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The Romany Rye - A Sequel to 'Lavengro'
by George Borrow
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CHAPTER XXXVII

HORNCASTLE FAIR

It had been my intention to be up and doing early on the following morning, but my slumbers proved so profound, that I did not wake until about eight; on arising, I again found myself the sole occupant of the apartment, my more alert companion having probably risen at a much earlier hour. Having dressed myself, I descended, and going to the stable, found my horse under the hands of my friend the ostler, who was carefully rubbing him down. 'There ain't a better horse in the fair,' said he to me, 'and as you are one of us, and appear to be all right, I'll give you a piece of advice—don't take less than a hundred and fifty for him; if you mind your hits, you may get it, for I have known two hundred given in this fair for one no better, if so good.' 'Well,' said I, 'thank you for your advice, which I will take, and, if successful, will give you "summut" handsome.' 'Thank you,' said the ostler; 'and now let me ask whether you are up to all the ways of this here place?' 'I have never been here before,' said I, 'but I have a pair of tolerably sharp eyes in my head.' 'That I see you have,' said the ostler, 'but many a body, with as sharp a pair of eyes as yourn, has lost his horse in this fair, for want of having been here before. Therefore,' said he, 'I'll give you a caution or two.' Thereupon the ostler proceeded to give me at least half a dozen cautions, only two of which I shall relate to the reader: the first, not to stop to listen to what any chance customer might have to say; and the last—the one on which he appeared to lay most stress—by no manner of means to permit a Yorkshireman to get up into the saddle. 'For,' said he, 'if you do, it is three to one that he rides off with the horse. He can't help it. Trust a cat amongst cream, but never trust a Yorkshireman on the saddle of a good horse. By-the-by,' he continued, 'that saddle of yours is not a particularly good one, no more is the bridle. A shabby saddle and a bridle have more than once spoiled the sale of a good horse. I tell you what, as you seem a decent kind of a young chap, I'll lend you a saddle and bridle of my master's, almost bran new; he won't object I know, as you are a friend of his, only you must not forget your promise to come down with summut handsome after you have sold the animal.'

After a slight breakfast I mounted the horse, which, decked out in his borrowed finery, really looked better by a large sum of money than on any former occasion. Making my way out of the yard of the inn, I was instantly in the principal street of the town, up and down which an immense number of horses were being exhibited, some led, and others with riders. 'A wonderful small quantity of good horses in the fair this time!' I heard a stout jockey-looking individual say, who was staring up the street with his side towards me. 'Halloo, young fellow!' said he, a few moments after I had passed, 'whose horse is that? Stop! I want to look at him!' Though confident that he was addressing himself to me, I took no notice, remembering the advice of the ostler, and proceeded up the street. My horse possessed a good walking step; but walking, as the reader knows, was not his best pace, which was the long trot, at which I could not well exercise him in the street, on account of the crowd of men and animals. However, as he walked along, I could easily perceive that he attracted no slight attention amongst those who, by their jockey dress and general appearance, I imagined to be connoisseurs. I heard various calls to stop, to none of which I paid the slightest attention. In a few minutes I found myself out of the town, when, turning round for the purpose of returning, I found I had been followed by several of the connoisseur-looking individuals, whom I had observed in the fair. 'Now would be the time for a display,' thought I; and looking around me I observed two five-barred gates, one on each side of the road, and fronting each other. Turning my horse's head to one, I pressed my heels to his sides, loosened the reins, and gave an encouraging cry, whereupon the animal cleared the gate in a twinkling. Before he had advanced ten yards in the field to which the gate opened, I had turned him round, and again giving him cry and rein, I caused him to leap back again into the road, and still allowing him head, I made him leap the other gate; and forthwith turning him round, I caused him to leap once more into the road, where he stood proudly tossing his head, as much as to say, 'What more?' 'A fine horse! a capital horse!' said several of the connoisseurs. 'What do you ask for him?' 'Too much for any of you to pay,' said I. 'A horse like this is intended for other kind of customers than any of you.' 'How do you know that?' said one—the very same person whom I had heard complaining in the street of the paucity of good horses in the fair. 'Come, let us know what you ask for him?' 'A hundred and fifty pounds!' said I; 'neither more nor less.' 'Do you call that a great price?' said the man. 'Why, I thought you would have asked double that amount! You do yourself injustice, young man.' 'Perhaps I do,' said I; 'but that's my affair; I do not choose to take more.' 'I wish you would let me get into the saddle,' said the man; 'the horse knows you, and therefore shows to more advantage; but I should like to see how he would move under me, who am a stranger. Will you let me get into the saddle, young man?' 'No,' said I, 'I will not let you get into the saddle.' 'Why not?' said the man. 'Lest you should be a Yorkshireman,' said I; 'and should run away with the horse.' 'Yorkshire?' said the man; 'I am from Suffolk; silly Suffolk—so you need not be afraid of my running away with the horse.' 'Oh! if that's the case,' said I, 'I should be afraid that the horse would run away with you; so I will by no means let you mount.' 'Will you let me look in his mouth?' said the man. 'If you please,' said I; 'but I tell you, he's apt to bite.' 'He can scarcely be a worse bite than his master,' said the man, looking into the horse's mouth; 'he's four off. I say, young man, will you warrant this horse?' 'No,' said I; 'I never warrant horses; the horses that I ride can always warrant themselves.' 'I wish you would let me speak a word to you,' said he. 'Just come aside. It's a nice horse,' said he, in a half whisper, after I had ridden a few paces aside with him. 'It's a nice horse,' said he, placing his hand upon the pommel of the saddle, and looking up in my face, 'and I think I can find you a customer. If you would take a hundred, I think my lord would purchase it, for he has sent me about the fair to look him up a horse, by which he could hope to make a honest penny.' 'Well,' said I, 'and could he not make a honest penny, and yet give me the price I ask?' 'Why,' said the go-between, 'a hundred and fifty pounds is as much as the animal is worth, or nearly so; and my lord, do you see—' 'I see no reason at all,' said I, 'why I should sell the animal for less than he is worth, in order that his lordship may be benefited by him; so that if his lordship wants to make an honest penny, he must find some person who would consider the disadvantage of selling him a horse for less than it is worth, as counterbalanced by the honour of dealing with a lord, which I should never do; but I can't be wasting my time here. I am going back to the —-, where if you, or any person, are desirous of purchasing the horse, you must come within the next half-hour, or I shall probably not feel disposed to sell him at all.' 'Another word, young man,' said the jockey; but without staying to hear what he had to say, I put the horse to his best trot, and re-entering the town, and threading my way as well as I could through the press, I returned to the yard of the inn, where, dismounting, I stood still, holding the horse by the bridle.

I had been standing in this manner about five minutes, when I saw the jockey enter the yard, accompanied by another individual. They advanced directly towards me. 'Here is my lord come to look at the horse, young man,' said the jockey. My lord, {224} as the jockey called him, was a tall figure of about five-and-thirty. He had on his head a hat somewhat rusty, and on his back a surtout of blue rather the worse for wear. His forehead, if not high, was exceedingly narrow; his eyes were brown, with a rat-like glare in them; the nose was rather long, and the mouth very wide; the cheek-bones high, and the cheeks, as to hue and consistency, exhibiting very much the appearance of a withered red apple; there was a gaunt expression of hunger in the whole countenance. He had scarcely glanced at the horse, when drawing in his cheeks, he thrust out his lips very much after the manner of a baboon, when he sees a piece of sugar held out towards him. 'Is this horse yours?' said he, suddenly turning towards me, with a kind of smirk. 'It's my horse,' said I; 'are you the person who wishes to make a honest penny by it?' 'How!' said he, drawing up his head with a very consequential look, and speaking with a very haughty tone, 'what do you mean?' We looked at each other full in the face; after a few moments the muscles of the mouth of him of the hungry look began to move violently, the face was puckered into innumerable wrinkles, and the eyes became half closed. 'Well,' said I, 'have you ever seen me before? I suppose you are asking yourself that question.' 'Excuse me, sir,' said he, dropping his lofty look, and speaking in a very subdued and civil tone, 'I have never had the honour of seeing you before, that is'—said he, slightly glancing at me again, and again moving the muscles of his mouth—'no, I have never seen you before,' he added, making me a low bow, 'I have never had that pleasure; my business with you at present is to inquire the lowest price you are willing to take for this horse. My agent here informs me that you ask one hundred and fifty pounds, which I can't think of giving; the horse is a showy horse, but look, my dear sir, he has a defect here, and there in his near fore-leg I observe something which looks very like a splint—yes, upon my credit,' said he, touching the animal, 'he has a splint, or something which will end in one. A hundred and fifty pounds, sir! What could have induced you ever to ask anything like that for this animal? I protest that, in my time, I have frequently bought a better for —-. Who are you, sir? I am in treaty for this horse,' said he to a man who had come up whilst he was talking, and was now looking into the horse's mouth. 'Who am I?' said the man, still looking into the horse's mouth—'who am I? his lordship asks me. Ah, I see, close on five,' said he, releasing the horse's jaws, and looking at me. This new comer was a thin, wiry-made individual, with wiry curling brown hair; his face was dark, and wore an arch and somewhat roguish expression; upon one of his eyes was a kind of speck or beam; he might be about forty, wore a green jockey coat, and held in his hand a black riding-whip, with a knob of silver wire. As I gazed upon his countenance it brought powerfully to my mind the face which, by the light of the candle, I had seen staring over me on the preceding night, when lying in bed and half asleep. Close beside him, and seemingly in his company, stood an exceedingly tall figure, that of a youth, seemingly about one-and-twenty, dressed in a handsome riding-dress, and wearing on his head a singular hat, green in colour, and with a very high peak. 'What do you ask for this horse?' said he of the green coat, winking at me with the eye which had a beam in it, whilst the other shone and sparkled like Mrs. Colonel W—-'s Golconda diamond. 'Who are you, sir, I demand once more?' said he of the hungry look. 'Who am I? Why who should I be but Jack Dale, who buys horses for himself and other folk; I want one at present for this short young gentleman,' said he, motioning with his finger to the gigantic youth. 'Well, sir,' said the other, 'and what business have you to interfere between me and any purchase I may be disposed to make?' 'Well, then,' said the other, 'be quick and purchase the horse, or perhaps I may.' 'Do you think I am to be dictated to by a fellow of your description?' said his lordship; 'begone, or—' 'What do you ask for this horse?' said the other to me, very coolly. 'A hundred and fifty,' said I. 'I shouldn't mind giving it you,' said he. 'You will do no such thing,' said his lordship, speaking so fast that he almost stuttered. 'Sir,' said he to me, 'I must give you what you ask. Symmonds, take possession of the animal for me,' said he to the other jockey who attended him. 'You will please to do no such thing without my consent,' said I; 'I have not sold him.' 'I have this moment told you that I will give you the price you demand,' said his lordship, 'is not that sufficient?' 'No,' said I, 'there is a proper manner of doing everything. Had you come forward in a manly and gentlemanly manner to purchase the horse, I should have been happy to sell him to you, but after all the fault you have found with him, I would not sell him to you at any price, so send your friend to find up another.' 'You behave in this manner, I suppose,' said his lordship, 'because this fellow has expressed a willingness to come to your terms. I would advise you to be cautious how you trust the animal in his hands; I think I have seen him before, and could tell you—' 'What can you tell of me?' said the other, going up to him, 'except that I have been a poor dicky-boy, {226a} and that now I am a dealer in horses, and that my father was lagged? {226b} that is all you could tell of me, and that I don't mind telling myself; but there are two things they can't say of me, they can't say that I am either a coward, or a screw either, except so far as one who gets his bread by horses may be expected to be; and they can't say of me that I ever ate up an ice which a young woman was waiting for, or that I ever backed out of a fight. Horse!' said he, motioning with his finger tauntingly to the other, 'what do you want with a horse, except to take the bread out of the mouth of a poor man—to-morrow is not the battle of Waterloo, so that you don't want to back out of danger by pretending to have hurt yourself by falling from the creature's back, my lord of the white feather—come, none of your fierce looks—I am not afraid of you.' In fact, the other had assumed an expression of the deadliest malice, his teeth were clenched, his lips quivered and were quite pale; the rat-like eyes sparkled, and he made a half spring, a la rat, towards his adversary, who only laughed. Restraining himself, however, he suddenly turned to his understrapper, saying, 'Symmonds, will you see me thus insulted? Go and trounce this scoundrel; you can, I know.' 'Symmonds trounce me!' said the other, going up to the person addressed, and drawing his hand contemptuously over his face; 'why I beat Symmonds in this very yard in one round three years ago, didn't I, Symmonds?' said he to the understrapper, who held down his head, muttering in a surly tone, 'I didn't come here to fight; let every one take his own part.' 'That's right, Symmonds,' said the other, 'especially every one from whom there is nothing to be got. I would give you half-a crown for all the trouble you have had, provided I were not afraid that my Lord Plume there would get it from you as soon as you leave the yard together. Come, take yourselves both off; there's nothing to be made here.' Indeed, his lordship seemed to be of the same opinion, for after a further glance at the horse, a contemptuous look at me, and a scowl at the jockey, he turned on his heel, muttering something which sounded like fellows, and stalked out of the yard, followed by Symmonds.

'And now, young man,' said the jockey, or whatever he was, turning to me with an arch leer, 'I suppose I may consider myself as the purchaser of this here animal, for the use and behoof of this young gentleman,' making a sign with his head towards the tall young man by his side. 'By no means,' said I, 'I am utterly unacquainted with either of you, and before parting with the horse I must be satisfied as to the respectability of the purchaser.' 'Oh! as to that matter,' said he, 'I have plenty of vouchers for my respectability about me;' and, thrusting his hand into his bosom below his waistcoat, he drew out a large bundle of notes. 'These are the kind of things,' said he, 'which vouch best for a man's respectability.' 'Not always,' said I; 'indeed, sometimes these kind of things need vouchers for themselves.' The man looked at me with a peculiar look. 'Do you mean to say that these notes are not sufficient notes?' said he, 'because if you do I shall take the liberty of thinking that you are not over civil, and when I thinks a person is not over and above civil I sometimes takes off my coat; and when my coat is off—.' 'You sometimes knock people down,' I added; 'well, whether you knock me down or not, I beg leave to tell you that I am a stranger in this fair, and that I shall part with the horse to nobody who has no better guarantee for his respectability than a roll of bank-notes, which may be good or not for what I know, who am not a judge of such things.' 'Oh! if you are a stranger here,' said the man, 'as I believe you are, never having seen you here before except last night, when I think I saw you above stairs by the glimmer of a candle—I say, if you are a stranger, you are quite right to be cautious; queer things being done in this fair, as nobody knows better than myself,' he added, with a leer; 'but I suppose if the landlord of the house vouches for me and my notes, you will have no objection to part with the horse to me?' 'None whatever,' said I, 'and in the meantime the horse can return to the stable.'

Thereupon I delivered the horse to my friend the ostler. The landlord of the house, on being questioned by me as to the character and condition of my new acquaintance, informed me that he was a respectable horsedealer, and an intimate friend of his, whereupon the purchase was soon brought to a satisfactory conclusion.



CHAPTER XXXVIII

HIGH DUTCH

It was evening: and myself and the two acquaintances I had made in the fair—namely, the jockey and the tall foreigner—sat in a large upstairs room, which looked into a court; we had dined with several people connected with the fair at a long table d'hote; they had now departed, and we sat at a small side-table with wine and a candle before us; both my companions had pipes in their mouths—the jockey a common pipe, and the foreigner, one, the syphon of which made of some kind of wood, was at least six feet long, and the bowl of which, made of a white kind of substance like porcelain, and capable of holding nearly an ounce of tobacco, rested on the ground. The jockey frequently emptied and replenished his glass; the foreigner sometimes raised his to his lips, for no other purpose seemingly than to moisten them, as he never drained his glass. As for myself, though I did not smoke, I had a glass before me, from which I sometimes took a sip. The room, notwithstanding the window was flung open, was in general so filled with smoke, chiefly that which was drawn from the huge bowl of the foreigner, that my companions and I were frequently concealed from each other's eyes. The conversation, which related entirely to the events of the fair, was carried on by the jockey and myself, the foreigner, who appeared to understand the greater part of what we said, occasionally putting in a few observations in broken English. At length the jockey, after the other had made some ineffectual attempts to express something intelligibly which he wished to say, observed: 'Isn't it a pity that so fine a fellow as meinheer, and so clever a fellow too, as I believe him to be, is not a little better master of our language?'

'Is the gentleman a German?' said I; 'if so I can interpret for him anything he wishes to say.'

'The deuce you can,' said the jockey, taking his pipe out of his mouth, and staring at me through the smoke.

'Ha! you speak German,' vociferated the foreigner in that language. 'By Isten, I am glad of it! I wanted to say—' And here he said in German what he wished to say, and which was of no great importance, and which I translated into English.

'Well, if you don't put me out,' said the jockey; 'what language is that—Dutch?'

'High Dutch,' said I.

'High Dutch, and you speak High Dutch; why I had booked you for as great an ignoramus as myself, who can't write—no, nor distinguish in a book a great A from a bull's foot.'

'A person may be a very clever man,' said I; 'no, not a clever man, for clever signifies clerkly, and a clever man one who is able to read and write, and entitled to the benefit of his clergy or clerkship; but a person may be a very acute person without being able to read or write. I never saw a more acute countenance than your own.'

'No soft soap,' said the jockey, 'for I never uses any. However, thank you for your information; I have hitherto thought myself a 'nition clever fellow, but from henceforth shall consider myself just the contrary, and only—what's the word?—confounded 'cute.'

'Just so,' said I.

'Well,' said the jockey, 'as you say you can speak High Dutch, I should like to hear you and master six foot six fire away at each other.'

'I cannot speak German,' said I, 'but I can understand tolerably well what others say in it.'

'Come, no backing out,' said the jockey, 'let's hear you fire away for the glory of Old England.'

'Then you are a German?' said I, in German, to the foreigner.

'That will do,' said the jockey, 'keep it up.'

'A German!' said the tall foreigner. 'No, I thank God that I do not belong to the stupid sluggish Germanic race, but to a braver, taller, and handsomer people;' here taking the pipe out of his mouth, he stood up proudly erect, so that his head nearly touched the ceiling of the room, then reseating himself, and again putting the syphon to his lips, he added, 'I am a Magyar.'

'What is that?' said I.

The foreigner looked at me for a moment, somewhat contemptuously, through the smoke, then said, in a voice of thunder: 'A Hungarian!'

'What a voice the chap has when he pleases!' interposed the jockey; 'what is he saying?'

'Merely that he is a Hungarian,' said I, but I added, 'the conversation of this gentleman and myself in a language which you can't understand must be very tedious to you, we had better give it up.'

'Keep on with it,' said the jockey, 'I shall go on listening very contentedly till I fall asleep, no bad thing to do at most times.'



CHAPTER XXXIX

THE HUNGARIAN {231}

'Then you are a countryman of Tekeli, and of the queen who made the celebrated water,' said I, speaking to the Hungarian in German, which I was able to do tolerably well, owing to my having translated the Publisher's philosophy into that language, always provided I did not attempt to say much at a time.

Hungarian. Ah! you have heard of Tekeli, and of L'eau de la Reine d'Hongrie. How is that?

Myself. I have seen a play acted, founded on the exploits of Tekeli, and have read Pigault Le Brun's beautiful romance, entitled the 'Barons of Felsheim,' in which he is mentioned. As for the water, I have heard a lady, the wife of a master of mine, speak of it.

Hungarian. Was she handsome?

Myself. Very.

Hungarian. Did she possess the water?

Myself. I should say not; for I have heard her express a great curiosity about it.

Hungarian. Was she growing old?

Myself. Of course not; but why do you put all these questions?

Hungarian. Because the water is said to make people handsome, and, above all, to restore to the aged the beauty of their youth. Well! Tekeli was my countryman, and I have the honour of having some of the blood of the Tekelis in my veins, but with respect to the queen, pardon me if I tell you that she was not a Hungarian; she was a Pole—Ersebet by name, daughter of Vladislaus Locticus, King of Poland; she was the fourth spouse of Caroly the Second, King of the Magyar country, who married her in the year 1320. She was a great woman and celebrated politician, though at present chiefly known by her water.

Myself. How came she to invent it?

Hungarian. If her own account may be believed, she did not invent it. After her death, as I have read in Florentius of Buda, there was found a statement of the manner in which she came by it, written in her own hand, on a fly-leaf of her breviary, to the following effect: Being afflicted with a grievous disorder at the age of seventy-two, she received the medicine which was called her water, from an old hermit whom she never saw before or afterwards; it not only cured her, but restored to her all her former beauty, so that the King of Poland fell in love with her, and made her an offer of marriage, which she refused for the glory of God, from whose holy angel she believed she had received the water. The receipt for making it and directions for using it, were also found on the fly-leaf. The principal component parts were burnt wine and rosemary, passed through an alembic; a drachm of it was to be taken once a week, 'etelbenn vagy italbann,' in the food or the drink, early in the morning, and the cheeks were to be moistened with it every day. The effects, according to the statement, were wonderful—and perhaps they were upon the queen; but whether the water has been equally efficacious on other people, is a point which I cannot determine. I should wish to see some old woman who has been restored to youthful beauty by the use of L'eau de la Reine d'Hongrie.

Myself. Perhaps, if you did, the old gentlewoman would hardly be so ingenuous as the queen. But who are the Hungarians—descendants of Attila and his people?

The Hungarian shook his head, and gave me to understand that he did not believe that his nation were the descendants of Attila and his people, though he acknowledged that they were probably of the same race. Attila and his armies, he said, came and disappeared in a very mysterious manner, and that nothing could be said with positiveness about them; that the people now known as Magyars first made their appearance in Muscovy in the year 884, under the leadership of Almus, called so from Alom, which, in the Hungarian language, signifies a dream; his mother, before his birth, having dreamt that the child with which she was enceinte would be the father of a long succession of kings, which, in fact, was the case; that after beating the Russians he entered Hungary, and coming to a place called Ungvar, from which many people believed that modern Hungary derived its name, he captured it, and held in it a grand festival, which lasted four days, at the end of which time he resigned the leadership of the Magyars to his son Arpad. This Arpad and his Magyars utterly subdued Pannonia—that is, Hungary and Transylvania, wresting the government of it from the Sclavonian tribes who inhabited it, and settling down amongst them as conquerors! After giving me this information, the Hungarian exclaimed with much animation: 'A goodly country that which they had entered on, consisting of a plain surrounded by mountains, some of which intersect it here and there, with noble rapid rivers, the grandest of which is the mighty Dunau; a country with tiny volcanoes, casting up puffs of smoke and steam, and from which hot springs arise, good for the sick; with many fountains, some of which are so pleasant to the taste as to be preferred to wine; with a generous soil which, warmed by a beautiful sun, is able to produce corn, grapes, and even the Indian weed; in fact, one of the finest countries in the world, which even a Spaniard would pronounce to be nearly equal to Spain. Here they rested—meditating, however, fresh conquests. Oh, the Magyars soon showed themselves a mighty people. Besides Hungary and Transylvania, they subdued Bulgaria and Bosnia, and the land of Tot, now called Sclavonia. The generals of Zoltan, the son of Arpad, led troops of horsemen to the banks of the Rhine. One of them, at the head of a host, besieged Constantinople. It was then that Botond engaged in combat with a Greek of gigantic stature, who came out of the city and challenged the two best men in the Magyar army. "I am the feeblest of the Magyars," said Botond, "but I will kill thee;" and he performed his word, having previously given a proof of the feebleness of his arm by striking his battle-axe through the brazen gate, making a hole so big that a child of five years old could walk through it.'

Myself. Of what religion were the old Hungarians?

Hungarian. They had some idea of a Supreme Being, whom they called Isten, which word is still used by the Magyars for God; but their chief devotion was directed to sorcerers and soothsayers, something like the Schamans of the Siberian steppes. They were converted to Christianity chiefly through the instrumentality of Istvan or Stephen, called after his death St. Istvan, who ascended the throne in the year one thousand. He was born in heathenesse, and his original name was Vojk: he was the first kiraly, or king of the Magyars. Their former leaders had been called fejedelmek, or dukes. The Magyar language has properly no term either for king or house. Kiraly is a word derived from the Sclaves; haz, or house, from the Germans, who first taught them to build houses, their original dwellings having been tilted waggons.

Myself. Many thanks for your account of the great men of your country.

Hungarian. The great men of my country! I have only told you of the—. Well, I acknowledge that Almus and Arpad were great men, but Hungary has produced many greater; I will not trouble you by recapitulating all, but there is one name I cannot forbear mentioning—but you have heard it—even at Horncastle, the name of Hunyadi must be familiar.

Myself. It may be so, though I rather doubt it; but, however that may be, I confess my ignorance. I have never, until this moment, heard of the name of Hunyadi.

Hungarian. Not of Hunyadi Janos, not of Hunyadi John—for the genius of our language compels us to put a man's Christian name after his other; perhaps you have heard of the name of Corvinus?

Myself. Yes, I have heard of the name of Corvinus.

Hungarian. By my God, I am glad of it; I thought our hammer of destruction, our thunderbolt, whom the Greeks called Achilles, must be known to the people of Horncastle. Well, Hunyadi and Corvinus are the same.

Myself. Corvinus means the man of the crow, or raven. I suppose that your John, when a boy, climbed up to a crow or raven's nest, and stole the young; a bold feat, well befitting a young hero.

Hungarian. By Isten, you are an acute guesser, a robbery there was, but it was not Hunyadi who robbed the raven, but the raven who robbed Hunyadi.

Myself. How was that?

Hungarian. In this manner: Hunyadi, according to tradition, was the son of King Sigmond, by a peasant's daughter. The king saw and fell in love with her, whilst marching against the vaivode of Wallachia. He had some difficulty in persuading her to consent to his wishes, and she only yielded at last, on the king making her a solemn promise that, in the event of her becoming with child by him, he would handsomely provide for her and the infant. The king proceeded on his expedition; and on his returning in triumph from Wallachia, again saw the girl, who informed him that she was enceinte by him; the king was delighted with the intelligence, gave the girl money, and at the same time a ring, requesting her, if she brought forth a son, to bring the ring to Buda with the child, and present it to him. When her time was up, the peasant's daughter brought forth a fair son, who was baptized by the name of John. After some time the young woman communicated the whole affair to her elder brother, whose name was Gaspar, and begged him to convey her and the child to the king at Buda. The brother consented, and both set out, taking the child with them. On their way, the woman, wanting to wash her clothes, laid the child down, giving it the king's ring to play with. A raven, who saw the glittering ring, came flying, and plucking it out of the child's hand, carried it up into a tree; the child suddenly began to cry, and the mother, hearing it, left her washing, and running to the child, forthwith missed the ring, but hearing the raven croak in the tree, she lifted up her eyes, and saw it with the ring in its beak. The woman, in great terror, called her brother, and told him what had happened, adding, that she durst not approach the king if the raven took away the ring. Gaspar, seizing his cross-bow and quiver, ran to the tree, where the raven was yet with the ring, and discharged an arrow at it, but, being in a great hurry, he missed it; with his second shot he was more lucky, for he hit the raven in the breast, which, together with the ring, fell to the ground. Taking up the ring, they went on their way, and shortly arrived at Buda. One day, as the king was walking after dinner in his outer hall, the woman appeared before him with the child, and, showing him the ring, said, 'Mighty lord! behold this token! and take pity upon me and your own son.' King Sigmond took the child and kissed it, and, after a pause, said to the mother, 'You have done right in bringing me the boy; I will take care of you, and make him a nobleman.' The king was as good as his word, he provided for the mother, caused the boy to be instructed in knightly exercises, and made him a present of the town of Hunyad, in Transylvania, on which account he was afterwards called Hunyadi, and gave him, as an armorial sign, a raven bearing a ring in his beak.

Such, O young man of Horncastle! is the popular account of the birth of the great captain of Hungary, as related by Florentius of Buda. There are other accounts of his birth, which is, indeed, involved in much mystery, and of the reason of his being called Corvinus, but as this is the most pleasing, and is, upon the whole, founded on quite as good evidence as the others, I have selected it for recitation.

Myself. I heartily thank you, but you must tell me something more of Hunyadi. You call him your great captain; what did he do?

Hungarian. Do! what no other man of his day could have done. He broke the power of the Turk when he was coming to overwhelm Europe. From the blows inflicted by Hunyadi, the Turk never thoroughly recovered; he has been frequently worsted in latter times, but none but Hunyadi could have routed the armies of Amurath and Mahomed the Second.

Myself. How was it that he had an opportunity of displaying his military genius?

Hungarian. I can hardly tell you, but his valour soon made him famous; King Albert made him Ban of Szorenyi. He became eventually waivode of Transylvania, and Governor of Hungary. His first grand action was the defeat of the Bashaw Isack; and though himself surprised and routed at St. Imre, he speedily regained his prestige by defeating the Turks, with enormous slaughter, killing their leader, Mezerbeg: and subsequently, at the Battle of the Iron Gates, he destroyed ninety thousand Turks, sent by Amurath to avenge the late disgrace. It was then that the Greeks called him Achilles.

Myself. He was not always successful.

Hungarian. Who could be always successful against the early Turk? He was defeated in the battle in which King Vladislaus lost his life, but his victories outnumbered his defeats threefold. His grandest victory—perhaps the grandest ever achieved by man—was over the terrible Mahomed the Second, who, after the taking of Constantinople in 1453, said, 'One God in Heaven—one king on earth;' and marched to besiege Belgrade at the head of one hundred and fifty thousand men; swearing, by the beard of the prophet, 'That he would sup within it ere two months were elapsed.' He brought with him dogs to eat the bodies of the Christians whom he should take or slay—so says Florentius. Hear what he also says: The Turk sat down before the town towards the end of June, 1454, covering the Dunau and Szava with ships; and on the 4th of July he began to cannonade Belgrade with canons twenty-five feet long, whose roar could be heard at Szeged, a distance of twenty-four leagues, at which place Hunyadi had assembled his forces. Hunyadi had been able to raise only fifteen thousand of well-armed and disciplined men, though he had with him vast bands of people, who called themselves Soldiers of the Cross, but who consisted of inexperienced lads from school, peasants, and hermits, armed with swords, slings, and clubs. Hunyadi, undismayed by the great disparity between his forces and those of the Turk, advanced to relieve Belgrade, and encamped at Szalankemen with his army. There he saw at once, that his first step must be to attack the flotilla; he therefore privately informed Szilagy, his wife's brother, who at that time defended Belgrade, that it was his intention to attack the ships of the Turks on the 14th day of July in front, and requested his co-operation in the rear. On the 14th came on the commencement of the great battle of Belgrade, between Hunyadi and the Turk. Many days it lasted.

Myself. Describe it.

Hungarian. I cannot. One has described it well—Florentius, of Buda. I can only repeat a few of his words: 'On the appointed day, Hunyadi, with two hundred vessels, attacked the Turkish flotilla in front, whilst Szilagy, with forty vessels, filled with the men of Belgrade, assailed it in the rear; striving for the same object, they sunk many of the Turkish vessels, captured seventy-four, burnt many, and utterly annihilated the whole fleet. After this victory, Hunyadi, with his army, entered Belgrade, to the great joy of the Magyars. But though the force of Mahomed upon the water was destroyed, that upon the land remained entire; and with this, during six days and nights, he attacked the city without intermission, destroying its walls in many parts. His last and most desperate assault was made on the 21st day of July. Twice did the Turks gain possession of the outer town, and twice was it retaken with indescribable slaughter. The next day the combat raged without ceasing till mid-day, when the Turks were again beaten out of the town, and pursued by the Magyars to their camp. There the combat was renewed, both sides displaying the greatest obstinacy, until Mahomed received a great wound over his left eye. The Turks then, turning their faces, fled, leaving behind them three hundred cannon in the hands of the Christians, and more than twenty-four thousand slain on the field of battle.'

Myself. After that battle, I suppose Hunyadi enjoyed his triumphs in peace?

Hungarian. In the deepest, for he shortly died. His great soul quitted his body, which was exhausted by almost superhuman exertions, on the 11th of August, 1456. Shortly before he died, according to Florentius, a comet appeared, sent, as it would seem, to announce his coming end. The whole Christian world mourned his loss. The Pope ordered the cardinals to perform a funeral ceremony at Rome in his honour. His great enemy himself grieved for him, and pronounced his finest eulogium. When Mahomed the Second heard of his death, he struck his head for some time against the ground without speaking. Suddenly he broke silence with these words, 'Notwithstanding he was my enemy, yet do I bewail his loss; since the sun has shone in heaven, no Prince had ever yet such a man.'

Myself. What was the name of his Prince?

Hungarian. Laszlo the Fifth; who, though under infinite obligations to Hunyadi, was anything but grateful to him; for he once consented to a plan which was laid to assassinate him, contrived by his mortal enemy Ulrik, Count of Cilejia; and after Hunyadi's death, caused his eldest son, Hunyadi Laszlo, to be executed on a false accusation, and imprisoned his younger son, Matyas, who, on the death of Laszlo, was elected by the Magyars to be their king, on the 24th of January, 1458.

Myself. Was this Matyas a good king?

Hungarian. Was Matyas Corvinus a good king? O young man of Horncastle! he was the best and greatest that Hungary ever possessed, and, after his father, the most renowned warrior—some of our best laws were framed by him. It was he who organized the Hussar force, and it was he who took Vienna. Why does your Government always send fools to represent it at Vienna?

Myself. I really cannot say; but with respect to the Hussar force, is it of Hungarian origin?

Hungarian. Its name shows its origin. Huz, in Hungarian, is twenty, and the Hussar force is so called because it is formed of twentieths. A law was issued, by which it was ordered that every Hungarian nobleman, out of every twenty dependants, should produce a well-equipped horseman, and with him proceed to the field of battle.

Myself. Why did Matyas capture Vienna?

Hungarian. Because the Emperor Frederick took part against him with the King of Poland, who claimed the kingdom of Hungary for his son, and had also assisted the Turk. He captured it in the year 1487, but did not survive his triumph long, expiring there in the year 1490. He was so veracious a man, that it was said of him, after his death, 'Truth died with Matyas.' It might be added, that the glory of Hungary departed with him. I wish to say nothing more connected with Hungarian history.

Myself. Another word. Did Matyas leave a son?

Hungarian. A natural son, Hunyadi John, called so after the great man. He would have been universally acknowledged as King of Hungary but for the illegitimacy of his birth. As it was, Ulaszlo, the son of the King of Poland, afterwards called Ulaszlo the Second, who claimed Hungary as being descended from Albert, was nominated king by a great majority of the Magyar electors. Hunyadi John for some time disputed the throne with him; there was some bloodshed, but Hunyadi John eventually submitted, and became the faithful captain of Ulaszlo, notwithstanding that the Turk offered to assist him with an army of two hundred thousand men.

Myself. Go on.

Hungarian. To what? Tche Drak, to the Mohacs Veszedelem. Ulaszlo left a son, Lajos the Second, born without skin, as it is said, certainly without a head. He, contrary to the advice of all his wise counsellors—and amongst them was Batory Stephen, who became eventually King of Poland—engaged, with twenty-five thousand men, at Mohacs, Soliman the Turk, who had an army of two hundred thousand. Drak! the Magyars were annihilated, King Lajos disappeared with his heavy horse and armour in a bog. We call that battle, which was fought on the 29th of August, 1526, the destruction of Mohacs, but it was the destruction of Hungary.

Myself. You have twice used the word drak, what is the meaning of it? Is it Hungarian?

Hungarian. No! it belongs to the Mad Wallacks. They are a nation of madmen on the other side of Transylvania. Their country was formerly a fief of Hungary, like Moldavia, which is inhabited by the same race, who speak the same language, and are equally mad.

Myself. What language do they speak?

Hungarian. A strange mixture of Latin and Sclavonian—they themselves being a mixed race of Romans and Sclavonians. Trajan sent certain legions to form military colonies in Dacia; and the present Wallacks and Moldavians are, to a certain extent, the descendants of the Roman soldiers, who married the women of the country, I say to a certain extent, for the Sclavonian element both in blood and language, seems to prevail.

Myself. And what is drak?

Hungarian. Dragon; which the Wallacks use for devil. The term is curious, as it shows that the old Romans looked upon the dragon as an infernal being.

Myself. You have been in Wallachia?

Hungarian. I have, and glad I was to get out of it. I hate the mad Wallacks.

Myself. Why do you call them mad?

Hungarian. They are always drinking or talking. I never saw a Wallachian eating or silent. They talk like madmen, and drink like madmen. In drinking they use small phials, the contents of which they pour down their throats. When I first went amongst them I thought the whole nation was under a course of physic, but the terrible jabber of their tongues soon undeceived me. Drak was the first word I heard on entering Dacia, and the last when I left it. The Moldaves, if possible, drink more, and talk more than the Wallachians.

Myself. It is singular enough that the only Moldavian I have known could not speak. I suppose he was born dumb.

Hungarian. A Moldavian born dumb! Excuse me, the thing is impossible; all Moldavians are born talking! I have known a Moldavian who could not speak, but he was not born dumb. His master, an Armenian, snipped off part of his tongue at Adrianople. He drove him mad with his jabber. He is now in London, where his master has a house. I have letters of credit on the house: the clerk paid me money in London, the master was absent; the money which you received for the horse belonged to that house.

Myself. Another word with respect to Hungarian history.

Hungarian. Drak! I wish to say nothing more about Hungarian history.

Myself. The Turk, I suppose, after Mohacs, got possession of Hungary?

Hungarian. Not exactly. The Turk, upon the whole, showed great moderation; not so the Austrian. Ferdinand the First claimed the crown of Hungary as being the cousin of Maria, widow of Lajos; he found too many disposed to support him. His claim, however, was resisted by Zapolya John, a Hungarian magnate, who caused himself to be elected King. Hungary was for a long time devastated by the wars between the partisans of Zapolya and Ferdinand. At last Zapolya called in the Turk. Soliman behaved generously to him, and after his death befriended his young son, and Isabella his Queen. Eventually the Turks became masters of Transylvania and the greater part of Hungary. They were not bad masters, and had many friends in Hungary, especially amongst those of the reformed faith, to which I have myself the honour of belonging; those of the reformed faith found the Mufti more tolerant than the Pope. Many Hungarians went with the Turks to the siege of Vienna, whilst Tekeli and his horsemen guarded Hungary for them. A gallant enterprise, that siege of Vienna—the last great effort of the Turk. It failed, and he speedily lost Hungary, but he did not sneak from Hungary like a frightened hound. His defence of Buda will not be soon forgotten, where Apty Basha, the governor, died fighting like a lion in the breach. There's many a Hungarian would prefer Stamboul to Vienna. Why does your Government always send fools to represent it at Vienna?

Myself. I have already told you that I cannot say. What became of Tekeli?

Hungarian. When Hungary was lost he retired with the Turks into Turkey. Count Renoncourt, in his Memoirs, mentions having seen him at Adrianople. The Sultan, in consideration of the services which he had rendered to the Moslem in Hungary, made over the revenues of certain towns and districts for his subsistence. The count says that he always went armed to the teeth, and was always attended by a young female dressed in male attire, who had followed him in his wars, and had more than once saved his life. His end is wrapped in mystery, I—whose greatest boast, next to being a Hungarian, is to be of his blood—know nothing of his end.

Myself. Allow me to ask who you are.

Hungarian. Egy szegeny Magyar Nemes ember, a poor Hungarian nobleman, son of one yet poorer. I was born in Transylvania, not far to the west of good Coloscvar. I served some time in the Austrian army as a noble Hussar, but am now equerry to a great nobleman, to whom I am distantly related. In his service I have travelled far and wide, buying horses. I have been in Russia and Turkey, and am now at Horncastle, where I have had the satisfaction to meet with you, and to buy your horse, which is, in truth, a noble brute.

Myself. For a soldier and equerry you seem to know a great deal of the history of your country.

Hungarian. All I know is derived from Florentius of Buda, whom we call Budai Ferentz. He was professor of Greek and Latin at the Reformed College of Debreczen, where I was educated; he wrote a work entitled 'Magyar Polgari Lexicon,' Lives of Great Hungarian Citizens. He was dead before I was born, but I found his book, when I was a child, in the solitary home of my father, which stood on the confines of a puszta, or wilderness, and that book I used to devour in winter nights when the winds were whistling around the house. Oh! how my blood used to glow at the descriptions of Magyar valour, and likewise of Turkish; for Florentius has always done justice to the Turk. Many a passage similar to this have I got by heart; it is connected with the battle on the plain of Rigo, which Hunyadi lost: 'The next day, which was Friday, as the two armies were drawn up in battle array, a Magyar hero, riding forth, galloped up and down, challenging the Turks to single combat. Then came out to meet him the son of a renowned bashaw of Asia. Rushing upon each other, both broke their lances, but the Magyar hero and his horse rolled over upon the ground, for the Turks had always the best horses.' O young man of Horncastle! if ever you learn Hungarian—and learn it assuredly you will after what I have told you—read the book of Florentius of Buda, even if you go to Hungary to get it, for you will scarcely find it elsewhere, and even there with difficulty, for the book has been long out of print. It describes the actions of the great men of Hungary down to the middle of the sixteenth century, and besides being written in the purest Hungarian, has the merit of having for its author a professor of the Reformed College at Debreczen.

Myself. I will go to Hungary rather than not read it. I am glad that the Turk beat the Magyar. When I used to read the ballads of Spain I always sided with the Moor against the Christian.

Hungarian. It was a drawn fight after all, for the terrible horse of the Turk presently flung his own master, whereupon the two champions returned to their respective armies; but in the grand conflict which ensued the Turks beat the Magyars, pursuing them till night, and striking them on the necks with their scymetars. The Turk is a noble fellow; I should wish to be a Turk, were I not a Magyar.

Myself. The Turk always keeps his word, I am told.

Hungarian. Which the Christian very seldom does, and even the Hungarian does not always. In 1444 Ulaszlo made, at Szeged, peace with Amurath for ten years, which he swore with an oath to keep, but at the instigation of the Pope Julian he broke it, and induced his great captain, Hunyadi John, to share in the perjury. The consequence was the Battle of Varna, of the 10th of November, in which Hunyadi was routed, and Ulaszlo slain. Did you ever hear his epitaph? It is both solemn and edifying:

'Romulidae Cannas ego Varnam clade notavi; Discite mortales non temerare fidem: Me nisi Pontifices jussissent rumpere foedus Non ferret Scythicum Pannonis ora jugum.'

'Halloo!' said the jockey, starting up from a doze in which he had been indulging for the last hour, his head leaning upon his breast; 'what is that? That's not high Dutch; I bargained for high Dutch, and I left you speaking what I believed to be high Dutch, as it sounded very much like the language of horses, as I have been told high Dutch does; but as for what you are speaking now, whatever you may call it, it sounds more like the language of another kind of animal. I suppose you want to insult me because I was once a dicky-boy.'

'Nothing of the kind,' said I. 'The gentleman was making a quotation in Latin.'

'Latin, was it?' said the jockey; 'that alters the case. Latin is genteel, and I have sent my eldest boy to an academy to learn it. Come, let us hear you fire away in Latin,' he continued, proceeding to re-light his pipe, which before going to sleep he had laid on the table.

'If you wish to follow the discourse in Latin,' said the Hungarian, in very bad English, 'I can oblige you; I learned to speak very good Latin in the College of Debreczen.'

'That's more,' said I, 'than I have done in the colleges where I have been; in any little conversation which we may yet have I wish you would use German.'

'Well,' said the jockey, taking a whiff, 'make your conversation as short as possible, whether in Latin or Dutch, for, to tell you the truth, I am rather tired of merely playing listener.'

'You were saying you had been in Russia,' said I; 'I believe the Russians are part of the Sclavonian race.'

Hungarian. Yes, part of the great Sclavonian family; one of the most numerous races in the world. The Russians themselves are very numerous—would that the Magyars could boast of the fifth part of their number!

Myself. What is the number of the Magyars?

Hungarian. Barely four millions. We came a tribe of Tartars into Europe and settled down amongst Sclavonians, whom we conquered, but who never coalesced with us. The Austrian at present plays in Pannonia the Sclavonian against us and us against the Sclavonian; but the downfall of the Austrian is at hand; they, like us, are not a numerous people.

Myself. Who will bring about his downfall?

Hungarian. The Russian. The Rysckie Tsar will lead his people forth, all the Sclavonians will join him, he will conquer all before him.

Myself. Are the Russians good soldiers?

Hungarian. They are stubborn and unflinching to an astonishing degree, and their fidelity to their Tsar is quite admirable. See how the Russians behaved at Plescova, in Livonia, in the old time, against our great Batory Stephen; they defended the place till it was a heap of rubbish, and mark how they behaved after they had been made prisoners. Stephen offered them two alternatives: to enter into his service, in which they would have good pay, clothing, and fair treatment; or to be allowed to return to Russia. Without the slightest hesitation they, to a man, chose the latter, though well aware that their beloved Tsar, the cruel Ivan Basilowitt, would put them all to death, amidst tortures the most horrible, for not doing what was impossible—preserving the town.

Myself. You speak Russian?

Hungarian. A little. I was born in the vicinity of a Sclavonian tribe; the servants of our house were Sclavonians, and I early acquired something of their language, which differs not much from that of Russia. When in that country I quickly understood what was said.

Myself. Have the Russians any literature?

Hungarian. Doubtless; but I am not acquainted with it, as I do not read their language; but I know something of their popular tales, to which I used to listen in their izbushkas; a principal personage in these is a creation quite original—called Baba Yaga.

Myself. Who is Baba Yaga? {245}

Hungarian. A female phantom, who is described as hurrying along the puszta, or steppe, in a mortar, pounding with a pestle at a tremendous rate, and leaving a long trace on the ground behind her with her tongue, which is three yards long, and with which she seizes any men and horses coming in her way, swallowing them down into her capacious belly. She has several daughters, very handsome, and with plenty of money. Happy the young Mujik who catches and marries one of them, for they make excellent wives.

'Many thanks,' said I, 'for the information you have afforded me. This is rather poor wine,' I observed as I poured out a glass. 'I suppose you have better wine in Hungary?'

'Yes we have better wine in Hungary. First of all there is Tokay, the most celebrated in the world, though I confess I prefer the wine of Eger—Tokay is too sweet.'

'Have you ever been at Tokay?'

'I have,' said the Hungarian.

'What kind of place is Tokay?'

'A small town situated on the Tyzza, a rapid river descending from the north; the Tokay Mountain is just behind the town, which stands on the right bank. The top of the mountain is called Kopacs Teto, or the bald tip; the hill is so steep that during thunder-storms pieces of it frequently fall down upon the roofs of the houses. It was planted with vines by King Lajos, who ascended the throne in the year 1342. The best wine called Tokay is, however, not made at Tokay, but at Kassau, two leagues farther into the Carpathians, of which Tokay is a spur. If you wish to drink the best Tokay, you must go to Vienna, to which place all the prime is sent. For the third time I ask you, O young man of Horncastle! why does your Government always send fools to represent it at Vienna?'

'And for the third time I tell you, O son of Almus! that I cannot say; perhaps, however, to drink the Tokay wine. Fools, you know, always like sweet things.'

'Good,' said the Hungarian; 'it must be so, and when I return to Hungary I will state to my countrymen your explanation of a circumstance which has frequently caused them great perplexity. Oh! the English are a clever people, and have a deep meaning in all they do. What a vision of deep policy opens itself to my view: they do not send their fool to Vienna in order to gape at processions, and to bow and scrape at a base Papist court, but to drink at the great dinners the celebrated Tokay of Hungary, which the Hungarians, though they do not drink it, are very proud of, and by doing so to intimate the sympathy which the English entertain for their fellow religionists of Hungary. Oh! the English are a deep people.'



CHAPTER XL

THE HORNCASTLE WELCOME—TZERNEBOCK AND BIELEBOCK

The pipe of the Hungarian had, for some time past, exhibited considerable symptoms of exhaustion, little or no ruttling having been heard in the tube, and scarcely a particle of smoke, drawn through the syphon, having been emitted from the lips of the tall possessor. He now rose from his seat, and going to a corner of the room, placed his pipe against the wall, then striding up and down the room, he cracked his fingers several times, exclaiming, in a half-musing manner, 'Oh, the deep nation, which, in order to display its sympathy for Hungary, sends its fool to Vienna, to drink the sweet wine of Tokay!'

The jockey, having looked for some time at the tall figure with evident approbation, winked at me with that brilliant eye of his on which there was no speck, saying, 'Did you ever see a taller fellow?'

'Never,' said I.

'Or a finer?'

'That's another question,' said I, 'which I am not so willing to answer; however, as I am fond of truth, and scorn to flatter, I will take the liberty of saying that I think I have seen a finer.'

'A finer! where?' said the jockey; whilst the Hungarian, who appeared to understand what we said, stood still, and looked full at me.

'Amongst a strange set of people,' said I, 'whom, if I were to name, you would, I dare say, only laugh at me.'

'Who be they?' said the jockey. 'Come, don't be ashamed. I have occasionally kept queerish company myself.'

'The people whom we call gypsies,' said I; 'whom the Germans call Zigeuner, and who call themselves Romany chals.'

'Zigeuner!' said the Hungarian. 'By Isten! I do know these people.'

'Romany chals!' said the jockey; 'whew! I begin to smell a rat.'

'What do you mean by smelling a rat?' said I.

'I'll bet a crown,' said the jockey, 'that you be the young chap what certain folks call "The Romany Rye."'

'Ah!' said I, 'how came you to know that name?'

'Be not you he?' said the jockey.

'Why, I certainly have been called by that name.'

'I could have sworn it,' said the jockey; then rising from his chair, he laid his pipe on the table, took a large hand-bell which stood on a sideboard, and going to the door, opened it, and commenced ringing in a most tremendous manner on the staircase. The noise presently brought up a waiter, to whom the jockey vociferated, 'Go to your master, and tell him to send immediately three bottles of champagne, of the pink kind, mind you, which is twelve guineas a dozen.' The waiter hurried away, and the jockey resumed his seat and his pipe. I sat in silent astonishment till the waiter returned with a basket containing the wine, which, with three long glasses, he placed on the table. The jockey then got up, and going to a large bow-window at the end of the room, which looked into a court-yard, peeped out; then saying, 'The coast is clear,' he shut down the principal sash, which was open for the sake of the air, and taking up a bottle of the champagne, he placed another in the hands of the Hungarian, to whom he said something in private. The latter, who seemed to understand him, answered by a nod. The two then going to the end of the table fronting the window, and about eight paces from it, stood before it, holding the bottles by their necks; suddenly the jockey lifted up his arm. 'Surely,' said I, 'you are not mad enough to fling that bottle through the window?' 'Here's to the Romany Rye: here's to the sweet master,' said the jockey, dashing the bottle through a pane in so neat a manner that scarcely a particle of glass fell into the room.

'Eljen edes csigany ur—eljen gul eray!' said the Hungarian, swinging round his bottle, and discharging it at the window; but, either not possessing the jockey's accuracy of aim, or reckless of consequences, he flung his bottle so that it struck against part of the wooden setting of the panes, breaking along with the wood and itself three or four panes to pieces. The crash was horrid, and wine and particles of glass flew back into the room, to the no small danger of its inmates. 'What do you think of that?' said the jockey. 'Were you ever so honoured before?' 'Honoured!' said I. 'God preserve me in future from such honour;' and I put my finger to my cheek, which was slightly hurt by a particle of the glass. 'That's the way we of the cofrady honour great men at Horncastle,' said the jockey. 'What, you are hurt! never mind; all the better, your scratch shows that you are the body the compliment was paid to.' 'And what are you going to do with the other bottle?' said I. 'Do with it!' said the jockey, 'why, drink it, cosily and comfortably, whilst holding a little quiet talk. The Romany Rye at Horncastle, what an idea!'

'And what will the master of the house say to all this damage which you have caused him?'

'What will your master say, William?' said the jockey to the waiter, who had witnessed the singular scene just described without exhibiting the slightest mark of surprise. William smiled, and slightly shrugging his shoulders, replied, 'Very little, I dare say, sir; this ain't the first time your honour has done a thing of this kind.' 'Nor will it be the first time that I shall have paid for it,' said the jockey. 'Well, I shall have never paid for a certain item in the bill with more pleasure than I shall pay for it now. Come, William, draw the cork, and let us taste the pink champagne.'

The waiter drew the cork, and filled the glasses with a pinky liquor, which bubbled, hissed, and foamed. 'How do you like it?' said the jockey, after I had imitated the example of my companions by despatching my portion at a draught.

'It is wonderful wine,' said I; 'I have never tasted champagne before, though I have frequently heard it praised; it more than answers my expectations; but, I confess, I should not wish to be obliged to drink it every day.'

'Nor I,' said the jockey, 'for everyday drinking give me a glass of old port, or—'

'Of hard old ale,' I interposed, 'which, according to my mind, is better than all the wine in the world.'

'Well said, Romany Rye,' said the jockey. 'Just my own opinion; now, William, make yourself scarce.'

The waiter withdrew, and I said to the jockey, 'How did you become acquainted with the Romany chals?'

'I first became acquainted with them,' said the jockey, 'when I lived with old Fulcher the basket-maker, who took me up when I was adrift upon the world; I do not mean the present Fulcher, who is likewise called old Fulcher, but his father, who has been dead this many a year; while living with him in the caravan, I frequently met them in the green lanes, and of latter years I have had occasional dealings with them in the horse line.'

'And the gypsies have mentioned me to you?' said I.

'Frequently,' said the jockey, 'and not only those of these parts; why, there's scarcely a part of England in which I have not heard the name of the Romany Rye mentioned by these people. The power you have over them is wonderful; that is, I should have thought it wonderful, had they not more than once told me the cause.'

'And what is the cause?' said I, 'for I am sure I do not know.'

'The cause is this,' said the jockey: 'they never heard a bad word proceed from your mouth, and never knew you do a bad thing.'

'They are a singular people,' said I.

'And what a singular language they have got,' said the jockey.

'Do you know it?' said I.

'Only a few words,' said the jockey, 'they were always chary in teaching me any.'

'They were vary sherry to me too,' said the Hungarian, speaking in broken English; 'I only could learn from them half a dozen words, for example, gul eray, {250a} which, in the czigany of my country, means sweet gentleman; or edes ur in my own Magyar.'

'Gudlo Rye, in the Romany of mine, means a sugar'd gentleman,' said I; 'then there are gypsies in your country?'

'Plenty,' said the Hungarian, speaking German, 'and in Russia and Turkey too; and wherever they are found, they are alike in their ways and language. Oh, they are a strange race, and how little known! I know little of them, but enough to say, that one horse-load of nonsense has been written about them; there is one Valter Scott—'

'Mind what you say about him,' said I; 'he is our grand authority in matters of philology and history.'

'A pretty philologist,' said the Hungarian, 'who makes the gypsies speak Roth-Welsch, {250b} the dialect of thieves; a pretty historian, who couples together Thor and Tzernebock.'

'Where does he do that?' said I.

'In his conceited romance of Ivanhoe he couples Thor and Tzernebock together, and calls them gods of the heathen Saxons.'

'Well,' said I, 'Thur or Thor was certainly a god of the heathen Saxons.'

'True,' said the Hungarian; 'but why couple him with Tzernebock? Tzernebock was a word which your Valter had picked up somewhere without knowing the meaning. Tzernebock was no god of the Saxons, but one of the gods of the Sclaves, on the southern side of the Baltic. The Sclaves had two grand gods to whom they sacrificed, Tzernebock and Bielebock; that is, the black and white gods, who represented the powers of dark and light. They were overturned by Waldemar, the Dane, the great enemy of the Sclaves; the account of whose wars you will find in one fine old book, written by Saxo Gramaticus, which I read in the library of the college of Debreczen. The Sclaves, at one time, were masters of all the southern shore of the Baltic, where their descendants are still to be found, though they have lost their language, and call themselves Germans; but the word Zernevitz near Dantzic, still attests that the Sclavic language was once common in those parts. Zernevitz means the thing of blackness, as Tzernebock means the god of blackness. Prussia itself merely means, in Sclavish, Lower Russia. There is scarcely a race or language in the world more extended than the Sclavic. On the other side of the Dunau you will find the Sclaves and their language. Czernavoda is Sclavic, and means black water; in Turkish, kara su; even as Tzernebock means black god; and Belgrade, or Belograd, means the white town; even as Bielebock, or Bielebog, means the white god. Oh! he is one great ignorant, that Valter. He is going, they say, to write one history about Napoleon. I do hope that in his history he will couple his Thor and Tzernebock together. By my God! it would be good diversion that.'

'Walter Scott appears to be no particular favourite of yours,' said I.

'He is not,' said the Hungarian; 'I hate him for his slavish principles. He wishes to see absolute power restored in this country, and Popery also; and I hate him because—what do you think? In one of his novels, published a few months ago, he has the insolence to insult Hungary in the person of one of her sons. He makes his great braggart, Cour de Lion, fling a Magyar over his head. Ha! it was well for Richard that he never felt the grip of a Hungarian. I wish the braggart could have felt the grip of me, who am "a' Magyarok kozt legkissebb," the least among the Magyars. I do hate that Scott, and all his vile gang of Lowlanders and Highlanders. The black corps, the fekete regiment of Matyjas Hunyadi, was worth all the Scots, high or low, that ever pretended to be soldiers; and would have sent them all headlong into the Black Sea, had they dared to confront it on its shores; but why be angry with an ignorant, who couples together Thor and Tzernebock? Ha! ha!'

'You have read his novels?' said I.

'Yes, I read them now and then. I do not speak much English, but I can read it well, and I have read some of his romances, and mean to read his Napoleon, in the hope of finding Thor and Tzernebock coupled together in it, as in his high-flying Ivanhoe.'

'Come,' said the jockey, 'no more Dutch, whether high or low. I am tired of it; unless we can have some English, I am off to bed.'

'I should be very glad to hear some English,' said I; 'especially from your mouth. Several things which you have mentioned have awakened my curiosity. Suppose you give us your history?'

'My history?' said the jockey. 'A rum idea! however, lest conversation should lag, I'll give it you. First of all, however, a glass of champagne to each.'

After we had each taken a glass of champagne, the jockey commenced his history.



CHAPTER XLI

THE JOCKEY'S TALE—THIEVES' LATIN—LIBERTIES WITH COIN—THE SMASHER IN PRISON—OLD FULCHER—EVERY ONE HAS HIS GIFT—FASHION OF THE ENGLISH

'My grandfather was a shorter, and my father was a smasher; the one was scragg'd, and the other lagg'd.'

I here interrupted the jockey by observing that his discourse was, for the greater part, unintelligible to me.

'I do not understand much English,' said the Hungarian, who, having replenished and resumed his mighty pipe, was now smoking away; 'but, by Isten, I believe it is the gibberish which that great ignorant Valther Scott puts into the mouth of the folks he calls gypsies.'

'Something like it, I confess,' said I, 'though this sounds more genuine than his dialect, which he picked up out of the canting vocabulary at the end of the "English Rogue," {252} a book which, however despised, was written by a remarkable genius. What do you call the speech you were using?' said I, addressing myself to the jockey.

'Latin,' said the jockey, very coolly, 'that is, that dialect of it which is used by the light-fingered gentry.'

'He is right,' said the Hungarian; 'it is what the Germans call Roth-Welsch: they call it so because there are a great many Latin words in it, introduced by the priests, who, at the time of the Reformation, being too lazy to work, and too stupid to preach, joined the bands of thieves and robbers who prowled about the county. Italy, as you are aware, is called by the Germans Welschland, or the land of the Welschers; and I may add that Wallachia derives its name from a colony of Welschers which Trajan sent there. Welsch and Wallack being one and the same word, and tantamount to Latin.'

'I dare say you are right,' said I; 'but why was Italy termed Welschland?'

'I do not know,' said the Hungarian.

'Then I think I can tell you,' said I; 'it was called so because the original inhabitants were a Cimbric tribe, who were called Gwyltiad, that is, a race of wild people, living in coverts, who were of the same blood, and spoke the same language as the present inhabitants of Wales. Welsh seems merely a modification of Gwyltiad. Pray continue your history,' said I to the jockey, 'only please to do so in a language which we can understand, and first of all interpret the sentence with which you began it.'

'I told you that my grandfather was a shorter,' said the jockey, 'by which is meant a gentleman who shortens or reduces the current coin of these realms, for which practice he was scragged, that is, hung by the scrag of the neck. And when I said that my father was a smasher, I meant one who passes forged notes, thereby doing his best to smash the Bank of England; by being lagg'd, I meant he was laid fast, that is, had a chain put round his leg and then transported.'

'Your explanations are perfectly satisfactory,' said I; 'the three first words are metaphorical, and the fourth, lagg'd, is the old genuine Norse term, lagda, which signifies laid, whether in durance, or in bed has nothing to do with the matter. What you have told me confirms me in an opinion which I have long entertained, that thieves' Latin is a strange mysterious speech, formed of metaphorical terms, and words derived from various ancient languages. Pray tell me, now, how the gentleman, your grandfather, contrived to shorten the coin of these realms?'

'You shall hear,' said the jockey; 'but I have one thing to beg of you, which is, that when I have once begun my history you will not interrupt me with questions; I don't like them, they stops one, and puts one out of one's tale, and are not wanted. For anything which I think can't be understood, I should myself explain, without being asked. My grandfather reduced or shortened the coin of this country by three processes. By aquafortis, by clipping, and by filing. Filing and clipping he employed in reducing all kinds of coin, whether gold or silver; but aquafortis he used merely in reducing gold coin, whether guineas, jacobuses, or Portugal pieces, otherwise called moidores, which were at one time as current as guineas. By laying a guinea in aquafortis for twelve hours he could filch from it to the value of ninepence, and by letting it remain there for twenty-four, to the value of eighteenpence, the aquafortis eating the gold away, and leaving it like a sediment in the vessel. He was generally satisfied with taking the value of ninepence from a guinea, of eighteenpence from a jacobus or moidore, or half-a-crown from a broad Spanish piece, whether he reduced them by aquafortis, filing, or clipping. From a five-shilling piece, which is called a bull in Latin, because it is round like a bull's head, he would file or clip to the value of five-pence, and from lesser coin in proportion. He was connected with a numerous gang, or set, of people, who had given up their minds and talents entirely to shortening.'

Here I interrupted the jockey. 'How singular,' said I, 'is the fall and debasement of words; you talk of a gang, or set of shorters; you are, perhaps, not aware that gang and set were, a thousand years ago, only connected with the great and Divine: they are ancient Norse words, which may be found in the heroic poems of the north, and in the Edda, a collection of mythologic and heroic songs. In these poems we read that such and such a king invaded Norway with a gang of heroes, or so and so—for example, Erik Bloodaxe—was admitted to the set of gods; but at present gang and set are merely applied to the vilest of the vile, and the lowest of the low. We say a gang of thieves and shorters, or a set of authors. How touching is this debasement of words in the course of time! It puts me in mind of the decay of old houses and names. I have known a Mortimer who was a hedger and ditcher, a Berners who was born in a workhouse, and a descendant of the De Burghs, who bore the falcon, mending old kettles, and making horse and pony shoes in a dingle.'

'Odd enough,' said the jockey; 'but you were saying you knew one Berners—man or woman? I would ask.'

'A woman,' said I.

'What might her Christian name be?' said the jockey.

'It is not to be mentioned lightly,' said I, with a sigh.

'I shouldn't wonder if it were Isopel,' said the jockey, with an arch glance of his one brilliant eye.

'It was Isopel,' said I. 'Did you know Isopel Berners?'

'Ay, and have reason to know her,' said the jockey, putting his hand into his left waistcoat-pocket, as if to feel for something, 'for she gave me what I believe few men could do—a most confounded wapping. But now, Mr. Romany Rye, I have again to tell you that I don't like to be interrupted when I'm speaking, and to add that if you break in upon me a third time, you and I shall quarrel.'

'Pray proceed with your story,' said I; 'I will not interrupt you again.'

'Good!' said the jockey. 'Where was I? Oh, with a set of people who had given up their minds to shortening! Reducing the coin, though rather a lucrative, was a very dangerous, trade. Coin filed felt rough to the touch; coin clipped could be easily detected by the eye; and as for coin reduced by aquafortis, it was generally so discoloured that, unless a great deal of pains was used to polish it, people were apt to stare at it in a strange manner, and to say, "What have they been doing to this here gold?" My grandfather, as I said before, was connected with a gang of shorters, and sometimes shortened money, and at other times passed off what had been shortened by other gentry.

'Passing off what had been shortened by others was his ruin; for once, in trying to pass off a broad piece which had been laid in aquafortis for four-and-twenty hours, and was very black, not having been properly rectified, he was stopped and searched, and other reduced coins being found about him and in his lodgings, he was committed to prison, tried, and executed. He was offered his life, provided he would betray his comrades, but he told the big-wigs, who wanted him to do so, that he would see them farther first, and died at Tyburn, amidst the cheers of the populace, leaving my grandmother and father, to whom he had always been a kind husband and parent—for, setting aside the crime for which he suffered, he was a moral man—leaving them, I say, to bewail his irreparable loss.

''Tis said that misfortune never comes alone; this is, however, not always the case. Shortly after my grandfather's misfortune, as my grandmother and her son were living in great misery in Spitalfields, her only relation—a brother from whom she had been estranged some years, on account of her marriage with my grandfather, who had been in an inferior station to herself—died, leaving all his property to her and the child. This property consisted of a farm of about a hundred acres, with its stock and some money besides. My grandmother, who knew something of business, instantly went into the country, where she farmed the property for her own benefit and that of her son, to whom she gave an education suitable to a person in his condition, till he was old enough to manage the farm himself. Shortly after the young man came of age, my grandmother died, and my father, in about a year, married the daughter of a farmer, from whom he expected some little fortune, but who very much deceived him, becoming a bankrupt almost immediately after the marriage of his daughter, and himself and family going to the workhouse.

'My mother, however, made my father an excellent wife; and if my father in the long run did not do well, it was no fault of hers. My father was not a bad man by nature, he was of an easy, generous temper—the most unfortunate temper, by-the-by, for success in this life that any person can be possessed of, as those who have it are almost sure to be made dupes of by the designing. But, though easy and generous, he was anything but a fool; he had a quick and witty tongue of his own when he chose to exert it, and woe be to those who insulted him openly, for there was not a better boxer in the whole country round. My parents were married several years before I came into the world, who was their first and only child. I may be called an unfortunate creature; I was born with this beam or scale on my left eye, which does not allow me to see with it; and though I can see tolerably sharply with the other, indeed more than most people can with both of theirs, it is a great misfortune not to have two eyes like other people. Moreover, setting aside the affair of my eye, I had a very ugly countenance; my mouth being slightly wrung aside, and my complexion rather swarthy. In fact, I looked so queer that the gossips and neighbours, when they first saw me, swore I was a changeling—perhaps it would have been well if I had never been born; for my poor father, who had been particularly anxious to have a son, no sooner saw me than he turned away, went to the neighbouring town, and did not return for two days. I am by no means certain that I was not the cause of his ruin, for till I came into the world he was fond of his home, and attended much to business, but afterwards he went frequently into company, and did not seem to care much about his affairs: he was, however, a kind man, and when his wife gave him advice never struck her, nor do I ever remember that he kicked me when I came in his way, or so much as cursed my ugly face, though it was easy to see that he didn't over like me. When I was six years old I was sent to the village-school, where I was soon booked for a dunce, because the master found it impossible to teach me either to read or write. Before I had been at school two years, however, I had beaten boys four years older than myself, and could fling a stone with my left hand (for if I am right-eyed I am left-handed) higher and farther than any one in the parish. Moreover, no boy could equal me at riding, and no people ride so well or desperately as boys. I could ride a donkey—a thing far more difficult to ride than a horse—at full gallop over hedges and ditches, seated or rather floating upon his hinder part,—so though anything but clever, as this here Romany Rye would say, I was yet able to do things which few other people could do. By the time I was ten my father's affairs had got into a very desperate condition, for he had taken to gambling and horse-racing, and, being unsuccessful, had sold his stock, mortgaged his estate, and incurred very serious debts. The upshot was, that within a little time all he had was seized, himself imprisoned, and my mother and myself put into a cottage belonging to the parish, which, being very cold and damp, was the cause of her catching a fever, which speedily carried her off. I was then bound apprentice to a farmer, in whose service I underwent much coarse treatment, cold and hunger.

'After lying in prison near two years, my father was liberated by an Act for the benefit of insolvent debtors; he was then lost sight of for some time, at last, however, he made his appearance in the neighbourhood dressed like a gentleman, and seemingly possessed of plenty of money. He came to see me, took me into a field, and asked me how I was getting on. I told him I was dreadfully used, and begged him to take me away with him; he refused, and told me to be satisfied with my condition, for that he could do nothing for me. I had a great love for my father, and likewise a great admiration for him on account of his character as a boxer, the only character which boys in general regard, so I wished much to be with him, independently of the dog's life I was leading where I was; I therefore said if he would not take me with him, I would follow him; he replied that I must do no such thing, for that if I did, it would be my ruin. I asked him what he meant, but he made no reply, only saying that he would go and speak to the farmer. Then taking me with him he went to the farmer and in a very civil manner said that he understood I had not been very kindly treated by him, but he hoped that in future I should be used better. The farmer answered in a surly tone, that I had been only too well treated, for that I was a worthless young scoundrel; high words ensued, and the farmer, forgetting the kind of man he had to deal with, checked him with my grandsire's misfortune, and said he deserved to be hanged like his father. In a moment my father knocked him down, and on his getting up gave him a terrible beating, then taking me by the hand he hastened away; as we were going down a lane he said we were now both done for: "I don't care a straw for that, father," said I, "provided I be with you." My father took me to the neighbouring town, and going into the yard of a small inn, he ordered out a pony and light cart which belonged to him, then paying his bill, he told me to mount upon the seat, and getting up drove away like lightning; we drove for at least six hours without stopping, till we came to a cottage by the side of a heath; we put the pony and cart into a shed and went into the cottage, my father unlocking the door with a key which he took out of his pocket; there was nobody in the cottage when we arrived, but shortly after there came a man and woman, and then some more people, and by ten o'clock at night there were a dozen of us in the cottage. The people were companions of my father. My father began talking to them in Latin, but I did not understand much of the discourse, though I believe it was about myself, as their eyes were frequently turned to me. Some objections appeared to be made to what he said; however, all at last seemed to be settled, and we all sat down to some food. After that all the people got up and went away, with the exception of the woman, who remained with my father and me. The next day my father also departed, leaving me with the woman, telling me before he went that she would teach me some things which it behoved me to know. I remained with her in the cottage upwards of a week; several of those who had been there coming and going. The woman, after making me take an oath to be faithful, told me that the people whom I had seen were a gang who got their livelihood by passing forged notes, and that my father was a principal man amongst them, adding, that I must do my best to assist them. I was a poor ignorant child at that time, and I made no objection, thinking that whatever my father did must be right; the woman then gave me some instructions in the smasher's dialect of the Latin language. I made great progress, because for the first time in my life, I paid great attention to my lessons. At last my father returned, and, after some conversation with the woman, took me away in his cart. I shall be very short about what happened to my father and myself during two years. My father did his best to smash the Bank of England by passing forged notes, and I did my best to assist him. We attended races and fairs in all kinds of disguises; my father was a first-rate hand at a disguise, and could appear of all ages from twenty to fourscore; he was, however, grabbed at last. He had said, as I have told you, that he should be my ruin, but I was the cause of his, and all owing to the misfortune of this here eye of mine. We came to this very place of Horncastle, where my father purchased two horses of a young man, paying for them with three forged notes, purporting to be Bank of Englanders of fifty pounds each, and got the young man to change another of the like amount; he at that time appeared as a respectable dealer, and I as his son, as I really was.

'As soon as we had got the horses, we conveyed them to one of the places of call belonging to our gang, of which there were several. There they were delivered into the hands of one of our companions, who speedily sold them in a distant part of the country. The sum which they fetched—for the gang kept very regular accounts—formed an important item on the next day of sharing, of which there were twelve in the year. The young man, whom my father had paid for the horses with his smashing notes, was soon in trouble about them, and ran some risk, as I have heard, of being executed; but he bore a good character, told a plain story, and, above all, had friends, and was admitted to bail; to one of his friends he described my father and myself. This person happened to be at an inn in Yorkshire, where my father, disguised as a Quaker, attempted to pass a forged note. The note was shown to this individual, who pronounced it a forgery, it being exactly similar to those for which the young man had been in trouble, and which he had seen. My father, however, being supposed a respectable man, because he was dressed as a Quaker—the very reason, by-the-by, why anybody who knew aught of the Quakers would have suspected him to be a rogue—would have been let go, had I not made my appearance, dressed as his footboy. The friend of the young man looked at my eye, and seized hold of my father, who made a desperate resistance, I assisting him, as in duty bound. Being, however, overpowered by numbers, he bade me by a look, and a word or two in Latin, to make myself scarce. Though my heart was fit to break, I obeyed my father, who was speedily committed. I followed him to the county town in which he was lodged, where shortly after I saw him tried, convicted, and condemned. I then, having made friends with the jailor's wife, visited him in his cell, where I found him very much cast down. He said, that my mother had appeared to him in a dream, and talked to him about a resurrection and Christ Jesus; there was a Bible before him, and he told me the chaplain had just been praying with him. He reproached himself much, saying, he was afraid he had been my ruin, by teaching me bad habits. I told him not to say any such thing, for that I had been the cause of his, owing to the misfortune of my eye. He begged me to give over all unlawful pursuits, saying, that if persisted in, they were sure of bringing a person to destruction. I advised him to try and make his escape; proposing, that when the turnkey came to let me out, he should knock him down, and fight his way out, offering to assist him; showing him a small saw, with which one of our companions, who was in the neighbourhood, had provided me, and with which he could have cut through his fetters in five minutes; but he told me he had no wish to escape, and was quite willing to die. I was rather hard at that time; I am not very soft now; and I felt rather ashamed of my father's want of what I called spirit. He was not executed after all; for the chaplain, who was connected with a great family, stood his friend, and got his sentence commuted, as they call it, to transportation; and in order to make the matter easy, he induced my father to make some valuable disclosures with respect to the smasher's system. I confess that I would have been hanged before I would have done so, after having reaped the profit of it; that is, I think so now, seated comfortably in my inn, with my bottle of champagne before me. He, however, did not show himself carrion; he would not betray his companions, who had behaved very handsomely to him, having given the son of a lord, a great barrister, not a hundred-pound forged bill, but a hundred hard guineas, to plead his cause, and another ten, to induce him, after pleading, to put his hand to his breast, and say, that, upon his honour, he believed the prisoner at the bar to be an honest and injured man. No: I am glad to be able to say, that my father did not show himself exactly carrion, though I could almost have wished he had let himself—. However, I am here with my bottle of champagne and the Romany Rye, and he was in his cell, with bread and water and the prison chaplain. He took an affectionate leave of me before he was sent away, giving me three out of five guineas, all the money he had left. He was a kind man, but not exactly fitted to fill my grandfather's shoes. I afterwards learned that he died of fever, as he was being carried across the sea.

'During the 'sizes, I had made acquaintance with old Fulcher. I was in the town on my father's account, and he was there on his son's, who, having committed a small larceny, was in trouble. Young Fulcher, however, unlike my father, got off, though he did not give the son of a lord a hundred guineas to speak for him, and ten more to pledge his sacred honour for his honesty, but gave Counsellor P—- one-and-twenty shillings to defend him, who so frightened the principal evidence, a plain honest farming man, that he flatly contradicted what he had first said, and at last acknowledged himself to be all the rogues in the world, and, amongst other things, a perjured villain. Old Fulcher, before he left the town with his son—and here it will be well to say that he and his son left it in a kind of triumph, the base drummer of a militia regiment, to whom they had given half-a-crown, beating his drum before them—old Fulcher, I say, asked me to go and visit him, telling me where, at such a time, I might find him and his caravan and family; offering, if I thought fit, to teach me basket-making: so, after my father had been sent off, I went and found up old Fulcher, and became his apprentice in the basket-making line. I stayed with him till the time of his death, which happened in about three months, travelling about with him and his family, and living in green lanes, where we saw gypsies and trampers, and all kinds of strange characters. Old Fulcher, besides being an industrious basket-maker, was an out and out thief, as was also his son, and, indeed, every member of his family. They used to make baskets during the day, and thieve during a great part of the night. I had not been with them twelve hours, before old Fulcher told me that I must thieve as well as the rest. I demurred at first, for I remembered the fate of my father, and what he had told me about leaving off bad courses, but soon allowed myself to be over-persuaded; more especially as the first robbery I was asked to do was a fruit robbery. I was to go with young Fulcher, and steal some fine Morell cherries, which grew against a wall in a gentleman's garden; so young Fulcher and I went and stole the cherries, one half of which we ate, and gave the rest to the old man, who sold them to a fruiterer ten miles off from the place where we had stolen them. The next night old Fulcher took me out with himself. He was a great thief, though in a small way. He used to say, that they were fools, who did not always manage to keep the rope below their shoulders, by which he meant, that it was not advisable to commit a robbery or do anything which could bring you to the gallows. He was all for petty larceny, and knew where to put his hand upon any little thing in England, which it was possible to steal. I submit it to the better judgment of the Romany Rye, who I see is a great hand for words and names, whether he ought not to have been called old Filcher, instead of Fulcher. I shan't give a regular account of the larcenies which he committed during the short time I knew him, either alone by himself, or with me and his son. I shall merely relate the last.

'A melancholy gentleman, who lived a very solitary life, had a large carp in a shady pond in a meadow close to his house: he was exceedingly fond of it, and used to feed it with his own hand, the creature being so tame that it would put its snout out of the water to be fed when it was whistled to; feeding and looking at his carp were the only pleasures the poor melancholy gentleman possessed. Old Fulcher—being in the neighbourhood, and having an order from a fishmonger for a large fish, which was wanted at a great city dinner, at which His Majesty was to be present—swore he would steal the carp, and asked me to go with him. I had heard of the gentleman's fondness for his creature, and begged him to let it be, advising him to go and steal some other fish; but old Fulcher swore, and said he would have the carp, although its master should hang himself; I told him he might go by himself, but he took his son and stole the carp, which weighed seventeen pounds. Old Fulcher got thirty shillings for the carp, which I afterwards heard was much admired and relished by His Majesty. The master, however, of the carp, on losing his favourite, became more melancholy than ever, and in a little time hanged himself. "What's sport for one, is death to another," I once heard at the village-school read out of a copy-book.

'This was the last larceny old Fulcher ever committed. He could keep his neck always out of the noose, but he could not always keep his leg out of the trap. A few nights after, having removed to a distance, he went to an osier car in order to steal some osiers for his basket-making, for he never bought any. I followed a little way behind. Old Fulcher had frequently stolen osiers out of the car, whilst in the neighbourhood, but during his absence the property, of which the car was part, had been let to a young gentleman, a great hand for preserving game. Old Fulcher had not got far into the car before he put his foot into a man-trap. Hearing old Fulcher shriek, I ran up, and found him in a dreadful condition. Putting a large stick which I carried into the jaws of the trap, I contrived to prize them open, and get old Fulcher's leg out, but the leg was broken. So I ran to the caravan, and told young Fulcher of what had happened, and he and I went and helped his father home. A doctor was sent for, who said that it was necessary to take the leg off, but old Fulcher, being very much afraid of pain, said it should not be taken off, and the doctor went away, but after some days, old Fulcher becoming worse, ordered the doctor to be sent for, who came and took off his leg, but it was then too late, mortification had come on, and in a little time old Fulcher died.

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