The Romany Rye - A Sequel to 'Lavengro'
by George Borrow
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'And now I was in London with five shillings in my pocket—all I had in the world—and that did not last for long; and when it was gone I begged in the streets, but I did not get much by that, except a month's hard labour in the correction-house; and when I came out I knew not what to do, but thought I would take a walk in the country, for it was spring-time, and the weather was fine, so I took a walk about seven miles from London, and came to a place where a great fair was being held; and there I begged, but got nothing but a halfpenny, and was thinking of going farther, when I saw a man with a table, like that of mine, playing with thimbles, as you saw me. I looked at the play, and saw him win money and run away, and hunted by constables more than once. I kept following the man, and at last entered into conversation with him, and learning from him that he was in want of a companion to help him, I offered to help him if he would pay me; he looked at me from top to toe, and did not wish at first to have anything to do with me, as he said my appearance was against me. 'Faith, Shorsha, he had better have looked at home, for his appearance was not much in his favour: he looked very much like a Jew, Shorsha. However, he at last agreed to take me to be his companion, or bonnet, as he called it; and I was to keep a look out and let him know when constables were coming, and to spake a good word for him occasionally, whilst he was chating folks with his thimbles and his pea. So I became his bonnet, and assisted him in the fair, and in many other fairs beside; but I did not like my occupation much, or, rather, my master, who, though not a big man, was a big thaif, and an unkind one, for do all I could I could never give him pleasure; and he was continually calling me fool and bogtrotter, and twitting me because I could not learn his thaives' Latin, and discourse with him in it, and comparing me with another acquaintance, or bit of a pal of his, whom he said he had parted with in the fair, and of whom he was fond of saying all kinds of wonderful things, amongst others, that he knew the grammar of all tongues. At last, wearied with being twitted by him with not being able to learn his thaives' Greek, I proposed that I should teach him Irish, that we should spake it together when we had anything to say in sacret. To that he consented willingly; but, och! a purty hand he made with Irish, 'faith, not much better than did I with his thaives' Hebrew. Then my turn came, and I twitted him nicely with dulness, and compared him with a pal that I had in ould Ireland, in Dungarvon times of yore, to whom I teached Irish, telling him that he was the broth of a boy, and not only knew the grammar of all human tongues, but the dialects of the snakes besides; in fact, I tould him all about your own sweet self, Shorsha, and many a dispute and quarrel had we together about our pals, which was the cleverest fellow, his or mine.

'Well, after having been wid him about two months, I quitted him without noise, taking away one of his tables, and some peas and thimbles: and that I did with a safe conscience, for he paid me nothing, and was not over free with the meat and the drink, though I must say of him that he was a clever fellow, and perfect master of his trade, by which he made a power of money, and bating his not being able to learn Irish, and a certain Jewish lisp which he had, a great master of his tongue, of which he was very proud, so much so that he once told me that when he had saved a certain sum of money he meant to leave off the thimbling business, and enter Parliament, into which he said he could get at any time, through the interest of a friend of his, a Tory Peer, my Lord Whitefeather, with whom he said he had occasionally done business. With the table and other things which I had taken I commenced trade on my own account, having contrived to learn a few of his tricks. My only capital was the change for half-a-guinea, which he had once let fall, and which I picked up, which was all I could ever get from him, for it was impossible to stale any money from him, he was so awake, being up to all the tricks of thaives, having followed the diving trade, as he called it, for a considerable time. My wish was to make enough by my table to enable me to return with credit to ould Ireland, where I had no doubt of being able to get myself ordained as priest; and, in troth, notwithstanding I was a beginner, and without any companion to help me, I did tolerably well, getting my meat and drink, and increasing my small capital, till I came to this unlucky place of Horncastle, where I was utterly ruined by the thaif in the rider's dress. And now, Shorsha, I am after telling you my history; perhaps you will now be telling me something about yourself?'

I told Murtagh all about myself that I deemed necessary to relate, and then asked him what he intended to do; he repeated that he was utterly ruined, and that he had no prospect before him but starving, or making away with himself. I inquired, 'How much would take him to Ireland, and establish him there with credit?' 'Five pounds,' he answered, adding, 'but who in the world would be fool enough to lend me five pounds, unless it be yourself, Shorsha, who, may be, have not got it; for when you told me about yourself, you made no boast of the state of your affairs.' 'I am not very rich,' I replied, 'but I think I can accommodate you with what you want. I consider myself under great obligations to you, Murtagh; it was you who instructed me in the language of Oilein nan Naomha, which has been the foundation of all my acquisitions in philology; without you I should not be what I am—Lavengro! which signifies a philologist. Here is the money, Murtagh,' said I, putting my hand into my pocket and taking out five pounds; 'much good may it do you.' He took the money, stared at it, and then at me. 'And you mane to give me this, Shorsha?' 'It is not mine to give,' said I; 'it is yours.' 'And you give it me for the gratitude you bear me?' 'Yes,' said I; 'and for Dungarvon times of old.' 'Well, Shorsha,' said he, 'you are a broth of a boy, and I'll take your benefaction—five pounds! Och, Jasus!' He then put the money in his pocket, and springing up, waved his hat three times, uttering some old Irish cry; then, sitting down, he took my hand and said, 'Sure, Shorsha, I'll be going thither; and when I get there, it is turning over another leaf I will be; I have learnt a thing or two abroad; I will become a priest; that's the trade, Shorsha! and I will cry out for repale; that's the cry, Shorsha! and I'll be a fool no longer.' 'And what will you do with your table?' said I. ''Faith, I'll be taking it with me, Shorsha; and when I gets to Ireland I'll get it mended, and I will keep it in the house which I shall have; and when I looks upon it, I will be thinking of all I have undergone.' 'You had better leave it behind you,' said I; 'if you take it with you you will, perhaps, take up the thimble trade again before you get to Ireland, and lose the money I am after giving you.' 'No fear of that, Shorsha; never will I play on that table again, Shorsha, till I get it mended, which shall not be till I am a priest, and have a house in which to place it.'

Murtagh and I then went into the town, where we had some refreshment together, and then parted on our several ways. I heard nothing of him for nearly a quarter of a century, when a person who knew him well, coming from Ireland, and staying at my humble house, told me a great deal about him. He reached Ireland in safety, soon reconciled himself with his Church and was ordained a priest; in the priestly office he acquitted himself in a way very satisfactory, upon the whole, to his superiors, having, as he frequently said, learned wisdom abroad. The Popish Church never fails to turn to account any particular gift which its servants may possess; and discovering soon that Murtagh was endowed with considerable manual dexterity—proof of which he frequently gave at cards, and at a singular game which he occasionally played with thimbles—it selected him as a very fit person to play the part of exorcist; and accordingly he travelled through a great part of Ireland, casting out devils from people possessed, which he afterwards exhibited, sometimes in the shape of rabbits, and occasionally birds and fish. There is a holy island in a lake in Ireland, to which the people resort at a particular season of the year. Here Murtagh frequently attended, and it was here that he performed a cure which will cause his name long to be remembered in Ireland, delivering a possessed woman of two demons, which he brandished aloft in his hands, in the shape of two large eels, and subsequently hurled into the lake, amidst the shouts of an enthusiastic multitude. Besides playing the part of an exorcist, he acted that of a politician with considerable success; he attached himself to the party of the sire of agitation—'the man of paunch,' and preached and halloed for repeal with the loudest and best, as long as repeal was the cry; as soon, however, as the Whigs attained the helm of Government, and the greater part of the loaves and fishes—more politely termed the patronage of Ireland—was placed in the disposition of the priesthood, the tone of Murtagh, like that of the rest of his brother saggarts, was considerably softened; he even went so far as to declare that politics were not altogether consistent with sacerdotal duty; and resuming his exorcisms, which he had for some time abandoned, he went to the Isle of Holiness, and delivered a possessed woman of six demons in the shape of white mice. He, however, again resumed the political mantle in the year 1848, during the short period of the rebellion of the so-called Young Irelanders. The priests, though they apparently sided with this party, did not approve of it, as it was chiefly formed of ardent young men, fond of what they termed liberty, and by no means admirers of priestly domination, being mostly Protestants. Just before the outbreak of this rebellion, it was determined between the priests and the —-, that this party should be rendered comparatively innocuous by being deprived of the sinews of war—in other words, certain sums of money which they had raised for their enterprise. Murtagh was deemed the best qualified person in Ireland to be entrusted with the delicate office of getting their money from them. Having received his instructions, he invited the leaders to his parsonage amongst the mountains, under pretence of deliberating with them about what was to be done. They arrived there just before nightfall, dressed in red, yellow, and green, the colours so dear to enthusiastic Irishmen; Murtagh received them with great apparent cordiality, and entered into a long discourse with them, promising them the assistance of himself and order, and received from them a profusion of thanks. After a time Murtagh, observing, in a jocular tone, that consulting was dull work, proposed a game of cards, and the leaders, though somewhat surprised, he went to a closet, and taking out a pack of cards, laid it upon the table; it was a strange dirty pack, and exhibited every mark of having seen some very long service. On one of his guests making some remarks on the 'ancientness' of its appearance, Murtagh observed that there was a very wonderful history attached to that pack; it had been presented to him, he said, by a young gentleman, a disciple of his, to whom, in Dungarvon times of yore, he had taught the Irish language, and of whom he related some very extraordinary things; he added that he, Murtagh, had taken it to —-, where it had once the happiness of being in the hands of the Holy Father; by a great misfortune, he did not say what, he had lost possession of it, and had returned without it, but had some time since recovered it; a nephew of his, who was being educated at —- for a priest, having found it in a nook of the college, and sent it to him.

Murtagh and the leaders then played various games with this pack, more especially one called by the initiated 'blind hookey,' the result being that at the end of about two hours the leaders found they had lost one-half of their funds; they now looked serious, and talked of leaving the house, but Murtagh begging them to stay supper, they consented. After supper, at which the guests drank rather freely, Murtagh said that, as he had not the least wish to win their money, he intended to give them their revenge; he would not play at cards with them, he added, but at a funny game of thimbles, at which they would be sure of winning back their own; then, going out, he brought in a table, tall and narrow, on which placing certain thimbles and a pea, he proposed that they should stake whatever they pleased on the almost certainty of finding the pea under the thimbles. The leaders, after some hesitation, consented, and were at first eminently successful winning back the greater part of what they had lost; after some time, however, Fortune, or, rather, Murtagh, turned against them, and then, instead of leaving off, they doubled and trebled their stakes, and continued doing so until they had lost nearly the whole of their funds. Quite furious, they now swore that Murtagh had cheated them, and insisted on having their property restored to them. Murtagh, without a word of reply, went to the door, and shouting into the passage something in Irish, the room was instantly filled with bogtrotters, each at least six feet high, with a stout shillealah in his hand. Murtagh, then turning to his guests, asked them what they meant by insulting an anointed priest; telling them that it was not for the likes of them to avenge the wrongs of Ireland. 'I have been clane mistaken in the whole of ye,' said he; 'I supposed ye Irish, but have found to my sorrow that ye are nothing of the kind; purty fellows to pretend to be Irish, when there is not a word of Irish on the tongue of any of ye, divil a ha'porth; the illigant young gentleman to whom I taught Irish in Dungarvon times of old, though not born in Ireland, has more Irish in him than any ten of ye. He is the boy to avenge the wrongs of Ireland, if ever foreigner is to do it.' Then, saying something to the bogtrotters, they instantly cleared the room of the young Irelanders, who retired sadly disconcerted; nevertheless, being very silly young fellows, they hoisted the standard of rebellion; few, however, joining them, partly because they had no money, and partly because the priests abused them with might and main, their rebellion ended in a lamentable manner, themselves being seized and tried, and though convicted, not deemed of sufficient importance to be sent to the scaffold, where they might have had the satisfaction of saying—

'Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.'

My visitor, after saying that of the money won Murtagh retained a considerable portion, that a part went to the hierarchy for what were called church purposes, and that the —- took the remainder, which it employed in establishing a newspaper, in which the private characters of the worthiest and most loyal Protestants in Ireland were traduced and vilified, concluded his account by observing that it was the common belief that Murtagh, having by his services, ecclesiastical and political, acquired the confidence of the priesthood and favour of the Government, would, on the first vacancy, be appointed to the high office of Popish Primate of Ireland.



Leaving Horncastle I bent my steps in the direction of the east. {311a} I walked at a brisk rate, and late in the evening reached a large town, {311b} situate at the entrance of an extensive firth, or arm of the sea, which prevented my further progress eastward. Sleeping that night in the suburbs of the town, I departed early next morning in the direction of the south. A walk of about twenty miles brought me to another large town, {311c} situated on a river, where I again turned towards the east. At the end of the town I was accosted by a fiery-faced individual, somewhat under the middle size, dressed as a recruiting sergeant.

'Young man,' said the recruiting sergeant, 'you are just the kind of person to serve the Honourable East India Company.'

'I had rather the Honourable Company should serve me,' said I.

'Of course, young man. Well, the Honourable East India Company shall serve you—that's reasonable. Here, take this shilling; 't is service-money. The Honourable Company engages to serve you, and you the Honourable Company; both parties shall be thus served; that's just and reasonable.'

'And what must I do for the Company?'

'Only go to India; that's all.'

'And what should I do in India?'

'Fight, my brave boy! fight, my youthful hero!'

'What kind of country is India?'

'The finest country in the world! Rivers bigger than the Ouse! Hills higher than anything near Spalding! Trees—you never saw such trees! Fruits—you never saw such fruits!'

'And the people—what kind of folk are they?'

'Pah! Kauloes—blacks—a set of rascals not worth regarding.'

'Kauloes!' said I; 'blacks!'

'Yes,' said the recruiting sergeant; 'and they call us lolloes, which in their beastly gibberish means reds.'

'Lolloes!' said I; 'reds!'

'Yes,' said the recruiting sergeant, 'kauloes and lolloes; and all the lolloes have to do is to kick and cut down the kauloes, and take from them their rupees, which mean silver money. Why do you stare so?'

'Why,' said I, 'this is the very language of Mr. Petulengro.'

'Mr. Pet—?'

'Yes,' said I, 'and Tawno Chikno.'

'Tawno Chik—? I say, young fellow, I don't like your way of speaking; no, nor your way of looking. You are mad, sir; you are mad; and what's this? Why your hair is grey! You won't do for the Honourable Company—they like red. I'm glad I didn't give you the shilling. Good day to you.'

'I shouldn't wonder,' said I, as I proceeded rapidly along a broad causeway, in the direction of the east, 'if Mr. Petulengro and Tawno Chikno came originally from India. I think I'll go there.'



Lavengro is the history up to a certain period of one of rather a peculiar mind and system of nerves, with an exterior shy and cold, under which lurk much curiosity, especially with regard to what is wild and extraordinary, a considerable quantity of energy and industry, and an unconquerable love of independence. It narrates his earliest dreams and feelings, dwells with minuteness on the ways, words, and characters of his father, mother, and brother; lingers on the occasional resting-places of his wandering half military childhood; describes the gradual hardening of his bodily frame by robust exercises, his successive struggles, after his family and himself have settled down in a small local capital, to obtain knowledge of every kind, but more particularly philological lore; his visits to the tent of the Romany chal and the parlour of the Anglo-German philosopher; the effect produced upon his character by his flinging himself into contact with people all widely differing from each other, but all extraordinary; his reluctance to settle down to the ordinary pursuits of life; his struggles after moral truth; his glimpses of God and the obscuration of the Divine Being to his mind's eye; and his being cast upon the world of London, by the death of his father, at the age of nineteen. {314a} In the world within a world, the world of London, it shows him playing his part for some time as he best can in the capacity of a writer for reviews and magazines, and describes what he saw and underwent whilst labouring in that capacity; it represents him, however, as never forgetting that he is the son of a brave but poor gentleman, and that if he is a hack author, he is likewise a scholar. It shows him doing no dishonourable jobs, and proves that if he occasionally associates with low characters, he does so chiefly to gratify the curiosity of a scholar. In his conversations with the apple-woman of London Bridge the scholar is ever apparent, so, again, in his acquaintance with the man of the table, for the book is no raker up of the uncleanness of London; and if it gives what at first sight appears refuse, it invariably shows that a pearl of some kind, generally a philological one, is contained amongst it. It shows its hero always accompanied by his love of independence, scorning in the greatest poverty to receive favours from anybody, and describes him finally rescuing himself from peculiarly miserable circumstances by writing a book, an original book, within a week, even as Johnson is said to have written his 'Rasselas,' and Beckford his 'Vathek,' and tells how, leaving London, he betakes himself to the roads and fields.

In the country it shows him leading a life of roving adventure, becoming tinker, gypsy, postillion, ostler; associating with various kinds of people, chiefly of the lower classes, whose ways and habits are described; but, though leading this erratic life, we gather from the book that his habits are neither vulgar nor vicious, that he still follows to a certain extent his favourite pursuits—hunting after strange characters, or analyzing strange words and names. At the conclusion of the fifth volume, which terminates the first part of the history, it hints that he is about to quit his native land on a grand philological expedition.

Those who read this book with attention—and the author begs to observe that it would be of little utility to read it hurriedly—may derive much information with respect to matters of philology and literature; it will be found treating of most of the principal languages from Ireland to China, and of the literature which they contain; and it is particularly minute with regard to the ways, manners, and speech of the English section of the most extraordinary and mysterious clan or tribe of people to be found in the whole world—the children of Roma. {314b} But it contains matters of much more importance than anything in connection with philology, and the literature and manners of nations. Perhaps no work was ever offered to the public in which the kindness and providence of God have been set forth by more striking examples, or the machinations of priestcraft been more truly and lucidly exposed, or the dangers which result to a nation when it abandons itself to effeminacy, and a rage for what is novel and fashionable, than the present.

With respect to the kindness and providence of God, are they not exemplified in the case of the old apple-woman and her son? These are beings in many points bad, but with warm affections, who, after an agonizing separation, are restored to each other, but not until the hearts of both are changed and purified by the influence of affliction. Are they not exemplified in the case of the rich gentleman, who touches objects in order to avert the evil chance? This being has great gifts and many amiable qualities; but does not everybody see that his besetting sin is selfishness? He fixes his mind on certain objects, and takes inordinate interest in them because they are his own, and those very objects, through the providence of God, which is kindness in disguise, becomes snakes and scorpions to whip him. Tired of various pursuits, he at last becomes an author, and publishes a book, which is very much admired, and which he loves with his usual inordinate affection. The book, consequently, becomes a viper to him, and at last he flings it aside and begins another. The book, however, is not flung aside by the world, who are benefited by it, deriving pleasure and knowledge from it; so the man who merely wrote to gratify self has already done good to others, and got himself an honourable name. But God will not allow that man to put that book under his head and use it as a pillow; the book has become a viper to him, he has banished it, and is about another, which he finishes and gives to the world. It is a better book than the first, and everyone is delighted with it, but it proves to the writer a scorpion because he loves it with inordinate affection; but it was good for the world that he produced this book, which stung him as a scorpion. Yes, and good for himself, for the labour of writing it amused him, and perhaps prevented him from dying of apoplexy. But the book is banished, and another is begun, and herein, again, is the providence of God manifested; the man has the power of producing still, and God determines that he shall give to the world what remains in his brain, which he would not do had he been satisfied with the second work; he would have gone to sleep upon that as he would upon the first, for the man is selfish and lazy. In his account of what he suffered during the composition of this work, his besetting sin of selfishness is manifest enough; the work on which he is engaged occupies his every thought—it is his idol, his deity, it shall be all his own, he won't borrow a thought from anyone else, and he is so afraid lest, when he publishes it, that it should be thought that he had borrowed from anyone, that he is continually touching objects, his nervous system, owing to his extreme selfishness, having become partly deranged. He is left touching, in order to banish the evil chance from his book, his deity. No more of his history is given; but does the reader think that God will permit that man to go to sleep on his third book, however extraordinary it may be? Assuredly not. God will not permit that man to rest till He has cured him to a certain extent of his selfishness, which has, however, hitherto been very useful to the world.

Then, again in the tale of Peter Williams, is not the hand of Providence to be seen? This person commits a sin in his childhood—utters words of blasphemy—the remembrance of which in after life, preying upon his imagination, unfits him for quiet pursuits, to which he seems to have been naturally inclined; but for the remembrance of that sin, he would have been Peter Williams the quiet, respectable Welsh farmer, somewhat fond of reading the ancient literature of his country in winter evenings after his work was done. God, however, was aware that there was something in Peter Williams to entitle him to assume a higher calling; He therefore permits this sin, which, though a childish affair, was yet a sin, and committed deliberately, to prey upon his mind till he becomes at last an instrument in the hand of God, a humble Paul, the great preacher, Peter Williams, who, though he considers himself a reprobate and a castaway, instead of having recourse to drinking in mad desperation—at many do who consider themselves reprobates—goes about Wales and England preaching the Word of God, dilating on His power and majesty, and visiting the sick and afflicted, until God sees fit to restore to him his peace of mind, which He does not do, however, until that mind is in a proper condition to receive peace—till it has been purified by the pain of the one idea which has so long been permitted to riot in his brain, which pain, however, an angel, in the shape of a gentle faithful wife, had occasionally alleviated; for God is merciful even in the blows which He bestoweth, and will not permit anyone to be tempted beyond the measure which he can support. And here it will be as well for the reader to ponder upon the means by which the Welsh preacher is relieved from his mental misery; he is not relieved by a text from the Bible, by the words of consolation and wisdom addressed to him by his angel-minded wife, nor by the preaching of one yet more eloquent than himself, but by a quotation made by Lavengro from the life of Mary Flanders, cut-purse and prostitute, which life Lavengro had been in the habit of reading at the stall of his old friend the apple-woman, on London Bridge, who had herself been very much addicted to the perusal of it, though without any profit whatever. Should the reader be dissatisfied with the manner in which Peter Williams is made to find relief, the author would wish to answer, that the Almighty frequently accomplishes His purposes by means which appear very singular to the eyes of men, and at the same time to observe that the manner in which that relief is obtained is calculated to read a lesson to the proud, fanciful, and squeamish, who are ever in a fidget lest they should be thought to mix in low society, or to bestow a moment's attention on publications which are not what is called of a perfectly unobjectionable character. Had not Lavengro formed the acquaintance of the old apple-woman on London Bridge, he would not have had an opportunity of reading the life of Mary Flanders, and, consequently, of storing in a memory which never forgets anything, a passage which contained a balm for the agonized mind of Peter Williams. The best medicines are not always found in the finest shops. Suppose, for example, if, instead of going to London Bridge to read, he had gone to Albemarle Street, and had received from the proprietors of the literary establishment in that very fashionable street permission to read the publications on the tables of the saloons there, does the reader think he would have met any balm in those publications for the case of Peter Williams? Does the reader suppose that he would have found Mary Flanders there? He would certainly have found that highly objectionable publication, 'Rasselas,' and the 'Spectator,' or 'Lives of Royal and Illustrious Personages,' but, of a surety, no Mary Flanders. So, when Lavengro met with Peter Williams, he would have been unprovided with a balm to cure his ulcerated mind, and have parted from him in a way not quite so satisfactory as the manner in which he took his leave of him; for it is certain that he might have read 'Rasselas,' and all the other unexceptionable works to be found in the library of Albemarle Street, over and over again, before he would have found any cure in them for the case of Peter Williams. Therefore the author requests the reader to drop any squeamish nonsense he may wish to utter about Mary Flanders and the manner in which Peter Williams was cured.

And now with respect to the old man who knew Chinese, but could not tell what was o'clock. This individual was a man whose natural powers would have been utterly buried and lost beneath a mountain of sloth and laziness had not God determined otherwise. He had in his early years chalked out for himself a plan of life in which he had his own ease and self-indulgence solely in view; he had no particular bad passions to gratify, he only wished to lead an easy quiet life, just as if the business of this mighty world could be carried on by innocent people fond of ease and quiet, or that Providence would permit innocent quiet drones to occupy any portion of the earth and to cumber it. God had, at any rate, decreed that this man should not cumber it as a drone. He brings a certain affliction upon him, the agony of which produces that terrible whirling of the brain which, unless it is stopped in time, produces madness; he suffers indescribable misery for a period, until one morning his attention is arrested and his curiosity is aroused by certain Chinese letters on a teapot; his curiosity increases more and more, and, of course, in proportion as his curiosity is increased with respect to the Chinese marks, the misery in his brain produced by his mental affliction decreases. He sets about learning Chinese, and after the lapse of many years, during which his mind subsides into a certain state of tranquillity, he acquires sufficient knowledge of Chinese to be able to translate with ease the inscriptions to be found on its singular crockery. Yes, the laziest of human beings, through the providence of God—a being, too, of rather inferior capacity—acquires the written part of a language so difficult that, as Lavengro said on a former occasion, none but the cleverest people in Europe, the French, are able to acquire it. But God did not intend that man should merely acquire Chinese. He intended that he should be of use to his species, and, by the instrumentality of the first Chinese inscription which he translates, the one which first arrested his curiosity, he is taught the duties of hospitality; yes, by means of an inscription in the language of a people who have scarcely an idea of hospitality themselves, God causes the slothful man to play a useful and beneficent part in the world, relieving distressed wanderers, and, amongst others, Lavengro himself. But a striking indication of the man's surprising sloth is still apparent in what he omits to do; he has learnt Chinese, the most difficult of languages, and he practises acts of hospitality because he believes himself enjoined to do so by the Chinese inscription, but he cannot tell the hour of the day by the clock within his house; he can get on, he thinks, very well without being able to do so; therefore, from this one omission, it is easy to come to a conclusion as to what a sluggard's part the man would have played in life but for the dispensation of Providence; nothing but extreme agony could have induced such a man to do anything useful. He still continues, with all he has acquired, with all his usefulness, and with all his innocence of character, without any proper sense of religion, though he has attained a rather advanced age. If it be observed that this want of religion is a great defect in the story, the author begs leave to observe that he cannot help it. Lavengro relates the lives of people so far as they were placed before him, but no further. It was certainly a great defect in so good a man to be without religion; it was likewise a great defect in so learned a man not to be able to tell what was o'clock. It is probable that God, in His loving kindness, will not permit that man to go out of the world without religion—who knows but some powerful minister of the Church, full of zeal for the glory of God, will illumine that man's dark mind—perhaps some clergyman will come to the parish who will visit him and teach him his duty to his God. Yes, it is very probable that such a man, before he dies, will have been made to love his God; whether he will ever learn to know what's o'clock is another matter. It is probable that he will go out of the world without knowing what's o'clock. It is not so necessary to be able to tell the time of day by the clock as to know one's God through His inspired word; a man cannot get to heaven without religion, but a man can get there very comfortably without knowing what's o'clock.

But, above all, the care and providence of God are manifested in the case of Lavengro himself by the manner in which he is enabled to make his way in the world up to a certain period without falling a prey either to vice or poverty. In his history there is a wonderful illustration of part of the text, quoted by his mother: 'I have been young, and now am old, yet never saw I the righteous forsaken or his seed begging bread.' He is the son of good and honourable parents, but at the critical period of life, that of entering into the world, he finds himself without any earthly friend to help him, yet he manages to make his way. He does not become a captain in the Life Guards, it is true, nor does be get into Parliament, nor does the last volume conclude in the most satisfactory and unobjectionable manner by his marrying a dowager countess—as that wise man Addison did—or by his settling down as a great country gentleman, perfectly happy and contented, like the very moral Roderick Random or the equally estimable Peregrine Pickle; he is hack author, gypsy, tinker, and postillion, yet upon the whole he seems to be quite as happy as the younger sons of most earls, to have as high feelings of honour; and, when the reader loses sight of him, he has money in his pocket honestly acquired to enable him to commence a journey quite as laudable as those which the younger sons of earls generally undertake. Surely all this is a manifestation of the kindness and providence of God, and yet he is not a religious person—up to the time when the reader loses sight of him he is decidedly not a religious person, he has glimpses, it is true, of that God who does not forsake him, but he prays very seldom, is not fond of going to church, and, though he admires Tate and Brady's version of the Psalms, his admiration is rather caused by the beautiful poetry which that version contains than the religion; yet his tale is not finished—like the tale of the gentleman who touched objects, and that of the old man who knew Chinese without knowing what was o'clock; perhaps, like them, he is destined to become religious, and to have, instead of occasional glimpses, frequent and distinct views of his God; yet, though he may become religious, it is hardly to be expected that he will become a very precise and straight-laced person; it is probable that he will retain with his scholarship something of his gypsyism, his predilection for the hammer and tongs, and perhaps some inclination to put on certain gloves, not white kid, with any friend who may be inclined for a little old English diversion, and a readiness to take a glass of ale, with plenty of malt in it and as little hop as may well be—ale at least two years old—with the aforesaid friend when the diversion is over; for, as it is the belief of the writer that a person may get to heaven very comfortably without knowing what's o'clock, so it is his belief that he will not be refused admission there because to the last he has been fond of healthy and invigorating exercises, and felt a willingness to partake of any of the good things which it pleases the Almighty to put within the reach of His children during their sojourn upon earth.


The writer will now say a few words about priestcraft and the machinations of Rome, and will afterwards say something about himself and his motives for writing against them.

With respect to Rome and her machinations, much valuable information can be obtained from particular parts of Lavengro and its sequel. Shortly before the time when the hero of the book is launched into the world the Popish agitation in England had commenced. The Popish propaganda had determined to make a grand attempt on England; Popish priests were scattered over the land, doing the best they could to make converts to the old superstition. With the plans of Rome, and her hopes, and the reasons on which those hopes are grounded, the hero of the book becomes acquainted during an expedition which he makes into the country, from certain conversations which he holds with a priest in a dingle in which the hero had taken up his residence; he likewise learns from the same person much of the secret history of the Roman See and many matters connected with the origin and progress of the Popish superstition. The individual with whom he holds these conversations is a learned, intelligent, but highly unprincipled person, of a character, however, very common amongst the priests of Rome, who in general are people void of all religion, and who, notwithstanding they are tied to Rome by a band which they have neither the power nor wish to break, turn her and her practices, over their cups with their confidential associates, to a ridicule only exceeded by that to which they turn those who become the dupes of their mistress and themselves.

It is now necessary that the writer should say something with respect to himself and his motives for waging war against Rome. First of all, with respect to himself, he wishes to state that, to the very last moment of his life, he will do and say all that in his power may be to hold up to contempt and execration the priestcraft and practices of Rome; there is, perhaps, no person better acquainted than himself, not even among the choicest spirits of the priesthood, with the origin and history of Popery. From what he saw and heard of Popery in England at a very early period of his life, his curiosity was aroused, and he spared himself no trouble, either by travel or study, to make himself well acquainted with it in all its phases, the result being a hatred of it which he hopes and trusts he shall retain till the moment when his spirit quits the body. Popery is the great lie of the world—a source from which more misery and social degradation have flowed upon the human race than from all the other sources from which those evils come. It is the oldest of all superstitions, and, though in Europe it assumes the name of Christianity, it existed and flourished amidst the Himalayan hills at least two thousand years before the real Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judea—in a word, it is Buddhism, and let those who may be disposed to doubt this assertion compare the Popery of Rome and the superstitious practices of its followers with the doings of the priests who surround the grand Lama, and the mouthings, bellowing, turnings round, and above all, the penances of the followers of Buddh with those of Roman devotees. But he is not going to dwell here on this point; it is dwelt upon at tolerable length in the text, and has likewise been handled with extraordinary power by the pen of the gifted but irreligious Volney; moreover, the elite of the Roman priesthood are perfectly well aware that their system is nothing but Buddhism under a slight disguise, and the European world in general has entertained for some time past an inkling of the fact.

And now a few words with respect to the motives of the writer for expressing a hatred for Rome.

This expressed abhorrence of the author for Rome might be entitled to little regard, provided it were possible to attribute it to any self-interested motive. There have been professed enemies of Rome, or of this or that system; but their professed enmity may frequently be traced to some cause which does them little credit; but the writer of these lines has no motive, and can have no motive, for his enmity to Rome, save the abhorrence of an honest heart for what is false, base, and cruel. A certain clergyman wrote with much heat against the Papists in the time of —-, {321a} who was known to favour the Papists, but was not expected to continue long in office, and whose supposed successor, the person, indeed, who did succeed him, was thought to be hostile to the Papists. This divine, who obtained a rich benefice from the successor of —-, {321b} who during —-'s {321c} time had always opposed him in everything he proposed to do, and who, of course, during that time affected to be very inimical to Popery—this divine might well be suspected of having a motive equally creditable for writing against the Papists, as that which induced him to write for them, as soon as his patron, who eventually did something more for him, had espoused their cause; but what motive, save an honest one, can the present writer have, for expressing an abhorrence of Popery? He is no clergyman, and consequently can expect neither benefices nor bishoprics, supposing it were the fashion of the present, or likely to be the fashion of any future administration, to reward clergymen with benefices or bishoprics, who, in the defence of the religion of their country write, or shall write, against Popery, and not to reward those who write, or shall write, in favour of it, and all its nonsense and abominations.

'But if not a clergyman, he is the servant of a certain society, which has the overthrow of Popery in view, and therefore,' etc. This assertion, which has been frequently made, is incorrect, even as those who have made it probably knew it to be. He is the servant of no society whatever. He eats his own bread, and is one of the very few men in England who are independent in every sense of the word.

It is true he went to Spain with the colours of that society on his hat—oh! the blood glows in his veins! oh! the marrow awakes in his old bones when he thinks of what he accomplished in Spain in the cause of religion and civilization with the colours of that society in his hat, and its weapon in his hand, even the sword of the word of God; how with that weapon he hewed left and right, making the priests fly before him, and run away squeaking: 'Vaya! que demonio es este!' Ay, and when he thinks of the plenty of bible swords which he left behind him, destined to prove, and which have already proved, pretty calthrops in the heels of popery. 'Halloo! Batuschca,' {322} he exclaimed the other night, on reading an article in a newspaper, 'what do you think of the present doings in Spain? Your old friend the zingaro, the gitano who rode about Spain, to say nothing of Galicia, with the Greek Buchini behind him as his squire, had a hand in bringing them about; there are many brave Spaniards connected with the present movement who took bibles from his hands, and read them and profited by them, learning from the inspired page the duties of one man towards another, and the real value of a priesthood and their head, who set at nought the word of God, and think only of their own temporal interests; ay, and who learned Gitano—their own Gitano—from the lips of the London Caloro, and also songs in the said Gitano, very fit to dumbfounder your semi-Buddhist priests when they attempt to bewilder people's minds with their school-logic and pseudo-ecclesiastical nonsense, songs such as—

'Un Erajai Sinaba chibando un sermon . . .' {323}

But with that society he has long since ceased to have any connection; he bade it adieu with feelings of love and admiration more than fourteen years ago; so, in continuing to assault Popery, no hopes of interest founded on that society can sway his mind—interest! who, with worldly interest in view, would ever have anything to do with that society? It is poor and supported, like its founder Christ, by poor people; and so far from having political influence, it is in such disfavour, and has ever been, with the dastardly great, to whom the government of England has for many years past been confided, that the having borne its colours only for a month would be sufficient to exclude any man, whatever his talents, his learning, or his courage may be, from the slightest chance of being permitted to serve his country either for fee, or without. A fellow who unites in himself the bankrupt trader, the broken author, or rather book-maker, and the laughed down single speech spouter of the House of Commons, may look forward always supposing that at one time he has been a foaming radical, to the government of an important colony. Ay, an ancient fox who has lost his tail may, provided he has a score of radical friends, who will swear that he can bark Chinese, though Chinese is not barked but sung, be forced upon a Chinese colony, though it is well known that to have lost one's tail is considered by the Chinese in general as an irreparable infamy, whilst to have been once connected with a certain society to which, to its honour be it said, all the radical party are vehemently hostile, would be quite sufficient to keep any one not only from a government, but something much less, even though he could translate the rhymed 'Sessions of Hariri,' and were versed, still retaining his tail, in the two languages in which Kien-Loung wrote his Eulogium on Moukden, that piece which, translated by Amyot, the learned Jesuit, won the applause of the celebrated Voltaire.

No! were the author influenced by hopes of fee or reward, he would, instead of writing against Popery, write for it; all the trumpery titled—he will not call them great again—would then be for him, and their masters the radicals, with their hosts of newspapers, would be for him, more especially if he would commence maligning the society whose colours he had once on his hat—a society which, as the priest says in the text, is one of the very few Protestant institutions for which the Popish Church entertains any fear, and consequently respect, as it respects nothing which it does not fear. The writer said that certain 'rulers' would never forgive him for having been connected with that society; he went perhaps too far in saying 'never.' It is probable that they would take him into favour on one condition, which is, that he should turn his pen and his voice against that society; such a mark 'of a better way of thinking,' would perhaps induce them to give him a government, nearly as good as that which they gave to a certain ancient radical fox at the intercession of his radical friends (who were bound to keep him from the pauper's kennel), after he had promised to foam, bark, and snarl at corruption no more; he might even entertain hopes of succeeding, nay of superseding, the ancient creature in his government; but even were he as badly off as he is well off, he would do no such thing. He would rather exist on crusts and water; he has often done so, and been happy; nay, he would rather starve than be a rogue—for even the feeling of starvation is happiness compared with what he feels who knows himself to be a rogue, provided he has any feeling at all. What is the use of a mitre or a knighthood to a man who has betrayed his principles? What is the use of a gilt collar, nay, even of a pair of scarlet breeches, to a fox who has lost his tail? Oh! the horror which haunts the mind of the fox who has lost his tail; and with reason, for his very mate loathes him, and more especially if, like himself, she has lost her brush. Oh! the horror which haunts the mind of the two-legged rogue who has parted with his principles, or those which he professed—for what? We'll suppose a government. What's the use of a government, if, the next day after you have received it, you are obliged for very shame to scurry off to it with the hoot of every honest man sounding in your ears?

'Lightly liar leaped away and ran.'


But bigotry, it has been said, makes the author write against Popery; and thorough-going bigotry, indeed, will make a person say or do anything. But the writer is a very pretty bigot truly! Where will the public find traces of bigotry in anything he has written? He has written against Rome with all his heart, with all his mind, with all his soul, and with all his strength; but as a person may be quite honest, and speak and write against Rome, in like manner he may speak and write against her, and be quite free from bigotry; though it is impossible for any one but a bigot or a bad man to write or speak in her praise, her doctrines, actions, and machinations being what they are.

Bigotry! The author was born, and has always continued in the wrong Church for bigotry, the quiet, unpretending Church of England—a Church which had it been a bigoted Church, and not long suffering almost to a fault, might with its opportunities, as the priest says in the text, have stood in a very different position from which it occupies at present. No! let those who are in search of bigotry, seek for it in a Church very different from the inoffensive Church of England, which never encourages cruelty or calumny. Let them seek for it amongst the members of the Church of Rome, and more especially amongst those who have renegaded to it. There is nothing, however false and horrible, which a pervert to Rome will not say for his Church, and which his priests will not encourage him in saying; and there is nothing, however horrible—the more horrible indeed and revolting to human nature, the more eager he would be to do it—which he will not do for it, and which his priests will not encourage him in doing.

Of the readiness which converts to popery exhibit to sacrifice all the ties of blood and affection on the shrine of their newly-adopted religion, there is a curious illustration in the work of Luigi Pulci. This man, who was born at Florence in the year 1432, and who was deeply versed in the Bible, composed a poem, called the 'Morgante Maggiore,' which he recited at the table of Lorenzo de Medici, the great patron of Italian genius. It is a mock-heroic and religious poem, in which the legends of knight-errantry, and of the Popish Church, are turned to unbounded ridicule. The pretended hero of it is a converted giant, called Morgante; though his adventures do not occupy the twentieth part of the poem, the principal personages being Charlemagne, Orlando, and his cousin Rinaldo of Montalban. Morgante has two brothers, both of them giants, and, in the first canto of the poem, Morgante is represented with his brothers as carrying on a feud with the abbot and monks of a certain convent, built upon the confines of heathenesse; the giants being in the habit of flinging down stones, or rather huge rocks, on the convent. Orlando, however, who is banished from the court of Charlemagne, arriving at the convent, undertakes to destroy them, and, accordingly, kills Passamonte and Alabastro, and converts Morgante, whose mind had been previously softened by a vision, in which the 'Blessed Virgin' figures. No sooner is he converted than, as a sign of his penitence, what does he do but hastens and cuts off the hands of his two brothers, saying—

'Io vo' tagliar le mani a tutti quanti E porterolle a que' monaci santi.'

And he does cut off the hands of his brethren, and carries them to the abbot, who blesses him for so doing. Pulci here is holding up to ridicule and execration the horrid butchery or betrayal of friends by popish converts, and the encouragement they receive from the priest. No sooner is a person converted to popery than his principal thought is how he can bring the hands and feet of his brethren, however harmless they may be, and different from the giants, to the 'holy priests,' who, if he manages to do so, never fail to prate him, saying to the miserable wretch, as the abbot said to Morgante:

'Tu sarai or perfetto e vero amico A Cristo, quanto tu gli eri nemico.'

Can the English public deny the justice of Pulci's illustration, after something which it has lately witnessed? {326} Has it not seen equivalents for the hands and feet of brothers carried by popish perverts to the 'holy priests'? and has it not seen the manner in which the offering his been received? Let those who are in quest of bigotry seek for it amongst the perverts to Rome, and not amongst those who, born in the pale of the Church of England, have always continued in it.


With respect to the third point, various lessons which the book reads to the nation at large, and which it would be well for the nation to ponder and profit by.

There are many species of nonsense to which the nation is much addicted, and of which the perusal of Lavengro ought to give them a wholesome shame. First of all, with respect to the foreign nonsense so prevalent now in England. The hero is a scholar, but, though possessed of a great many tongues, he affects to be neither Frenchman, nor German, nor this or that foreigner; he is one who loves his country, and the language and literature of his country, and speaks up for each and all when there is occasion to do so. Now, what is the case with nine out of ten amongst those of the English who study foreign languages? No sooner have they picked up a smattering of this or that speech than they begin to abuse their own country and everything connected with it, more especially its language. This is particularly the case with those who call themselves German students. It is said, and the writer believes with truth, that when a woman falls in love with a particularly ugly fellow, she squeezes him with ten times more zest than she would a handsome one if captivated by him. So it is with these German students; no sooner have they taken German in hand than there is nothing like German. Oh, the dear delightful German! How proud I am that it is now my own, and that its divine literature is within my reach! And all this whilst mumbling the most uncouth speech, and crunching the most crabbed literature in Europe. The writer is not an exclusive admirer of everything English; he does not advise his country people never to go abroad, never to study foreign languages, and he does not wish to persuade them that there is nothing beautiful or valuable in foreign literature; he only wishes that they would not make themselves fools with respect to foreign people, foreign languages or reading; that if they chance to have been in Spain, and have picked up a little Spanish, they would not affect the arts of Spaniards; that, if males they would not make Tom-fools of themselves by sticking cigars into their mouths, dressing themselves in zamarras, and saying 'Carajo!' {327} and, if females, that they would not make zanies of themselves by sticking cigars into their mouths, flinging mantillas over their heads, and by saying, 'Carai,' and perhaps 'Carajo' too; or if they have been in France or Italy, and have picked up a little French or Italian, they would not affect to be French or Italians; and particularly, after having been a month or two in Germany, or picked up a little German in England, they would not make themselves foolish about everything German, as the Anglo-German in the book does—a real character, the founder of the Anglo-German school in England, and the cleverest Englishman who ever talked or wrote encomiastic nonsense about Germany and the Germans. Of all infatuations connected with what is foreign, the infatuation about everything that is German, to a certain extent prevalent in England, is assuredly the most ridiculous. One can find something like a palliation for people making themselves somewhat foolish about particular languages, literatures, and people. The Spanish certainly is a noble language, and there is something wild and captivating in the Spanish character, and its literature contains the grand book of the world. French is a manly language. The French are the most martial people in the world; and French literature is admirable in many respects. Italian is a sweet language, and of beautiful simplicity; its literature, perhaps, the first in the world. The Italians!—wonderful men have sprung up in Italy. Italy is not merely famous for painters, poets, musicians, singers, and linguists—the greatest linguist the world ever saw, the late Cardinal Mezzofanti, was an Italian; but it is celebrated for men—men emphatically speaking: Columbus was in Italian, Alexander Farnese was an Italian, so was the mightiest of the mighty, Napoleon Bonaparte. But the German language, German literature, and the Germans! The writer has already stated his opinion with respect to German; he does not speak from ignorance or prejudice; he has heard German spoken, and many other languages. German literature! he does not speak from ignorance; he has read that and many a literature, and he repeats—however, he acknowledges that there is one fine poem in the German language; that poem is the 'Oberon'—a poem, by-the-by, ignored by the Germans—a speaking fact—and, of course, by the Anglo-Germanists. The Germans! he has been amongst them, and amongst many other nations, and confesses that his opinion of the Germans, as men, is a very low one. Germany, it is true, has produced one very great man, the monk who fought the Pope, and nearly knocked him down; but this man his countrymen—a telling fact—affect to despise, and, of course, the Anglo-Germanists. The father of Anglo-Germanism was very fond of inveighing against Luther.

The madness, or rather foolery, of the English for foreign customs, dresses, and languages, is not an affair of to-day, or yesterday—it is of very ancient date, and was very properly exposed nearly three centuries ago by one Andrew Borde, who, under the picture of a 'Naked man, with a pair of shears in one hand and a roll of cloth in the other,' {328} inserted the following lines along with others:

'I am an Englishman, and naked I stand here, Musing in my mind what garment I shall weare; For now I will weare this, and now I will weare that, Now I will weare, I cannot tell what. All new fashions be pleasant to mee, I will have them, whether I thrive or thee; What do I care if all the world me fail? I will have a garment reach to my taille; Then am I a minion, for I wear the new guise. The next yeare after I hope to be wise, Not only in wearing my gorgeous array, For I will go to learning a whole summer's day; I will learn Latine, Hebrew, Greek, and French, And I will learn Dutch, sitting on my bench. I had no peere if to myself I were true, Because I am not so, divers times do I rue. Yet I lacke nothing, I have all things at will If I were wise and would hold myself still, And meddle with no matters but to me pertaining, But ever to be true to God and my king. But I have such matters rowling in my pate, That I will and do . . . I cannot tell what,' etc.



What is gentility? People in different stations in England entertain different ideas of what is genteel, {329} but it must be something gorgeous, glittering, or tawdry to be considered genteel by any of them. The beau-ideal of the English aristocracy, of course with some exceptions, is some young fellow with an imperial title, a military personage, of course, for what is military is so particularly genteel, with flaming epaulets, a cocked hat and a plume, a prancing charger, and a band of fellows called generals and colonels, with flaming epaulets, cocked hats, and plumes, and prancing chargers vapouring behind him. It was but lately that the daughter of an English marquis was heard to say that the sole remaining wish of her heart—she had known misfortunes, and was not far from fifty—was to be introduced to—whom? The Emperor of Austria! The sole remaining wish of the heart of one who ought to have been thinking of the grave and judgment was to be introduced to the miscreant who had caused the blood of noble Hungarian females to be whipped out of their shoulders, for no other crime than devotion to their country and its tall and heroic sons. The middle classes—of course there are some exceptions—admire the aristocracy, and consider them pinks, the aristocracy who admire the Emperor of Austria, and adored the Emperor of Russia till he became old, ugly, and unfortunate, when their adoration instantly terminated; for what is more ungenteel than age, ugliness, and misfortune! The beau-ideal with those of the lower classes, with peasants and mechanics, is some flourishing railroad contractor—look, for example, how they worship Mr. Flamson. {330} This person makes his grand debut in the year '39, at a public meeting in the principal room of a country inn. He has come into the neighbourhood with the character of a man worth a million pounds who is to make everybody's fortune; at this time, however, he is not worth a shilling of his own, though he flashes about dexterously three or four thousand pounds, part of which sum he has obtained by specious pretences, and part from certain individuals who are his confederates. But in the year '49 he is really in possession of the fortune which he and his agents pretended he was worth ten years before—he is worth a million pounds. By what means has he come by them? By railroad contracts, for which he takes care to be paid in hard cash before he attempts to perform them, and to carry out which he makes use of the sweat and blood of wretches who, since their organization, have introduced crimes and language into England to which it was previously almost a stranger—by purchasing, with paper, shares by hundreds in the schemes to execute which he contracts, and which are of his own devising; which shares he sells as soon as they are at a high premium, to which they are speedily forced by means of paragraphs, inserted by himself and agents, in newspapers devoted to his interest, utterly reckless of the terrible depreciation to which they are almost instantly subjected. But he is worth a million pounds, there can be no doubt of the fact—he has not made people's fortunes, at least, those whose fortunes it was said he would make; he has made them away, but his own he has made, emphatically made it—he is worth a million pounds. Hurrah for the millionaire! The clown who views the pandemonium of red brick which he has built on the estate which he has purchased in the neighbourhood of the place of his grand debut, in which every species of architecture, Greek, Indian, and Chinese, is employed in caricature—who hears of the grand entertainment he gives at Christmas in the principal dining-room, the hundred wax candles, the waggon-load of plate, and the oceans of wine which form parts of it, and above all the two ostrich poults, one at the head and the other at the foot of the table, exclaims: 'Well, if he a'n't bang up, I don't know who be; why he beats my lord hollow!' The mechanic of the borough town, who sees him dashing through the streets in an open landau, drawn by four milk-white horses, amidst its attendant out-riders; his wife, a monster of a woman, by his side, stout as the wife of Tamerlane, who weighed twenty stone, and bedizened out like her whose person shone with the jewels of plundered Persia, stares with silent wonder, and at last exclaims: 'That's the man for my vote!' You tell the clown that the man of the mansion has contributed enormously to corrupt the rural innocence of England; you point to an incipient branch railroad, from around which the accents of Gomorrah are sounding, and beg him to listen for a moment and then close his ears. Hodge scratches his head and says: 'Well, I have nothing to say to that; all I know is that he is bang up, and I wish I were he'; perhaps he will add—a Hodge has been known to add—'He has been kind enough to put my son on that very railroad; 'tis true the company is somewhat queer, and the work rather killing; but he gets there half-a-crown a day, whereas from the farmers he would only get eighteenpence.' You remind the mechanic that the man in the landau has been the ruin of thousands, and you mention people whom he himself knows, people in various grades of life, widows and orphans amongst them, whose little all he has dissipated, and whom he has reduced to beggary by inducing them to become sharers in his delusive schemes. But the mechanic says: 'Well the more fools they to let themselves be robbed. But I don't call that kind of thing robbery, I merely call it out-witting; and everybody in this free country has a right to outwit others if he can. What a turn-out he has!' One was once heard to add, 'I never saw a more genteel-looking man in all my life except one, and that was a gentleman's walley, who was much like him. It is true he is rather undersized, but then madam, you know, makes up for all.'


In the last chapter have been exhibited specimens of gentility, so considered by different classes; by one class, power, youth, and epaulets are considered the ne plus ultra of gentility; by another class, pride, stateliness, and title; by another, wealth and flaming tawdriness. But what constitutes a gentleman? It is easy to say at once what constitutes a gentleman, and there are no distinctions in what is gentlemanly, {331} as there are in what is genteel. The characteristics of a gentleman are high feeling, a determination never to take a cowardly advantage of another, a liberal education, absence of narrow views, generosity and courage, propriety of behaviour. Now a person may be genteel according to one or another of the three standards described above, and not possess one of the characteristics of a gentleman. Is the Emperor a gentleman, with spatters of blood on his clothes, scourged from the backs of noble Hungarian women? Are the aristocracy gentlefolks, who admire him? Is Mr. Flamson a gentleman, although he has a million pounds? No! cowardly miscreants, admirers of cowardly miscreants, and people who make a million pounds by means compared with which those employed to make fortunes by the getters-up of the South Sea Bubble might be called honest dealing, are decidedly not gentle-folks. Now, as it is clearly demonstrable that a person may be perfectly genteel according to some standard or other and yet be no gentleman, so is it demonstrable that a person may have no pretensions to gentility and yet be a gentleman. For example there is Lavengro! Would the admirers of the Emperor, or the admirers of those who admire the Emperor, or the admirers of Mr. Flamson, call him genteel?—and gentility with them is everything! Assuredly they would not; and assuredly they would consider him respectively as a being to be shunned, despised, or hooted. Genteel! Why, at one time he is a hack author—writes reviewals for eighteenpence a page—edits a Newgate chronicle. At another he wanders the country with a face grimy from occasionally mending kettles; and there is no evidence that his clothes are not seedy and torn, and his shoes down at the heel; but by what process of reasoning will they prove that he is no gentleman! Is he not learned? Has he not generosity and courage? Whilst a hack author does he pawn the books entrusted to him to review? Does he break his word to his publisher? Does he write begging letters? Does he get clothes or lodgings without paying for them? Again, whilst a wanderer, does he insult helpless women on the road with loose proposals or ribald discourse? Does he take what is not his own from the hedges? Does he play on the fiddle, or make faces in public-houses, in order to obtain pence or beer? or does he call for liquor, swallow it, and then say to a widowed landlady, 'Mistress, I have no brass'? In a word, what vice and crime does he perpetrate—what low acts does he commit? Therefore, with his endowments, who will venture to say that he is no gentleman?—unless it be an admirer of Mr. Flamson—a clown—who will, perhaps, shout: 'I say he is no gentleman; for who can be a gentleman who keeps no gig?' {332}

The indifference exhibited by Lavengro for what is merely genteel, compared with his solicitude never to infringe the strict laws of honour, should read a salutary lesson. The generality of his countrymen are far more careful not to transgress the customs of what they call gentility than to violate the laws of honour or morality. They will shrink from carrying their own carpet-bag, and from speaking to a person in seedy raiment, whilst to matters of much higher importance they are shamelessly indifferent. Not so Lavengro; he will do anything that he deems convenient, or which strikes his fancy, provided it does not outrage decency, or is unallied to profligacy; is not ashamed to speak to a beggar in rags, and will associate with anybody, provided he can gratify a laudable curiosity. He has no abstract love for what is low, or what the world calls low. He sees that many things which the world looks down upon are valuable, so he prizes much which the world contemns; he sees that many things which the world admires are contemptible, so he despises much which the world does not; but when the world prizes what is really excellent, he does not contemn it, because the world regards it. If he learns Irish, which all the world scoffs at, he likewise learns Italian, which all the world melts at. If he learns Gypsy, the language of the tattered tent, he likewise learns Greek, the language of the college hall. If he learns smithery, he also learns—ah! what does he learn to set against smithery?—the law? No; he does not learn the law, which, by the way, is not very genteel. Swimming! Yes, he learns to swim. Swimming, however, is not genteel; and the world—at least the genteel part of it—acts very wisely in setting its face against it; for to swim you must be naked, and how would many a genteel person look without his clothes? Come, he learns horsemanship; a very genteel accomplishment, which every genteel person would gladly possess, though not all genteel people do.

Again as to associates: if he holds communion when a boy with Murtagh, the scarecrow of an Irish academy, he associates in after life with Francis Ardry, a rich and talented young Irish gentleman about town. If he accepts an invitation from Mr. Petulengro to his tent, he has no objection to go home with a rich genius to dinner; who then will say that he prizes a thing or a person because they are ungenteel? That he is not ready to take up with everything that is ungenteel he gives a proof, when he refuses, though on the brink of starvation, to become bonnet to the thimble-man, an office which, though profitable, is positively ungenteel. Ah! but some sticker-up for gentility will exclaim, 'The hero did not refuse this office from an insurmountable dislike to its ungentility, but merely from a feeling of principle.' Well! the writer is not fond of argument, and he will admit that such was the case; he admits that it was a love of principle, rather than an over-regard for gentility, which prevented the hero from accepting, when on the brink of starvation, an ungenteel though lucrative office, an office which, the writer begs leave to observe, many a person with a great regard for gentility, and no particular regard for principle, would in a similar strait have accepted; for when did a mere love for gentility keep a person from being a dirty scoundrel, when the alternatives apparently were 'either be a dirty scoundrel or starve'? One thing, however, is certain, which is, that Lavengro did not accept the office, which if a love for what is low had been his ruling passion he certainly would have done; consequently, he refuses to do one thing which no genteel person would willingly do, even as he does many things which every genteel person would gladly do, for example speaks Italian, rides on horseback, associates with a fashionable young man, dines with a rich genius, et cetera. Yet—and it cannot be minced—he and gentility with regard to many things are at strange divergency; he shrinks from many things at which gentility placidly hums a tune, or approvingly simpers, and does some things at which gentility positively sinks. He will not run into debt for clothes or lodgings, which he might do without any scandal to gentility; he will not receive money from Francis Ardry, and go to Brighton with the sister of Annette Le Noir, though there is nothing ungenteel in borrowing money from a friend, even when you never intend to repay him, and something poignantly genteel in going to a watering-place with a gay young Frenchwoman; but he has no objection, after raising twenty pounds by the sale of that extraordinary work 'Joseph Sell,' to set off into the country, mend kettles under hedgerows, and make pony and donkey shoes in a dingle. Here, perhaps, some plain, well-meaning person will cry—and with much apparent justice—how can the writer justify him in this act? What motive, save a love for what is low, could induce him to do such things? Would the writer have everybody who is in need of recreation go into the country, mend kettles under hedges, and make pony shoes in dingles? To such an observation the writer would answer that Lavengro had an excellent motive in doing what he did, but that the writer is not so unreasonable as to wish everybody to do the same. It is not everybody who can mend kettles. It is not everybody who is in similar circumstances to those in which Lavengro was. Lavengro flies from London and hack authorship, and takes to the roads from fear of consumption; it is expensive to put up at inns, and even at public-houses, and Lavengro has not much money; so he buys a tinker's cart and apparatus, and sets up as tinker, and subsequently as blacksmith; a person living in a tent, or in anything else, must do something or go mad; Lavengro had a mind, as he himself well knew, with some slight tendency to madness, and had he not employed himself, he must have gone wild; so to employ himself he drew upon one of his resources, the only one available at the time. Authorship had nearly killed him, he was sick of reading, and had besides no books; but he possessed the rudiments of an art akin to tinkering; he knew something of smithery, having served a kind of apprenticeship in Ireland to a fairy smith; so he draws upon his smithery to enable him to acquire tinkering, and through the help which it affords him, owing to its connection with tinkering, he speedily acquires that craft, even as he had speedily acquired Welsh, owing to its connection with Irish, which language he possessed; and with tinkering he amuses himself until he lays it aside to resume smithery. A man who has any innocent resource, has quite as much right to draw upon it in need, as he has upon a banker in whose hands he has placed a sum; Lavengro turns to advantage, under particular circumstances, a certain resource which he has, but people who are not so forlorn as Lavengro, and have not served the same apprenticeship which he had, are not advised to follow his example. Surely he was better employed in plying the trades of tinker and smith than in having recourse to vice, in running after milk-maids for example. Running after milk-maids is by no means an ungenteel rural diversion; but let any one ask some respectable casuist (the Bishop of London for example), whether Lavengro was not far better employed, when in the country, at tinkering and smithery than he would have been in running after all the milkmaids in Cheshire, though tinkering is in general considered a very ungenteel employment, and smithery little better, notwithstanding that an Orcadian poet, who wrote in Norse about eight hundred years ago, reckons the latter amongst nine noble arts which he possessed, naming it along with playing at chess, on the harp, and ravelling runes, or as the original has it 'treading runes'—that is compressing them into a small compass by mingling one letter with another, even as the Turkish caligraphists ravel the Arabic letters, more especially those who write talismans.

'Nine arts have I, all noble; I play at chess so free, At ravelling runes I'm ready, At books and smithery; I'm skill'd o'er ice at skimming On skates, I shoot and row, And few at harping match me, Or minstrelsy, I trow.'

But though Lavengro takes up smithery, which, though the Orcadian ranks it with chess-playing and harping, is certainly somewhat of a grimy art, there can be no doubt that, had he been wealthy and not so forlorn as he was, he would have turned to many things, honourable, of course, in preference. He has no objection to ride a fine horse when he has the opportunity: he has his day-dream of making a fortune of two hundred thousand pounds by becoming a merchant and doing business after the Armenian fashion; and there can be no doubt that he would have been glad to wear fine clothes, provided he had had sufficient funds to authorize him in wearing them. For the sake of wandering the country and plying the hammer and tongs he would not have refused a commission in the service of that illustrious monarch George the Fourth, provided he had thought that he could live on his pay, and not be forced to run in debt to tradesmen, without any hope of paying them, for clothes and luxuries, as many highly genteel officers in that honourable service were in the habit of doing. For the sake of tinkering he would certainly not have refused a secretaryship of an embassy to Persia, in which he might have turned his acquaintance with Persian, Arabic, and the Lord only knows what other languages, to account. He took to tinkering and smithery, because no better employments were at his command. No war is waged in the book against rank, wealth, fine clothes, or dignified employments; it is shown, however, that a person may be a gentleman and a scholar without them. Rank, wealth, fine clothes, and dignified employments, are no doubt very fine things, but they are merely externals, they do not make a gentleman, they add external grace and dignity to the gentleman and scholar, but they make neither; and is it not better to be a gentleman without them than not a gentleman with them? Is not Lavengro, when he leaves London on foot with twenty pounds in his pocket, entitled to more respect than Mr. Flamson flaming in his coach with a million? And is not even the honest jockey at Horncastle, who offers a fair price to Lavengro for his horse, entitled to more than the scoundrel lord, who attempts to cheat him of one-fourth of its value.

Millions, however, seem to think otherwise, by their servile adoration of people whom, without rank, wealth, and fine clothes, they would consider infamous; but whom, possessed of rank, wealth, and glittering habiliments, they seem to admire all the more for their profligacy and crimes. Does not a blood-spot or a lust-spot on the clothes of a blooming emperor give a kind of zest to the genteel young god? Do not the pride, superciliousness, and selfishness of a certain aristocracy make it all the more regarded by its worshippers? And do not the clownish and gutter-blood admirers of Mr. Flamson like him all the more because they are conscious that he is a knave? If such is the case—and, alas! is it not the case?—they cannot be too frequently told that fine clothes, wealth, and titles adorn a person in proportion as he adorns them; that if worn by the magnanimous and good they are ornaments indeed, but if by the vile and profligate they are merely san benitos, and only serve to make their infamy doubly apparent; and that a person in seedy raiment and tattered hat, possessed of courage, kindness, and virtue, is entitled to more respect from those to whom his virtues are manifested than any cruel profligate emperor, selfish aristocrat, or knavish millionaire in the world.

The writer has no intention of saying that all in England are affected with the absurd mania for gentility; nor is such a statement made in the book; it is shown therein that individuals of various classes can prize a gentleman, notwithstanding seedy raiment, dusty shoes, or tattered hat—for example, the young Irishman, the rich genius, the postillion, and his employer. Again, when the life of the hero is given to the world, amidst the howl about its lowness and vulgarity, raised by the servile crew whom its independence of sentiment has stung, more than one powerful voice has been heard testifying approbation of its learning and the purity of its morality. That there is some salt in England—minds not swayed by mere externals—he is fully convinced; if he were not, he would spare himself the trouble of writing; but to the fact that the generality of his countrymen are basely grovelling before the shrine of what they are pleased to call gentility he cannot shut his eyes.

Oh! what a clever person that Cockney was, who, travelling in the Aberdeen railroad carriage, after edifying the company with his remarks on various subjects, gave it as his opinion that Lieutenant P—- {337} would, in future, be shunned by all respectable society! And what a simple person that elderly gentleman was, who, abruptly starting, asked, in rather an authoritative voice, 'And why should Lieutenant P—- be shunned by respectable society?' and who, after entering into what was said to be a masterly analysis of the entire evidence of the case, concluded by stating, 'that having been accustomed to all kinds of evidence all his life, he had never known a case in which the accused had obtained a more complete and triumphant justification than Lieutenant P—- had done in the late trial.'

Now, the Cockney, who is said to have been a very foppish Cockney, was perfectly right in what he said, and therein manifested a knowledge of the English mind and character, and likewise of the modern English language, to which his catechist, who, it seems, was a distinguished member of the Scottish Bar, could lay no pretensions. The Cockney knew what the Lord of Session knew not—that the British public is gentility crazy—and he knew, moreover, that gentility and respectability are synonymous. No one in England is genteel or respectable that is 'looked at,' who is the victim of oppression. He may be pitied for a time, but when did not pity terminate in contempt? A poor, harmless young officer!—but why enter into the details of the infamous case? They are but too well known, and if ever, cruelty, pride, and cowardice, and things much worse than even cruelty, cowardice, and pride, were brought to light, and at the same time countenanced, they were in that case. What availed the triumphant justification of the poor victim? There was at first a roar of indignation against his oppressors, but how long did it last? He had been turned out of the service, they remained in it with their red coats and epaulets; he was merely the son of a man who had rendered good service to his country, they were, for the most part, highly connected; they were in the extremest degree genteel, he quite the reverse. So the nation wavered, considered, thought the genteel side was the safest after all, and then, with the cry of, 'Oh, there is nothing like gentility,' ratted bodily. Newspaper and public turned against the victim, scouted him, apologized for the—what should they be called?—who were not only admitted into the most respectable society, but courted to come, the spots, not merely of wine, on their military clothes giving them a kind of poignancy. But there is a God in heaven; the British glories are tarnished—Providence has never smiled on British arms since that case—oh, Balaklava! thy name interpreted is net of fishes, and well dost thou deserve that name. How many a scarlet golden fish has of late perished in the mud amidst thee, cursing the genteel service and the genteel leader which brought him to such a doom!

Whether the rage for gentility is most prevalent amongst the upper, middle, or lower classes it is difficult to say; the priest, in the text, seems to think that it is exhibited in the most decided manner in the middle class; it is the writer's opinion, however, that in no class is it more strongly developed than in the lower; what they call being well born goes a great way amongst them, but the possession of money much farther, whence Mr. Flamson's influence over them. Their rage against, and scorn for, any person who by his courage and talents has advanced himself in life, and still remains poor, are indescribable: 'He is no better than ourselves,' they say; 'why should he be above us?' For they have no conception that anybody has a right to ascendancy over themselves except by birth or money. This feeling amongst the vulgar has been, to a certain extent, the bane of the two services, naval and military. The writer does not make this assertion rashly; he observed this feeling at work in the army when a child, and he has good reason for believing that it was as strongly at work in the navy at the same time, and is still as prevalent in both. Why are not brave men raised from the ranks? is frequently the cry; why are not brave sailors promoted? The Lord help brave soldiers and sailors who are promoted! They have less to undergo from the high airs of their brother-officers, and those are hard enough to endure, than from the insolence of the men. Soldiers and sailors promoted to command are said to be in general tyrants; in nine cases out of ten, when they are tyrants, they have been obliged to have recourse to extreme severity in order to protect themselves from the insolence and mutinous spirit of the men: 'He is no better than ourselves; shoot him, bayonet him, or fling him overboard!' they say of some obnoxious individual raised above them by his merit. Soldiers and sailors, in general, will bear any amount of tyranny from a lordly sot, or the son of a man who has 'plenty of brass'—their own term—but will mutiny against the just orders of a skilful and brave officer who 'is no better than themselves.' There was the affair of the Bounty, for example: Bligh was one of the best seamen that ever trod deck, and one of the bravest of men; proofs of his seamanship he gave by steering, amidst dreadful weather, a deeply-laden boat for nearly four thousand miles over an almost unknown ocean; of his bravery at the fight of Copenhagen, one of the most desperate ever fought, of which, after Nelson, he was the hero; he was, moreover, not an unkind man; but the crew of the Bounty mutinied against him, and set him, half-naked, in an open boat, with certain of his men who remained faithful to him, and ran away with the ship. Their principal motive for doing so was an idea, whether true or groundless the writer cannot say, that Bligh was 'no better than themselves'; he was certainly neither a lord's illegitimate, nor possessed of twenty thousand pounds. The writer knows what he is writing about, having been acquainted in his early years with an individual who was turned adrift with Bligh, and who died about the year '22, a lieutenant in the navy, in a provincial town in which the writer was brought up. The ringleaders in the mutiny were two scoundrels, Christian and Young, who had great influence with the crew, because they were genteelly connected. Bligh, after leaving the Bounty, had considerable difficulty in managing the men who had shared his fate, because they considered themselves 'as good men as he,' notwithstanding that to his conduct and seamanship they had alone to look, under heaven, for salvation from the ghastly perils that surrounded them. Bligh himself, in his journal, alludes to this feeling. Once, when he and his companions landed on a desert island, one of them said, with a mutinous look, that he considered himself 'as good a man as he'; Bligh, seizing a cutlass, called upon him to take another and defend himself, whereupon the man said that Bligh was going to kill him, and made all manner of concessions. Now, why did this fellow consider himself as good a man as Bligh? Was he as good a seaman? No, nor a tenth part as good. As brave a man? No, nor a tenth part as brave; and of these facts he was perfectly well aware, but bravery and seamanship stood for nothing with him, as they still stand with thousands of his class. Bligh was not genteel by birth or money, therefore Bligh was no better than himself. Had Bligh, before he sailed, got a twenty thousand pound prize in the lottery, he would have experienced no insolence from this fellow, for there would have been no mutiny in the Bounty. 'He is our betters,' the crew would have said, 'and it is our duty to obey him.'

The wonderful power of gentility in England is exemplified in nothing more than in what it is producing amongst Jews, gypsies, and Quakers. It is breaking up their venerable communities. All the better, someone will say. Alas! alas! It is making the wealthy Jews forsake the synagogue for the opera-house, or the gentility chapel, in which a disciple of Mr. Platitude, in a white surplice, preaches a sermon at noon-day from a desk, on each side of which is a flaming taper. It is making them abandon their ancient literature, their 'Mischna,' their 'Gemara,' their 'Zohar,' for gentility novels, 'The Young Duke,' the most unexceptionably genteel book ever written, being the principal favourite. It makes the young Jew ashamed of the young Jewess; it makes her ashamed of the young Jew. The young Jew marries an opera dancer, or if the dancer will not have him, as is frequently the case, the cast-off Miss of the Honourable Spencer So-and-so. It makes the young Jewess accept the honourable offer of a cashiered lieutenant of the Bengal Native Infantry; or if such a person does not come forward, the dishonourable offer of a cornet of a regiment of crack hussars. It makes poor Jews, male and female, forsake the synagogue for the sixpenny theatre or penny hop; the Jew to take up with an Irish female of loose character, and the Jewess with a musician of the Guards, or the Tipperary servant of Captain Mulligan. With respect to the gypsies, it is making the women what they never were before—harlots; and the men what they never were before—careless fathers and husbands. It has made the daughter of Ursula the chaste take up with the base-drummer of a wild-beast show. It makes Gorgiko Brown, {340} the gypsy man, leave his tent and his old wife of an evening, and thrust himself into society which could well dispense with him. 'Brother,' said Mr. Petulengro the other day to the Romany Rye, after telling him many things connected with the decadence of gypsyism, 'there is one Gorgiko Brown, who, with a face as black as a tea-kettle, wishes to be mistaken for a Christian tradesman; he goes into the parlour of a third-rate inn of an evening, calls for rum-and-water, and attempts to enter into conversation with the company about politics and business. The company flout him or give him the cold shoulder, or perhaps complain to the landlord, who comes and asks him what business he has in the parlour, telling him if he wants to drink to go into the tap-room, and perhaps collars him and kicks him out, provided he refuses to move.' With respect to the Quakers, it makes the young people, like the young Jews, crazy after gentility diversions, worship, marriages, or connections, and makes old Pease do what it makes Gorgiko Brown do—thrust himself into society which could well dispense with him, and out of which he is not kicked, because, unlike the gypsy, he is not poor. The writer would say much more on these points, but want of room prevents him; he must therefore request the reader to have patience until he can lay before the world a pamphlet, which he has been long meditating, to be entitled 'Remarks on the strikingly similar Effects which a Love for Gentility has produced, and is producing, amongst Jews, Gypsies, and Quakers.'

The Priest in the book has much to say on the subject of this gentility nonsense; no person can possibly despise it more thoroughly than that very remarkable individual seems to do, yet he hails its prevalence with pleasure, knowing the benefits which will result from it to the church of which he is the sneering slave. 'The English are mad after gentility,' says he; 'well, all the better for us. Their religion for a long time past has been a plain and simple one, and consequently by no means genteel; they'll quit it for ours, which is the perfection of what they admire; with which Templars, Hospitalers, mitred abbots, Gothic abbeys, long-drawn aisles, golden censers, incense, et cetera, are connected; nothing, or next to nothing, of Christ, it is true, but weighed in the balance against gentility, where will Christianity be? why, kicking against the beam—ho! ho!' And in connection with the gentility nonsense he expatiates largely, and with much contempt, on a species of literature by which the interests of his church in England have been very much advanced—all genuine priests have a thorough contempt for everything which tends to advance the interests of their church—this literature is made up of pseudo-Jacobitism, Charlie o'er the waterism, or nonsense about Charlie o'er the water. And the writer will now take the liberty of saying a few words about it on his own account.

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