"For thirty-two years," the paper says, "Sir Richmond Shakespear faithfully and devotedly served the Government of India, and during that period but once visited England, for a few months and on public duty. In his military capacity he saw much service, was present in eight general engagements, and was badly wounded in the last. In 1840, when a young lieutenant, he had the rare good fortune to be the means of rescuing from almost hopeless slavery in Khiva 416 subjects of the Emperor of Russia; and, but two years later, greatly contributed to the happy recovery of our own prisoners from a similar fate in Cabul. Throughout his career this officer was ever ready and zealous for the public service, and freely risked life and liberty in the discharge of his duties. Lord Canning, to mark his high sense of Sir Richmond Shakespear's public services, had lately offered him the Chief Commissionership of Mysore, which he had accepted, and was about to undertake, when death terminated his career."
When he came to London the cousins and playfellows of early Indian days met once again, and shook hands. "Can I do anything for you?" I remember the kind fellow asking. He was always asking that question: of all kinsmen; of all widows and orphans; of all the poor; of young men who might need his purse or his service. I saw a young officer yesterday to whom the first words Sir Richmond Shakespear wrote on his arrival in India were, "Can I do anything for you?" His purse was at the command of all. His kind hand was always open. It was a gracious fate which sent him to rescue widows and captives. Where could they have had a champion more chivalrous, a protector more loving and tender?
I write down his name in my little book, among those of others dearly loved, who, too, have been summoned hence. And so we meet and part; we struggle and succeed; or we fail and drop unknown on the way. As we leave the fond mother's knee, the rough trials of childhood and boyhood begin; and then manhood is upon us, and the battle of life, with its chances, perils, wounds, defeats, distinctions. And Fort William guns are saluting in one man's honor,* while the troops are firing the last volleys over the other's grave—over the grave of the brave, the gentle, the faithful Christian soldier.
* W. R. obiit March 22, 1862.
NOTES OF A WEEK'S HOLIDAY.
Most of us tell old stories in our families. The wife and children laugh for the hundredth time at the joke. The old servants (though old servants are fewer every day) nod and smile a recognition at the well-known anecdote. "Don't tell that story of Grouse in the gun-room," says Diggory to Mr. Hardcastle in the play, "or I must laugh." As we twaddle, and grow old and forgetful, we may tell an old story; or, out of mere benevolence, and a wish to amuse a friend when conversation is flagging, disinter a Joe Miller now and then; but the practice is not quite honest, and entails a certain necessity of hypocrisy on story hearers and tellers. It is a sad thing, to think that a man with what you call a fund of anecdote is a humbug, more or less amiable and pleasant. What right have I to tell my "Grouse in the gun-room" over and over in the presence of my wife, mother, mother-in-law, sons, daughters, old footman or parlor-maid, confidential clerk, curate, or what not? I smirk and go through the history, giving my admirable imitations of the characters introduced: I mimic Jones's grin, Hobbs's squint, Brown's stammer, Grady's brogue, Sandy's Scotch accent, to the best of my power: and, the family part of my audience laughs good-humoredly. Perhaps the stranger, for whose amusement the performance is given, is amused by it and laughs too. But this practice continued is not moral. This self-indulgence on your part, my dear Paterfamilias, is weak, vain—not to say culpable. I can imagine many a worthy man, who begins unguardedly to read this page, and comes to the present sentence, lying back in his chair, thinking of that story which he has told innocently for fifty years, and rather piteously owning to himself, "Well, well, it IS wrong; I have no right to call on my poor wife to laugh, my daughters to affect to be amused, by that old, old jest of mine. And they would have gone on laughing, and they would have pretended to be amused, to their dying day, if this man had not flung his damper over our hilarity." . . . I lay down the pen, and think, "Are there any old stories which I still tell myself in the bosom of my family? Have I any 'Grouse in my gun-room?'" If there are such, it is because my memory fails; not because I want applause, and wantonly repeat myself. You see, men with the so-called fund of anecdote will not repeat the same story to the same individual; but they do think that, on a new party, the repetition of a joke ever so old may be honorably tried. I meet men walking the London street, bearing the best reputation, men of anecdotal powers:—I know such, who very likely will read this, and say, "Hang the fellow, he means ME!" And so I do. No—no man ought to tell an anecdote more than thrice, let us say, unless he is sure he is speaking only to give pleasure to his hearers—unless he feels that it is not a mere desire for praise which makes him open his jaws.
And is it not with writers as with raconteurs? Ought they not to have their ingenuous modesty? May authors tell old stories, and how many times over? When I come to look at a place which I have visited any time these twenty or thirty years, I recall not the place merely, but the sensations I had at first seeing it, and which are quite different to my feelings to-day. That first day at Calais; the voices of the women crying out at night, as the vessel came alongside the pier; the supper at Quillacq's and the flavor of the cutlets and wine; the red-calico canopy under which I slept; the tiled floor, and the fresh smell of the sheets; the wonderful postilion in his jack-boots and pigtail;—all return with perfect clearness to my mind, and I am seeing them, and not the objects which are actually under my eyes. Here is Calais. Yonder is that commissioner I have known this score of years. Here are the women screaming and hustling over the baggage; the people at the passport-barrier who take your papers. My good people, I hardly see you. You no more interest me than a dozen orange-women in Covent-Garden, or a shop book-keeper in Oxford Street. But you make me think of a time when you were indeed wonderful to behold—when the little French soldiers wore white cockades in their shakos—when the diligence was forty hours going to Paris; and the great-booted postilion, as surveyed by youthful eyes from the coupe, with his jurons, his ends of rope for the harness, and his clubbed pigtail, was a wonderful being, and productive of endless amusement. You young folks don't remember the apple-girls who used to follow the diligence up the hill beyond Boulogne, and the delights of the jolly road? In making continental journeys with young folks, an oldster may be very quiet, and, to outward appearance, melancholy; but really he has gone back to the days of his youth, and he is seventeen or eighteen years of age (as the case may be), and is amusing himself with all his might. He is noting the horses as they come squealing out of the post-house yard at midnight; he is enjoying the delicious meals at Beauvais and Amiens, and quaffing ad libitum the rich table-d'hote wine; he is hail-fellow with the conductor, and alive to all the incidents of the road. A man can be alive in 1860 and 1830 at the same time, don't you see? Bodily, I may be in 1860, inert, silent, torpid; but in the spirit I am walking about in 1828, let us say;—-in a blue dress-coat and brass buttons, a sweet figured silk waistcoat (which I button round a slim waist with perfect ease), looking at beautiful beings with gigot sleeves and tea-tray hats under the golden chestnuts of the Tuileries, or round the Place Vendome, where the drapeau blanc is floating from the statueless column. Shall we go and dine at "Bombarda's," near the "Hotel Breteuil," or at the "Cafe Virginie?"—Away! "Bombarda's" and the "Hotel Breteuil" have been pulled down ever so long. They knocked down the poor old Virginia Coffee-house last year. My spirit goes and dines there. My body, perhaps, is seated with ever so many people in a railway-carriage, and no wonder my companions find me dull and silent. Have you read Mr. Dale Owen's "Footfalls on the Boundary of Another World?"—(My dear sir, it will make your hair stand quite refreshingly on end.) In that work you will read that when gentlemen's or ladies' spirits travel off a few score or thousand miles to visit a friend, their bodies lie quiet and in a torpid state in their beds or in their arm-chairs at home. So in this way, I am absent. My soul whisks away thirty years back into the past. I am looking out anxiously for a beard. I am getting past the age of loving Byron's poems, and pretend that I like Wordsworth and Shelley much better. Nothing I eat or drink (in reason) disagrees with me; and I know whom I think to be the most lovely creature in the world. Ah, dear maid (of that remote but well-remembered period), are you a wife or widow now?—are you dead?—are you thin and withered and old?—or are you grown much stouter, with a false front? and so forth.
O Eliza, Eliza!—Stay, WAS she Eliza? Well, I protest I have forgotten what your Christian name was. You know I only met you for two days, but your sweet face is before me now, and the roses blooming on it are as fresh as in that time of May. Ah, dear Miss X——, my timid youth and ingenuous modesty would never have allowed me, even in my private thoughts, to address you otherwise than by your paternal name, but THAT (though I conceal it) I remember perfectly well, and that your dear and respected father was a brewer.
CARILLON.—I was awakened this morning with the chime which Antwerp cathedral clock plays at half-hours. The tune has been haunting me ever since, as tunes will. You dress, eat, drink, walk and talk to yourself to their tune: their inaudible jingle accompanies you all day: you read the sentences of the paper to their rhythm. I tried uncouthly to imitate the tune to the ladies of the family at breakfast, and they say it is "the shadow dance of Dinorah." It may be so. I dimly remember that my body was once present during the performance of that opera, whilst my eyes were closed, and my intellectual faculties dormant at the back of the box; howbeit, I have learned that shadow dance from hearing it pealing up ever so high in the air, at night, morn, noon.
How pleasant to lie awake and listen to the cheery peal! whilst the old city is asleep at midnight, or waking up rosy at sunrise, or basking in noon, or swept by the scudding rain which drives in gusts over the broad places, and the great shining river; or sparkling in snow which dresses up a hundred thousand masts, peaks, and towers; or wrapped round with thunder-cloud canopies, before, which the white gables shine whiter; day and night the kind little carillon plays its fantastic melodies overhead. The bells go on ringing. Quot vivos vocant, mortuos plangunt, fulgara frangunt; so on to the past and future tenses, and for how many nights, days, and years! Whilst the French were pitching their fulgara into Chasse's citadel, the bells went on ringing quite cheerfully. Whilst the scaffolds were up and guarded by Alva's soldiery, and regiments of penitents, blue, black, and gray, poured out of churches and convents, droning their dirges, and marching to the place of the Hotel de Ville, where heretics and rebels were to meet their doom, the bells up yonder were chanting at their appointed half-hours and quarters, and rang the mauvais quart d'heure for many a poor soul. This bell can see as far away as the towers and dykes of Rotterdam. That one can call a greeting to St. Ursula's at Brussels, and toss a recognition to that one at the town-hall of Oudenarde, and remember how after a great struggle there a hundred and fifty years ago the whole plain was covered with the flying French cavalry—Burgundy, and Bern, and the Chevalier of St. George flying like the rest. "What is your clamor about Oudenarde?" says another bell (Bob Major THIS one must be). "Be still, thou querulous old clapper! I can see over to Hougoumont and St. John. And about forty-five years since, I rang all through one Sunday in June, when there was such a battle going on in the corn-fields there, as none of you others ever heard tolled of. Yes, from morning service until after vespers, the French and English were all at it, ding-dong." And then calls of business intervening, the bells have to give up their private jangle, resume their professional duty, and sing their hourly chorus out of Dinorah.
What a prodigious distance those bells can be heard! I was awakened this morning to their tune, I say. I have been hearing it constantly ever since. And this house whence I write, Murray says, is two hundred and ten miles from Antwerp. And it is a week off; and there is the bell still jangling its shadow dance out of Dinorah. An audible shadow you understand, and an invisible sound, but quite distinct; and a plague take the tune!
UNDER THE BELLS.—Who has not seen the church under the bells? Those lofty aisles, those twilight chapels, that cumbersome pulpit with its huge carvings, that wide gray pavement flecked with various light from the jewelled windows, those famous pictures between the voluminous columns over the altars, which twinkle with their ornaments, their votive little silver hearts, legs, limbs, their little guttering tapers, cups of sham roses, and what not? I saw two regiments of little scholars creeping in and forming square, each in its appointed place, under the vast roof; and teachers presently coming to them. A stream of light from the jewelled windows beams slanting down upon each little squad of children, and the tall background of the church retires into a grayer gloom. Pattering little feet of laggards arriving echo through the great nave. They trot in and join their regiments, gathered under the slanting sunbeams. What are they learning? Is it truth? Those two gray ladies with their books in their hands in the midst of these little people have no doubt of the truth of every word they have printed under their eyes. Look, through the windows jewelled all over with saints, the light comes streaming down from the sky, and heaven's own illuminations paint the book! A sweet, touching picture indeed it is, that of the little children assembled in this immense temple, which has endured for ages, and grave teachers bending over them. Yes, the picture is very pretty of the children and their teachers, and their book—but the text? Is it the truth, the only truth, nothing but the truth? If I thought so, I would go and sit down on the form cum parvulis, and learn the precious lesson with all my heart.
BEADLE.—But I submit, an obstacle to conversions is the intrusion and impertinence of that Swiss fellow with the baldric—the officer who answers to the beadle of the British Islands, and is pacing about the church with an eye on the congregation. Now the boast of Catholics is that their churches are open to all; but in certain places and churches there are exceptions. At Rome I have been into St. Peter's at all hours: the doors are always open, the lamps are always burning, the faithful are for ever kneeling at one shrine or the other. But at Antwerp not so. In the afternoon you can go to the church, and be civilly treated; but you must pay a franc at the side gate. In the forenoon the doors are open, to be sure, and there is no one to levy an entrance fee. I was standing ever so still, looking through the great gates of the choir at the twinkling lights, and listening to the distant chants of the priests performing the service, when a sweet chorus from the organ-loft broke out behind me overhead, and I turned round. My friend the drum-major ecclesiastic was down upon me in a moment. "Do not turn your back to the altar during divine service," says he, in very intelligible English. I take the rebuke, and turn a soft right-about face, and listen awhile as the service continues. See it I cannot, nor the altar and its ministrants. We are separated from these by a great screen and closed gates of iron, through which the lamps glitter and the chant comes by gusts only. Seeing a score of children trotting down a side aisle, I think I may follow them. I am tired of looking at that hideous old pulpit with its grotesque monsters and decorations. I slip off to the side aisle; but my friend the drum-major is instantly after me—almost I thought he was going to lay hands on me. "You mustn't go there," says he; "you mustn't disturb the service." I was moving as quietly as might be, and ten paces off there were twenty children kicking and clattering at their ease. I point them out to the Swiss. "They come to pray," says he. "YOU don't come to pray, you—" "When I come to pay," says I, "I am welcome," and with this withering sarcasm, I walk out of church in a huff. I don't envy the feelings of that beadle after receiving point blank such a stroke of wit.
LEO BELGICUS.—Perhaps you will say after this I am a prejudiced critic. I see the pictures in the cathedral fuming under the rudeness of that beadle, or at the lawful hours and prices, pestered by a swarm of shabby touters, who come behind me chattering in bad English, and who would have me see the sights through their mean, greedy eyes. Better see Rubens any where than in a church. At the Academy, for example, where you may study him at your leisure. But at church?—I would as soon ask Alexandre Dumas for a sermon. Either would paint you a martyrdom very fiercely and picturesquely—writhing muscles, flaming coals, scowling captains and executioners, swarming groups, and light, shade, color most dexterously brilliant or dark; but in Rubens I am admiring the performer rather than the piece. With what astonishing rapidity he travels over his canvas; how tellingly the cool lights and warm shadows are made to contrast and relieve each other; how that blazing, blowsy penitent in yellow satin and glittering hair carries down the stream of light across the picture! This is the way to work, my boys, and earn a hundred florins a day. See! I am as sure of my line as a skater of making his figure of eight! and down with a sweep goes a brawny arm or a flowing curl of drapery. The figures arrange themselves as if by magic. The paint-pots are exhausted in furnishing brown shadows. The pupils look wondering on, as the master careers over the canvas. Isabel or Helena, wife No. 1 or No. 2, are sitting by, buxom, exuberant, ready to be painted; and the children are boxing in the corner, waiting till they are wanted to figure as cherubs in the picture. Grave burghers and gentlefolks come in on a visit. There are oysters and Rhenish always ready on yonder table. Was there ever such a painter? He has been an ambassador, an actual Excellency, and what better man could be chosen? He speaks all the languages. He earns a hundred florins a day. Prodigious! Thirty-six thousand five hundred florins a year. Enormous! He rides out to his castle with a score of gentlemen after him, like the Governor. That is his own portrait as St. George. You know he is an English knight? Those are his two wives as the two Maries. He chooses the handsomest wives. He rides the handsomest horses. He paints the handsomest pictures. He gets the handsomest prices for them. That slim young Van Dyck, who was his pupil, has genius too, and is painting all the noble ladies in England, and turning the heads of some of them. And Jordaens—what a droll dog and clever fellow! Have you seen his fat Silenus? The master himself could not paint better. And his altar-piece at St. Bavon's? He can paint you anything, that Jordaens can—a drunken jollification of boors and doxies, or a martyr howling with half his skin off. What a knowledge of anatomy! But there is nothing like the master—nothing. He can paint you his thirty-six thousand five hundred florins' worth a year. Have you heard of what he has done for the French Court? Prodigious! I can't look at Rubens's pictures without fancying I see that handsome figure swaggering before the canvas. And Hans Hemmelinck at Bruges? Have you never seen that dear old hospital of St. John, on passing the gate of which you enter into the fifteenth century? I see the wounded soldier still lingering in the house, and tended by the kind gray sisters. His little panel on its easel is placed at the light. He covers his board with the most wondrous, beautiful little figures, in robes as bright as rubies and amethysts. I think he must have a magic glass, in which he catches the reflection of little cherubs with many-colored wings, very little and bright. Angels, in long crisp robes of white, surrounded with halos of gold, come and flutter across the mirror, and he draws them. He hears mass every day. He fasts through Lent. No monk is more austere and holy than Hans. Which do you love best to behold, the lamb or the lion? the eagle rushing through the storm, and pouncing mayhap on carrion; or the linnet warbling on the spray?
By much the most delightful of the Christopher set of Rubens to my mind (and ego is introduced on these occasions, so that the opinion may pass only for my own, at the reader's humble service to be received or declined,) is the "Presentation in the Temple:" splendid in color, in sentiment sweet and tender, finely conveying the story. To be sure, all the others tell their tale unmistakably—witness that coarse "Salutation," that magnificent "Adoration of the Kings" (at the Museum), by the same strong downright hands; that wonderful "Communion of St. Francis," which, I think, gives the key to the artist's faire better than any of his performances. I have passed hours before that picture in my time, trying and sometimes fancying I could understand by what masses and contrasts the artist arrived at his effect. In many others of the pictures parts of his method are painfully obvious, and you see how grief and agony are produced by blue lips, and eyes rolling blood shot with dabs of vermilion. There is something simple in the practice. Contort the eyebrow sufficiently, and place the eyeball near it,—by a few lines you have anger or fierceness depicted. Give me a mouth with no special expression, and pop a dab of carmine at each extremity—and there are the lips smiling. This is art if you will, but a very naive kind of art: and now you know the trick, don't you see how easy it is?
TU QUOQUE.—Now you know the trick, suppose you take a canvas and see whether YOU can do it? There are brushes, palettes, and gallipots full of paint and varnish. Have you tried, my dear sir—you who set up to be a connoisseur? Have you tried? I have—and many a day. And the end of the day's labor? O dismal conclusion! Is this puerile niggling, this feeble scrawl, this impotent rubbish, all you can produce—you, who but now found Rubens commonplace and vulgar, and were pointing out the tricks of his mystery? Pardon, O great chief, magnificent master and poet! You can DO. We critics, who sneer and are wise, can but pry, and measure, and doubt, and carp. Look at the lion. Did you ever see such a gross, shaggy, mangy, roaring brute? Look at him eating lumps of raw meat—positively bleeding, and raw and tough—till, faugh! it turns one's stomach to see him—O the coarse wretch! Yes, but he is a lion. Rubens has lifted his great hand, and the mark he has made has endured for two centuries, and we still continue wondering at him, and admiring him. What a strength in that arm! What splendor of will hidden behind that tawny beard, and those honest eyes! Sharpen your pen, my good critic, shoot a feather into him; hit him, and make him wince. Yes, you may hit him fair, and make him bleed, too; but, for all that, he is a lion—a mighty, conquering, generous, rampageous Leo Belgicus—monarch of his wood. And he is not dead yet, and I will not kick at him.
SIR ANTONY.—In that "Pieta" of Van Dyck, in the Museum, have you ever looked at the yellow-robed angel, with the black scarf thrown over her wings and robe? What a charming figure of grief and beauty! What a pretty compassion it inspires! It soothes and pleases me like a sweet rhythmic chant. See how delicately the yellow robe contrasts with the blue sky behind, and the scarf binds the two! If Rubens lacked grace, Van Dyck abounded in it. What a consummate elegance! What a perfect cavalier! No wonder the fine ladies in England admired Sir Antony. Look at—
Here the clock strikes three, and the three gendarmes who keep the Musee cry out, "Allons! Sortons! Il est trois heures! Allez! Sortez!" and they skip out of the gallery as happy as boys running from school. And we must go too, for though many stay behind—many Britons with Murray's Handbooks in their handsome hands—they have paid a franc for entrance-fee, you see; and we knew nothing about the franc for entrance until those gendarmes with sheathed sabres had driven us out of this Paradise.
But it was good to go and drive on the great quays, and see the ships unlading, and by the citadel, and wonder howabouts and whereabouts it was so strong. We expect a citadel to look like Gibraltar or Ehrenbreitstein at least. But in this one there is nothing to see but a flat plain and some ditches, and some trees, and mounds of uninteresting green. And then I remember how there was a boy at school, a little dumpy fellow of no personal appearance whatever, who couldn't be overcome except by a much bigger champion, and the immensest quantity of thrashing. A perfect citadel of a boy, with a General Chasse sitting in that bomb-proof casemate, his heart, letting blow after blow come thumping about his head, and never thinking of giving in.
And we go home, and we dine in the company of Britons, at the comfortable Hotel du Parc, and we have bought a novel apiece for a shilling, and every half-hour the sweet carillon plays the waltz from Dinorah in the air. And we have been happy; and it seems about a month since we left London yesterday; and nobody knows where we are, and we defy care and the postman.
SPOORWEG.—Vast green flats, speckled by spotted cows, and bound by a gray frontier of windmills; shining canals stretching through the green; odors like those exhaled from the Thames in the dog-days, and a fine pervading smell of cheese; little trim houses, with tall roofs, and great windows of many panes; gazebos, or summer-houses, hanging over pea-green canals; kind-looking, dumpling-faced farmers' women, with laced caps and golden frontlets and earrings; about the houses and towns which we pass a great air of comfort and neatness; a queer feeling of wonder that you can't understand what your fellow-passengers are saying, the tone of whose voices, and a certain comfortable dowdiness of dress, are so like our own;—whilst we are remarking on these sights, sounds, smells, the little railway journey from Rotterdam to the Hague comes to an end. I speak to the railway porters and hackney coachmen in English, and they reply in their own language, and it seems somehow as if we understood each other perfectly. The carriage drives to the handsome, comfortable, cheerful hotel. We sit down a score at the table; and there is one foreigner and his wife,—I mean every other man and woman at dinner are English. As we are close to the sea, and in the midst of endless canals, we have no fish. We are reminded of dear England by the noble prices which we pay for wines. I confess I lost my temper yesterday at Rotterdam, where I had to pay a florin for a bottle of ale (the water not being drinkable, and country or Bavarian beer not being genteel enough for the hotel);—I confess, I say, that my fine temper was ruffled, when the bottle of pale ale turned out to be a pint bottle; and I meekly told the waiter that I had bought beer at Jerusalem at a less price. But then Rotterdam is eighteen hours from London, and the steamer with the passengers and beer comes up to the hotel windows; whilst to Jerusalem they have to carry the ale on camels' backs from Beyrout or Jaffa, and through hordes of marauding Arabs, who evidently don't care for pale ale, though I am told it is not forbidden in the Koran. Mine would have been very good, but I choked with rage whilst drinking it. A florin for a bottle, and that bottle having the words "imperial pint," in bold relief, on the surface! It was too much. I intended not to say anything about it; but I MUST speak. A florin a bottle, and that bottle a pint! Oh, for shame! for shame! I can't cork down my indignation; I froth up with fury; I am pale with wrath, and bitter with scorn.
As we drove through the old city at night, how it swarmed and hummed with life! What a special clatter, crowd, and outcry there was in the Jewish quarter, where myriads of young ones were trotting about the fishy street! Why don't they have lamps? We passed by canals seeming so full that a pailful of water more would overflow the place. The laquais-de-place calls out the names of the buildings: the town-hall, the cathedral, the arsenal, the synagogue, the statue of Erasmus. Get along! WE know the statue of Erasmus well enough. We pass over drawbridges by canals where thousands of barges are at roost. At roost—at rest! Shall WE have rest in those bedrooms, those ancient lofty bedrooms, in that inn where we have to pay a florin for a pint of pa—psha! at the "New Bath Hotel" on the Boompjes? If this dreary edifice is the "New Bath," what must the Old Bath be like? As I feared to go to bed, I sat in the coffee-room as long as I might; but three young men were imparting their private adventures to each other with such freedom and liveliness that I felt I ought not to listen to their artless prattle. As I put the light out, and felt the bedclothes and darkness overwhelm me, it was with an awful sense of terror—that sort of sensation which I should think going down in a diving-bell would give. Suppose the apparatus goes wrong, and they don't understand your signal to mount? Suppose your matches miss fire when you wake; when you WANT them, when you will have to rise in half an hour, and do battle with the horrid enemy who crawls on you in the darkness? I protest I never was more surprised than when I woke and beheld the light of dawn. Indian birds and strange trees were visible on the ancient gilt hangings of the lofty chamber, and through the windows the Boompjes and the ships along the quay. We have all read of deserters being brought out, and made to kneel, with their eyes bandaged, and hearing the word to "Fire" given I declare I underwent all the terrors of execution that night, and wonder how I ever escaped unwounded.
But if ever I go to the "Bath Hotel," Rotterdam, again, I am a Dutchman. A guilder for a bottle of pale ale, and that bottle a pint! Ah! for shame—for shame!
MINE EASE IN MINE INN.—Do you object to talk about inns? It always seems to me to be very good talk. Walter Scott is full of inns. In "Don Quixote" and "Gil Blas" there is plenty of inn-talk. Sterne, Fielding, and Smollett constantly speak about them; and, in their travels, the last two tot up the bill, and describe the dinner quite honestly; whilst Mr. Sterne becomes sentimental over a cab, and weeps generous tears over a donkey.
How I admire and wonder at the information in Murray's Handbooks—wonder how it is got, and admire the travellers who get it. For instance, you read: Amiens (please select your towns), 60,000 inhabitants. Hotels, &c.—"Lion d'Or," good and clean. "Le Lion d'Argent," so so. "Le Lion Noir," bad, dirty, and dear. Now say, there are three travellers—three inn-inspectors, who are sent forth by Mr. Murray on a great commission, and who stop at every inn in the world. The eldest goes to the "Lion d'Or"—capital house, good table-d'hote, excellent wine, moderate charges. The second commissioner tries the "Silver Lion"—tolerable house, bed, dinner, bill and so forth. But fancy Commissioner No. 3—the poor fag, doubtless, and boots of the party. He has to go to the "Lion Noir." He knows he is to have a bad dinner—he eats it uncomplainingly. He is to have bad wine. He swallows it, grinding his wretched teeth, and aware that he will he unwell in consequence. He knows he is to have a dirty bed, and what he is to expect there. He pops out the candle. He sinks into those dingy sheets. He delivers over his body to the nightly tormentors, he pays an exorbitant bill, and he writes down, "Lion Noir, bad, dirty, dear." Next day the commission sets out for Arras, we will say, and they begin again: "Le Cochon d'Or," "Le Cochon d'Argent," "Le Cochon Noir"—and that is poor Boots's inn, of course. What a life that poor man must lead! What horrors of dinners he has to go through! What a hide he must have! And yet not impervious; for unless he is bitten, how is he to be able to warn others? No: on second thoughts, you will perceive that he ought to have a very delicate skin. The monsters ought to troop to him eagerly, and bite him instantaneously and freely, so that he may be able to warn all future handbook buyers of their danger. I fancy this man devoting himself to danger, to dirt, to bad dinners, to sour wine, to damp beds, to midnight agonies, to extortionate bills. I admire him, I thank him. Think of this champion, who devotes his body for us—this dauntless gladiator going to do battle alone in the darkness, with no other armor than a light helmet of cotton, and a lorica of calico. I pity and honor him. Go, Spartacus! Go, devoted man—to bleed, to groan, to suffer—and smile in silence as the wild beasts assail thee!
How did I come into this talk? I protest it was the word inn set me off—and here is one, the "Hotel de Belle Vue," at the Hague, as comfortable, as handsome, as cheerful as any I ever took mine ease in. And the Bavarian beer, my dear friend, how good and brisk and light it is! Take another glass—it refreshes and does not stupefy—and then we will sally out, and see the town and the park and the pictures.
The prettiest little brick city, the pleasantest little park to ride in, the neatest comfortable people walking about, the canals not unsweet, and busy and picturesque with old-world life. Rows upon rows of houses, built with the neatest little bricks, with windows fresh painted, and tall doors polished, and carved to a nicety. What a pleasant spacious garden our inn has, all sparkling with autumn flowers and bedizened with statues! At the end is a row of trees, and a summer-house, over the canal, where you might go and smoke a pipe with Mynheer Van Dunck, and quite cheerfully catch the ague. Yesterday, as we passed, they were making hay, and stacking it in a barge which was lying by the meadow, handy. Round about Kensington Palace there are houses, roofs, chimneys, and bricks like these. I feel that a Dutchman is a man and a brother. It is very funny to read the newspaper, one can understand it somehow. Sure it is the neatest, gayest little city—scores and hundreds of mansions looking like Cheyne Walk, or the ladies' schools about Chiswick and Hackney.
LE GROS LOT.—To a few lucky men the chance befalls of reaching fame at once, and (if it is of any profit morituro) retaining the admiration of the world. Did poor Oliver, when he was at Leyden yonder, ever think that he should paint a little picture which should secure him the applause and pity of all Europe for a century after? He and Sterne drew the twenty thousand prize of fame. The latter had splendid instalments during his lifetime. The ladies pressed round him; the wits admired him, the fashion hailed the successor of Rabelais. Goldsmith's little gem was hardly so valued until later days. Their works still form the wonder and delight of the lovers of English art; and the pictures of the Vicar and Uncle Toby are among the masterpieces of our English school. Here in the Hague Gallery is Paul Potter's pale, eager face, and yonder is the magnificent work by which the young fellow achieved his fame. How did you, so young, come to paint so well? What hidden power lay in that weakly lad that enabled him to achieve such a wonderful victory? Could little Mozart, when he was five years old, tell you how he came to play those wonderful sonatas? Potter was gone out of the world before he was thirty, but left this prodigy (and I know not how many more specimens of his genius and skill) behind him. The details of this admirable picture are as curious as the effect is admirable and complete. The weather being unsettled, and clouds and sunshine in the gusty sky, we saw in our little tour numberless Paul Potters—the meadows streaked with sunshine and spotted with the cattle, the city twinkling in the distance, the thunderclouds glooming overhead. Napoleon carried off the picture (vide Murray) amongst the spoils of his bow and spear to decorate his triumph of the Louvre. If I were a conquering prince, I would have this picture certainly, and the Raphael "Madonna" from Dresden, and the Titian "Assumption" from Venice, and that matchless Rembrandt of the "Dissection." The prostrate nations would howl with rage as my gendarmes took off the pictures, nicely packed, and addressed to "Mr. the Director of my Imperial Palace of the Louvre, at Paris. This side uppermost." The Austrians, Prussians, Saxons, Italians, &c., should be free to come and visit my capital, and bleat with tears before the pictures torn from their native cities. Their ambassadors would meekly remonstrate, and with faded grins make allusions to the feeling of despair occasioned by the absence of the beloved works of art. Bah! I would offer them a pinch of snuff out of my box as I walked along my gallery, with their Excellencies cringing after me. Zenobia was a fine woman and a queen, but she had to walk in Aurelian's triumph. The procede was peu delicat? En usez vous, mon cher monsieur! (The marquis says the "Macaba" is delicious.) What a splendor of color there is in that cloud! What a richness, what a freedom of handling, and what a marvellous precision! I trod upon your Excellency's corn?—a thousand pardons. His Excellency grins and declares that he rather likes to have his corns trodden on. Were you ever very angry with Soult—about that Murillo which we have bought? The veteran loved that picture because it saved the life of a fellow-creature—the fellow-creature who hid it, and whom the Duke intended to hang unless the picture was forthcoming.
We gave several thousand pounds for it—how many thousand? About its merit is a question of taste which we will not here argue. If you choose to place Murillo in the first class of painters, founding his claim upon these Virgin altar-pieces, I am your humble servant. Tom Moore painted altar-pieces as well as Milton, and warbled Sacred Songs and Loves of the Angels after his fashion. I wonder did Watteau ever try historical subjects? And as for Greuze, you know that his heads will fetch 1,000L., 1,500L., 2,000L.—as much as a Sevres "cabaret" of Rose du Barri. If cost price is to be your criterion of worth, what shall we say to that little receipt for 10L. for the copyright of "Paradise Lost," which used to hang in old Mr. Rogers's room? When living painters, as frequently happens in our days, see their pictures sold at auctions for four or five times the sums which they originally received, are they enraged or elated? A hundred years ago the state of the picture-market was different: that dreary old Italian stock was much higher than at present; Rembrandt himself, a close man, was known to be in difficulties. If ghosts are fond of money still, what a wrath his must be at the present value of his works!
The Hague Rembrandt is the greatest and grandest of all his pieces to my mind. Some of the heads are as sweetly and lightly painted as Gainsborough; the faces not ugly, but delicate and high-bred; the exquisite gray tones are charming to mark and study; the heads not plastered, but painted with a free, liquid brush: the result, one of the great victories won by this consummate chief, and left for the wonder and delight of succeeding ages.
The humblest volunteer in the ranks of art, who has served a campaign or two ever so ingloriously, has at least this good fortune of understanding, or fancying he is able to understand, how the battle has been fought, and how the engaged general won it. This is the Rhinelander's most brilliant achievement—victory along the whole line. The "Night-watch" at Amsterdam is magnificent in parts, but on the side to the spectator's right, smoky and dim. The "Five Masters of the Drapers" is wonderful for depth, strength, brightness, massive power. What words are these to express a picture! to describe a description! I once saw a moon riding in the sky serenely, attended by her sparkling maids of honor, and a little lady said, with an air of great satisfaction, "I MUST SKETCH IT." Ah, my dear lady, if with an H.B., a Bristol board, and a bit of india-rubber, you can sketch the starry firmament on high, and the moon in her glory, I make you my compliment! I can't sketch "The Five Drapers" with any ink or pen at present at command—but can look with all my eyes, and be thankful to have seen such a masterpiece.
They say he was a moody, ill-conditioned man, the old tenant of the mill. What does he think of the "Vander Helst" which hangs opposite his "Night-watch," and which is one of the great pictures of the world? It is not painted by so great a man as Rembrandt; but there it is—to see it is an event of your life. Having beheld it you have lived in the year 1648, and celebrated the treaty of Munster. You have shaken the hands of the Dutch Guardsmen, eaten from their platters, drunk their Rhenish, heard their jokes, as they wagged their jolly beards. The Amsterdam Catalogue discourses thus about it:—a model catalogue: it gives you the prices paid, the signatures of the painters, a succinct description of the work.
"This masterpiece represents a banquet of the civic guard, which took place on the 18th June, 1648, in time great hall of the St. Joris Doele, on the Singel at Amsterdam, to celebrate the conclusion of the Peace at Munster. The thirty-five figures composing the picture are all portraits.
"'The Captain WITSE' is placed at the head of the table, and attracts our attention first. He is dressed in black velvet, his breast covered with a cuirass, on his head a broad-brimmed black hat with white plumes. He is comfortably seated on a chair of black oak, with a velvet cushion, and holds in his left hand, supported on his knee, a magnificent drinking-horn, surrounded by a St. George destroying the dragon, and ornamented with olive-leaves. The captain's features express cordiality and good-humor; he is grasping the hand of 'Lieutenant VAN WAVERN' seated near him, in a habit of dark gray, with lace and buttons of gold, lace-collar and wristbands, his feet crossed, with boots of yellow leather, with large tops, and gold spurs, on his head a black hat and dark-brown plumes. Behind him at the centre of the picture, is the standard-bearer, 'JACOB BANNING,' in an easy martial attitude, hat in hand, his right hand on his chair, his right leg on his left knee. He holds the flag of blue silk, in which the Virgin is embroidered, (such a silk! such a flag! such a piece of painting!) emblematic of the town of Amsterdam. The banner covers his shoulder, and he looks towards the spectator frankly and complacently.
"The man behind him is probably one of the sergeants. His head is bare. He wears a cuirass, and yellow gloves, gray stockings, and boots with large tops, and kneecaps of cloth. He has a napkin on his knees, and in his hand a piece of ham, a slice of bread, and a knife. The old man behind is probably 'WILLIAM THE DRUMMER.' He has his hat in his right hand, and in his left a gold-footed wineglass, filled with white wine. He wears a red scarf, and a black satin doublet, with little slashes of yellow silk. Behind the drummer, two matchlock-men are seated at the end of the table. One in a large black habit, a napkin on his knee, a hausse-col of iron, and a linen scarf and collar. He is eating with his knife. The other holds a long glass of white wine. Four musketeers, with different shaped hats, are behind these, one holding a glass, the three others with their guns on their shoulders. Other guests are placed between the personage who is giving the toast and the standard-bearer. One with his hat off, and his hand uplifted, is talking to another. The second is carving a fowl. A third holds a silver plate; and another, in the background, a silver flagon, from which he fills a cup. The corner behind the captain is filled by two seated personages, one of whom is peeling an orange. Two others are standing, armed with halberts, of whom one holds a plumed hat. Behind him are other three individuals, one of them holding a pewter pot, on which the name 'Poock,' the landlord of the 'Hotel Doele,' is engraved. At the back, a maid-servant is coming in with a pasty, crowned with a turkey. Most of the guests are listening to the captain. From an open window in the distance, the facades of two houses are seen, surmounted by stone figures of sheep."
There, now you know all about it: now you can go home and paint just such another. If you do, do pray remember to paint the hands of the figures as they are here depicted; they are as wonderful portraits as the faces. None of your slim Van Dyck elegancies, which have done duty at the cuffs of so many doublets; but each man with a hand for himself, as with a face for himself. I blushed for the coarseness of one of the chiefs in this great company, that fellow behind "WILLIAM THE DRUMMER," splendidly attired, sitting full in the face of the public; and holding a pork-bone in his hand. Suppose the Saturday Review critic were to come suddenly on this picture? Ah! what a shock it would give that noble nature! Why is that knuckle of pork not painted out? at any rate, why is not a little fringe of lace painted round it? or a cut pink paper? or couldn't a smelling-bottle be painted in instead, with a crest and a gold top, or a cambric pocket-handkerchief, in lieu of the horrid pig, with a pink coronet in the corner? or suppose you covered the man's hand (which is very coarse and strong), and gave him the decency of a kid glove? But a piece of pork in a naked hand? O nerves and eau de Cologne, hide it, hide it!
In spite of this lamentable coarseness, my noble sergeant, give me thy hand as nature made it! A great, and famous, and noble handiwork I have seen here. Not the greatest picture in the world—not a work of the highest genius—but a performance so great, various, and admirable, so shrewd of humor, so wise of observation, so honest and complete of expression, that to have seen it has been a delight, and to remember it will be a pleasure for days to come. Well done, Bartholomeus Vander Helst! Brave, meritorious, victorious, happy Bartholomew, to whom it has been given to produce a masterpiece!
May I take off my hat and pay a respectful compliment to Jan Steen, Esq.? He is a glorious composer. His humor is as frank as Fielding's. Look at his own figure sitting in the window-sill yonder, and roaring with laughter! What a twinkle in the eyes! what a mouth it is for a song, or a joke, or a noggin! I think the composition in some of Jan's pictures amounts to the sublime, and look at them with the same delight and admiration which I have felt before works of the very highest style. This gallery is admirable—and the city in which the gallery is, is perhaps even more wonderful and curious to behold than the gallery.
The first landing at Calais (or, I suppose, on any foreign shore)—the first sight of an Eastern city—the first view of Venice—and this of Amsterdam, are among the delightful shocks which I have had as a traveller. Amsterdam is as good as Venice, with a superadded humor and grotesqueness, which gives the sight-seer the most singular zest and pleasure. A run through Pekin I could hardly fancy to be more odd, strange, and yet familiar. This rush, and crowd, and prodigious vitality; this immense swarm of life; these busy waters, crowding barges, swinging drawbridges, piled ancient gables, spacious markets teeming with people; that ever-wonderful Jews' quarter; that dear old world of painting and the past, yet alive, and throbbing, and palpable—actual, and yet passing before you swiftly and strangely as a dream! Of the many journeys of this Roundabout life, that drive through Amsterdam is to be specially and gratefully remembered. You have never seen the palace of Amsterdam, my dear sir? Why, there's a marble hall in that palace that will frighten you as much as any hall in Vathek, or a nightmare. At one end of that old, cold, glassy, glittering, ghostly, marble hall there stands a throne, on which a white marble king ought to sit with his white legs gleaming down into the white marble below, and his white eyes looking at a great white marble Atlas, who bears on his icy shoulders a blue globe as big as the full moon. If he were not a genie, and enchanted, and with a strength altogether hyperatlantean, he would drop the moon with a shriek on to the white marble floor, and it would splitter into perdition. And the palace would rock, and heave, and tumble; and the waters would rise, rise, rise; and the gables sink, sink, sink; and the barges would rise up to the chimneys; and the water-souchee fishes would flap over the Boompjes, where the pigeons and storks used to perch; and the Amster, and the Rotter, and the Saar, and the Op, and all the dams of Holland would burst, and the Zuyder Zee roll over the dykes; and you would wake out of your dream, and find yourself sitting in your arm-chair.
Was it a dream? it seems like one. Have we been to Holland? have we heard the chimes at midnight at Antwerp? Were we really away for a week, or have I been sitting up in the room dozing, before this stale old desk? Here's the desk; yes. But, if it has been a dream, how could I have learned to hum that tune out of Dinorah? Ah, is it that tune, or myself that I am humming? If it was a dream, how comes this yellow NOTICE DES TABLEAUX DU MUSEE D'AMSTERDAM AVEC FACSIMILE DES MONOGRAMMES before me, and this signature of the gallant
BARTHOLOMEUS VANDER HELST, FECIT Ao, 1648.
Yes, indeed, it was a delightful little holiday; it lasted a whole week. With the exception of that little pint of amari aliquid at Rotterdam, we were all very happy. We might have gone on being happy for whoever knows how many days more? a week more, ten days more: who knows how long that dear teetotum happiness can be made to spin without toppling over?
But one of the party had desired letters to be sent poste restante, Amsterdam. The post-office is hard by that awful palace where the Atlas is, and which we really saw.
There was only one letter, you see. Only one chance of finding us. There it was. "The post has only this moment come in," says the smirking commissioner. And he hands over the paper, thinking he has done something clever.
Before the letter had been opened, I could read COME BACK, as clearly as if it had been painted on the wall. It was all over. The spell was broken. The sprightly little holiday fairy that had frisked and gambolled so kindly beside us for eight days of sunshine—or rain which was as cheerful as sunshine—gave a parting piteous look, and whisked away and vanished. And yonder scuds the postman, and here is the old desk.
NIL NISI BONUM.
Almost the last words which Sir Walter spoke to Lockhart, his biographer, were, "Be a good man, my dear!" and with the last flicker of breath on his dying lips, he sighed a farewell to his family, and passed away blessing them.
Two men, famous, admired, beloved, have just left us, the Goldsmith and the Gibbon of our time.* Ere a few weeks are over, many a critic's pen will be at work, reviewing their lives, and passing judgment on their works. This is no review, or history, or criticism: only a word in testimony of respect and regard from a man of letters, who owes to his own professional labor the honor of becoming acquainted with these two eminent literary men. One was the first ambassador whom the New World of Letters sent to the Old. He was born almost with the republic; the pater patriae had laid his hand on the child's head. He bore Washington's name: he came amongst us bringing the kindest sympathy, the most artless, smiling goodwill. His new country (which some people here might be disposed to regard rather superciliously) could send us, as he showed in his own person, a gentleman, who, though himself born in no very high sphere, was most finished, polished, easy, witty, quiet; and, socially, the equal of the most refined Europeans. If Irving's welcome in England was a kind one, was it not also gratefully remembered? If he ate our salt, did he not pay us with a thankful heart? Who can calculate the amount of friendliness and good feeling for our country which this writer's generous and untiring regard for us disseminated in his own? His books are read by millions** of his countrymen, whom he has taught to love England, and why to love her. It would have been easy to speak otherwise than he did: to inflame national rancors, which, at the time when he first became known as a public writer, war had just renewed: to cry down the old civilization at the expense of the new: to point out our faults, arrogance, short-comings, and give the republic to infer how much she was the parent state's superior. There are writers enough in the United States, honest and otherwise, who preach that kind of doctrine. But the good Irving, the peaceful, the friendly, had no place for bitterness in his heart, and no scheme but kindness. Received in England with extraordinary tenderness and friendship (Scott, Southey, Byron, a hundred others have borne witness to their liking for him), he was a messenger of good-will and peace between his country and ours. "See, friends!" he seems to say, "these English are not so wicked, rapacious, callous, proud, as you have been taught to believe them. I went amongst them a humble man; won my way by my pen; and, when known, found every hand held out to me with kindliness and welcome. Scott is a great man, you acknowledge. Did not Scott's King of England give a gold medal to him, and another to me, your countryman, and a stranger?"
* Washington Irving died, November 28, 1859; Lord Macaulay died, December 28, 1859.
** See his Life in the most remarkable Dictionary of Authors, published lately at Philadelphia, by Mr. Allibone.
Tradition in the United States still fondly retains the history of the feasts and rejoicings which awaited Irving on his return to his native country from Europe. He had a national welcome; he stammered in his speeches, hid himself in confusion, and the people loved him all the better. He had worthily represented America in Europe. In that young community a man who brings home with him abundant European testimonials is still treated with respect (I have found American writers, of wide-world reputation, strangely solicitous about the opinions of quite obscure British critics, and elated or depressed by their judgments); and Irving went home medalled by the King, diplomatized by the University, crowned and honored and admired. He had not in any way intrigued for his honors, he had fairly won them; and, in Irving's instance, as in others, the old country was glad and eager to pay them.
In America the love and regard for Irving was a national sentiment. Party wars are perpetually raging there, and are carried on by the press with a rancor and fierceness against individuals which exceed British, almost Irish, virulence. It seemed to me, during a year's travel in the country, as if no one ever aimed a blow at Irving. All men held their hand from that harmless, friendly peacemaker. I had the good fortune to see him at New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington,* and remarked how in every place he was honored and welcome. Every large city has its "Irving House." The country takes pride in the fame of its men of letters. The gate of his own charming little domain on the beautiful Hudson River was for ever swinging before visitors who came to him. He shut out no one.** I had seen many pictures of his house, and read descriptions of it, in both of which it was treated with a not unusual American exaggeration. It was but a pretty little cabin of a place; the gentleman of the press who took notes of the place, whilst his kind old host was sleeping, might have visited the whole house in a couple of minutes.
* At Washington, Mr. Irving came to a lecture given by the writer, which Mr. Filmore and General Pierce, the President and President Elect, were also kind enough to attend together. "Two Kings of Brentford smelling at one rose," says Irving, looking up with his good-humored smile.
** Mr. Irving described to me, with that humor and good- humor which he always kept, how, amongst other visitors, a member of the British press who had carried his distinguished pen to America (where he employed it in vilifying his own country) came to Sunnyside, introduced himself to Irving, partook of his wine and luncheon, and in two days described Mr. Irving, his house, his nieces, his meal, and his manner of dozing afterwards, in a New York paper. On another occasion, Irving said, laughing, "Two persons came to me, and one held me in conversation whilst the other miscreant took my portrait!"
And how came it that this house was so small, when Mr. Irving's books were sold by hundreds of thousands, nay, millions, when his profits were known to be large, and the habits of life of the good old bachelor were notoriously modest and simple? He had loved once in his life. The lady he loved died; and he, whom all the world loved, never sought to replace her. I can't say how much the thought of that fidelity has touched me. Does not the very cheerfulness of his after life add to the pathos of that untold story? To grieve always was not in his nature; or, when he had his sorrow, to bring all the world in to condole with him and bemoan it. Deep and quiet he lays the love of his heart, and buries it; and grass and flowers grow over the scarred ground in due time.
Irving had such a small house and such narrow rooms, because there was a great number of people to occupy them. He could only afford to keep one old horse (which, lazy and aged as it was, managed once or twice to run away with that careless old horseman). He could only afford to give plain sherry to that amiable British paragraph-monger from New York, who saw the patriarch asleep over his modest, blameless cup, and fetched the public into his private chamber to look at him. Irving could only live very modestly, because the wifeless, childless man had a number of children to whom he was as a father. He had as many as nine nieces, I am told—I saw two of these ladies at his house—with all of whom the dear old man had shared the produce of his labor and genius.
"Be a good man, my dear." One can't but think of these last words of the veteran Chief of Letters, who had tasted and tested the value of worldly success, admiration, prosperity. Was Irving not good, and, of his works, was not his life the best part? In his family, gentle, generous, good-humored, affectionate, self-denying: in society, a delightful example of complete gentlemanhood; quite unspoiled by prosperity; never obsequious to the great (or, worse still, to the base and mean, as some public men are forced to be in his and other countries) eager to acknowledge every contemporary's merit; always kind and affable to the young members of his calling; in his professional bargains and mercantile dealings delicately honest and grateful; one of the most charming masters of our lighter language; the constant friend to us and our nation; to men of letters doubly dear, not for his wit and genius merely, but as an exemplar of goodness, probity, and pure life:—I don't know what sort of testimonial will be raised to him in his own country, where generous and enthusiastic acknowledgment of American merit is never wanting: but Irving was in our service as well as theirs; and as they have placed a stone at Greenwich yonder in memory of that gallant young Bellot, who shared the perils and fate of some of our Arctic seamen, I would like to hear of some memorial raised by English writers and friends of letters in affectionate remembrance of the dear and good Washington Irving.
As for the other writer, whose departure many friends, some few most dearly-loved relatives, and multitudes of admiring readers deplore, our republic has already decreed his statue, and he must have known that he had earned this posthumous honor. He is not a poet and man of letters merely, but citizen, statesman, a great British worthy. Almost from the first moment when he appears, amongst boys, amongst college students, amongst men, he is marked, and takes rank as a great Englishman. All sorts of successes are easy to him: as a lad he goes down into the arena with others, and wins all the prizes to which he has a mind. A place in the senate is straightway offered to the young man. He takes his seat there; he speaks, when so minded, without party anger or intrigue, but not without party faith and a sort of heroic enthusiasm for his cause. Still he is poet and philosopher even more than orator. That he may have leisure and means to pursue his darling studies, he absents himself for a while, and accepts a richly-remunerative post in the East. As learned a man may live in a cottage or a college common-room; but it always seemed to me that ample means and recognized rank were Macaulay's as of right. Years ago there was a wretched outcry raised because Mr. Macaulay dated a letter from Windsor Castle, where he was staying. Immortal gods! Was this man not a fit guest for any palace in the world? or a fit companion for any man or woman in it? I dare say, after Austerlitz, the old K. K. court officials and footmen sneered at Napoleon for dating from Schonbrunn. But that miserable "Windsor Castle" outcry is an echo out of fast-retreating old-world remembrances. The place of such a natural chief was amongst the first of the land; and that country is best, according to our British notion at least, where the man of eminence has the best chance of investing his genius and intellect.
If a company of giants were got together, very likely one or two of the mere six-feet-six people might be angry at the incontestable superiority of the very tallest of the party; and so I have heard some London wits, rather peevish at Macaulay's superiority, complain that he occupied too much of the talk, and so forth. Now that wonderful tongue is to speak no more, will not many a man grieve that he no longer has the chance to listen? To remember the talk is to wonder: to think not only of the treasures he had in his memory, but of the trifles he had stored there, and could produce with equal readiness. Almost on the last day I had the fortune to see him, a conversation happened suddenly to spring up about senior wranglers, and what they had done in after life. To the almost terror of the persons present, Macaulay began with the senior wrangler of 1801-2- 3-4, and so on, giving the name of each, and relating his subsequent career and rise. Every man who has known him has his story regarding that astonishing memory. It may be that he was not ill pleased that you should recognize it; but to those prodigious intellectual feats, which were so easy to him, who would grudge his tribute of homage? His talk was, in a word, admirable, and we admired it.
Of the notices which have appeared regarding Lord Macaulay, up to the day when the present lines are written (the 9th of January), the reader should not deny himself the pleasure of looking especially at two. It is a good sign of the times when such articles as these (I mean the articles in The times and Saturday Review) appear in our public prints about our public men. They educate us, as it were, to admire rightly. An uninstructed person in a museum or at a concert may pass by without recognizing a picture or a passage of music, which the connoisseur by his side may show him is a masterpiece of harmony, or a wonder of artistic skill. After reading these papers you like and respect more the person you have admired so much already. And so with regard to Macaulay's style there may be faults of course—what critic can't point them out? But for the nonce we are not talking about faults: we want to say nil nisi bonum. Well—take at hazard any three pages of the "Essays" or "History;"—and, glimmering below the stream of the narrative, as it were, you, an average reader, see one, two, three, a half-score of allusions to other historic facts, characters, literature, poetry, with which you are acquainted. Why is this epithet used? Whence is that simile drawn? How does he manage, in two or three words, to paint an individual, or to indicate a landscape? Your neighbor, who has HIS reading, and his little stock of literature stowed away in his mind, shall detect more points, allusions, happy touches, indicating not only the prodigious memory and vast learning of this master, but the wonderful industry, the honest, humble previous toil of this great scholar. He reads twenty books to write a sentence; he travels a hundred miles to make a line of description.
Many Londoners—not all—have seen the British Museum Library. I speak a coeur ouvert, and pray the kindly reader to bear with me. I have seen all sorts of domes of Peters and Pauls, Sophia, Pantheon,—what not?—and have been struck by none of them so much as by that catholic dome in Bloomsbury, under which our million volumes are housed. What peace, what love, what truth, what beauty, what happiness for all, what generous kindness for you and me, are here spread out! It seems to me one cannot sit down in that place without a heart full of grateful reverence. I own to have said my grace at the table, and to have thanked heaven for this my English birthright, freely to partake of these bountiful books, and to speak the truth I find there. Under the dome which held Macaulay's brain, and from which his solemn eyes looked out on the world but a fortnight since, what a vast, brilliant, and wonderful store of learning was ranged! what strange lore would he not fetch for you at your bidding! A volume of law, or history, a book of poetry familiar or forgotten (except by himself who forgot nothing), a novel ever so old, and he had it at hand. I spoke to him once about "Clarissa." "Not read 'Clarissa!'" he cried out. "If you have once thoroughly entered on 'Clarissa' and are infected by it, you can't leave it. When I was in India I passed one hot season at the hills, and there were the Governor-General, and the Secretary of Government, and the Commander-in-Chief, and their wives. I had 'Clarissa' with me: and, as soon as they began to read, the whole station was in a passion of excitement about Miss Harlowe and her misfortunes, and her scoundrelly Lovelace! The Governor's wife seized the book, and the Secretary waited for it, and the Chief Justice could not read it for tears!" He acted the whole scene: he paced up and down the "Athenaeum" library: I dare say he could have spoken pages of the book—of that book, and of what countless piles of others!
In this little paper let us keep to the text of nil nisi bonum. One paper I have read regarding Lord Macaulay says "he had no heart." Why, a man's books may not always speak the truth, but they speak his mind in spite of himself: and it seems to me this man's heart is beating through every page he penned. He is always in a storm of revolt and indignation against wrong, craft, tyranny. How he cheers heroic resistance; how he backs and applauds freedom struggling for its own; how he hates scoundrels, ever so victorious and successful; how he recognizes genius, though selfish villains possess it! The critic who says Macaulay had no heart, might say that Johnson had none: and two men more generous, and more loving, and more hating, and more partial, and more noble, do not live in our history. Those who knew Lord Macaulay knew how admirably tender and generous,* and affectionate he was. It was not his business to bring his family before the theatre footlights, and call for bouquets from the gallery as he wept over them.
* Since the above was written, I have been informed that it has been found, on examining Lord Macaulay's papers, that he was in the habit of giving away MORE THAN A FOURTH PART of his annual income.
If any young man of letters reads this little sermon—and to him, indeed, it is addressed—I would say to him, "Bear Scott's words in your mind, and 'be good, my dear.'" Here are two literary men gone to their account, and, laus Deo, as far as we know, it is fair, and open, and clean. Here is no need of apologies for shortcomings, or explanations of vices which would have been virtues but for unavoidable &c. Here are two examples of men most differently gifted: each pursuing his calling; each speaking his truth as God bade him; each honest in his life; just and irreproachable in his dealings; dear to his friends; honored by his country; beloved at his fireside. It has been the fortunate lot of both to give incalculable happiness and delight to the world, which thanks them in return with an immense kindliness, respect, affection. It may not be our chance, brother scribe, to be endowed with such merit, or rewarded with such fame. But the rewards of these men are rewards paid to OUR SERVICE. We may not win the baton or epaulettes; but God give us strength to guard the honor of the flag!
ON HALF A LOAF.
A LETTER TO MESSRS. BROADWAY, BATTERY AND CO., OF NEW YORK, BANKERS.
Is it all over? May we lock up the case of instruments? Have we signed our wills; settled up our affairs; pretended to talk and rattle quite cheerfully to the women at dinner, so that they should not be alarmed; sneaked away under some pretext, and looked at the children sleeping in their beds with their little unconscious thumbs in their months, and a flush on the soft-pillowed cheek; made every arrangement with Colonel MacTurk, who acts as our second, and knows the other principal a great deal too well to think he will ever give in; invented a monstrous figment about going to shoot pheasants with Mac in the morning, so as to soothe the anxious fears of the dear mistress of the house; early as the hour appointed for the—the little affair—was, have we been awake hours and hours sooner; risen before daylight, with a faint hope, perhaps, that MacTurk might have come to some arrangement with the other side; at seven o'clock (confound his punctuality!) heard his cab-wheel at the door, and let him in looking perfectly trim, fresh, jolly, and well shaved; driven off with him in the cold morning, after a very unsatisfactory breakfast of coffee and stale bread-and-butter (which choke, somehow, in the swallowing); driven off to Wormwood Scrubs in the cold, muddy, misty, moonshiny morning; stepped out of the cab, where Mac has bid the man to halt on a retired spot in the common; in one minute more, seen another cab arrive, from which descend two gentlemen, one of whom has a case like MacTurk's under his arm;—looked round and round the solitude, and seen not one single sign of a policeman—no, no more than in a row in London;—deprecated the horrible necessity which drives civilized men to the use of powder and bullet;—taken ground as firmly as may be, and looked on whilst Mac is neatly loading his weapons; and when all ready, and one looked for the decisive One, Two, Three—have we even heard Captain O'Toole (the second of the other principal) walk up, and say: "Colonel MacTurk, I am desired by my principal to declare at this eleventh—this twelfth hour, that he is willing to own that he sees HE HAS BEEN WRONG in the dispute which has arisen between him and your friend; that he apologizes for offensive expressions which he has used in the heat of the quarrel; and regrets the course he has taken?" If something like this has happened to you, however great your courage, you have been glad not to fight;—however accurate your aim, you have been pleased not to fire.
On the sixth day of January in this year sixty-two, what hundreds of thousands—I may say, what millions of Englishmen, were in the position of the personage here sketched—Christian men, I hope, shocked at the dreadful necessity of battle: aware of the horrors which the conflict must produce, and yet feeling that the moment was come, and that there was no arbitrament left but that of steel and cannon! My reader, perhaps, has been in America. If he has, he knows what good people are to be found there; how polished, how generous, how gentle, how courteous. But it is not the voices of these you hear in the roar of hate, defiance, folly, falsehood, which comes to us across the Atlantic. You can't hear gentle voices; very many who could speak are afraid. Men must go forward, or be crushed by the maddened crowd behind them. I suppose after the perpetration of that act of—what shall we call it?—of sudden war, which Wilkes did, and Everett approved, most of us believed that battle was inevitable. Who has not read the American papers for six weeks past? Did you ever think the United States Government would give up those Commissioners? I never did, for my part. It seems to me the United States Government have done the most courageous act of the war. Before that act was done, what an excitement prevailed in London! In every Club there was a parliament sitting in permanence: in every domestic gathering this subject was sure to form a main part of the talk. Of course I have seen many people who have travelled in America, and heard them on this matter—friends of the South, friends of the North, friends of peace, and American stockholders in plenty.—"They will never give up the men, sir," that was the opinion on all sides; and, if they would not, we knew what was to happen.
For weeks past this nightmare of war has been riding us. The City was already gloomy enough. When a great domestic grief and misfortune visits the chief person of the State, the heart of the people, too, is sad and awe-stricken. It might be this sorrow and trial were but presages of greater trials and sorrow to come. What if the sorrow of war is to be added to the other calamity? Such forebodings have formed the theme of many a man's talk, and darkened many a fireside. Then came the rapid orders for ships to arm and troops to depart. How many of us have had to say farewell to friends whom duty called away with their regiments; on whom we strove to look cheerfully, as we shook their hands, it might be for the last time; and whom our thoughts depicted, treading the snows of the immense Canadian frontier, where their intrepid little band might have to face the assaults of other enemies than winter and rough weather! I went to a play one night, and protest I hardly know what was the entertainment which passed before my eyes. In the next stall was an American gentleman, who knew me. "Good heavens, sir," I thought, "is it decreed that you and I are to be authorized to murder each other next week; that my people shall be bombarding your cities, destroying your navies, making a hideous desolation of your coast; that our peaceful frontier shall be subject to fire, rapine, and murder?" "They will never give up the men," said the Englishman. "They will never give up the men," said the American. And the Christmas piece which the actors were playing proceeded like a piece in a dream. To make the grand comic performance doubly comic, my neighbor presently informed me how one of the best friends I had in America—the most hospitable, kindly, amiable of men, from whom I had twice received the warmest welcome and the most delightful hospitality—was a prisoner in Fort Warren, on charges by which his life perhaps might be risked. I think that was the most dismal Christmas fun which these eyes ever looked on.
Carry out that notion a little farther, and depict ten thousand, a hundred thousand homes in England saddened by the thought of the coming calamity, and oppressed by the pervading gloom. My next-door neighbor perhaps has parted with her son. Now the ship in which he is, with a thousand brave comrades, is ploughing through the stormy midnight ocean. Presently (under the flag we know of) the thin red line in which her boy forms a speck, is winding its way through the vast Canadian snows. Another neighbor's boy is not gone, but is expecting orders to sail; and some one else, besides the circle at home maybe, is in prayer and terror, thinking of the summons which calls the young sailor away. By firesides modest and splendid, all over the three kingdoms, that sorrow is keeping watch, and myriads of hearts beating with that thought, "Will they give up the men?"
I don't know how, on the first day after the capture of the Southern Commissioners was announced, a rumor got abroad in London that the taking of the men was an act according to law, of which our nation could take no notice. It was said that the law authorities had so declared, and a very noble testimony to the LOYALTY of Englishmen, I think, was shown by the instant submission of high-spirited gentlemen, most keenly feeling that the nation had been subject to a coarse outrage, who were silent when told that the law was with the aggressor. The relief which presently came, when, after a pause of a day, we found that law was on our side, was indescribable. The nation MIGHT then take notice of this insult to its honor. Never were people more eager than ours when they found they had a right to reparation.
I have talked during the last week with many English holders of American securities, who, of course, have been aware of the threat held over them. "England," says the New York Herald, "cannot afford to go to war with us, for six hundred millions' worth of American stock is owned by British subjects, which, in event of hostilities, would be confiscated; and we now call upon the Companies not to take it off their hands on any terms. Let its forfeiture be held over England as a weapon in terrorem. British subjects have two or three hundred millions of dollars invested in shipping and other property in the United States. All this property, together with the stocks, would be seized, amounting to nine hundred millions of dollars. Will England incur this tremendous loss for a mere abstraction?"
Whether "a mere abstraction" here means the abstraction of the two Southern Commissioners from under our flag or the abstract idea of injured honor, which seems ridiculous to the Herald, is it needless to ask. I have spoken with many men who have money invested in the States, but I declare I have not met one English gentleman whom the publication of this threat has influenced for a moment. Our people have nine hundred millions of dollars invested in the United States, have they? And the Herald "calls upon the Companies" not to take any of this debt off our hands. Let us, on our side, entreat the English press to give this announcement every publicity. Let us do everything in our power to make this "call upon the Americans" well known in England. I hope English newspaper editors will print it, and print it again and again. It is not we who say this of American citizens, but American citizens who say this of themselves. "Bull is odious. We can't bear Bull. He is haughty, arrogant, a braggart, and a blusterer; and we can't bear brag and bluster in our modest and decorous country. We hate Bull, and if he quarrels with us on a point in which we are in the wrong, we have goods of his in our custody, and we will rob him!" Suppose your London banker saying to you, "Sir, I have always thought your manners disgusting, and your arrogance insupportable. You dare to complain of my conduct because I have wrongfully imprisoned Jones. My answer to your vulgar interference is, that I confiscate your balance!"
What would be an English merchant's character after a few such transactions? It is not improbable that the moralists of the Herald would call him a rascal. Why have the United States been paying seven, eight, ten per cent for money for years past, when the same commodity can be got elsewhere at half that rate of interest? Why, because though among the richest proprietors in the world, creditors were not sure of them. So the States have had to pay eighty millions yearly for the use of money which would cost other borrowers but thirty. Add up this item of extra interest alone for a dozen years, and see what a prodigious penalty the States have been paying for repudiation here and there, for sharp practice, for doubtful credit. Suppose the peace is kept between us, the remembrance of this last threat alone will cost the States millions and millions more. If they must have money, we must have a greater interest to insure our jeopardized capital. Do American Companies want to borrow money—as want to borrow they will? Mr. Brown, show the gentleman that extract from the New York Herald which declares that the United States will confiscate private property in the event of a war. As the country newspapers say, "Please, country papers, copy this paragraph." And, gentlemen in America, when the honor of YOUR nation is called in question, please to remember that it is the American press which glories in announcing that you are prepared to be rogues.
And when this war has drained uncounted hundreds of millions more out of the United States exchequer, will they be richer or more inclined to pay debts, or less willing to evade them, or more popular with their creditors, or more likely to get money from men whom they deliberately announce that they will cheat? I have not followed the Herald on the "stone-ship" question—that great naval victory appears to me not less horrible and wicked than suicidal. Block the harbors for ever; destroy the inlets of the commerce of the world; perish cities,—so that we may wreak an injury on them. It is the talk of madmen, but not the less wicked. The act injures the whole Republic: but it is perpetrated. It is to deal harm to ages hence; but it is done. The Indians of old used to burn women and their unborn children. This stone-ship business is Indian warfare. And it is performed by men who tell us every week that they are at the head of civilization, and that the Old World is decrepit, and cruel, and barbarous as compared to theirs.
The same politicians who throttle commerce at its neck, and threaten to confiscate trust-money, say that when the war is over, and the South is subdued, then the turn of the old country will come, and a direful retribution shall be taken for our conduct. This has been the cry all through the war. "We should have conquered the South," says an American paper which I read this very day, "but for England." Was there ever such puling heard from men who have an army of a million, and who turn and revile a people who have stood as aloof from their contest as we have from the war of Troy? Or is it an outcry made with malice prepense? And is the song of the New York Times a variation of the Herald tune?—"The conduct of the British in folding their arms and taking no part in the fight, has been so base that it has caused the prolongation of the war, and occasioned a prodigious expense on our part. Therefore, as we have British property in our hands, we &c. &c." The lamb troubled the water dreadfully, and the wolf, in a righteous indignation, "confiscated" him. Of course we have heard that at an undisturbed time Great Britain would never have dared to press its claim for redress. Did the United States wait until we were at peace with France before they went to war with us last? Did Mr. Seward yield the claim which he confesses to be just, until he himself was menaced with war? How long were the Southern gentlemen kept in prison? What caused them to be set free? and did the Cabinet of Washington see its error before or after the demand for redress?* The captor was feasted at Boston, and the captives in prison hard by. If the wrong-doer was to be punished, it was Captain Wilkes who ought to have gone into limbo. At any rate, as "the Cabinet of Washington could not give its approbation to the commander of the 'San Jacinto,'" why were the men not sooner set free? To sit at the Tremont House, and hear the captain after dinner give his opinion on international law, would have been better sport for the prisoners than the grim salle-a-manger at Fort Warren.
* "At the beginning of December the British fleet on the West Indian station mounted 850 guns, and comprised five liners, ten first-class frigates, and seventeen powerful corvettes. . . . In little more than a month the fleet available for operations on the American shore had been more than doubled. The reinforcements prepared at the various dockyards included two line-of-battle ships, twenty-nine magnificent frigates—such as the 'Shannon,' the 'Sutlej,' the 'Euryalus,' the 'Orlando,' the 'Galatea;' eight corvettes armed like the frigates in part, with 100- and 40- pounder Armstrong guns; and the two tremendous iron-cased ships, the 'Warrior' and the 'Black Prince;' and their smaller sisters the 'Resistance' and the 'Defence.' There was work to be done which might have delayed the commission of a few of these ships for some weeks longer; but if the United States had chosen war instead of peace, the blockade of their coasts would have been supported by a steam fleet of more than sixty splendid ships, armed with 1,800 guns, many of them of the heaviest and most effective kind."— Saturday Review: Jan. 11.
I read in the commercial news brought by the "Teutonia," and published in London on the present 13th January, that the pork market was generally quiet on the 29th December last; that lard, though with more activity, was heavy and decidedly lower; and at Philadelphia, whiskey is steady and stocks firm. Stocks are firm: that is a comfort for the English holders, and the confiscating process recommended by the Herald is at least deferred. But presently comes an announcement which is not quite so cheering:—"The Saginaw Central Railway Company (let us call it) has postponed its January dividend on account of the disturbed condition of public affairs."
A la bonne heure. The bond- and share-holders of the Saginaw must look for loss and depression in times of war. This is one of war's dreadful taxes and necessities; and all sorts of innocent people must suffer by the misfortune. The corn was high at Waterloo when a hundred and fifty thousand men came and trampled it down on a Sabbath morning. There was no help for that calamity, and the Belgian farmers lost their crops for the year. Perhaps I am a farmer myself—an innocent colonus; and instead of being able to get to church with my family, have to see squadrons of French dragoons thundering upon my barley, and squares of English infantry forming and trampling all over my oats. (By the way, in writing of "Panics," an ingenious writer in the Atlantic Magazine says that the British panics at Waterloo were frequent and notorious.) Well, I am a Belgian peasant, and I see the British running away and the French cutting the fugitives down. What have I done that these men should be kicking down my peaceful harvest for me, on which I counted to pay my rent, to feed my horses, my household, my children? It is hard. But it is the fortune of war. But suppose the battle over; the Frenchman says, "You scoundrel! why did you not take a part with me? and why did you stand like a double-faced traitor looking on? I should have won the battle but for you. And I hereby confiscate the farm you stand on, and you and your family may go to the workhouse."
The New York press holds this argument over English people in terrorem. "We Americans may be ever so wrong in the matter in dispute, but if you push us to a war, we will confiscate your English property." Very good. It is peace now. Confidence of course is restored between us. Our eighteen hundred peace commissioners have no occasion to open their mouths; and the little question of confiscation is postponed. Messrs. Battery, Broadway and Co., of New York, have the kindness to sell my Saginaws for what they will fetch. I shall lose half my loaf very likely; but for the sake of a quiet life, let us give up a certain quantity of farinaceous food; and half a loaf, you know, is better than no bread at all.
THE NOTCH ON THE AXE.—A STORY A LA MODE.
"Every one remembers in the Fourth Book of the immortal poem of your Blind Bard, (to whose sightless orbs no doubt Glorious Shapes were apparent, and Visions Celestial,) how Adam discourses to Eve of the Bright Visitors who hovered round their Eden—
'Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth, Unseen, both when we wake and when we sleep.'
"'How often,' says Father Adam, 'from the steep of echoing hill or thicket, have we heard celestial voices to the midnight air, sole, or responsive to each other's notes, singing!' After the Act of Disobedience, when the erring pair from Eden took their solitary way, and went forth to toil and trouble on common earth—though the Glorious Ones no longer were visible, you cannot say they were gone. It was not that the Bright Ones were absent, but that the dim eyes of rebel man no longer could see them. In your chamber hangs a picture of one whom you never knew, but whom you have long held in tenderest regard, and who was painted for you by a friend of mine, the Knight of Plympton. She communes with you. She smiles on you. When your spirits are low, her bright eyes shine on you and cheer you. Her innocent sweet smile is a caress to you. She never fails to soothe you with her speechless prattle. You love her. She is alive with you. As you extinguish your candle and turn to sleep, though your eyes see her not, is she not there still smiling? As you lie in the night awake, and thinking of your duties, and the morrow's inevitable toil oppressing the busy, weary, wakeful brain as with a remorse, the crackling fire flashes up for a moment in the grate, and she is there, your little Beauteous Maiden, smiling with her sweet eyes! When moon is down, when fire is out, when curtains are drawn, when lids are closed, is she not there, the little Beautiful One, though invisible, present and smiling still? Friend, the Unseen Ones are round about us. Does it not seem as if the time were drawing near when it shall be given to men to behold them?"
The print of which my friend spoke, and which, indeed, hangs in my room, though he has never been there, is that charming little winter piece of Sir Joshua, representing the little Lady Caroline Montague, afterwards Duchess of Buccleuch. She is represented as standing in the midst of a winter landscape, wrapped in muff and cloak; and she looks out of her picture with a smile so exquisite that a Herod could not see her without being charmed.
"I beg your pardon, MR. PINTO," I said to the person with whom I was conversing. (I wonder, by the way, that I was not surprised at his knowing how fond I am of this print.) "You spoke of the Knight of Plympton. Sir Joshua died, 1792: and you say he was your dear friend?"
As I spoke I chanced to look at Mr. Pinto; and then it suddenly struck me: Gracious powers? Perhaps you ARE a hundred years old, now I think of it. You look more than a hundred. Yes, you may be a thousand years old for what I know. Your teeth are false. One eye is evidently false. Can I say that the other is not? If a man's age may be calculated by the rings round his eyes, this man may be as old as Methuselah. He has no beard. He wears a large curly glossy brown wig, and his eyebrows are painted a deep olive-green. It was odd to hear this man, this walking mummy, talking sentiment, in these queer old chambers in Shepherd's Inn.
Pinto passed a yellow bandanna handkerchief over his awful white teeth, and kept his glass eye steadily fixed on me. "Sir Joshua's friend?" said he (you perceive, eluding my direct question). "Is not every one that knows his pictures Reynolds's friend? Suppose I tell you that I have been in his painting room scores of times, and that his sister The has made me tea, and his sister Toffy has made coffee for me? You will only say I am an old ombog." (Mr. Pinto, I remarked, spoke all languages with an accent equally foreign.) "Suppose I tell you that I knew Mr. Sam Johnson, and did not like him? that I was at that very ball at Madame Cornelis', which you have mentioned in one of your little—what do you call them?—bah! my memory begins to fail me—in one of your little Whirligig Papers? Suppose I tell you that Sir Joshua has been here, in this very room?"
"Have you, then, had these apartments for—more—than—seventy years?" I asked.
"They look as if they had not been swept for that time—don't they? Hey? I did not say that I had them for seventy years, but that Sir Joshua has visited me here."
"When?" I asked, eying the man sternly, for I began to think he was an impostor.
He answered me with a glance still more stern: "Sir Joshua Reynolds was here this very morning, with Angelica Kaufmann and Mr. Oliver Goldschmidt. He is still very much attached to Angelica, who still does not care for him. Because he is dead (and I was in the fourth mourning coach at his funeral) is that any reason why he should not come back to earth again? My good sir, you are laughing at me. He has sat many a time on that very chair which you are occupying. There are several spirits in the room now, whom you cannot see. Excuse me." Here he turned round as if he was addressing somebody, and began rapidly speaking a language unknown to me. "It is Arabic," he said; "a bad patois I own. I learned it in Barbary, when I was a prisoner amongst the Moors. In anno 1609, bin ick aldus ghekledt gheghaen. Ha! you doubt me: look at me well. At least I am like—"