HotFreeBooks.com
Roundabout Papers
by William Makepeace Thackeray
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

I neither knew this unhappy man, nor his countryman—Laertes let us call him—who is at present in exile, having been compelled to fly from remorseless creditors. Laertes fled to America, where he earned his bread by his pen. I own to having a kindly feeling towards this scapegrace, because, though an exile, he did not abuse the country whence he fled. I have heard that he went away taking no spoil with him, penniless almost; and on his voyage he made acquaintance with a certain Jew; and when he fell sick, at New York, this Jew befriended him, and gave him help and money out of his own store, which was but small. Now, after they had been awhile in the strange city, it happened that the poor Jew spent all his little money, and he too fell ill, and was in great penury. And now it was Laertes who befriended that Ebrew Jew. He fee'd doctors; he fed and tended the sick and hungry. Go to, Laertes! I know thee not. It may be thou art justly exul patriae. But the Jew shall intercede for thee, thou not, let us trust, hopeless Christian sinner.

Another exile to the same shore I knew: who did not? Julius Caesar hardly owed more money than Cucedicus: and, gracious powers! Cucedicus, how did you manage to spend and owe so much? All day he was at work for his clients; at night he was occupied in the Public Council. He neither had wife nor children. The rewards which he received for his orations were enough to maintain twenty rhetoricians. Night after night I have seen him eating his frugal meal, consisting but of a fish, a small portion of mutton, and a small measure of Iberian or Trinacrian wine, largely diluted with the sparkling waters of Rhenish Gaul. And this was all he had; and this man earned and paid away talents upon talents; and fled, owing who knows how many more! Does a man earn fifteen thousand pounds a year, toiling by day, talking by night, having horrible unrest in his bed, ghastly terrors at waking, seeing an officer lurking at every corner, a sword of justice for ever hanging over his head—and have for his sole diversion a newspaper, a lonely mutton-chop, and a little sherry and seltzer-water? In the German stories we read how men sell themselves to—a certain Personage, and that Personage cheats them. He gives them wealth; yes, but the gold-pieces turn into worthless leaves. He sets them before splendid banquets yes, but what an awful grin that black footman has who lifts up the dish-cover; and don't you smell a peculiar sulphurous odor in the dish? Faugh! take it away; I can't eat. He promises them splendors and triumphs. The conqueror's ear rolls glittering through the city, the multitude shout and huzza. Drive on, coachman. Yes, but who is that hanging on behind the carriage? Is this the reward of eloquence, talents, industry? Is this the end of a life's labor? Don't you remember how, when the dragon was infesting the neighborhood of Babylon, the citizens used to walk dismally out of evenings, and look at the valleys round about strewed with the bones of the victims whom the monster had devoured? O insatiate brute, and most disgusting, brazen, and scaly reptile! Let us be thankful, children, that it has not gobbled us up too. Quick. Let us turn away, and pray that we may be kept out of the reach of his horrible maw, jaw, claw!

When I first came up to London, as innocent as Monsieur Gil Blas, I also fell in with some pretty acquaintances, found my way into several caverns, and delivered my purse to more than one gallant gentleman of the road. One I remember especially—one who never eased me personally of a single maravedi—one than whom I never met a bandit more gallant, courteous, and amiable. Rob me? Rolando feasted me; treated me to his dinner and his wine; kept a generous table for his friends, and I know was most liberal to many of them. How well I remember one of his speculations! It was a great plan for smuggling tobacco. Revenue officers were to be bought off; silent ships were to ply on the Thames; cunning depots were to be established, and hundreds of thousands of pounds to be made by the coup. How his eyes kindled as he propounded the scheme to me! How easy and certain it seemed! It might have succeeded, I can't say: but the bold and merry, the hearty and kindly Rolando came to grief—a little matter of imitated signatures occasioned a Bank persecution of Rolando the Brave. He walked about armed, and vowed he would never be taken alive: but taken he was; tried, condemned, sentenced to perpetual banishment; and I heard that for some time he was universally popular in the colony which had the honor to possess him. What a song he could sing! 'Twas when the cup was sparkling before us, and heaven gave a portion of its blue, boys, blue, that I remember the song of Roland at the "Old Piazza Coffee-house." And now where is the "Old Piazza Coffee-house?" Where is Thebes? where is Troy? where is the Colossus of Rhodes? Ah, Rolando, Rolando! thou wert a gallant captain, a cheery, a handsome, a merry. At ME thou never presentedst pistol. Thou badest the bumper of Burgundy fill, fill for me, giving those who preferred it champagne. Caelum non animum, &c. Do you think he has reformed now that he has crossed the sea, and changed the air? I have my own opinion. Howbeit, Rolando, thou wert a most kind and hospitable bandit. And I love not to think of thee with a chain at thy shin.

Do you know how all these memories of unfortunate men have come upon me? When they came to frighten me this morning by speaking of my robbed pears, my perforated garden wall, I was reading an article in the Saturday Review about Rupilius. I have sat near that young man at a public dinner, and beheld him in a gilded uniform. But yesterday he lived in splendor, had long hair, a flowing beard, a jewel at his neck, and a smart surtout. So attired, he stood but yesterday in court; and to-day he sits over a bowl of prison cocoa, with a shaved head, and in a felon's jerkin.

That beard and head shaved, that gaudy deputy-lieutenant's coat exchanged for felon uniform, and your daily bottle of champagne for prison cocoa, my poor Rupilius, what a comfort it must be to have the business brought to an end! Champagne was the honorable gentleman's drink in the House of Commons dining-room, as I am informed. What uncommonly dry champagne that must have been! When we saw him outwardly happy, how miserable he must have been! when we thought him prosperous, how dismally poor! When the great Mr. Harker, at the public dinners, called out—"Gentlemen, charge your glasses, and please silence for the Honorable Member for Lambeth!" how that Honorable Member must have writhed inwardly! One day, when there was a talk of a gentleman's honor being questioned, Rupilius said, "If any man doubted mine, I would knock him down." But that speech was in the way of business. The Spartan boy, who stole the fox, smiled while the beast was gnawing him under his cloak: I promise you Rupilius had some sharp fangs gnashing under his. We have sat at the same feast, I say: we have paid our contribution to the same charity. Ah! when I ask this day for my daily bread, I pray not to be led into temptation, and to be delivered from evil.



DESSEIN'S.

I arrived by the night-mail packet from Dover. The passage had been rough, and the usual consequences had ensued. I was disinclined to travel farther that night on my road to Paris, and knew the Calais hotel of old as one of the cleanest, one of the dearest, one of the most comfortable hotels on the continent of Europe. There is no town more French than Calais. That charming old "Hotel Dessein," with its court, its gardens, its lordly kitchen, its princely waiter—a gentleman of the old school, who has welcomed the finest company in Europe—have long been known to me. I have read complaints in The Times, more than once, I think, that the Dessein bills are dear. A bottle of soda-water certainly costs—well, never mind how much. I remember as a boy, at the "Ship" at Dover (imperante Carolo Decimo), when, my place to London being paid, I had but 12s. left after a certain little Paris excursion (about which my benighted parents never knew anything), ordering for dinner a whiting, a beefsteak, and a glass of negus, and the bill was, dinner 7s., glass of negus 2s., waiter 6d., and only half a crown left, as I was a sinner, for the guard and coachman on the way to London! And I WAS a sinner. I had gone without leave. What a long, dreary, guilty forty hours' journey it was from Paris to Calais, I remember! How did I come to think of this escapade, which occurred in the Easter vacation of the year 1830? I always think of it when I am crossing to Calais. Guilt, sir, guilt remains stamped on the memory, and I feel easier in my mind now that it is liberated of this old peccadillo. I met my college tutor only yesterday. We were travelling, and stopped at the same hotel. He had the very next room to mine. After he had gone into his apartment, having shaken me quite kindly by the hand, I felt inclined to knock at his door and say, "Doctor Bentley, I beg your pardon, but do you remember, when I was going down at the Easter vacation in 1830, you asked me where I was going to spend my vacation? And I said, With my friend Slingsby, in Huntingdonshire. Well, sir, I grieve to have to confess that I told you a fib. I had got 20L. and was going for a lark to Paris, where my friend Edwards was staying." There, it is out. The Doctor will read it, for I did not wake him up after all to make my confession, but protest he shall have a copy of this Roundabout sent to him when he returns to his lodge.

They gave me a bedroom there; a very neat room on the first floor, looking into the pretty garden. The hotel must look pretty much as it did a hundred years ago when HE visited it. I wonder whether he paid his bill? Yes: his journey was just begun. He had borrowed or got the money somehow. Such a man would spend it liberally enough when he had it, give generously—nay, drop a tear over the fate of the poor fellow whom he relieved. I don't believe a word he says, but I never accused him of stinginess about money. That is a fault of much more virtuous people than he. Mr. Laurence is ready enough with his purse when there are anybody's guineas in it. Still when I went to bed in the room, in HIS room; when I think how I admire, dislike, and have abused him, a certain dim feeling of apprehension filled my mind at the midnight hour. What if I should see his lean figure in the black-satin breeches, his sinister smile, his long thin finger pointing to me in the moonlight (for I am in bed, and have popped my candle out), and he should say, "You mistrust me, you hate me, do you? And you, don't you know how Jack, Tom, and Harry, your brother authors, hate YOU?" I grin and laugh in the moonlight, in the midnight, in the silence. "O you ghost in black-satin breeches and a wig! I like to be hated by some men," I say. "I know men whose lives are a scheme, whose laughter is a conspiracy, whose smile means something else, whose hatred is a cloak, and I had rather these men should hate me than not."

"My good sir," says he, with a ghastly grin on his lean face, "you have your wish."

"Apres?" I say. "Please let me go to sleep. I shan't sleep any the worse because—"

"Because there are insects in the bed, and they sting you?" (This is only by way of illustration, my good sir; the animals don't bite me now. All the house at present seems to me excellently clean.) "'Tis absurd to affect this indifference. If you are thin-skinned, and the reptiles bite, they keep you from sleep."

"There are some men who cry out at a flea-bite as loud as if they were torn by a vulture," I growl.

"Men of the genus irritabile, my worthy good gentleman!—and you are one."

"Yes, sir, I am of the profession, as you say; and I dare say make a great shouting and crying at a small hurt."

"You are ashamed of that quality by which you earn your subsistence, and such reputation as you have? Your sensibility is your livelihood, my worthy friend. You feel a pang of pleasure or pain? It is noted in your memory, and some day or other makes its appearance in your manuscript. Why, in your last Roundabout rubbish you mention reading your first novel on the day when King George IV. was crowned. I remember him in his cradle at St. James's, a lovely little babe; a gilt Chinese railing was before him, and I dropped the tear of sensibility as I gazed on the sleeping cherub."

"A tear—a fiddlestick, MR. STERNE," I growled out, for of course I knew my friend in the wig and satin breeches to be no other than the notorious, nay, celebrated Mr. Laurence Sterne.

"Does not the sight of a beautiful infant charm and melt you, mon ami? If not, I pity you. Yes, he was beautiful. I was in London the year he was born. I used to breakfast at the 'Mount Coffee-house.' I did not become the fashion until two years later, when my 'Tristram' made his appearance, who has held his own for a hundred years. By the way, mon bon monsieur, how many authors of your present time will last till the next century? Do you think Brown will?"

I laughed with scorn as I lay in my bed (and so did the ghost give a ghastly snigger).

"Brown!" I roared. "One of the most over-rated men that ever put pen to paper!"

"What do you think of Jones?"

I grew indignant with this old cynic. "As a reasonable ghost, come out of the other world, you don't mean," I said, "to ask me a serious opinion of Mr. Jones? His books may be very good reading for maid-servants and school-boys, but you don't ask ME to read them? As a scholar yourself you must know that—"

"Well, then, Robinson?"

"Robinson, I am told, has merit. I dare say; I never have been able to read his books, and can't, therefore, form any opinion about Mr. Robinson. At least you will allow that I am not speaking in a prejudiced manner about HIM."

"Ah! I see you men of letters have your cabals and jealousies, as we had in my time. There was an Irish fellow by the name of Gouldsmith, who used to abuse me; but he went into no genteel company—and faith! it mattered little, his praise or abuse. I never was more surprised than when I heard that Mr. Irving, an American gentleman of parts and elegance, had wrote the fellow's life. To make a hero of that man, my dear sir, 'twas ridiculous! You followed in the fashion, I hear, and chose to lay a wreath before this queer little idol. Preposterous! A pretty writer, who has turned some neat couplets. Bah! I have no patience with Master Posterity, that has chosen to take up this fellow, and make a hero of him! And there was another gentleman of my time, Mr. Thiefcatcher Fielding, forsooth! a fellow with the strength, and the tastes, and the manners of a porter! What madness has possessed you all to bow before that Calvert Butt of a man?—a creature without elegance or sensibility! The dog had spirits, certainly. I remember my Lord Bathurst praising them: but as for reading his books—ma foi, I would as lief go and dive for tripe in a cellar. The man's vulgarity stifles me. He wafts me whiffs of gin. Tobacco and onions are in his great coarse laugh, which choke me, pardi; and I don't think much better of the other fellow—the Scots' gallipot purveyor—Peregrine Clinker, Humphrey Random—how did the fellow call his rubbish? Neither of these men had the bel air, the bon ton, the je ne scais quoy. Pah! If I meet them in my walks by our Stygian river, I give them a wide berth, as that hybrid apothecary fellow would say. An ounce of civet, good apothecary; horrible, horrible! The mere thought of the coarseness of those men gives me the chair de poule. Mr. Fielding, especially, has no more sensibility than a butcher in Fleet Market. He takes his heroes out of ale-house kitchens, or worse places still. And this is the person whom Posterity has chosen to honor along with me—ME! Faith, Monsieur Posterity, you have put me in pretty company, and I see you are no wiser than we were in our time. Mr. Fielding, forsooth! Mr. Tripe and Onions! Mr. Cowheel and Gin! Thank you for nothing. Monsieur Posterity!"

"And so," thought I, "even among these Stygians this envy and quarrelsomeness (if you will permit me the word) survive? What a pitiful meanness! To be sure, I can understand this feeling to a certain extent; a sense of justice will prompt it. In my own case, I often feel myself forced to protest against the absurd praises lavished on contemporaries. Yesterday, for instance, Lady Jones was good enough to praise one of my works. Tres bien. But in the very next minute she began, with quite as great enthusiasm, to praise Miss Hobson's last romance. My good creature, what is that woman's praise worth who absolutely admires the writings of Miss Hobson? I offer a friend a bottle of '44 claret, fit for a pontifical supper. 'This is capital wine,' says he; 'and now we have finished the bottle, will you give me a bottle of that ordinaire we drank the other day?' Very well, my good man. You are a good judge—of ordinaire, I dare say. Nothing so provokes my anger, and rouses my sense of justice, as to hear other men undeservedly praised. In a word, if you wish to remain friends with me, don't praise anybody. You tell me that the Venus de' Medici is beautiful, or Jacob Omnium is tall. Que diable! Can't I judge for myself? Haven't I eyes and a foot-rule? I don't think the Venus IS so handsome, since you press me. She is pretty, but she has no expression. And as for Mr. Omnium, I can see much taller men in a fair for twopence."

"And so," I said, turning round to Mr. Sterne, "you are actually jealous of Mr. Fielding? O you men of letters, you men of letters! Is not the world (your world, I mean) big enough for all of you?"

I often travel in my sleep. I often of a night find myself walking in my night-gown about the gray streets. It is awkward at first, but somehow nobody makes any remark. I glide along over the ground with my naked feet. The mud does not wet them. The passers-by do not tread on them. I am wafted over the ground, down the stairs, through the doors. This sort of travelling, dear friends, I am sure you have all of you indulged.

Well, on the night in question (and, if you wish to know the precise date, it was the 31st of September last), after having some little conversation with Mr. Sterne in our bedroom, I must have got up, though I protest I don't know how, and come down stairs with him into the coffee-room of the "Hotel Dessein," where the moon was shining, and a cold supper was laid out. I forget what we had—"vol-au-vent d'oeufs de Phenix—agneau aux pistaches a la Barmecide,"—what matters what we had?

"As regards supper this is certain, the less you have of it the better."

That is what one of the guests remarked,—a shabby old man, in a wig, and such a dirty, ragged, disreputable dressing-gown that I should have been quite surprised at him, only one never IS surprised in dr—— under certain circumstances.

"I can't eat 'em now," said the greasy man (with his false old teeth, I wonder he could eat anything). "I remember Alvanley eating three suppers once at Carlton House—one night de petite comite."

"Petit comite, sir," said Mr. Sterne.

"Dammy, sir, let me tell my own story my own way. I say, one night at Carlton house, playing at blind hookey with York, Wales, Tom Raikes, Prince Boothby, and Dutch Sam the boxer, Alvanley ate three suppers, and won three and twenty hundred pounds in ponies. Never saw a fellow with such an appetite, except Wales in his GOOD time. But he destroyed the finest digestion a man ever had with maraschino, by Jove—always at it."

"Try mine," said Mr. Sterne.

"What a doosid queer box," says Mr. Brummell.

"I had it from a Capuchin friar in this town. The box is but a horn one; but to the nose of sensibility Araby's perfume is not more delicate."

"I call it doosid stale old rappee," says Mr. Brummell—(as for me I declare I could not smell anything at all in either of the boxes.) "Old boy in smock-frock, take a pinch?"

The old boy in the smock-frock, as Mr. Brummell called him, was a very old man, with long white beard, wearing, not a smock-frock, but a shirt; and he had actually nothing else save a rope round his neck, which hung behind his chair in the queerest way.

"Fair sir," he said, turning to Mr. Brummell, "when the Prince of Wales and his father laid siege to our town—"

"What nonsense are you talking, old cock?" says Mr. Brummell; "Wales was never here. His late Majesty George IV. passed through on his way to Hanover. My good man, you don't seem to know what's up at all. What is he talkin' about the siege of Calais? I lived here fifteen years! Ought to know. What's his old name?"

"I am Master Eustace of Saint Peter's," said the old gentleman in the shirt. "When my Lord King Edward laid siege to this city—"

"Laid siege to Jericho!" cries Mr. Brummell. "The old man is cracked—cracked, sir!"

"—Laid siege to this city," continued the old man, "I and five more promised Messire Gautier de Mauny that we would give ourselves up as ransom for the place. And we came before our Lord King Edward, attired as you see, and the fair queen begged our lives out of her gramercy."

"Queen, nonsense! you mean the Princess of Wales—pretty woman, petit nez retrousse, grew monstrous stout!" suggested Mr. Brummell, whose reading was evidently not extensive. "Sir Sidney Smith was a fine fellow, great talker, hook nose, so has Lord Cochrane, so has Lord Wellington. She was very sweet on Sir Sidney."

"Your acquaintance with the history of Calais does not seem to be considerable," said Mr. Sterne to Mr. Brummell, with a shrug.

"Don't it, bishop?—for I conclude you are a bishop by your wig. I know Calais as well as any man. I lived here for years before I took that confounded consulate at Caen. Lived in this hotel, then at Leleux's. People used to stop here. Good fellows used to ask for poor George Brummell; Hertford did, so did the Duchess of Devonshire. Not know Calais indeed! That is a good joke. Had many a good dinner here: sorry I ever left it."

"My Lord King Edward," chirped the queer old gentleman in the shirt, "colonized the place with his English, after we had yielded it up to him. I have heard tell they kept it for nigh three hundred years, till my Lord de Guise took it from a fair Queen, Mary of blessed memory, a holy woman. Eh, but Sire Gautier of Mauny was a good knight, a valiant captain, gentle and courteous withal! Do you remember his ransoming the ——?"

"What is the old fellow twaddlin' about?" cries Brummell. "He is talking about some knight?—I never spoke to a knight, and very seldom to a baronet. Firkins, my butterman, was a knight—a knight and alderman. Wales knighted him once on going into the City."

"I am not surprised that the gentleman should not understand Messire Eustace of St. Peter's," said the ghostly individual addressed as Mr. Sterne. "Your reading doubtless has not been very extensive?"

"Dammy, sir, speak for yourself!" cries Mr. Brummell, testily. "I never professed to be a reading man, but I was as good as my neighbors. Wales wasn't a reading man; York wasn't a reading man; Clarence wasn't a reading man; Sussex was, but he wasn't a man in society. I remember reading your 'Sentimental Journey,' old boy: read it to the Duchess at Beauvoir, I recollect, and she cried over it. Doosid clever amusing book, and does you great credit. Birron wrote doosid clever books, too; so did Monk Lewis. George Spencer was an elegant poet, and my dear Duchess of Devonshire, if she had not been a grande dame, would have beat 'em all, by George. Wales couldn't write: he could sing, but he couldn't spell."

"Ah, you know the great world? so did I in my time, Mr. Brummell. I have had the visiting tickets of half the nobility at my lodgings in Bond Street. But they left me there no more cared for than last year's calendar," sighed Mr. Sterne. "I wonder who is the mode in London now? One of our late arrivals, my Lord Macaulay, has prodigious merit and learning, and, faith, his histories are more amusing than any novels, my own included."

"Don't know, I'm sure not in my line. Pick this bone of chicken," says Mr. Brummell, trifling with a skeleton bird before him.

"I remember in this city of Calais worse fare than you bird," said old Mr. Eustace of Saint Peter's. "Marry, sirs, when my Lord King Edward laid siege to us, lucky was he who could get a slice of horse for his breakfast, and a rat was sold at the price of a hare."

"Hare is coarse food, never tasted rat," remarked the Beau. "Table-d'hote poor fare enough for a man like me, who has been accustomed to the best of cookery. But rat—stifle me! I couldn't swallow that: never could bear hardship at all."

"We had to bear enough when my Lord of England pressed us. 'Twas pitiful to see the faces of our women as the siege went on, and hear the little ones asking for dinner."

"Always a bore, children. At dessert, they are bad enough, but at dinner they're the deuce and all," remarked Mr. Brummell.

Messire Eustace of St. Peter's did not seem to pay much attention to the Beau's remarks, but continued his own train of thought as old men will do.

"I hear," said he, "that there has actually been no war between us of France and you men of England for wellnigh fifty year. Ours has ever been a nation of warriors. And besides her regular found men-at-arms, 'tis said the English of the present time have more than a hundred thousand of archers with weapons that will carry for half a mile. And a multitude have come amongst us of late from a great Western country, never so much as heard of in my time—valiant men and great drawers of the long bow, and they say they have ships in armor that no shot can penetrate. Is it so? Wonderful; wonderful! The best armor, gossips, is a stout heart."

"And if ever manly heart beat under shirt-frill, thine is that heart, Sir Eustace!" cried Mr. Sterne, enthusiastically.

"We, of France, were never accused of lack of courage, sir, in so far as I know," said Messire Eustace. "We have shown as much in a thousand wars with you English by sea and land; and sometimes we conquered, and sometimes, as is the fortune of war, we were discomfited. And notably in a great sea-fight which befell off Ushant on the first of June — Our Admiral, messire Villaret de Joyeuse, on board his galleon named the 'Vengeur,' being sore pressed by an English bombard, rather than yield the crew of his ship to mercy, determined to go down with all on board of her: and to the cry of Vive la Repub—or, I would say, of Notre Dame a la Rescousse, he and his crew all sank to an immortal grave—"

"Sir," said I, looking with amazement at the old gentleman, "surely, surely, there is some mistake in your statement. Permit me to observe that the action of the first of June took place five hundred years after your time, and—"

"Perhaps I am confusing my dates," said the old gentleman, with a faint blush. "You say I am mixing up the transactions of my time on earth with the story of my successors? It may be so. We take no count of a few centuries more or less in our dwelling by the darkling Stygian river. Of late, there came amongst us a good knight, Messire de Cambronne, who fought against you English in the country of Flanders, being captain of the guard of my Lord the King of France, in a famous battle where you English would have been utterly routed but for the succor of the Prussian heathen. This Messire de Cambronne, when bidden to yield by you of England, answered this, 'The guard dies but never surrenders;' and fought a long time afterwards, as became a good knight. In our wars with you of England it may have pleased the Fates to give you the greater success, but on our side, also, there has been no lack of brave deeds performed by brave men."

"King Edward may have been the victor, sir, as being the strongest, but you are the hero of the siege of Calais!" cried Mr. Sterne. "Your story is sacred, and your name has been blessed for five hundred years. Wherever men speak of patriotism and sacrifice, Eustace of Saint Pierre shall be beloved and remembered. I prostrate myself before the bare feet which stood before King Edward. What collar of chivalry is to be compared to that glorious order which you wear? Think, sir, how out of the myriad millions of our race, you, and some few more, stand forth as exemplars of duty and honor. Fortunati nimium!"

"Sir," said the old gentleman, "I did but my duty at a painful moment; and 'tis matter of wonder to me that men talk still, and glorify such a trifling matter. By our Lady's grace, in the fair kingdom of France, there are scores of thousands of men, gentle and simple, who would do as I did. Does not every sentinel at his post, does not every archer in the front of battle, brave it, and die where his captain bids him? Who am I that I should be chosen out of all France to be an example of fortitude? I braved no tortures, though these I trust I would have endured with a good heart. I was subject to threats only. Who was the Roman knight of whom the Latin clerk Horatius tells?"

"A Latin clerk? Faith, I forget my Latin," says Mr. Brummell. "Ask the parson, here."

"Messire Regulus, I remember, was his name. Taken prisoner by the Saracens, he gave his knightly word, and was permitted to go seek a ransom among his own people. Being unable to raise the sum that was a fitting ransom for such a knight, he returned to Afric, and cheerfully submitted to the tortures which the Paynims inflicted. And 'tis said he took leave of his friends as gayly as though he were going to a vilage kermes, or riding to his garden house in the suburb of the city."

"Great, good, glorious man!" cried Mr. Sterne, very much moved. "Let me embrace that gallant hand, and bedew it with my tears! As long as honor lasts thy name shall be remembered. See this dew-drop twinkling on my check! 'Tis the sparkling tribute that Sensibility pays to Valor. Though in my life and practice I may turn from Virtue, believe me, I never have ceased to honor her! Ah, Virtue! Ah, Sensibility! Oh—"

Here Mr. Sterne was interrupted by a monk of the Order of St. Francis, who stepped into the room, and begged us all to take a pinch of his famous old rappee. I suppose the snuff was very pungent, for, with a great start, I woke up; and now perceived that I must have been dreaming altogether. "Dessein's" of now-a-days is not the "Dessein's" which Mr. Sterne, and Mr. Brummell, and I recollect in the good old times. The town of Calais has bought the old hotel, and "Dessein" has gone over to "Quillacq's." And I was there yesterday. And I remember old diligences, and old postilions in pigtails and jack-boots, who were once as alive as I am, and whose cracking whips I have heard in the midnight many and many a time. Now, where are they? Behold they have been ferried over Styx, and have passed away into limbo.

I wonder what time does my boat go? Ah! Here comes the waiter bringing me my little bill.



ON SOME CARP AT SANS SOUCI.

We have lately made the acquaintance of an old lady of ninety, who has passed the last twenty-five years of her old life in a great metropolitan establishment, the workhouse, namely, of the parish of Saint Lazarus. Stay—twenty-three or four years ago, she came out once, and thought to earn a little money by hop-picking; but being overworked, and having to lie out at night, she got a palsy which has incapacitated her from all further labor, and has caused her poor old limbs to shake ever since.

An illustration of that dismal proverb which tells us how poverty makes us acquainted with strange bed-fellows, this poor old shaking body has to lay herself down every night in her workhouse bed by the side of some other old woman with whom she may or may not agree. She herself can't be a very pleasant bed-fellow, poor thing! with her shaking old limbs and cold feet. She lies awake a deal of the night, to be sure, not thinking of happy old times, for hers never were happy; but sleepless with aches, and agues, and rheumatism of old age. "The gentleman gave me brandy-and-water," she said, her old voice shaking with rapture at the thought. I never had a great love for Queen Charlotte, but I like her better now from what this old lady told me. The Queen, who loved snuff herself, has left a legacy of snuff to certain poorhouses; and, in her watchful nights, this old woman takes a pinch of Queen Charlotte's snuff, "and it do comfort me, sir, that it do!" Pulveris exigui munus. Here is a forlorn aged creature, shaking with palsy, with no soul among the great struggling multitude of mankind to care for her, not quite trampled out of life, but past and forgotten in the rush, made a little happy, and soothed in her hours of unrest by this penny legacy. Let me think as I write. (The next month's sermon, thank goodness! is safe to press.) This discourse will appear at the season when I have read that wassail-bowls make their appearance; at the season of pantomime, turkey and sausages, plum-puddings, jollifications for schoolboys; Christmas bills, and reminiscences more or less sad and sweet for elders. If we oldsters are not merry, we shall be having a semblance of merriment. We shall see the young folks laughing round the holly-bush. We shall pass the bottle round cosily as we sit by the fire. That old thing will have a sort of festival too. Beef, beer, and pudding will be served to her for that day also. Christmas falls on a Thursday. Friday is the workhouse day for coming out. Mary, remember that old Goody Twoshoes has her invitation for Friday, 26th December! Ninety is she, poor old soul? Ah! what a bonny face to catch under a mistletoe! "Yes, ninety, sir," she says, "and my mother was a hundred, and my grandmother was a hundred and two."

Herself ninety, her mother a hundred, her grandmother a hundred and two? What a queer calculation!

Ninety! Very good, granny: you were born, then, in 1772.

Your mother, we will say, was twenty-seven when you were born, and was born therefore in 1745.

Your grandmother was thirty when her daughter was born, and was born therefore in 1715.

We will begin with the present granny first. My good old creature, you can't of course remember, but that little gentleman for whom your mother was laundress in the Temple was the ingenious Mr. Goldsmith, author of a "History of England," the "Vicar of Wakefield," and many diverting pieces. You were brought almost an infant to his chambers in Brick Court, and he gave you some sugar-candy, for the doctor was always good to children. That gentleman who wellnigh smothered you by sitting down on you as you lay in a chair asleep was the learned Mr. S. Johnson, whose history of "Rasselas" you have never read, my poor soul; and whose tragedy of "Irene" I don't believe any man in these kingdoms ever perused. That tipsy Scotch gentleman who used to come to the chambers sometimes, and at whom everybody laughed, wrote a more amusing book than any of the scholars, your Mr. Burke and your Mr. Johnson, and your Doctor Goldsmith. Your father often took him home in a chair to his lodgings; and has done as much for Parson Sterne in Bond Street, the famous wit. Of course, my good creature, you remember the Gordon Riots, and crying No Popery before Mr. Langdale's house, the Popish distiller's, and, that bonny fire of my Lord Mansfield's books in Bloomsbury Square? Bless us, what a heap of illuminations you have seen! For the glorious victory over the Americans at Breed's Hill; for the peace in 1814, and the beautiful Chinese bridge in St. James's Park; for the coronation of his Majesty, whom you recollect as Prince of Wales, Goody, don't you? Yes; and you went in a procession of laundresses to pay your respects to his good lady, the injured Queen of England, at Brandenburg House; and you remember your mother told you how she was taken to see the Scotch lords executed at the Tower. And as for your grandmother, she was born five years after the battle of Malplaquet, she was; where her poor father was killed, fighting like a bold Briton for the Queen. With the help of a "Wade's Chronology," I can make out ever so queer a history for you, my poor old body, and a pedigree as authentic as many in the peerage-books.

Peerage-books and pedigrees? What does she know about them? Battles and victories, treasons, kings, and beheadings, literary gentlemen, and the like, what have they ever been to her? Granny, did you ever hear of General Wolfe? Your mother may have seen him embark, and your father may have carried a musket under him. Your grandmother may have cried huzza for Marlborough but what is the Prince Duke to you, and did you ever, so much as hear tell of his name? How many hundred or thousand of years had that toad lived who was in the coal at the defunct Exhibition?—and yet he was not a bit better informed than toads seven or eight hundred years younger.

"Don't talk to me your nonsense about Exhibitions, and Prince Dukes, and toads in coals, or coals in toads, or what is it?" says granny. "I know there was a good Queen Charlotte, for she left me snuff; and it comforts me of a night when I lie awake."

To me there is something very touching in the notion of that little pinch of comfort doled out to granny, and gratefully inhaled by her in the darkness. Don't you remember what traditions there used to be of chests of plate, bulses of diamonds, laces of inestimable value, sent out of the country privately by the old Queen, to enrich certain relations in M-ckl-nb-rg Str-l-tz? Not all the treasure went. Non omnis moritur. A poor old palsied thing at midnight is made happy sometimes as she lifts her shaking old hand to her nose. Gliding noiselessly among the beds where lie the poor creatures huddled in their cheerless dormitory, I fancy an old ghost with a snuff-box that does not creak. "There, Goody, take of my rappee. You will not sneeze, and I shall not say 'God bless you.' But you will think kindly of old Queen Charlotte, won't you? Ah! I had a many troubles, a many troubles. I was a prisoner almost so much as you are. I had to eat boiled mutton every day: entre nous, I abominated it. But I never complained. I swallowed it. I made the best of a hard life. We have all our burdens to bear. But hark! I hear the cock-crow, and snuff the morning air." And with this the royal ghost vanishes up the chimney—if there be a chimney in that dismal harem, where poor old Twoshoes and her companions pass their nights—their dreary nights, their restless nights, their cold long nights, shared in what glum companionship, illumined by what a feeble taper!

"Did I understand you, my good Twoshoes, to say that, your mother was seven-and-twenty years old when you were born, and that she married your esteemed father when she herself was twenty-five? 1745, then, was the date of your dear mother's birth. I dare say her father was absent in the Low Countries, with his Royal Highness the Duke of Cumberland, under whom he had the honor of carrying a halberd at the famous engagement of Fontenoy—or if not there, he may have been at Preston Pans, under General Sir John Cope, when the wild highlanders broke through all the laws of discipline and the English lines; and, being on the spot, did he see the famous ghost which didn't appear to Colonel Gardiner of the Dragoons? My good creature, is it possible you don't remember that Doctor Swift, Sir Robert Walpole (my Lord Orford, as you justly say), old Sarah Marlborough, and little Mr. Pope, of Twitnam, died in the year of your birth? What a wretched memory you have! What? haven't they a library, and the commonest books of reference at the old convent of Saint Lazarus, where you dwell?"

"Convent of Saint Lazarus, Prince William, Dr. Swift, Atossa, and Mr. Pope, of Twitnam! What is the gentleman talking about?" says old Goody, with a "Ho! ho!" and a laugh like an old parrot—you know they live to be as old as Methuselah, parrots do, and a parrot of a hundred is comparatively young (ho! ho! ho!). Yes, and likewise carps live to an immense old age. Some which Frederick the Great fed at Sans Souci are there now, with great humps of blue mould on their old backs; and they could tell all sorts of queer stories, if they chose to speak—but they are very silent, carps are—of their nature peu communicatives. Oh! what has been thy long life, old Goody, but a dole of bread and water and a perch on a cage; a dreary swim round and round a Lethe of a pond? What are Rossbach or Jena to those mouldy ones, and do they know it is a grandchild of England who brings bread to feed them?

No! Those Sans Souci carps may live to be a thousand years old and have nothing to tell but that one day is like another; and the history of friend Goody Twoshoes has not much more variety than theirs. Hard labor, hard fare, hard bed, numbing cold all night, and gnawing hunger most days. That is her lot. Is it lawful in my prayers to say, "Thank heaven, I am not as one of these?" If I were eighty, would I like to feel the hunger always gnawing, gnawing? to have to get up and make a bow when Mr. Bumble the beadle entered the common room? to have to listen to Miss Prim, who came to give me her ideas of the next world? If I were eighty, I own I should not like to have to sleep with another gentleman of my own age, gouty, a bad sleeper, kicking in his old dreams, and snoring; to march down my vale of years at word of command, accommodating my tottering old steps to those of the other prisoners in my dingy, hopeless old gang; to hold out a trembling hand for a sicky pittance of gruel, and say, "Thank you, ma'am," to Miss Prim, when she has done reading her sermon. John! when Goody Twoshoes comes next Friday, I desire she may not be disturbed by theological controversies. You have a very fair voice, and I heard you and the maids singing a hymn very sweetly the other night, and was thankful that our humble household should be in such harmony. Poor old Twoshoes is so old and toothless and quaky, that she can't sing a bit; but don't be giving yourself airs over her, because she can't sing and you can. Make her comfortable at our kitchen hearth. Set that old kettle to sing by our hob. Warm her old stomach with nut-brown ale and a toast laid in the fire. Be kind to the poor old school-girl of ninety, who has had leave to come out for a day of Christmas holiday. Shall there be many more Christmases for thee? Think of the ninety she has seen already; the four-score and ten cold, cheerless, nipping New Years!

If you were in her place, would you like to have a remembrance of better early days, when you were young, and happy, and loving, perhaps; or would you prefer to have no past on which your mind could rest? About the year 1788, Goody, were your cheeks rosy, and your eyes bright, and did some young fellow in powder and a pigtail look in them? We may grow old, but to us some stories never are old. On a sudden they rise up, not dead, but living—not forgotten, but freshly remembered. The eyes gleam on us as they used to do. The dear voice thrills in our hearts. The rapture of the meeting, the terrible, terrible parting, again and again the tragedy is acted over. Yesterday, in the street, I saw a pair of eyes so like two which used to brighten at my coming once, that the whole past came back as I walked lonely, in the rush of the Strand, and I was young again in the midst of joys and sorrows, alike sweet and sad, alike sacred and fondly remembered.

If I tell a tale out of school, will any harm come to my old school-girl? Once, a lady gave her a half-sovereign, which was a source of great pain and anxiety to Goody Twoshoes. She sewed it away in her old stays somewhere, thinking here at least was a safe investment—(vestis—a vest—an investment,—pardon me, thou poor old thing, but I cannot help the pleasantry). And what do you think? Another pensionnaire of the establishment cut the coin out of Goody's stays—AN OLD WOMAN WHO WENT UPON TWO CRUTCHES! Faugh, the old witch! What! Violence amongst these toothless, tottering, trembling, feeble ones? Robbery amongst the penniless? Dogs coming and snatching Lazarus's crumbs out of his lap? Ah, how indignant Goody was as she told the story! To that pond at Potsdam where the carps live for hundreds of hundreds of years, with hunches of blue mould on their back, I dare say the little Prince and Princess of Preussen-Britannien come sometimes with crumbs and cakes to feed the mouldy ones. Those eyes may have goggled from beneath the weeds at Napoleon's jack-boots: they have seen Frederick's lean shanks reflected in their pool; and perhaps Monsieur de Voltaire has fed them—and now, for a crumb of biscuit they will fight, push, hustle, rob, squabble, gobble, relapsing into their tranquillity when the ignoble struggle is over. Sans souci, indeed! It is mighty well writing "Sans souci" over the gate; but where is the gate through which Care has not slipped? She perches on the shoulders of the sentry in the sentry-box: she whispers the porter sleeping in his arm-chair: she glides up the staircase, and lies down between the king and queen in their bed-royal: this very night I dare say she will perch upon poor old Goody Twoshoes's meagre bolster, and whisper, "Will the gentleman and those ladies ask me again? No, no; they will forget poor old Twoshoes." Goody! For shame of yourself! Do not be cynical. Do not mistrust your fellow-creatures. What? Has the Christmas morning dawned upon thee ninety times? For four-score and ten years has it been thy lot to totter on this earth, hungry and obscure? Peace and good-will to thee, let us say at this Christmas season. Come, drink, eat, rest awhile at our hearth, thou poor old pilgrim! And of the bread which God's bounty gives us, I pray, brother reader, we may not forget to set aside a part for those noble and silent poor, from whose innocent hands war has torn the means of labor. Enough! As I hope for beef at Christmas, I vow a note shall be sent to Saint Lazarus Union House, in which Mr. Roundabout requests the honor of Mrs. Twoshoes's company on Friday, 26th December.



AUTOUR DE MON CHAPEAU.

Never have I seen a more noble tragic face. In the centre of the forehead there was a great furrow of care, towards which the brows rose piteously. What a deep solemn grief in the eyes! They looked blankly at the object before them, but through it, as it were, and into the grief beyond. In moments of pain, have you not looked at some indifferent object so? It mingles dumbly with your grief, and remains afterwards connected with it in your mind. It may be some indifferent thing—a book which you were reading at the time when you received her farewell letter (how well you remember the paragraph afterwards—the shape of the words, and their position on the page); the words you were writing when your mother came in, and said it was all over—she was MARRIED—Emily married—to that insignificant little rival at whom you have laughed a hundred times in her company. Well, well; my friend and reader, whoe'er you be—old man or young, wife or maiden—you have had your grief-pang. Boy, you have lain awake the first night at school, and thought of home. Worse still, man, you have parted from the dear ones with bursting heart: and, lonely boy, recall the bolstering an unfeeling comrade gave you; and, lonely man, just torn from your children—their little tokens of affection yet in your pocket—pacing the deck at evening in the midst of the roaring ocean, you can remember how you were told that supper was ready, and how you went down to the cabin and had brandy-and-water and biscuit. You remember the taste of them. Yes; for ever. You took them whilst you and your Grief were sitting together, and your Grief clutched you round the soul. Serpent, how you have writhed round me, and bitten me. Remorse, Remembrance, &c., come in the night season, and I feel you gnawing, gnawing! . . . I tell you that man's face was like Laocoon's (which, by the way, I always think over-rated. The real head is at Brussels, at the Duke Daremberg's, not at Rome).

That man! What man? That man of whom I said that his magnificent countenance exhibited the noblest tragic woe. He was not of European blood, he was handsome, but not of European beauty. His face white—not of a Northern whiteness; his eyes protruding somewhat, and rolling in their grief. Those eyes had seen the Orient sun, and his beak was the eagle's. His lips were full. The beard, curling round them, was unkempt and tawny. The locks were of a deep, deep coppery red. The hands, swart and powerful, accustomed to the rough grasp of the wares in which he dealt, seemed unused to the flimsy artifices of the bath. He came from the Wilderness, and its sands were on his robe, his cheek, his tattered sandal, and the hardy foot it covered.

And his grief—whence came his sorrow? I will tell you. He bore it in his hand. He had evidently just concluded the compact by which it became his. His business was that of a purchaser of domestic raiment. At early dawn nay, at what hour when the city is alive—do we not all hear the nasal cry of "Clo?" In Paris, Habits Galons, Marchand d'habits, is the twanging signal with which the wandering merchant makes his presence known. It was in Paris I saw this man. Where else have I not seen him? In the Roman Ghetto—at the Gate of David, in his fathers' once imperial city. The man I mean was an itinerant vender and purchaser of wardrobes—what you call an . . . Enough! You know his name.

On his left shoulder hung his bag; and he held in that hand a white hat, which I am sure he had just purchased, and which was the cause of the grief which smote his noble features. Of course I cannot particularize the sum, but he had given too much for that hat. He felt he might have got the thing for less money. It was not the amount, I am sure; it was the principle involved. He had given fourpence (let us say) for that which threepence would have purchased. He had been done: and a manly shame was upon him, that he, whose energy, acuteness, experience, point of honor, should have made him the victor in any mercantile duel in which he should engage, had been overcome by a porter's wife, who very likely sold him the old hat, or by a student who was tired of it. I can understand his grief. Do I seem to be speaking of it in a disrespectful or flippant way? Then you mistake me. He had been outwitted. He had desired, coaxed, schemed, haggled, got what he wanted, and now found he had paid too much for his bargain. You don't suppose I would ask you to laugh at that man's grief? It is you, clumsy cynic, who are disposed to sneer, whilst it may be tears of genuine sympathy are trickling down this nose of mine. What do you mean by laughing? If you saw a wounded soldier on the field of battle, would you laugh? If you saw a ewe robbed of her lamb, would you laugh, you brute? It is you who are the cynic, and have no feeling: and you sneer because that grief is unintelligible to you which touches my finer sensibility. The OLD-CLOTHES'-MAN had been defeated in one of the daily battles of his most interesting, chequered, adventurous life.

Have you ever figured to yourself what such a life must be? The pursuit and conquest of twopence must be the most eager and fascinating of occupations. We might all engage in that business if we would. Do not whist-players, for example, toil, and think, and lose their temper over sixpenny points? They bring study, natural genius, long forethought, memory, and careful historical experience to bear upon their favorite labor. Don't tell me that it is the sixpenny points, and five shillings the rub, which keeps them for hours over their painted pasteboard. It is the desire to conquer. Hours pass by. Night glooms. Dawn, it may be, rises unheeded; and they sit calling for fresh cards at the "Portland," or the "Union," while waning candles splutter in the sockets, and languid waiters snooze in the ante-room. Sol rises. Jones has lost four pounds: Brown has won two; Robinson lurks away to his family house and (mayhap indignant) Mrs. R. Hours of evening, night, morning, have passed away whilst they have been waging this sixpenny battle. What is the loss of four pounds to Jones, the gain of two to Brown? B. is, perhaps, so rich that two pounds more or less are as naught to him; J. is so hopelessly involved that to win four pounds cannot benefit his creditors, or alter his condition; but they play for that stake: they put forward their best energies: they ruff, finesse (what are the technical words, and how do I know?) It is but a sixpenny game if you like; but they want to win it. So as regards my friend yonder with the hat. He stakes his money: he wishes to win the game, not the hat merely. I am not prepared to say that he is not inspired by a noble ambition. Caesar wished to be first in a village. If first of a hundred yokels, why not first of two? And my friend the old-clothes'-man wishes to win his game, as well as to turn his little sixpence.

Suppose in the game of life—and it is but a twopenny game after all—you are equally eager of winning. Shall you be ashamed of your ambition, or glory in it? There are games, too, which are becoming to particular periods of life. I remember in the days of our youth, when my friend Arthur Bowler was an eminent cricketer. Slim, swift, strong, well-built, he presented a goodly appearance on the ground in his flannel uniform. Militasti non sine gloria, Bowler my boy! Hush! We tell no tales. Mum is the word. Yonder comes Chancy his son. Now Chancy his son has taken the field and is famous among the eleven of his school. Bowler senior, with his capacious waistcoat, &c., waddling after a ball, would present an absurd object, whereas it does the eyes good to see Bowler junior scouring the plain—a young exemplar of joyful health, vigor, activity. The old boy wisely contents himself with amusements more becoming his age and waist; takes his sober ride; visits his farm soberly—busies himself about his pigs, his ploughing, his peaches, or what not! Very small routinier amusements interest him; and (thank goodness!) nature provides very kindly for kindly-disposed fogies. We relish those things which we scorned in our lusty youth. I see the young folks of an evening kindling and glowing over their delicious novels. I look up and watch the eager eye flashing down the page, being, for my part, perfectly contented with my twaddling old volume of "Howel's Letters," or the Gentleman's Magazine. I am actually arrived at such a calm frame of mind that I like batter-pudding. I never should have believed it possible; but it is so. Yet a little while, and I may relish water-gruel. It will be the age of mon lait de poule et mon bonnet de nuit. And then—the cotton extinguisher is pulled over the old noddle, and the little flame of life is popped out.

Don't you know elderly people who make learned notes in Army Lists, Peerages, and the like? This is the batter-pudding, water-gruel of old age. The worn-out old digestion does not care for stronger food. Formerly it could swallow twelve-hours' tough reading, and digest an encyclopaedia.

If I had children to educate, I would, at ten or twelve years of age, have a professor, or professoress, of whist for them, and cause them to be well grounded in that great and useful game. You cannot learn it well when you are old, any more than you can learn dancing or billiards. In our house at home we youngsters did not play whist because we were dear obedient children, and the elders said playing at cards was "a waste of time." A waste of time, my good people! Allons! What do elderly home-keeping people do of a night after dinner? Darby gets his newspaper; my dear Joan her Missionary Magazine or her volume of Cumming's Sermons—and don't you know what ensues? Over the arm of Darby's arm-chair the paper flutters to the ground unheeded, and he performs the trumpet obligato que vous savez on his old nose. My dear old Joan's head nods over her sermon (awakening though the doctrine may be). Ding, ding, ding: can that be ten o'clock? It is time to send the servants to bed, my dear—and to bed master and mistress go too. But they have not wasted their time playing at cards. Oh, no! I belong to a Club where there is whist of a night, and not a little amusing is it to hear Brown speak of Thompson's play, and vice versa. But there is one man—Greatorex let us call him—who is the acknowledged captain and primus of all the whist-players. We all secretly admire him. I, for my part, watch him in private life, hearken to what he says, note what he orders for dinner, and have that feeling of awe for him that I used to have as a boy for the cock of the school. Not play at whist? "Quelle triste vieillesse vous vous preparez!" were the words of the great and good Bishop of Autun. I can't. It is too late now. Too late! too late! Ah! humiliating confession! That joy might have been clutched, but the life-stream has swept us by it—the swift life-stream rushing to the nearing sea. Too late! too late! Twentystone my boy! when you read in the papers "Valse a deux temps," and all the fashionable dances taught to adults by "Miss Lightfoots," don't you feel that you would like to go in and learn? Ah, it is too late! You have passed the choreas, Master Twentystone, and the young people are dancing without you.

I don't believe much of what my Lord Byron the poet says; but when he wrote, "So for a good old gentlemanly vice, I think I shall put up with avarice," I think his lordship meant what he wrote, and if he practised what he preached, shall not quarrel with him. As an occupation in declining years, I declare I think saving is useful, amusing, and not unbecoming. It must be a perpetual amusement. It is a game that can be played by day, by night, at home and abroad, and at which you must win in the long run. I am tired and want a cab. The fare to my house, say, is two shillings. The cabman will naturally want half a crown. I pull out my book. I show him the distance is exactly three miles and fifteen hundred and ninety yards. I offer him my card—my winning card. As he retires with the two shillings, blaspheming inwardly, every curse is a compliment to my skill. I have played him and beat him; and a sixpence is my spoil and just reward. This is a game, by the way, which women play far more cleverly than we do. But what an interest it imparts to life! During the whole drive home I know I shall have my game at the journey's end; am sure of my hand, and shall beat my adversary. Or I can play in another way. I won't have a cab at all, I will wait for the omnibus: I will be one of the damp fourteen in that steaming vehicle. I will wait about in the rain for an hour, and 'bus after 'bus shall pass, but I will not be beat. I WILL have a place, and get it at length, with my boots wet through, and an umbrella dripping between my legs. I have a rheumatism, a cold, a sore throat, a sulky evening,—a doctor's bill to-morrow perhaps? Yes, but I have won my game, and am gainer of a shilling on this rubber.

If you play this game all through life it is wonderful what daily interest it has, and amusing occupation. For instance, my wife goes to sleep after dinner over her volume of sermons. As soon as the dear soul is sound asleep, I advance softly and puff out her candle. Her pure dreams will be all the happier without that light; and, say she sleeps an hour, there is a penny gained.

As for clothes, parbleu! there is not much money to be saved in clothes, for the fact is, as a man advances in life—as he becomes an Ancient Briton (mark the pleasantry)—he goes without clothes. When my tailor proposes something in the way of a change of raiment, I laugh in his face. My blue coat and brass buttons will last these ten years. It is seedy? What then? I don't want to charm anybody in particular. You say that my clothes are shabby? What do I care? When I wished to look well in somebody's eyes, the matter may have been different. But now, when I receive my bill of 10L. (let us say) at the year's end, and contrast it with old tailors' reckonings, I feel that I have played the game with master tailor, and beat him; and my old clothes are a token of the victory.

I do not like to give servants board-wages, though they are cheaper than household bills: but I know they save out of board-wages, and so beat me. This shows that it is not the money but the game which interests me. So about wine. I have it good and dear. I will trouble you to tell me where to get it good and cheap. You may as well give me the address of a shop where I can buy meat for fourpence a pound, or sovereigns for fifteen shillings apiece. At the game of auctions, docks, shy wine-merchants, depend on it there is no winning; and I would as soon think of buying jewellery at an auction in Fleet Street as of purchasing wine from one of your dreadful needy wine-agents such as infest every man's door. Grudge myself good wine? As soon grudge my horse corn. Merci! that would be a very losing game indeed, and your humble servant has no relish for such.

But in the very pursuit of saving there must be a hundred harmless delights and pleasures which we who are careless necessarily forego. What do you know about the natural history of your household? Upon your honor and conscience, do you know the price of a pound of butter? Can you say what sugar costs, and how much your family consumes and ought to consume? How much lard do you use in your house? As I think on these subjects I own I hang down the head of shame. I suppose for a moment that you, who are reading this, are a middle-aged gentleman, and paterfamilias. Can you answer the above questions? You know, sir, you cannot. Now turn round, lay down the book, and suddenly ask Mrs. Jones and your daughters if THEY can answer? They cannot. They look at one another. They pretend they can answer. They can tell you the plot and principal characters of the last novel. Some of them know something about history, geology, and so forth. But of the natural history of home—Nichts, and for shame on you all! Honnis soyez! For shame on you? for shame on us!

In the early morning I hear a sort of call or jodel under my window: and know 'tis the matutinal milkman leaving his can at my gate. O household gods! have I lived all these years and don't know the price or the quantity of the milk which is delivered in that can? Why don't I know? As I live, if I live till to-morrow morning, as soon as I hear the call of Lactantius, I will dash out upon him. How many cows? How much milk, on an average, all the year round? What rent? What cost of food and dairy servants? What loss of animals, and average cost of purchase? If I interested myself properly about my pint (or hogshead, whatever it be) of milk, all this knowledge would ensue; all this additional interest in life. What is this talk of my friend, Mr. Lewes, about objects at the seaside, and so forth?* Objects at the seaside? Objects at the area-bell: objects before my nose: objects which the butcher brings me in his tray: which the cook dresses and puts down before me, and over which I say grace! My daily life is surrounded with objects which ought to interest me. The pudding I eat (or refuse, that is neither here nor there; and, between ourselves, what I have said about batter-pudding may be taken cum grano—we are not come to that yet, except for the sake of argument or illustration)—the pudding, I say, on my plate, the eggs that made it, the fire that cooked it, the tablecloth on which it is laid, and so forth—are each and all of these objects a knowledge of which I may acquire—a knowledge of the cost and production of which I might advantageously learn? To the man who DOES know these things, I say the interest of life is prodigiously increased. The milkman becomes, a study to him; the baker a being he curiously and tenderly examines. Go, Lewes, and clap a hideous sea-anemone into a glass: I will put a cabman under mine, and make a vivisection of a butcher. O Lares, Penates, and gentle household gods, teach me to sympathize with all that comes within my doors! Give me an interest in the butcher's book. Let me look forward to the ensuing number of the grocer's account with eagerness. It seems ungrateful to my kitchen-chimney not to know the cost of sweeping it; and I trust that many a man who reads this, and muses on it, will feel, like the writer, ashamed of himself, and hang down his head humbly.

* "Seaside Studies." By G. H. Lewes.

Now, if to this household game you could add a little money interest, the amusement would be increased far beyond the mere money value, as a game at cards for sixpence is better than a rubber for nothing. If you can interest yourself about sixpence, all life is invested with a new excitement. From sunrise to sleeping you can always be playing that game—with butcher, baker, coal-merchant, cabman, omnibus man—nay, diamond merchant and stockbroker. You can bargain for a guinea over the price of a diamond necklace, or for a sixteenth per cent in a transaction at the Stock Exchange. We all know men who have this faculty who are not ungenerous with their money. They give it on great occasions. They are more able to help than you and I who spend ours, and say to poor Prodigal who comes to us out at elbow, "My dear fellow, I should have been delighted: but I have already anticipated my quarter, and am going to ask Screwby if he can do anything for me."

In this delightful, wholesome, ever-novel twopenny game, there is a danger of excess, as there is in every other pastime or occupation of life. If you grow too eager for your twopence, the acquisition or the loss of it may affect your peace of mind, and peace of mind is better than any amount of twopences. My friend, the old-clothes'-man, whose agonies over the hat have led to this rambling disquisition, has, I very much fear, by a too eager pursuit of small profits, disturbed the equanimity of a mind that ought to be easy and happy. "Had I stood out," he thinks, "I might have had the hat for threepence," and he doubts whether, having given fourpence for it, he will ever get back his money. My good Shadrach, if you go through life passionately deploring the irrevocable, and allow yesterday's transactions to embitter the cheerfulness of to-day and to-morrow—as lief walk down to the Seine, souse in, hats, body, clothes-bag and all, and put an end to your sorrow and sordid cares. Before and since Mr. Franklin wrote his pretty apologue of the Whistle have we not all made bargains of which we repented, and coveted and acquired objects for which we have paid too dearly! Who has not purchased his hat in some market or other? There is General M'Clellan's cocked hat for example: I dare say he was eager enough to wear it, and he has learned that it is by no means cheerful wear. There were the military beavers of Messeigneurs of Orleans:* they wore them gallantly in the face of battle; but I suspect they were glad enough to pitch them into the James River and come home in mufti. Ah, mes amis! A chacun son schakot! I was looking at a bishop the other day, and thinking, "My right reverend lord, that broad-brim and rosette must bind your great broad forehead very tightly, and give you many a headache. A good easy wideawake were better for you, and I would like to see that honest face with a cutty-pipe in the middle of it." There is my Lord Mayor. My once dear lord, my kind friend, when your two years' reign was over, did not you jump for joy and fling your chapeau-bras out of window: and hasn't that hat cost you a pretty bit of money? There, in a splendid travelling chariot, in the sweetest bonnet, all trimmed with orange-blossoms and Chantilly lace, sits my Lady Rosa, with old Lord Snowden by her side. Ah, Rosa! what a price have you paid for that hat which you wear; and is your ladyship's coronet not purchased too dear! Enough of hats. Sir, or Madam, I take off mine, and salute you with profound respect.

* Two cadets of the House of Orleans who served as Volunteers under General M'Clellan in his campaign against Richmond.



ON ALEXANDRINES.*

A LETTER TO SOME COUNTRY COUSINS.

* This paper, it is almost needless to say, was written just after the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales in March, 1863.

DEAR COUSINS,—Be pleased to receive herewith a packet of Mayall's photographs and copies of Illustrated News, Illustrated Times, London Review, Queen, and Observer, each containing an account of the notable festivities of the past week. If, besides these remembrances of home, you have a mind to read a letter from an old friend, behold here it is. When I was at school, having left my parents in India, a good-natured captain or colonel would come sometimes and see us Indian boys, and talk to us about papa and mamma, and give us coins of the realm, and write to our parents, and say, "I drove over yesterday and saw Tommy at Dr. Birch's. I took him to the 'George,' and gave him a dinner. His appetite is fine. He states that he is reading 'Cornelius Nepos,' with which he is much interested. His masters report," &c. And though Dr. Birch wrote by the same mail a longer, fuller, and official statement, I have no doubt the distant parents preferred the friend's letter, with its artless, possibly ungrammatical, account of their little darling.

I have seen the young heir of Britain. These eyes have beheld him and his bride, on Saturday in Pall Mall, and on Tuesday in the nave of St. George's Chapel at Windsor, when the young Princess Alexandra of Denmark passed by with her blooming procession of bridesmaids; and half an hour later, when the Princess of Wales came forth from the chapel, her husband by her side robed in the purple mantle of the famous Order which his forefather established here five hundred years ago. We were to see her yet once again, when her open carriage passed out of the Castle gate to the station of the near railway which was to convey her to Southampton.

Since womankind existed, has any woman ever had such a greeting? At ten hours' distance, there is a city far more magnificent than ours. With every respect for Kensington turnpike, I own that the Arc de l'Etoile at Paris is a much finer entrance to an imperial capital. In our black, orderless, zigzag streets, we can show nothing to compare with the magnificent array of the Rue de Rivoli, that enormous regiment of stone stretching for five miles and presenting arms before the Tuileries. Think of the late Fleet Prison and Waithman's Obelisk, and of the Place de la Concorde and the Luxor Stone! "The finest site in Europe," as Trafalgar Square has been called by some obstinate British optimist, is disfigured by trophies, fountains, columns, and statues so puerile, disorderly, and hideous that a lover of the arts must hang the head of shame as he passes, to see our dear old queen city arraying herself so absurdly; but when all is said and done, we can show one or two of the greatest sights in the world. I doubt if any Roman festival was as vast or striking as the Derby day, or if any Imperial triumph could show such a prodigious muster of faithful people as our young Princess saw on Saturday, when the nation turned out to greet her. The calculators are squabbling about the numbers of hundreds of thousands, of millions, who came forth to see her and bid her welcome. Imagine beacons flaming, rockets blazing, yards manned, ships and forts saluting with their thunder, every steamer and vessel, every town and village from Ramsgate to Gravesend, swarming with happy gratulation; young girls with flowers, scattering roses before her; staid citizens and aldermen pushing and squeezing and panting to make the speech, and bow the knee, and bid her welcome! Who is this who is honored with such a prodigious triumph, and received with a welcome so astonishing? A year ago we had never heard of her. I think about her pedigree and family not a few of us are in the dark still, and I own, for my part, to be much puzzled by the allusions of newspaper genealogists and bards and skalds to Vikings, Berserkers, and so forth. But it would be interesting to know how many hundreds of thousands of photographs of the fair bright face have by this time made it beloved and familiar in British homes. Think of all the quiet country nooks from Land's End to Caithness, where kind eyes have glanced at it. The farmer brings it home from market; the curate from his visit to the Cathedral town; the rustic folk peer at it in the little village shop-window; the squire's children gaze on it round the drawing-room table: every eye that beholds it looks tenderly on its bright beauty and sweet artless grace, and young and old pray God bless her. We have an elderly friend, (a certain Goody Twoshoes,) who inhabits, with many other old ladies, the Union House of the parish of St. Lazarus in Soho. One of your cousins from this house went to see her, and found Goody and her companion crones all in a flutter of excitement about the marriage. The whitewashed walls of their bleak dormitory were ornamented with prints out of the illustrated journals, and hung with festoons and true-lovers' knots of tape and colored paper; and the old bodies had had a good dinner, and the old tongues were chirping and clacking away, all eager, interested, sympathizing; and one very elderly and rheumatic Goody, who is obliged to keep her bed, (and has, I trust, an exaggerated idea of the cares attending on royalty,) said, "Pore thing, pore thing! I pity her." Yes, even in that dim place there was a little brightness and a quavering huzza, a contribution of a mite subscribed by those dozen poor old widows to the treasure of loyalty with which the nation endows the Prince's bride.

Three hundred years ago, when our dread Sovereign Lady Elizabeth came to take possession of her realm and capital city, Holingshed, if you please (whose pleasing history of course you carry about with you), relates in his fourth volume folio, that—"At hir entring the citie, she was of the people received maruellous intierlie, as appeared by the assemblies, praiers, welcommings, cries, and all other signes which argued a woonderfull earnest loue:" and at various halting-places on the royal progress children habited like angels appeared out of allegoric edifices and spoke verses to her—

"Welcome, O Queen, as much as heart can think, Welcome again, as much as tongue can tell, Welcome to joyous tongues and hearts that will not shrink. God thee preserve, we pray, and wish thee ever well!

Our new Princess, you may be sure, has also had her Alexandrines, and many minstrels have gone before her singing her praises. Mr. Tupper, who begins in very great force and strength, and who proposes to give her no less than eight hundred thousand welcomes in the first twenty lines of his ode, is not satisfied with this most liberal amount of acclamation, but proposes at the end of his poem a still more magnificent subscription. Thus we begin, "A hundred thousand welcomes, a hundred thousand welcomes." (In my copy the figures are in the well-known Arabic numerals, but let us have the numbers literally accurate:)—

"A hundred thousand welcomes! A hundred thousand welcomes! And a hundred thousand more! O happy heart of England, Shout aloud and sing, laud, As no land sang before; And let the paeans soar And ring from shore to shore, A hundred thousand welcomes, And a hundred thousand more; And let the cannons roar The joy-stunned city o'er. And let the steeples chime it A hundred thousand welcomes And a hundred thousand more; And let the people rhyme it From neighbor's door to door, From every man's heart's core, A hundred thousand welcomes And a hundred thousand more."

This contribution, in twenty not long lines, of 900,000 (say nine hundred thousand) welcomes is handsome indeed; and shows that when our bard is inclined to be liberal, he does not look to the cost. But what is a sum of 900,000 to his further proposal?—

"O let all these declare it, Let miles of shouting swear it, In all the years of yore, Unparalleled before! And thou, most welcome Wand'rer Across the Northern Water, Our England's ALEXANDRA, Our dear adopted daughter— Lay to thine heart, conned o'er and o'er, In future years remembered well, The magic fervor of this spell That shakes the land from shore to shore, And makes all hearts and eyes brim o'er; Our hundred thousand welcomes, Our fifty million welcomes, And a hundred million more!"

Here we have, besides the most liberal previous subscription, a further call on the public for no less than one hundred and fifty million one hundred thousand welcomes for her Royal Highness. How much is this per head for all of us in the three kingdoms? Not above five welcomes apiece, and I am sure many of us have given more than five hurrahs to the fair young Princess.

Each man sings according to his voice, and gives in proportion to his means. The guns at Sheerness "from their adamantine lips" (which had spoken in quarrelsome old times a very different language,) roared a hundred thundering welcomes to the fair Dane. The maidens of England strewed roses before her feet at Gravesend when she landed. Mr. Tupper, with the million and odd welcomes, may be compared to the thundering fleet; Mr. Chorley's song, to the flowerets scattered on her Royal Highness's happy and carpeted path:—

"Blessings on that fair face! Safe on the shore Of her home-dwelling place, Stranger no more. Love, from her household shrine, Keep sorrow far! May for her hawthorn twine, June bring sweet eglantine, Autumn, the golden vine, Dear Northern Star!"

Hawthorn for May, eglantine for June, and in autumn a little tass of the golden vine for our Northern Star. I am sure no one will grudge the Princess these simple enjoyments, and of the produce of the last-named pleasing plant, I wonder how many bumpers were drunk to her health on the happy day of her bridal? As for the Laureate's verses, I would respectfully liken his Highness to a giant showing a beacon torch on "a windy headland." His flaring torch is a pine-tree, to be sure, which nobody can wield but himself. He waves it: and four times in the midnight he shouts mightily, "Alexandra!" and the Pontic pine is whirled into the ocean and Enceladus goes home.

Whose muse, whose cornemuse, sounds with such plaintive sweetness from Arthur's Seat, while Edinburgh and Musselburgh lie rapt in delight, and the mermaids come flapping up to Leith shore to hear the exquisite music? Sweeter piper Edina knows not than Aytoun, the Bard of the Cavaliers, who has given in his frank adhesion to the reigning dynasty. When a most beautiful, celebrated and unfortunate princess whose memory the Professor loves—when Mary, wife of Francis the Second, King of France, and by her own right proclaimed Queen of Scotland and England (poor soul!), entered Paris with her young bridegroom, good Peter Ronsard wrote of her—

"Toi qui as veu l'excellence de celle Qui rend le ciel de l'Escosse envieux, Dy hardiment, contentez vous mes yeux, Vous ne verrez jamais chose plus belle."*

* Quoted in Mignet's "Life of Mary."

"Vous ne verrez jamais chose plus belle." Here is an Alexandrine written three hundred years ago, as simple as bon jour. Professor Aytoun is more ornate. After elegantly complimenting the spring, and a description of her Royal Highness's well-known ancestors the "Berserkers," he bursts forth—

"The Rose of Denmark comes, the Royal Bride! O loveliest Rose! our paragon and pride— Choice of the Prince whom England holds so dear— What homage shall we pay To one who has no peer? What can the bard or wildered minstrel say More than the peasant who on bended knee Breathes from his heart an earnest prayer for thee? Words are not fair, if that they would express Is fairer still; so lovers in dismay Stand all abashed before that loveliness They worship most, but find no words to pray. Too sweet for incense! (bravo!) Take our loves instead— Most freely, truly, and devoutly given; Our prayer for blessings on that gentle head, For earthly happiness and rest in Heaven! May never sorrow dim those dove-like eyes, But peace as pure as reigned in Paradise, Calm and untainted on creation's eve, Attend thee still! May holy angels," &c.

This is all very well, my dear country cousins. But will you say "Amen" to this prayer? I won't. Assuredly our fair Princess will shed many tears out of the "dovelike eyes," or the heart will be little worth. Is she to know no parting, no care, no anxious longing, no tender watches by the sick, to deplore no friends and kindred, and feel no grief? Heaven forbid! When a bard or wildered minstrel writes so, best accept his own confession, that he is losing his head. On the day of her entrance into London who looked more bright and happy than the Princess? On the day of the marriage, the fair face wore its marks of care already, and looked out quite grave, and frightened almost, under the wreaths and lace and orange-flowers. Would you have had her feel no tremor? A maiden on the bridegroom's threshold, a Princess led up to the steps of a throne? I think her pallor and doubt became her as well as her smiles. That, I can tell you, was OUR vote who sat in X compartment, let us say, in the nave of St. George's Chapel at Windsor, and saw a part of one of the brightest ceremonies ever performed there.

My dear cousin Mary, you have an account of the dresses; and I promise you there were princesses besides the bride whom it did the eyes good to behold. Around the bride sailed a bevy of young creatures so fair, white, and graceful that I thought of those fairy-tale beauties who are sometimes princesses, and sometimes white swans. The Royal Princesses and the Royal Knights of the Garter swept by in prodigious robes and trains of purple velvet, thirty shillings a yard, my dear, not of course including the lining, which, I have no doubt, was of the richest satin, or that costly "miniver" which we used to read about in poor Jerrold's writings. The young princes were habited in kilts; and by the side of the Princess Royal trotted such a little wee solemn Highlander! He is the young heir and chief of the famous clan of Brandenburg. His eyrie is amongst the Eagles, and I pray no harm may befall the dear little chieftain.

The heralds in their tabards were marvellous to behold, and a nod from Rouge Croix gave me the keenest gratification. I tried to catch Garter's eye, but either I couldn't or he wouldn't. In his robes, he is like one of the Three Kings in old missal illuminations. Goldstick in waiting is even more splendid. With his gold rod and robes and trappings of many colors, he looks like a royal enchanter, and as if he had raised up all this scene of glamour by a wave of his glittering wand. The silver trumpeters wear such quaint caps, as those I have humbly tried to depict on the playful heads of children. Behind the trumpeters came a drum-bearer, on whose back a gold-laced drummer drubbed his march.

When the silver clarions had blown, and under a clear chorus of white-robed children chanting round the organ, the noble procession passed into the chapel, and was hidden from our sight for a while, there was silence, or from the inner chapel ever so faint a hum. Then hymns arose, and in the lull we knew that prayers were being said, and the sacred rite performed which joined Albert Edward to Alexandra his wife. I am sure hearty prayers were offered outside the gate as well as within for that princely young pair, and for their Mother and Queen. The peace, the freedom, the happiness, the order which her rule guarantees, are part of my birthright as an Englishman, and I bless God for my share. Where else shall I find such liberty of action, thought, speech, or laws which protect me so well? Her part of her compact with her people, what sovereign ever better performed? If ours sits apart from the festivities of the day, it is because she suffers from a grief so recent that the loyal heart cannot master it as yet, and remains treu und fest to a beloved memory. A part of the music which celebrates the day's service was composed by the husband who is gone to the place where the just and pure of life meet the reward promised by the Father of all of us to good and faithful servants who have well done here below. As this one gives in his account, surely we may remember how the Prince was the friend of all peaceful arts and learning; how he was true and fast always to duty, home, honor; how, through a life of complicated trials, he was sagacious, righteous, active and self-denying. And as we trace in the young faces of his many children the father's features and likeness, what Englishman will not pray that, they may have inherited also some of the great qualities which won for the Prince Consort the love and respect of our country?

The papers tell us how, on the night of the marriage of the Prince of Wales, all over England and Scotland illuminations were made, the poor and children were feasted, and in village and city thousands of kindly schemes were devised to mark the national happiness and sympathy. "The bonfire on Coptpoint at Folkestone was seen in France," the Telegraph says, "more clearly than even the French marine lights could be seen at Folkestone." Long may the fire continue to burn! There are European coasts (and inland places) where the liberty light has been extinguished, or is so low that you can't see to read by it—there are great Atlantic shores where it flickers and smokes very gloomily. Let us be thankful to the honest guardians of ours, and for the kind sky under which it burns bright and steady.



ON A MEDAL OF GEORGE THE FOURTH.

Before me lies a coin bearing the image and superscription of King George IV., and of the nominal value of two-and-sixpence. But an official friend at a neighboring turnpike says the piece is hopelessly bad; and a chemist tested it, returning a like unfavorable opinion. A cabman, who had brought me from a Club, left it with the Club porter, appealing to the gent who gave it a pore cabby, at ever so much o'clock of a rainy night, which he hoped he would give him another. I have taken that cabman at his word. He has been provided with a sound coin. The bad piece is on the table before me, and shall have a hole drilled through it, as soon as this essay is written, by a loyal subject who does not desire to deface the Sovereign's image, but to protest against the rascal who has taken his name in vain. Fid. Def. indeed! Is this what you call defending the faith? You dare to forge your Sovereign's name, and pass your scoundrel pewter as his silver? I wonder who you are, wretch and most consummate trickster? This forgery is so complete that even now I am deceived by it—I can't see the difference between the base and sterling metal. Perhaps this piece is a little lighter;—I don't know. A little softer:—is it? I have not bitten it, not being a connoisseur in the tasting of pewter or silver. I take the word of three honest men, though it goes against me: and though I have given two-and-sixpence worth of honest consideration for the counter, I shall not attempt to implicate anybody else in my misfortune, or transfer my ill-luck to a deluded neighbor.

I say the imitation is so curiously successful, the stamping, milling of the edges, lettering, and so forth, are so neat, that even now, when my eyes are open, I cannot see the cheat. How did those experts, the cabman, and pikeman, and tradesman, come to find it out? How do they happen to be more familiar with pewter and silver than I am? You see, I put out of the question another point which I might argue without fear of defeat, namely, the cabman's statement that I gave him this bad piece of money. Suppose every cabman who took me a shilling fare were to drive away and return presently with a bad coin and an assertion that I had given it to him! This would be absurd and mischievous; an encouragement of vice amongst men who already are subject to temptations. Being homo, I think if I were a cabman myself, I might sometimes stretch a furlong or two in my calculation of distance. But don't come TWICE, my man, and tell me I have given you a bad half-crown. No, no! I have paid once like a gentleman, and once is enough. For instance, during the Exhibition time I was stopped by an old country-woman in black, with a huge umbrella, who, bursting into tears, said to me, "Master, be this the way to Harlow, in Essex?" "This the way to Harlow? This is the way to Exeter, my good lady, and you will arrive there if you walk about 170 miles in your present direction," I answered courteously, replying to the old creature. Then she fell a-sobbing as though her old heart would break. She had a daughter a-dying at Harlow. She had walked already "vifty dree mile that day." Tears stopped the rest of her discourse, so artless, genuine, and abundant that—I own the truth—I gave her, in I believe genuine silver, a piece of the exact size of that coin which forms the subject of this essay. Well. About a month since, near to the very spot where I had met my old woman, I was accosted by a person in black, a person in a large draggled cap, a person with a huge umbrella, who was beginning, "I say, Master, can you tell me if this be the way to Har—" but here she stopped. Her eyes goggled wildly. She started from me, as Macbeth turned from Macduff. She would not engage with me. It was my old friend of Harlow, in Essex. I dare say she has informed many other people of her daughter's illness, and her anxiety to be put upon the right way to Harlow. Not long since a very gentleman-like man, Major Delamere let us call him (I like the title of Major very much), requested to see me, named a dead gentleman who he said had been our mutual friend, and on the strength of this mutual acquaintance, begged me to cash his cheque for five pounds!

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8     Next Part
Home - Random Browse