifred Pryce was as dead as Queen Anne!
The fearful catastrophe
Named in my last strophe
As adding to grim Death's exploits such a vast trophy,
Soon made a great noise; and the shocking fatality
Like wild-fire ran over the whole Principality.
And then came Mr. Ap Thomas, the Coroner,
With his jury to sit, some dozen or more, on her.
Mr. Pryce, to commence
His "ingenious defence,"
Made a "pow'rful appeal" to the jury's "good sense,"
"The world he must defy
Ever to justify
Any presumption of "Malice Prepense;"
The unlucky lick
From the end of the stick
He "deplored," he was "apt to be rather too quick;"
But, really, her prating
Was so aggravating:
Some trifling correction was just what he meant; all
The rest, he assured them, was "quite accidental!"
Then he called Mr. Jones,
Who deposed to her tones,
And her gestures, and hints about "breaking his bones."
While Mr. Ap Morgan, and Mr. Ap Rhys
Declared the Deceased
Had styled him "a Beast,"
And swore they had witness'd, with grief and surprise,
The allusions she made to his limbs and his eyes.
The jury, in fine, having sat on the body
The whole day, discussing the case, and gin-toddy,
Return'd about half-past eleven at night
The following verdict, "We find, Sarve her right!"
Mr. Pryce, Mrs. Winifred Pryce being dead,
Felt lonely, and moped; and one evening he said
He would marry Miss Davis at once in her stead.
Not far from his dwelling,
From the vale proudly swelling,
Rose a mountain; its name you'll excuse me from telling,
For the vowels made use of in Welsh are so few
That the A and the E, the I, O, and the U,
Have really but little or nothing to do;
And the duty, of course, falls the heavier by far
On the L, and the H, and the N, and the R.
Its first syllable, "Pen,"
Is pronounceable;—then
Come two L Ls, and two H Hs, two F Fs, and an N;
About half a score Rs, and some Ws follow,
Beating all my best efforts at euphony hollow:
But we shan't have to mention it often, so when
We do, with your leave, we'll curtail it to "Pen."
Well,—the moon shone bright
Upon "Pen" that night,
When Pryce, being quit of his fuss and his fright,
Was scaling its side
With that sort of stride
A man puts out when walking in search of a bride.
Mounting higher and higher,
He began to perspire,
Till, finding his legs were beginning to tire,
And feeling opprest
By a pain in his chest,
He paus'd, and turn'd round to take breath, and to rest;
A walk all up hill is apt, as we know,
To make one, however robust, puff and blow,
So he stopped, and look'd down on the valley below.
O'er fell, and o'er fen,
Over mountain and glen,
All bright in the moonshine, his eye rov'd, and then
All the Patriot rose in his soul, and he thought
Of Wales, and her glories, and all he'd been taught
Of her Heroes of old,
So brave and so bold,—
Of her Bards with long beards, and harps mounted in gold;
Of King Edward the First,
Of mem'ry accurst;
And the scandalous manner in which he behaved,
Killing Poets by dozens,
With their uncles and cousins,
Of whom not one in fifty had ever been shaved.
Of the Court Ball, at which, by a lucky mishap,
Owen Tudor fell into Queen Katherine's lap;
And how Mr. Tudor
Successfully woo'd her,
Till the Dowager put on a new wedding ring,
And so made him Father-in-law to the King.
He thought upon Arthur, and Merlin of yore,
On Gryffyth ap Conan, and Owen Glendour;
On Pendragon, and Heaven knows how many more.
He thought of all this, as he gazed, in a trice,
And on all things, in short, but the late Mrs. Pryce;
When a lumbering noise from behind made him start,
And sent the blood back in full tide to his heart,
Which went pit-a-pat
As he cried out, "What's that?—
That very queer sound?
Does it come from the ground?
Or the air,—from above, or below, or around?
It is not like Talking,
It is not like Walking,
It's not like the clattering of pot or of pan,
Or the tramp of a horse,—or the tread of a man,—
Or the hum of a crowd,—or the shouting of boys,—
It's really a deuced odd sort of a noise!
Not unlike a Cart's,—but that can't be; for when
Could "all the King's horses and all the King's men,"
With Old Nick for a waggoner, drive one up "Pen?"
Pryce, usually brimful of valour when drunk,
Now experienced what schoolboys denominate "funk."
In vain he look'd back
On the whole of the track
He had traversed; a thick cloud, uncommonly black,
At this moment obscured the broad disc of the moon,
And did not seem likely to pass away soon;
While clearer and clearer,
'Twas plain to the hearer,
Be the noise what it might, it drew nearer and nearer,
And sounded, as Pryce to this moment declares,
Very much "like a Coffin a-walking up stairs."
Mr. Pryce had begun
To "make up" for a run,
As in such a companion he saw no great fun,
When a single bright ray
Shone out on the way
He had pass'd, and he saw with no little dismay
Coming after him, bounding o'er crag and o'er rock,
The deceased Mrs. Winifred's "Grandmother's Clock!!"
Twas so!—it had certainly moved from its place,
And come, lumbering on thus, to hold him in chase;
'Twas the very same Head, and the very same Case,
And nothing was alter'd at all but the Face!
In that he perceived, with no little surprise,
The two little winder-holes turn'd into eyes
Blazing with ire,
Like two coals of fire;
And the "Name of the Maker" was changed to a Lip,
And the Hands to a Nose with a very red tip.
No!—he could not mistake it,—'twas She to the life!
The identical Face of his dear defunct Wife!!
One glance was enough,
Completely "Quant. Suff."
As the doctors write down when they send you their "stuff,"—
Like a Weather-cock whirl'd by a vehement puff,
David turn'd himself round;
Ten feet of ground
He clear'd, in his start, at the very first bound!
I've seen people run at West-End Fair for cheeses,
I've seen Ladies run at Bow Fair for chemises,
At Greenwich Fair twenty men run for a hat,
And one from a Bailiff much faster than that;
At foot-ball I've seen lads run after the bladder,
I've seen Irish Bricklayers run up a ladder,
I've seen little boys run away from a cane,
And I've seen, (that is, read of,) good running in Spain;
But I never did read
Of, or witness, such speed
As David exerted that evening.—Indeed
All I ever have heard of boys, women, or men,
Falls far short of Pryce, as he ran over "Pen!"
He reaches its brow,—
He has past it, and now
Having once gain'd the summit, and managed to cross it, he
Rolls down the side with uncommon velocity;
But, run as he will,
Or roll down the hill,
That bugbear behind him is after him still!
And close at his heels, not at all to his liking,
The terrible Clock keeps on ticking and striking,
Till, exhausted and sore,
He can't run any more,
But falls as he reaches Miss Davis's door.
And screams when they rush out, alarm'd at his knock,
"Oh! Look at the Clock!—Do.—Look at the Clock!!"
Miss Davis look'd up, Miss Davis look'd down,
She saw nothing there to alarm her;—a frown
Came o'er her white forehead,
She said "It was horrid
A man should come knocking at that time of night,
And give her Mamma and herself such a fright;
To squall and to bawl
About nothing at all—"
She begg'd "he'd not think of repeating his call,
His late wife's disaster
By no means had past her,"
She'd "have him to know she was meat for his Master!"
Then, regardless alike of his love and his woes,
She turn'd on her heel as she turn'd up her nose.
Poor David in vain
Implored to remain,
He "dared not," he said, "cross the mountain again."
Why the fair was obdurate
None knows,—to be sure, it
Was said she was setting her cap at the Curate;—
Be that as it may, it is certain the sole hole
Pryce could find to creep into that night was the Coal-hole!
In that shady retreat,
With nothing to eat,
And with very bruis'd limbs, and with very sore feet,
All night close he kept;
I can't say he slept;
But he sigh'd, and he sobb'd, and he groan'd, and he wept,
Lamenting his sins
And his two broken shins,
Bewailing his fate with contortions and grins,
And her he once thought a complete Rara Avis,
Consigning to Satan,—viz. cruel Miss Davis!
Mr. David has since had a "serious call,"
He never drinks ale, wine, or spirits, at all,
And they say he is going to Exeter Hall
To make a grand speech,
And to preach, and to teach
People that "they can't brew their malt-liquor too small!"
That an ancient Welsh Poet, one Pyndar ap Tudor,
Was right in proclaiming "Ariston men Udor!"
Which means "The pure Element
Is for the belly meant!"
And that Gin's but a Snare of Old Nick the deluder!
And "still on each evening when pleasure fills up,"
At the old Goat-in-Boots, with metheglin, each cup,
Mr. Pryce, if he's there,
Will get into "the Chair,"
And make all his quondam associates stare
By calling aloud to the landlady's daughter,
"Patty! bring a cigar, and a glass of Spring Water!"
The dial he constantly watches; and when
The long hand's at the "XII," and the short at the "X,"
He gets on his legs,
Drains his glass to the dregs,
Takes his hat and great-coat off their several pegs,
With his President's hammer bestows his last knock,
And says solemnly,—"Gentlemen!
"Look at the Clock!!!"

Thomas Ingoldsby.

Tappington Everard, July 24.



September, 1837.



Duo quisque Alpina coruscat
Gæsa manu.—Æneid. lib. 8.
Παν πραγμα δυας εχει λαβας.—Epictetus.
September the first on the moorland hath burst,
And already with jocund carol
Each Nimrod of nouse hurries off to the grouse,
And has shouldered his double barrel;
For well doth he ken, as he hies through the glen,
That scanty will be his laurel
Who hath not
On the spot
(Should he miss a first shot)
Some resource in a double barrel.
'Twas the Goddess of Sport, in her woodland court,
Diana, first taught this moral,
Which the Goddess of Love soon adopted, and strove
To improve on the "double barrel."
Hence her Cupid, we know, put two strings to his bow;
And she laughs, when two lovers quarrel,
At the lot
Of the sot
Who, to soothe him, han't got
The resource of a double barrel.
Nay, the hint was too good to lie hid in the wood,
Or to lurk in two lips of coral;
Hence the God of the Grape (who his betters would ape)
Knows the use of a double barrel.
His escutcheon he decks with a double XX,
And his blithe October carol
Follows up
With the sup
Of a flowing ale-cup
September's double barrel.

Water-grass-hill, Kal. VIIbres.



"Hal, thou hast the most unsavoury similes."—Falstaff.

Since Genius hath the immortal faculty
Of bringing grist to other people's mills,
While for itself no office it fulfils,
And cannot choose but starve amazingly,
Methinks 'tis very like the dog's-meat dog,
That 'twixt Black Friars and White sometimes I've seen,—
Afflicted quadruped, jejune and lean,
Whom none do feed, but all do burn to flog.
For why? He draws the dog's-meat cart, you see,—
Himself a dog. All dogs his coming hail,
Long dogs and short, and dogs of various tail,
Yea truly, every sort of dogs that be.
Where'er he cometh him his cousins greet,
Yet not for love, but only for the meat,—
In Little Tower Street,
Or opposite the pump on Fish-street Hill,
Or where the Green Man is the Green Man still,
Or where you will:—
It is not he, but, ah! it is the cart
With which his cousins are so loth to part;
(That's nature, bless your heart!)
And you'll observe his neck is almost stiff
With turning round to try and get a sniff,
As now and then a whiff,
Charged from behind, a transient savour throws,
That curls with hope the corners of his nose,
Then all too quickly goes,
And leaves him buried in conjectures dark,
Developed in a sort of muffled bark.
For I need scarce remark
That that sagacious dog hath often guess'd
There's something going on of interest
Behind him, not confest;
And I have seen him whisk with sudden start
Entirely round, as he would face the cart,
Which could he by no art,
Because of cunning mechanism. Lord!
But how a proper notion to afford?
How possibly record,
With any sort of mental satisfaction,
The look of anguish—the immense distraction—
Pictured in face and action,
When, whisking round, he hath discovered there
Five dogs,—all jolly dogs—besides a pair
Of cats, most debonair,
In high assembly met, sublimely lunching,
Best horse's flesh in breathless silence munching,
While he, poor beast! is crunching
His unavailing teeth?—You must be sensible
'Tis aggravating—cruel—indefensible—
And to his grave I do believe he'll go,
Sad dog's-meat dog, nor ever know
Whence all those riches flow
Which seem to spring about him where he is,
Finding their way to every mouth but his.—
I know such similes
By some are censured as not being savoury;
But still it's better than to talk of "knavery,"
And "wretched authors' slavery,"
With other words of ominous import.
I much prefer a figure of this sort.
And so, to cut it short,
(For I abhor all poor rhetoric fuss,)
Ask what the devil I mean—I answer thus,
That dog's a Genius.
Oliver claimed by his Affectionate Friends







Oliver soon recovered from the fainting-fit into which Mr. Brownlow's abrupt exclamation had thrown him; and the subject of the picture was carefully avoided, both by the old gentleman and Mrs. Bedwin, in the conversation that ensued, which indeed bore no reference to Oliver's history or prospects, but was confined to such topics as might amuse without exciting him. He was still too weak to get up to breakfast; but, when he came down into the housekeeper's room next day, his first act was to cast an eager glance at the wall, in the hope of again looking on the face of the beautiful lady. His expectations were disappointed, however, for the picture had been removed.

"Ah!" said the housekeeper, watching the direction of Oliver's eyes. "It is gone, you see."

"I see it is, ma'am," replied Oliver, with a sigh. "Why have they taken it away?"

"It has been taken down, child, because Mr. Brownlow said, that, as it seemed to worry you, perhaps it might prevent your getting well, you know," rejoined the old lady.

"On, no, indeed it didn't worry me, ma'am," said Oliver. "I liked to see it; I quite loved it."

"Well, well!" said the old lady, good-humouredly; "you get well as fast as ever you can, dear, and it shall be hung up again. There, I promise you that; now let us talk about something else."

This was all the information Oliver could obtain about the picture at that time, and as the old lady had been so kind to him in his illness, he endeavoured to think no more of the subject just then; so listened attentively to a great many stories she told him about an amiable and handsome daughter of hers, who was married to an amiable and handsome man, and lived in the country; and a son, who was clerk to a merchant in the West Indies, and who was also such a good young man, and wrote such dutiful letters home four times a year, that it brought the tears into her eyes to talk about them. When the old lady had expatiated a long time on the excellences of her children, and the merits of her kind good husband besides, who had been dead and gone, poor dear soul! just six-and-twenty years, it was time to have tea; and after tea she began to teach Oliver cribbage, which he learnt as quickly as she could teach, and at which game they played, with great interest and gravity, until it was[216] time for the invalid to have some warm wine and water, with a slice of dry toast, and to go cosily to bed.

They were happy days those of Oliver's recovery. Everything was so quiet, and neat, and orderly, everybody so kind and gentle, that after the noise and turbulence in the midst of which he had always lived, it seemed like heaven itself. He was no sooner strong enough to put his clothes on properly, than Mr. Brownlow caused a complete new suit, and a new cap, and a new pair of shoes, to be provided for him. As Oliver was told that he might do what he liked with the old clothes, he gave them to a servant who had been very kind to him, and asked her to sell them to a Jew, and keep the money for herself. This she very readily did; and, as Oliver looked out of the parlour window, and saw the Jew roll them up in his bag and walk away, he felt quite delighted to think that they were safely gone, and that there was now no possible danger of his ever being able to wear them again. They were sad rags, to tell the truth; and Oliver had never had a new suit before.

One evening, about a week after the affair of the picture, as Oliver was sitting talking to Mrs. Bedwin, there came a message down from Mr. Brownlow, that if Oliver Twist felt pretty well, he should like to see him in his study, and talk to him a little while.

"Bless us, and save us! wash your hands, and let me part your hair nicely for you, child," said Mrs. Bedwin. "Dear heart alive! if we had known he would have asked for you, we would have put you a clean collar on, and made you as smart as sixpence."

Oliver did as the old lady bade him, and, although she lamented grievously meanwhile that there was not even time to crimp the little frill that bordered his shirt-collar, he looked so delicate and handsome, despite that important personal advantage, that she went so far as to say, looking at him with great complacency from head to foot, that she really didn't think it would have been possible on the longest notice to have made much difference in him for the better.

Thus encouraged, Oliver tapped at the study door, and, on Mr. Brownlow calling to him to come in, found himself in a little back room, quite full of books, with a window looking into some pleasant little gardens. There was a table drawn up before the window, at which Mr. Brownlow was seated reading. When he saw Oliver, he pushed the book away from him, and told him to come near the table and sit down. Oliver complied, marvelling where the people could be found to read such a great number of books as seemed to be written to make the world wiser,—which is still a marvel to more experienced people than Oliver Twist every day of their lives.

"There are a good many books, are there not, my boy?" said Mr. Brownlow, observing the curiosity with which Oliver surveyed the shelves that reached from the floor to the ceiling.


"A great number, sir," replied Oliver; "I never saw so many."

"You shall read them if you behave well," said the old gentleman kindly; "and you will like that, better than looking at the outsides,—that is, in some cases, because there are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts."

"I suppose they are those heavy ones, sir," said Oliver, pointing to some large quartos with a good deal of gilding about the binding.

"Not those," said the old gentleman, patting Oliver on the head, and smiling as he did so; "but other equally heavy ones, though of a much smaller size. How should you like to grow up a clever man, and write books, eh?"

"I think I would rather read them, sir," replied Oliver.

"What! wouldn't you like to be a book-writer?" said the old gentleman.

Oliver considered a little while, and at last said he should think it would be a much better thing to be a bookseller; upon which the old gentleman laughed heartily, and declared he had said a very good thing, which Oliver felt glad to have done, though he by no means knew what it was.

"Well, well," said the old gentleman, composing his features, "don't be afraid; we won't make an author of you, while there's an honest trade to be learnt, or brick-making to turn to."

"Thank you, sir," said Oliver; and at the earnest manner of his reply the old gentleman laughed again, and said something about a curious instinct, which Oliver, not understanding, paid no very great attention to.

"Now," said Mr. Brownlow, speaking if possible in a kinder, but at the same time in a much more serious manner than Oliver had ever heard him speak in yet, "I want you to pay great attention, my boy, to what I am going to say. I shall talk to you without any reserve, because I am sure you are as well able to understand me as many older persons would be."

"Oh, don't tell me you are going to send me away, sir, pray!" exclaimed Oliver, alarmed by the serious tone of the old gentleman's commencement; "don't turn me out of doors to wander in the streets again. Let me stay here and be a servant. Don't send me back to the wretched place I came from. Have mercy upon a poor boy, sir; do!"

"My dear child," said the old gentleman, moved by the warmth of Oliver's sudden appeal, "you need not be afraid of my deserting you, unless you give me cause."

"I never, never will, sir," interposed Oliver.

"I hope not," rejoined the old gentleman; "I do not think you ever will. I have been deceived before, in the objects whom I have endeavoured to benefit; but I feel strongly disposed to trust you, nevertheless, and more strongly interested in your behalf than I can well account for, even to myself. The persons on whom I have bestowed my dearest love lie deep in their graves; but, although the happiness and delight of my life lie[218] buried there too, I have not made a coffin of my heart, and sealed it up for ever on my best affections. Deep affliction has only made them stronger; it ought, I think, for it should refine our nature."

As the old gentleman said this in a low voice, more to himself than to his companion, and remained silent for a short time afterwards, Oliver sat quite still, almost afraid to breathe.

"Well, well," said the old gentleman at length in a more cheerful voice, "I only say this, because you have a young heart; and knowing that I have suffered great pain and sorrow, you will be more careful, perhaps, not to wound me again. You say you are an orphan, without a friend in the world; and all the inquiries I have been able to make confirm the statement. Let me hear your story; where you came from, who brought you up, and how you got into the company in which I found you. Speak the truth; and if I find you have committed no crime, you will never be friendless while I live."

Oliver's sobs quite checked his utterance for some minutes; and just when he was on the point of beginning to relate how he had been brought up at the farm, and carried to the workhouse by Mr. Bumble, a peculiarly impatient little double-knock was heard at the street-door, and the servant, running up stairs, announced Mr. Grimwig.

"Is he coming up?" inquired Mr. Brownlow.

"Yes, sir," replied the servant. "He asked if there were any muffins in the house, and, when I told him yes, he said he had come to tea."

Mr. Brownlow smiled, and, turning to Oliver, said Mr. Grimwig was an old friend of his, and he must not mind his being a little rough in his manners, for he was a worthy creature at bottom, as he had reason to know.

"Shall I go down stairs, sir?" inquired Oliver.

"No," replied Mr. Brownlow; "I would rather you stopped here."

At this moment there walked into the room, supporting himself by a thick stick, a stout old gentleman, rather lame in one leg, who was dressed in a blue coat, striped waistcoat, nankeen breeches and gaiters, and a broad-brimmed white hat, with the sides turned up with green. A very small-plaited shirt-frill stuck out from his waistcoat, and a very long steel watch-chain, with nothing but a key at the end, dangled loosely below it. The ends of his white neckerchief were twisted into a ball about the size of an orange;—the variety of shapes into which his countenance was twisted defy description. He had a manner of screwing his head round on one side when he spoke, and looking out of the corners of his eyes at the same time, which irresistibly reminded the beholder of a parrot. In this attitude he fixed himself the moment he made his appearance; and, holding out a small piece of orange-peel at arm's length, exclaimed in a growling, discontented voice,


"Look here! do you see this? Isn't it a most wonderful and extraordinary thing that I can't call at a man's house but I find a piece of this cursed poor-surgeon's-friend on the staircase? I've been lamed with orange-peel once, and I know orange-peel will be my death at last. It will, sir; orange-peel will be my death, or I'll be content to eat my own head, sir!" This was the handsome offer with which Mr. Grimwig backed and confirmed nearly every assertion he made; and it was the more singular in his case, because, even admitting, for the sake of argument, the possibility of scientific improvements being ever brought to that pass which will enable a gentleman to eat his own head in the event of his being so disposed, Mr. Grimwig's head was such a particularly large one, that the most sanguine man alive could hardly entertain a hope of being able to get through it at a sitting, to put entirely out of the question a very thick coating of powder.

"I'll eat my head, sir," repeated Mr. Grimwig, striking his stick upon the ground. "Hallo! what's that?" he added, looking at Oliver, and retreating a pace or two.

"This is young Oliver Twist, whom we were speaking about," said Mr. Brownlow.

Oliver bowed.

"You don't mean to say that's the boy that had the fever, I hope?" said Mr. Grimwig, recoiling a little further. "Wait a minute, don't speak: stop—" continued Mr. Grimwig abruptly, losing all dread of the fever in his triumph at the discovery; "that's the boy that had the orange! If that's not the boy, sir, that had the orange, and threw this bit of peel upon the staircase, I'll eat my head and his too."

"No, no, he has not had one," said Mr. Brownlow, laughing. "Come, put down your hat, and speak to my young friend."

"I feel strongly on this subject, sir," said the irritable old gentleman, drawing off his gloves. "There's always more or less orange-peel on the pavement in our street, and I know it's put there by the surgeon's boy at the corner. A young woman stumbled over a bit last night, and fell against my garden-railings; directly she got up I saw her look towards his infernal red lamp with the pantomime-light. 'Don't go to him,' I called out of the window, 'he's an assassin,—a man-trap!' So he is. If he is not——" Here the irascible old gentleman gave a great knock on the ground with his stick, which was always understood by his friends to imply the customary offer whenever it was not expressed in words. Then, still keeping his stick in his hand, he sat down, and, opening a double eye-glass which he wore attached to a broad black riband, took a view of Oliver, who, seeing that he was the object of inspection, coloured, and bowed again.

"That's the boy, is it?" said Mr. Grimwig, at length.

"That is the boy," replied Mr. Brownlow, nodding good-humouredly to Oliver.


"How are you, boy?" said Mr. Grimwig.

"A great deal better, thank you, sir," replied Oliver.

Mr. Brownlow, seeming to apprehend that his singular friend was about to say something disagreeable, asked Oliver to step down stairs, and tell Mrs. Bedwin they were ready for tea, which, as he did not half like the visitor's manner, he was very happy to do.

"He is a nice-looking boy, is he not?" inquired Mr. Brownlow.

"I don't know," replied Grimwig, pettishly.

"Don't know?"

"No, I don't know. I never see any difference in boys. I only know two sorts of boys,—mealy boys, and beef-faced boys."

"And which is Oliver?"

"Mealy. I know a friend who's got a beef-faced boy; a fine boy they call him, with a round head, and red cheeks, and glaring eyes; a horrid boy, with a body and limbs that appear to be swelling out of the seams of his blue clothes—with the voice of a pilot, and the appetite of a wolf. I know him, the wretch!"

"Come," said Mr. Brownlow, "these are not the characteristics of young Oliver Twist; so he needn't excite your wrath."

"They are not," replied Grimwig. "He may have worse."

Here Mr. Brownlow coughed impatiently, which appeared to afford Mr. Grimwig the most exquisite delight.

"He may have worse, I say," repeated Mr. Grimwig. "Where does he come from? Who is he? What is he? He has had a fever—what of that? Fevers are not peculiar to good people, are they? Bad people have fevers sometimes, haven't they, eh? I knew a man that was hung in Jamaica for murdering his master; he had had a fever six times; he wasn't recommended to mercy on that account. Pooh! nonsense!"

Now, the fact was, that, in the inmost recesses of his own heart, Mr. Grimwig was strongly disposed to admit that Oliver's appearance and manner were unusually prepossessing, but he had a strong appetite for contradiction, sharpened on this occasion by the finding of the orange-peel; and inwardly determining that no man should dictate to him whether a boy was well-looking or not, he had resolved from the first to oppose his friend. When Mr. Brownlow admitted that on no one point of inquiry could he yet return any satisfactory answer, and that he had postponed any investigation into Oliver's previous history until he thought the boy was strong enough to bear it, Mr. Grimwig chuckled maliciously, and demanded, with a sneer, whether the housekeeper was in the habit of counting the plate at night; because, if she didn't find a table-spoon or two missing some sunshiny morning, why, he would be content to——, et cetera.

All this Mr. Brownlow, although himself somewhat of an impetuous gentleman, knowing his friend's peculiarities, bore with great good humour; and as Mr. Grimwig, at tea, was graciously[221] pleased to express his entire approval of the muffins, matters went on very smoothly, and Oliver, who made one of the party, began to feel more at his ease than he had yet done in the fierce old gentleman's presence.

"And when are you going to hear a full, true, and particular account of the life and adventures of Oliver Twist?" asked Grimwig of Mr. Brownlow, at the conclusion of the meal: looking sideways at Oliver as he resumed the subject.

"To-morrow morning," replied Mr. Brownlow. "I would rather he was alone with me at the time. Come up to me to-morrow morning at ten o'clock, my dear."

"Yes, sir," replied Oliver. He answered with some hesitation, because he was confused by Mr. Grimwig's looking so hard at him.

"I'll tell you what," whispered that gentleman to Mr. Brownlow; "he won't come up to you to-morrow morning. I saw him hesitate. He is deceiving you, my dear friend."

"I'll swear he is not," replied Mr. Brownlow, warmly.

"If he is not," said Mr. Grimwig, "I'll——" and down went the stick.

"I'll answer for that boy's truth with my life," said Mr. Brownlow, knocking the table.

"And I for his falsehood with my head," rejoined Mr. Grimwig, knocking the table also.

"We shall see," said Mr. Brownlow, checking his rising passion.

"We will," replied Mr. Grimwig, with a provoking smile; "we will."

As fate would have it, Mrs. Bedwin chanced to bring in at this moment a small parcel of books which Mr. Brownlow had that morning purchased of the identical bookstall-keeper who has already figured in this history; which having laid on the table, she prepared to leave the room.

"Stop the boy, Mrs. Bedwin," said Mr. Brownlow; "there is something to go back."

"He has gone, sir," replied Mrs. Bedwin.

"Call after him," said Mr. Brownlow; "it's particular. He's a poor man, and they are not paid for. There are some books to be taken back, too."

The street-door was opened. Oliver ran one way, and the girl another, and Mrs. Bedwin stood on the step and screamed for the boy; but there was no boy in sight, and both Oliver and the girl returned in a breathless state to report that there were no tidings of him.

"Dear me, I am very sorry for that," exclaimed Mr. Brownlow; "I particularly wished those books to be returned to-night."

"Send Oliver with them," said Mr. Grimwig, with an ironical smile; "he will be sure to deliver them safely, you know."

"Yes; do let me take them, if you please, sir," said Oliver; "I'll run all the way, sir."


The old gentleman was just going to say that Oliver should not go out on any account, when a most malicious cough from Mr. Grimwig determined him that he should, and by his prompt discharge of the commission prove to him the injustice of his suspicions, on this head at least, at once.

"You shall go, my dear," said the old gentleman. "The books are on a chair by my table. Fetch them down."

Oliver, delighted to be of use, brought down the books under his arm in a great bustle, and waited, cap in hand, to hear what message he was to take.

"You are to say," said Mr. Brownlow, glancing steadily at Grimwig,—"you are to say that you have brought those books back, and that you have come to pay the four pound ten I owe him. This is a five-pound note, so you will have to bring me back ten shillings change."

"I won't be ten minutes, sir," replied Oliver, eagerly; and, having buttoned up the bank-note in his jacket pocket, and placed the books carefully under his arm, he made a respectful bow, and left the room. Mrs. Bedwin followed him to the street-door, giving him many directions about the nearest way, and the name of the bookseller, and the name of the street, all of which Oliver said he clearly understood; and, having super-added many injunctions to be sure and not take cold, the careful old lady at length permitted him to depart.

"Bless his sweet face!" said the old lady, looking after him. "I can't bear, somehow, to let him go out of my sight."

At this moment Oliver looked gaily round, and nodded before he turned the corner. The old lady smilingly returned his salutation, and, closing the door, went back to her own room.

"Let me see; he'll be back in twenty minutes, at the longest," said Mr. Brownlow, pulling out his watch, and placing it on the table. "It will be dark by that time."

"Oh! you really expect him to come back, do you?" inquired Mr. Grimwig.

"Don't you?" asked Mr. Brownlow, smiling.

The spirit of contradiction was strong in Mr. Grimwig's breast at the moment, and it was rendered stronger by his friend's confident smile.

"No," he said, smiting the table with his fist, "I do not. The boy has got a new suit of clothes on his back, a set of valuable books under his arm, and a five-pound note in his pocket; he'll join his old friends the thieves, and laugh at you. If ever that boy returns to this house, sir, I'll eat my head."

With these words he drew his chair closer to the table, and there the two friends sat in silent expectation, with the watch between them. It is worthy of remark, as illustrating the importance we attach to our own judgments, and the pride with which we put forth our most rash and hasty conclusions, that, although Mr. Grimwig was not a bad-hearted man, and would have been unfeignedly sorry to see his respected friend duped[223] and deceived, he really did most earnestly and strongly hope at that moment that Oliver Twist might not come back. Of such contradictions is human nature made up!

It grew so dark that the figures on the dial were scarcely discernible; but there the two old gentlemen continued to sit in silence, with the watch between them.



If it did not come strictly within the scope and bearing of my long-considered intentions and plans regarding this prose epic (for such I mean it to be,) to leave the two old gentlemen sitting with the watch between them long after it grew too dark to see it, and both doubting Oliver's return, the one in triumph, and the other in sorrow, I might take occasion to entertain the reader with many wise reflections on the obvious impolicy of ever attempting to do good to our fellow-creatures where there is no hope of earthly reward; or rather on the strict policy of betraying some slight degree of charity or sympathy in one particularly unpromising case, and then abandoning such weaknesses for ever. I am aware that, in advising even this slight dereliction from the paths of prudence and worldliness, I lay myself open to the censure of many excellent and respectable persons, who have long walked therein; but I venture to contend, nevertheless, that the advantages of the proceeding are manifold and lasting. As thus: if the object selected should happen most unexpectedly to turn out well, and to thrive and amend upon the assistance you have afforded him, he will, in pure gratitude and fulness of heart, laud your goodness to the skies; your character will be thus established, and you will pass through the world as a most estimable person, who does a vast deal of good in secret, not one-twentieth part of which will ever see the light. If, on the contrary, his bad character become notorious, and his profligacy a by-word, you place yourself in the excellent position of having attempted to bestow relief most disinterestedly; of having become misanthropical in consequence of the treachery of its object; and of having made a rash and solemn vow, (which no one regrets more than yourself,) never to help or relieve any man, woman, or child again, lest you should be similarly deceived. I know a great number of persons in both situations at this moment, and I can safely assert that they are the most generally respected and esteemed of any in the whole circle of my acquaintance.

But, as Mr. Brownlow was not one of these; as he obstinately persevered in doing good for its own sake, and the gratification of heart it yielded him; as no failure dispirited him, and no ingratitude in individual cases tempted him to wreak his vengeance on the whole human race, I shall not enter into any such digression in this place: and, if this be not a sufficient reason for[224] this determination, I have a better, and, indeed, a wholly unanswerable one, already stated; which is, that it forms no part of my original intention so to do.

In the obscure parlour of a low public-house, situate in the filthiest part of Little Saffron-Hill,—a dark and gloomy den, where a flaring gas-light burnt all day in the winter-time, and where no ray of sun ever shone in the summer,—there sat, brooding over a little pewter measure and a small glass, strongly impregnated with the smell of liquor, a man in a velveteen coat, drab shorts, half-boots, and stockings, whom, even by that dim light, no experienced agent of police would have hesitated for one instant to recognise as Mr. William Sikes. At his feet sat a white-coated, red-eyed dog, who occupied himself alternately in winking at his master with both eyes at the same time, and in licking a large, fresh cut on one side of his mouth, which appeared to be the result of some recent conflict.

"Keep quiet, you warmint! keep quiet!" said Mr. Sikes, suddenly breaking silence. Whether his meditations were so intense as to be disturbed by the dog's winking, or whether his feelings were so wrought upon by his reflections that they required all the relief derivable from kicking an unoffending animal to allay them, is matter for argument and consideration. Whatever was the cause, the effect was a kick and a curse bestowed upon the dog simultaneously.

Dogs are not generally apt to revenge injuries inflicted upon them by their masters; but Mr. Sikes's dog, having faults of temper in common with his owner, and labouring perhaps, at this moment, under a powerful sense of injury, made no more ado but at once fixed his teeth in one of the half-boots, and, having given it a good hearty shake, retired, growling, under a form: thereby just escaping the pewter measure which Mr. Sikes levelled at his head.

"You would, would you?" said Sikes, seizing the poker in one hand, and deliberately opening with the other a large clasp-knife, which he drew from his pocket. "Come here, you born devil! Come here! D'ye hear?"

The dog no doubt heard, because Mr. Sikes spoke in the very harshest key of a very harsh voice; but, appearing to entertain some unaccountable objection to having his throat cut, he remained where he was, and growled more fiercely than before, at the same time grasping the end of the poker between his teeth, and biting at it like a wild beast.

This resistance only infuriated Mr. Sikes the more; so, dropping upon his knees, he began to assail the animal most furiously. The dog jumped from right to left, and from left to right, snapping, growling, and barking; the man thrust and swore, and struck and blasphemed; and the struggle was reaching a most critical point for one or other, when, the door suddenly opening, the dog darted out, leaving Bill Sikes with the poker and the clasp-knife in his hands.


There must always be two parties to a quarrel, says the old adage; and Mr. Sikes, being disappointed of the dog's presence, at once transferred the quarrel to the new-comer.

"What the devil do you come in between me and my dog for?" said Sikes with a fierce gesture.

"I didn't know, my dear, I didn't know," replied Fagin humbly—for the Jew was the new-comer.

"Didn't know, you white-livered thief!" growled Sikes. "Couldn't you hear the noise?"

"Not a sound of it, as I'm a living man, Bill," replied the Jew.

"Oh no, you hear nothing, you don't," retorted Sikes with a fierce sneer, "sneaking in and out, so as nobody hears how you come or go. I wish you had been the dog, Fagin, half a minute ago."

"Why?" inquired the Jew with a forced smile.

"'Cause the government, as cares for the lives of such men as you, as haven't half the pluck of curs, lets a man kill his dog how he likes," replied Sikes, shutting the knife up with a very expressive look; "that's why."

The Jew rubbed his hands, and, sitting down at the table, affected to laugh at the pleasantry of his friend,—obviously very ill at his ease, however.

"Grin away," said Sikes, replacing the poker, and surveying him with savage contempt; "grin away. You'll never have the laugh at me, though, unless it's behind a nightcap. I've got the upper hand over you, Fagin; and, d—me, I'll keep it. There. If I go, you go; so take care of me."

"Well, well, my dear," said the Jew, "I know all that; we—we—have a mutual interest, Bill,—a mutual interest."

"Humph!" said Sikes, as if he thought the interest lay rather more on the Jew's side than on his. "Well, what have you got to say to me?"

"It's all passed safe through the melting-pot," replied Fagin, "and this is your share. It's rather more than it ought to be, my dear; but as I know you'll do me a good turn another time, and——"

"'Stow that gammon," interposed the robber impatiently. "Where is it? Hand over!"

"Yes, yes, Bill; give me time, give me time," replied the Jew soothingly. "Here it is—all safe." As he spoke, he drew forth an old cotton handkerchief from his breast, and, untying a large knot in one corner, produced a small brown-paper packet, which Sikes snatching from him, hastily opened, and proceeded to count the sovereigns it contained.

"This is all, is it?" inquired Sikes.

"All," replied the Jew.

"You haven't opened the parcel and swallowed one or two as you come along, have you?" inquired Sikes suspiciously.[226] "Don't put on a injured look at the question; you've done it many a time. Jerk the tinkler."

These words, in plain English, conveyed an injunction to ring the bell. It was answered by another Jew, younger than Fagin, but nearly as vile and repulsive in appearance.

Bill Sikes merely pointed to the empty measure, and the Jew, perfectly understanding the hint, retired to fill it, previously exchanging a remarkable look with Fagin, who raised his eyes for an instant as if in expectation of it, and shook his head in reply so slightly that the action would have been almost imperceptible to a third person. It was lost upon Sikes, who was stooping at the moment to tie the boot-lace which the dog had torn. Possibly if he had observed the brief interchange of signals, he might have thought that it boded no good to him.

"Is anybody here, Barney?" inquired Fagin, speaking—now that Sikes was looking on—without raising his eyes from the ground.

"Dot a shoul," replied Barney, whose words, whether they came from the heart or not, made their way through the nose.

"Nobody?" inquired Fagin in a tone of surprise, which perhaps might mean that Barney was at liberty to tell the truth.

"Dobody but Biss Dadsy," replied Barney.

"Miss Nancy!" exclaimed Sikes. "Where? Strike me blind, if I don't honor that 'ere girl for her native talents."

"She's bid havid a plate of boiled beef id the bar," replied Barney.

"Send her here," said Sikes, pouring out a glass of liquor; "send her here."

Barney looked timidly at Fagin, as if for permission; the Jew remaining silent, and not lifting his eyes from the ground, he retired, and presently returned ushering in Miss Nancy, who was decorated with the bonnet, apron, basket, and street-door key complete.

"You are on the scent, are you, Nancy?" inquired Sikes, proffering the glass.

"Yes, I am, Bill," replied the young lady, disposing of its contents; "and tired enough of it I am, too. The young brat's been ill and confined to the crib; and——"

"Ah, Nancy, dear!" said Fagin, looking up.

Now, whether a peculiar contraction of the Jew's red eyebrows, and a half-closing of his deeply-set eyes, warned Miss Nancy that she was disposed to be too communicative, is not a matter of much importance. The fact is all we need care for here; and the fact is, that she suddenly checked herself, and, with several gracious smiles upon Mr. Sikes, turned the conversation to other matters. In about ten minutes' time, Mr. Fagin was seized with a fit of coughing, upon which Miss Nancy pulled her shawl over her shoulders, and declared it was time to go. Mr. Sikes, finding that he was walking a short part of her way himself, expressed his intention of accompanying her: and[227] they went away together, followed at a little distance by the dog, who slunk out of a back-yard as soon as his master was out of sight.

The Jew thrust his head out of the room door when Sikes had left it, looked after him as he walked up the dark passage, shook his clenched fist, muttered a deep curse, and then with a horrible grin reseated himself at the table, where he was soon deeply absorbed in the interesting pages of the Hue and Cry.

Meanwhile Oliver Twist, little dreaming that he was within so very short a distance of the merry old gentleman, was on his way to the bookstall. When he got into Clerkenwell he accidentally turned down a by-street which was not exactly in his way; but not discovering his mistake till he had got halfway down it, and knowing it must lead in the right direction, he did not think it worth while to turn back, and so marched on as quickly as he could, with the books under his arm.

He was walking along, thinking how happy and contented he ought to feel, and how much he would give for only one look at poor little Dick, who, starved and beaten, might be lying dead at that very moment, when he was startled by a young woman screaming out very loud, "Oh, my dear brother!" and he had hardly looked up to see what the matter was, when he was stopped by having a pair of arms thrown tight round his neck.

"Don't!" cried Oliver struggling. "Let go of me. Who is it? What are you stopping me for?"

The only reply to this, was a great number of loud lamentations from the young woman who had embraced him, and who had got a little basket and a street-door key in her hand.

"Oh my gracious!" said the young woman, "I've found him! Oh, Oliver! Oliver! Oh, you naughty boy, to make me suffer such distress on your account! Come home, dear, come. Oh, I've found him. Thank gracious goodness heavins, I've found him!" With these incoherent exclamations the young woman burst into another fit of crying, and got so dreadfully hysterical, that a couple of women who came up at the moment asked a butcher's boy, with a shiny head of hair anointed with suet, who was also looking on, whether he didn't think he had better run for the doctor. To which the butcher's boy, who appeared of a lounging, not to say indolent disposition, replied that he thought not.

"Oh, no, no, never mind," said the young woman, grasping Oliver's hand; "I'm better now. Come home directly, you cruel boy, come."

"What's the matter, ma'am?" inquired one of the women.

"Oh, ma'am," replied the young woman, "he ran away near a month ago from his parents, who are hard-working and respectable people, and joined a set of thieves and bad characters, and almost broke his mother's heart."

"Young wretch!" said one woman.


"Go home, do, you little brute," said the other.

"I'm not," replied Oliver, greatly alarmed. "I don't know her. I haven't got any sister, or father and mother either. I'm an orphan; I live at Pentonville."

"Oh, only hear him, how he braves it out!" cried the young woman.

"Why, it's Nancy!" exclaimed Oliver, who now saw her face for the first time, and started back in irrepressible astonishment.

"You see he knows me," cried Nancy, appealing to the bystanders. "He can't help himself. Make him come home, there's good people, or he'll kill his dear mother and father, and break my heart!"

"What the devil's this?" said a man, bursting out of a beer-shop, with a white dog at his heels; "young Oliver! Come home to your poor mother, you young dog! come home directly."

"I don't belong to them. I don't know them. Help! help!" cried Oliver, struggling in the man's powerful grasp.

"Help!" repeated the man. "Yes; I'll help you, you young rascal! What books are these? You've been a stealing 'em, have you? Give 'em here!" With these words the man tore the volumes from his grasp, and struck him violently on the head.

"That's right!" cried a looker-on, from a garret window. "That's the only way of bringing him to his senses!"

"To be sure," cried a sleepy-faced carpenter, casting an approving look at the garret-window.

"It'll do him good!" said the two women.

"And he shall have it, too!" rejoined the man, administering another blow, and seizing Oliver by the collar. "Come on, you young villain! Here, Bull's-eye, mind him, boy! mind him!"

Weak with recent illness, stupified by the blows and the suddenness of the attack, terrified by the fierce growling of the dog and the brutality of the man, and overpowered by the conviction of the bystanders that he was really the hardened little wretch he was described to be, what could one poor child do? Darkness had set in; it was a low neighbourhood; no help was near; resistance was useless. In another moment he was dragged into a labyrinth of dark, narrow courts, and forced along them at a pace which rendered the few cries he dared to give utterance to, wholly unintelligible. It was of little moment, indeed, whether they were intelligible or not, for there was nobody to care for them had they been ever so plain.

The gas-lamps were lighted; Mrs. Bedwin was waiting anxiously at the open door; the servant had run up the street twenty times, to see if there were any traces of Oliver; and still the two old gentlemen sat perseveringly in the dark parlour, with the watch between them.




There are few things in the history of mankind more extraordinary than the frightful extent to which the crime of secret poisoning was carried, in several countries of Europe, during a large portion of the seventeenth century. It appears to have taken its rise in Italy, where it prevailed to a degree that is almost incredible. The instrument chiefly used in its perpetration was a liquid called aqua tofana, from the name of Tofania, its inventor, a woman who has acquired an infamous celebrity. According to the account of Hoffmann, the famous physician, this woman confessed that she had used this liquid in poisoning above six hundred persons; and Gmelin says that more people were destroyed by it than by the plague, which had raged for some time before it came into use. This crime also prevailed, though for a shorter time and to a smaller extent, in France; and was far from being unknown in England. We intend to give our readers such information as we have collected on this curious subject; and though the most regular way might be to begin with the Signora Tofania herself, and the diffusion of her practices in her own country, we prefer giving at present the history of the most eminent of her followers, the Marchioness de Brinvillier, whose atrocities created so much excitement in France in the time of Louis the Fourteenth, as we shall thus be enabled at once to place the matter in its most striking light. We have consulted, we believe, most of the French works in which there are any particulars respecting this lady; and our readers may take the following as a faithful account of her life.

Marie-Marguerite d'Aubray was the daughter of M. d'Aubray, a gentleman who held a considerable judicial office in Paris. In 1651 she married the Marquis de Brinvillier. The match was a suitable one, both in respect to station and property. The marquis had estates of thirty thousand livres a-year; and his wife, who had two brothers and a sister, brought him a fortune of two hundred thousand livres, with the prospect of a considerable share of her father's inheritance. The marchioness enjoyed the gifts of nature as well as of fortune. Her figure was not remarkably handsome, but her face was round and pretty, with a serene and quiet expression; and she had an air of innocence, simplicity, and good-nature which gained the confidence of everybody who had any intercourse with her.

The Marquis de Brinvillier was colonel of a regiment of foot. While on service, he had contracted an intimacy with a gentleman of the name of St. Croix, a captain of cavalry. There was some mystery about this man's birth. It was known that he was from Montauban. Some thought him an illegitimate scion of a noble house; others said he belonged to a respectable family; but all agreed that he was totally destitute of the gifts of fortune.

The part which this personage acted in the occurrences of which we are about to give a sketch, makes it worth while to repeat the description of him contained in some of the memoirs of the time. His[230] countenance was handsome and intelligent; he was remarkably courteous and obliging, and entered into any benevolent or pious proposal with the same alacrity with which he agreed to commit a crime. He was vindictive, susceptible of love, and jealous to madness. His extravagance was unbounded, and, being unsupported by any regular income, led him into every sort of wickedness. Some years before his death, he assumed an appearance of devotion, and it is said even wrote some tracts on religious subjects.

The Marquis de Brinvillier was much addicted to pleasure. St. Croix got into his good graces, and was introduced into his house. At first he was only the husband's friend, but presently he became the wife's lover; and their attachment became mutual. The dissipation of the marquis's life prevented him from observing his wife's conduct, so that the pair carried on a guilty commerce without any suspicion on his part. His affairs became so disordered, that his wife succeeded, on this ground, in obtaining a separation, and after this paid no respect to decency or concealment in her connexion with her paramour. Scandalous, however, as her conduct was, it made no impression on the mind of the marquis, whose apathy induced the marchioness's father, M. d'Aubray, to use his paternal authority. He obtained a lettre de cachet against St. Croix, who was arrested one day when he was in a carriage with the marchioness, and carried to the Bastile, where he remained for a year.

Absence, far from abating the marchioness's passion, only inflamed it; and the constraint to which she found it necessary to subject herself in order to prevent a second separation, inflamed it still more. She conducted herself, however, with such apparent propriety, that she regained her father's favour, and even his confidence. St. Croix availed himself of the power which love had given him over his mistress to root out every good principle or feeling from her mind. Under his horrid lessons she became a monster, whose atrocities, we hope and believe, have hardly ever been paralleled. He resolved to take a dreadful revenge on the family of d'Aubray, and at the same time to get his whole property into the possession of the marchioness, that they might spend it together in guilty pleasures.

While St. Croix was in the Bastile, he had formed an acquaintance with an Italian of the name of Exili, to whom he communicated his views. Exili excited him to vengeance, and taught him the way to obtain it with impunity. Poisoning may be called, par excellence, an Italian art. With many fine qualities, vindictiveness and subtlety must be acknowledged to be strong features in the character of that people; and hence their early superiority in this art of taking the most deadly, and at the same time the safest, revenge on their enemies. It appears, accordingly, (as we have already said,) that it was from the Italians that the poisoners of other countries derived their skill. They acquired the art of composing poisons so disguised in their appearance and subtle in their effects, that they baffled the penetration and art of the physicians of that age. Some were slow, and consumed the vitals of the victim by almost imperceptible degrees; others were sudden and violent in their action; but few of them left any traces of their real nature, for the symptoms they produced were generally so equivocal, that they might be ascribed to many ordinary diseases. St. Croix greedily devoured the instructions[231] of his fellow-prisoner, and left the Bastile prepared to exercise his infernal art.

His first object of vengeance was M. d'Aubray himself; and he soon found means to persuade the daughter to become the agent in the destruction of her father. The old gentleman had a house in the country, where he used to spend his vacations. All his fondness for his daughter, whom he now believed to have been "more sinned against than sinning," had returned; and she, on her part, behaved to him with an appearance of affectionate duty. She anxiously attended to his every comfort; and, as his health had suffered from the fatigues of his office, she employed herself in superintending the preparation of nice and nourishing broths, which she gave him herself with every appearance of tender care. It is needless to say that these aliments contained some articles of Italian cookery; and the wretch, as she sat by his bed-side, witnessing his sufferings and listening to his groans, shed abundance of crocodile tears, while she eagerly administered to him remedies calculated to insure the accomplishment of her object. But neither the agonies of the poor old man, nor his touching expressions of love and gratitude to the fiend at his side, could turn her for a moment from her fell purpose. He was carried back to Paris, where in a few days he sunk under the effects of the poison.

No suspicion was entertained of the cause of his death; the idea of such a crime could not even have entered into the imagination of any one. No external symptoms appeared, and the expedient of opening the body was never thought of. The friends of the family were desirous only of pitying and comforting them; and the inconsolable daughter, who had tended her father with such filial piety, had the largest share of sympathy. She returned as soon as possible to the arms of her paramour, and made up for the restraint imposed on her during her father's life by spending the money she had inherited by his death in undisguised profligacy.

It afterwards appeared that this abandoned woman had made sure of the efficacy of her drugs by a variety of experiments, not only upon animals, but on human beings. She was in the habit of distributing to the poor poisoned biscuits, prepared by herself, the effect of which she found means to learn without committing herself. But this was not enough: she desired to be an eye-witness of the progress and symptoms of the effects produced by the poison; and for this purpose made the experiment on Françoise Roussel, her maid, to whom she gave, by way of treat, a plate of gooseberries and a slice of ham. The poor girl was very ill, but recovered; and this was a lesson to St. Croix to make his doses stronger.

Madame de Sevigné, in one of her letters, written at a time when the public attention was engrossed by this strange affair, says, "La Brinvillier used to poison pigeon-pies, which caused the death of many people whom she had no intention of destroying. The Chevalier du Guet was at one of these pretty dinners, and died of it two or three years ago. When in prison, she asked if he was dead, and was told he was not. 'His life must be very tough, then,' said she. M. de la Rochefoucauld declares that this is perfectly true."

M. d'Aubray's inheritance was not so beneficial to his infamous daughter as she had expected. The best part of his property went[232] to his son, M. d'Aubray, who succeeded to his father's office, and another brother a counsellor. It was necessary, therefore, to put them out of the way also; and this task St. Croix, thinking his accomplice had done enough for his purposes, took upon himself.

He had a villain at his devotion of the name of La Chaussée. This man had been in his service, and he knew him to be a fit agent in any atrocity. The marchioness got La Chaussée a place as servant to the counsellor, who lived with his brother the magistrate, taking great care to conceal from them that he had ever been in the service of St. Croix. La Chaussée's employers promised him a hundred pistoles and an annuity for life if he succeeded in causing the death of the magistrate, who was their first object of attack. His anxiety to do his business promptly made him fail in his first attempt. He gave the magistrate a glass of poisoned wine and water; but the dose was too strong: and no sooner had the magistrate put his lips to the glass, than he cried, "Ah, you scoundrel, what is this you have given me?—do you want to poison me?" He showed the liquid to his secretary, who, having examined it in a spoon, said it was bitter, and had a smell of vitriol. La Chaussée did not lose countenance, but, without any appearance of confusion, took the glass and poured out the liquor, saying that the younger M. d'Aubray's valet had taken some medicine in this glass, which had produced the bitter taste. He got off with a reprimand for his carelessness, and the matter was no more thought of.

This narrow escape from a discovery did not deter the murderers from prosecuting their design; but they took more effectual measures for its success, not caring though they should sacrifice by the same blow a number of people with whom they had no concern.

In the beginning of April 1670, the magistrate went to pass the Easter holidays at his house in the country. His brother the counsellor was of the party, and was attended by La Chaussée. One day at dinner there was a giblet-pie. Seven persons who eat of it became very ill, while those who had not partaken of it suffered no uneasiness. The two brothers were among the former, and had violent fits of vomiting. They returned to Paris a few days afterwards, having the appearance of persons who had undergone a long and violent illness.

St. Croix availed himself of this state of things to make sure of the fruit of his crimes. He obtained from the marchioness two promissory deeds, one for thirty thousand livres in his own name, and another for twenty-five thousand livres in the name of Martin, one of his familiars. The sum at first sight appears a small one, amounting only to about two thousand three hundred pounds sterling; but the immense difference in the value of money since the seventeenth century must be taken into account. Such, however, at all events, was the price paid by this demon for the death of her two brothers.

Meanwhile the elder d'Aubray became worse and worse; he could take no sustenance, and vomited incessantly. The three last days of his life he felt a fire in his stomach, which seemed to be consuming its very substance. At length he expired on the 17th of June 1670. On being opened, his stomach and duodenum were black, and falling to pieces, as if they had been put on a large fire; and the liver was burnt up and gangrened. It was evident that he[233] had been poisoned: but on whom could suspicion fall?—there was no clue whatever to guide it. The marchioness had gone to the country. St. Croix wrote her that the magistrate was dead, and that, from his brother's situation, he must soon follow. It so turned out. The unfortunate counsellor died, after having lingered three months in excruciating torments; and he was so far from suspecting La Chaussée of any hand in his death, that he left him a legacy of three hundred livres, which was paid.

These three murders were still insufficient. There was yet a sister who kept from the marchioness the half of the successions which she wished to gain by the death of her father and brothers. The sister's life was repeatedly attempted in the same way; but the shocking occurrences in her family had made her suspicious, and her precautions preserved her.

The poor Marquis de Brinvillier was intended by his fury of a wife for her next victim. "Madame de Brinvillier," says Madame de Sevigné in another of her letters, "wanted to marry St. Croix, and for that purpose poisoned her husband repeatedly. But St. Croix, who had no desire to have a wife as wicked as himself, gave the poor man antidotes; so that, having been tossed backward and forward in this way, sometimes poisoned, and sometimes unpoisoned, (désempoisonné), he has, after all, got off with his life."

Though everybody was convinced that the father and his two sons had been poisoned, yet nothing but very vague suspicions were entertained as to the perpetrators of the crime. Nobody thought of St. Croix as having had anything to do with it. He had for a long time ceased, to all appearance, to have any connexion with Madame de Brinvillier; and La Chaussée, the immediate agent, had played his part so well, that he was never suspected.

At last the horrible mystery was discovered. St. Croix continued to practise the art which had been so useful to him; and, as the poisons he made were so subtle as to be fatal even by respiration, he used to intercept their exhalations while compounding them by a glass mask over his face. One day the mask by accident dropped off, and he fell dead on the spot; "a death," says the French writer who mentions this occurrence, "much too good for a monster who had inflicted it by long and agonizing pangs on so many valuable citizens."[11] Having no relations that were known, his repositories[234] were sealed up by the public authorities. When they were opened and examined, the first thing which was found was a casket, in which was a paper in the following terms:

"I earnestly request those into whose hands this casket may fall, to deliver it into the hands of Madame la Marquise de Brinvillier, residing in the Rue Neuve St. Paul, seeing that all that it contains concerns and belongs to her only, and that it can be of no use to any person in the world except herself; and, in case of her being dead before me, to burn it, and all that it contains, without opening or meddling with anything. And should any one contravene these my intentions on this subject, which are just and reasonable, I lay the consequences on their head, both in this world and the next; protesting that this is my last will. Done at Paris this 25th May, afternoon, 1672. (Signed) De Sainte Croix."

The casket contained a number of parcels carefully sealed up, and some phials containing liquids. The parcels were found to contain a variety of drugs, which, having been submitted to the examination of physicians, were found to be most subtle and deadly poisons. This was ascertained by many experiments made upon pigeons, dogs, cats, and other animals, all which were detailed in a formal report made on the subject. It is stated in that report that no traces of the action of the poison, either external or internal, appeared on the bodies of the animals which had perished by it, and that it was impossible to detect its existence by any chemical tests. It would appear, therefore, that St. Croix had by his studies greatly increased in skill since the deaths of the d'Aubray family. The poisons administered to them were of a comparatively coarse and ordinary kind; they burnt up the stomach and bowels, produced horrid torment, and left unequivocal marks of their operation when any suspicion caused these marks to be sought for. But, with the skill subsequently acquired, this hateful pair might have destroyed thousands of their fellow-creatures with absolute impunity. It is impossible to suppose that St. Croix could have been constantly engaged, for a long series of years, in the composition of these secret instruments of death without making use of them; and there is no saying to what extent his work of destruction may have been carried.

The same casket contained ample evidence of the marchioness's share in these transactions. There were a number of letters from her to St. Croix, and the deed of promise which she had executed in his favour for thirty thousand livres.

When the marchioness heard that St. Croix was dead, and that his repositories had been sealed up, she showed the utmost anxiety to get possession of the casket. At ten o'clock at night she came to the house of the commissary who had affixed and taken off the seals, and[235] desired to speak with him. Being told by his clerk that he was asleep, she said she had come to inquire about a casket which belonged to her, and which she wished to get back, and would return next day. When she came back, she was told that the casket could not be given up to her. Thinking it high time, therefore, to take care of herself, she went off during the following night, and took refuge in Liege; leaving, however, a power to an attorney to appear for her and contest the validity of the promise she had given to St. Croix. La Chaussée, too, had the impudence to put in a claim to certain sums of money, which, as he pretended, belonged to him, and which were deposited, in places which he mentioned, in St. Croix's study. This proved that La Chaussée was acquainted with the localities of a place into which it was to be presumed that St. Croix admitted none but his confidants and confederates; and La Chaussée was arrested on suspicion, which was greatly strengthened by the confusion he betrayed when informed of the discoveries made at the removal of the seals.

A judicial inquiry was now set on foot, and many witnesses examined. Among others, Anne Huet, an apothecary's daughter, who was a sort of servant of the marchioness, deposed, that one day, when the marchioness was intoxicated, she had the imprudence to show the witness a little box which she took out of a casket, and which, she said, contained the means of getting rid of her enemies, and acquiring good inheritances. Mademoiselle Huet saw that the box contained sublimate of mercury in powder and in paste. Afterwards, when the fumes of the wine had evaporated, the witness told the marchioness what she had said. "Oh," she said, "I was talking nonsense;" but at the same time she earnestly begged her not to repeat what she had heard. The marchioness (this witness added) was in the habit, when anything chagrined her, to say she would poison herself. She said there were many ways of getting rid of people when they stood in one's way,—a bowl of broth was as good as a pistol-bullet. The girl added, that she had often seen La Chaussée with Madame de Brinvillier, who chatted familiarly with him; and that she had heard the marchioness say, "He is a good lad, and has been very serviceable to me." Mademoiselle Villeray, another witness, declared that she had seen La Chaussée on a very familiar footing with Madame de Brinvillier; that she had seen them alone together since the death of the magistrate; that, two days after the death of the counsellor, she made La Chaussée hide himself behind the bed-curtains when the magistrate's secretary came to see her. La Chaussée himself, on his examination, admitted this fact. Other persons related that La Chaussée, when he was asked how his master was during his illness, used to say, "Oh, he lingers on, the——!" adding a coarse epithet; "he gives us a deal of trouble. I wonder when he will kick the bucket."

On the 4th of March 1673, the court of La Tournelle pronounced a sentence, whereby La Chaussée was convicted of having poisoned the magistrate and the counsellor, and condemned to be broke alive upon the wheel, after having been put to the question ordinary and extraordinary, to discover his accomplices; and the Marchioness de Brinvillier was condemned, by default, to be beheaded. Under the torture, La Chaussée confessed his crimes, and gave a full account of[236] all the transactions we have related, in so far as he was connected with them. He was executed in the Place de Grêve, according to his sentence.

Desgrais, an officer of the Marechaussée, was sent to Liege to arrest the marchioness. He was provided with an escort, and a letter from the king to the municipality of that city, requesting that the criminal might be delivered up. Desgrais was permitted to arrest her and carry her to France.

She had retired to a convent, a sanctuary in which Desgrais durst not attempt to seize her; he therefore had recourse to stratagem. Disguising himself in an ecclesiastical habit, he paid her a visit, pretending that, being a Frenchman, he could not think of passing through Liege without seeing a lady so celebrated for her beauty and misfortunes. He even went so far as to play the gallant, and his amorous advances were as well received as he could desire. He persuaded the lady to take a walk with him; but they had no sooner got into the fields than the lover transformed himself into a police-officer. He arrested the lady, and put her into the hands of his followers, whom he had placed in ambush near the spot; and then, having obtained an order from the authorities to that effect, he made a search in her apartment. Under her bed he found a casket, which she vehemently insisted on having returned to her, but without effect. She then tried to bribe one of the officer's men, who pretended to listen to her, and betrayed her. During her retreat she had carried on an intrigue with a person of the name of Theria. To him she wrote a letter, (which she intrusted to her confidant,) beseeching him to come with all haste and rescue her from the hands of Desgrais. In a second letter she told him that the escort consisted only of eight persons, who could easily be beaten by five. In a third, she wrote to "her dear Theria," that if he could not deliver her by open force, he might at least kill two out of the four horses of the carriage in which she was, and thus, at least, get possession of the casket, and throw it into the fire; otherwise she was lost. Though Theria, of course, received none of his chère amie's letters, yet he went of his own accord to Maestricht, through which she was to pass, and tried to corrupt the officers by an offer of a thousand pistoles, if they would let her escape; but they were immovable. All her resources being thus exhausted, she attempted to kill herself by swallowing a pin; but it was taken from her by one of her guards.

Among the proofs against her, that which alarmed her the most was a written confession containing a narrative of her life, kept by her in the casket which she made such desperate efforts to recover. No wonder she was now horrified at what she had thus committed to paper. In the first article she declared herself an incendiary, confessing that she had set fire to a house. Madame Sevigné, speaking of this paper, says, "Madame de Brinvillier tells us, in her confession, that she was debauched at seven years old, and has led an abandoned life ever since; that she poisoned her father, her brothers, and one of her children; nay, that she poisoned herself, to try the effect of an antidote. Medea herself did not do so much. She has acknowledged this confession to be of her writing,—a great blunder; but she says she was in a high fever when she wrote it,—that it is mere frenzy,—a piece of extravagance which no one can read seriously." In a subsequent[237] letter, Madame de Sevigné adds, "Nothing is talked of but the sayings and doings of Madame de Brinvillier. She says in her confession that she has murdered her father;—she was afraid, no doubt, that she might forget to accuse herself of it. The peccadilloes which she is afraid of forgetting are admirable!"

The proceedings of her trial are fully reported in the Causes Célèbres. She found an able advocate in the person of M. Nivelle, whose pleading in her behalf is exceedingly learned and ingenious. He laboured hard to get rid of the confession; maintaining that this paper was of the same nature as a confession made under the seal of secrecy to a priest; and cited a number of precedents to show that circumstances thus brought to light cannot be used in a criminal prosecution. Her confused, evasive, and contradictory answers to the questions put to her on her interrogatory by the court,—a very objectionable step, by the way, of French criminal procedure,—were considered as filling up the measure of evidence against her; though, in this case, it was sufficiently ample without the aid either of her confession or examinations before the judges. The corpus delicti (in the language of the law) was certain. The deaths of her two brothers by poison were proved by the evidence of several medical persons; and the testimony of other witnesses established the commission of these crimes by St. Croix and her, through the instrumentality of La Chaussée.

At length, by a sentence of the supreme criminal court of Paris, on the 16th of July 1676, Madame de Brinvillier was convicted of the murder of her father and her two brothers, and of having attempted the life of her sister, and condemned to make the amende honorable before the door of the principal church of Paris, whither she was to be drawn in a hurdle, with her feet bare, a rope about her neck, and carrying a burning torch in her hands; from thence to be taken to the Place de Grêve, her head severed from her body on a scaffold, her body burnt, and her ashes thrown to the wind; after having been, in the first place, put to the question ordinary and extraordinary, to discover her accomplices.

Though she had denied her crimes as long as she had any hope of escape, she confessed everything after condemnation. During the latter days of her life, she was the sole object of public curiosity. An immense multitude assembled to see her execution, and every window on her way to the Place de Grêve was crowded with spectators. Lebrun, the celebrated painter, placed himself in a convenient situation for observing her, in order, probably, to make a study for his "Passions." Among the spectators were many ladies of distinction, to some of whom, who had got very near her, she said, looking them firmly in the face, and with a sarcastic smile, "A very pretty sight you are come to see!"

Madame de Sevigné gives an account of this execution the day it took place, in a tone of levity which is not a little offensive, and unbecoming a lady of her unquestionable elegance and refinement. "Well!" she says, "it is all over, and La Brinvillier is in the air. Her poor little body was thrown into a large fire, and her ashes scattered to the winds; so that we breathe her, and there is no saying but this communication of particles may produce among us some poisoning propensities which may surprise us. She was condemned yesterday.[238] This morning her sentence was read to her, and she was shown the rack; but she said there was no occasion for it, for she would tell everything. Accordingly she continued till four o'clock giving a history of her life, which is even more frightful than people supposed. She poisoned her father ten times successively before she could accomplish her object; then her brothers; and her revelations were full of love affairs and pieces of scandal. She asked to speak with the procureur-général, and was an hour with him; but the subject of their conversation is not known. At six o'clock she was taken in her shift, and with a rope round her neck, to Nôtre Dame, to make the amende honorable. She was then replaced in the hurdle, in which I saw her drawn backwards, with a confessor on one side and the hangman on the other. It really made me shudder. Those who saw the execution say she ascended the scaffold with a great deal of courage. Never was such a crowd seen, nor such excitement and curiosity in Paris." In another letter the fair writer says, "A word more about La Brinvillier. She died as she lived, that is boldly. When she went into the place where she was to undergo the question, and saw three buckets of water, 'They surely are going to drown me,' she said; 'for they can't imagine that I am going to drink all this.' She heard her sentence with great composure. When the reading was nearly finished, she desired it to be repeated, saying, 'The hurdle struck me at first, and prevented my attending to the rest.' On her way to execution she asked her confessor to get the executioner placed before her, 'that I may not see that scoundrel Desgrais,' she said, 'who caught me.' Her confessor reproved her for this sentiment, and she said, 'Ah, my God! I beg your pardon. Let me continue, then, to enjoy this agreeable sight.' She ascended the scaffold alone and barefooted, and was nearly a quarter of an hour in being trimmed and adjusted for the block by the executioner; a piece of great cruelty which was loudly murmured against. Next day persons were seeking for her bones, for there was a belief among the people that she was a saint. She had two confessors, she said; one of whom enjoined her to tell everything, and the other said it was not necessary. She laughed at this difference of opinion, and said, 'Very well, I am at liberty to do as I please.' She did not please to say anything about her accomplices. Penautier will come out whiter than snow. The public is by no means satisfied."

This Penautier was a man of wealth and station, holding the office of treasurer of the province of Languedoc and of the clergy. He was discovered to have been intimately connected with St. Croix and Madame de Brinvillier, and strongly suspected of having been a participator in their crimes. He was accused by the widow of M. de Saint Laurent, receiver-general of the clergy, of having employed St. Croix to poison her husband, in order to obtain his place, and of having accomplished this object by means of a valet whom St. Croix had got into her husband's service. Penautier was put in prison; but Madame de Sevigné says that the investigation was stifled by the influence of powerful protectors, among whom were the Archbishop of Paris and the celebrated Colbert. In one of her letters she says, "Penautier is fortunate; never was a man so well protected. He will get out of this business, but without being justified in the eyes of the world. Extraordinary things have transpired in the course of this[239] investigation; but they cannot be mentioned." He was released, resumed the exercise of his offices, and lived in his former splendour. The first people had no objection to enjoy his luxurious table; but his character with the public was irrecoverably gone. Cardinal de Bonzy, who had to pay some annuities with which his archbishopric of Narbonne was burdened, survived all the annuitants, and said that, thanks to his star! he had buried them. Madame de Sevigné, seeing him one day in his carriage with Penautier, said to a friend, "There goes the Archbishop of Narbonne with his star!"

The Marquis of Brinvillier is never mentioned in the course of the proceedings in this extraordinary case, and there are no traces of his subsequent life. Madame de Sevigné says that he petitioned for the life of his chère moitié. Wretched as he must have been, he is the less entitled to sympathy because his own dissolute character contributed to bring his misfortunes upon himself. He probably spent his latter days in the deepest retirement, hiding himself from the world, as the bearer of a name indissolubly associated with crime and infamy.

(This paper will be followed, in our next number, by another on the same subject.)


"Quei trasporti soavi
Ch'io provai nell' amore nascente!"
Under your casement, lady dear!
A voice, that has slumber'd for many a year,
Is waking to know if the same heart-vow
That bound us erewhile doth bind us now.
Waken! my early—only love!
And be to my bosom its still sweet dove!
Under your casement, lady bright!
The bird that you charm'd with your beauty's light
Is singing again to his one loved flower,
As often he sang in a happier hour!
Waken! my early—only love!
And be to my bosom its gentle dove!
Under your casement, lady fair!
The heart that you often have vow'd to share
Is beating to know if it still remain,
A prisoner of heaven, in your dear chain!
Waken! my early—only love!
And be to my bosom its first sweet dove!





As I do not intend that any human being shall read this narrative until after my decease, I feel no desire to suppress or to falsify any occurrence or event of my life, which I may at the moment deem of sufficient importance to communicate. I am aware how common a feeling, even amongst those who have committed the most atrocious crimes, this dread of entailing obloquy upon their memories is; but I cannot say that I participate in it. Perhaps I wish to offer some atonement to society for my many and grievous misdeeds; and, it may be, the disclosures I am about to make will be considered an insufficient expiation. I cannot help this, now. There is One from whom no secrets are hid, by whom I am already judged.

I regret that I did not execute this wretched task long ago. Should I live to complete it, I shall hold out longer than I expect; for I was never ready at my pen, and words sometimes will not come at my bidding. Besides, so many years have elapsed since the chief events I am about to relate took place, that even they no longer come before me with that distinctness which they did formerly. They do not torture me now, as of old times. The caustic has almost burnt them out of my soul. I will, however, give a plain, and, as nearly as I am able, a faithful statement. I will offer no palliation of my offences, which I do not from my soul believe should be extended to me.

I was born on the 23rd of October 1787. My father was a watch-case maker, and resided in a street in the parish of Clerkenwell. I went a few months ago to look at the house, but it was taken down; indeed, the neighbourhood had undergone an entire change. I, too, was somewhat altered since then. I wondered at the time which of the two was the more so.

My earliest recollection recalls two rooms on a second floor, meanly furnished; my father, a tall, dark man, with a harsh unpleasing voice; and my mother, the same gentle, quiet being whom I afterwards knew her.

My father was a man who could, and sometimes did, earn what people in his station of life call a great deal of money; and yet he was constantly in debt, and frequently without the means of subsistence. The cause of this, I need hardly say, was his addiction to drinking. Naturally of a violent and brutal temper, intoxication inflamed his evil passions to a pitch—not of madness, for he had not that excuse—but of frenzy. It is well known that gentleness and forbearance do not allay, but stimulate a nature like this; and scenes of violence and unmanly outrage are almost the sole reminiscences of my childhood. Perhaps, the circumstance of my having been a sufferer in one of these ebullitions, served to impress them more strongly upon my mind.

One evening I had been permitted to sit up to supper. My father had recently made promises of amendment, and had given an earnest[241] of his intention by keeping tolerably sober during three entire days; and upon this festive occasion,—for it was the anniversary of my mother's marriage,—he had engaged to come home the instant he quitted his work. He returned, however, about one o'clock in the morning, and in his accustomed state. The very preparations for his comfort, which he saw upon the table, served as fuel to his savage and intractable passions. It was in vain that my mother endeavoured to soothe and to pacify him. He seized a stool on which I was accustomed to sit, and levelled a blow at her. She either evaded it, or the aim was not rightly directed, for the stool descended upon my head, and fractured my skull.

The doctor said it was a miracle that I recovered; and indeed it was many months before I did so. The unfeeling repulse I experienced from my father when, on the first occasion of my leaving my bed, I tottered towards him, I can never forget. It is impossible to describe the mingled terror and hatred which entered my bosom at that moment, and which never departed from it. It may appear incredible to some that a child so young could conceive so intense a loathing against its own parent. It is true, nevertheless; and, as I grew, it strengthened.

I will not dwell upon this wretched period of my life; for even to me, at this moment, and after all that I have done and suffered, the memory of that time is wretchedness.

One night, about two years afterwards, my father was brought home on a shutter by two watchmen. He had fallen into the New River on his return from a public-house in the vicinity of Sadler's Wells Theatre, and was dragged out just in time to preserve for the present a worthless and degraded life. A violent cold supervened, which settled upon his lungs; and, in about a month, the doctor informed my mother that her husband was in a rapid decline. The six months that ensued were miserable enough. My mother was out all day, toiling for the means of subsistence for a man who was not only ungrateful for her attentions, but who repelled them with the coarsest abuse.

I was glad when he died, nor am I ashamed to avow it; and I almost felt contempt for my mother when the poor creature threw herself upon the body in a paroxysm of grief, calling it by those endearing names which indicated a love he had neither requited nor deserved. Had I been so blest as to have met with one to love me as that woman loved my father, I had been a different, and a better, and, perhaps, a good man!

"Will you not kiss your poor father, John, and see him for the last time?" said my mother on the morning of the funeral, as she took me by the hand.

No; I would not. I was no hypocrite then. It is true I was terrified at the sight of death, but that was not the cause. The manner in which he had repulsed me nearly three years before, had never for a moment departed from my mind. There was not a day on which I did not brood upon it. I have often since recalled it, and with bitterness. I remember it now.

My mother had but one relation in the world,—an uncle, possessed of considerable property, who resided near Luton, in Bedfordshire. She applied to him for some small assistance to enable her to pay the[242] funeral expenses of her husband. Mr. Adams—for that was her uncle's name—sent her two guineas, accompanied by a request that she would never apply to, or trouble him again. There was, however, one person who stept forward in this extremity,—Mr. Ward, a tradesman, with whom my mother had formerly lived as a servant, but who had now retired from business. He offered my mother an asylum in his house. She was to be his housekeeper; and he promised to take care of, and one day to provide for, me. It was not long before we were comfortably settled in a small private house in Coppice-row, where, for the first time in my life, I was permitted to ascertain that existence was not altogether made up of sorrow.

The old gentleman even conceived a strong liking, it may be called an affection, for me. He had stood godfather to me at my birth; and I believe, had I been his own son, he could not have treated me with more tenderness. He sent me to school, and was delighted at the progress I made, or appeared to make, which he protested was scarcely less than wonderful; a notion which the tutor was, of course, not slow to encourage and confirm. He predicted that I should inevitably make a bright man, and become a worthy member of society; the highest distinction, in the old gentleman's opinion, at which any human being could arrive. Alas! woe to the child of whom favourable predictions are hazarded! There never yet, I think, was an instance in which they were not falsified.

We had been residing with Mr. Ward about three years, when a slight incident occurred which has impressed itself so strongly upon my memory that I cannot forbear relating it. Mr. Ward had sent me with a message into the City, where, in consequence of the person being from home, I was detained several hours. When I returned, it appeared that Mr. Ward had gone out shortly after me, and had not mentioned the circumstance of his having despatched me into the City. I found my mother in a state of violent agitation. She inquired where I had been, and I told her.

"I can hardly believe you, John," she said; "are you sure you are telling me the truth?"

I was silent. She repeated the question. I would not answer; and she bestowed upon me a sound beating.

I bore my punishment with dogged sullenness, and retired into the back kitchen; in a corner of which I sat down, and, with my head between my hands, began to brood over the treatment I had received. Gradually there crept into my heart the same feeling I remembered to have conceived against my father,—a feeling of bitter malignity revived by a fresh object. I endeavoured to quell it, to subdue it, but I could not. I recalled all my mother's former kindness to me, her present affection for me; and I reminded myself that this was the first time she had ever raised her hand against me. This thought only nourished the feeling, till the aching or my brain caused it to subside into moody stupefaction.

I became calmer in about an hour, and arose, and went into the front kitchen. My mother was seated at the window, employed at her needle; and, as she raised her eyes, I perceived they were red with weeping. I walked slowly towards her, and stood by her side.

"Mother!" I said, in a low and tremulous voice.

"Well, John; I hope you are a good boy now?"


"Mother!" I repeated, "you don't know how you have hurt me."

"I am sorry I struck you so hard, child; I did not mean to do it;" and she averted her head.

"Not that—not that!" I cried passionately, beating my bosom with my clenched hands. "It's here, mother—here. I told you the truth, and you would not believe me."

"Mr. Ward has returned now," said my mother; "I will go ask him;" and she arose.

I caught her by the gown. "Oh, mother!" I said, "this is the second time you would not believe me. You shall not go to Mr. Ward yet!" and I drew her into the seat. "Say first that you are sorry for it—only a word. Oh, do say it!"

As I looked up, I saw the tears gathering in her eyes. I fell upon my knees, and hid my face in her lap. "No, no; don't say anything now to me—don't—don't!" A spasm rose from my chest into my throat, and I fell senseless at her feet.

My mother afterwards told me that it was the day of the year on which my father died, and she feared from my lengthened stay that I had come to harm. Dear, good woman! Oh! that I might hope to see her once more, even though it were but for one moment,—for we shall not meet in heaven!

It was a cruel blow that deprived us of our kind protector! Mr. Ward died suddenly, and without a will; and my mother and I were left entirely unprovided with means. The old gentleman had often declared his intention of leaving my mother enough to render her comfortable during the remainder of her days, and had expressed his determination of setting me on in the world immediately I became of a proper age. It could hardly be expected that the heir-at-law would have fulfilled these intentions, even had he been cognisant of them. He was a low attorney, living somewhere in the neighbourhood of Drury-lane; and when he attended the funeral, and during the hour or two he remained in the house after it, it was quite clear that he had no wish to retain anything that belonged to his late relative except his property, and his valuable and available effects. He however paid my mother a month's wages in advance, presented me a dollar to commence the world with, shook hands with us, and wished us well.

It was not long before my mother obtained a situation as servant in a small respectable family in King-street, Holborn; and, as I was now nearly eleven years of age, it was deemed by her friends high time that I should begin to get my own living. Such small influence, therefore, as my mother could command, was set on foot in my behalf; and I at length got a place as errand-boy to a picture-dealer in Wardour-street, Oxford-street. The duties required of me in this situation, if not of a valuable description, were, at least, various. I went with messages, I attended sales, I kept the shop, I cleaned the knives and shoes, and, indeed, performed all those services which it is the province of boys to render, some of which are often created because there happens to be boys to do them.

This routine was, for a time, irksome. When I recalled the happy days I had spent under the roof of Mr. Ward, and the hopes and expectations he had excited within me of a more prosperous commencement of life,—hopes which his death had so suddenly destroyed,—it[244] is not surprising that I should have felt a degree of discontent of my condition, for which I had no other cause. As I sat by the kitchen fire of an evening when my day's work was done, I often pictured to myself the old man lying where we had left him in the churchyard, mouldering insensibly away, unconscious of rain, or wind, or sunshine, or the coming of night, or the approach of day, wrapped in a shroud which would outlast its wearer, and silently waiting for oblivion. These thoughts became less frequent as time wore on; but I have never been able to dissociate the idea of death from these hideous conditions of mortality.

My master, Mr. Bromley, when I first entered his service, was a man of about the middle age, and of rather grave and formal manners. He had not a bad heart; but I have since discovered that what appeared to my boyish fancy a hard and cold selfishness was but the exterior of those narrow prejudices which too many of that class, if not of all classes, indulge, or rather inherit. He felt that a distance ought to be preserved between himself and his servant; and what he thought he ought to do, he always did; so that I had been with him a considerable period before he even addressed a word to me which business did not constrain him to utter.

He had a daughter, a girl about eighteen years of age. What a human being was Louisa Bromley! She was no beauty; but she had a face whose sweetness was never surpassed. I saw something like it afterwards in the faces of some of Raffaele's angels. The broad and serene forehead, the widely-parted eyebrow, the inexplicable mouth, the soul that pervaded the whole countenance! I can never forget that face; and, when I call it back to memory now, I admire it the more because, to use the modern jargon, there was no intellect in it. There was no thought, no meditation or premeditation; but there was nature, and it was good-nature.

Her gentleness and kindness soon won upon me. To be kind to me was at all times the way to win me, and the only way. I cannot express the happiness I felt at receiving and obeying any command from her. A smile, or the common courtesy of thanks from her lips, repaid me a hundred-fold for the performance of the most menial office.

I had now been with Mr. Bromley about four years. I employed my leisure, of which I had a great deal, in reading. All the books I could contrive to borrow, or that fell in my way, I devoured greedily. Nor did I confine myself exclusively to one branch of reading,—I cannot call it study. But my chief delight was to peruse the lives of the great masters of painting, to make myself acquainted with the history and the comparative merits of their several performances, and to endeavour to ascertain how many and what specimens existed in this country. I had, also, a natural taste for painting, and sometimes surprised my master by the remarks I ventured to make upon productions he might happen to purchase, or which had been consigned to him for sale.

Meanwhile, I was permitted to go out in the afternoon of each alternate Sunday. Upon these occasions I invariably went to see my mother. How well can I remember the gloomy underground kitchen in which I always found her, with her Bible before her on a small round table! With what pleased attention did she listen to me when[245] I descanted on the one subject upon which I constantly dwelt,—the determination I felt, as soon as I had saved money enough, and could see a little more clearly into my future prospects, to take her from service, that she might come and live with me! This was, in truth, the one absorbing thought—it might almost be termed the one passion—of my existence at that time. I had no other hope, no other feeling, than that of making her latter years a compensation for the misery she must have endured during my father's life.

One Sunday when I called, as usual, an old woman answered the door. She speedily satisfied my inquiries after my mother. She had been very ill for some days, and was compelled to keep her bed. My heart sank within me. I had seen her frequently in former years disfigured by her husband's brutality; I had seen her in pain, in anguish, which she strove to conceal; but I had never known her to be confined to her room. When I saw her now, young as I was, and unaccustomed to the sight of disease, I involuntarily shrunk back with horror. She was asleep. I watched her for a few minutes, and then stole softly from the room, and returned to my master's house.

He was gone to church with his daughter. I followed thither, and waited under the portico till they came forth. I quickly singled them out from the concourse issuing from the church-doors. I drew my master aside, and besought him to spare me for a few days, that I might go and attend my mother, who was very ill.

"Is she dying?" he inquired.

I started. "No, not dying. Oh, no!"

"Well, John, I can't spare you: we are very busy now, you know."

And what was that to me? It is only on occasions like these, that the value of one's services is recognised. I thought of this at the time. I turned, in perplexity, to Louisa Bromley. She understood the silent appeal, and interceded for me. I loved her for that; I could have fallen down at her feet, and kissed them for it. She prevailed upon the old man to let me go.

The people of the house at which my mother was a servant were kind, and even friendly. They permitted me to remain with her.

I never left her side for more than half an hour at a time. She grew worse rapidly, but I would not believe it. My mother, however, was fully aware of her situation. She told me frequently, with a smile, which I could not bear to see upon her face, it was so unlike joy, but it was to comfort me,—she told me that she knew she was about to die, and she endeavoured to impress upon me those simple maxims of conduct for my future life which she had herself derived from her parents. She must not die—must not; and I heard with impatience, and heedlessly, the advice she endeavoured to bestow upon me.

She died. The old nurse told me she was dead. It could not be,—she was asleep. My mother had told me not an hour before, that she felt much better, and wanted a little sleep; and at that moment her hand was clasped in mine. The lady of the house took me gently by the arm, and, leading me into an adjoining room, began to talk to me in a strain, I suppose, usually adopted upon such occasions,—for I knew not what she said to me.

In about two hours I was permitted to see my mother again.[246] There was a change—a frightful change! The nurse, I remember, said something about her looking like one asleep. I burst into a loud laugh. Asleep! that blank, passive, impenetrable face like sleep—petrified sleep! I enjoined them to leave me, and they let me have my own way; for, boy as I was, they were frightened at me.

I took my mother's hand, and wrung it violently. I implored her to speak to me once more, to repeat that she still loved me, to tell me that she forgave all my faults, all my omissions, all my sins towards her. And then I knew she was dead, and fell down upon my knees to pray; but I could not. Something told me that I ought not—something whispered that I ought rather to——; but I was struck senseless upon the floor.

The mistress of my mother, who was a good and worthy woman, offered to pay her funeral expenses; but I would not permit it. Not a farthing would I receive from her; out of my own savings I buried her.

If I could have wept—but I never could weep—when this calamity befell me, I think that impious thought would never have entered my brain. That thought was, that the Almighty was unjust to deprive me of the only being in the world who loved me, who understood me, who knew that I had a heart, and that, when it was hurt and outraged, my head was not safe—not to be trusted. That thought remained with me for years.


Five years elapsed. The grief occasioned by my mother's death having in some measure subsided, my thoughts became concentrated upon myself with an intensity scarcely to be conceived. A new passion took possession of my soul: I would distinguish myself, if possible, and present to the world another instance of friendless poverty overcoming and defying the obstacles and impediments to its career. With this view constantly before me, I read even more diligently than heretofore. I made myself a proficient in the principles of mathematics; I acquired some knowledge of mechanical science; but, above all, I took every opportunity of improving my taste in the fine arts. This last accomplishment was soon of infinite service to me; many gentlemen who frequented our shop were pleased to take much notice of me; my master was frequently rallied upon having a servant who knew infinitely more of his business than himself; and my opinion on one or two remarkable occasions was taken in preference to that of my employer.

Mr. Bromley naturally and excusably might have conceived no slight envy of my acquirements; but he was not envious. Shall I be far wrong when I venture to say, that few men are so, where pecuniary interest points out the impolicy of their encouraging that feeling? Be this as it may, he treated me with great kindness; and I was grateful for it, really and strongly so. I had been long since absolved from the performance of those menial duties which had been required of me when I first entered his service; my wages were increased to an extent which justified me in calling them by the more respectable term, salary; I was permitted to live out of the house;[247] and in all respects the apparent difference and distance between my master and myself were sensibly diminished.

During this period of five years I never received one unkind word or look from Louisa Bromley: and the affection I bore towards this young woman, which was the affection a brother might have felt, caused me to strive by every means at my command to advance the fortunes of her father. And, indeed, the old man had become so attached to me,—partly, and I doubt not unconsciously, because my talents were of value to him,—that I should not have had the heart, even had my inclinations prompted me, to desert him. It is certain that I might have improved my own position by doing so.

At this time Frederick Steiner became acquainted with Mr. Bromley. He was a young man about thirty years of age, of German descent, and possessed of some property. The manners of Steiner were plausible, he was apparently candid, his address indicated frankness and entire absence of guile, and he was handsome; yet I never liked the man. It is commonly supposed that women are gifted with the power of detecting the worst points of the characters of men at the first glance. This gift is withheld when they first behold the man they are disposed to love. This, at any rate, was the case with Louisa Bromley.

Not to dwell upon this part of my narrative, in a few months Bromley's daughter was married to Steiner, who was taken into partnership.

I must confess I was deeply mortified at this. I myself had conceived hopes of one day becoming Bromley's partner; and my anxiety for the happiness of his daughter led me to doubt whether she had not made a choice which she might have occasion afterwards to deplore. However, things went on smoothly for a time. Steiner was civil, nay, even friendly to me; and the affection he evinced towards his little boy, who was born about a year after the marriage, displayed him in so amiable a light, that I almost began to like the man.

It was not very long, however, before Steiner and I came to understand each other more perfectly. He was possessed with an overweening conceit of his taste in pictures, and I on my part obstinately adhered to my own opinion, whenever I was called upon to pronounce one. This led to frequent differences, which commonly ended in a dispute, which Bromley was in most cases called upon to decide. The old man, doubtless, felt the awkwardness of his position; but, as his interest was inseparable from a right view of the question at issue, he commonly decided with me.

Upon these occasions Steiner vented his mortification in sneers at my youth, and ironical compliments to me upon my cleverness and extraordinary genius; for both of which requisites, as he was signally deficient in them, he especially hated me. I could have repaid his hatred with interest, for I kept it by me in my own bosom, and it accumulated daily.

I know not how it happened that the child wound itself round my heart, but it was so. It seemed as though there were a necessity that, in proportion as I detested Steiner, I must love his child. But the boy, from the earliest moment he could take notice of anything, or could recognise anybody, had attached himself to me; and I loved[248] him, perhaps for that cause, with a passionate fondness which I can scarcely imagine to be the feeling even of a parent towards his child.

If I were not slow by nature to detect the first indications of incipient estrangement, I think I should have perceived in less than two years after Steiner had been taken into partnership by Mr. Bromley, a growing reserve, an uneasy constraint in the manners of the latter, and a studied, an almost formal civility on the part of his daughter. I now think there must have been something of the kind, although it was not at the time apparent to me. I am certain, at all events, there was less cordiality, less friendship, in the deportment of Mrs. Steiner towards me: a circumstance which I remember to have considered the result of her altered situation. The terms of almost social equality, however, were no longer observed.

One Mr. Taylor, a very extensive picture-dealer, who lived in the Haymarket, made several overtures to me about this time. He had heard many gentlemen of acknowledged taste speak of me in the highest terms; and, in truth, I was now pretty generally recognised throughout the trade as one of the best judges of pictures in London. I had more than one interview, of his own seeking, with this gentleman. He made me a most flattering and advantageous offer: he would have engaged my services for a certain number of years, and at the expiration of the period he would have bound himself to take me into partnership. I had received many similar offers before, although none that could be for a moment compared, on the score of emolument and stability, with this. I rejected those for the sake of Bromley: I rejected this for my own.

Shall I be weak enough to confess it? The respect I bore the old man even now; my affection for his daughter, my love for the child, went some part of the way towards a reason for declining Taylor's proposal; but it did not go all the way. I hated Steiner so intensely, so mortally, and he supplied me daily with such additional cause of hatred, that I felt a species of excitement, of delight, in renewing from time to time my altercations with him: a delight which was considerably increased by the fact that he was quite incapable of competing with me in argument. There was another reason, which added a zest, if anything could do so, to the exquisite pleasure I derived from tormenting him,—the belief I entertained that Bromley and himself dared not part with me: they knew my value too well. Bromley, at least, I was well aware, was conscious enough of that.

I had been attending one day a sale of pictures, the property of a certain nobleman whose collection, thirty years ago, was the admiration of connoisseurs. Mr. —— (I need not give his name, but he is still living,) had employed me to bid for several amongst the collection; and had requested my opinion of a few, the merit of which, although strongly insisted upon, he was disposed to doubt. When I returned in the evening, I saw Steiner in the shop waiting for me, and—for hate is quick at these matters, quicker even than love—I knew that he meditated a quarrel. I was not mistaken. He looked rather pale, and his lip quivered slightly.

"And so," said he, "you have been holding several conversations with Mr. Taylor lately; haven't you, Mr. Gibson?"

"Who told you that I had been holding conversations with him?"


"No matter: you have done so. Pray, may I ask the tenour of them?"

"Mr. Taylor wished to engage my services," I replied, "and I declined to leave Mr. Bromley."

"That's not very likely," said Steiner with a sneer.

Steiner was right there; it was not very likely. He might with justice consider me a fool for not having embraced the offer.

"I suppose," pursued Steiner in the same tone, "Mr. —— would follow you to your new situation. You would select his pictures for him as usual, doubtless."

"Doubtless I should," said I with a cool smile that enraged him. "Mr. —— would follow me certainly, and many others would follow him, Mr. Steiner."

"I'll tell you what it is," cried Steiner, and a flush overspread his face; "Taylor has been using you for his own purposes. You have been endeavouring to undermine our connexion, and have been serving him at the same time that you have taken our wages."

It was not a difficult matter at any time to move me to anger. I approached him, and with a glance of supreme scorn replied, "It is false!—nay, I don't fear you—it's a lie,—an infamous lie!"

Steiner was a very powerful man, and in the prime of manhood; I was young, and my limbs were not yet fixed,—not set. He struck me a violent blow on the face. I resisted as well as I was able; but what can weakness do against strength, even though it have justice on its side? He seized me by the cravat, and, forcing his knuckles against my throat, dealt me with the other hand a violent blow on the temple, and felled me to the earth. O that I had never risen from it! It had been better.

When I came to my senses, for the blow had for a while stunned me, I arose slowly, and with difficulty. Steiner was still standing over me in malignant triumph, and I could see in the expression of his eyes the gratified conviction he felt of having repaid the long score of ancient grudges in which he was indebted to me. His wife was clinging to his arm, and as I looked into her face I perceived terror in it, certainly; but there was no sympathy,—nay, that is not the word,—I could not have borne that; there was no sorrow, no interest, no concern about me. My heart sickened at this. Bromley was there also. He appeared slightly perplexed; and, misconceiving the meaning of my glance, said coldly, but hurriedly, "You brought it entirely upon yourself, Mr. Gibson."

I turned away, and walked to the other end of the shop for my hat. I had put it on, and was about leaving them. As I moved towards the door, I was nearly throwing down the little boy, who had followed me, and was now clinging to the skirt of my coat, uttering in imperfect accents my name. I looked down. The little thing wanted to come to me to kiss me. Sweet innocent! there was one yet in the world to love me. I would have taken the child in my arms; but Mrs. Steiner exclaimed abruptly, "Come away, Fred,—do; I insist upon it, sir." From that time, and for a long time, I hated the woman for it.

I retreated to my lodging, and slunk to my own room with a sense of abasement, of degradation, of infamy, I had never felt before. Mrs.[250] Matthews, the woman of the house, who had answered the door to me, and had perceived my agitation, followed me up stairs. She inquired the cause, and was greatly shocked at the frightful contusion upon my temple. I told her all, for my heart was nigh bursting, and would be relieved. She hastened down stairs for an embrocation, which the good woman had always by her, and, returning with it, began to bathe my forehead.

"Wouldn't I trounce the villain for it," she said, as she continued to apply the lotion.

"What did you say, Mrs. Matthews?" and I suddenly looked up.

"Why, that I'd have the rascal punished,—that's what I said. Hanging's too good for such a villain."

The kind creature—I was a favourite of hers—talked a great deal more to the same effect, and at last left me to procure a bottle of rum, which, much to her surprise, for I was no drinker, I requested her to fetch me.

How exquisite it was,—what a luxury to be left alone all to myself! Punished!—the woman had said truly,—he must be punished. They, too, must not escape. The ingratitude of the old man,—his insolence of ingratitude was almost as bad as the conduct of Steiner. After what I had done for him!—an old servant who had indeed served him!—who had refused a certainty, a respectable station in society, perhaps a fortune, for his sake! And he must escape,—he must go unpunished,—he must revel in the consciousness of the impunity of his insult? No. I swore that deeply; and, lest it should be possible that I could falter, or perhaps renounce my intention, I confirmed that oath with another, which I shudder to think of, and must not here set down.

I emptied the bottle of rum, but I was not drunk. When I went to bed I was as sober as I am at this moment. I did not go to bed to sleep. My senses were in a strange ferment. The roof of my head seemed to open and shut, and I fancied I could hear the seething of my brain below. I presently fell into a kind of stupor.

It was past midnight when I recovered from this swoon, and I started from the bed to my feet. Something had been whispering in my ear, and I listened for a moment in hideous expectation that the words—for I did hear words—would be repeated; but all was silent. I struck a light, and after a time became more composed. Even the furniture of the room was company to me. Before morning I had shaped my plan of revenge, and it was in accordance with the words that had been spoken to me. Oh, my God! what weak creatures we are! This fantasy possessed, pervaded me; it did not grow,—it did not increase from day to day,—it came, and it overcame me.

I returned the next morning to Bromley's house, and requested to see Steiner. I apologised to him for the words I had used on the previous day, and requested to be permitted to remain in my situation, if Mr. Bromley would consent to it, until I could turn myself round; and I hoped, in the mean time, that what had taken place would be overlooked and forgotten. Steiner received me with a kind of civil arrogance, and went to confer with his partner. They presently returned together, and my request, after an admonitory lecture, rather confusedly delivered, from Bromley, was acceded to;[251] Steiner warning me at the same time to conduct myself with more humility for the future, under pain of similar punishment.

I did do so, and for six months nothing could exceed the attention I paid to business, the zeal I evinced upon every occasion, the forbearance I exercised under every provocation. And I had need of forbearance. Bromley had been entirely perverted by his son-in-law; and the kind old man of former years was changed into a morose and almost brutal blackguard—to me,—only to me. Mrs. Steiner had likewise suffered the influence of her husband to undermine, and for the time to destroy her better feelings; and she treated me upon all occasions, not merely with marked coldness, but with positive insult. I need hardly say that Steiner enjoyed almost to satiety the advantage he had gained over me. Even the very servants of the house took the cue from their superiors, and looked upon me with contempt and disdain. The little boy alone, who had received express commands never to speak to me, sometimes found his way into the shop, and as he clung round my neck, and bestowed unasked kisses upon my cheek, my hatred of the rest swelled in my bosom almost to bursting.

The persecution I endured thus long was intense torment to me; the reader, whoever he may be, will probably think so. He will be mistaken. It was a source of inconceivable, of exquisite pleasure. It was a justification to me; it almost made the delay of my vengeance appear sinful.

It was now the 22nd of December 1808. I cannot refrain from recording the date. Steiner had been during the last six weeks at Antwerp, and was expected to return in a day or two. He had purchased at a sale in that city a great quantity of pictures, which had just arrived, and were now in the shop. They were severally of no great value, but the purchase had brought Bromley's account at the banker's to a very low ebb. Mrs. Steiner and the child were going to spend the Christmas holidays with some relatives residing at Canterbury. She passed through the shop silently and without even noticing me, and hurried the boy along lest he should wish—and he did make an effort to do so—to take his farewell of me. It was evening at the time, and Bromley was in his back parlour. I was busy in the shop that evening; it was business of my own, which I transacted secretly. Having completed it, I did what was rather unusual with me; I opened the door of the parlour, and bade Bromley good night.

All that evening I hovered about the neighbourhood. I had not resolution to go from it. Now that the time was come when I should be enabled, in all human probability, to fulfil, to glut my vengeance, my heart failed me. The feeling which had supported me during the last six months, which had been more necessary to my soul than daily sustenance to my body, had deserted me then, but that by a powerful effort I contrived to retain it. While I deplored having returned to Bromley's employment, and the abject apology I had made to Steiner, that very step and its consequences made it impossible for me to recede. It must be. It was my fate to do it, and it was theirs that it should be done.

What trivial incidents cling to the memory sometimes, when they are linked by association to greater events! I was, I remember standing at the door of a small chandler's shop in Dean-street, almost lost to myself, and to all that was passing about me.


The woman of the house tapped me on the shoulder.

"Will you be so good," she said, "as to move on; you are preventing my customers from entering the shop."

"My good woman," I said, "I hope there is no harm in my standing here?"

"Not much harm," replied the woman, good-humouredly. "I hope you have been doing nothing worse to-day?"

I started, and gazed at the woman earnestly. She smiled.

"Why, bless the man! you look quite flurried. I haven't offended you, I hope?"

"No, no!" I muttered hastily, and moved away. The agony I endured for the next hour I cannot describe.

I passed Bromley's house several times from the hour of nine till half-past. All was silent, all still. What if my design should not take effect! I almost hoped that it would not; and yet the boy who cleaned out the shop must inevitably discover it in the morning. I trembled at the contemplation of that, and my limbs were overspread with a clammy dew. It was too late to make a pretext of business in the shop at that time of night. Bromley was at home, and might, nay would, suspect me. I resolved to be on the premises the first thing in the morning, and retired in a state of mind to which no subsequent occurrence of my life was ever capable of reducing me.

It was about half-past eleven o'clock, or nearer to twelve, that the landlord of the Green Man, in Oxford-street, entered the parlour where I was sitting, gazing listlessly upon two men who were playing a game at dominos.

"There is a dreadful fire," said he, "somewhere on the other side of the street;—in Berwick or Wardour-street, I think."

I sprang to my feet, and rushed out of the house, and, turning into Hanway-yard, ran down Tottenham-court road, crossed the fields, (they are now built upon,) and never stopped till I reached Pancras Church.

As I leaned against the wall of the churchyard some men came along.

"Don't you see the fire, master?" said one, as they passed me.

Then, for the first time, I did see the fire, tingeing the clouds with a lurid and dusky red, and at intervals casting a shower of broken flame into the air, which expanded itself in wide-spreading scintillations.

God of Heaven! what had I done? Why was I here? I lived in the neighbourhood of Bromley's house, and they would be sending for me. The landlord, too, would afterwards remember having seen me in his parlour, and informing me of the fire in the neighbourhood, and I should be discovered. These thoughts were the duration of a moment, but they decided me. I ran back again in a frenzy of remorse and terror, and in a few minutes was in Wardour-street.

The tumult and confusion were at their height. The noise of the engines, the outcries of the firemen, the uproar of the crowd, faintly shadowed forth the tumult in my mind at that moment. I made my way through the dense mass in advance of me, and at length reached the house.


Bromley had just issued from it, and was wringing his hands, and stamping his naked feet upon the pavement. He recognised me, and seized me wildly by the arms.

"Oh! my good God! Gibson," said he, "my child!"

"What child—what child?" cried I, eagerly.

"Mine—mine! and the infant! they are in there!"

"They are gone out of town; don't you remember?" I thought the sudden fright had deprived him of his senses.

"No, no, no! they were too late! the coach was gone!"

With a loud scream I dashed the old man from me, and flew to the door, which was open. I made my way through the stifling smoke that seemed almost to block up the passage, and sprang up stairs. The bed-room door was locked. With a violent effort I wrenched off the lock, and rushed into the room.

All was darkness; but presently a huge tongue of flame swept through the doorway, and, running up the wall, expanded upon the ceiling; and then I saw a figure in white darting about the room with angular dodgings like a terrified bird in a cage.

"Where is the child?" I exclaimed, in a voice of frenzy.

Mrs. Steiner knew me, and ran towards me, clasping me with both arms. She shook her head wildly, and pointed she knew not where.

"Here, Gibson,—here," cried the child, who had recognised my voice.

I threw off my coat immediately, and, seizing the boy, wrapt him closely in it.

"This way, madam,—this way; at once, for Heaven's sake!" and I dragged her to the landing.

There was hell about me then! The flames, the smoke, the fire, the howlings; it was a living hell! But there was a shriek at that moment! Mrs. Steiner had left my side. Gracious Heavens! she had been precipitated below! A sickness came upon me then,—a sensation of being turned sharply round by some invisible power; and, with the child tightly clasped in my arms, I was thrown violently forward into the flames, that seemed howling and yearning to devour me.



I have frequently observed that there are some people who haunt you in all parts of the world, and to whom you have a sort of secret antipathy, yet who, by an attraction in spite of repulsion, are continually crossing your path, as though they were sent as emissaries to link themselves with your destiny, or on the watch mysteriously to bring it about. One person in particular, whose name I do not even know, if he has one, I have met fifty times in as many different places, and we each say to ourselves, "'Tis he!—what, again!" So with a personage too well known at home and abroad, of whom, by a curious concatenation of circumstances, I am enabled to become the biographer.

Geronymo Mascalbruni was the son of a pauper belonging to a village whose name I forget, in the marshes of Ancona. He had begged his way when a boy to Rome, and supported himself for some time there, by attending at the doors of the courts of justice, and running on errands for the advocates or the suitors. His intelligence and adroitness did not escape the observation of one of the attorneys, who, wanting a lad of all work, took Mascalbruni into his service, and taught him to read and write; finding him useful in his office, and having no children of his own, he at length adopted him, in formâ pauperis, and gave him a small share in his business. This man of the law did not bear the most exemplary of characters, and perhaps it was in order to conceal some nefarious practices to which Mascalbruni was privy that he made the clerk his associate. Perhaps also he discovered in his character a hardihood, combined with cunning and chicanery, that made him a ready instrument for his purposes, and thus enabled him, like Teucer, to fight behind the shield of another. Under this worthy master—a worthy disciple—Mascalbruni continued for some years; till at length, tired of confinement to the desk, and having the taste early acquired for a roving and profligate life revived, he, during his old benefactor's confinement to his bed with a rheumatic attack, administered to him a dose of poison instead of medicine, and having robbed him of all the money and plate that was portable, and of certain coupons, and bons in the Neapolitan and other funds, standing in his name, he decamped, and reached Florence in safety.

Every one has heard of the laxity of the Roman police. The impunity of offenders, even when their crimes are established by incontestable proof, is notorious. The relations of the lawyer, contrary to all their expectations, (for he had never recognised them,) had come into their inheritance, and little regarded the means, having attained the end. They perhaps, also, from having had no admission into the house during the old miser's life, were ignorant of the strength of his coffers; and the disappearance of the murderer, who, by a will which they discovered and burnt, had been made his sole heir, was by them deemed too fortunate a circumstance; so that they neither inquired into the manner of his death, nor had any post mortem examination of the body. They gave their respectable relative a splendid funeral, erected to his memory a tomb in one of the rival churches that[255] front the Piazza del Popolo, in which his many virtues were not forgotten, and established an annual mass for his povera anima, that no doubt saved him

"From many a peck of purgatorial coals."

Having quietly inurned the master, let us follow the man. The sum which he carried with him is not exactly known, but it must have been considerable. His stay in the Tuscan state was short, and we find him with his ill-gotten wealth in "that common sewer of London and of Rome," Paris. He was then about twenty years of age, had a good person, talents, an insinuating address, and a sufficient knowledge of the world, at least of the worst part of mankind, to avoid sinking in that quagmire, which has swallowed up so many of the thoughtless and inexperienced who have trusted to its flattering surface. In fact, Nature seemed to have gifted him with the elements of an accomplished sharper, and he seconded her attributes by all the resources of art. He took an apartment in the Rue Neuve de Luxembourg, that street so admirably situated between the Boulevards and the Gardens of the Tuileries, and had engraven on his cards, "Il Marchese Mascalbruni." He was attached to his name; it was a good, sonorous, well-sounding name; and the addition of Marchese dovetailed well, and seemed as though it had always, or ought always, to have belonged to it.

But before he made his entrée in the world of Paris, he was aware that he had much to learn; and, with the tact and nice sense of observation and disinvoltura nel maneggiar peculiar to his nature, he soon set about accomplishing himself in the externals of a gentleman. With this view he passed several hours a day in the salle d'armes, where he made himself a first-rate fencer; and became so dexterous au tir, that he could at the extremity of the gallery hit the bull's-eye of the target at almost every other shot.

Pushkin himself was not more dexterous; and, like him, our hero in the course of his career signalised himself by several rencontres which proved fatal to his antagonists, into the details of but one of which I shall enter. He heard that nothing gives a young man greater éclat at starting into society than a duel. Among those who frequented the salle was an old officer who had served in the campaigns of Napoleon, one of the reliquiæ Danaum, the few survivors of Moscow; for those who did not perish on the road, mostly fell victims to the congelations and fatigues of that memorable retreat. Mascalbruni, now a match for the maître d'armes, frequently exercised with this old grognard, who had the character of being a crane, if not a bourreau des cranes;[12] and one day, before a numerous gallerie, having struck the foil out of his hand, the fencer so far forgot himself, in the shame and vexation of defeat by a youngster, as to pick up the weapon and strike the Italian a blow on the shoulders with the flat part of the foil, if it be not an Irishism so to call it. Those who saw Mascalbruni at that moment would not have forgotten the traits of his countenance. His eyes flashed with a sombre fire; his Moorish complexion assumed a darker hue, as the blood rushed from his heart to his brain in an almost suffocating tide; his breath came forth in long and audible expirations; his features were convulsed[256] with the rage of a demoniac. I only describe what Horace Verney, who was present, faithfully sketched from memory after the scene. Mascalbruni, tearing off the button of his foil, vociferated, putting himself in position, "A la mort, à la mort!" The lookers-on were panic-stricken; but the silence was interrupted by the clinking of the steel. The aggressor soon lay stretched in the agonies of death.

Though he had now taken his first degree, Mascalbruni's education was not yet complete. He had made himself master of French, so as to speak it almost without any of the accent of a foreigner; and having a magnificent voice, he added to it all the science that one of his own countrymen could supply, and became in the end a finished musician and vocalist.

Such was the course of his studies; and now, with all the préstige of his singular affaire to give him éclat, the Marchese Mascalbruni made his début. By way of recreation, he had frequently gone into the gambling-houses of the Palais Royal, and had been much struck with these words, almost obliterated, on the walls of one of them, "Tutus veni, tutus abi." Mascalbruni was determined to profit by the advice, and to confirm its truth by one solitary exception—to come and depart in safety, or rather a winner.

Mascalbruni invented a theory of his own, that has since been practised by several of the habitués of the hells, particularly by a man denominated, in the maisons de jeu, L'Avocat. He won such enormous sums of the bank, that, on his return to his lodgings one night, he was assassinated, not without suspicion that he fell by the hands of some kind bravo of the company. Chi lo sa? But to revert to Mascalbruni.

Impares numeri are said to be fortunate: strange to say, the number three is the most so. Three was a mystic number. The triangle was sacred to the Hindoos and Egyptians. There were three Graces, three Furies, three Fates. He played a martingale of one, three, seven, fifteen, &c. on triple numbers, i. e. after three of a colour, either red or black, had come up, and not till then, he played, and opposed its going a fourth; thus rendering it necessary that there should be twelve or thirteen successive coups of four, et sequentia, without the intervention of a three. The gain, it is true, could not be great, for he began with a five-franc piece: but it seemed sure; and so he found it, making a daily profit of three or four louis in as many hours.

I have gone into this dry subject to show the character of the man, and his imperturbable sang-froid. He did not, however, confine himself to rouge et noir, but soon learned all the niceties of that scientific game écarté. In addition to sauter le coup, which he practised with an invisible dexterity, he used to file the ends of the fingers of his right hand, so that he could feel the court-cards, which, having a thicker coat of paint, are thus made easily sensible to the touch; and would extract from each pack one or two, the knowledge of whose non-existence was no slight advantage in discarding. He did not long wait for associates in his art. There was formed at that time a club in the Rue Richelieu on the principle of some of the English clubs, it being entirely managed by a committee. Of this he became a member, and afterwards got an introduction at the salon. Most of the English at Paris joined this[257] circle; and it was broken up in consequence of the discovery of manœuvres and sleights of hand such as I have described, but not until Mascalbruni had contrived to bear away a more than equal share of the plunder. The English, of course, were the great sufferers.

He now turned his face towards the Channel, and opened the campaign in London on a much more extensive scale. He took up his quarters at Higginbottom's hotel in the same year that young Napoleon came to England, and only left it when it was given up to that lamented and accomplished prince. It is not generally known that he ever visited England. His sojourn in the capital was kept a profound secret. The master of the hotel and all his servants took an oath of secrecy; and Prince Esterhazy and the members of the Austrian embassy were not likely to betray it. The prince passed a week with George the Fourth at the Cottage at Windsor, and afterwards assisted at a concert at the Hanover Square rooms, himself leading a concert on the piano. This by the bye. Mascalbruni on that occasion attracted all eyes, and fascinated all ears, and was greeted after a solo with the loudest plaudits. He had now become the fashion, and, having forged a letter from one of the cardinals at Rome to a patroness of Almacks, obtained the entrée, and made one of the three hundred that compose the world of London. You know, however, in this world that there is another world—orb within orb—an imperium in imperio—the Exclusives. It is difficult to define what the qualifications for an exclusive are: it is not rank, connexion, talents, virtues, grace, elegance, accomplishments. No. But I shall not attempt to explain the inexplicable. Certain it is, however, that our hero was admitted into the coteries of this caste, as distinct—as much separated by a line of demarcation drawn round them from the rest—as the Rajhpoot is from the Raiot, who sprang, one from the head, the other from the heels of Brahma.

It was on the daughter of one of these extra-exclusives that Mascalbruni cast his eye. He flew at high game. The Honourable Miss M. was the belle of the season. I remember seeing her the year before at a fancy ball. A quadrille had been got up, for which were selected twelve of the most beautiful girls to represent the twelve Seasons. Louisa was May, and excelled the rest, (I do not speak of the present year,) as much as that season of flowers does the other months. It was an 'incarnation of May!'—a metaphor of Spring, and Youth, and Morning!—a rose-bud just opening its young leaves, that brings the swiftest thought of beauty, though words cannot embody it:—a sylph borne by a breath, a zephyr, as in the celebrated Hebe of John of Bologna, may make intelligible the lightness of her step,—the ethereal grace of her form. She was a nymph of Canova, without her affectation. Hers was the poetry of motion,—

"It was the soul, which from so fair a frame
Look'd forth, and told us 'twas from heaven it came,"—

that would have been the despair of sculpture or poetry. I have never seen but one who might compare with her, and she was engulfed that same year in the waters of the inexorable Tiber,—Rosa Bathurst.[13]


Louisa M. was the only daughter of an Irish bishop. His see was one of the most valuable in the sister island; and some idea may be formed of his accumulated wealth, by the circumstance of his having received thirty thousand pounds in one year by fines on the renewal of leases. He had one son, then on a Continental tour with his tutor; but having no entailed estates, and his fortune consisting of ready money, Louisa was probably one of the meilleures parties in the three kingdoms.

There was at that time a mania for foreign alliances. The grand tour, which almost every family of distinction had taken, introduced a rage for Continental customs and manners, which had in some degree superseded our own.

A spring in Paris, and winter in Italy, left behind them regrets in the minds of old and young, but especially the latter, who longed to return to those scenes that had captivated their senses and seduced their young imaginations. No language was spoken at the opera but French or Italian,—no topics of conversation excited so much interest as those which had formed the charm of their residence abroad,—and the fair daughters of England drew comparisons unfavourable to fox-hunting squires and insipid young nobles, when they thought of the accomplished and fascinating foreigners from whom, in the first dawn of life, when all their impressions were new and vivid, they had received such flattering homage.

The mother of Louisa, still young, had not been insensible to prepossessions; and had a liaison at Rome, where she was unaccompanied by her husband, the effects of which she had not altogether eradicated.

It is said that the road to the daughter's affections is through the heart of the mother. Certainly in Italy cavalier-serventeism generally has this termination; and, though it is not yet openly established in England, there are very many women in high life who have some secret adorer, some favourite friend, to keep alive the flame which too often lies smothered in the ashes of matrimony. I do not mean that this attachment is frequently carried to criminal lengths; nor am I ready to give much credence to the vain boastings of those foreigners who, when they return to their own country, amuse their idle hours, and idler friends, with a detailed account of their bonnes fortunes in London.

I shall not prostitute my narrative, had I the data for so doing, by tracing step by step the well-organised scheme by which Mascalbruni contrived to ingratiate himself with both the mother and the daughter. He was young, handsome, and accomplished; an inimitable dancer, a perfect musician. His dress, his stud, and cabriolet were in the best taste, and he passed for a man of large fortune.

It may be asked how he supported this establishment? By play. Play, in men whose means are ample, if considered a vice, is thought a very venial one. He got admission into several clubs,—Crockford's among the rest:—his games were écarté and whist; games at which he was without a match. Cool, cautious, and calculating, he lost with perfect nonchalance, and won with the greatest seeming indifference.

There was a French vicomte, with whom he seemed to have no particular acquaintance, but who was in reality his ally and confederate, and who had accompanied him to England expressly that they might play into each other's hands. He belonged to one of the oldest families,[259] and had one of those historical names that are a passe par-tout. I had seen him at the soirées of Paris, and he was in the habit at the écarté table, if he had come without money, which was not unfrequently the case, of claiming, when the division took place at the end of the game, two napoleons; pretending that at its commencement he had bet one on the winner. I need say no more.

He had signalised himself in several rencontres. I have him before me now, as he used to appear in the Tuileries' gardens, with his narrow hat, his thin face, and spare figure,—so spare, that sideways one might as well have fired at the edge of a knife. To this man Mascalbruni frequently pretended to have lost large sums, and it is now well known that they divided the profits of their gains during the season. No one certainly suspected either of unfair practices, though their uniform success might have opened the eyes of the blindest. The Marchioness of S.'s card-parties and those of Lady E. were a rich harvest, as well as the private routs and soirées to which they obtained easy admission. Lady M. was well aware that Mascalbruni had a penchant for play; but it seemed to occupy so little of his thoughts or intrench on his time, that it gave her no serious alarm.

I have not yet told you, however, as I ought to have done, that he was a favoured suitor.

The bishop, who, by nature of his office, was seldom in town, was a cypher in the family, and little thought of interfering with his lady in the choice of a son-in-law.

But the season now drew to a close, and Mascalbruni received an invitation to pass the summer at the episcopal palace in the Emerald Isle. He had succeeded in gaining the affections, the irrevocable affections of Louisa. Yes,—she loved him,

"Loved him with all the intenseness of first love!"

Time seemed to her to crawl with tortoise steps when he was absent,—but how seldom was that the case! They sang together those duets of Rossini that are steeped in passion. How well did his deep and mellow voice marry itself with her contralto! They rode together, not often in the parks, but through those shady and almost unfrequented lanes of which there are so many in the environs of the metropolis; they waltzed together; they danced the mazourka together,—that dance which is almost exclusively confined to foreigners, from the difficulty of its steps, and the grace required in its mazes.

They passed hours together alone,—they read together those scenes of Metastasio, so musical in words, so easily retained in the memory. But why do I dwell on these details? When I look on this picture and on that, I am almost forced to renounce the opinion that kindred spirits can alone love; for what sympathy of soul could exist between beings so dissimilar, so little made for each other? Poor Louisa!

Mascalbruni accompanied them to Ireland. That summer was a continual fête. It was settled that the wedding was to take place on their return to town the ensuing season.

In the mean time the intended marriage had been long announced in the Morning Post, and was declared in due form to the son at Naples. Louisa, who was her brother's constant correspondent, in the openness of her heart did not conceal from him that passion, no[260] longer, indeed, a secret. Her letters teemed with effusions of her admiration for the talents, the accomplishments, and the virtues, for such they seemed, of her intended—her promesso sposo, and the proud delight that a very few months would seal their union.

William, who had now had some experience of the Italians, and who had looked forward to his sister's marrying one of his college friends, an Irishman with large estates in their immediate neighbourhood, could not help expressing his disappointment, though it was urged with delicacy, at this foreign connexion. He wrote also to the bishop, and, after obtaining from him all the necessary particulars as to the Marchese Mascalbruni,—through what channel he became acquainted with them, by what letter got introduced to Lady ——, lost no time in proceeding to Rome, though the mountains were then infested by brigands, and the Pontine marshes, for it was the month of September, breathed malaria.

Our consul was then at Cività Vecchia, but willingly consented to accompany Mr. M. to Rome, in order to aid in the investigation. He was intimate with Cardinal ——, and they immediately proceeded to his palace. They found from him that he had never heard the name of Mascalbruni; that there was no marchese in the pontifical states so called; and he unhesitatingly declared the letter to be a forgery, and its writer an impostor.

They then applied to the police, who, after some days' inquiry, discovered that a person answering the description given had quitted Rome a few years before, and had been a clerk in the office of a notario.

No farther evidence was necessary to convict Mascalbruni of being a swindler; and, not trusting to a letter's safe arrival, Mr. M. travelled night and day till he reached the palace at ——.

It is not difficult to imagine the scene that ensued,—the indignation of the father, the vexation and self-reproaches of the mother, or the heart-rending emotions of the unfortunate girl.

Mascalbruni at first, with great effrontery, endeavoured to brave the storm; contended that Louisa was bound to him by the most sacred ties, the most solemn engagements; that his she should be,—or, if not his, that she should never be another's; denounced them as her murderers; and ended with threats of vengeance,—vengeance that, alas! he too well accomplished.

It is not very well known what now became of Mascalbruni; but there is reason to believe that he lay perdu somewhere in the neighbourhood, watching like a vulture over the prey from which he had been driven, the corpse of what was once Louisa.

A suspicious-looking person was frequently seen at night-fall prowling about the environs of the palace; and Miss M.'s femme de chambre, with whom he is said to have carried on an intrigue, was observed by the servants in animated conversation with a stranger in the garb of a peasant among the shrubberies and pleasure grounds.

It was through her medium that Mascalbruni gained intelligence of all that was passing in the palace.

The shock which Louisa had sustained was so sudden, so severe, that, acting on a frame naturally delicate, it brought on a brain fever. Her ravings were so dreadful, and so extraordinary; and so revolting was the language in which she at times clothed them, that even her mother—and no other was allowed to attend her—could scarcely stay[261] by her couch. How perfect a knowledge of human nature has Shakspeare displayed in depicting the madness of the shamelessly-wronged and innocent Ophelia!—The fragments of those songs to which her broken accents gave utterance, especially that which ends with

"Who, in a maid, yet out a maid,
Did ne'er return again,"

may suggest an idea of the wanderings of the poor sufferer's heated imagination.

For some weeks her life hung on a thread; but the affectionate cares and sympathy of a mother, and a sense of the unworthiness of the object of her regard, at last brought back the dawn of reason; and her recovery, though slow, was sufficiently sure to banish all anxiety.

The afflictions as well as the affections of woman are, if I may judge by my own experience, less profoundly acute than those of our own sex. Whether this be owing to constitution or education, or that the superior delicacy and fineness of the nervous system makes them more easily susceptible of new impressions to efface the old, I leave it to the physiologist or the psychologist to explain. The river that is the most ruffled at the surface is seldom the deepest. Thus with Miss M. Her passion, like

"A little brook, swoln by the melted snow,
That overflows its banks, pour'd in her heart
A scanty stream, and soon was dry again."[14]

In the course of three months the image of Mascalbruni, if not effaced from her mind, scarcely awakened a regret; and, save that at times a paleness overspread her cheek, rapidly chased by a blush, be it of virgin innocence or shame, no one could ever have discovered in her person or bearing any traces of the past.

At this time a paragraph appeared in the Court Journal of the day, nearly in these words:

"Strange rumours are afloat in the Sister Island respecting a certain Italian marchese, who figured at the clubs and about town during the last season. Revelations of an extraordinary nature, that hastened the return of the Honourable Mr. M. from the Continent, have led to a rupture of the marriage of the belle of the season, which we are authorised to say is definitively broken off."

It was a telegraph that the field was open for new candidates; but no one on this side the water answered it. Louisa M. was no longer the same,—the préstige was fled,—the bloom of the peach was gone.

Scarcely had four months elapsed, however, when fresh preparations were made for her marriage, and a day fixed for the nuptials.

The hour came; and behold, in the conventional language used on such occasions, the happy pair, Lady M. the bride-maids, and a numerous party of friends assembled in the chapel of the palace. The bishop officiated.

The ceremony had already commenced, and the rite was on the point of being ratified by that mystical type of union—the ring—when a figure burst through the crowd collected about the doors; a figure more like a spectre than a man.

So great a change had taken place in him, from the wild and savage life that he had been leading among the mountains, the privations[262] he had endured, and the neglect of his person, that no one would have recognised him for the observed of all observers, the once elegant and handsome Mascalbruni. His hair, matted like the mane of a wild beast, streamed over his face and bare neck. His cheek was fallen, his eyes sunken in their sockets; yet in them burned, as in two dark caves, a fierce and sombre fire. His lips were tremulous and convulsed with passion; his whole appearance, in short, exhibited the same diabolical rage and thirst of vengeance that had electrified the salle d'armes in his memorable conflict. He advanced straight to the altar with long and hurried steps, and, tearing aside the hands of the couple, the ring fell over the communion rails to the ground. So profound was the silence, so great the consternation and surprise the sight of this apparition created in the minds of all, that the sound of the ring, as it struck and rolled along the vaulted pavement, was audibly heard. It was an omen of evil augury,—a warning voice as from the grave, to tell of the death of premised joys—of hopes destroyed—of happiness for ever crushed. He stood wildly waving his arms for a moment between the pair, looking as though they had been transformed into stone, more like two statues kneeling at a tomb than at the altar. Then he folded his arms; gazed with a triumphant and ghastly smile at the bride; said, or rather muttered, "Mine she is!" then, turning to the bridegroom, with a sneer of scorn and mockery he howled, "Mine she has been; now wed her!"

With these laconic words he turned on his heel, and regained without interruption the portal by which he had entered. So suddenly had all this passed, so paralysed and panic-stricken were the spectators and audience of this scene, that they could scarcely believe it to be other than a dream, till they saw the bride extended without sense or motion on the steps. Thus was she borne, the service being unconcluded, to her chamber. The ceremony was privately completed the ensuing day.

No domestic felicity attended this ill-fated union. It was poisoned by doubts and suspicions, and embittered by the memory of Mascalbruni's words. "Mine she has been" continually rang in the husband's ears; and on the anniversary of that eventful day, after a lingering illness of many months, a martyr to disappointment and chagrin, she sunk into an untimely grave.

The next we hear of Mascalbruni was his being at Cheltenham. There he frequented the rooms under very different auspices, and had to compete with another order of players than those he had been in the habit of duping. He was narrowly watched, and detected in the act of pocketing a queen from an écarté pack. The consequence was his expulsion from the club with ignominy. His name was placarded, and his fame, or rather infamy, noised with a winged speed all over the United Kingdom.

It was no longer a place for him. In the course of the ensuing week the following announcement was made in a well-known and widely-circulated weekly paper. It was headed—

"An Italian black sheep.

"We hope in a short time to present our readers with the exploits of a new Count Fathom, a soi disant marchese, better known than[263] trusted, the two first syllables of whose name more than rhyme with rascal. And as it is our duty to un-mask all such, we shall confine ourselves at present to saying that he has been weighed at a fashionable watering-place in Gloucestershire, and found wanting, or rather practising certain sleights of hand for which the charlatans of his own country are notorious. He had better sing small here!"

Mascalbruni took the vulgar hint. His funds were nearly exhausted, and with but a few louis in his pocket he embarked at Dover, and once more repaired to Paris.

His prospects were widely different from those with which he had left it. To play the game I have described at rouge et noir, requires a capital. Every respectable house was closed against him. He now disguised his appearance, so that his former acquaintance should not be able to recognise him, and frequented the lowest hells—those cloacæ, the resort of all the vilains and chenapans, the lowest dregs of the metropolis. By what practices this mauvais sujet contrived to support life here for some years is best known to the police, where his name stands chronicled pretty legibly; it is probable that he passed much of that time in one of the prisons, or on the roads.

Eighteen months had now elapsed, and the Honourable Mr. M. with his bride, to whom he had been a short time married, took an apartment in the Rue d'Artois. A man in a cloak—an embocado,—which means one who enwraps his face in his mantle so that only his eyes are visible,—was observed from the windows often passing and repassing the hotel. The novelty of the costume attracted the attention of Mrs. M.; and the blackness of his eyes, and their peculiarly gloomy expression, made her take him for a Spaniard. She more than once pointed him out to her husband, and said one day, "Look, William, there stands that man again. He answers your description of a bandit, and makes me shudder to look at him."

"Don't be alarmed, dear," replied Mr. M. smilingly; "we are not at Terracina. It will be time enough to be frightened then."

The recollection of Mascalbruni had been almost effaced from his mind; but, had he met him face to face, it is not unlikely that he would have remembered the villain who had destroyed the hopes of his family, and marred their happiness for ever.

For some time he never went out at night unaccompanied by his wife, and always in a carriage. But a day came when he happened to dine without her in the Rue St. Honoré. The weather being fine, and the party a late one, he sent away his cabriolet, and after midnight proceeded to walk home. Paris was at that time very badly lighted; the reverberées at a vast distance apart, suspended between the houses, giving a very dim and feeble ray. Few persons—there being then no trottoirs—were walking at that hour; and it so happened that not a soul was stirring the whole length of the street. But, within a few yards of his own door, the figure I have described rushed from under the shadow of a porte cochère, and plunged a dagger in his heart. He fell without a groan, and lay there till the patrol passed, when he was conveyed, cold and lifeless, to the arms of his bride, who was anxiously awaiting his return. Her agony I shall not make the attempt to depict: there are some sorrows that defy description.

Notwithstanding the boasted excellence of the Parisian police, the[264] author of this crime, who I need not say was Mascalbruni, remained undiscovered.

Strange as it may appear, I am enabled to connect two more links in the chain of this ruffian's history, and thus, as it were, to become his biographer. Having been in town at the period when he was in the zenith of his glory, and being slightly acquainted with the family whom, like a pestilence, it was his lot to destroy and blight, I was well acquainted with his person, and he with mine; indeed, once seen, it was not easy to mistake his.

After two winters at Naples, I travelled, by the way of Ravenna and Rimini, to Venice. The carnival was drawing to a close, and, on quitting a soirée at Madame Benzon's, I repaired to the Ridotta. The place was crowded to excess with that mercurial population, who during this saturnalia, particularly its last nights, mingle in one orgie, and seem to endeavour, by a kind of intoxication of the senses, and general licentiousness, to drown the memory of the destitution and wretchedness to which the iron despotism of the Austrian has reduced them. The scene had a sort of magnetic attraction in it.

I had neither mask nor domino, but it is considered rather distingué for men to appear without them; and, as I had no love-affair to carry on, it was no bad means of obtaining one, had I been so inclined.

Among the other groups, I observed two persons who went intriguing round the salle, appearing to know the secrets of many of their acquaintances, whom it seemed their delight to torment and persecute, and whom, notwithstanding their masks, they had detected by the voice, which, however attempted to be disguised, betrays more than the eyes, or even the mouth, though it is the great seat of expression. The pair wore fancy dresses. The domino of the man was of Persian or Turkish manufacture, a rich silk with a purple ground, in which were inwoven palm-leaves of gold, The costume of the lady, who seemed of a portly figure, not the most symmetrical, was a rich Venetian brocade, such as we see in the gorgeous pictures of Paul Veronese, and much in use during the dogal times of the republic. As they passed me, I heard the lady say, looking at me, "That is a foreigner." "Si signora, è Inglese," was the reply; "lo conosco." Who this could be who knew me,—me, almost a stranger at Venice, I was curious to discover. By the slow and drawling accent peculiar to the Romans, I felt satisfied he was one, and fancied that I had heard that voice before,—that it was not altogether unfamiliar to me.

I was desirous of unravelling the secret, for such it was, as the man did not address me; and I remained at the Ridotta much later than I should otherwise have done, in order to find out my unknown acquaintance. I therefore kept my eye on the couple, hoping that accident might favour my wish.

On the last nights of the carnival it is common to sup at the Ridotta, and I at length watched the incognito into a box with his inamorata, where he took off his mask, and whom should I discover under it but the identical hero of romance, the villain Mascalbruni.

He was an acquaintance who might well shun my recognition, and I was not anxious he should see I had attracted his observation. As I was returning to my hotel on the Grand Canal, I asked the gondolier[265] if he knew one Signor Mascalbruni. These boatmen are a kind of Figaros, and, like the agents of the Austrian police, are acquainted with the names and address of almost every resident in Venice, especially of those who frequent the public places. The man, however, did not know my friend by that name,—perhaps he had changed it. But when I described his costume, he said that the signor was the cavalier servente of a Russian princess, who had taken for a year one of the largest palaces in Venice. "Il signor," he added, "canta come un angelo."

The idea of coupling an angel and Mascalbruni together amused me. "An angel of darkness!" I was near replying; but thought it best to be silent.

I had no wish to encounter Mascalbruni a second time. I went the next day to Fusina, and thence to Milan; indeed I had made all the preparations for my departure, nothing being more dull than the Carême at Venice.

Two years after this adventure, I was travelling in the Grisons, after having made a tour of the petits cantons, with my knapsack on my back, and a map of Switzerland in my pocket, to serve the place of a guide,—a description of persons to whom I have almost as great an objection as to cicerones, preferring rather to miss seeing what I should like to see, than to be told what I ought to like to see; not that it has fallen to the lot of many guides, or travellers either, to be present at a spectacle such as I am going to describe. I had been pacing nine good leagues; and that I saw it was merely accidental, for if it had not come in my way, I should not have gone out of mine to witness it.

Coire, the capital of the Grisons, my place of destination for the night, had just appeared, when I observed a great crowd collecting together immediately in front, but at some distance off, the peasants running in all directions from the neighbouring hills, like so many radii to meet in a centre.

One of these crossed me; and, on inquiring of him the occasion of all this haste and bustle, I learned that an execution was about to take place. My informant added with some pride that the criminal was not a Swiss, but an Italian. He seemed perfectly acquainted with all the particulars of the event that had transpired, for he had been present at the trial; and, as we walked along the road together, in his patois,—bad German, and worse French, with here and there a sprinkling of Italian,—he related to me in his own way what I will endeavour to translate.

"An Englishman of about twenty years of age was travelling, as you may be, on foot, about seven weeks ago, in this canton, having lately crossed the St. Gothard from Bellinzona. He was accompanied by a courier, whom he had picked up at Milan. They halted for some days in our town, waiting for the young gentleman's remittances from Genoa, where his letters of credit were addressed. On their arrival at Coire they had a guide; but the Italian persuaded his master, who seemed much attached to him, to discharge Pierre, on the pretence that he was thoroughly acquainted with the country, and spoke the language, which indeed he did. He was a dark brigand-looking fellow, with a particularly bad expression of countenance, and a gloomy look about his eyes; and, for my part, I am surprised[266] that the young man should have ventured to trust himself in his company, for I should not like to meet his fellow on the road by myself even in the day-time. Well: the Englishman's money, a good round sum,—they say, two hundred napoleons d'or,—was paid him by an order on our bankers; and then they set out, but not as before.

"They had only been two days in company, when the villainous Italian, who either did not know the road over the mountains, or had purposely gone out of the way, thought it a good opportunity of perpetrating an act, no doubt long planned, which was neither more nor less than despatching his master. It was a solitary place, and a fit one for a deed of blood. A narrow path had been worn in the side of a precipice, which yawned to the depth of several hundred feet over a torrent that rushed, as though impatient of being confined, foaming and boiling through a narrow chasm opened for itself through the rocks. I could show you the spot, for I know it well, having a right of commune on the mountains; and have often driven my cows, after the melting of the snows, up the pass, to feed on the herbage that, mixed with heath and rhododendrons, forms a thick carpet under foot. It is a pasture that makes excellent cheese.

"But, solitary as the place looks, the Italian did not know that there are several chalets, mine among the rest, in the Alp; and herdsmen. As for me, I happened to be down in the plain, or I might have been an eye-witness of much of what I am about to describe. I was saying that the spot seemed to suit his purpose; and his impatience to ease his master of his gold was such, that, happily for the ends of justice, he could not wait till night-fall, or none but (and here he pointed to the sky) He above might have been privy to the crime. It was, however, mid-day. Into the deep-worn pass I have mentioned runs a rivulet, which, sparkling on the green bank, had made for itself a little basin. The day was hot and sultry; and the young gentleman, tempted, it would seem, by the gentle murmur of the water as it fell rippling over the turf, and its crystal brightness, stooped down to drink. The Italian watched this opportunity, sprung upon him like a tiger, and plunged a dagger, which he always carried concealed about him, into the Englishman's back. Fortunately, however, the point hit upon the belt in which he carried his money, perhaps on the napoleons; for, before the assassin could give him a second blow, he sprang up and screamed for help, calling 'Murder, murder!'

"Three of the herdsmen whom I have mentioned heard the cries, and came running towards the direction whence they proceeded, when they discovered two men struggling with each other; but, before they could reach them, one had fallen, and the other was in the act of rifling him, in order afterwards to hurl him down the precipice into the bed of the river. So intent was he on the former of these occupations, that he did not perceive my countrymen till they seized him. He made much resistance; but his dagger was not within his reach. They bound his hands, and, together with the lifeless corpse of his master, transported him to Coire, where, not to enter into the trial, he was condemned to death.

"But he has been now some weeks in prison, in consequence of our not being able to procure a bourreau; and we have been forced to send for one to Bellinzona, no Grison being willing to perform the[267] office. He arrived last night; and how do you think, sir? According to our laws, he is to be executed with a sword that has not been used for forty years,—no murder having been committed in the canton during all that period,—though no sword could be applied to better purpose than it will in a few moments."

Whilst he was thus speaking, we reached the dense circle already formed. On seeing a stranger approach, they made room for me; and curiosity to witness this mode of execution, the remnant of barbarous times, as well as to see the Italian, induced me to enter the Place de Grève.

At the first glance I recognised Mascalbruni. He was stripped of his shirt, and on his knees; by his side was a Jesuit to whom he had just made his confession; and over him, on an elevation from the ground by means of a large stone, stood the prevôt, with a sword of prodigious length and antique shape, and covered with the rust of ages, pendent in his hands.

The lower part of Mascalbruni's face was fallen, whilst all above the mouth was drawn upward as from some powerful convulsion. The eyes, that used to bear the semblance of living coals, had in them a concentrated and sullen gloom. The cold and damp of the cell, and the scantiness of his diet, which consisted of bread and water, had worn his cheek to the bone, and given it the sallowness of one in the black stage of cholera. His face was covered with a thick beard, every hair of which stood distinct from its fellows; and his matted locks, thickly sprinkled with grey, trailed over his ghastly features and neck in wild disorder. His shoulders down to the waist were, as I said, bare; and they and his arms displayed anatomically a muscular strength that might have served as a model for a gladiator. Over all was thrown an air of utter prostration moral and physical,—the desolation of despair.

A few yards to the right, the priest, with his eyes uplifted to heaven, seemed absorbed in prayer; and between them the bourreau, who might have superseded Tristan in his office, and been a dangerous rival in the good graces of Louis the Eleventh. He called to mind a figure of Rubens',—not the one who is turning round in the Descent of the Cross at Antwerp, and saying to the thief, writhing in horrible contortions after he has wrenched his lacerated foot from the nail, "Sacre, chien,"—but a soldier in another of his pictures in the Gallery at Brussels (the representation of some martyrdom,) who has just torn off the ear of the saint with a pair of red-hot pincers, and is eyeing it with a savage complacency.

It was, in short, exactly such a group, with its pyramidical form and startling contrasts of colour and expression, as the great Flemish painter could have desired.

A dead silence, which the natural horror, the novelty of the scene created, prevailed among the assembled crowd; and it spoke well for the morality and good feeling of the simple peasantry, that not a woman was present on the occasion.

The hand of the swordsman was raised, and the stroke fell on the neck of the culprit; but, horrible to say,—what was it then to witness?—though given with no common vigour, so blunt was the instrument, that, instead of severing the head, it only inflicted a gash which divided the tendons of the neck, and the undecapitated body[268] fell doubled up, whilst only a few gouts of blood issued from the wound.

The tortured wretch's groans and exclamations found an echo in all bosoms; and it was not till after two more sabre strokes that the head lay apart, and rolled upwards in the dust. I then saw what I have heard described of Charlotte Cordé, after she had been guillotined;—the muscles of the face were convulsed as if with sensibility, and the eyes glared with horrid meaning, as though the soul yet lingered there. Even the executioner could scarcely meet their scowl without shuddering.

It was the first and last spectacle of this kind at which I mean ever to be present; and I should not have awaited its awful termination, could I have penetrated through the living wall that was a barrier to my exit.

You may now guess from whom I obtained many of the details contained in this memoir of Mascalbruni. It was from the confessor, who had endeavoured, but in vain, to give him spiritual consolation in the dungeon and at the block. The Jesuit and myself had mutual revelations to make to each other, connecting the present with the past, and which have enabled me to weave the dark tissue of his life's thread into one piece. I repeat the last words of the good old man at our final interview,—"May God have mercy on his soul!"

F. Medwin.


"A trifle light as air."

Swift sang a broomstick, and with matchless lore
Rehearsed the contents of a housemaid's drawer:
Great Burns's genius shone sublime in lice;
Old Homer epicised on frogs and mice;
And, leaping from his swift Pindaric car,
Great Byron eulogised the light cigar;
Pope for a moment left the critic's chair,
And sang the breezy fan that cools the fair;
And he whose harp to loftiest notes was strung,
E'en Mantua's Swan, the homely salad sung;
Colossal Johnson, famed for dictionary,
A sprig of myrtle; Cowper, a canary,
Nor scorn'd the humble snail; and Goldsmith's lyre
A haunch of venison nobly did inspire;—
Of such light themes the loftiest lyres have spoke,
And my small shell shall sound the praise of smoke.
Essence sublime! serenely curling vapour!
Fierce from a steam-boat, gentle from a taper,—
Daughter of fire, descendant of the sun,
Breath of the peaceful pipe and murderous gun,—
How gloriously thou roll'st from chimneys high,
To seek companion clouds amidst the sky!
Thrice welcome art thou to the traveller's sight,
And his heart hails thee with sincere delight;
As soft thou sail'st amid the ethereal blue,
Visions of supper float before his view!
Emblem of peace in council, when profound
The sacred calumet goes slowly round!
Breath of the war, thou canopiest the fight,
And veil'st the bloody field in murky night!
Precursor of the cannon's deadly shot,
And soft adorner of the peasant's cot;
With Etna's roaring flames dost thou arise,
And from the altar's top perfume the skies!
I see thee now
To the breezes bow,
Thy spiral columns lightly bending
In gentle whirls
And graceful curls,
Thy soft grey form with the azure blending.
When Nature's tears in dewy showers descend,
Close to the earth thine aerial form doth bend;
But when in light
And beauty bright,
With radiant smile she gladdens all,
And the sun's soft beam
On thy shadowy stream
Does in a ray of glory fall,
Thou risest high
'Mid the deep blue sky,
Like a silver shaft from a fairy hall!
When from the light cigar thy sweet perfume
In od'rous cloudlets hovers round the room,
Inspired by Fancy's castle-building power,
Thy fragile form cheers many a lonely hour.
O'er every wave thy misty flag is seen
Careering lightly over billows green;
And when, 'mid creaming foam and sparkling spray,
Celestial Venus rose upon the day,
Thy vapoury wreath the goddess did enshroud,
And wrapt her beauties in a milk-white cloud.
'Twas thou, majestic! led the way before
Retreating Israel from th' Egyptian shore;
From out thy sable cloud, 'mid lightning's flash,
The trumpet's clangour and the thunder's crash,
From Sinai's mount the law divine was given,
Thy veil conceal'd the Majesty of Heaven!
When sun, and moon, and heaven's bright hosts expire,
And the great globe decays in flames of fire,
Then shalt thou rise, thy banner be unfurl'd
Above the smouldering ruins of the world!





Are you a sympathetic reader? If not, I pray you to pass over the few pages which constitute this article, and indulge your risible propensity with the happier effusions of the laughing philosophers of this Miscellany. I have no cachinnatory ambition, and would have my leaves well watered, not with the sunny drops of joy, but with the camomilical outpourings of sorrow.

Concluding that my request is granted, I will now proceed, sympathetic reader, to narrate a few passages of my "strange, eventful history."

I am a disappointed man,—nay, I was even a disappointed baby; for it was calculated that the parental anticipations of my forebears would have been realised on the 1st of May 1792, whereas, by some contradictory vagary of Dame Nature, I entered this valley of tears on the 1st of April! This ought to have been considered prognosticatory of my future disappointments, and the law of Sparta should have been rigidly enforced; for what are crooked limbs to a crooked destiny?

It was the intention of my father (whose name was Jacob Wise) to have had me christened after my maternal uncle, Theodosius Otter, Esq.; but, having selected a stuttering godfather, I was unfortunately baptized as "The-odd-dose-us Oth-er Wise." Nor was this the only disappointment which attended me on this occasion, for the pew-opener having received instructions to clean the copper coal-scuttle in the vestry-room, the basin which contained the vitriol necessary for that purpose was by some means or other placed in the font; and to this day I have more the appearance of a tattooed Indian than a Christian Englishman.

My babyhood was composed of a series of disappointments. My hair was to have been, in the words of the monthly nurse, "the most beautifulest horburn," but sprouted forth a splendid specimen of that vegetable dye called carroty. I was to have been "as straight as an arrow;" but a cup of tea having been spilled over me as I lay in the servant's lap before the kitchen fire, I became so dreadfully warped that I am now a sort of demi-parenthesis, or, as a malicious punster once called me, "a perfect bow."

I had the measles very mildly, as it was affirmed, for the whole virulence of the disorder displayed itself in one enormous pustule on the tip of my nose. This luminary so excited my infant wonder, that my eyes (really fine for green) were continually riveted to the spot, and have never forgotten it, for one or other of them is invariably engaged in searching for the lost treasure.

I was not in convulsions above a dozen times during teething; but no sooner had I completed my chaplet of pearls, than the striking-weight of a Dutch clock which overhung my cradle dropped into my mouth, and convinced me of the extreme simplicity of dental surgery.

A Disappointed Man

My "going alone" was the source of an infinitude of anxieties to my excellent mamma, who was so magnificently proportioned that it[271] was many months before I could make the circuit of her full-flounced printed calico wrapper without resting. Poor mamma! she lost her life from a singular mistake. The house in which we lived had taken fire, and two good-natured neighbours threw Mrs. Wise out of the window instead of a feather-bed. She alighted on the head of Captain S——, who was then considered the softest man in the three kingdoms, and received little injury by the ejectment; but her feelings were so lacerated by the mistake, that she refused all food, and lived entirely by suction, till she died from it.

I will pass over my school-days, merely observing en passant that

"Each day some unlucky disaster
Placed me in the vocative case with my master,"

a squabby, tyrannical, double-jointed pedagogue. He was nicknamed Cane-and-Able, and I can testify to the justness of the nomenclature. At college the same mis-fortune attended me. There was ever an under-current of disappointment, which rendered all my exertions nugatory. If I was by accident "full of the god," I could never knock down any one but a proctor. If I determined on keeping close in my rooms, the wind immediately changed to N.E. by N. at which point my chimneys smoked like a community of Ya-Mynheers. My maternal uncle, Theodosius Otter, Esq. had signified that my expectations from him must be regulated entirely by my academical distinctions, and I was "pluck'd for my little-go." This occurred three months before the old booby's death. My legacy consisted of a presentation to the Gooseborough free school.

The time at length arrived for me to fall in love. I experienced the first symptom of this epidemic at a bombazine ball in the city of Norwich. Selina Smithers was the name of my fair enslaver: she was about nineteen, fair as Russia tallow, tall, and somewhat slender. Indeed her condition is perhaps better described by "the slightest possible approximation to lanky." During one short quadrille she told me of all her tastes, hopes, experience, family connexions, (including a brother at sea,) expectations probable and possible, and of two thousand seven hundred and forty-five pounds, fourteen shillings, and sixpence, standing in her own name in the three and a half per cents.

With the last chassez I was a victim. At the close of the ball I handed Selina and her mamma into a green fly, and found the next morning that I had a violent cold in my head, and a violent heat in my heart.

As I flourished the brass knocker of Mrs. Smithers' door on the following day, the clock of St. Andrew's church struck two; and chimed a quarter past, as a girl strongly resembling a kidney-potato, red and dirty, gave me ingress into a room with green blinds, seven horsehair-bottomed chairs, a round mahogany table, four oil-paintings (subjects and masters unknown), two fire-screens of yellow calico fluted, and a very shabby square piano. On the music-rest was the song, "We met,—'twas in a crowd." Singular coincidence,—we met in a crowd!

The door opened, and Selina bounded into the room like a young fawn. Our eyes met, and then simultaneously sought the carpet. I know not what object her pale blue orbs encountered; but mine fell on the half-picked head of a red herring! "Can it be possible,"[272] thought I, "that Selina—Pshaw! her brother has returned from sea;" and to his account I placed the body of the vulgar fish. I took her hand, and gracefully led her to a chair, and then seated myself beside her. Our conversation grew animated,—confiding. She recapitulated the amount of her three and a half per cents, and in the most considerate manner inquired into my pecuniary situation. I was then possessed of seven thousand pounds; for my father, during the three last years of his life, had been twice burned out, and once sold up, and was thus enabled to leave me independent. She could not conceal her delight at my prosperous situation,—generous creature! Possessing affluence herself, she rejoiced at the well-doing of others. Day after day passed in this delightful manner, until I ventured to solicit her to become my wife. Judge of my ecstasy when, bending her swan-like neck until her fair cheek rested on the velvet collar of my mulberry surtout, she whispered almost inaudibly,

"How can you ask me such a question?"

"How can I ask you such a question? Because—because it is necessary to my happiness. Oh! name the happy hour when Hymen's chain—that chain which has but one link—shall bind you to me for ever!"

She paused a moment, and then faltered out,

"To-morrow week."

I fell upon my knees. Selina did the same; for, in my joy at her compliance, I had forgotten that one chair was supporting us both.

Oh, what a busy day was that which followed! I entered Skelton's (the tailor's) shop with the journeymen. I ordered three complete suits!

As the rolls were taken into Quillit's parlour, I was shown into the office. The worthy lawyer thrice scalded his throat in his anxiety to comply with my repeated requests to "see him immediately." He came at last. A few brief sentences explained the nature of my business, and he hastened to accompany me to Selina. I was so excited by the novelty of my situation, that I fell over the maid who was cleaning the step of the door, and narrowly escaped dragging Quillit after. Had he fallen, I shudder at the contemplation of the probable result; for he was a man well to do in the world, and enjoyed a rotundity of figure unrivalled in the good city of Norwich. His black waistcoat might have served for a bill of fare to an eating-house, for it exhibited samples of all Mrs. Glass's choicest preparations.

Away we went, realising the poet's description of Ajax and Camilla:

"When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw,
The line too labours, and the words move slow:
Not so when swift Camilla scours the plain,
Flies o'er the unbending corn, and skims along the main."

We resembled Reason and Hope, or one of Pickford's barges and a towing-horse.

The little brass knocker was again in my hand, the kidney-potato was again at the door, and I led in the perspiring lawyer, but looked in vain for that expression of admiration which I fondly anticipated would have illumined his little grey eyes at the sight of my Venusian Selina.

"This is Mr. Quillit," said I.


"Indeed?" replied Selina.

"We have come, mum," said Quillit, "to arrange a very necessary preliminary to the delicate ceremony which my friend Wise has informed me will take place on this day week."

Selina blushed. Her mother (bless me! I've quite overlooked her!) screwed up her face into an expression between laughing and crying; and I—I pushed one hand through my hair, and the other into my breeches pocket.

"Mum," continued Quillit, "our business this morning is to make the arrangements for your marriage-settlement; and my friend Wise wishes to know what part of your two thousand——"

"Seven hundred and forty-five pounds, fourteen shillings, and sixpence," said I sotto voce.

"—You wish settled upon yourself."

"Oh, nothing,—I require nothing!" exclaimed Selina.

"Hur—!" said I, half rising from my chair in ecstasy at her disinterestedness.

"Hem!" coughed Quillit, and took out his toothpick.

"Nothing!" I at length ejaculated. "No, Selina; you shall not be subject to the accidents of fortune. Mr. Quillit, put down two thousand pounds." And so he did.

The day before my intended nuptials I had paid my customary visit to Selina, and it was arranged that the settlement should be executed (what a happy union of terms!) that night. I had left but a few minutes when I missed my handkerchief. I returned for it. The kidney-potato shot out of the house as I turned the corner of the street. I found the door ajar, and, not considering any ceremony necessary, I walked into the parlour. I had put my handkerchief into the left pocket of my coat when I was somewhat startled by a burst of very boisterous male and female merriment. I paused. A child's treble was then heard, and in a moment after a childa live child entered the room crying most piteously. It ceased on beholding me; and when its astonishment had subsided, it sobbed out,

"I want mamma!"

"Mamma?" said I. "And who's mamma?"

My query was answered from the first floor.

"Come to mamma, dear!" shouted—Selina!

I don't know what the sensations of a humming-top in full spin may be, but I should imagine they are very similar to those which I experienced at this particular moment. When I recovered, I was stretched on the hearth-rug with my head in the coal-scuttle, surrounded by my Selina, her mother, the maid, and I suppose her "brother at sea."

"What is the matter, love?" said —— You know whom I mean,—I can't write her name again.

"Nothing, madam," I replied, "nothing; only I anticipated being married to-morrow,—but I shall be disappointed."

The ensuing week I received notice of action for a breach of promise of marriage; the ensuing term the cause was tried before an intelligent jury; and the ensuing day Quillit handed me a bill for seven hundred and sixty-two pounds, one shilling, and eightpence, being the amount of damages and costs in Smithers versus Wise. I paid Quillit, sold my house and furniture at Norwich, and took up my abode at Bumbleby, in Lancashire, resolving to be as love-proof as[274] Miss Martineau, which resolution I have religiously observed to this day.

I was, however, involved in one other tender affair, by proxy, which produced me more serious annoyances than even my own.

I became acquainted with a merry good-looking fellow, of the name of Thomas Styles, who had come from somewhere, and was related to somebody, but no one recollected the who or the where. In the same town lived an old gentleman, who rejoiced in the singular name of Smith. He was blessed with one daughter and a wife. The latter did not reside with him, having taken up her permanent residence in a small octagonal stone building in the dissenters' burial ground. Styles, by one of those accidents common in novels, but very occasional in real life, had become acquainted with Miss Smith. They had gone through those comparative states of feeling,—acquaintance, friendship, love; and, when I was introduced to him, he was just in want of a good fellow to help him into matrimony. I was just the boy; my expensive experience, my good-nature, my leisure,—in short, there was nothing wanting to fit me for this confidential character. Now, be it known that old Smith had very strong parliamentary predilections, and one of his sine quâ nons was, that his son-in-law should be M.P. for somewhere,—Puddle-dock would do,—but an M.P. he must be. Politics were of no consequence; but he must have a decided opinion that the Bumbleby railway would be most beneficial, if carried through a swampy piece of ground which Smith had recently purchased. Styles was of the same opinion; but then he was only a member of the "Bull's-eye Bowmen," and Mr. Snuffmore's sixpenny whist club. I had made myself particularly uncomfortable one afternoon, in Styles' summer-house, with three glasses of brandy and water and four mild havannas, when old Smith rushed in to announce the gratifying intelligence that Mr. Topple, the member for our place, had fallen into the crater of Mount Vesuvius, and that nothing had been heard from him since, but a solitary interjection, in consequence of which there was a vacancy in the representation. The writ had been issued, and so had an address from Mr. Wiseman, a gentleman possessing every virtue under the sun, save and except a due sense of the advantages of Smith's swamp to the railway. This was conclusive. Smith made a speech, which, being for interest and not for fame, was short and emphatic.

"Tom, you must contest this election, or never darken my doors again."

"My dear, sir," said Tom, "nothing would give me greater pleasure; but——"

"I'll do all that. I'll form a committee instanter," replied Smith; "leave all to me. Capital hand at an address—pith, nothing but pith. Ever see my letter in support of the erection of a pound for stray cattle?—pithy and conclusive:—'Inhabitants of Bumbleby, twenty shillings make a pound.' The motion was carried."

"One moment," said Tom. "It will appear so presumptuous on my part, unless a deputation waited on me."

"Certainly,—better, by all means,—I'll form one directly," said Smith.

"In the mean time, issue a placard to prevent the electors making promises, and——"


"I will," said Smith. And so he did; for in an hour afterwards there was not a dead wall in Bumbleby but was papered from one end to the other.

"Other Wise," said Styles, as Smith waddled up the garden, "this won't do for me. I couldn't make a speech of ten consecutive lines, if the revenues of the Duchy of Cornwall were depending upon it."

"Pooh!" replied I, rolling my head about in that peculiar style which an over-indulgence in bibicals will induce.

"It's a fact," replied Tom. "Now, my dear fellow, you can serve me and your country at the same time. Smith would be equally gratified at your return for Bumbleby; your opinions are the same as my own; and your abilities require no panegyric from me."

Whether it was the suddenness of the probable glory, or the effect of the tobacco and brandy and water, I sat speechless. Silence gives consent, says an old adage, and so did the town of Bumbleby the next morning, for every quarter cried out "Other Wise for ever!" It was too late to retract; and accordingly I was nominated, seconded, and unanimously elected by a show of hands. A poll was demanded; and, after a short contest of two days, it was announced in very large letters, and still larger figures,

Other Wise, 92

I was satisfied, and so was my party. During the preparation for this unfortunate contest I had allowed Styles to draw ad libitum upon my banker. His friendship knew no bounds; his liberality was as boundless; and so chagrined was he at the defeat I had experienced, that he left the next morning without an adieu. I must confess that I was rather disappointed at his sudden retreat, and considerably more so on finding that his exertions in my behalf had reduced my income from four hundred pounds to forty pounds per annum. For the first time I doubted his friendship. Subsequent inquiries convinced me he was a scoundrel, and I commenced an immediate pursuit of him, and an action at law.

Some three months afterwards, I was sauntering about the streets in the neighbourhood of St. James's Square, when I encountered Styles. His surprise was as great as mine, but not so enduring; for, advancing towards me with all the coolness of the 1st of December, he exclaimed,

"Other Wise, how are you? I dare say you thought my sudden departure odd; I did myself; but I couldn't help it. I'm sorry to hear how much your contest has distressed you. I was the cause. Give me your check for fifty pounds, and here's a bill for five hundred, due to-morrow."

Suiting the action to the word, he handed me an acceptance for that amount inclosed in a dirty piece of paper. All this was so rapidly said and done, that before I was aware of it I had given him a draft on Drummond, shaken hands with him, and was mechanically discussing a mutton-chop and a bottle of sherry, which I had unconsciously ordered in the delirium which succeeded Styles' unheard-of generosity.

I went the next day to Messrs. Podge and Co. in Lombard-street, with my promise-to-pay—Eldorado in my pocket. I entered the counting-house,[276] presented my bill, and fully expected to have received either bank-notes or gold in exchange. I waited a few minutes, and was then ushered into a back-room, and politely requested to account for this money promissory document.

"From whom did you receive this bill?" said a gentleman with a powdered head and an immense watch-chain.

"From Mr. Styles."

"Where does he live?"

"I don't know exactly; but I hope there is nothing irregular."

"You can step in, Banks," said the powdered head; and a stout well-fed man, in a blue coat, with the City arms on the button, did step in, and very unceremoniously proceeded to inspect the contents of my various pockets. "Conclusive!" said the powdered head, as he minutely examined a small piece of crumpled paper which had occupied one of the pockets of my small-clothes.

I was handed into a hackney-coach, and then into the Mansion-house, where I was informed that I was to live rent-free for the next week in his Majesty's jail of Newgate. The bill was a forgery!

The day of trial approached. I walked into the dock with mens conscia recti depicted on my countenance. I knew I was innocent of any felonious intention or knowledge; and was certainly very much disappointed at being found guilty upon the silent evidence of the little piece of crumpled paper, which was covered with pen and ink experiments on the signature of John Allgold and Co. whose name occupied the centre of Styles' bill. The recorder (in a very impressive manner, I must allow, for his white handkerchief was waving about the whole time) passed sentence of death upon me, and I was ordered to be taken from thence, and on the Monday following to be hung by the neck till I was dead. A pleasant termination, truly!

I was led, stupified by the result of my trial, back to the prison. When I regained the use of my faculties, my awful situation became horridly apparent. There was I, an innocent and injured man, condemned to suffer the extreme penalty of the law. For endeavouring to gain possession of my own, I was about to become a spectacle for the fish-fags and costermongers of London,—to have my name handed down to posterity by that undying trumpeter of evil-doers, Mr. Catnach, of the Seven-dials, who alternately delights the public with "three yards long of every new song, and all for a penny," and "the last dying speech and confession" of those who, dreading to be bed-ridden, and possessing an unconquerable aversion to doctors' stuff and virtue, have danced upon nothing, and died with their shoes on. "How often," thought I, "have I seen a withered hag kneeling at the rails of an area, exciting the sympathies and curiosity of servants of all-work, and greasy melting cooks, by the recital of atrocities that the hand of man never executed. 'Here's a full, true, and 'tickler account of a horrid murder, which was performed in the New-cut, Lambeth, on the body of a baked-'tater manufacturer, who was savagely and inhumanly murdered by that ferocious and hard-hearted villain, Benjamin Burker;—here you have the account how, arter putting a poor man's plaister, composed of pitch and bird-lime, over the unhappy indivigual's mouf until the breath was out on his body, he shoved him into the oven, and lived seven days and nights on baked[277] taters and the manyfacterers.' Thus might I be misrepresented. The thought was madness!"

The morning at length arrived for my execution; but, oh! the horrors of the night that preceded it! Young, and in the full enjoyment of life, the morrow was to bring me death! In a little week, the hand which I then gazed on, would be a banquet for the red worm of the grave. Even the mother who watched the cradle of my infancy would have turned loathingly away from the corrupted mass; the earth which covered me would be thought unhallowed, and my name would become symbolical with crime. But even this, was nothing to the contemplation of the scene I had still to enact. To be led forth "the observed of all observers," who would look on me with an eye, not of pity, but of morbid curiosity,—to hang quivering in the air,—and to feel, while consciousness remained, that each shuddering of struggling nature was imparting a savage delight to those who could be the willing witnesses of the sacrifice of a fellow-creature! My brain sickened with its agony, and I fell into a stupor which my jailor called sleep. I was pinioned, and led forth to die. Life had now no charm for me,—I was beyond the reach of hope, and death was a desired blessing. The hangman's hands were about my neck,—the blood curdled in my veins as I felt the deadly embrace of the cord. I longed for the signal of departure; but I was again disappointed. I was reprieved,—for I awoke, and found that the bill and all its frightful consequences were but the result of having eaten a hearty supper of pork-chops very much underdone! So I was once again a disappointed man, though, on this occasion, I must own, most agreeably so.



"Why, then, the world's mine oyster."


I have often remarked that, among other ornaments and curiosities, Hackney contains more ladies' schools than are to be found in almost any other village, or indeed city, in Europe. In every green rustic lane, to every tall old-fashioned house there is an iron gate, an ensign of blue and gold, and a large brass plate, proclaiming that a ladies' seminary is established upon the premises. On one of these plates is written—(or rather was,—for the pathetic occurrence which I have to relate took place many years ago)—on one of these plates, I say, was engraven the following inscription:

Seminary for Young Ladies from three to twenty.

(Please wipe your shoes.)

The Misses Pidge took a limited number of young ladies, (as limited, in fact, or as large as the public chose,) and instructed them in those branches of elegant and useful learning which make the British female so superior to all other shes. The younger ones learned the[278] principles of back-stitch, cross-stitch, bob-stitch, Doctor Watts's hymns, and "In my cottage near a wood." The elder pupils diverged at once from stitching and samplers: they played like Thalberg, and pirouetted like Taglioni; they learned geography, geology, mythology, entomology, modern history, and simple equations (Miss Z. Pidge); they obtained a complete knowledge of the French, German, and Italian tongues, not including English, taught by Miss Pidge; Poonah painting and tambour (Miss E. Pidge); Brice's questions and elocution (Miss F. Pidge); and, to crown all, dancing and gymnastics (which had a very flourishing look in the Pidge prospectus, and were printed in German text,)—Dancing and Gymnastics, we say, by Professor Dandolo. The names of other professors and assistants followed in modester type.

Although the signor's name was decidedly foreign, so English was his appearance, and so entirely did he disguise his accent, that it was impossible to tell of what place he was a native, if not of London, and of the very heart of it; for he had caught completely the peculiarities which distinguish the so-called cockney part of the City, and obliterated his h's and doubled his v's, as if he had been for all his life in the neighbourhood of Bow-bells. Signor Dandolo was a stout gentleman of five feet nine, with amazing expanse of mouth, chest, and whiskers, which latter were of a red hue.

I cannot tell how this individual first received an introduction to the academy of the Misses Pidge, and established himself there. Rumours say that Miss Zela Pidge at a Hackney ball first met him, and thus the intimacy arose; but, since the circumstances took place which I am about to relate, that young lady declares that she was not the person who brought him to Bulgaria House,—nothing but the infatuation and entreaties of Mrs. Alderman Grampus could ever have induced her to receive him. The reader will gather from this, that Dandolo's after-conduct at Miss Pidge's was not satisfactory,—nor was it; and may every mistress of such an establishment remember that confidence can be sometimes misplaced; that friendship is frequently but another name for villany.

But to our story. The stalwart and active Dandolo delighted for some time the young ladies at Miss Pidge's by the agility which he displayed in the dance, as well as the strength and manliness of his form, as exhibited in the new amusement which he taught. In a very short time, Miss Binx, a stout young lady of seventeen, who had never until his appearance walked half a mile without puffing like an apoplectic Lord Mayor, could dance the cachouca, swarm up a pole with the agility of a cat, and hold out a chair for three minutes without winking. Miss Jacobs could very nearly climb through a ladder (Jacob's ladder he profanely called it); and Miss Bole ring such changes upon the dumb-bells as might have been heard at Edmonton, if the bells could have spoken. But the most promising pupil of Professor Dandolo, as indeed the fairest young creature in the establishment of Bulgaria House, was Miss Adeliza Grampus, daughter of the alderman whose name we have mentioned. The pride of her mother, the idol of her opulent father, Adeliza Grampus was in her nineteenth year. Eyes have often been described; but it would require bluer ink than ours to depict the orbs of Adeliza; the snow when it first falls in Cheapside is not whiter than her neck,—when it[279] has been for some days upon the ground, trampled by dustmen and jarvies, trodden down by sweeps and gentlemen going to business, not blacker than her hair. Slim as the Monument on Fish-street-hill, her form was slender and tall: but it is needless to recapitulate her charms, and difficult indeed to describe them. Let the reader think of his first love, and fancy Adeliza. Dandolo, who was employed to instruct her, saw her, and fancied her too, as many a fellow of his inflammable temperament would have done in his place.

There are few situations in life which can be so improved by an enterprising mind as that of a dancing-master,—I mean in a tender or amatory point of view. The dancing-master has over the back, the hands, the feet and shoulders of his pupils an absolute command; and, being by nature endowed with so much authority, can speedily spread his sway from the limbs to the rest of the body, and to the mind inclusive. "Toes a little more out, Miss Adeliza," cries he with the tenderest air in the world; "back a little more straight," and he gently seizes her hand, he raises it considerably above the level of her ear, he places the tips of his left-hand fingers gently upon the young lady's spine, and in this seducing attitude gazes tenderly into her eyes! I say that no woman at any age can stand this attitude and this look, especially when darted from such eyes as those of Dandolo. On the two first occasions when the adventurer attempted this audacious manœuvre, his victim blushed only and trembled; on the third she dropped her full eyelids and turned ghastly pale. "A glass of water," cried Adeliza, "or I faint." The dancing-master hastened eagerly away to procure the desired beverage, and, as he put it to her lips, whispered thrillingly in her ear, "Thine, thine for ever, Adeliza!"

Miss Grampus sank back in the arms of Miss Binx, but not before her raptured lover saw her eyes turning towards the ceiling, and her clammy lips whispering the name of "Dandolo."

When Madame Schroeder, in the opera of Fidelio, cries, "Nichts, nichts, mein Florestan," it is as nothing compared to the tenderness with which Miss Grampus uttered that soft name.

"Dandolo!" would she repeat to her confidante, Miss Binx; "the name was beautiful and glorious in the olden days; five hundred years since, a myriad of voices shouted it in Venice, when one who bore it came forward to wed the sea—the Doge's bride! the blue Adriatic! the boundless and eternal main! The frightened Turk shrunk palsied at the sound; it was louder than the loudest of the cannon, or the stormy screaming of the tempest! Dandolo! how many brave hearts beat to hear that name! how many bright swords flashed forth at that resistless war-cry! Oh, Binx," would Adeliza continue, fondly pressing the arm of that young lady, "is it not passing strange that one of that mighty ducal race should have lived to this day, and lived to love me! But I, too," Adeliza would add archly, "am, as you know, a daughter of the sea."

The fact was, that the father of Miss Adeliza Grampus was a shellfishmonger, which induced the young lady to describe herself as a daughter of Ocean. She received her romantic name from her mother after reading Miss Swipes's celebrated novel of Toby of Warsaw, and had been fed from her youth upwards with so much similar literary ware, that her little mind had gone distracted. Her father had[280] sent her from home at fifteen, because she had fallen in love with the young man who opened natives in the shop, and had vowed to slay herself with the oyster-knife. At Miss Pidge's her sentiment had not deserted her; she knew all Miss Landon by heart, had a lock of Mr. Thomas Moore's hair or wig, and read more novels and poetry than ever. And thus the red-haired dancing-master became in her eyes a Venetian nobleman, with whom it was her pride and pleasure to fall in love.

Being a parlour-boarder at Miss Pidge's seminary, (a privilege which was acquired by paying five annual guineas extra,) Miss Grampus was permitted certain liberties which were not accorded to scholars of the ordinary description. She and Miss Binx occasionally strolled into the village by themselves; they visited the library unattended; they went upon little messages for the Misses Pidge; they walked to church alone, either before or after the long row of young virgins who streamed out on every Sabbath day from between the filigree iron railings of Bulgaria House. It is my painful duty to state that on several of these exclusive walks they were followed, or met, by the insidious and attentive teacher of gymnastics.

Soon Miss Binx would lag behind, and—shall I own it?—would make up for the lost society of her female friend by the company of a man, a friend of the professor, mysterious and agreeable as himself. May the mistresses of all the establishments for young ladies in this kingdom, or queendom rather, peruse this, and reflect how dangerous it is for young ladies of any age,—ay, even for parlour-boarders—to go out alone! In the present instance Miss Grampus enjoyed a more than ordinary liberty, it is true: when the elder Misses Pidge would remonstrate, Miss Zela would anxiously yield to her request; and why?—the reason may be gathered from the following conversation which passed between the infatuated girl and the wily maître de danse.

"How, Roderick," would Adeliza say, "how, in the days of our first acquaintance, did it chance that you always addressed yourself to that odious Zela Pidge, and never deigned to breathe a syllable to me?"

"My lips didn't speak to you, Addly," (for to such a pitch of familiarity had they arrived,) "but my heyes did."

Adeliza was not astonished by the peculiarity of his pronunciation, for, to say truth, it was that commonly adopted in her native home and circle. "And mine," said she tenderly, "they followed when yours were not fixed upon them, for then I dared not look upwards. And though all on account of Miss Pidge you could not hear the accents of my voice, you might have heard the beatings of my heart!"

"I did, I did," gasped Roderick; "I eard them haudibly. I never spoke to you then, for I feared to waken that foul friend sispicion. I wished to henter your seminary, to be continually near you, to make you love me; therefore I wooed the easy and foolish Miss Pidge, therefore I took upon me the disguise of—ha! ha!—of a dancing-master." (And the young man's countenance assumed a grim and demoniac smile.) "Yes; I degraded my name and my birthright,—I wore these ignoble trappings, and all for the love of thee, my Adeliza!" Here Signor Dandolo would have knelt down, but the road was muddy; and, his trousers being of nankeen, his gallant purpose was frustrated.

But the story must out, for the conversation above narrated has[281] betrayed to the intelligent reader a considerable part of it. The fact is, as we have said, that Miss Zela Pidge, dancing at the Hackney assembly, was introduced to this man; that he had no profession,—no means even of subsistence; that he saw enough of this lady to be aware that he could make her useful to his purpose; and he who had been, we believe it in our conscience, no better than a travelling mountebank or harlequin, appeared at Bulgaria House in the character of a professor of gymnastics. The governess in the first instance entertained for him just such a penchant as the pupil afterwards felt; the latter discovered the weakness of her mistress, and hence arose Miss Pidge's indulgence, and Miss Grampus's fatal passion.

"Mysterious being!" continued Adeliza, resuming the conversation which has been broken by the above explanatory hints, "how did I learn to love thee? Who art thou?—what dire fate has brought thee hither in this lowly guise to win the heart of Adeliza?"

"Hadeliza," cried he, "you say well; I am not what I seem. I cannot tell thee what I am; a tale of horror, of crime, forbids the dreadful confession. But dark as I am, and wretched, nay, wicked and desperate, I love thee, Hadeliza,—love thee with the rapturous devotion of purer days: the tenderness of happier times! I am sad now and fallen, lady; suffice it that I once was happy, ay, respectable."

Adeliza's cheek grew deadly pale, her step faltered, and she would have fallen to the ground, had she not been restrained by the strong arm of her lover. "I know not," said she, as she clung timidly to his neck,

"I know not, I hask not, if guilt's in that art,
I know that I love thee, whatever thou hart."

"Gilt in my heart," said Dandolo, "gilt in the heart of Roderick? No, never!" and he drew her towards him, and on her bonnet, her veil, her gloves, nay, on her very cheeks, he imprinted a thousand maddening kisses. "But say, my sweet one," continued he, "who art thou? I know you as yet, only by your lovely baptismal name, and your other name of Grampus."

Adeliza looked down and blushed. "My parents are lowly," she said.

"But how then came you at such a seminary?" said he; "twenty pound a quarter, extras and washing not included."

"They are humble, but wealthy."

"Ha! who is your father?"

"An alderman of yon metropolis."

"An alderman! and what is his profession?"

"I blush to tell; he is—an oystermonger."

"AN OYSTERMONGER!" screamed Roderick in the largest capitals. "Ha! ha! ha! this is too much!" and he dropped Adeliza's hand, and never spoke to her during the rest of her walk. They moved moodily on for some time, Miss Binx and the other young man marching astonished in the rear. At length they came within sight of the seminary. "Here is Bulgaria House," cried the maiden steadily; "Roderick, we must part!" The effort was too much for her: she flung herself hysterically into his arms.

But, oh, horror! a scream was heard from Miss Binx, who was seen scuttling at double-quick time towards the school-house. Her[282] young man had bolted completely; and close at the side of the lovely though imprudent couple, stood the angry—and justly angry—Miss Zela Pidge!

"Oh, Ferdinand," said she, "is it thus you deceive me? Did I bring you to Bulgaria House for this?—did I give you money to buy clothes for this, that you should go by false names, and make love to that saucy, slammerkin, sentimental Miss Grampus? Ferdinand, Ferdinand," cried she, "is this true,—can I credit my eyes?"

"D—your eyes!" said the signor angrily as he darted at her a withering look, and retired down the street. His curses might be heard long after he had passed. He never appeared more at Bulgaria House, for he received his dismissal the next day.

That night all the front windows of the Miss Pidges' seminary were smashed to shivers. * * *

On the following Thursday two places were taken in the coach to town. On the back seat sate the usher, on the front the wasted and miserable Adeliza Grampus.* * *


But the matter did not end here. Miss Grampus's departure elicited from her a disclosure of several circumstances which, we must say, in no degree increased the reputation of Miss Zela Pidge. The discoveries which she made were so awkward, the tale of crime and licentiousness revealed by her so deeply injurious to the character of the establishment, that the pupils emigrated from it in scores. Miss Binx retired to her friends at Wandsworth, Miss Jacobs to her relations in Houndsditch, and other young ladies not mentioned in this history to other and more moral schools; so that absolutely, at the end of a single half year, such had been the scandal of the story, the Misses Pidge were left with only two pupils,—Miss Dibble, the articled young lady, and Miss Bole, the grocer's daughter, who came in exchange for tea, candles, and other requisites supplied to the establishment by her father.

"I knew it, I knew it!" cried Zela passionately, as she trod the echoing and melancholy school-room; "he told me that none ever prospered who loved him,—that every flower was blighted upon which he shone! Ferdinand, Ferdinand! you have caused ruin there" (pointing to the empty cupboards and forms); "but what is that to the blacker ruin here!" and the poor creature slapped her heart, and the big tears rolled down her chin, and so into her tucker.

A very, very few weeks after this, the plate of Bulgaria House was removed for ever. That mansion is now designated "Moscow Hall, by Mr. Swishtail and assistants:"—the bankrupt and fugitive Misses Pidge have fled, Heaven knows whither! for the steamers to Boulogne cost more than five shillings in those days.

Alderman Grampus, as may be imagined, did not receive his daughter with any extraordinary degree of courtesy. "He was as grumpy," Mrs. G. remarked, "on the occasion as a sow with the measles."—But had he not reason? A lovely daughter who had neglected her education, forgotten her morals for the second time, and fallen almost a prey to villains! Miss Grampus for some months was kept in close confinement, nor ever suffered to stir, except occasionally to Bunhill-row for air, and to church for devotion. Still, though she knew him[283] to be false,—though she knew that under a different, perhaps a prettier name, he had offered the same vows to another,—she could not but think of Roderick.

That Professor (as well—too well—he may be called!) knew too well her father's name and reputation to experience any difficulty in finding his abode. It was, as every City man knows, in Cheapside; and thither Dandolo constantly bent his steps: but though he marched unceasingly about the mansion, he never (mysteriously) would pass it. He watched Adeliza walking, he followed her to church; and many and many a time as she jostled out at the gate of the Artillery-ground, or the beadle-flanked portal of Bow, a tender hand would meet hers, an active foot would press upon hers, a billet discreetly delivered was as adroitly seized, to hide in the recesses of her pocket-handkerchief, or to nestle in the fragrance of her bosom! Love! Love! how ingenious thou art! thou canst make a ladder of a silken thread, or a weapon of a straw; thou peerest like sunlight into a dungeon; thou scalest, like forlorn hope, a castle wall; the keep is taken!—the foeman has fled!—the banner of love floats triumphantly over the corpses of the slain![15]

Thus, though denied the comfort of personal intercourse, Adeliza and her lover maintained a frequent and tender correspondence. Nine times at least in a week, she by bribing her maid-servant, managed to convey letters to the Professor, to which he at rarer intervals, though with equal warmth, replied.

"Why," said the young lady in the course of this correspondence, "why, when I cast my eyes upon my Roderick, do I see him so wofully changed in outward guise? He wears not the dress which formerly adorned him. Is he poor?—is he in disguise?—do debts oppress him, or traitors track him for his blood? Oh that my arms might shield him!—Oh that my purse might aid him! It is the fondest wish of

"Adeliza G.

"P.S.—Aware of your fondness for shell-fish, Susan will leave a barrel of oysters at the Swan with Two Necks, directed to you, as per desire.

"Ad. G.

"P.S.—Are you partial to kippered salmon? The girl brings three pounds of it wrapped in a silken handkerchief. 'Tis marked with the hair of


"P.S.—I break open my note to say that you will find in it a small pot of anchovy paste: may it prove acceptable. Heigho! I would that I could accompany it.


It may be imagined, from the text of this note, that Adeliza had profited not a little by the perusal of Mrs. Swipes's novels; and it also gives a pretty clear notion of the condition of her lover. When that gentleman was a professor at Bulgaria House, his costume had strictly accorded with his pretensions. He wore a black German coat loaded with frogs and silk trimming, a white broad-brimmed beaver, hessians, and nankeen tights. His costume at present was singularly changed for the worse: a rough brown frock-coat dangled down to the calves of his brawny legs, where likewise ended a pair of greasy shepherd's-plaid trousers; a dubious red waistcoat, a blue or bird's-eye[284] neckerchief, and bluchers, (or half-boots,) remarkable for thickness and for mud, completed his attire. But he looked superior to his fortune; he wore his grey hat very much on one ear; he incessantly tugged at his smoky shirt-collar, and walked jingling the halfpence (when he had any) in his pocket. He was, in fact, no better than an adventurer, and the innocent Adeliza was his prey.

Though the Professor read the first part of this letter with hope and pleasure, it may be supposed that the three postscripts were still more welcome to him,—in fact, he literally did what is often done in novels, he devoured them; and Adeliza, on receiving a note from him the next day, after she had eagerly broken the seal, and with panting bosom and flashing eye glanced over the contents,—Adeliza, we say, was not altogether pleased when she read the following:

"Your goodness, dearest, passes belief; but never did poor fellow need it more than your miserable, faithful Roderick. Yes! I am poor,—I am tracked by hell-hounds,—I am changed in looks, and dress, and happiness,—in all but love for thee!

"Hear my tale! I come of a noble Italian family,—the noblest, ay, in Venice. We were free once, and rich, and happy; but the Prussian autograph has planted his banner on our towers,—the talents of his haughty heagle have seized our wealth, and consigned most of our race to dungeons. I am not a prisoner, only an exile. A mother, a bed-ridden grandmother, and five darling sisters, escaped with me from Venice, and now share my poverty and my home. But I have wrestled with misfortune in vain; I have struggled with want, till want has overcome me. Adeliza, I want bread!

"The kippered salmon was very good, the anchovies admirable. But, oh, my love! how thirsty they make those who have no means of slaking thirst! My poor grandmother lies delirious in her bed, and cries in vain for drink. Alas! our water is cut off; I have none to give her. The oysters was capital. Bless thee, bless thee! angel of bounty! Have you any more sich, and a few shrimps? My sisters are very fond of them.

"Half-a-crown would oblige. But thou art too good to me already, and I blush to ask thee for more. "Adieu, Adeliza,

"the wretched but faithful

"Roderick Ferdinand,

"(38th Count of Dandolo.)

"Bell-yard, June —."

A shade of dissatisfaction, we say, clouded Adeliza's fair features as she perused this note; and yet there was nothing in it which the tenderest lover might not write. But the shrimps, the half-crown, the horrid picture of squalid poverty presented by the count, sickened her young heart; the innate delicacy of the woman revolted at the thought of all this misery.

But better thoughts succeeded: her breast heaved as she read and re-read the singular passage concerning the Prussian autograph, who had planted his standard at Venice. "I knew it!" she cried, "I knew it!—he is of noble race! O Roderick, I will perish, but I will help thee!"

Alas! she was not well enough acquainted with history to perceive that the Prussian autograph had nothing to do with Venice, and had forgotten altogether that she herself had coined the story which this adventurer returned to her.


But a difficulty presented itself to Adeliza's mind. Her lover asked for money,—where was she to find it? The next day the till of the shop was empty, and a weeping apprentice dragged before the Lord Mayor. It is true that no signs of the money were found upon him; it is true that he protested his innocence; but he was dismissed the alderman's service, and passed a month at Bridewell, because Adeliza Grampus had a needy lover!

"Dearest," she wrote, "will three-and-twenty and sevenpence suffice? 'Tis all I have: take it, and with it the fondest wishes of your Adeliza.

"A sudden thought! Our apprentice is dismissed. My father dines abroad; I shall be in the retail establishment all the night, alone.


No sooner had the Professor received this note than his mind was made up. "I will see her," he said; "I will enter that accursed shop." He did, and to his ruin.* * *

That night Mrs. Grampus and her daughter took possession of the bar or counter, in the place which Adeliza called the retail establishment, and which is commonly denominated the shop. Mrs. Grampus herself operated with the oyster-knife, and served the Milton morsels to the customers. Age had not diminished her skill, nor had wealth rendered her too proud to resume at need a profession which she had followed in early days. Adeliza flew gracefully to and fro with the rolls, the vinegar bottle with perforated cork, and the little pats of butter. A little boy ran backwards and forwards to the Blue Lion over the way, for the pots of porter, or for the brandy and water, which some gentlemen take after the play.

Midnight arrived. Miss Grampus was looking through the window, and contrasting the gleaming gas which shone upon the ruby lobsters, with the calm moon which lightened up the Poultry, and threw a halo round the Royal Exchange. She was lost in maiden meditation, when her eye fell upon a pane of glass in her own window: squeezed against this, flat and white, was the nose of a man!—that man was Roderick Dandolo! He seemed to be gazing at the lobsters more intensely than at Adeliza; he had his hands in his pockets, and was whistling Jim Crow.[16]

Miss Grampus felt sick with joy; she staggered to the counter, and almost fainted. The Professor concluded his melody, and entered at once into the shop. He pretended to have no knowledge of Miss Grampus, but aborded the two ladies with easy elegance and irresistible good-humour.

"Good evening, ma'am," said he, bowing profoundly to the elder lady. "What a precious hot evening, to be sure!—hot, ma'am, and hungry, as they say. I could not resist them lobsters, 'specially when I saw the lady behind 'em."

At this gallant speech Mrs. Grampus blushed, or looked as if she would blush, and said,

"Law, sir!"

"Law, indeed, ma'am," playfully continued the Professor; "you're a precious deal better than law,—you're divinity, ma'am; and this, I presume, is your sister?"


He pointed to Adeliza as he spoke, who, pale and mute, stood fainting against a heap of ginger-beer bottles. The old lady was quite won by this stale compliment.

"My daughter, sir," she said. "Addly, lay a cloth for the gentleman. Do you take hoysters, sir, hor lobsters? Both is very fine."

"Why, ma'am," said he, "to say truth, I have come forty miles since dinner, and don't care if I have a little of both. I'll begin, if you please, with that there, (Lord bless its claws, they're as red as your lips!) and we'll astonish a few of the natives afterwards, by your leave."

Mrs. Grampus was delighted with the manners and the appetite of the stranger. She proceeded forthwith to bisect the lobster, while the Professor in a dégagé manner, his cane over his shoulder, and a cheerful whistle upon his lips, entered the little parlour, and took possession of a box and a table.

He was no sooner seated than, from a scuffle, a giggle, and a smack, Mrs. Grampus was induced to suspect that something went wrong in the oyster-room.

"Hadeliza!" cried she; and that young woman returned blushing now like a rose, who had been as pale before as a lily.

Mrs. G. herself took in the lobster, bidding her daughter sternly to stay in the shop. She approached the stranger with an angry air, and laid the lobster before him.

"For shame, sir!" said she solemnly; but all of a sudden she began to giggle like her daughter, and her speech ended with an "Have done now!"

We were not behind the curtain, and cannot of course say what took place; but it is evident that the Professor was a general lover of the sex.

Mrs. Grampus returned to the shop, rubbing her lips with her fat arms, and restored to perfect good-humour. The little errand-boy was despatched over the way for a bottle of Guinness and a glass of brandy and water.

"Hot with!" shouted a manly voice from the eating-room, and Adeliza was pained to think that in her presence her lover could eat so well.

He ate indeed as if he had never eaten before: here is the bill as written by Mrs. Grampus herself.

"Two lobsters at 3s. 6d.  7s. 0d.
Sallit  1 3
2 Bottils Doubling Stott  2 4
11 Doz. Best natifs  7 4
14 Pads of Botter  1 2
4 Glasses B & W.  4 0
Bredd (love & ½)  1 2
Brakitch of tumler  1 6
"To Samuel Grampus, 1  5 9
"At the Mermaid in Cheapside.

"Shell-fish in all varieties. N.B. a great saving in taking a quantity."

"A saving in taking a quantity," said the stranger archly. "Why, ma'am, you ought to let me off very cheap;" and the Professor, the pot-boy, Adeliza, and her mamma, grinned equally at this pleasantry.


"However, never mind the pay, missis," continued he; "we an't agoing to quarrel about that. Hadd another glass of brandy and water to the bill, and bring it me, when it shall be as I am now."

"Law, sir," simpered Mrs. Grampus, "how's that?"

"Reseated, ma'am, to be sure," replied he as he sank back upon the table. The old lady went laughing away, pleased with her merry and facetious customer; the little boy picked up the oyster-shells, of which a mighty pyramid was formed at the Professor's feet.

"Here, Sammy," cried out shrill Mrs. Grampus from the shop, "go over to the Blue Lion and get the gentleman his glass: but no, you are better where you are, pickin' up them shells. Go you, Hadeliza; it is but across the way."

Adeliza went with a very bad grace; she had hoped to exchange at least a few words with him her soul adored; and her mother's jealousy prevented the completion of her wish.

She had scarcely gone, when Mr. Grampus entered from his dinner-party. But, though fond of pleasure, he was equally faithful to business: without a word, he hung up his brass-buttoned coat, put on his hairy cap, and stuck his sleeves through his apron.

As Mrs. Grampus was tying it, (an office which this faithful lady regularly performed,) he asked her what business had occurred during his absence.

"Not so bad," said she; "two pound ten to-night, besides one pound eight to receive;" and she handed Mr. Grampus the bill.

"How many are there on 'em?" said that gentleman smiling, as his eye gladly glanced over the items of the account.

"Why, that's the best of all: how many do you think?"

"If four did it," said Mr. Grampus, "they wouldn't have done badly neither."

"What do you think of one?" cried Mrs. G. laughing, "and he an't done yet. Haddy is gone to fetch him another glass of brandy and water."

Mr. Grampus looked very much alarmed. "Only one, and you say he an't paid?"

"No," said the lady.

Mr. Grampus seized the bill, and rushed wildly into the dining-room: the little boy was picking up the oyster-shells still, there were so many of them; the Professor was seated on the table, laughing as if drunk, and picking his teeth with his fork.

Grampus, shaking in every joint, held out the bill: a horrid thought crossed him; he had seen that face before!

The Professor kicked sneeringly into the air the idle piece of paper, and swung his legs recklessly to and fro.

"What a flat you are," shouted he in a voice of thunder, "to think I'm a goin' to pay! Pay! I never pay—I'm Dando!"

The people in the other boxes crowded forward to see the celebrated stranger; the little boy grinned as he dropped two hundred and forty-four oyster-shells, and Mr. Grampus rushed madly into his front shop, shrieking for a watchman.

As he ran, he stumbled over something on the floor,—a woman and a glass of brandy and water lay there extended. Like Tarquinia reversed, Elijah Grampus was trampling over the lifeless body of Adeliza.

Why enlarge upon the miserable theme? The confiding girl,[288] in returning with the grog from the Blue Lion, had arrived at the shop only in time to hear the fatal name of Dando. She saw him, tipsy and triumphant, bestriding the festal table, and yelling with horrid laughter! The truth flashed upon her—she fell!

Lost to worldly cares in contemplating the sorrows of their idolized child, her parents forgot all else beside. Mrs. G. held the vinegar-cruet to her nostrils; her husband brought the soda-water fountain to play upon her; it restored her to life, but not to sense. When Adeliza Grampus rose from that trance she was a MANIAC!

But what became of the deceiver? The gormandizing ruffian, the lying renegade, the fiend in human shape, escaped in the midst of this scene of desolation. He walked unconcerned through the shop, his hat cocked on one side as before, swaggering as before, whistling as before: far in the moonlight might you see his figure; long, long in the night-silence rang his demoniac melody of Jim Crow!

When Samuel the boy cleaned out the shop in the morning, and made the inventory of the goods, a silver fork, a plated ditto, a dish, and a pewter pot were found to be wanting. Ingenuity will not be long in guessing the name of the thief.

Gentles, my tale is told. If it may have deterred one soul from vice, my end is fully answered: if it may have taught to school-mistresses carefulness, to pupils circumspection, to youth the folly of sickly sentiment, the pain of bitter deception; to manhood the crime, the meanness of gluttony, the vice which it occasions, and the wicked passions it fosters; if these, or any of these, have been taught by the above tale, Goliah Gahagan seeks for no other reward.

Note. Please send the proceeds as requested per letter; the bearer being directed not to give up the manuscript without.


"Marry in thy youth!" This golden truth is writ in one of the "gates," or articles of the "Sadder." We know not if the eyes of Jacob Tibs ever opened upon this questionable axiom; or whether the consciousness of his own weakness was the load-star which lighted him, "poor darkened traveller," to the blessed state. Be it as it might, Jacob, though no longer in youth, and in spite of my Uncle Toby's showing that "love is below a man,"—Jacob took unto himself a wife,—an unquestionable better half, seeing his share was so small in the economy of domestic life. But at how high a standard Jacob ought to have placed his happiness,—and marriage is with some supposed to be a good,—he held it a plague, a sickness long in killing! Jacob, as we have before stated, married, and from that seed his crops of evil sprung! The apple of his eye, like that of the East, was ashes to his taste. Alas! that Jacob ever married!

Biddy Tibs, "who cared for nobody," was, at the time we write, a small withered piece of stale old age. In her husband's days,—and they a bountiful Providence, or rather rope, had shortened; not that[289] he was hanged, for Jacob was a modest-minded man!—she made up in temper what she lacked in size; which temper, in the opinion of many, was the personal property of the devil! And as the most difficult conquest of Mahomet was that of his wife, so it proved with Jacob, who vainly hoped that, "as with time and patience the leaf of the mulberry-tree becomes satin," so might his wife's temper from sour turn to sweet! How little did Jacob appreciate the constancy of woman!

Jacob Tibs was part owner of a Liverpool West India trader, and of which he was nominally the captain. But Mrs. T., in this as in all other instances, was the great "captain's captain:" her lungs—and never had a speaking-trumpet such lungs—were hurricane-proof! and the title of "boatswain" was not improperly a sobriquet of this fair cheapener of sugar, with which the vessel was ostensibly freighted, though upon occasions she had more slaves than her husband on board; so that, what with natural and human produce, Jacob climbed a golden ladder. Tired with a "life of storms," he changed his vessel for a house, the sea for a quiet town, and might have rested his old age in peace; but, alas for Jacob! he was married!

Argus is reported to have slept,—can we wonder that Mrs. Tibs's two eyes for once lost their vigilance, and left her husband the master of himself, and one day—for that she passed a short distance off; and Jacob resolved that this drop of comfort should prove a well; and in truth it did, as will be shown. Old Jacob had friends, as who has not that has anything to give?—and this day—the only one he could look forward to with a smile since he had been "blessed"—he determined should prove a golden one; and, spite of the servant-girl's warnings of "How missus would wop him!" Jacob held a levee,—some dozen sons of Eve, whose mouths sucked brandy like a sponge,—good old souls of a good old age, whose modest wants 'bacca and brandy could supply.

Jacob held his levee! but as he boasted no privy purse, no stocking with a foot of guineas, and no brandy but a bottle two-thirds full, left by strange accident in the cupboard, what was to be done? For the first time in his life Jacob was surprised into an act of rebellion; and with a death-doing hammer in one hand, and a screwdriver in the other, did Jacob invade the—to him—sanctity of the cellar. The lock was wrenched, lights were stuck in empty bottles, and Jacob, who in his young-going days had swilled it with the best, soon verified the sentiment of Le Sage, that "a reformed drunkard should never be left in a cellar." Now, whether joy or brandy had to answer for the sin, we know not; but, certain it is, Jacob got drunk, and measured his length—he was a tall man—upon the ground. Friends should be our brothers in affliction; his were true ones, and at happy intervals of time they sank beside him, completely overcome,—showing how little was their pride, how great their fellowship!

How long they might have continued in this undeniable state of bliss would be an useless guess, for the last of Jacob's friends—and he was no sudden faller-off—had scarcely deposited himself upon the ground in happy indifference for his clothes, when the cracked-bell voice of Mrs. Tibs, who had unexpectedly returned, roused the maid into a consciousness that missus had come home! Domestic contentions are at no time an interesting theme; and as most of our[290] readers—we allude to the married portion—have doubtless experienced them in real life, romance would fall far short of the truth; the single we advise to marry, and experience will teach them what we here pass over. When Jacob's better half beheld her bottles empty, her casks upturned, and her husband, for the first time since he had enjoyed that felicity, deaf to the music of her voice, a bucket of water from the well refreshed Jacob to a truth he would willingly have slept in ignorance of,—that the wife of his bosom was alive, and he started as a thief would at an opening door. She seized him by the collar, and, showering the first-fruits of her passion upon him who could so well appreciate it, the "boatswain" rose within her, and, after bestowing sundry terms of approbation upon his boon companions, she turned them out of the house, as the vulgar saying hath it, "with their tails between their legs." Jacob would have slunk away, but Fortune willed it otherwise. His "rib" shouted the word of command, "Tack, you lubber, and be ---- to you!" Jacob recognised the voice,—how could he have mistaken it?—and waited for orders. Now it so fell out, as Mrs. Tibs ran for the bucket of water, her cap, in the press of business, caught by a twig, dropped into the well, and eighteen-pence had been that day expended in decoration. With the assistance of Nanny the maid, Jacob was to be wound down in the bucket; and, spite of his appeals to the contrary, with one foot in the tub, and both hands on the rope, he was lowered, and half soused in water, until he reached the ribbon treasure of his wife's head. The cap clutched in one hand, he was raised dripping by the windlass. Each twist brought him nearer to the top, when, sorrowful to relate, the rope gave way, and Jacob dropped like lead into the well; a hollow splash was heard in the water, and Mrs Tibs stood by in speechless agony. At length her grief found vent, and, pitching her voice to its shrillest note, she cried, "Oh, my cap!"

Alas for Jacob! his head struck with swingeing force against the bricks, where to this day the impression may be seen: he fell stunned into the water, and before aid could be obtained, which Mrs. Tibs did in less than two hours and a half, Jacob was dead!

Now, though Jacob was dead, he was not buried. A good wife is a jewel to her husband: what must she be to his mortal remains? Biddy's affection was too great to allow any but herself to be his undertaker, and she contracted with a jobbing carpenter for a wooden shell. Jacob never loved luxuries, and the pride of cloth covered not his outside, gilt nails syllabled not his virtues. Four ploughmen were hired at a shilling a-head—half-a-crown they had the uncharity to ask—to be his bearers, and Jacob was lowered to what he had been for years a stranger to—a house of peace!

In the city of C——, famous for its antiquities, its cathedral, and its hop-grounds, is a terrace, commanding an extensive view of a cattle-market and the road beyond; along which road, one sunny afternoon, a gentleman, or, for fear of mistakes, we will simply call him an officer, rode on a piebald horse. Passing along, a certain window on the terrace attracted his attention, and the officer on the piebald horse kissed his hand to its fair occupant. Now, it so happened that Miss Lauretta Birdseye was seated at the very next window, in the very next house to that on which the officer had bestowed his attentions;[291] and no sooner was the kiss blown, than slam went the window! A glazier who was passing felt himself a richer man by at least three and sixpence. No sooner was the window closed, than—curtains are always in the way—they were drawn aside, and a face was glued to the glass, all eyes and wire ringlets. Another kiss from the officer on the piebald horse. The lady nodded her head, and was thinking of blushing; but as blushes, like hedge-side roses, are vulgar, and glass so thick, her prudence whispered her not to be wasteful. As the rider passed, the window was once more opened, and her head thrust out, to see what to her was indeed a sight,—a man, as she thought, looking at her,—when what should she behold at the next window but Laura Dyke, "that impudent slut," as she said, "looking after the men!" Her modesty was scandalized, and once more the window descended with a crash!

The following morning Miss Lauretta Birdseye knocked a gentle knock at the dwelling of Mrs. Tibs, her next-door neighbour. The door was opened by Laura, who filled the double capacity of drudge and niece to her loving aunt Biddy Tibs. Since the demise of the late lamented Jacob, she had led a life of widowhood, no man being found rash enough to venture where Jacob had trod before. Years had passed, and Biddy Tibs was old and withered, and her skin, like parchment, hung dry and shrivelled! The fire of her youth was gone, but the embers still remained: what her tongue had lost in might it had gained in bitterness; she stabbed a reputation at each word, and mixed her gall in every household hive! Such was Biddy Tibs; and, though possessed of no mean wealth, her avarice clung like birdlime to her. Biddy had a brother, an honest tradesman: his wife died young, and his children, for he had two, a boy and a girl, were unto him gold and jewels! Biddy held up her hands, and called it a tempting of Providence. Long sickness and misfortunes—for brother Dick had friends—and serving others, placed him in a debtors' prison! Without means, and lacking food, Dick asked his sister's aid,—a score of pounds to make him a man again. Biddy with thousands saw him want on;—saw him, sick and feeble, die, a prisoner for a friend's debt, and his children without a roof but heaven! Now, whether Biddy's conscience smote her,—and it was speculated by some that she possessed that luxury,—we know not; but, a few weeks after, her servant-girl, for some or for no fault, had been turned out of doors in the middle of the night; and, as her place must be supplied, pity came to Biddy's aid, and her niece, an interesting girl of some sixteen years, was sent for. The boy, Teg, less fortunate, was left to starve; but he was a shrewd youth, fourteen, and had a squint eye, a sign of a kind of cunning, and, if a jest may be pardoned, Teg always looked round the corner. Laura luxuriated in the waggon; Teg, less fortunate, trudged behind, begging as he went his food. But charity dwells not on the highway, and Teg's food was mostly unasked; a turnip diet and a hedge-side bed ended not a youth who was never born to be choked by indigestion.

Mrs. Tibs took in the girl, for she must have a drudge; Teg had a penny given him, and the door shut in his face. Teg cried first, then got in a passion, and, like most people in a pet, quarrelled with his bread and butter; for he flung the penny through one of the parlour windows, when, as ill luck would have it, it missed the head of[292] his loving aunt, and ended the days of a cracked tea-cup. Alas! that charity should bring evil upon the giver! for, taking the window and cup into consideration, Biddy's charity cost her shillings, when she had only intended to bestow a penny.

Teg spat upon her threshold, and went, no one cared or knew whither.

Laura was now eighteen, and opened the door to Miss Lauretta Birdseye, who looked daggers of indignation,—for Laura was a pretty girl,—and asked if Mrs. Tibs were at home. Laura's meek answer was, "Yes, Miss Birdseye; will you walk in?" Lauretta did, and sat in the parlour tête-à-tête with Mrs. Tibs.

Mrs. Tibs was to the city of C—— what Ariadne's thread was to Theseus,—the leading-string in all amours, all stolen meetings, all clandestine marriages. Numberless were the wives and husbands, maids and bachelors, who through her means had held communion sweet with objects of their choice. Messages and letters were her peculiar province; in fact, Biddy Tibs was a post-office in her own person; and these praiseworthy efforts she exercised not altogether from mercenary motives, though, to do her justice, her pride never stood in the way where money was offered: but she loved mischief as a cat loves milk, and would cheat for nothing, rather than not cheat at all. Now, as the officer on the piebald horse had kissed his hand, as Lauretta thought, to her, she could not rest until she had consulted old Tibby, for so she was called. There at all events she should know all about the officer, and there, no doubt, the officer would inquire after her; and, seated opposite old Tibby, the conversation began.

"Do you know, Mrs. Tibs," commenced Lauretta, "I am horrorfied to think what the girls about here are come to; for my part, you know, I hate the men!"

"I know you do," chimed in Biddy; "your mother tells everybody so: but them gals about here have no shame!"

"None!" and Lauretta rose with her subject. "As for those Greyham's girls, I declare a man can't walk for them; and those Miss Highwaters, they are no better than they should be, I know. Look how they dress! and we all know what they have to live upon. And those Miss Cartriges, with their thick ankles, waddling up and down, and looking after the men: for my part, I never walk without mother's with me, for those nasty fellows do look at one so."

Here an indistinct "Hem!" escaped Biddy.

"But I never look at them again, like the girls about here! never!"

Biddy looked at her from under her grey eyes, but said nothing.

"Men," continued Miss B. "are such impudent fellows, especially military men; and, would you think it? an officer on a piebald horse actually kissed his hand to me yesterday afternoon!"

Old Tibby looked up with a face full of wonder and infidelity.

"Who would have thought it!" ejaculated Lauretta.

Biddy shook her head as she added, "Who, indeed!"

"But I let him know I wasn't one of those sort of people, for I shut the window in his face, and I saw him kiss his hand again."

"What! after you had shut the window?" and Biddy looked a note of interrogation in each eye.

"Oh—I—I saw him through the curtains."


"Ah!" was Tibby's echo. "And—well, I couldn't imagine who it could be for."

"Who what was for?" inquired Miss B.

"A letter."

"A letter!" and Lauretta's voice fluttered.

"Yes," said Tibby; "but, knowing how much you hated the men, I never thought of you." Saying which, the old woman fumbled in her pocket, and, taking a three-cornered note from a whole phalanx of others, read the inscription,—"To Laura."

"People will call me Laura," said Lauretta, as she seized upon the note, broke the seal, and read as follows:—"Sweet Laura,—When I saw you at the window, and kissed my hand,"—twice, Mrs. Tibs,—"need I say how I wished your rosy lips were near me; but, before many hours, I trust I shall whisper in your ear the love I feel for my pretty little angel." Lauretta held her breath till she was red in the face in a vain endeavour to look celestial. The letter continued:—"And if my sweet Laura will meet me on the 'Mount,' this evening, I will fly with her from the misery she now suffers, to love and happiness. Should you not be there, I shall return to the barracks, and put an immediate end to the existence of your devoted,

"Augustus Green Horn, Royal Rifle Corps."

Miss Birdseye felt twenty years younger at the intelligence,—for a man must be in earnest when he threatens to kill himself,—and, with a true tragedy uplifting of the hands, she exclaimed,

"Mrs. Tibs, I wouldn't have a man's death at my door for a world! No, Augustus——" Further exclamation was cut short by a sort of titter outside the parlour-door. Now none knew better than Lauretta Birdseye how well a keyhole afforded sight and sound; and, throwing the door suddenly open, she burst into the passage. A hurried footstep on the stair convinced her of what she knew from experience to be a fact, that by the time the door is opened the listener gets out of sight.

After sundry comments upon the meanness of listening, Lauretta informed Mrs. Tibs, who sat like a cat watching a mouse, of her Christian determination to save human life by sacrificing herself, all loth as she was, to the officer of the piebald horse!

"It was the first time in her life," as she said, "a man had ever made an appointment with her,"—who shall question the truth?—and her delicacy yielded to her philanthropy!

Lauretta determined to go,—and, what is more, without her mother.

The "Mount" alluded to in Augustus Green Horn's letter is a hill planted round with winding hedges; and the lawn on which it stands forms the principal promenade of all the little gentry, all the small-consequence people, their pride stuck like a nosegay in their button-holes, who look in looks of hot-bed consequence the dignity the tradesman bows to.

It was a dark evening, and the cathedral clock struck nine as Lauretta Birdseye passed through the gates of the broad walk. Her horror may be imagined when she saw servant-maids and others,—who had nothing but their character to live upon, stealing in and out the trees in loving paces with—Lauretta shut her eyes—the fellows! 'Prentice boys were here whispering golden precepts in the ears of willing[294] maids, who, as servant-maids are not supposed to blush, cried "La!" Lauretta hurried across the green,—doubtless to escape such infamy,—to the foot of the "Mount;" a man and some "impudent hussy" were coming down the way she was to go up,—and, or her eyes deceived her, no less a hussy than Laura Dyke! who, she shuddered to think, had picked up a new man. Lauretta heard—or fancied she heard—a titter as they passed; and the man—he looked very like an officer—laughed outright. Lauretta bridled in the full virginity of three-and-thirty, and walked up the opposite side! How long she walked up and down, this side and that side, from the top to the bottom, and sate "like Patience" on one of the seats at the top, we will not here describe. Suffice it, after waiting two hours and three-quarters, a boy, who brought the candles, laid hold of her in the dark, and, spite of her exertions to the contrary,—Lauretta was strong and bony,—ravished a kiss! Whether the boy's taste was not matured, or what, we know not, but he did not offer to repeat his rashness; and Lauretta, who held kissing a vice, after telling him "what a rude boy he was," and "hoping he would not do it again," walked very slowly down the "Mount," waited ten minutes at the bottom, and then, with a heavy heart went home to bed, strengthened in the truth that men have no taste, and women no shame!

To her gentle summons on the next morning, Biddy herself opened the door. Lauretta looked, and so did Biddy as she cried, "What you! then where's that devil's niece of mine? the jade's been out all night, and——"

"With some of the fellows, take my word for it. Mrs. Tibs, the age we live in is a disgrace to our sex—look at me!"

"Well, if I do," half screamed the old woman, "I do more than the men do. And haven't you been carried off after all? Oh! oh!" and Biddy wheezed and chuckled like an old grey ape.

"Ma'm!" and Lauretta looked a vestal, "I am not aware, ma'm, what you mean."

"What! not of the officer on the piebald horse?" Biddy's countenance changed, and she turned white with passion as she added, "And that beggar's slut of mine, I'll teach her to cross me!" But, as her eye rested upon Lauretta, her face changed again, and pursed into a thousand wrinkles as she chuckled, "How long did you wait? Oh! oh!" and she gloated on the wincing countenance of her next-door neighbour.

"Mrs. Tibs!" and Lauretta spoke with the conscious dignity of a Cleopatra; "I have had a strange thought about Laura, and I am afraid we have made a little mistake."

"Mistake!" and Biddy's eyes opened like an owl's.

"Yes; for, after the officer kissed his hand, I opened the window, and there I saw that good-for-nothing girl of yours looking after him, and he might have blown his filthy kisses to her; and last night,—I won't be certain,—but I think I saw her coming down the 'Mount' with a man, and he looked very like my dear Augus——"

The countenance of Biddy fell, and her skin became lead as she gasped, "Bat that I was not to see it; that letter was for her after all!"

"Instead of me!" and Lauretta waxed wrathful as she added, "She heard us read it through the key-hole. I thought I heard a titter."


Let us not mistake the passion of Biddy Tibs; it was not the ruin of her niece grieved her,—no! she could get another servant from the workhouse; but she had fattened on the idea that, Lucretia as Lauretta was, she had at length stumbled on a Tarquin!—it was wine and oil to her heart. But, to find herself cozened, to have hatched the wrong egg!—her fury knew no bounds. She raved, and—we trust, for the first time in her life—uttered curses, and in so wild a scream that neighbours came running to her assistance; when, lashed by her own temper, the amiable Biddy Tibs fell down in a swoon, having burst a blood-vessel, and was carried to bed.

Miss Birdseye took the opportunity of informing a room-full of attentive listeners, "that the shameless hussy, Laura Dyke, had gone off with a man!" and so great was her horror, that, upon the butcher-boy's bringing the meat, she wouldn't suffer him to come into the passage, but kept the door ajar, for fear, as she said, "the fellow should look at her!"

The sick lion was a baby to Biddy Tibs, and, though she "cared for nobody," everybody cared for her—last will and testament. Her wealth had been looked upon by the telescopic eyes of an attentive few, who brought her—as "trifles show respect"—trifles of the least ambitious nature; and now, when Biddy was ill, and not likely to last above a day or two, their consideration knew no bounds. One would bring her—they were so cooling—some currants, on a cabbage leaf; another, a pot of jam; a third, an invitation,—if she could go, it would do her so much good. Biddy was not expected to live the day. But—oh, the ingratitude of this old creature!—ill as she was, her grey eyes looked like glass upon them, and twinkled with a cunning light; and in the course of the day she promised, in no less than six different quarters, the house she lived in, and a legacy beside. How good are they who wait upon the sick! but, though sick, Biddy, as the saying is, was "hard to die," and the doctor was justly surprised, who, after giving her over the preceding night, found her alive the next morning; and, notwithstanding she had three doctors, in the space of a few weeks, as her friends justly lamented, Biddy had cheated the devil, and, what was of still more consequence, themselves of currants and jam.

In due course of time Mrs. Tibs was restored to health; and not only left the city of C——, but her loving friends, who looked their last of Biddy Tibs, "who cared for nobody."

We have now to trace the history of Teg Dyke, who, we before said, was a shrewd boy, and, like most shrewd children taught by bad example, he became of the bad the worst. Driven from his aunt's door, without shelter and without food, Teg turned his steps where chance directed, and, "with Providence for his guide," before night-fall was some miles on the London road. Begging or stealing his way, as accident and his necessity compelled, the poor lad found himself sore-footed, hungry, hopeless, in the outskirts of London, which then, even more than now, was a huge nursery for crime,—a living chess-board, and circumstance the player! Teg was ragged, and none would employ him; begging was so unprofitable there was no living by it. Without food for two whole days Teg grew desperate, and, tempted by the smell, stole from the door of a cook-shop a plateful of savoury tit-bits,—the third lost that morning; and, in the[296] act of tasting, Teg was detected, seized, and, by a merciful magistrate sent to the House of Correction. Teg, himself no sinner, was here shut round by sin. Teg stole a meal, urged by the crying wants of hunger, and he was here mated with those who held theft a principle; and, like a bur, he clung to vice, since honesty had cast him down: and, to say truth, Teg found more fellowship in a jail, more communion, than in the outer world; for here they took delight in teaching what they knew without a premium. Where else could Teg have learnt a trade so cheaply? "The cove was quick and willing," and, respecting nothing else,—they must have been rogues,—respected genius! Genius lies hid in corners; and Teg who, had his aunt not thrust him from her door, might have become merely an honest man, sent to jail for stealing what none would give him,—food,—became, with a little practice, an accomplished thief!

Who shall say Biddy was to blame for shutting her door on so much depravity? Again, was not her wisdom shown in her behaviour to her niece? Should she have treated her with the least appearance of kindness, who, driven like a dog, had the wickedness to stain her threshold with ingratitude? Had she bestowed a sign of goodness upon her, she had then deserved it. But, no; she had treated her niece like a beast of burthen, and how had she returned her affection? Biddy trembled as she thought of it!

Laura's ingratitude must have risen like a ghost upon her sleepless eye! What must have been her self-accusation when, deserted by the Honourable Augustus Green Horn, she found herself not only a mother, but a beggar, halting in the streets, and with a pale and stricken countenance suing for bread? Then, indeed, must her aunt's loving-kindness have come in sweet dreams of the past, and whispered love and gentleness! But Laura had a callous mind, and, strange to say, never once felt her deprivation, or she would have sunk beneath it, as an outcast from society, her freshness gone; her beauty, like an autumn's leaf, seared, and cast forth unto the winds; her heart bruised, and her hopes destroyed, she crawled at midnight through the worst streets of London's worst quarter, the scoff of many, the despised of all, the debauched victim of any, her child a cripple from its birth, and in the malignity of a fever dead! And yet Laura, midst all these evils, wept hot tears; but, what proved she must have been dead to feeling, she never once thought of the motherly kindness of Biddy Tibs.* * *

Some years had passed since Biddy turned her back upon the city of C——, and left a name blushing with its good deeds behind her. She now lived in a small town in the neighbourhood of the metropolis, where her riches formed the subject of many an alehouse gossip. But, as old age fell upon her, the vice of gold came with it, and she lived in a crazy wooden house, without the fellowship of a breathing thing, and for the best of reasons. No cat could live upon her fare, and hope to be alive at the end of the month,—no dog was ever seen to stop at a bone Biddy threw away; her charity never descended to her garden, nor did the sparrows,—they knew it would be a waste of time;—and thus she lived without kin and without kind, no servant being so little a feeder as to live upon abuse. And it was noted as a peculiar fact, that, the older she grew, the more evil grew her tongue. Characters fell like grass before her.[297] Young or old, weak or strong, all felt her lash! And upon one occasion she made such inroads upon the chastity of two maiden ladies, sisters, and worthy to be so of the far-famed Irish giant, that, under pretence of tea and scandal, Biddy could not resist the temptation; she was induced to pay them a visit. A stream ran through these maiden sisters' grounds; and lifting Biddy in their arms,—a mere shuttlecock to two such battledores,—she was gently dropt into the water, where she enjoyed, what she had been for years a stranger to, a comfortable wash. So runs the story; and Biddy, vowing vengeance and the law, which last she obtained, for Biddy was rich, added so much by her daily tales to their reputations, that in the end she remained sole mistress of the field,—the maiden ladies leaving Biddy and the town behind them.

It was a cold November night, the wind howled, and the rain beat against the windows as Biddy Tibs sat in her room; the night was without moon or stars, and the sky looked black as the old woman peered through the window into the garden, and the fields at the back of her house; the rain fell in streams, and the wind moaned like a human voice. For an instant she saw, or thought she saw, a light shoot across the garden. She looked, and looked, and—she closed the shutters, and sat closer to the fire; and, rocking herself over it in her chair, mumbled, "Blind eyes that I have!—how should a light get there? I could see in the dark once like a cat; but now—" and the old woman rocked over the fire, with her head bent double to the grate. A rushlight with a long snuff burnt on the table, and the room looked shadowy and full of forms.

'Twas midnight; but still Biddy sat within her chair, and rocked, and rocked, and looking at the fire, as cinder after cinder blackened in the grate, she muttered, and spoke as to herself, "They're none of my getting,—none of my flesh! Didn't I feed, clothe her?—she ran away from my roof, and let her want. A night like this will break her spirit, and teach her what it is to be without one—'twill——" She paused suddenly, and bent her ear as in the act of listening; her grey eyes gazed round the room as she said, "It sounded like a door creaking, or a bolt;" and again she listened. The candle burnt dimly on the table, and the embers grew darker and darker as Biddy spread her hands to catch their warmth, and muttered, "At night, one is full of fancies; it's only the wind;" and, communing with herself, she added, "I've paid them back their own, and given them lies for lies, and they hate me for it: but they fear me, too,—that's one comfort,—for they know I'm rich. Rich—ha! ha! there's a sly cupboard there," and she pointed to a recess in the wall, where a concealed door stood half ajar; "there's a nest holds more eggs than they think for; and if I had liked—but the boy is none of mine—the boy—" A draught of air as from an opened door made her look round. She sat frozen to her chair as the figure of a man darkened in the room; a second, masked like his fellow, stood in the shadow of the door; and Biddy, with a fixed stare, looked like a corpse, blue-lipped and hollow-eyed. Her chair shook under her, and her voice came not, though her mouth opened, and her throat worked as if to scream! The man moved a step; it was electric! Biddy started to her feet, and with a hollow voice cried "Murder!" The ruffian with a curse darted at her throat, and, in a hissing whisper between his teeth, cried, "Quiet, you[298] hag, or I'll settle you!" Biddy, old and feeble as she was, fastened with both hands upon his, and struggled in his grip. The mask fell from his face, and with starting eyes she looked at what