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Title: Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 441 - Volume 17, New Series, June 12, 1852
Author: Various
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 441 - Volume 17, New Series, June 12, 1852" ***

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                     CHAMBERS' EDINBURGH JOURNAL


  No. 441. NEW SERIES.   SATURDAY, JUNE 12, 1852.   PRICE 1-1/2_d._


It is with a feeling doubtless somewhat analogous to that of the
angler, that the London shopkeeper from time to time regards the
moneyless crowds who throng in gaping admiration around the tempting
display he makes in his window. His admirers and the fish, however,
are in different circumstances: the one won't bite if they have no
mind; the others can't bite if they should have all the mind in the
world. Yet the shopkeeper manages better than the angler; for while
the fish are deaf to the charming of the latter, charm he never so
wisely, the former is able, at a certain season of the year, to
convert the moneyless gazers into ready-money customers. This he does
by the force of logic. 'You are thinking of Christmas,' says he--'yes,
you are; and you long to have a plum-pudding for that day--don't deny
it. Well, but you can't have it, think as much as you will; it is
impossible as you manage at present. But I'll tell you how to get the
better of the impossibility. In twenty weeks, we shall have Christmas
here: now if, instead of spending every week all you earn, you will
hand me over sixpence or a shilling out of your wages, I'll take care
of it for you, since you can't take care of it for yourself; and you
shall have the full value out of my shop any time in Christmas-week,
and be as merry as you like, and none the poorer.'

This logic is irresistible. Tomkins banks his 6d. for a plum-pudding
and the etceteras with Mr Allspice the grocer; and this identical
pudding he enjoys the pleasure of eating half-a-dozen times over in
imagination before the next instalment is due. He at length becomes so
fond of the flavour, that he actually--we know, for we have seen him
do it--he actually, to use his own expression, 'goes in for a goose'
besides with Mr Pluck the poulterer. Having once passed the Rubicon,
of course he cannot go back; the weekly sixpences must be paid, come
what will: it would be disgraceful to be a defaulter. So he practises
a little self-denial, for the sake of a little self-esteem--and the
goose and pudding in perspective. He finds, to his astonishment, that
he can do quite as much work with one pot of beer a day as he could
with two, and he drops the superfluous pot, and not only pays his
instalments to the Christmas-bank, but gets a spare shilling in his
pocket besides. Thus, under the tuition of the shopkeeper, he learns
the practice of prudence in provisioning his family with plum-pudding,
and imbibes the first and foremost of the household virtues, on the
same principle as a wayward child imbibes physic--out of regard to the
dainty morsel that is to come afterwards.

Passing one day last autumn through a long and populous thoroughfare
on the southern side of the Thames, we happened to light upon Mr
Allspice's appeal to the consciences and the pockets of the
pudding-eating public. 'If you are wise,' said the admonitory placard,
'you will lose no time in joining Allspice's Plum-pudding Club.'
Remembering the retort of a celebrated quack: 'Give me all the fools
that come this way for my customers, and you are welcome to the wise
men,' we must own we felt rather doubtful of the prosperity of the
puddings; but having an interest in the matter, we resolved,
notwithstanding, to ascertain, if possible, whether the Wisdom who
uttereth her voice in the streets had on this special occasion spoken
to any purpose, and whether any, and how many, had proved themselves
wise in the acceptation of Mr Allspice. On making the necessary
inquiries after the affair had gone off, we learned, to our surprise
and gratification, that the club had been entirely successful. Upwards
of a hundred persons of a class who are never worth half-a-crown at a
time, had subscribed 6d. a week each for eighteen weeks, and thus
entitled themselves to 9s. worth of plum-pudding ingredients, besides
a certain quantity of tea and sugar. Thus the club had prospered
exceedingly, and had been the instrument of introducing comfort and
festive enjoyment to no small number of persons who might, and in all
probability would, have had little to eat or drink, and, consequently,
little cause for merriment, at that season. This is really a very
pleasant fact to contemplate, connected though it be with a somewhat
ludicrous kind of ingenuity, which must be exercised in order to bring
it about. To anybody but a London shopkeeper, the attempt would appear
altogether hopeless, to transform a hundred poor persons, who were
never worth half-a-crown a piece from one year's end to the other,
into so many 9s. customers; and yet the thing is done, and done, too,
by the London grocer in a manner highly satisfactory, and still more
advantageous to his customers. Is it too much to imagine that the
lesson of provident forethought thus agreeably learned by multitudes
of the struggling classes--for these clubs abound everywhere in
London, and their members must be legion--have a moral effect upon at
least a considerable portion of them? If one man finds a hundred needy
customers wise enough to relish a plum-pudding of their own providing,
surely they will not _all_ be such fools as to repudiate the practice
of that very prudence which procured them the enjoyment, and brought
mirth and gladness to their firesides! Never think it! They shall go
on to improve, take our word for it; and having learned prudence from
plum-pudding, and generosity from goose--for your poor man is always
the first to give a slice or two of the breast, when he has it, to a
sick neighbour--they shall learn temperance from tea, and abstinence,
if they choose, from coffee, and ever so many other good qualities
from ever so many other good things; and from having been wise enough
to join the grocer's Plum-pudding Club, they shall end by becoming
prosperous enough to join the Whittington Club, or the Gresham Club,
or the Athenæum Club, or the Travellers' Club; or the House of
Commons, or the House of Lords either, for all that you, or we, or
anybody else, can say or do to the contrary.

We know nothing of the original genius who first hit upon this mode of
indoctrinating the lower orders in a way so much to their advantage;
we hope, however, as there is little reason to doubt, that he found
his own account in it, and reaped his well-deserved reward. Whoever he
was, his example has been well followed for many years past. In the
poorer and more populous districts of the metropolis, this practice of
making provision for inevitable wants, by small subscriptions paid in
advance, prevails to a large extent. As winter sets in, almost every
provision-dealer, and other traders as well, proffers a compact to the
public, which he calls a club, though it is more of the nature of a
savings-bank, seeing that, at the expiration of the subscribing
period, every member is a creditor of the shop to the amount of his
own investments, and nothing more. Thus, besides the Plum-pudding
Clubs, there are Coal Clubs, by which the poor man who invests 1s. a
week for five or six of the summer months, gets a ton of good coal
laid in for the winter's consumption before the frost sets in and the
coal becomes dear. Then there is the Goose Club, which the wiser
members manage among themselves by contracting with a country dealer,
and thus avoid the tipsy consummation of the public-house, where these
clubs have mostly taken shelter. Again, there is the Twelfth-cake
Club, which comes to a head soon after Christmas, and is more of a
lottery than a club, inasmuch as the large cakes are raffled for, and
the losers, if they get anything, get but a big bun for their pains
and penalties. All these clubs, it will be observed, are plants of
winter-growth, or at least of winter-fruiting, having for their object
the provision of something desirable or indispensable in the winter
season. There is, however, another and a very different species of
club, infinitely more popular than any of the above, the operations of
which are aboundingly visible throughout the warm and pleasant months
of summer, and which may be, and sometimes is, called the Excursion

The Excursion Club is a provision which the working and labouring
classes of London have got up for themselves, to enable them to enjoy,
at a charge available to their scanty means, the exciting
pleasures--which are as necessary as food or raiment to their health
and comfort--of a change of air and scene. It is managed in a simple
way. The foreman of a workshop, or the father of a family in some
confined court, or perhaps some manageress of a troop of
working-girls, contracts with the owner of a van for the hire of his
vehicle and the services of a driver for a certain day. More
frequently still, the owner of the van is the prime mover in the
business, but then the trip is not so cheap. The members club their
funds, the men paying 1s. each, the wives, 6d., the children, 3d. or
4d.; and any poor little ragged orphan urchin, who may be hanging
about the workshop, gets accommodated with a borrowed jacket and
trousers, and a gratuitous face-washing from Mrs Grundy, and is taken
for nothing, and well fed into the bargain. The cost, something over a
guinea, is easily made up, and if any surplus remains, why, then, they
hire a fiddler to go along with them. On the appointed morning, at an
early hour, rain or shine, they flock to the rendezvous to the number
of forty or fifty--ten or a dozen more or less is a trifle not worth
mentioning. Each one carries his own provisions, and loaded with
baskets, cans, bottles, and earthen-jars, mugs and tea-kettles, in
they bundle, and off they jog--pans rattling, women chattering,
kettles clinking, children crowing, fiddle scraping, and men
smoking--at the rate of six or seven miles an hour, to Hampton Court
or Epping Forest. It is impossible for a person who has never
witnessed these excursions in the height of summer, to form an
adequate notion of the merry and exciting nature of the relaxation
they afford to a truly prodigious number of the hardworking classes.
Returning from Kingston to London one fine Monday morning in June
last, we met a train of these laughter-loaded vans, measuring a full
mile in length, and which must have consisted of threescore or more
vehicles, most of them provided with music of some sort, and adorned
with flowers and green boughs. As they shot one at a time past the
omnibus on which we sat, we were saluted by successive volleys of
mingled mirth and music, and by such constellations of merry-faced
mortals in St Monday garb, as would have made a sunshine under the
blackest sky that ever gloomed. Arrived at Hampton Court, the separate
parties encamp under the trees in Bushy Park, where they amuse
themselves the livelong day in innocent sports, for which your
Londoner has at bottom a most unequivocal and hearty relish. They
will most likely spend a few hours in wandering through the
picture-galleries in the palace, then take a stroll in the exquisite
gardens, where the young fellow who is thoughtless enough to pluck a
flower for his sweetheart, is instantly and infallibly condemned to
drag a heavy iron roller up and down the gravel-walk, to the amusement
of a thousand or two of grinning spectators. Having seen the palace
and the gardens, they pay a short visit, perhaps, to the monster
grape-vine, with its myriads of clusters of grapes, all of which Her
Gracious Majesty is supposed to devour; and then they return to their
dinner beneath some giant chestnut-tree in the park. The cloth is
spread at the foot of the huge trunk; the gashed joints of the
Sunday's baked meats, flanked by a very mountainous gooseberry pie,
with crusty loaves and sections of cheese and pats of butter, cut a
capital figure among the heterogeneous contribution of pitchers,
preserve-jars, tin-cans, mugs and jugs, shankless rummers and
wineglasses, and knives and forks of every size and pattern, from the
balance handles and straight blades of to-day, to the wooden haft and
curly-nosed cimeter of a century back. Their sharpened appetites make
short work of the cold meats and pies. Treble X of somebody's own
corking fizzes forth from brown jar and black bottle, and if more is
wanted, it is fetched from the neighbouring tavern. Dinner done, the
fiddle strikes up, and a dance on the greensward by the young people,
while the old ones, stretched under the trees, enjoy a quiet gossip
and a refreshing pipe, fills up the afternoon. There is always
somebody at this crisis who is neither too old to dance nor too young
to smoke a gossipping pipe, and so he does both at intervals--rushing
now into the dance, drawn by the irresistible attraction of the
fiddle, and now sidling back again to his smoke-puffing chums,
impelled by the equally resistless charms of tobacco. Then and
therefore he is branded as a deserter, and a file of young lasses lay
hands on him, and drag him forth in custody to the dance; and after a
good scolding from laughing lips, and a good drubbing from white
handkerchiefs, they compromise the business at last by allowing him to
dance with his pipe in his mouth.

By five o'clock, Mrs Grundy has managed, with the connivance of Jack
the driver, somehow or other to boil the kettle, and a cup of tea is
ready for all who are inclined to partake. The young folks for the
most part prefer the dance: they can have tea any day--they will not
dance on the grass again till next year perhaps; so they make the most
of their time. By and by, the fiddler's elbow refuses to wag any
longer: he is perfectly willing himself, as he says, 'to play till
all's blue; but you see,' he adds, 'bones won't do it.' 'Never mind,'
says the Beau Nash of the day: 'sack your badger, old boy, and go and
get some resin. Now, then, for kiss in the ring!' Then while the
fiddler gets his resin, which means anything he likes to eat or drink,
the whole party, perhaps amounting to three or four van-loads in all,
form into a circle for 'kiss in the ring.' The ring is one uproarious
round of frolic and laughter, which would 'hold both its sides,' but
that it is forced to hold its neighbours' hands with both its own,
under which the flying damsel who has to be caught and kissed bobs in
and out, doubling like a hare, till she is out of breath, and is
overtaken at last, and led bashfully into the centre of the group, to
suffer the awful penalty of the law. While this popular pastime is
prolonged to the last moment, the van is getting ready to return; the
old folks assist in stowing away the empty baskets and vessels; and an
hour or so before sun-down, or it may be half an hour after, the whole
party are remounted, and on their way home again, where they arrive,
after a jovial ride, weary with enjoyment, and with matter to talk
about for a month to come.

At Epping Forest, the scene is very different, but not a whit the less
lively. There are no picture-galleries or pleasure-gardens, but there
is the Forest to roam in, full of noble trees, in endless sinuous
avenues, crowned with the 'scarce intruding sky,' among which the
joyous holiday-makers form a finer picture than was ever painted yet.
Then there are friendly foot-races and jumping-matches, and
leap-frogging, and black-berrying, and foot-balling, and
hockey-and-trapping, and many other games besides, in addition to the
dancing and the ring-kissing. Epping and Hainault Forests are
essentially the lungs of Whitechapel and Spitalfields. Their leafy
shades are invaded all the summer long by the van-borne hosts of
laborious poverty. Clubs, whose members invest but a penny a week,
start into existence as soon as the leaves begin to sprout in the
spring; with the first gush of summer, the living tide begins to flow
into the cool bosom of the forest; and until late in the autumn,
unless the weather is prematurely wintry, there is no pause for a day
or an hour of sunshine in the rush of health-seekers to the green
shades. The fiat has gone forth from the government for the
destruction of these forests, for the felling of the trees and the
enclosure of the land. Will the public permit the execution of the
barbarous decree? We trust not.

Notwithstanding all that has been said, and so justly said, of the
notorious improvidence of the poor, it will be seen from the above
hasty sketches, that they yet can and do help themselves to many
things which are undeniably profitable and advantageous to them: they
only want, in fact, a motive for so doing--a foregone conviction that
the thing desiderated is worth having. Now, here is ground for
hope--an opening, so to speak, for the point of the wedge. That the
very poor may be taught to practise self-denial, in the prospect of a
future benefit, these clubs have proved; and we may confess to a
prejudice in their favour, not merely from what they have
accomplished, but from a not unreasonable hope, that they may
perchance foster a habit which will lead to far better things than
even warm chimney-corners, greenwood holidays, roast geese, and


In the Annuaire of the _Bureau des Longitudes_, recently published in
Paris, appears a paper by the distinguished astronomer Arago--'On the
Observations which have made known the Physical Constitution of the
Sun and of different Stars; and an Inquiry into the Conjectures of the
Ancient Philosophers, and of the Positive Ideas of Modern Astronomers
on the Place that the Sun ought to occupy among the Prodigious Number
of Stars which stud the Firmament'--in which all that appertains to
the subject is so ably condensed, as to afford material for a popular
summary, which we purpose to convey in the present article. The
eclipse of the sun of last July, by enabling observers to repeat
former observations and test their accuracy, furnished some of the
results which serve to complete the paper in question, and which may
be considered as settled, owing to the improvements continually taking
place in the construction of instruments. Although astronomy is the
exactest of sciences, its problems are not yet all fully solved; and
for the determination of some of these, observers have to wait for
years--in certain instances, for a century or more, until all the
circumstances combine for a favourable observation. From the days of
the Epicurean philosopher, who, judging from appearances, declared the
sun to be no more than a foot in diameter, to those of living
calculators, who give to the orb a diameter of 883,000 miles, there
has been a marvellous advance. In these dimensions, we have a sphere
one million four hundred thousand times larger than the earth.
'Numbers so enormous,' says M. Arago, 'not being often employed in
ordinary life, and giving us no very precise idea of the magnitudes
which they imply, I recall here a remark that will convey a better
understanding of the immensity of the solar volume. If we imagine the
centre of the sun to coincide with that of the earth, its surface
would not only reach the region in which the moon revolves, but would
extend nearly as far again beyond.' By the transit of Venus in 1769,
it was demonstrated that the sun is 95,000,000 miles from the earth;
and yet, distant as it is, its physical constitution has been
determined; and the history of the successive steps by which this
proof has been arrived at, forms one of the most interesting chapters
in the progress of science.

It was in 1611 that Fabricius, a Dutch astronomer, first observed
spots on the eastern edge of the sun, which passed slowly across the
disk to the western edge, and disappeared after a certain number of
days. This phenomenon having been often noted subsequently, the
conclusion drawn therefrom is, that the sun is a spherical body,
having a movement of rotation about its centre, of which the duration
is equal to twenty-five days and a half. These dark spots, irregular
and variable, but well defined on their edge, are sometimes of
considerable dimensions. Some have been seen whose size was five times
that of the earth. They are generally surrounded by an aureola known
as the _penumbra_, and sensibly less luminous than the other portions
of the orb. From this penumbra, first observed by Galileo, many
apparently singular deductions have been made: namely, 'The sun is a
dark body, surrounded at a certain distance by an atmosphere which may
be compared to that of the earth, when the latter is charged with a
continuous stratum of opaque and reflecting clouds. To this first
atmosphere succeeds a second, luminous in itself, called the
_photosphere_. This photosphere, more or less remote from the inner
cloudy atmosphere, would determine by its outline the visible limits
of the orb. According to this hypothesis, there would he spots on the
sun every time that there occurred in the two concentric atmospheres
such corresponding clear spaces as would allow of our seeing the dark
central body uncovered.'

This hypothesis is considered by the most competent judges to render a
very satisfactory account of the facts. But it has not been
universally adopted. Some writers of authority have lately represented
the spots as scoriæ floating on a liquid surface, and ejected from
solar volcanoes, of which the burning mountains of the earth convey
but a feeble idea. Hence observations become necessary as to the
nature of the incandescent matter of the sun; and when we remember the
immense distance of that body, such an attempt may well appear to be
one of temerity.

The progress of optical science, however, has given us the means of
determining this apparently insoluble question. It is well known, that
physicists are enabled at present to distinguish two kinds of
light--natural light and polarised light. A ray of the former exhibits
the same properties on any part of its form; not so the latter. A
polarised ray is said to have sides, and the different sides have
different properties, as demonstrated by many interesting phenomena.
Strange as it may seem, these rays thus described as having sides,
could pass through the eye of a needle by hundreds of thousands
without disturbing each other. Availing themselves, therefore, of the
assistance of polarised light, and an instrument named the
polariscope, or polarising telescope, observers obtain a double image
of the sun, both alike, and both white; but on reflecting this image
on water, or a glass mirror, the rays become polarised; the two images
are no longer alike or white, but are intensely coloured, while their
form remains unchanged. If one is red, the other is green, or yellow
and violet, always producing what are called the complementary
colours. With this instrument, it becomes possible to tell the
difference between natural and polarised light.

Another point for consideration is, that for a long time it was
supposed, that the light emanating from any incandescent body always
came to the eye as natural light, if in its passage it had not been
reflected or refracted. But experiment by the polariscope shewed, that
the ray departing from the surface at an angle sufficiently small was
polarised; while at the same time, it was demonstrated that the light
emitted by any gaseous body in flame--that of street-lamps, for
instance--is always in the natural state, whatever be its angle of
emission. From these remarks, some idea will be formed of the process
necessary to prove whether the substance which renders the sun visible
is solid, liquid, or gaseous. On looking at the sun in the
polariscope, the image, as before observed, is seen to be purely
white--a proof that the medium through which the luminous substance is
made visible to us is gaseous. If it were liquid, the light would be
coloured; and as regards solidity, that is out of the question--the
rapid change of spots proves that the outer envelope of the sun is not
solid. On whatever day of the year we examine, the light is always
white. Thus, these experiments remove the theory out of the region of
simple hypothesis, and give certainty to our conclusions respecting
the photosphere.

Here an example occurs of the aids and confirmations which science may
derive from apparently trivial circumstances. Complaint was made at a
large warehouse in Paris, that the gas-fitters had thrown the light on
the goods from the narrow, and not from the broad side of the flame.
Experiments were instituted, which proved that the amount of light was
the same whether emitted from the broad or narrow surface. It was
shewn also, that a gaseous substance in flame appears more luminous
when seen obliquely than perpendicular, which explains what are known
as _faculæ_ and _lucules_, being those parts of the solar disk that
shew themselves brighter than other portions of the surface. These are
due to the presence of clouds in the solar atmosphere; the inclined
portions of the clouds appearing brightest to the spectator. The
notion, that there were thousands on thousands of points
distinguishing themselves from the rest by a greater accumulation of
luminous matter, is thus disposed of.

Still, there remained something more to be determined. The existence
of the photosphere being proved, the question arose--was there nothing
beyond? or did it end abruptly? and this could only be determined at
the period of a total eclipse, at the very moment when the obscuration
of the sun being greatest, our atmosphere ceases to be illuminated.
Hence the interest felt in an eclipse of the sun of late years.

In July 1842, at a total eclipse of the sun visible in several parts
of the continent, the astronomers noticed, just as the sun was hidden
by the moon, certain objects, in the form of rose-coloured
protuberances, about two or three minutes high, astronomically
speaking, projected from the surface of the moon. These appearances
were variously explained: some supposed them to be lunar mountains;
others saw in them effects of refraction or diffraction; but no
precise explanation could be given; and mere guesses cannot be
accepted as science. Others, again, thought them to be mountains in
the sun, the summits stretching beyond the photosphere; but at the
most moderate calculation, their height would have been about 60,000
miles--an elevation which, as is said, the solar attraction would
render impossible. Another hypothesis was, that they were clouds
floating in a solar, gaseous atmosphere.

M. Arago considers the last as the true explanation: it remained the
great point to be proved. If it could be ascertained, that these red
protuberances were not in actual contact with the moon, the
demonstration would be complete. Speculation was busy, but nothing
could be done in the way of verification until another eclipse took
place. There was one in August 1850 total to the Sandwich Islands, at
which, under direction of the French commandant at Tahiti,
observations were made, the result being that the red prominences were
seen to be separated by a fine line from the moon's circumference.
Here was an important datum. It was confirmed by the observations of
July 1851, by observers of different nations at different localities,
who saw that the coloured peaks were detached from the moon; thus
proving that they are not lunar mountains.

If it be further ascertained, that these luminous phenomena are not
produced by the inflexion of rays passing over the asperities of the
moon's disk, and that they have a real existence, then there will be a
new atmosphere to add to those which already surround the sun; for
clouds cannot support themselves in empty space.

We come next to that part of the subject which treats of the true
place of the sun in the universe. In the year 448 B.C., Archelaüs, the
last of the Ionian philosophers, without having made any measurements,
taught that the sun was a star, but only somewhat larger than the
others. Now, the nearest fixed star is 206,000 times further from us
than the sun: 206,000 times 95,000,000 of miles--a sum beyond all our
habits of thought. The light from the star _Alpha_ of the Centaur is
three years in its passage to the earth, travelling at the rate of
192,000 miles per second; and there are 86,400 seconds in a day, and
365 days in a year. Astounding facts! If the sun, therefore, were
removed to the distance of a Centauri, its broad disk, which takes a
considerable time in its majestic rising and setting above and below
the horizon, would have no sensible dimensions, even in the most
powerful telescopes; and its light would not exceed that of stars of
the third magnitude--facts which throw the guess of Archelaüs into
discredit. If our place in the material universe is thus made to
appear very subordinate, we may remember, as M. Arago observes, that
man owes the knowledge of it entirely to his own resources, and
thereby has raised himself to the most eminent rank in the world of
ideas. Indeed, astronomical investigations might not improperly excuse
a little vanity on our part.'

Among the stars, Sirius is the brightest; but twenty thousand millions
of such stars would be required to transmit to the earth a light equal
to that of the sun. And if it were difficult to ascertain the nature
and quality of the sun, it would appear to be still more so to
determine these points with regard to the stars; for the reason, that
the rays, coming from all parts of their disk, at once are
intermingled, and of necessity produce white. This difficulty did not
exist in similar investigations on the sun, because its disk is so
large, that the rays from any one part of it may be examined while the
others are excluded. Under these circumstances, further proof might
seem to be hopeless; but advantage was taken of the fact, that there
are certain stars which are sometimes light, sometimes dark, either
from having a movement of rotation on their own axis, or because they
are occasionally eclipsed by a non-luminous satellite revolving around
them. It is clear, that while the light is waxing or waning, it comes
from a part only of the star's disk; consequently, the neutralisation
of rays, which takes place when they depart from the whole surface at
once, cannot then occur; and from the observations on the portion of
light thus transmitted, and which is found to remain white under all
its phases, we are entitled to conclude, in M. Arago's words, that
'our sun is a star, and that its physical constitution is identical
with that of the millions of stars strewn in the firmament.'


It certainly appeared a most improbable circumstance, that any event
should occur worthy of being recorded, to vary the even tenor of life
which Mr and Mrs Norman enjoyed in the holy state of matrimony. They
were young folks--they had married from affection--and, moreover,
their union had been a strictly prudent one; for their income was more
than sufficient for all their unaspiring wants and tastes; and it was
also a 'certainty,' a great good in these days of speculation and
going ahead. Charles Norman held a government situation, with a small
but yearly increasing salary; his residence was at Pentonville; and
his domestic circle comprised, besides his good, meek helpmeet, two
little children, and an only sister, some years Charles's junior:
indeed, Bab Norman had not very long quitted the boarding-school. Bab
and Charles were orphans, and had no near relatives in the world;
therefore Bab came home to live with her dear brother and his wife
until she had a home of her own--a contingency which people whispered
need not be far off, if Miss Barbara Norman so inclined. This piece of
gossip perhaps arose from the frequent visits of Mr Norman's chosen
friend, Edward Leslie--a steady and excellent young man, who filled an
appointment of great trust and confidence in an old-established
commercial house. Edward Leslie was not distinguished for personal
attractions or captivating manners; but he was an honest, manly,
generous-hearted fellow, and sensitive enough to feel very keenly
sometimes that the pretty spoiled little Barbara laughed at and
snubbed him. Notwithstanding Bab's folly, however, it would have given
her great pain had Edward Leslie courted another. He was patient and
forbearing; and she fluttered and frisked about, determined to make
the most of her liberty while it lasted. 'Of course she meant to marry
some day,' she said with a demure smile, 'but it would take a long
time to make up her mind.'

Charles quite doted on his pretty sister, and often could not find it
in his heart to rebuke her, because she was motherless, and had only
him and Cary to look to; and Cary's office was not to rebuke any one,
much less her dear little sister-in-law. So Barbara was spoiled and
humoured; while the children were kept in high order--a proper
discipline being exercised in the nursery, as became a well-regulated
and nicely-decorated house. Cary thought Bab a beauty, and so did
Charles; the young lady herself was not at all backward in estimating
her own charms; and it was a pity to see them so often obscured by
affectation, for Bab had a kind heart and an affectionate disposition.
One day when Charles returned home after business-hours were over, Bab
flew towards him with an unusually animated countenance, holding an
open letter in her hand, and exclaiming: 'Oh, dear Charles, read this!
You'll let me go--wont you? I never was at the sea-side in my life,
you know; and it will do me such a deal of good.'

Charles smiled, took the letter, and tapping his sister's dimpled rosy
cheek, he said fondly: 'I don't think, Bab, that you want "doing good
to" so far as health is concerned. The sea-air cannot improve these

'Well, well, Charles, never mind the roses--there's a dear. They only
ask me to go for a fortnight, and I should so like it; it will be so
nice to be with one's schoolmates at the sea. Bell and Lucy Combermere
are _such_ bathers, they say; and as for me, I do believe, Charles, I
shall drown myself for love of the sea! Oh, you must let me go--do!'

There was no resisting this coaxing; so Charles said he 'would see
about it, and talk the matter over with Caroline.'

'Cary thinks it will be delightful for me,' exclaimed Barbara: 'she's
always a good-natured darling.' And Bab felt sure of going, if Charles
talked the matter over with Cary; so she flew off in an ecstasy of
joy, dancing and singing, and forthwith commenced preparations, by
pulling off the faded pink ribbons which adorned her bonnet, and
substituting gay bright new streamers.

The invitation in question came from Mrs Combermere, who, with
her two unmarried daughters, were sojourning at a favourite
watering-place--always crowded during the season--and where Mr
Combermere, a rich citizen, could join his family every week, and
inhale a breath of pure air. Charles did not particularly like the
Combermeres. Mrs Combermere was a fussy woman, full of absurd
pretension, and with a weakness for forming aristocratic acquaintance,
which had more than once led her into extravagance, ending in
disappointment and mortification. The Misses Combermere inherited
their mamma's weakness; they were comely damsels, and expectant
sharers of papa's wealth, who was 'very particular' on whom he
bestowed his treasures. Bell and Lucy had been at school with Barbara
Norman, and a strong friendship--a school friendship--had been struck
up amongst the trio, whom the French dancing-master denominated 'the
Graces.' And now Barbara had received an invitation to stay with them
for a fortnight, a private postscript being inserted by Miss Bell, to
the effect that 'Bab must be sure to come very smart, for there were
most elegant people there, and _such_ beaux!'

Bab went accordingly on Saturday, escorted by Mr Combermere, who
always returned on the following Monday. Never before had Bab beheld
so gay a scene; never till now had she looked on the glorious ocean;
never had she promenaded to the sounds of such exhilarating music. Her
pretty little head was quite bewildered, though in the midst of all
her delight she wished for Charles and Cary, and the children; there
was such delicious bathing for the tiny ones; such digging with their
little spades in the golden sands! Innocent, happy gold-diggers they!

She found Mrs Combermere and the girls in the full swing of sea-side
dissipation--quite open-house kept, free-and-easy manners, which at
home would not have been tolerated. But it came only once a year, and
they could afford it. Quite established as an intimate, was a tall
young gentleman, with delicate moustache, who seemed to be on terms of
friendly familiarity with half the aristocracy of the nation. Mrs
Combermere whispered to Bab, that Mr Newton was a most 'patrician
person,' of the 'highest connections;' they had met with him on the
sands, where he had been of signal use in assisting Mrs Combermere
over the shingles on a stormy day. He was so gentlemanly and
agreeable, that they could not do otherwise than ask him in; he had
remained to tea, and since then had been a regular visitor.

Mr Newton had been at first treated with great coolness by Mr
Combermere; the latter gentleman did not like strangers, and always
looked on a moustache with suspicion. But Mr Newton was so
deferential, so unexceptionable in deportment, and prudent in his
general sentiments, warmly advocating Mr Combermere's political
opinions, that he had at last won the good opinion even of the father
of the family. Besides, he paid no particular attention to the Misses
Combermere: there was no danger of his making up to them--that was
clear; and Mrs Combermere, mother-like, felt a little mortified and
chagrined at such palpable indifference. But when pretty Bab Norman
appeared, the case was different: her brunette complexion and
sparkling dark eyes elicited marked admiration from the patrician Mr
Newton; and he remarked in an off-hand way--_sotto voce_, as if to
himself: 'By Jupiter! how like she is to dear Lady Mary Manvers.' Bab
felt very much flattered by the comparison, and immediately began to
like Mr Newton immensely; he was so distingué, so fascinating, so
refined. Bab did not add, that he had singled her out as an especial
object of attention, even when the fair dashing Misses Combermere
challenged competition.

The fortnight passed swiftly away--too swiftly, alas! thought little
Barbara Norman; for at the expiration of the term, Mrs Combermere did
not ask her to prolong the visit, but suffered her to depart, again
under the escort of Mr Combermere, without a word of regret at
parting. Cruel Mrs Combermere! she wished to keep Mr Newton's society
all to herself and her daughters! However, the young gentleman asked
Barbara for permission to pay his respects to her when he returned to
the metropolis; this had been accorded by Barbara, who, on her return
to Pentonville, for the first time found that comfortable home
'insufferably dull and stupid.' Edward Leslie, too--how dull and
stupid even he was, after the chattering perfumed loungers of the
elysium she had just quitted! Yet Edward was never considered either
dull or stupid by competent judges; but, quite the contrary--a
sensible, well-informed, gentlemanly personage. But, then, he had no
great friends, no patrician weaknesses; he knew nothing about racing,
or betting, or opera-dancers, or slang in general. In short, he seemed
flat and insipid to Bab, who had been compared to the beautiful Lady
Mary Manvers by the soft and persuasive tongue of Lady Mary Manvers's
dear friend. Yet, in her secret heart of hearts, Bab drew comparisons
by no means disadvantageous to Edward Leslie. 'Yes,' thought Bab, 'I
like Mr Newton best by the sea-side in summer-time, when harp-music
floats on the balmy air; then I should always like him, if summer was
all the year round. But for everyday life, for winter hours, for home,
in short, I'm sure I like Edward Leslie best--I'm sure I love Edward
Leslie;' and Bab blushed and hesitated, though she was quite alone.
Cary listened good-naturedly to all Bab's descriptions of the
happiness she had enjoyed; and Cary thought, from all Bab said, that
Mr Newton must be at least some great lord in disguise. She felt quite
nervous at the idea of his coming to such a humble house as theirs,
when he talked of parks, and four-in-hands, and baronial halls, as
things with which he was familiar, and regarded as matters of course.
Cary hoped that Charles and Edward Leslie would be present when Mr
Newton called, because they were fit to associate with royalty itself.
Cary had a very humble opinion of herself--sweet, gentle soul! Charles
often wished his dear sister Bab might closely resemble her. At
length, Bell Combermere wrote to say, they were about returning to
town; and Mr Newton declared he could not remain behind. Bab's heart
fluttered and palpitated at each sound the knocker gave; and she was
thankful that Cary's cousin, Miss Ward, was staying with them, to call
attention off from herself.

Miss Ward was an accomplished, charming woman of middle age,
who for years had resided in the Earl of St Elmer's family as
governess--greatly valued for her many estimable qualities. Not being
in robust health, she had absented herself for a short season from her
onerous duties, and in her dear friend and cousin's house, sought and
obtained quiet and renovation. Miss Ward often found difficulty in
repressing a smile at Bab's superfluous graces and animated gestures;
but it was a kindly smile, for the stately conventionalities amongst
which she usually existed, rendered these traits of less refined
manners rather refreshing than otherwise. Miss Ward was out when Mrs
Combermere's equipage drove up to Mr Norman's door; and that large
lady, with her daughter Bell, accompanied by Mr Newton, made their way
up stairs to Mrs Norman's drawing-room. Mrs Combermere was always
astoundingly grand and patronising when she honoured Cary with a call;
Mrs Combermere liked to call upon folks whom she denominated
inferiors--to impress them with an overwhelming idea of her
importance. But on the simple-minded literal Cary, this honour was
lost, she received it with such composure and unconscious placidity:
on Bab it produced, indeed, the desired effect; but whether it was Mrs
Combermere's loud talking and boasting, or Mr Newton's easy negligence
and patronising airs, that caused her to colour and hesitate, it is
not possible to define. Bab was not herself; and she began to be
ashamed of living in Pentonville, when Mr Newton spoke of Belgravia.
Miss Ward, who had returned from her shopping excursion, glided into
the room unnoticed, in the middle of a description Mr Newton was
giving of a magnificent place, belonging to a dear friend, with whom
he had been staying, ere he had the 'unspeakable felicity of meeting
Mrs Combermere.'

'Your description is a graphic one, John Blomfield,' said Miss Ward in
a low voice close to his ear; 'but how came you here--in this

John Blomfield, _alias_ John Newton, started as if an adder had bitten
him, and gazed franticly upon the intruder. 'Miss Ward, madam,' he
exclaimed involuntarily, 'don't say more, and I'll go this instant!'

'Then go,' continued Miss Ward majestically, pointing to the door;
'and beware, John Blomfield, how you dare to enter a gentleman's house
unauthorised again.'

Pale and crest-fallen, the young gentleman and dear friend of Lady
Mary Manvers vanished; nor did he require a second bidding to rush
down stairs, and out at the front-door, which was slammed violently
after him.

'What does this mean, ma'am?' inquired Mrs Combermere, very red in the
face, and looking terribly frightened--'what does this all mean,

'Only,' replied Miss Ward quietly, 'that this individual, who calls
himself Mr Newton, and whose conversation I overheard after entering
the apartment, is in reality John Blomfield, _ci devant_ valet to Lord
Lilburne, the eldest son of the Earl of St Elmer, in whose family I
have the honour to be governess. His lordship shewed toleration and
kindness unprecedented towards the ungrateful young man, on account of
his respectable parentage, and the excellent abilities and aptitude
for instruction he displayed. But I grieve to say, John Blomfield was
discharged from Lord Lilburne's service, under circumstances which
left no doubt on our minds that he was guilty of dishonest
practices--of pilfering, in short, to a considerable extent. We heard
that he still continued his evil course; but though knowing him to
possess both skill and effrontery, I was almost as much startled as
the delinquent himself, to behold him thus playing the fine gentleman,
and lounging on Cary's sofa.'

A faint groan escaped from Miss Combermere as she ejaculated: 'Oh, my
pearl necklace!' and a still deeper and more audible sigh from her
mamma, as the words burst forth: 'Oh, my diamond _bandeau_!' which led
to an explanation from the distressed and bewildered ladies, of how
they had intrusted these precious jewels to Mr Newton, who urged them
on returning to town to have them reset, volunteering to take them
himself to Lady Mary Manvers's own jeweller, a 'first-rate fellow, who
worked only for the aristocracy.' 'They must not be in a hurry,' Mr
Newton said, 'for the first-rate fellow was so torn to pieces by
duchesses and countesses, that even weeks might elapse before their
comparatively trifling order could be attended to.'

'I fear,' said Miss Ward commiseratingly, 'that you will not see your
valuables again. John Blomfield is a clever rascal, and has good taste
too,' continued Miss Ward smiling, 'for he invariably selects pretty
things. I hope, my dear'--turning to Bab, who sat silent and
petrified--'your beautiful gold repeater set with brilliants is safe,
and that it did not require repairs or alterations, to induce you to
part with it into Mr Newton's hands? I doubt not he had an eye to it

Poor Bab--what a blow to her vanity! She could only murmur something
about the watch being very dear to her, because it had belonged to her
deceased mother, and that she always wore it round her neck.

'And I don't think that Bab would part with it out of her hands to any
one,' said Cary, 'if we except ourselves, save to Edward Leslie; but
he is such a careful soul, that one would not mind intrusting him with
the most precious treasure on earth.'

Bab blushed very deeply at this speech, because she saw a covert smile
on Miss Ward's speaking countenance. That lady, notwithstanding her
amiability and philanthropic character, rather enjoyed the
consternation and confusion of Mrs and Miss Combermere, who retreated
more humbly than they had entered, having received a lesson which, it
is to be hoped, they profited by for the remainder of their lives. The
pearl necklace and diamond bandeau were not recovered, though a reward
was offered by the enraged Mr Combermere for the apprehension of the
thief; yet Miss Bell with tears declared, that she would far rather
lose her pearl necklace than give evidence against one whose
attractive qualities she could not cease to remember.

Very shortly after this affair, Barbara had another short trip to the
sea-side, and with a companion whose happiness equalled her own: it
was the honeymoon excursion, and Edward Leslie was Bab's companion for
life. After this second sea-side sojourn, the bride returned to a
pretty house of her own, quite near to Charles and Cary; and Barbara
was never heard to complain of finding it dull or stupid, though
summer does not last all the year round with any of us.


The first of a series of volumes, designed to contain the literary,
political, and social reminiscences of Mr Jerdan during the last fifty
years, has just seen the light. It will be found to be one of the most
amusing books of the day, and also not without a moral of its own
kind. We presume it is of no use to debate how far it is allowable to
bring before the public matters pertaining to private life, and about
which living individuals may feel a delicacy. The time for such
questions seems past. Assuming so much, we at least feel pretty sure
that the lives and characters of living men could scarcely be in
gentler or more genial hands than those of William Jerdan.

Mr Jerdan is chiefly known as having been for a third of a century the
editor of the _London Literary Gazette_, a work which used to report
on literature with a sympathy for authors strikingly in contrast with
the tone of some of its contemporaries, in whom it would almost appear
as if the saying of a kind word, or even the doing of simple justice
towards a book, were felt as a piece of inexcusable weakness. He is
now, at seventy, relieved from his cares, with little tangible result
from his long and active career; but for this the readers of his
autobiography will be at no loss to account. Jerdan has evidently been
a kind-hearted, mirth-making, tomorrow-defying mortal all his days, as
if he had patriotically set himself from the beginning to prove that
Scotland could produce something different from those hosts of staid,
sober, calculating men for which it has become so much distinguished.
We speak here, indeed, according to the English apprehension of the
Scotch character, for in Scotland, strange to say--that is, to
Englishmen it will appear strange--the people believe themselves to be
remarkable for want of foresight--'aye wise ahint the hand,' is their
own self-portraiture--and for a certain ardour of genius which leads
them into all sorts of scrapes. The issue is, after all, a hard one,
and viewing the long services of Mr Jerdan to the literary republic,
we would hope that a cheerful life-evening is still in store for him.

Our autobiographer tells, with all due modesty, of his early days at
Kelso--the respectable friends by whom he was surrounded--his
acquiring the reputation of a clever youth, and running nigh being a
good deal spoilt in consequence. At nineteen, he went to London, to
enter the counting-house of a mercantile uncle, and during two years
spent there, formed an acquaintance with a group of young men, several
of whom have since become distinguished. Among these were Messrs Pirie
and Lawrie, since Lord Mayors of London--David, William, and Frederick
Pollock, of whom the last is now Chief Baron of Exchequer--and Mr
Wilde, who has since been Lord Chancellor. Interrupted in his career
by a severe illness, he returned to Scotland to recruit, and soon
after was placed with an Edinburgh writer to the Signet, to study the
mysteries of law. The Scottish capital was then a much more frolicsome
place than now, and Jerdan entered heartily into all its humours,
spent merry evenings with Tom Sheridan and Joseph Gillan, attended
mason-lodges, joined the Volunteers, and, seeing a fountain one day,
wished to be it, for then he should have nothing to do but play. The
natural result followed in a second severe illness, out of which his
kind master, _Corrie_ Elliott, endeavoured to recover him by a
commission to ride through a range of mountain parishes in the south,
in order to search for genealogical particulars illustrative of a case
between Lady Forbes, born Miss Hunter of Polmood, and two gentlemen
named Hunter, who claimed her estate.

'I travelled,' says our autobiographer, 'from manse to manse, and
received unbounded hospitalities from the ministers, whilst I examined
their kirk-registers, and extracted from them every entry where the
name of Hunter or Welsh was to be found. Never was task more
gratifying. The _bonhomie_ of the priests, and the simplicity of their
parishioners, were a new world to me, whilst they, the clergy, men of
piety and learning, considered themselves as out of the world
altogether. The population was thin and scattered, the mode of living
primitive in the extreme, and the visit of a stranger, so
insignificant as myself, quite enough to make a great sensation in
these secluded parts. I found the ministers ingenuous, free from all
puritanism, and generally well informed.... The examination of the
parish books was also a labour of love and source of endless
amusement. They mostly went as far back as a century and a half, and
were, in the elder times, filled with such entries as bespoke a very
strange condition of society. The inquisitorial practices and punitive
power of the ministry could not be exceeded in countries enslaved by
the priesthood of the Church of Rome. Forced confessions, the denial
of religious rites even on the bed of death, excommunication, shameful
exposures, and a rigid and minute interference in every domestic or
private concern, indicated a state of things which must have been
intolerable. High and low were obliged to submit to this offensive
discipline and domination.... My duty was thus pleasantly and
satisfactorily performed. My note-book was full. My skill in
deciphering obsolete manuscript was cultivated and improved; and my
health was restored as if by miracle. Of other incidents and results I
shall only state, that on one occasion, to rival Bruce in Abyssinia, I
dined off mutton whilst the sheep nibbled the grass upon the lawn, our
fare being the amputated tails of the animals, which made a very
dainty dish--that on reaching Edinburgh, my hackney, having from a
dark gallop over a ground where a murder had been committed not long
before, and being put into a cold stable, lost every hair on its hide
like a scalded pig, subjected me to half his price in lieu of
damage--and that the famous and ancient Polmood remained in the
possession of Lord Forbes, as inherited from the charter of King
Robert, who gave the lands for ever, "as high up as heaven, and as low
down as hell," to the individual named in the grant, which was
witnessed "by Meg, my wife, and Marjory, my nourice."'

Despairing of doing any good in Edinburgh, Mr Jerdan, while still only
twenty-three, resorted once more to London, though without any
definite object in view. While pursuing his usual light-hearted
career, he got into debt and difficulties, and experienced the
consequent annoyances with the sense of being an injured man, 'whereas
it was I who had wronged myself.' 'It was now,' he adds, 'that I got
my first lesson of that fatal truth--that debt is the greatest curse
which can beset the course of a human being. It cools his friends and
heats his enemies; it throws obstacles in the way of his every advance
towards independence; it degrades him in his own estimation, and
exposes him to humiliation from others, however beneath him in station
and character; it marks him for injustice and spoil; it weakens his
moral perceptions and benumbs his intellectual faculties; it is a
burden not to be borne consistently with fair hopes of fortune, or
that peace of mind which passeth all understanding, both in a worldly
and eternal sense. But I shall have much to say on the subject in the
future pages of this biography, though I cannot omit the opportunity
afforded by my earliest taste of the bitter fruit which poisons every
pulse of existence, earnestly to exhort my youthful readers to deny
themselves every expense which they cannot harmlessly afford, and
revel on bread and water and a lowly couch, in humility and patience,
rather than incur the obligation of a single sixpence beyond their
actual means.'

At length, about 1806, he gravitated into what was perhaps his natural
position--the press; taking a concern in a daily paper called the
_Aurora_, which was got up by the hotel-keepers of London. This
speculation did not answer. It was destined to verify a late saying:
'If you want anything spoilt or ruined, you cannot do better than
confide it to a committee.' 'Our rulers,' says Jerdan, 'though
intelligent and sensible men, were neither literary nor conversant
with journalism. Under any circumstances, their interference would
have been injurious, but it was rendered still more fatal by their
differences in political opinion, and two or three of the number
setting up to write "leaders" themselves. The clashing and want of
_ensemble_ was speedily obvious and detrimental; our readers became
perfect weathercocks, and could not reconcile themselves to themselves
from day to day. They wished, of course, to be led, as all
well-informed citizens are, by their newspaper; and they would not
blow hot and cold in the manner prescribed for all the coffee-room
politicians in London. In the interior, the hubbub and confusion of
the republic of letters was meanwhile exceedingly amusing to the
looker-on; we were of all parties and shades of opinion: the
proprietor of the King's Head was an ultra Tory, and swore by George
III. as the best of sovereigns--the Crown Hotel was very loyal, but
more moderate--the Bell Inn would give a strong pull for the
Church--whilst the Cross-Keys was infected with Romish predilections.
The Cockpit was warlike; the Olive-Tree, pacific; the Royal Oak,
patriotic; the Rummer, democratic; the Hole-in-the-Wall, seditious.
Many a dolorous pull at the porter-pot and sapientious declination of
his head had the perplexed and bemused editor, before he could effect
any tolerable compromise of contradictions for the morning's issue: at
the best, the sheet appeared full of signs and wonders!' In short, the
paper failed.

Mr Jerdan passed through various situations _on_ various papers, as
the elegant language of Cockneydom hath it, and thus he has been
enabled to give some curious sketches of the _personnel_ of the press
in those days. In the _Morning Post_, he took a strong part against
the Mary-Anne-Clarke investigation, and caused a marvellous sinking of
the circulation in consequence. He, nevertheless, consented to go and
see that celebrated lady, and confesses to have been softened by her
blandishments. One of the most remarkable occurrences of that period
was his witnessing the assassination of the prime minister, Perceval,
in May 1812. He had saluted the premier, as he was passing into the
lobby of the House of Commons, and had held back the spring-door to
allow him precedence in entering, when instantly there was a noise
within. 'I saw a small curling wreath of smoke rise above his head, as
if the breath of a cigar; I saw him reel back against the ledge on the
inside of the door; I heard him exclaim: "O God!" or "O my God!" and
nothing more or longer (as reported by several witnesses), for even
that exclamation was faint; and then, making an impulsive rush, as it
were, to reach the entrance to the House on the opposite side for
safety, I saw him totter forward, not half way, and drop dead between
the four pillars which stood there in the centre of the space, with a
slight trace of blood issuing from his lips.

'All this took place ere, with moderate speed, you could count five!
Great confusion, and almost as immediately great alarm, ensued. Loud
cries were uttered, and rapidly conflicting orders and remarks on
every hand made a perfect Babel of the scene; for there were above a
score of people in the lobby, and on the instant no one seemed to know
what had been done or by whom. The corpse of Mr Perceval was lifted
up by Mr William Smith, the member for Norwich, assisted by Lord
Francis Osborne, a Mr Phillips, and several others, and borne into the
office of the Speaker's secretary, by the small passage on the left
hand, beyond and near the fireplace. Pallid and deadly, close by the
murderer, it must have been; for in a moment after, Mr Eastaff, one of
the clerks of the Vote Office at the last door on that side, pointed
him out, and called: "That is the murderer!" Bellingham moved slowly
to a bench on the hither side of the fireplace, near at hand, and sat
down. I had in the first instance run forward to render assistance to
Mr Perceval, but only witnessed the lifting of his body, followed the
direction of Mr Eastaff's hand, and seized the assassin by the collar,
but without violence on one side, or resistance on the other.
Comparatively speaking, a crowd now came up, and among the earliest Mr
Vincent Dowling, Mr John Norris, Sir Charles Long, Sir Charles
Burrell, Mr Henry Burgess, and, in a minute or two, General Gascoigne
from a committee-room up stairs, and Mr Hume, Mr Whitbread, Mr Pole,
and twelve or fifteen members from the House. Meanwhile, Bellingham's
neckcloth had been stripped off, his vest unbuttoned, and his chest
laid bare. The discharged pistol was found beside him, and its
companion was taken, loaded and primed, from his pocket. An
opera-glass, papers, and other articles, were also pulled forth,
principally by Mr Dowling, who was on his left, whilst I stood on his
right hand; and except for his frightful agitation, he was as passive
as a child. Little was said to him. General Gascoigne on coming up,
and getting a glance through the surrounding spectators, observed that
he knew him at Liverpool, and asked if his name was Bellingham, to
which he returned no answer; but the papers rendered further question
on this point unnecessary. Mr Lynn, a surgeon in Great George Street,
adjacent, had been hastily sent for, and found life quite extinct, the
ball having entered in a slanting direction from the hand of the tall
assassin, and passed into his victim's heart. Some one came out of the
room with this intelligence, and said to Bellingham: "Mr Perceval is
dead! Villain! how could you destroy so good a man, and make a family
of twelve children orphans?" To which he almost mournfully replied: "I
am sorry for it." Other observations and questions were addressed to
him by bystanders; in answer to which he spoke incoherently,
mentioning the wrongs he had suffered from government, and justifying
his revenge on grounds similar to those he used, at length, in his
defence at the Old Bailey.

'I have alluded to Bellingham's "frightful agitation" as he sat on the
bench, and all this dreadful work was going on; and I return to it, to
describe it as far as words can convey an idea of the shocking
spectacle. I could only imagine something like it in the overwrought
painting of a powerful romance-writer, but never before could conceive
the physical suffering of a strong muscular man, under the tortures of
a distracted mind. Whilst his language was cool, the agonies which
shook his frame were actually terrible. His countenance wore the hue
of the grave, blue and cadaverous; huge drops of sweat ran down from
his forehead, like rain on the window-pane in a heavy storm, and,
coursing his pallid cheeks, fell upon his person, where their moisture
was distinctly visible; and from the bottom of his chest to his gorge,
rose and receded, with almost every breath, a spasmodic action, as if
a body, as large or larger than a billiard-ball, were choking him. The
miserable wretch repeatedly struck his chest with the palm of his hand
to abate this sensation, but it refused to be repressed.'

Our author makes a curious remark on the case--namely, that the first
examinations are calculated to give the future historian a more
faithful idea of the transaction than the record of the trial. Even in
the short interval of four days, witnesses had become confused in
their recollections, mistaking things which they had only heard of for
things they had beheld. The unhappy culprit perished on the scaffold
only a week after his crime.

Jerdan, who assumed the editorship of the _Sun_ in 1813, was a flaming
Tory of the style of that day, and accordingly enjoyed the triumph of
Europe over Bonaparte. In Paris, immediately after the Allies had
entered it, he feasted his eyes with the singular spectacles
presented, and the personal appearance of the heroes he had been
employed for some years in celebrating. Here is a scene at
Beauvillier's restaurant in the Rue de Richelieu, where 700 people
dined every day. 'It was on the first or second day, that a fair
Saxon-looking gentleman came and seated himself at my table. I think
he chose the seat advertently, from having observed or gathered that I
was fresh from London. We speedily entered into conversation, and he
pointed out to me some of the famous individuals who were doing
justice to the Parisian cookery at the various tables around--probably
about twenty in all. As he mentioned their names, I could not repress
my enthusiasm--a spirit burning over England when I left it only a few
days before--and my new acquaintance seemed to be much gratified by my
ebullitions. "Well," said he to a question from me, "that is Davidoff,
the colonel of the Black Cossacks." I shall not repeat my exclamations
of surprise and pleasure at the sight of this terrific leader, who had
hovered over the enemy everywhere, cut off so many resources, and
performed such incredible marches and actions as to render him and his
Cossacks the dread of their foes. "Is this," inquired my companion,
"the opinion of England?" I assured him it was, and let out the secret
of my editorial consequence, in proof that I was a competent witness.
On this, a change of scene ensued. My _incognito_ walked across to
Davidoff, who forthwith filled, and sent me a glass of his wine--the
glass he was using--and drank my health. I followed the example, and
sent mine in return, and the compliment was completed. But it did not
stop with this single instance. My new fair-complexioned friend went
to another table, and spoke with a bronzed and hardy-looking warrior,
from whom he came with another similar bumper to me, and the request
that I would drink wine with General Czernicheff. I was again in
flames; but it is unnecessary to repeat the manner in which I, on that
to me memorable day, took wine with half a dozen of the most
distinguished generals in the allied service.

'Whilst this toasting-bout was going on, a seedy-looking old gentleman
came in, and I noticed that some younger officers rose and offered him
a place, which he rejected, till a vacancy occurred, and then he
quietly sat down, swallowed his two dozen of green oysters as a whet,
and proceeded to dine with an appetite. By this time, my _vis-à-vis_
had resumed his seat, and, after what had passed, I felt myself at
liberty to ask him the favour of informing me who he himself was! I
was soon answered. He was a Mr Parish, of Hamburg, whose prodigious
commissariat engagements with the grand army had been fulfilled in a
manner to prosper the war; and I was now at no loss to account for his
intimacy with its heroes. It so happened that I knew, and was on
friendly terms with some of his near relations; and so the two hours I
have described took the value of two years. But the climax had to
come. Who was the rather seedy-looking personage whom the aids-de-camp
appeared so ready to accommodate? Oh, that was Blucher! If I was
outrageous before, I was mad now. I explained to Mr Parish the feeling
of England with regard to this hero; and that, amid the whole host of
great and illustrious names, his had become the most glorious of all,
and was really the one which filled most unanimously and loudly the
trump of fame. He told me that an assurance of this would be most
gratifying to the marshal, who thought much of the approbation of
England, and asked my leave to communicate to him what I had said. I
could have no objection; but after a short colloquy, Blucher did not
send his glass to me--he came himself; and I hobnobbed with the
immortal soldier. I addressed him in French, to which he would not
listen; and I then told him in English of the glorious estimation in
which he was held in my country, which Mr Parish translated into
German; and if ever high gratification was evinced by man, it was by
Blucher on this occasion. I had the honour of breakfasting with him at
his hotel next morning, when the welcome matter was discussed more
circumstantially; and he evinced the greatest delight.'

Here we must part with Mr Jerdan, but only, we hope, to meet him again
ere long in a second volume.



The history of the unworthy favourites whom James I. of England raised
to a power so extravagant, has always been surrounded with a tragic
mystery. One of them, Buckingham, was stabbed by an assassin; the
other, Somerset, was condemned to death for murder. The extravagant
dignities and emoluments heaped on these unworthy men, are utterly
beyond the belief of those who live under the constitutional
government of the present day. Nor was it enough that they obtained
the highest titles in the peerage, and large grants out of the public
money; they were rewarded in a manner still more dangerous to the
public welfare, by being invested with the great, responsible offices
of state, which were thus held by young men totally inexperienced,
instead of responsible and capable ministers. Of course, they
distributed all the inferior offices among their relations and
connections; and a witty annalist of the day describes the children of
the reigning favourite's kindred as swarming about the palaces, and
skipping up and down the back-stairs like so many fairies. They had
been raised in early youth from a humble condition to this dazzling
elevation, and it was only too much in accordance with the frailty of
human nature that they should lose head--feel as if they were under no
responsibility to their fellow-men--and, as Shakspeare says, 'play
such fantastic tricks before high Heaven, as make the angels weep.'
Such rapid and ill-founded prosperity never lasts; and generally he
who has ascended like a blazing rocket, tumbles to the earth like its
charred and blackened socket.

Carr, afterwards made Earl of Somerset, was a raw Scotch youth,
without education or training, when he was first brought under the
notice of the king by chancing to have his leg broken in the royal
presence in an attempt to mount a fiery horse. When once taken into
favour, the king did not care whom he offended, or what injustice he
did, to enrich the fortunate youth. When he was besought to spare the
heritage of the illustrious and unfortunate Raleigh, he said
peevishly: 'I mun have it for Carr--I mun have it for Carr!' The
favourite desired to have for his wife the Lady Frances Howard, who
had been married to the Earl of Essex. The holiest bonds must be
broken to please him, and the marriage was shamefully dissolved. This
did no great injury, indeed, to Essex. The union had been one entirely
of interest, contracted when both were mere children. He was the same
Essex who afterwards figured in the civil war--a grave, conscientious,
earnest man, who could have had little sympathy with a woman so giddy
and unprincipled. She suited better with the profligate Somerset; but
had it not been that the king's favourite demanded it to be dissolved,
the original union would have been held sacred.

Great court pageants and festivities hailed the marriage of Carr with
the divorced Lady Essex, and the proudest of England's nobility vied
with each other in doing honour to the two vile persons thus
unpropitiously united. The chief-justice, Coke, and the illustrious
Bacon, bowed in the general crowd before their ascendancy. It has been
maintained that Ben Jonson, in his rough independence, refused to
write a masque for the occasion of these wicked nuptials; but this has
been denied; and it is said, that the reason why his works contain no
avowed reference to the occasion, is because they were not published
until Somerset's fall. The event took place in 1613: three years
afterwards, the same crowd of courtiers and great officers were
assembled in Westminster Hall, to behold the earl and countess on
their trial for murder.

Sir Thomas Overbury, a man of great talent, who lived, like many other
people of that period, by applying his capacity to state intrigues,
had been committed to the Tower at the instigation of Somerset. He
died there suddenly; and a suspicion arose that he had been poisoned
by Somerset and his countess. A curious account of the transactions
which immediately followed, has been preserved in a work called _A
Detection of the State and Court of England during the last Four
Reigns_. It is the more curious, as the author, Roger Coke, was a
grandson of Sir Edward, the great chief-justice, who was a principal
actor in the scene. The king was at Royston, accompanied by Somerset,
when it appears that Sir Ralph Winwood informed his majesty of the
suspicions that were abroad against the favourite. The king
immediately determined to inform Coke; but it is feared that the
determination arose not from a desire to execute strict justice, but
because another favourite, George Villiers, who afterwards became Duke
of Buckingham, had already superseded Somerset in the king's esteem.

A message was immediately despatched to Sir Edward Coke, who lived in
the Temple. He was in bed when it arrived, and his son, even for one
who came in the king's name, would not disturb him; 'For I know,' he
said, 'my father's disposition to be such, that if he be disturbed in
his sleep, he will not be fit for any business; but if you will do as
we do, you shall be welcome; and about two hours hence my father will
rise, and you may then do as you please.' This was at one o'clock of
the morning. Precisely at three, a little bell rang, announcing that
the most laborious and profound lawyer whom England has ever produced,
had begun the toilsome business of the day. It was his practice to go
to bed at nine in the evening, and wake at three, and, in every other
detail of his life, he pursued this with clock-work uniformity. When
he saw the papers laid before him by the messenger, he immediately
granted a warrant against Somerset, on a charge of murder.

The favourite, little knowing what a pitfall had been dug in his
seemingly prosperous path, was still at Royston, enjoying the most
intimate familiarity with the king, when the messenger returned.
Deception was so much of an avowed principle with King James, and was
so earnestly supported by him, as one of the functions and arts of
kingcraft, that in his hands it almost lost its treacherous character,
and assumed the appearance of sincerity. He held that a king who acted
openly and transparently, neglected his duty, as the vicegerent of the
Deity; and that, for the sake of good government and the happiness of
his people, he was bound always to conceal his intentions under false
appearances, or, when necessary, under false statements. Somerset was
sitting beside the king, whose hand rested familiarly on his shoulder,
when the warrant was served on him. The haughty favourite frowned, and
turned to his master with an exclamation against the insolence of
daring to arrest a peer of the realm in the presence of his sovereign.
But the king gave him poor encouragement, pretending to be very much
alarmed by the power of the chief-justice, and saying: 'Nay, man, if
Coke were to send for _me_, I must go.' Somerset was obliged to
accompany the messenger. The king, still keeping up his hypocrisy,
wailed over his departure--pathetically praying that their separation
might not be a long one. It was said by the bystanders, that when
Somerset was out of hearing, he was heard to say: 'The deil go wi'
thee--I shall never see thy face more.'

The earl and countess were formally indicted before their peers on a
charge of murder. It is now that the mystery of the story begins. It
has never appeared clearly what motive they could have had for
murdering Sir Thomas Overbury, and the evidence against them is very
indistinct and incoherent; yet the countess confessed, and her husband
was found guilty. It was attempted to be shewn, that Overbury had
opposed the divorce of the Earl and Countess of Essex, and so had done
his best to prevent the union of the favourite with the lady; but
whatever opposition he had offered had been overcome; and it is
difficult to suppose the revengeful passions so gratuitously
pertinacious as to produce a deep assassination-plot from such a
cause. So far as one can judge from the extremely disjointed notices
of the evidence in the _State Trials_ and elsewhere, it was very
inconclusive. Sir Thomas certainly died of some violent internal
attack. Other persons had been forming plans to poison him, and
apparently were successful. The connection of these persons with the
earl and countess was, however, faint. They were in communication with
Overbury, and it is true some mysterious expressions were used by
them--such as the lady saying to some one, that her lord had written
to her how 'he wondered things were not yet despatched,' and such-like
expressions. Then there was a story about the conveyance from the
countess of 'a white powder,' intended as a medicine for Sir Thomas,
and subsequently of some tarts. As to the latter, there was a letter
from the countess to the lieutenant of the Tower, saying: 'I was bid
to bid you say, that these tarts came not from me;' and again, 'I was
bid to tell you, that you must take heed of the tarts, because there
be letters in them, and therefore neither give your wife nor children
of them, but of the wine you may, for there are no letters in it.'
Through Somerset's influence, Sir W. Wade had been superseded as
lieutenant of the Tower, and Sir Jervis Elwes appointed. It was said,
that this was done for the purpose of having better opportunity for
committing the murder. Elwes in his examination, however, hinted at
the more commonplace crime of bribery as the cause of his elevation.
'He saith Sir T. Monson told him that Wade was to be removed, and if
he succeeded Sir W. Wade, he must bleed--that is, give L.2000.' To
bleed is supposed, when so employed, to be a cant term of modern
origin. It is singular how many of these terms, supposed to be quite
ephemeral, are met with in old documents. 'Bilking a coachman' occurs
in a trial of the reign of Charles II.--that of Coal for the murder of
Dr Clench. In an important part of the trial of Somerset there occurs
another cant word: it is in the speech of Sir Randal Crew, one of the
king's sergeants, against the accused. He represents the ghost of
Overbury apostrophising his murderers in this manner: 'And are you
thus fallen from me, or rather are you thus heavily fallen upon me to
overthrow--to oppress him thus cruelly, thus treacherously, by whose
vigilance, counsel, and labour, you have attained your honourable
place, your estimation in the world for a worthy and well-deserving
_gent._?' After using this now well-known slang expression, the
learned sergeant continues to say: 'Have I not waked, that you might
sleep; cared, that you might enjoy? Have not I been the cabinet of
your secrets, which I did ever keep faithfully, without the loss of
any one to your prejudice; but by the officious, trusty, careful, and
friendly use of them, have gained unto you a sweet and great interest
of honour, love, reputation, wealth, and whatsoever might yield
contentment and satisfaction to your desires? Have I done all this, to
suffer this thus by you, for whom I have so lived as if my sand came
in your hour-glass?'

This, though it does not divulge the secret of these strange
proceedings, brings us apparently on their scent. It appears that
Overbury had acted as the tutor and prompter of Somerset as a
statesman. There is an expression sometimes used in politics at the
present day, when an inexperienced person, who has the good-fortune to
rise to some high office which he has not sufficient knowledge to
administer, seeks instruction and guidance from some veteran less
fortunate. He is then said to be put to nurse with him. A young ensign
under training by a veteran sergeant is a good instance of this.
Somerset, raw, uneducated, and untrained, had for his nurse as a
courtier and politician the accomplished but less fortunate Sir Thomas
Overbury. In the course of this function, Overbury could not fail to
acquire some state secrets. It is supposed to have been on account of
his possession of these secrets that Somerset poisoned him. But the
affair goes further still, for we find that the king was much alarmed
for himself on the occasion--was very anxious that the whole position
of matters between Somerset and Overbury should not come out in the
trial; and gave ground for the obvious inference, that whatever
secrets there might be, his majesty was as deeply interested in their
being kept as any one.

It was evident that the countess had been prevailed on to confess, and
that the utmost pains had been used to get Somerset himself to follow
her example, though, much to the king's vexation, he held out, and
rendered a trial necessary. On this trial, however, there was nothing
like satisfactory evidence--the peers were prepared to convict, and
they did so on a few trifling attestations, which gave them a
plausible excuse for their verdict. The illustrious Bacon aided the
king in his object. He had on other occasions shewn abject servility
to James--using towards him such expressions of indecorous flattery as
these: 'Your majesty imitateth Christ, by vouchsafing me to touch the
hem of your garment.' He was attorney-general, and had in that
capacity to conduct the prosecution. Seeing distinctly the king's
inclination, he sent a letter to him, praying, 'First, that your
majesty will be careful to choose a steward [meaning a lord
high-steward to preside at the trial in the House of Lords] of
judgment, that will be able to moderate the evidence, and _cut off
digressions_; for I may interrupt, but I cannot silence; the other,
that there may be special care taken for ordering the evidence, not
only for the knitting but the list, and, to use your majesty's own
words--the _confining_ of it. This to do, if your majesty vouchsafe to
direct it yourself, that is the best; but if not, I humbly pray you to
require my lord chancellor, that he, together with my lord
chief-justice, will confer with myself and my fellows that shall be
used for the marshalling and _bounding_ of the evidence, that we may
have the help of his opinion, as well as that of my lord
chief-justice; whose great travails as I much commend, yet this same
_pleropluria_, or overconfidence, doth always subject things to a
great deal of chance.'

The full significance of these cautious expressions about confining
and bounding the evidence, was not appreciated until the discovery of
some further documents, relating to this dark subject, a few years
ago. The expressions were then found to correspond with others,
equally cautious, in Bacon's correspondence. Thus he talks of
supplying the king with pretexts that 'might satisfy his honour for
sparing the earl's life;' and in another place he says: 'It shall be
my care so to moderate the matter of charging him, as it might make
him not odious beyond the extent of mercy.'

The drift of all this is, in the first place, that as little of the
real truth as possible should be divulged in the trial, and that Bacon
and others should manage so as to let out enough to get a conviction
and no more; hence the evidence is so fragmentary and unsatisfactory,
that none but a tribunal prepared to be very easily satisfied could
have formed any conclusion from it. In the second place, it was the
king's object that Somerset should be assured all along that his life
would be spared. The object of this certainly was to prevent him, in
his despair, from uttering that secret, whatever it was, about which
the king was so terribly alarmed. The reader may now expect some
further elucidation of this part of the mystery.

In Sir Anthony Weldon's _Court and Character of King James_ (p. 36),
we have the following statement in reference to the trial:--

     'And now for the last act, enters Somerset himself on the stage,
     who being told (as the manner is) by the lieutenant, that he must
     go next day to his trial, did absolutely refuse it, and said they
     should carry him in his bed; that the king had assured him he
     should not come to any trial--neither _durst_ the king bring him
     to trial. This was in a high strain, and in a language not well
     understood by Sir George Moore, then lieutenant in Elwes's
     room--that made Moore quiver and shake. And however he was
     accounted a wise man, yet he was near at his wits' end.' This
     conversation had such an effect on the lieutenant, that though it
     was twelve o'clock at night, he sped instantly to Greenwich, to
     see the king. Then he 'bownseth at the back-stair, as if mad;'
     and Loweston, the Scotch groom, aroused from sleep, comes in
     great surprise to ask 'the reason of that distemper at so late a
     season.' Moore tells him, he must speak with the king. Loweston
     replies: 'He is quiet'--which, in the Scottish dialect, is fast
     asleep. Moore says: 'You must awake him.' We are then told that
     Moore was called in, and had a secret audience. 'He tells the
     king those passages, and requires to be directed by the king, for
     he was gone beyond his own reason to hear such bold and undutiful
     expressions from a faulty subject against a just sovereign. The
     king falls into a passion of tears: "On my soul, Moore, I wot not
     what to do! Thou art a wise man--help me in this great straight,
     and thou shalt find thou dost it for a thankful master;" with
     other sad expressions. Moore leaves the king in that passion, but
     assures him he will prove the utmost of his wit to serve his
     majesty--and was really rewarded with a suit worth to him

Moore returned to his prisoner, and told him, 'he had been with the
king, found him a most affectionate master unto him, and full of grace
in his intentions towards him; but,' he continued, 'to satisfy
justice, you must appear, although you return instantly again without
any further proceedings--only you shall know your enemies and their
malice, though they shall have no power over you.' Somerset seemed
satisfied; but Weldon states, that Moore, to render matters quite
safe, set two men, placed one on each side of Somerset during his
trial, with cloaks hanging on their arms, 'giving them withal a
peremptory order, if that Somerset did anyway fly out on the king,
they should instantly hoodwink him with that cloak, take him violently
from the bar, and carry him away--for which he would secure them from
any danger, and they should not want also a bountiful reward. But the
earl finding himself overreached, recollected a better temper, and
went calmly on his trial, when he held the company until seven at
night. But who had seen the king's restless motion all that day,
sending to every boat he saw landing at the bridge, cursing all that
came without tidings, would have easily judged all was not right, and
there had been some grounds for his fears of Somerset's boldness; but
at last one bringing him word that he was condemned, and the passages,
all was quiet.'

Weldon solemnly states, that he obtained all these facts from Moore's
own lips. He was, however, a sarcastic, discontented writer; and being
what was called an upstart, he was supposed to have a malice against
kings and courts. For such reasons as these, his narrative was
distrusted until its fundamental character, at all events, was
confirmed by the late discovery of a bundle of letters addressed by
the king to Sir George Moore. The bundle was found carefully wrapped
up, and appropriately endorsed, in the repositories of Sir George's
descendant. The letters will be found printed in the eighteenth volume
of the _Archæologia_, or transactions of the English Antiquarian
Society. The following brief extracts from them may suffice for the
present occasion--the spelling is modernised:--

     'GOOD SIR GEORGE--I am extremely sorry that your unfortunate
     prisoner turns all the great care I have of him not only against
     himself, but against me also, as far as he can. I cannot blame
     you that ye cannot conjecture what this may be, for God knows it
     is only a trick of his idle brain, hoping thereby to shift his
     trial; but it is easy to be seen, that he would threaten me with
     laying an aspersion upon me of being in some sort accessory to
     his crime.... Give him assurance in my name, that if he will yet,
     before his trial, confess cheerily unto the commissioners his
     guiltiness of this fact, I will not only perform what I promised
     by my last messenger both towards him and his wife, but I will
     enlarge it, according to the phrase of the civil law, &c. I mean
     not, that he shall confess if he be innocent, but ye know how
     evil likely that is; and of yourself ye may dispute with him what
     should mean his confidence now to endure a trial, when, as he
     remembers, that this last winter he confessed to the
     chief-justice that his cause was so evil likely as he knew no
     jury could acquit him. Assure him, that I protest upon my honour
     my end in this is for his and his wife's good. Ye will do well,
     likewise, of yourself, to cast out unto him, that ye fear his
     wife shall plead weakly for his innocency; and that ye find the
     commissioners have, ye know not how, some secret assurance that
     in the end she will confess of him--but this must only be as from

That there was some secret of the divulgence of which the king was in
the utmost terror, is thus beyond a doubt. What, then, was it? There
are no means of deciding. James, it will be seen, hints to Moore, that
it was a charge of accession to the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury.
But, in the same letter, James lets us see that Moore himself did not
know the exact secret; and we may fairly conjecture, that the hint was
intended to put him on a wrong scent.

The earl and countess were permitted to live, spending a miserable
existence with the fear of punishment hanging over them. The accounts
given of the condition into which the once beautiful and too
fascinating woman fell, are too disgusting to be repeated. There were
many other proceedings connected with the charges for poisoning Sir
Thomas Overbury, which throw a curious light on the habits of the
court, and especially on the criminal attempts to get rid of rivals
and enemies by poison and sorcery. They may perhaps form a suitable
subject for a separate paper.


So numerous are the forests here which grow in lofty and romantic
sites, that a very extensive and interesting tour might be made,
having them alone for its object. Such fascinating excursions should
not, however, be embarked in without a guide, or a compass at the
least; for these German woods are often very intricate, and run into
one another in a most puzzling manner. This I learned to my cost a few
months ago; and as a warning to other pedestrian tourists who may be
as unpractised in such matters as I myself then was, I would now
bespeak the reader's attention to my experiences of A Night in a
German Wood.

Early in the autumn of the past year, whilst on a visit to a German
friend who resides in one of the hilliest and best-wooded districts in
Westphalia, on the confines of the classic Teutoburger Forest--after
having been engaged nearly all the day in writing, I was tempted out
by the freshness of the evening air and the glories of the setting
sun, to take a turn in the park, which, by the by, is one of the
handsomest and best laid out I have seen in any part of the continent,
and a proof in itself that such things can be done--and well done
too--even out of England. My intention was merely to stretch my
cramped legs by a stroll to the southern angle of the demesne, and so
be back in time for the quiet, early supper of the family. After
moving along for a quarter of an hour under the shade of some fine old
beech-trees, at the foot of a steep bank which overhangs the level
meadow-ground, I came upon the outskirts of the plantations; and then
turning sharp to the left, walked up along them till I had reached, as
I thought, their extremity. Here, facing round, I began to turn my
steps homeward; and by way of varying my route a little, struck into a
shady path cut through the wood, which seemed to lead, as well as I
could judge from my bearings, almost as directly back to the
_schloss_--as all great country mansions here are called--as the one
by which I had gone out. But after pushing rapidly along for some time
in my dusky alley, I eventually emerged, much to my surprise, on an
immense ploughed field, that, sloping gradually up to the spot where
the sun had just set, seemed to terminate only with the visible
horizon, which, however, from the very inclined angle at which the
ground rose, was not very distant. Confident in the general
correctness of my direction, I went on, right ahead, fancying I had
only to cross this upland to be at home; but after floundering about
for a good half-hour, and, in consequence of a water-course which cut
it obliquely, being turned a little out of my straight direction, I
found myself by moonlight on the verge of a patch of forest which was
quite unknown to me. Such was my infatuation, however, and so firm my
conviction of having taken correctly the relative bearings of the
moon, which was now in her second quarter, and of the house, that I
plunged unhesitatingly among the trees, expecting every moment to see
the path through them open out upon some familiar spot in the demesne,
or some portion of the surrounding country which I might have already
perambulated by daylight. Though in utter darkness, from the close
interweaving of the foliage, still, by raising my feet high, like a
blind horse, to get over the inequalities of the way, and flourishing
my stick perpetually around my head as I proceeded, to avoid coming in
contact with any stray tree, or chance branch projecting into the
pathway, I got prosperously through this portion of wood. But again I
came out on something which was totally strange to me--a narrow
valley, stretching, as well as I could judge by the last glimmerings
of twilight, to a considerable distance, flanked on each side by
gloomy woods, about a quarter of a mile apart, and laid down in rye,
which was nearly ready for the sickle, and dripping wet in the
night-dew. Matters now began to look serious. I was completely at
fault, and had entirely lost all confidence in my own pilotage. The
moon had proved a faithless guide, or rather I had misconstrued her
position; and my little pocket-compass was not forthcoming, thanks to
the importunities of my youngest boy, who prizes it above all his own

There was nothing for it now but to select that direction towards
which the valley might seem slightly to descend; but this, in the
imperfect twilight, was not very easily ascertained. With considerable
hesitation, I decided at length on the right-hand turn, resolving to
proceed till I should fall in with some rivulet, which might perhaps
lead me eventually to the rapid trouting-stream running close under my
friend's windows, or else till I should come upon some path which
might carry me into a field-road, and so perhaps to a village, where I
should easily procure a guide home. So, with tottering knees and
throbbing heart--for I was by this time nearly breathless--I continued
to advance by the side of the standing corn, at such a pace as I could
manage, uttering from time to time a lusty halloo, in hopes of making
myself heard by some belated reaper or returning woodman. But my calls
had no other effect than to awake the mocking echoes of the wood, or
the mysterious and almost human shout of the screech-owl, and to leave
me to a still more intense feeling of solitude, when these had died
away. I found myself at length in a deep, hollow field-road, like
those which abound in South Devon, and high overhead, on the lofty
bank, stood a two-branched, weather-beaten finger-post, and a great
rustic crucifix near it, looming large in the moonlight. Scrambling up
the bank, with anxious peering eyes, I made out, by the dubious light
of the moon, that one of the outstretched wooden arms bore, in
rudely-cut letters, the name of the village beside which I was
resident; and as its distance was stated, I found that, after all my
windings and wanderings, I had still only got half a German mile, or
about one league, astray! This was a very pleasant discovery; and
accordingly I quickly wheeled about, and set off with renewed vigour
at right angles to my previous line of march, having still good hopes
of being at home before eleven o'clock at night, time enough to
prevent any alarm on account of my absence.

The road soon, however, degenerated into a mere field-track, which, as
the moon had disappeared behind clouds, just before her final setting,
could only with difficulty be recognised by an occasional deep rut,
felt by my stick in the soft ground; even this track at length forked
out into two others--one penetrating into a wood on my right; the
other opener, and with only scattered trees by its side, to the left.
The latter seemed the most promising, and was accordingly selected,
and followed for about ten minutes, when it, too, came upon the skirts
of another wood in the opposite direction. It seemed, besides, as well
as I could judge from some faint glimpses I now got of the surrounding
country in a momentary gleam of moonlight, to be leading me wide of my
goal: and I accordingly retraced my steps once more to where the road
had divided, and taking the recently slighted right-hand path, dived
in desperation in between the trees, amidst 'darkness that might be
felt.' Walking steadily and quickly forward, during what seemed, in
the deep gloom, a considerable time, I eventually emerged into 'the
clear obscure,' the moon having at length set, and left the sky, and
all such wanderers as myself, to the good offices of the stars. I was
now on the opposite verge of the wood to that I had entered by, and
found myself by the side of a narrow corn-field, with _another_
wooded hill on its further side, and heard, within hailing
distance--more delightful than music to my ear--the grating sound of
cart-wheels, which appeared to be going in an oblique, but nearly
opposite direction to that in which I had just been moving. It was
quite impossible to see anything so far off; but I hailed the presumed
carter repeatedly, in my loudest and best German, asking my way.

'Follow on by the foot of the wood, and you'll get there in time,' was
the reply, at length faintly heard in the distance, and the cart
rumbled heavily away again, leaving me just as wise as before; for
which was _head_ and which was _foot_ of the wood I knew no more than
the child unborn. Yet I feared to dash through the intervening corn in
the direction of the receding and already distant cart, neither
knowing what the nature of the intermediate ground might prove, nor
whether, supposing it practicable in the dark, such an infringement of
rural property might not lead to disagreeable consequences, and in
nowise further me in the attainment of the piece of knowledge which I
stood so much in need of. So, I took on chance to my left hand, as the
most distant from the finger-post I had fallen upon an hour and a half

The sound of the cart which long tingled in my ears, and the utter
disappointment of my suddenly raised hopes, only rendered my sense of
solitude and helplessness more intense. Indeed, I sometimes almost
doubted whether the whole thing--cart and carter, or, rather, rumbling
wheels and faint, chilling, distant voice--might not have been the
delusion of my reeling brain, debilitated by overfatigue and long
fasting (for every one knows the early hour at which a German dinner
takes place); and on subsequent inquiry, I could not hear of any cart
having passed in that quarter at all.

It was singular how long I wandered about, and every now and then in
cultivated districts, without hearing a single human voice even in the
earlier portion of the evening--nay, any sound whatever, save once or
twice the fierce warning bark of a shepherd's dog, when I had
inadvertently approached too near a sheepfold--the startling rush of
some affrighted bird in the wood, flapping wildly up through the
foliage--a distant village clock in some indefinite direction over the
hill-top--or, finally, as on one occasion, a few remote shots, which I
at first fancied might have been fired off by my friends to direct me
homewards, but afterwards ascribed, more correctly, perhaps, to
poachers in the woods. The manner in which the peasantry live here--in
separate villages, built occasionally a good deal apart, and not in
cottages scattered everywhere over the country, as with
us--sufficiently accounts for this wide-spread silence.

Just as I was losing faith in the correctness of my present course,
the chimes of a clock were distinctly heard, coming apparently over
the top of the wooded hill on my left. I immediately turned into the
wood once more, and strove to make a march directly through the trees
in the direction of the sound, and right up the steep ascent, which
was clothed by them to the summit. But this I soon found to be totally
impracticable, in the absence of anything like a path or opening; for
though I made my way well enough through the old trees, which stood
far apart, and were pretty free from branches near the ground, yet
towards the upper part of the hill, I got entangled in such a
close-growing rising generation as it was almost impossible to
penetrate. I was often almost in despair of being able to extricate
myself even from my present entanglement, and to retrace my steps to
the open ground below; in my exhausted condition, as it was already
long past midnight, I was making up my mind to roost with the owls on
the fork of a tree; and was even anticipating the possibility of
becoming a permanent scarecrow there, when my very bones would be
concealed in the thicket from the anxious search of my friends.

It was under the influence of excessive fatigue, perhaps, and the
relaxation of the will generally consequent thereon, that my
resolution now at length seemed on the point of giving way; nay, the
very attachment to life itself, on my own individual account, seemed
fading, and a disinclination to continue the struggle farther appeared
to be gradually creeping over me. I was becoming reconciled to what
appeared inevitable, and could look upon my own probable fate almost
as calmly as if it had been that of a stranger. I believe something
very similar not unusually takes place, under the merciful disposition
of Providence, in the death-bed, where debility is the chief feature
of the case. After a few moments of repose and dreamy reverie,
however, I roused myself from this state of apathy, and, influenced by
a sense of duty, as well as by a sympathy for the feelings of those
dearer than life itself, sprang to my feet once more, and struggled
manfully out of the mesh of branches in which I had been entangled,
till, after a few more violent efforts, I found myself getting into a
rather opener and more advanced growth of wood, and at length
succeeded in working my way out--almost to the very spot in the meadow
I had started from!

Whilst still within the wood, I had been favoured with some novel
experiences there--novel, at least, to me, as it was my first night in
such a position. Thus, almost every branch I grasped in the dark to
help me onward seemed crowded with snails, which smashed slimily under
my shuddering hand! Glowworms were sparkling in the underwood in such
myriads as I never witnessed before, save once in an evening-walk near
Salerno. The sense of utter solitude and unbroken silence within these
gloomy woods was truly awful. From time to time, as I advanced, a
casual opening in the branches exhibited a momentary glimpse of the
sky, with all its thousand twinkling fires; and shooting-stars of
intense brilliancy were darting across its dark, blue depths in almost
as great frequency as in those celebrated days of August and November,
when the path of our earth crosses the thickest showers of these
celestial fireworks.

On regaining the meadow, I felt quite at a loss whither to turn, or
what to attempt next. I had already been floundering about for some
half-dozen hours, and been ignorant all the while whether each
additional step were not only taking me a step further, not from home
alone, but from the very habitations of men. Almost done up at length,
and hopeless of extricating myself from my labyrinth till daylight
should come to my aid, I was again for a moment inclined quietly to
resign myself to what seemed my inevitable fate, and drop down to
sleep on a bank of earth under a hedge by which I was standing, and so
await the dawn. But the dank grass, the trees dropping with dew, the
creeping autumnal fog, and increasing cold, made me pause, and feel
that to sleep in my light summer dress under such circumstances was,
if not to die, at least to contract, during the night, such disease as
would render existence not worth the having--racking rheumatism for
life, or fever, or inflammation, in some of their many forms, and
endless consequences. So I resolved to keep moving as long as I had
power to stir a limb, as this would give me a chance of maintaining
the circulation and animal heat throughout the remaining hours of the
night, if my strength would but hold out so long. Like a drowning man,
I struck out once more for life; again I tried the field-road I had
lately too rashly abandoned; floundered once more through its pools
and its ruts; clambered again on its high banks, or moved along under
the shadow of the wood by its side. At length, after scarcely half an
hour's additional walking, my perseverance had its reward, as I found
myself at the entrance of a village, and heard, not far off, the busy
clatter of some industrious flaxdressers, who were turning night into
day, at their work. This proved to be the termination of my mishap;
for the instructions I received enabled me to find my way home by
three o'clock.

It was my amusement during several subsequent days, to endeavour by
daylight to retrace accurately my midnight wanderings. I found I could
not have walked less than twenty miles, though never at any time more
than three distant from home. I had been incessantly in motion during
nearly eight hours; and was at least thrice on right tracks, which, if
they had been followed up steadily only a little longer, would have
brought me to my quarters. The chiming of the old convent-bells, which
I had mistaken for those of our own pretty little church, came really
from the very opposite direction to what I fancied--the sound I heard
being merely their echo, reflected to my ear from the wooded

Thus, the proposition with which I started--namely, that German woods
are not to be trifled with, or rashly entered without a guide or
compass--is fully sustained by my own luckless experience. Much of the
surrounding country was already well known to me, and in my various
walks I had skirted along and even intersected some of these very
woods; but the way in which they are parcelled out, for the supply of
neighbouring, but unconnected villages with firewood, and the puzzling
manner in which they are shuffled together when the estates of several
proprietors run into one another at a given point, render it
singularly difficult to steer through them even by day, and to the
uninitiated, quite impracticable by night.


Liverpool has perhaps fewer relics of an archæological nature than any
other town in the United Kingdom; and this at first seems a little
singular, when we remember that it is not without its place in the
more romantic eras of our history, and that a castle of considerable
strength once lent it protection. Its old castle, its towers, and the
walls by which it was surrounded, have all been swept away by the busy
crowds that now throng its thoroughfares. Even the former names of
places have in most instances been altered, as if to obliterate all
recollections and associations connected with its early history. Thus
a row of houses, which a few years ago bore the not very euphonious
name of Castle Ditch, from its having followed a portion of the line
of the moat by which the fortress which once stood near it was
surrounded, was changed into St George's Crescent, and many others
underwent similar transmutations. But if the physical aspect of the
place holds out few or no attractions to the antiquary, the moral one
of its inhabitants, in so far as his favourite subject is concerned,
is equally uninviting; for, taken as a whole, it would be difficult to
find a population less influenced by, or interested in, such studies.

The only relic of the olden times which Liverpool has for a long time
past retained, was a long, low, picturesque-looking thatched cottage
in the small village of Everton (of _toffee_ notoriety), which went by
the name of Prince Rupert's Cottage, from its having been the
head-quarters of that fiery leader when he besieged the town from the
ridge on which the village is situated. But even this was swept away
about six years ago by the proprietor, to allow a street which he had
mapped out to abut upon the village at the point it occupied. The
project did not succeed, and the outline of the contemplated street is
all that as yet marks out the spot where this interesting object

I confess to the soft impeachment of having been, at a very early
period of my life, inoculated with the true Monkbarns enthusiasm, and
I have always been a great admirer of that beautiful remark of Lord
Bacon's, that 'antiquities may be considered as the planks of a wreck
which wise and prudent men gather and preserve from the deluge of

Some months ago, I was walking along what is called the Breck Road,
leading out of the little village of Everton, of which I have been
speaking, when my attention was arrested by a market-cross in a field
on the opposite side of the road. I was somewhat surprised that it had
escaped my notice when I formerly passed that way, and I immediately
crossed over to examine it. It was formed, as all the English
market-crosses are, of a series of flat steps, with an upright shaft
in the centre, was built of the red sandstone of the district, and
bore the appearance of great antiquity. The field was not far from
what might be called the principal street of the village; and as I was
aware that considerable changes had taken place of late years in the
neighbourhood, it occurred to me as possible, that at one time the
cross might have occupied the centre of a space on which the markets
were held. My time, however, being limited, I was unable to make any
immediate inquiries regarding it, but resolved to take an early
opportunity of making myself acquainted with its early history, so as
to rescue one interesting relic at least of the place from apparently
a very undeserved obscurity. This opportunity did not present itself
for some weeks; but at length it did occur, and I started for the
place, to collect all the information, both traditional and otherwise,
which I could regarding it.

On arriving at the spot, my surprise may be conceived, for it cannot
be described, when, on looking at the field where it stood, I found
that it had been removed, and all that remained to point out the
place, was the bare mark on the grass of the spot which it had
occupied. The consternation of Alladin, when he got up one fine
morning and found that his gorgeous palace had vanished during the
night, was hardly greater than mine on making this sad discovery; and,
like him, I daresay, I rubbed my eyes in hopes that my visual organs
had deceived me, but with as little success. On looking to the other
side of the road, I observed a mason at work repairing the opposite
wall with some very suspicious-looking stones, and I immediately
crossed over, and commenced a categorical examination of the supposed
delinquent. I inquired whether he could explain to me the cause of the
removal of the ancient cross, which used to be in the field exactly
opposite to where we were then standing; but he said that, although he
was an old residenter in Everton, he had not even been aware of the
existence of such an object. This I set down as an additional instance
of the want of interest which the natives of the place take in
archæological subjects. He told me, however, that about three weeks
previously, he had observed several men facing the wall opposite with
large stones, which they brought apparently from some place close at
hand; but that, having his own work to attend to, he had not bestowed
any particular thought on the matter. He said the field was rented by
a person for the purpose of cleaning carpets, and that he had no doubt
the removal had been accomplished by his directions.

On stepping across the road, I found these suspicions completely
realised; for there, resting on the top of the wall, were the
time-honoured steps of the cross of my anxiety. Luckily for me, at
least, the tenant was not at hand at the time, as in the state of
excitement in which I was, I might have done or said something which I
should afterwards have regretted. I had no alternative but to return
to town, 'nursing my wrath to keep it warm,' and thinking over the
best and most efficacious method in which I could accomplish the
punishment of the aggressor, whoever he might be, and procuring the
restoration of the cross in all its primitive simplicity. I thought of
an article in the papers, into which all my caustic and sarcastic
powers were to be concentrated and discharged on the head of the
desecrator--then of calling on the lord of the manor, and mentioning
the matter to him, so as, if possible, to carry his influence along
with me, although I thought it quite probable that he might have
sanctioned the spoliation, to save the expense of new stones for the
repair of his tenant's wall. Under this latter impression, therefore,
and previous to carrying either of these belligerent intentions into
effect, I thought it would only be fair to give the obnoxious man an
opportunity of explaining the circumstances under which he had
assumed such an unwarranted responsibility. Accordingly, a short time
afterwards, I again wended my way towards the field, determined to
bring the matter in some way or other to a bearing, when I saw a very
pleasant-looking man standing at the door of the house in which the
carpet-cleansing operations are carried on. Supposing him to be the
delinquent, I endeavoured to bridle my rising choler as much as
possible, while I asked him whether he could tell me anything about
the removal of the cross which had once stood in that field. With a
gentle smile, which I thought at the time almost demoniac, he mildly
replied, that _he_ had removed it, _because the object for which he
had erected it, about twelve months before_, had ceased to exist, and
he had taken the stones to repair the wall close by where it had

The shock which the nervous system of our worthy friend Monkbarns
received when the exclamation of Edie Ochiltree fell upon his ear, of
'Pretorium here, pretorium there, _I_ mind the biggin' o't,' was not
greater than that which mine sustained on receiving this death-blow to
all my hopes of rescuing this interesting relic of antiquity from its
unmerited oblivion. Gulping down my mortification as I best could, I,
in as indifferent a manner as I could assume, craved the liberty of
inquiring what the circumstances were which had led to such a
fanciful employment of his time. He told me that he had been a
carpet-manufacturer in Oxfordshire, but had been unsuccessful in
business, and had come here and set up his present establishment for
the cleaning of the articles which he formerly manufactured; and that,
wishing to add to his income by every legitimate means within his
power, he had been supplied regularly with a quantity of Banbury
cakes, for the sale of which he had erected a temporary wooden-hut in
one corner of his field; that one morning early, about eighteen months
ago, as he was lying awake in bed, the thought struck him, that as
there were a great many large flat stones lying in a corner of the
field, he would erect them, in front of the hut, into the form of the
well-known cross of equestrian nursery-rhyme notoriety. He immediately
rose, and, summoning his workmen, succeeded in making a very tolerable
imitation of the world-wide-known cross; but that, after about twelve
months' trial of his cake-speculation, finding it did not succeed, he
gave it up; and removing the cross of which it was the sign, turned
the stones to a more useful purpose.

Thus ended my day-dream connected with this _interesting relic_; and
nothing, I am sure, but that indomitable enthusiasm which
distinguishes all genuine disciples of the Monkbarns school, could
have sustained me under my grievous disappointment.


In the article with the above title, in No. 431, the pay of seamen is
stated at from L.2, 10s. to L.3 a month; but this does not bring the
information down to the latest date. At _present_, we are informed,
the very best A. Bs. (able-bodied seamen) receive only from L.2 to
L.2, 5s.; and 'ordinary' hands only from L.1, 10s. to L.1, 15s. In the
navy, the pay is still less than in the merchant service, which is the
reason why our best men so constantly desert to the American navy,
where they obtain, on an average, about twelve dollars a month. It
ought to be added, that when one of our ships is short of hands in a
foreign port, these rates do not prevail. Captains are sometimes
obliged to bid as high as L.6 a month, to make up their complement.


D'Israeli tells us of a man of letters, of England, who had passed his
life in constant study; and it was observed that he had written
several folio volumes, which his modest fears would not permit him to
expose to the eye even of his critical friends. He promised to leave
his labours to posterity; and he seemed sometimes, with a glow on his
countenance, to exult that they would not be unworthy of their
acceptance. At his death, his sensibility took the alarm; he had the
folios brought to his bed; no one could open them, for they were
closely locked. At the sight of his favourite and mysterious labours,
he paused; he seemed disturbed in his mind, while he felt at every
moment his strength decaying. Suddenly he raised his feeble hands by
an effort of firm resolve, burnt his papers, and smiled as the greedy
Vulcan licked up every page. The task exhausted his remaining
strength, and he soon afterwards expired.


     [The little, disregarded wagtail of our own land, which we may
     frequently see wherever insects abound--on the green meadow, or
     by the margin of the brook--is the khunjunee of the Hindoo, by
     whose romantic and fanciful mythology he has been made a holy
     bird, bearing on his breast the impression of Salagrama, the
     stone of Vishnoo, a sacred petrified shell. Protected by this
     prestige, the little creature ranges unmolested near the
     habitations of man, and may in this respect be styled the robin
     of the East. To Europeans in the East, this bird is also an
     object of interest, as being a precursor of the delightful cold
     season, the advent of which is anxiously looked for by every
     Anglo-Indian. The little khunjunee makes his appearance in the
     early part of November, and departs as the hot season
     approaches--I think in March or April. The note of this little
     bird can hardly aspire to be called a song; I used, however, to
     think it a pleasing twitter. I paid particular attention to two
     khunjunees, which used to return every season and haunt our
     habitation: they would pick up insects from the pavement, and eat
     the crumbs with which they were plentifully supplied. I have
     watched them pluming themselves on the balustrade, while their
     sparkling black eyes glanced fearlessly and confidingly in my
     face. When I now see a wagtail at home in Scotland, I cannot but
     look upon it as an old friend, reminding me of my departed youth,
     and recalling many soothing as well as mournful recollections.]

    Welcome to thee, sweet khunjunee!
      Which is thy best-loved home?--
    Over the sea, in a far countrie,
      Or the land to which thou art come?

    What carest thou?--thou revelest here
      In the bright and balmy air;
    And again to regions far remote
      Thou returnest--and summer is there!

    Thou art sacred here, where the Brahmin tells
      Of the godhead's seal impressed
    By Vishnoo's hand--that thou bearest still
      His gorget on thy breast.

    And welcomed thou art, with grateful heart,
      For well doth the Hindoo know,
    That at thy approach the clouds disperse,
      And temperate breezes blow.

    Yet little he cares where thy sojourn hath been
      So long, since he saw thee last;
    Nor in what far land of storm or calm
      The rainy months have passed.

    But others there be, who think with me,
      Thou hast been to that favoured land,
    Which restores the bloom to the faded cheek,
      And strength to the feeble hand.

    And my children believe, that since thou wert here,
      Thou hast compassed half the earth,
    And that now thou hast come, like a thought in a dream,
      From the land of their father's birth;

    Bringing with thee the healthful breeze
      That blows from the heath-clad hill,
    And the breath of the primrose and gowan that bloom
      On the bank by the babbling rill.

    Then welcome to thee, little khunjunee!
      May thy presence a blessing confer;
    Still of breezes cool, and returning health,
      The faithful harbinger.


       *       *       *       *       *

Printed and Published by W. and R. CHAMBERS, High Street, Edinburgh.
Also sold by W. S. ORR, Amen Corner, London; D. N. CHAMBERS, 55 West
Nile Street, Glasgow; and J. M'GLASHAN, 50 Upper Sackville Street,
Dublin.--Advertisements for Monthly Parts are requested to be sent to
MAXWELL & CO., 31 Nicholas Lane, Lombard Street, London, to whom all
applications respecting their insertion must be made.

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